You folks probably know how some posters around here, specifically Vladimir_M, often make statements to the effect of:
"There's an opinion on such-and-such topic that's so against the memeplex of Western culture, we can't even discuss it in open-minded, pseudonymous forums like Less Wrong as society would instantly slam the lid on it with either moral panic or ridicule and give the speaker a black mark.
Meanwhile the thought patterns instilled in us by our upbringing would lead us to quickly lose all interest in the censored opinion"
Going by their definition, us blissfully ignorant masses can't even know what exactly those opinions might be, as they would look like basic human decency, the underpinnings of our ethics or some other such sacred cow to us. I might have a few guesses, though, all of them as horrible and sickening as my imagination could produce without overshooting and landing in the realm of comic-book evil:
- Dictatorial rule involving active terror and brutal suppression of deviants having great utility for a society in the long term, by providing security against some great risk or whatever.
- A need for every society to "cull the weak" every once in a while, e.g. exterminating the ~0.5% of its members that rank as weakest against some scale.
- Strict hierarchy in everyday life based on facts from the ansectral environment (men dominating women, fathers having the right of life and death over their children, etc) - Mencius argued in favor of such ruthless practices, e.g. selling children into slavery, in his post on "Pronomianism" and "Antinomianism", stating that all contracts between humans should rather be strict than moral or fair, to make the system stable and predictable; he's quite obsessed with stability and conformity.
- Some public good being created when the higher classes wilfully oppress and humiliate the lower ones in a ceremonial manner
- The bloodshed and lawlessness of periodic large-scale war as a vital "pressure valve" for releasing pent-up unacceptable emotional states and instinctive drives
- Plain ol' unfair discrimination of some group in many cruel, life-ruining ways, likewise as a pressure valve
+: some Luddite crap about dropping to a near-subsistence level in every aspect of civilization and making life a daily struggle for survival
Of course my methodology for coming up with such guesses was flawed and primitive: I simply imagined some of the things that sound the ugliest to me yet have been practiced by unpleasant cultures before in some form. Now, of course, most of us take the absense of these to be utterly crucial to our terminal values. Nevertheless, I hope I have demonstrated to whoever might really have something along these lines (if not necessarily that shocking) on their minds that I'm open to meta-discussion, and very interested how we might engage each other on finding safe yet productive avenues of contact.
Let's do the impossible and think the unthinkable! I must know what those secrets are, no matter how much sleep and comfort I might lose.
P.S. Yeah, Will, I realize that I'm acting roughly in accordance with that one trick you mentioned way back.
P.P.S. Sup Bakkot. U mad? U jelly?
Fuck this Earth, and fuck human biology. I'm not very distressed about anything I saw ITT, but there's still a lot of unpleasant potential things that can only be resolved in one way:
I hereby pledge to get a real goddamn plastic card, not this Visa Electron bullshit the university saddled us with, and donate at least $100 to SIAI until the end of the year. This action will reduce the probability of me and mine having to live with the consequences of most such hidden horrors. Dixi.
Sometimes it's so pleasant to be impulsive.
Amusing observation: even when the comments more or less match my wild suggestions above, I'm still unnerved by them. An awful idea feels harmless if you keep telling yourself that it's just a private delusion, but the moment you know that someone else shares it, matters begin to look much more grave.
Watson was right about Africa. Larry Summers was right about women in certain professions. Roissy is right about the state of the sexual marketplace.
Democracy isn't that great. A ghetto/barrio/alternative name for low-class-hell-hole isn't a physical location, its people. Richer people are on average smarter, nicer, prettier than poor people. The more you strive to equalize material opportunities the more meritocracy produces a caste system based on inborn ability. Ideologies actually are as crazy as religions on average. There is no such thing as moral progress and if there is there is no reason to expect we have been experiencing it so far in recorded history, unless you count stuff like more adapted cultures displacing less adapted ones or mammals inheriting the planet from dinosaurs as moral progress. You can't be anything you want, your potential is severely limited at birth. University education creates very little added value. High class people unknowingly wage class war against low class people by promoting liberal social norms that the... (read more)
Roissy recently quoted and linked to a disturbing parable on this:... (read more)
This one really doesn't belong on the list. The political science research showing a negative correlation between support for the welfare state and ethnic diversity is widely known and not-at-all secret.
It probably should have been given as something like "Diversity is not strength." to make apparent its political implications as well as cover other cases.
technology has indirectly caused millions of deaths by directly causing enough food to create millions of lives.
Technology has indirectly prevented millions of deaths by directly providing easy means of birth control.
However, now I am getting silly.
It has also directly saved millions upon millions of lives.
Given that we haven't achieved immortality yet, we'd have to specify what it means to "save a life".
In practice LessWrongers invoke directly or implicitly moral progress all the time. Like this.
They also sometimes invoke "well people changed their opinions in the past on case A, B and C, surely we will change our minds on D too!". Taking the idea of moral progress seriously, its perfectly fine to say that no thank you but you'd prefer not to change your vales to pattern match arbitrary historical processes (and further more a potentially flawed pattern match of historical processes!), so you are not changing your opinion on D.
This is even true for people who happen to disagree with modern stances on A, B or C. Preserving one's values is most likley a prerequisite for maximising expected utility. In this sense all of human history has been a horrible tragedy with the vast majority of people (including people alive today), being born in a uncaring universe with a practical guarantee of an alien valueless future.
There are plenty of comments of that nature on LessWrong and they are very rarely poorly received. While the first example I gave was eventually down voted this is only because he proposed particularly bad reasoning based on that axiom. If you consider the criticism in the thread very few people attacked moral progress directly.
Also in wider society there is a strong assumption, almost a civic religion based on notions of moral progress. Even those of us who believe that we don't belive in moral progress probably have many cached thoughts and biases directly related to the belief that we haven't yet noticed and repaired.
GLaDOS has extensively discussed many of these issues on the past if you check out her comment history. I think the average LessWrong reader considers most of the statements both plausible and clearly at least partially stuff that might be suppressed via lowered status or other negative consequences.
Its actually a quite good and convincing list, since her first three examples are clearly people who have suffered negative consequences or at least status hits because they held them. Watson and Summers are pretty self-explanatory. Roissy seems to have suffered infamy for his opinions so far. But he allegedly had some problems when his "real" identity was leaked at a time, the people who "revealed it" did so with the hope of hurting him. So clearly the opinions that he holds are by most people classified as of that kind.
Such users may up vote it or read it, but definitely won't down vote it in this thread. Also there are probably people who find many of the statements on the list basically "sky is blue" stuff.
I found only the last statement on the list as something that I'd put a confidence below 0.9 on, but she did provide a link to a blog that discusses it quite widely (haven't yet had time to read the key posts there properly).
Note that there is a subtler mechanism than brute suppression that puts strict limits on our effective thoughtspace: the culture systematically distracts us from thinking about the deep, important questions by loudly and constantly debating superficial ones. Here are some examples:
Notice how the sequence of psychological subterfuge works. First, the culture throws in front of you a gaudy, morally charged question. Then various pundits present their views, using all the manipulative tactics they have developed in a career of professional opinion-swaying. You look around yourself and find all the other primates engaged in a heated debate about the question. Being a social animal, you are inclined to imitate them: you are likely to develop your own position, argue about it publicly, take various stands, etc. Since we reason to argue, you will spend a lot of time thinking about this question. Now you are committed, firstly to your stand on the explicit question, but also to your implicit position that the question itself is well-formulated.
