Benjamin Bourlier

Wiki Contributions


Thanks for your comment, I appreciate it! 

That makes sense. I will try to delineate things more clearly, with sub-headings. I admit, my instinctive writing style does more or less reflect my normal train of thought. It can be easy for me to take for granted, and overlook things I assume are clear but aren't to others. Thank you for being helpful in your comment! 

I'm going to try editing this post, and perhaps you'd be willing to give it another read if you care to engage with the arguments. Cheers. 

To quote the frontpage comment guidelines: "If you disagree, try getting curious about what your partner is thinking". Solid advice.


Your responses are typical, predictable. I've already answered them, many people have already answered them. Aside from completely misrepresenting my argument, resorting to memes rather than rational argument (again, I have no idea why you consider irrelevant memes more "productive" than formal, logically consistent argumentation--but yeah, I don't and won't ever take such rhetoric seriously), aside from having no apparent familiarity with any of the link subjects above, you appear specifically to be unaware that infants die and suffer, that 2 deaths are more than 1 death--or else my essay has somehow only just informed you of these facts. I honestly have no idea what to say to you at this point that I haven't already said, other than that you should seriously consider examining the howling wolves in your own head? (I mean that encouragingly, non-dismissively, seriously. Therapy is a very powerful and potentially transformative process. I believe whole-heartedly in it for myself and for everyone.) 

For other readers, though, at least: you're certainly not going to convince me (or anyone like me) of any of the, frankly, incoherent strands of thought you've been pursuing in these comments. As you say, there can be no meeting of the minds between us. I can't convince you to think more slowly, carefully, responsibly. I'm well acquainted with all the relevant arguments. I have met "you" hundreds of times over, at least. Nothing you're saying is original or productive relative to the subject at hand, nor will any sarcasm intimidate me on this issue. Suffering matters, death matters, consent matters. If you want to make a nuanced argument regarding the ethical relevance of these three concepts, by all means. But I've presented you with several opportunities, and no bites.   

"Euthanizing newborns": nope. Have never said anything even remotely suggesting this, nor would I ever. As you'd know (or should) if you read anything I've said in my essay or comments on this thread: I believe in bodily autonomy, thus in reproductive autonomy. I believe a mother has a right to an abortion, due to her bodily autonomy. An abortion is the killing of a newborn (though this is the inviolable right of the mother)--human "euthanasia" generally suggests consent; euthanasia without consent, even in the form of, say, administering death-accelerating morphine to a hospice patient, is technically "killing", according to my ethical perspective (although I believe it is justifiable relatively in the current absurdly inadequate end-of-life care system--quick aside: many hospice nurses understand my arguments completely, easily, as they generally don't allow themselves to hide from reality behind memes). This is precisely why we should not wait until someone is unable to consent to offer them such life-ending pain relievers, if they wish to have them (voluntarily, for themselves). There are some instances, such as sufficient self-defense scenarios--and birth constitutes such a sufficient scenario, or should according to the most common legal definitions, as childbirth is the number one cause of death for young women worldwide and thus remains very dangerous for both mother and child--where killing is supposedly justifiable. I don't personally believe in this, as I'm a radical pacifist, mostly-passive-resistance practitioner. But I at least understand why others would instinctively act according to their survival instinct to defend themselves, even to lethal extremes, especially under traumatic duress--which is precisely why, if you recall (you don't, clearly), I consider reproduction to be, yes, the worst <single> ethical mistake one can make, consequentially, but also the most understandable, due to the survival instinct (at least, it's the most understandable excepting killing in self-defense in extreme circumstances). If a mother wishes, she could have as many abortions as she can, tragic and pointless as that would be, and I would have no right to intervene into her bodily autonomy simply because there is loss of human life occurring (nor would I ever want such a "right"--bodily autonomy and consent are centrally important ethical concepts). There are ~623,000 abortions in the U.S. alone annually (so, right, Holocaust death levels roughly every 4-5 years). And, yes, this is tragic, mostly entirely preventable (except where reproduction is forced unjustly upon mothers). Do you oppose abortion rights? How far does your vitalism extend? Again, I believe there is no grounds for intervening into the reproductive process. Whatsoever. I do believe I have a right to offer a discouraging argument as to why we should voluntarily stop reproducing (go ahead and try to stop me)--and it is very productive (quite a bit more so than compiling memes); even one instance of one person refraining from reproducing can prevent an untold amount of suffering and death. Glad to speak into whatever microphone you or anyone else puts me in front of, at length, about this issue, anywhere, anytime. Set it up. I'm not paying for any plane tickets or meeting strangers in any unreasonably dangerous circumstances (especially not based on your comments here), but offer me any opportunity to soapbox on ethical anti-natalism in public and I'll gladly take it. And I'll speak confidently and at an easily audible volume and gladly field non-violent/non-abusive questions. People like yourself will turn the microphone off, though, in my experience (or worse). I'm encouraging granting legal access to voluntary euthanasia that people (brought into existence without consent) can have the right to avoid unnecessarily painful death. It's a fairly common position among Effective Altruism practitioners. 

Do I "hate my parents"? Firstly, none of your business? Have I brought up your personal life, or memes, or bullying dismissiveness in anything I've said to you? No, I've addressed my disagreements with what you've said, directly and consistently. Try it out, I guarantee it's more productive than whatever you're trying to accomplish here. Secondly, no, I don't hate anybody, period. "Hatred" is an irrational mode of thought. I don't even hate you, whatsoever, despite this exchange being rather fruitless and annoying. I just lament your reluctance to stop and think slowly and carefully about what I'm saying, rather than quickly jumping to what are obviously usual conclusions for you that have become unconscious, reactionary habit rather than deliberate, disciplined argumentation (what I was hoping for in posting). 

