You're factually wrong on several minor elements. The people of Numenor had been wanting to stop dying for several generations -- the particular corruption that Sauron inflicted on the king wasn't that desire, but rather that he made him think the proper way to go about actualizing this was to worship Melkor (essentially Satan), do human sacrifice in his name, and go about conquering the world, including the land of men. Sauron also argues that immortality should not be given to all, he just convinces the King of Numenor deserves to steal it from others and take it to himself.

Also, it's explicitly said that Men did NOT become immortal by stepping on the Western Islands -- they were called the Immortal Lands, not because they made people immortal, but because the immortal peoples had gathered there. The Elves and Valar indeed said to Men, that Men would die faster if they went to the Immortal Lands, like moths burning in too bright a fire.

The "righteous" weren't righteous by "saying they wanted to die" -- indeed, it's described that this part of the shadow they didn't escape from, and it followed them to middle earth (it's noteworthy that the only king of Gondor or Arnor who gave up his crown to his son and surrended his life by willing himself to die was Aragorn -- that leaves dozens of kings, good ones, who failed to follow their ancestors' death-embracing example)

The righteous, the Elf-friends, were primarily "righteous" by not engaging in human sacrifice, and by not supporting the wars of conquest.

I think Tolkien is actually pretty sympathetic to those people that desire immortality (as long as they DO NOT go about killing other people to ensure it) -- he even has Arwen not being cool over Aragorn's death, wishing him to go on living a bit longer despite all their lore proclaiming dying was the right thing to do. There were likewise many many centuries of Numenoreans that wanted to avoid death, and they weren't punished as long as they didn't go about conquering the world in order to do so.

I omitted some details to simplify things. But now let's enter into full Tolkien geek mode! Unfortunately I gave away my Tolkien collection years ago when I realized how un-humanistic it was, so I can't provide quotes and page numbers, but I do rely on my memory.

The people of Numenor had been wanting to stop dying for several generations

True - I omitted this part to make things simpler.

he made him think the proper way to go about actualizing this was to worship Melkor (essentially Satan), do human sacrifice in his name, and go about conquering the wo

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Many of us *are* hit with a baseball once a month.

by Alexandros 1 min read22nd Dec 201031 comments

39


Watching the video of Eliezer's Singularity Summit 2010 talk, I thought once more about the 'baseball' argument. Here's a text version from How to Seem (and Be) Deep:

[...] given human nature, if people got hit on the head by a baseball bat every week, pretty soon they would invent reasons why getting hit on the head with a baseball bat was a good thing.

And then it dawned on me. Roughly half of human kind, women, are inflicted with a painful experience about once a month for a large period of their lives.

So, if the hypothesis was correct, we would expect to have deep-sounding memes about why this was a good thing floating around. Not one to disappoint, the internet has indeed produced at least two such lists, linked here for your reading pleasure. However, neither of these lists claim that the benefits outweigh the costs, nor do they make any deep-sounding arguments about why this is in fact a good thing overall. Whether or not they are supported by the evidence, the benefits mentioned are relatively practical. What's more, you don't hear these going around a lot (as far as I know, which, admittedly, is not very far). 

So why aren't these memes philosophised about? Perhaps the ick factor? Maybe the fact that having the other half of the population going around and having perfectly normal lives without any obvious drawbacks acts as a sanity test? 

In any case, since this is a counter-argument that may eventually get raised, and since I didn't want to suppress it in favour of a soldier fighting on our side, I thought I'd type this up and feed it to the LessWrong hivemind for better or worse.