Everyone's favorite effigy Moldbug calls this "defining the null hypothesis."
fair disclosure: I don't think Moldbug is good for much more than clever turns of phrase.
It's posts like this that make me wish for a limited-access forum for discussing these issues, something along the lines of an Iconoclastic Conspiracy.
The set of topics too inflammatory for LW to talk about sanely seems pretty small (though not empty), but there's a considerably larger set of topics too politically sensitive for us to safely discuss without the site taking a serious status hit. This basically has nothing to do with our intra-group rationality: no matter how careful we are in our approach, taking (say) anarcho-primitivism seriously is going to alienate some potential audiences, and the more taboo subjects we broach the more alienation we'll get. This is true even if the presentation is entirely apolitical: I've talked to people who were so squicked by Torture vs. Dust Specks as to be permanently turned off the site. On the other hand (and perhaps more relevantly to the OP), as best I can tell there's nothing uniquely horrible about any particular taboo subject, and most that I can think of aren't terribly dangerous in isolation: it's volume that causes problems.
Now, it's tempting to say "fuck 'em if they can't take it", but this really is a bad thing ... (read more)
And it's not just the site in general, it's also the participants. Some of the stances that have been mentioned in this thread are considered so toxic within some circles that anyone even discussing them risks becoming very unpopular in such circles. At worst, everyone who's known to be an LW regular will be presumed to hold such opinions, regardless of whether or not they've actually even participated in such discussions.
I don't have a problem with such topics being sometimes touched upon, but if they were regularly and extensively discussed, I could imagine getting a little nervous about using my real name here.
Less Wrong will have a “limited-access forum” before 2013.
Specifically, I think this line has already been crossed with multiple polyamory discussions. When I started reading this site (while still being a religiously observant Jew) this is the sort of thing that might have quickly classified LW as a 'bunch of hippies who look for "rational" reasons to operate outside of social norms'.
I think there are good reasons to discuss this specific topic as a test case for rationality, but people need to be acutely aware of the tradeoffs.
More specifically if SI gains enough prominence to be noticed by news outlets I'd prefer more of this image
and less of this
I should probably mention that this has been discussed before. An invitation-only mailing list was the proposal being thrown around back then, but some fairly reasonable-sounding objections were also brought up. I'm not sure whether the signaling problems of organizing (as pedanterrific put it) secret-society stuff outweigh the signaling problems of discussing the same subjects publicly (though I suspect the former is preferable), or whether either one brings a net gain over not discussing them at all (less sure about this one), but in light of the OP I thought it was worth revisiting.
I would also like to endorse GLaDOS's excellent list.
Agreed except for the part about Less Wrong is unusually bad in this regard. I think it's actually doing better then most gatherings of smart people attempting to reorganize society. Keep in mind lesswrong's equivalent 50 years ago would have been advocating Marxism.
You've never li... (read more)
What makes you say that? Reading "lesswrong's equivalent 50 years ago" makes me think RAND Corporation.
As someone who has read many RAND papers and their retrospectives about the people in RAND 50 years ago, I strongly agree - if nothing else, because of RAND's early computer work like constructing MANIAC and developing decision and game theory.
AFAIK dictatorships are higher variance than democracies, but on average they aren't too differerent (in terms of GDP at least). Most intuitive explanation: a good dictator can do really good things and a bad dictator can do really bad things, but good and bad democracies aren't able to do as much good/bad because the political system moves like molasses.
The Ceteris Paribus is important. The fact that you can think of a lot of democracies that are nice places to live and dictatorships that are lousy isn't good evidence that democracy is beneficial in itself. I view democracy as an extremely expensive concession to primitive equality norms that primitive agriculturalists can't afford. But it isn't a luxury worth buying.
How many cetera can you require to be paria before you're creating an implicit No True Scotsman?
It's quite possible, and indeed I find the idea highly persuasive, that while dictatorships may not necessarily cause all sorts of unpleasant things (oppression, civil war, corruption, etc.), they do make those unpleasant things much more likely due to more hidden structural flaws (e.g. lack of an outlet for dissatisfaction).
That proposition sounds to me a bit like saying "ceteris paribus, driving at 230km/h will get you to your destination much faster".
60's LessWrong would be Ayn Rand's Objectivism rather than some yet another interpretation of Marxism.
It might be the error where "X years ago" counts back from 2000 instead of the current year.
A lot of us pro-market liberaltarian types would have been Marxists before the last 50 years of overwhelming evidence in favor of capitalism came in...
I often get the impression, from young american consequentialist libertarians, that they would be socialists in any other country. Certainly they don't resemble right-libertarians elsewhere, or older american libertarians. And conversely your socialist organisations are missing their usual complement of precocious hippy cynics
Can you unpack these intuitions? As a young American consequentialist vacillating between socialism and libertarianism, I'm very curious.
Pff, this one is so normal it has an obligatory link :D
While I agree, I disapprove because my impression is that this is not an opinion suppressed much in the outside culture. I can well imagine it being an unpopular one here at Less Wrong, but in the world at large I see widespread support for similar opinions, such as among "conservatives" (in a loose sense) complaining about how "intellectuals" (ditto) were and are overly supportive of Communism, and complaints against "technocrats" and "ivory towers" in general. I also see disagreement with this, but not tabooing of it.
My agreement is based on the opinion appearing to be congruent with the quip "Evolution is smarter than you are", or the similar principle of "Chesterton's Fence".
I also get the impression that this is often because smart people don't see the value of the institutions to smart people. (This may be because it doesn't have such value.) For instance:
I'm fairly confident LessWrongers could engage in polyamory this without significant social dysfunction or suffering, let alone death on a massive scale. (BTW: I couldn't find any articles here by that title. Are you referring to a general tendency, or did I fail at searching?)
Using Chesterton's Fence here is a little misleading.
The whole rationale behind Chesterton's Fence is that clearly someone put the fence there, and it seems pretty likely that whoever that was was just as capable as I am of concluding (given what I know) that putting a fence here is absurd, and it seems pretty likely that they know everything I know, and therefore I can conclude with reasonable confidence that they knew relevant things I don't know that made them conclude that putting a fence here is worth doing, and therefore I should significantly reduce my confidence that putting a fence here is absurd.
Using the same rationale for natural phenomena doesn't really work... there's a reason it isn;t Chesterton's Fallen Tree.
You can, of course, put natural selection in the role of fence-builder, which seems to be what you're doing. But actually there's lots of areas where humans are smarter than evolution. At the very least, humans respond to novel situations a whole lot faster.
I'd actually extend that from natural phenomena to any sufficiently complex system. I spend a lot of my time working with a codebase that dates back to about 1993 and has been accumulating tweaks and refactors ever since; there's enough obscure side-effects that it's often a good idea to make a good-faith search for unusual consequences of seemingly vestigial code, but more often than not I don't turn up anything. I can be fairly confident that any particular code segment was originally put in place for a reason, if not necessarily a very good reason, but if I understand the rest of the local architecture well and I can't figure out why something's there, it's more than likely that all the original reasons for it have succumbed to bit rot.
Societies are one of the better examples of Katamari Damacy architecture that I can think of outside computer science, so it seems to me that a similar approach might be warranted. Which isn't to say that you can get away with not doing your homework, nor that most aspiring social architects have done so to any reasonable standard.
Isn't this one of the arguments sometimes invoked in favour of environmentalism?
Hm, this sucks, a bunch of birds are eating part of our harvest each year. Lets get rid of them!. Changing some things in your natural envrionment that you aren't quite sure of what they do or why they are there, might be a very bad idea.
