Things encoded in human brains are part of the territory; but this does not mean that anything we imagine is in the territory in any other sense. "Should" is not an operator that has any useful reference in the territory, even within human minds. It is confused, in the moral sense of "should" at least. Telling anyone "you shouldn't do that" when what you really mean is "I want you to stop doing that" isn't productive. If they want to do it then they don't care what they "should" or "shouldn't" do unless you can explain to them why they in fact do or don't want to do that thing. In the sense that "should do x" means "on reflection would prefer to do x" it is useful. The farther you move from that, the less useful it becomes.

Telling anyone "you shouldn't do that" when what you really mean is "I want you to stop doing that" isn't productive.

But that's not what they mean, or at least not all that they mean.

Look, I'm a fan of Stirner and a moral subjectviist, so you don't have to explain the nonsense people have in their heads with regard to morality to me. I'm on board with Stirner, in considering the world populated with fools in a madhouse, who only seem to go about free because their asylum takes in so wide a space.

But there are different kinds of pref... (read more)

Bad Concepts Repository

by moridinamael 1 min read27th Jun 2013204 comments

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We recently established a successful Useful Concepts Repository.  It got me thinking about all the useless or actively harmful concepts I had carried around for in some cases most of my life before seeing them for what they were.  Then it occurred to me that I probably still have some poisonous concepts lurking in my mind, and I thought creating this thread might be one way to discover what they are.

I'll start us off with one simple example:  The Bohr model of the atom as it is taught in school is a dangerous thing to keep in your head for too long.  I graduated from high school believing that it was basically a correct physical representation of atoms.  (And I went to a *good* high school.)  Some may say that the Bohr model serves a useful role as a lie-to-children to bridge understanding to the true physics, but if so, why do so many adults still think atoms look like concentric circular orbits of electrons around a nucleus?  

There's one hallmark of truly bad concepts: they actively work against correct induction.  Thinking in terms of the Bohr model actively prevents you from understanding molecular bonding and, really, everything about how an atom can serve as a functional piece of a real thing like a protein or a diamond.

Bad concepts don't have to be scientific.  Religion is held to be a pretty harmful concept around here.  There are certain political theories which might qualify, except I expect that one man's harmful political concept is another man's core value system, so as usual we should probably stay away from politics.  But I welcome input as fuzzy as common folk advice you receive that turned out to be really costly.