Also it as argument that can be used in medicine. It can be a bad idea to take something to artificiality reduce your fever for example. Changing some things in your own body that you aren't quite sure of what they do or why they are there, is probably a very bad idea.
I would say that for societal adaptations that have come into being without design the case is stronger than with the natural environment but weaker than with your own body. Maybe there should be a thing like Chesterton's Fallen Tree.
Sure, changing some things in my natural environment might be a very bad idea.
Failing to change some things in my natural environment might be a very bad idea too.
And, yes, human history is a long series of decisions along these lines: do we build habitations, or keep living in caves? Do we build roads, cities, power grids, airplanes, trains? Do we mine the earth for fuel, for building materials, for useful chemicals? Do we burn fuel on a large scale? Do we develop medicines and tools that interfere with the natural course of biological development when that course is uncomfortable? Etc. Etc. Etc.
Mostly, humanity's answer is "Yes." If we can do it, we typically do, just 'cuz.
Have we thereby caused bad consequences? Sure.
Have we thereby caused net bad consequences? Well, I suppose that depends on what you value, and on what you consider the likeliest counterfactual states, but if you think we have I'd love to hear your reasons.
Me, I think we're unambiguously better off for having chopped Chesterton's Fallen Tree into firewood and burned it to keep warm through Chesterton's Deadly Winter. And in practice, when I see a fallen tree in my yard, I don't devote a noticeable amount of time to evaluating the possible important-but-nonobvious benefits it is providing by lying there before I deal with it.
As a former Evangelical Polyamorist, now a born-again Monogamist, I enthusiastically endorse items 1 & 2 in this comment.
It can be thought of as the cultural equivalent of Algernon's Law - any small cultural change is a net evolutionary disadvantage. I might add "previously accessible to our ancestors", since the same principle doesn't apply to newly accessible changes, which weren't previously available for cultural optimism. This applies to organizing via websites. It does not apply to polyamory (except inasmuch as birth control, std prevention, and paternity testings may have affected the relevant tradeoffs, though limited to the degree that our reactions are hardwired and relevant).
Here's some nice controversial things for you:
Given functional birth control and non-fucked family structure, incest is fine and natural and probably a good experience to have.
Pedophilia is a legitimate sexual orientation, even if it expressing it IRL is bad (which it is not). Child porn should not be suppressed (tho some of it is documentation of crime and should be investigated).
Most of the impact of rape is a made-up self fulfilling prophesy.
Child sexual consent hits the same issues as child acting or any other thing that parents can allow, and should not be treated differently from those issues.
Self identity is a problem.
EDIT: most of the deaths in the holocaust were caused by the allies bombing railroads that supplied food to the camps.
Less controversial in LW, but still bad to say outside:
I run out of ideas.
EDIT: in case it's not clear, I take all these ideas seriously. I would actually appreciate a discussion on these topics with LW.
EDIT: this was productive! I've seriously updated one way or the other on many of these ideas. Thanks for pointing out truths and holes everyone! :)
I think It would be technically illegal for me to participate or update away from my default position in such a hypothetical debate.
I agree that this doesn't say good things about where you live.
As long as you hold onto the basic idea that extermination was the goal, and they were accidentally assisted by the destruction of infrastructure (which also was instrumental in preventing the rest of them from being killed), is that really downplaying the atrocities?
That said, I don't know if that claim is really true.
Assuming by highest likelihood that you're German, my reading of the relevant section of the criminal code suggest that it's OK for you to debate in Internet fora:
Unless it can be argued that you'd be "disturbing the public peace". But as I understand it, in Germany (and France) it's legal to visit Stormfront, you just cannot promote it.
disturbing the peace is a catchall for "the authorities decided they don't like what you're doing" FYI. Long legal tradition and all that.
And the shortage of food in Germany, and everything else that provided a disincentive to feed the people that the party line proclaimed to be innnately hostile and seditious.
When you're literally last on the priority list (well, maybe above Soviet POVs in 1941), every economic difficulty will "cause" you to starve while you could've easily endured it in a society that had a more balanced if utterly cynical opinion of you.
(I find the other things you mentioned to be broadly correct, but not without caveats; moreover, if one goes about it naively without minding such caveats, one would likely do much greater harm to most involved than the current self-deception does.)
Sorry, but no deal. Trying to withhold value judgment when talking about highly unpopular social systems is one thing. Such a reversal of the approved opinion after a cursory look, however, is downright stupid, and beneath you. I've had sex with a guy several times; do you really think that me being executed for it if someone knew and disliked me enough to report me to officials IS LESS AWFUL than the evils of feminism and immigration? I bet not. Would you like Canada to invade the U.S. and install an incredibly brutal occupation regime by claiming it's a necessary pre-emptive strike to save the world from American tyranny (even if said tyranny was a real danger)? I bet not.
Next time please evaluate MORE facts from the historical period in question before drawing tenous comparisons and making judgments like these.
(Oh, and is that still a conspiracy when it has the deliberate backing of the lawful head of state, AND that head of state is legally an absolute dictator who left no constitutional provision in place on which he could be judged for those atrocities? I'm pretty shit at law, but, logically, if the Fuhrer wouldn't mind the atrocities, and the Nazi legal thought made the Fuhrer's authority utterly untouchable - see e.g. Carl Schmidt's opinion on sovereignity - then the investigator only had international law to fall back on, which the Nazi system would deny to be a source of authority in this case.)
(Warning: Judging moral claims with System-1 is unreliable.) Thinking that as a kid I could have been allowed to have sex, have had people annoying me with undesired propositions (even after they knew my age), and have had people trying to manipulate me into sex, makes me at most kind of uneasy. Thinking that my parents could have had any kind of say over it gave me a panic attack.
Wow, when I read "should not be treated differently from those issues", I assumed the intention was likely to be "child acting, indoctrination, etc., should be considered abuse and not tolerated by society", a position I would tentatively support (tentatively due to lack of expertise).
Incidentally, I found many of the other claims to be at least plausible and discussion-worthy, if not probably true (and certainly not things that people should be afraid to say).
Nah, don't think so. Identifiable sources:
The "incest isn't wrong" position isn't novel. The "everyone would be better off if they did" is novel, and I confess I don't understand it at all. Not everyone is attracted to close family members.
I agree with the first half, but would have phrased the second half as "the ban on computer-generated child pornography should be reversed and indeed subsidized to crowd out pornography using real children".
Really? What about for people who don't have access to emergency birth control? Or who were unlucky enough to be raped by someone with an STD? Or who live in a society that murders women who get raped as adulterers? Or just in a society that tends to divide women into "good girls" and "sluts"? (Maybe you meant society's self-fulfillin... (read more)
And not everyone is attracted to everyone else, but I see no reason not to be close with your family in this way.
Why so conservative? How is child porn different from child acting? Assuming consent and all that.
Yes, in third world countries, butthurt is not the primary damage caused by rape. I mean in cases without lasting physical effects. Maybe I should have been more clear?
pretty much anything besides being an underwear model. Likelyhood to start a fight. Expected value as an employee in most jobs. Intellectual capacity.
Come to think of it, the correlates of race are mostly covered by class and subculture.
For some, the prevalent notion of "rape is something that doesn't happen to men" seems to make the feelings of shame after being raped even worse. Female rape is commonly considered horrific and something where the victim needs support; male rape isn't always even acknowledged as something that exists.
See e.g. The Rape of Men.... (read more)
I may not be tracking, here. Are you suggesting that as a class, men who are raped aren't as emotionally affected as women who are raped? Or that if they are, it's for some reason other than social encouragement? Something else?
Hang on a minute. This a prime hypothesis testing space! If you really think that anti-rape messaging makes post-rape experience worse, it surely follows that it must be worse for women than for men, this messaging being mostly aimed at women. So you can quite conveniently check your theory by comparing the incidence of ptsd, depression, etc in male and female rape survivors.
No need to keep this as a controversial suspicion or instinct, you'd be armed with real knowledge! Knowledge you can report back to us, and anyone else you may have discussed this issue with. Indeed I think you could cultivate a useful reputation for open mindedness and rationality if you went back to any place you'd seen this attitude expressed before, and shared your findings -positive or negative- with them.
There are a lot of confounding factors hereabouts.
Yea, and doing a proper double blind test would pretty much be the least likely thing ever to pass any ethics committee.
Not necessarily. If male rape is not acknowledged at all, it can be much harder to talk about it and heal.
Expressing a controversial opinion doesn't condone being immature or disrespectful.
Beyond that, I have two questions for you:
1) How much confidence do you place in your statement on the impact of female rape in first-world countries?
2) If the answer to (1) is greater than "very little", on what sort of direct or indirect knowledge of the phenomenon do you base this confidence?
How is it different than saying "Sex is fine, and is probably a good experience to have" in response to puritanical notions about celibacy? Nowhere does it say it should be mandatory or that you absolutely have to have sex with anyone who asks.
"Life After Rape" is a good (aside from "there is no sex in rape" being false in an important sense) elaboration on (one construal of) this.
An analogous idea, that other people on this thread have come close to but not exactly said, is 'spreading the meme of democracy to non-democratic societies causes needless suffering by making people feel oppressed, when their extrapolated volition if you hadn't done so wouldn't have come to care in the same way.'
Have you personally met many people who were raped?
Come to that, have you met many people who were brutally beaten?
I haven't met many, but I've known emotionally traumatized people in both categories, and I've known people in both categories who seemed to shrug it off.
Incidentally, if I've mischaracterized what you meant by "bawwfest" by reframing it as emotional trauma, let me know. I don't really know what you mean by the term, over and above the intention to be dismissive of its referent.
You underestimate the effects of an entire cultural narrative repeatedly telling them that it's something to be traumatized by.
I meant consensual sex. Do I really need to specify?
Some evidence suggests that this isn't true.
At some point, it will become useful to stop using the word "consent" in this discussion, as I don't think the word has the same referent every time it gets used. In particular, I don't think there's general agreement on how much knowledge is implied when we say a system consents to an action, and the different assumptions about that lead to different conclusions.
I mean both, incidentally. Identity in the Paul Graham sense is the mindkiller.
In the ego sense, I mean that we should seek to cast off identification with our work, so that work becomes about the work not about signaling or growing your reputation. Also, this means not being constrained to try to defend your past actions. This is quite hard, but is made somewhat easier on the internet, especially in paces where anonymous posting is allowed. Being unattached like this also enables you to try new creative things with much lower social cost of failure. This is one of the big theories for why 4chan is so successful as a cultural center when compared with, say, facebook.
EDIT: I also hold that identity is probably a problem in the philosophical sense where you might be considering joining consciousness with someone (or many someones) else.
"Many (and probably most) animals also have gender in the sense that individuals with penises behave in certain ways, and individuals with ovaries behave in other ways, despite not having memes." It would be surprising if H. sapiens were very different.
(The obviousness-in-retrospect of this argument, stated so straightforwardly, combined with the fact that I almost never hear it stated so straightforwardly and never thought of it myself, makes me update towards culture being able to non-obviously derange debates like this to a really high degree. Far mode isn't naturally about truth.)
Well that changes things.
And yes that is disturbing.
... though it's worth keeping in mind that "the details of how gender works are made up" is still true to a pretty large extent (≥ the extent to which cross-cultural variation in gender exists); it's just that, like all culture, they're made up in a way generated/constrained by primate behavior, which has a lot of sex-dependence.
One argument for castrating rapists is that rape is (among other things) a reproductive strategy, and there may be a genetic predilection to pursue it. As such, eliminating rapists from the gene pool will reduce the efficacy of that reproductive strategy, and thus over generations eliminate the genetic predilection and therefore reduce rape — even if it doesn't work at all as a deterrent.
Of course, this also forms an argument for mandatory abortion in case of rape. Which is not somewhere I'd like to go. In both cases (castration and mandatory abortion) we have violation of bodily integrity, which has historically been a bit of a Schelling point for the legitimate reach of law, since the abolition of juridical torture.
LWers are largely too confident in the conclusiveness of the research they cite for some of their beliefs.
Colonialism was a good system with significant beneficial impact for colonized countries, which are now failing mostly due to native incompetence rather than colonial trauma. It would be a win-win position to reinstitute it competently.
110% agreed. Hell, I often argue that in real life; there's no stigma attached to colonialism in Russia these days, probably in part because any serious attack on it sounds too much like a tired Soviet cliche.
I must admit as much as I disagree with some components of the cultural and ideological influence of the British Empire, it is hard to argue with its results. The British Empire seems to have generally produced superior outcomes in terms of quality of life for inhabitants and general development than nearly any other government be it native or colonial. Considering the gains created by this I can't help but wonder if Cecile Rhodes had a point when he said:
Indeed if I found myself magically transported to 19th century Europe with considerable wealth and influence I may yet decide that there is no nobler and benevolent enterprise than to support the expansion and growth of the British Empire. In this light the success of the American revolution may actually plausibly be one of the great tragedies of human history.
Now that I've dumped all these warm fuzzies we may as well enjoy a happy death spiral around it.
While one can applaud the cultural influence of the British empire on its colonial holdings, allow me to disagree with "it is hard to argue with its results".
Timeline of major famines in India during British rule
Note that Britain was forcibly exporting Indian grain for its own benefit during some of these famines.
I fail to see why this is somehow horrible or surprising by historical standards. I can hardly think of an empire that would do otherwise. One might quickly argue that native government unlike an empire would have not done this, but seriously, does anyone expect economic growth and development of infrastructure to have grown at a comparable rate? Even rapid population growth that was sometimes the cause of such famines, is in itself an indicator that deaths from disease and violence have likley fallen.
Big sad events like famines grab more attention than say a faster than otherwise increases in GDP growth by 2% or 1% or 0.5%. But the latter sort amounts to far more over the years. Inclusion in the British Empire in itself lifted millions worldwide from the Malthusian margin.
All the places Britain has owned, even briefly. I may have been suffering from availability bias. The US, Canada, Australia, Hong Kong, and India are doing better than a lot of other places, but what about Afghanistan? Nigeria? Syria?
The British may have had more successful ex-colonies than other empires, but this doesn't mean all, or even a majority of their ex-colonies were successful.
They are better, did they do better? You need to control for the empire's choice of targets! India accounted for a quarter of world GDP at the time of conquest- by independence it was barely one percent.
Yes, missing out on the industrial revolution does that to you.
Dear people who post things like "Incest is neat" and "Whites are smarter than blacks": those things are currently controversial. Therefore, they don't come close to being unthinkable or impossible to talk about.
Nitpick: men dominating women and fathers (not mothers) deciding infanticide are not features of the ancestral environment, they come from the invention of agriculture, moving out of the ancestral environment.
Now, "agriculture was a mistake, let's go back to hunting, gathering, and killing babies born during famines", that's more of a sacred cow^W wild aurochs.
Other not-easily-thinkable positions (I don't believe any of these, but believe they're not utterly ridiculous):
ADBOC and that's somewhat beside the point, because it seems to me that things are necessarily somewhat controversial to be taboo. As Paul Graham said:
Now, James Watson and Stephanie Grace might want a word with you. (Larry Summers could file an amicus brief.) Chanting "Racist, racist, cow porn, racist, racist, cow porn" seems to fairly closely match Multiheaded's description that "society would instantly slam the lid on it with either moral panic or ridicule and give the speaker a ... (read more)
Whether I like it or not, people tend to overfit the curves associated with past trauma to available data.
If I want to avoid being pattern-matched to someone's trauma, I have to take extreme measures.
Hedge phrases pretty reliably don't cut it... they're like making incremental improvements to my bird-feeder to keep squirrels away: I just end up training the squirrels.
Yuh. On LessWrong, scientific racism is a standard permitted scientific heresy for signaling nonconformity. It's the nonconformist in black, not the one in a clown suit. (And this is a stupidity that is extremely offputting.)
It's not "racism" if you feel sympathetic and heartbroken for all the people and cultures clearly, unknowingly fucked over by mere biology, and would work hard on something in that direction - a global uplift project, donating to avenues which could eventually provide opportunity for massive genetic surgery (a class of charity currently consisting of SIAI, SIAI and SIAI), developing a political and cultural framework for something like "compassionate eugenics" (using as little coercion and stirring up as little drama as viable) - yes, I'd commit to any of that, if I wasn't confident that simply trying to cut all the Gordian knots in our vicinity with superhuman intelligence wasn't a better idea. (As it stands, I sort of desire to fight my akrasia to a standstill and find a good optimized way to help with the latter; however, it's not just akrasia, it's all sorts of problems I have with getting in productive work on anything.)
However, if I was, for some defensible reason, unwilling to relegate the entire mess to superintelligence, wouldn't trying what I described be noble instead of "racist"?
(Uh-huh, my signaling is about as subtle as a troll with a sledgehammer here. A troll of the fantasy non-network variety, that is. Well, whatever, I'm certain I've got a valid and coherent sentiment.)
Aaaaaaaa. This is such a bad idea that I don't even know where to start.
Racism as it's presently conceptualized isn't a simple matter of fear or hatred of ethnic others, unfortunately. That would be comparatively easy to deal with. It's an enormously messy tangle of signaling and countersignaling and I really can't do it justice without reading a few books for background and then devoting a sequence to it (which I'm not going to do for reasons that should be obvious), but as an oversimplification you can probably sum up most of the Western world's high-status thinking regarding race as follows:
Everything even tangentially related to race is ineradicably tainted by ingroup/outgroup biases.
Because of this, attitudes and social prescriptions appearing to differentiate in any way by ethic background, or by any factor that can plausibly be linked to ethic background, are automatically suspect and should be compensated for as soon as discovered.
That includes these rules.
Now, that's a fairly cynical way of putting it (I'm optimizing for brevity), but to a first approximation I don't think it's even wrong.
So yes, conceptually your project should be seen as noble, if you accept ... (read more)
Of course not. That would subject accusations of racism to falsifiability.
That's a common argument against it, actually, although it's usually framed in class terms. Maybe the most common once you filter out all the various manifestations of "ew, that's gross".
Not one that I accept myself, but like I said I only buy an approximation of the thinking above. There's plenty of places it'll steer you wrong at the margins.
People competent enough about intelligence enhancement tech to understand what you said are usually too incompetent about racism to start implementing anything like this without it blowing up in our faces. Remember that video where Razib Khan (?) asked Eliezer which groups were most interested in race-IQ research results, and it went like "I don't know, Ashkenazi Jews?" "White supremacists." "Oh."? That's how ridiculously ignorant we are. The common wisdom is here for a reason.
Some possibilities on dorky LW topics (as opposed to the topics I assume Vladimir et al. are referring to):
Not only are anti-natalist arguments correct, they are correct in such a way that we should be attempting to maximize x-risks.
Wireheading is necessary and sufficient for the fulfillment of true human CEV; people only claim to care about other values for signalling purposes.
A very strong form of error theory is correct; what people actually care about is qualia, even though there is no such thing. It doesn't all add up to normality; just as bad metaphysics may lead people to think there's a relevant difference between praying to God and attempting to summon demons, bad metaphysics makes people think there's a relevant difference between donating a million dollars to Against Malaria Foundation and kidnapping and torturing a small child.
It would be very fun to have a thread where we attempted to come up with seductive, harmful ideas, and the chance of actually happening upon a very infectious and very harmful one would be very low.
Alternative which I view as being more frightening:
For any given human, its CEV involves that human winning at zero-sum, possibly even negative-sum, games (status would be one of these). As such, the best way to maximize the current collection of humanity's CEV would be to create new agents to which current humans defeat in zero-sum games.
That is, for every current human, create a host of new agents (all of whom are quite human for all intents and purposes) of whom the current human is emperor.
Note: if this is the case, I doubt pseudo-agents will suffice. Just as humans do not wish to love pseudo-humans (that is, humans who cannot really love), humans do not wish to win zero-sum games against pseudo-humans (that is, humans who cannot really lose zero-sum games, with all that losing these games entails).
Some portrayals of heaven involve each person having dominion over a host of angels. One can only hope this allows for live action real-time strategy.
So basically, what you're saying is that CEV might work out to everyone getting their own secret volcano lair filled with harems of catpersons? Now where have I heard this idea before...
As near as I can tell I'm -want/+like/-approve on both wireheading and emperor-like superiority.
I am willing to admit to having a desire to feel superior to other people.
The same would apply to cuckoldry.
We know so little about our minds that conscious efforts to improve them are likely to do damage. Actually, I consider that an exaggeration, but I do think that ill effects of following socially supported advice are likely to be kept private and/or ignored for a very long time.
We know almost nothing about the effects of sex for children and teenagers.
Black people are actually genetically superior in important ways-- they've had such bad luck from geography and racism that their advantages don't show up as superior results.
Nationalism is more destructive than religion, and almost as much of a collective hallucination.
Following up on the "CEV is impossible" part of the discussion: The only thing an FAI can do is protect us from UFAI and possibly other gross existential threats.
Upvoted for saying the only thing in this whole thread that makes my inner animal go "aaaaugh I must fight against people who say that". I didn't know I had it in me.
Thanks for letting me know.
The funny thing is, I think the idea that cuckoldry would be a non-issue if people were thinking clearly is pretty close to conventional ideas about adoption-- that people shouldn't use biological descent to make distinctions among the children they're raising. See also the fairly successful efforts to reduce the stigma of bastardy.
To extend the idea, we could say that just about all the pain people feel about status-lowering events is self-fulfilling prophecy, but this version less likely to sting because it isn't about something specific.
Just for fun, flip it over. People aren't nearly sensitive enough about their status. If people cared more about their rankings, they'd do a lot more, and enough of it would be worthwhile (by those entirely rational geek standards which are opposed to the bad mainstream standards) that there'd be a net gain.
One more: You can't tell anything important about a person by their taste in art, fiction, music, etc.
Why stop at cuckoldry, where the child is still genetically half one's spouse's? Outright cuckcooing! Swap everybody's kids around in the hospital!
(If I lived in a world where that was regularly done and I knew it, I would not have a bio-kid; I'd adopt a five-year-old and exercise some control over what sort of person I'm inviting into my home that way.)
Why not take it another step further? Why have random non-licensed people raise children? We usually don't let just anyone adopt kids, in my country one needs to go through a lot of hoops and be financially capable of supporting a child before getting on the list. In practice one demonstrates conscientiousness, a strong desire to have children and financial independence. If all children are adopted children, why not do this? Surely this should only be done by teams of qualified experts in tandem with carefully chosen adoptive parents?
It sounds very much like you're saying that no one would choose to be part of a minority culture if they weren't forced into it by non-acceptance. If that is what you meant, wouldn't that imply that destroying that minority culture is better than forcing people to continue being part of it?
Stolen generation isn't relevant here since it wasn't reciprocal - the children were taken, not replaced by white children who were then raised in Aboriginal commmunities.
This is kind of a pet peeve of mine. "Genocide" has really strong negative moral valence in most people's minds because the last time somebody tried it, it involved killing millions of people. Throwing it around in situations that don't involve death seems... not inaccurate per se, but still disingenuous.
I'm with Alicorn on this one: if your members don't want to be in your community, sucks to be your community.
Maybe they should make more of an effort to convince their members that their community is worth being a part of rather than using mechanisms like shunning and mainstream stigmatism to enforce membership.
Somehow I can't bring myself to be bothered by this
For some reason my brain decided to recast this question as though the minority culture were a corporation selling a product at a price (non-full-inclusion in majority culture translated into money). If people don't want to buy it, sucks to be you! I don't care if your values say they ought to or if it will make you sad. Change product or market product but do not force its purchase on anyone.
You do realize we are talking about retention of children raised in a culture right? Orgasmium cults and brainwashing indoctrinators would tend to out compete most others by such measures. A cult worshipping a baslisk that hacks your brain into absolute loyalty would also win out.
Optimizing for allure will not optimize for welfare. At least not under these mechanisms of "choice". It also means our value sets can be out competed by really convincing paperclippers.
From the perspective of many traditional cultures Westerners may as well be Supper Happy people.
Men probably have systematic preferences for how to treat their children according to traits the children do or do not posses and a variety of cues that have evolved to ensure they invest in genetically related children.
But this may have little to do with conscious awareness of such information or emotional distress caused by it.
"Teenagers" doesn't really describe anything in the real world except perhaps a subculture.
Well we already have data about the social status of people who propose such theories.... (read more)
I agree. Why would there be a switch in the brain "in case genetic tests prove/shaman says child isn't yours go into depression!"? Other cues like smell or facial similarity are already factored into the fathers feelings before he consciously knows about the child's genetics.
I don't think that's true for teenagers, their sexuality is heavily studied. I don't have very high confidence in academia but they must have produced something useful on the subject. Right? In any case I agree that children's sexuality is a pretty strong mind-killer and that our knowledge about it is woefully inadequate or just plain wrong.
Possible. But I don't see why this would be controversial.
Come now. White people would be all ecstatic that they now have proof they are to blame for all the problems they've... (read more)
Sharp. I've seen this especially in dieting/weightlifting communities.
I picked it up from fat acceptance.
The Science of Yoga (which generally supports yoga as valuable) has a chapter about the risks of yoga-- which are much higher than a lot of people in yoga knew. These days, at least some yoga teachers are working on making it safer.
The scientific process has been so corrupted by signaling and politics that outside the hard sciences, most of what is called "science" these days, especially mainstream opinion at universities, is less entangled with reality then most religions. At least the religions have been around long enough to be subject memetic selection.
They produce results that work, even for people that don't want to believe them. At least, in most parts of the hard sciences - I don't know about the depths of string theory or cosmology.
For example: economics, psychology, sociology, possibly even medicine (see Hason's discussion of it).
On any reasonable operational definition of "less entangled with reality than most religions", you are ridiculously wrong in claiming that medicine fits the description, and I think Hanson might agree. (I'm less certain about this with regard to certain subfields like stroke rehabilitation, certain sub-subfields in nutrition, etc., but I'm talking about the weighted accuracy of the sorts of activities that Western MDs perform, that are taught in Western medical schools, etc.)
EDIT: Full disclosure: I'm a pharmacy student, so it would be moderately devastating to my sense of worth if you were right. Still.
We have tried to discuss topics like race and gender many times, and always failed. At some point I had this idea that maybe we could get better results if we sometimes enforced political conformity within comment threads :-) For example, if we had a thread of like-minded people discussing "how to make our country more vibrant and diverse" and a separate thread about "how to stop the corrupting influence of Negroes on the youth", I suspect that both threads would have a better signal-to-noise ratio and contain more interesting insights than a unified "let's all argue about racism" thread.
Of course this requires that people from thread A resist the temptation to drop in on thread B for target practice and vice versa. Some especially fervent people may feel threatened by the mere existence of thread A or thread B. (I have actually heard from some LWers that they'd consider it immoral to create such threads.)
The overall level of rationality of a community should be measured by their ability to have a sane and productive debate on those topics, and on politics in general.
Sure, agreed. But it doesn't follow that a community that desires to be rational should therefore engage in debates on those topics (and on politics in general) when it has low confidence that it can do so in a sane and productive way.
Zoophilia is perfectly fine.
The prevailing arguments against it are incoherent for non-vegans anyhow. Nonhuman animals can't consent? How can it possibly make sense to claim the relevance of consent for (non-painful) sexual activity for a class of animals which can be legally killed more or less on demand for its meat or skin, or if it becomes inconvenient to keep? The consent argument is bogus; the popular moral beliefs against zoophilia are actually not based on a legalistic rights framework, but on a purity/corruption/ickiness framework.
I've tried that exact argument in the past with non-LW-inclined friends. From what I remember the main reactions were either (paraphrased) "I'm too squicked out to engage with your argument" or "you're probably right but it's still gross".
EDIT: there was context involved. Damned if I remember what it was but even with my closest friends I wouldn't defend zoophilia just for fun.
I tried it once on a different forum. I was immediately called a troll and run out of town.
...Which is sort of fair enough.
I know way too much about this stuff.
Bestiality is simply having sex with animals. Zoophilia is having romantic, sexual relationships with animals.
I fail to see a problem with either.
I can think of a couple of possibilities that are difficult to discuss (although perhaps not here):
Multiparty electoral democracy has no real utility, confers no legitimacy and doesn't satisfy any primal urge for freedom laying dormant in non-Western peoples. "Democracy" as a concept is mainly used in international politics as a weapon to suppress other political systems through sanctions and military action. When a country becomes "democratic" by holding elections, it's really just signalling its compliance with the West. The current period of liberal democratic triumphalism has created an intellectual Dark Ages of political thought. There are many valid forms of governance that don't involved voting. Moreover, so-called "authoritarianism" has a proven track record for development.
"Free speech" is a luxury of hegemonic powers. Countries that are trying to self-determine their own political development necessarily have to suppress ideas that are backed up by the military and economic might of Western hegemony. Since multiparty elections don't express the innate yearning of every human for freedom but rather compliance with Western power,
Holy Moldbug I swear I get giddy at the very idea of a critical rationalist discussion about democracy on LessWrong! Please someone who has done some heavy lifting on the subject make a post about it!
From the contrary position, I totally agree that this would be an interesting discussion.
Who exactly, as in the class of persons doing it, is trying to self-determine what exactly?
What is "their own culture", who determines it and how does it figure in more or less reflection-heavy utility functions, especially given the heavy cost you approve of?
EDIT: I notice that you, as some of your comments would imply, you simply don't care about the lives and happiness of people who don't have long-term goals ("Life's Great Adventure"... bah). In this case we might just be having a genuine clash of values and can't convince each other about any moral judgment here.
I don't, because I'm more or less imperialist, and neo-colonialist too. I still identify as a socialist and to a lesser extent as a liberal.
I think the most important feature of government is that it handle regime changes well and indefinitely. Authoritarianism would have to be awfully good at development to make up for increased intermittent revolutions and civil wars. I leave it to Steve Jobs and his ilk to handle development.
Yeah, I don't see anything problematic about discussing these here, except that they're about politics.
I really hope no outside observers see this thread.
It strikes me that searching the internet for this phrase, and meaningfully equivalent variants, would be a really interesting experience.
The LW version:
Friendliness of AGI is impossible; this is because Coherent Extrapolated Volition is impossible; our volitions are in part determined by opposing others' so any extrapolation will produce a contradiction (a la once disease is gone, food is plentiful, hangovers don't exist, and you can have sex with anyone you like, the only thing that Palestinians and Israelis care about is denying the others' desires). Any optimisation process applied to human desires will necessarily make things subjectively and objectively worse. We are, in effect, falling down stairs at the speed of our optimising, and more optimisation of any kind will only make us fall faster and deadlier. There was no guarantee that the blind process of evolution would produce agents that form a consistent or positive-sum system, and indeed, it did not produce such agents. The future is unchangeably bleak and necessarily bad.
The Western memeplex version:
Humans are not essentially good-natured beings. The so-called moral progress of the recent era is no such thing - severe oppression of the minority has been swapped for a ... (read more)
Self-reported happiness data seems to not agree with this, unless Swedes are keeping some tortured children in the basement.
If you took areas of low happiness and made them happy, Swedish self-reporting of happiness would go down, is the gist of this idea.
I don't think these are quite in the original spirit of the thread but seem related to several of the discussions that developed. I would like to have discussions about all of these points merely in the hope that I can be convinced to update away from them.
Things I REALLY hope aren't true and suspect might be. Honestly don't read this if you're already depressed right now.
Human beings WANT maximally brutal leaders up to the limit of being able to plausibly signal that they don't want maximally brutal leaders.
People can be tortured to create a lower set point on the hedonic treadmill. This allows for far more overall utility.
Male/female sexual relationships are fundamentally adversarial due to the differences in dominant mating strategies.
There is a large class of violent people for whom no current treatment is available who simply need to be put down.
Humans don't care about torture.
We could create a virtual utopia fairly trivially by investing in lucid dream research but nobody actually cares because:
Anyone with the ability to make the world better almost by definition has a vested stake in the current fucked up one.
P.S. throium reactors. God damn it humans.
How large? Executing / permanently imprisoning serial killers e.g. is fairly mainstream, though certainly controversial.
What makes you suspect something like that? Pretty much any tribe gets pissed off when starts torturing members of . Maybe you mean torture as established part of the justice system, as was common throughout much of history? Even then I'd suspect there are plenty of people who have no problem as long as it only affects or .
"How dare you not engage in what you consider counter-productive debate!"
"How dare you question the coherence of thoughts that I refuse to express!"
-- H.P. Lovecraft
Not only is intellectual property law in its current form destructive, but the entire concept of intellectual property is fundamentally wrong. Creating an X does not give the creator the right to point a gun at everyone else in the universe who tries to arrange matter under their control into something similar to X. In programming terminology, property law should use reference semantics, not value semantics. Of course it is true that society needs to reward people who do intellectual work, just as much as people who do physical work, but there are better justified and less harmful ways to accomplish this than intellectual property law.
The post asked for opinions so repulsive people have a hard time generating them in the first place. This is a relatively common opinion.
Of course it doesn't. The question is if the world becomes a better place if they do it anyway.
A funny unrelated question that just occurred to me: how can one define property rights in a mathematical multiverse which isn't ultimately based on "matter"?
Here are some policy recommendations which would not be very PC:
(Disclaimer: I didn't say I endorse any of these views! See this comment please )
Some of these examples are rather mindkilling, of course.
My preferred state for Africa would be that all its inhabitants are happy, rich, etc. and live in utopia, of course. What do you think of me? I don't have a clue how to achieve utopia in Africa or anywhere else and I don't have any strong political opinions in general.
Edit: I just reread your post and it seems that I misunderstood your intentions when I read it the first time. I thought you wanted us to guess which beliefs Vladimir_M or folks with similar views might hold. (I therefore tried to think of views that are disturbing and at least somewhat reasonable) It follows that I don't necessarily endorse the above mentioned views which I thought I said also in the original comment.
I just read the actual study.
These guys list on page 14 the variance ratios (i.e. male variance divided by female variance) of 31 countries on 5 different tests (1 PISA, 4 TIMSS). 28 test-results are missing so there are in total 127 measurements.
I don't have SPSS but the following should be illuminating enough:
In 7 tests the female variance is higher than the male variance. On 6 tests they are equal. But on 114 tests the male variance is higher than the female one.
In the Netherlands and in Marocco the average variance ratio is around 1. In Indonesia female variance seems to be greater than male variance. But in 28 other countries male variance is on average higher than female variance.
It's true however that the average score of men in some countries is lower than the female one, so maybe the greater male variation is due to the very low scores of some boys. It's important to note however that most participants were younger than 15, and girls tend to score higher on IQ-tests than boys when they are young, whereas this trend reverses as they are getting older. (Oh, and if you look at page 16 you'll see that they only list 16 countries out of 86. Is there some cherry picking going on? )
Maybe I'm missing something huge but these results seem not that promising. Not to mention other studies which showed greater male variance, publication bias and stuff :-)
That may have been inspired by this blog post:
I never actually read anything by Kipling before reading a certain article by Orwell that a fellow LWer mentioned. I must admit I don't consume much poetry in English, yet I was bothered that I knew nothing of the man's work and did some reading after the reference.
I have stumbled upon this poem and thought it appropriate for some of the topics discussed.
The Gods of the Copybook Headings... (read more)
Here is the same old mistake of heartfelt but naive conservatism; assuming that the "common sense" and "old good values" of one's day, if they seem to bring such security and are so good at shooting down other naive and dangerous ideas, will be good forever. Yet Kipling's world with all its wisdom ended up impaled on barbed wire, choking on mustard gas and torn to pieces by its own Maxim gun.
And who led it to that hell? Socialists? Unscrupulous wheelers and dealers? Naive young men who wanted to throw out musty old books and change everything for the better? Why, none of the public Kipling used to deride had much to do with it; the gunpowder was lit by those wise old men who carried sacred traditions and led empires. I'm sure that it never even occured to Kipling that, say, Marshal Haig was far more debased, murderous and evil than any of those he railed against.
I was interpreting the poem sub specie aeternitatis rather than in the specific context it was made. To borrow from Robin Hanson, looking at history farmers embracing forager values tend to die out. The Gods of the Copybook Headings do seem to come back.
Now obviously modern technologically progressing industrial civilization seems a sui generis transition, and there are all sorts of good reasons why this time it will be different, but the outside view is Kipling's view in this case.
And don't think we can in principle rule out a farmer future. The often discussed Malthusian em scenario is a future where the Gods of the Market-Place finally abandon their folly and tightly embrace the teachings of the Gods of the Copybook Heading.
But this is a rather over-specific interpretation of the emotional and I would argue even rationalist core of the poem. Namely that being bored with "water will wet us" and "fire will burn" causes major problems since wishful thinking quickly works to disconnects us from viable strategies in reality.
To clarify when I said abandon their folly, I mean abandon their in the long term (possibly) doomed endeavour. I did not say I would approve of the total victory of farmer values.
I will however say that I have no interest at all in shifting my own values more towards farmer or forager values. So if the current of history is towards one direction I will probably work towards the other.
I have just pointed out that historically this isn't true. Else there would have never been something to call "farmer values" in the first place. I have also given you a scenario that suggest in the future it might not be so.
And in very specific kinds of ways we have, even in modern times, been becoming more and more farmer rather than more and more forager. When it comes to violence we are still pretty clearly moving towards the domesticated farming human rather the violent wild forager (Check out this paper and Pinker's book Better angels of our nature ). To cite another example, when it comes to our workplace we are hyper-farmer in our behavi... (read more)
Nationalism was not yet a conservative position at that point. At least not in the Austro-Hungarian Empire.You are in fact forgetting that nationalism in the third world was not a conservative position even just a few decades ago!
Toppling the old Empires in order to enable self-determination of nations, was a radical idea and indeed a push for global change.
Also note that I'm talking about conservatives here, not right wingers. I don't know why you seem to think otherwise but the right wing has had plenty of people one could describe as:
Fascists for a start.
Anarcho-capitalists are right.
Most upper class and wealthy jobs are actually rent seeking activities as argued in this video by fellow LessWrong user Aurini.
I may not necessarily agree with that particular video but Aurini's channel is pure contrarian & rationalist goodness. Its very depressing he only has a few hundred views per video. These two videos seems somewhat relevant:
Edit: Added a few more sort of relevant videos.
He's interesting, but awfully repetitious-- a trait which is worse for videos than writing.
Also, in his argument against regulation (built around a homeless man who had to save for months to be able to afford a business license), he doesn't address the most common argument for regulation which is that sometimes businesses are extremely dangerous to customers and employees.
Help! Someone is making fun of nerds on the internet! And this guy you talked about occasionally writes on the same site!
In Mala Fide has all sorts of contrarian people. Some are silly, some are insightful. Sure many are mean but that's more or less the point of the site -- may as well complain that 4chan is mean.
"Instead of creating utility, which is hard, we should all train ourselves to find utility in what we already have."
This is my fairly gross simplification of a lot of Eastern philosophy, and it is antithetical to the "Western memeplex" of achievement and progress.
However, relatively few practitioners of Eastern religions really seem to carry through the logical implications of a totally passive philosophy.
I admit the above imperative doesn't seem as horrifying as the ones listed in the OP, but if you really think through to what the consequences would be, I suspect it would be a future we would never choose.
By a very confused utility function? By a utility function best described as Virtue Ethics with total passivity as the highest virtue?
I wasn't suggesting this was a good idea, I was just putting forward a meme which would be rejected by Less Wrong as "too dumb to talk about" which nonetheless would result in universal bliss if it were actually adopted.
It seems to be the case that happiness is actually not caused by getting what you want, but rather by wanting what you get. It's been challenging for me to square this psychological fact with the notion of utility maximization.
Although, I think your point might have been that I could have phrased that sentence more clearly without referring to utility.
Here is a post by Quirinus_Quirrell that is a decent summary. If you want to be more provocative replace "non-zero" with "significant" add sexual orientation/gender identity to the list of characteristics that provide significant information.
There is no way to coherently hold utilitarianism without it leading to "the repugnant conclusion" that we should maximise reproduction.
Everyone who thinks they're utilitarian is engaging in signalling behaviour by claiming to value the happiness of other agents, but always rationalizes a utility argument for the self serving position they had anyway.
There's an unfortunate trick of naming here: some LWers use "utilitarian" to describe "valuing different outcomes by real numbers and acting to maximize expected value according to some decision theory", and would thus describe a paperclip maximizer as utilitarian. I can easily accept that traditional Benthamite utilitarianism has no answer to the repugnant conclusion, though.
People realize "the repugnant conclusion" is just the other side of the Torture/Dust-specs coin, right?
I haven't read any comments yet but why do I have a feeling this will be trigger a thread where lots of LWers come out of the closet? I feel left out, being pretty much flaming unPC I can't elicit any drama that way. :(
Bear in mind that some contrarian statements might have been upvoted for being valuable as examples and contributions to the thread, rather than for substantial agreement. Also there is a selection effect: a contrarian sharing an unpopular opinion is very likely to upvote it when seeing a kindred spirit, but a non-contrarian who doesn't share it is unlikely to downvote it (especially in a thread like this one where the point is to encourage contrarian opinions to come out).
I've up-voted several lists containing statements with which I disagree (some vehemently so), but which were thought provoking or otherwise helpful. So, even if this is just anecdotal evidence, the process you described seems to be happening.
Sometimes the only ethical course of action is to kill another human being.
I doubt a majority of people even deny this.
The only trustworthy, effective sort of chief executive - whether for a small business or a major government - is a sociopath who considers the whole enterprise his (or her, although it's a statistical inevitability that there will be more qualified men) personal property, including the lesser employees or citizens. Anyone capable of genuine compassion is proportionately incapable of unbiased strategic thought. Ideally the sadistic god-kings would also be biologically immortal, but for practical purposes a delusion supported by superstitious anagathic practices would be sufficient; the real societal cost of, say, ritually eating a young child's heart every three months would be trifling compared to the benefits of binding decisions being made by someone who genuinely and incorruptibly wants to maximize the long-term productivity of society as a whole, if only for his own amusement.
Orwell predicted that in such a situation the god-kings would be so corrupted by power that they'd stop caring about efficiency and personal wealth at all, and instead would turn to deriving pleasure from sadism alone. I don't know whether that's right, but history seems to suggest that power indeed drives men from mere cruelty to insanity.
I don't think that any actual sociopaths, as observed in society, ever want to maximise efficiency as an end in itself, when it doesn't coincide with their other personal goals. This would absolutely require not selfish whim, but a complex commitment, both an intellectual and emotional one, which is usually labeled as "obsession" - not a generally approved trait - yet is mostly found in extraordinarily mentally developed people, not deficient ones.
Consider Albert Speer; he was thought an administrative and organisational prodigy by many, and even his detractors admit his intelligence and talent (and yes, no opinion of his subordinates would've likely bothered him) - and yet, despite his limited and naively technocratic outlook at first, when he became Armament Minister, he clearly struggled with his conscience to ignore the criminality of Nazi regime, tried to improve conditions for the slave workers that he employed, and even overturned Hitler's orders to destroy German infrastructure near the end of the war. Do you think that a human being could be found who would optimize arms production better than Speer, yet remained more loyal than him to a cause neither logical, nor moral (for any definition of "moral" quickly available to us), nor feasible?
In short, I think that what you demand is a greater contradiction in traits and behavior than Speer or other technocrats of his caliber displayed - almost certainly greater than what humanity's historically observed diversity permits.
Vladimir_M's statement sounds quite insightful but it's dangerously close to one of these "you can't prove that there aren't any dragons in the garage" type things (not being able to think up with examples doesn't imply they don't exist because their very nature is that they are elusive).
If I were to looking for examples myself - by analogy with the weird sort of thought patterns people addicted to smoking use, to convince themself to keep smoking - I'd try to think of ways to remove things I love from my life (e.g. being able to think whatever I like without monitoring or having my thoughts censorsed/deleted). Some of the Fun theory articles may be a good starting point.