Do I regret having been born? Again, none of your business? My personal feelings are irrelevant to the argument. But as I'm not willing to be bullied by you or anyone else regarding this crucially important argument, and on behalf of others: yeah, I do, as is also my right, for quite obvious reasons (suffering + death), and your personal subjective evaluation of existence has no bearing on my own. You seem to feel I'm challenging <you>, personally, and your right to enjoy your own existence, in my essay. You might consider, frankly, getting over yourself and focusing on the reality of childbirth, the actual topic at hand? The suffering of innocent existent children is more important than you, more important than me, more important than anyone or anything on LW. Aside from the fact that I'm in no way suggesting that others "hate" anything, in anything I've said here, even if I was, if I'm somehow capable of convincing you or anyone else, with a five paragraph essay, to devalue your existence and descend into obliterating despair, then that's on <you>, not me. If you're struggling to accept the reality of death and the real consequences of taken-for-granted/biased human behaviors, that's on <you>, not me. If your worldview and personal identity can be so easily shaken that you forget basic facts of existence--that suffering exists, that consent is an indispensable component of any reasonable ethics, that death is real and psychologically significant--then that's on <you>, not me. Anyone who negatively evaluates existence <is>, though, a living example of why reproduction is to be avoided. The number of people who outspokenly resent having been born without consent is a minority, sure, but, for one, admitting this has also been taboo for most of history (people like you, historically, have done far worse to people like me than pull the plug on a microphone), and, secondly, we are still a considerable number of people. Who are routinely being left out of the, yes, math, the very simple arithmetic (that some dogs are capable of doing) in evaluating the consequences of reproducing. 

"I see that about 140 million people are born every year. Hitler had his millions, but procreation has its hundreds of millions." There have been about ~117 billion humans throughout history (that's just homo sapiens, not including earlier/contemporaneous ancestors/relatives). Again, math. (I'll also gladly defend the necessity of mathematical thinking for pursuing Effective Altruism, by the way, anytime, anyplace.) You're making my argument for me, though, yes. ~140 million > ~2 million. Correct. Hence, human reproduction is consequentially worse (~58500x) than the Holocaust. Correct. (Except you're not getting it.) Furthermore, the Holocaust was itself only a subset manifestation of this overall death-production (those ~2 million were going to die anyway, due to having been born into this existence). 

"Reproduction increases suffering and death without consent, by definition. This is simple addition, multiplication, an undeniable fact of biology—science long settled."

Yep. Birth. Wild, right? It's addition. And, at scale, multiplication. At times, it has even been exponentiation. That's what it is. It can't have a subtractive function with regard to suffering and death. There's no sign-flip involved in birth. That's the point of my essay. Birth does actually increase the number of pain-experiencing beings who do inevitably die, and none of them have consented. When I say "long settled", I mean <long settled>. As in, for at least 4 billion years. I began the essay with this statement, because anyone incapable of conceding at least this fact is not worth reasoning with about this topic. And with that, I bid you adieu and bon voyage. Good luck with your memes and vitalism.  

I can appreciate your overall sentiment, though I admittedly disagree with your main points. I'll just say off the bat, my intention is not to depress people, or discourage people from living. Quite the opposite. I'm actually pro-suicide-prevention, for example (and intend to post more on this to LW in the future, if I'm not continually censored by passive downvoting). I don't think your TMT comment is a fair characterization of the theory, predictably--the main point being that self-esteem is simply illusory, a reality-buffer, and thus an expression of cognitive-bias, the supposed target of LW in general. The main idea here, is: fear of death matters, cognitively, in a very significant way. Denying even this basic fact of how the human brain generally works can only result in irrational conclusions. As I said before, I don't claim TMT is perfect, but, as I see it, the core (at which the worm resides) is acceptably "settled"--the evidence has been replicated many times, more times than any other psychology theory I'm aware of (and, again, it's still very competitive among cognitive science theories in general). But it doesn't seem likely for us to make progress on that front (TMT)--you can read the book/articles, if you'd like, and present a more direct/informed criticism, I'll gladly read what you have to say. But yeah, I just don't think you're contending with the actual theory in your responses, yet--understandably, since the theory is new to you and you're not yet familiar with the main arguments. There is more mind-meeting between us than you seem to think, though (our minds are unlikely to really <meet>, it seems, but yeah). The biggest issue for me in what you said above: "You are assuming that life consists of nothing but suffering, then death". I'm not, though, importantly. (You can review my original essay to double-check.) That suffering is a dominant qualitative feature of existence does not negate the grand diversity of experiences, nor does it deny or under-weight joy, ecstasy, bliss, ineffable revelations, relief/healing, nor do I intend to deny anyone their dignity in living. If you check out my response to Mei's comment below, I express my refutations of the most common negative responses to effectively altruistic anti-natalism (EAAN) in some detail, which include the ideas you've expressed in your comments (as I see them, anyway--by all means, I welcome being corrected). Peace and joy be upon you, wolfman. I love wolves, by the way. Fascinating animals. Maybe that's part of my issue with not being convinced by your memes. The wolf in my head is a welcome presence, I guess :)  

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Mei. 

I’m realizing it might be helpful for me to start compiling the main responses I receive to ethical anti-natalism as I’ve summarized it above, to make it easier to identify essential points of disagreement. 

Firstly, my argument in summary (effectively altruistic anti-natalism; EAAN)—the first point I forgot to address in the original essay (or took for granted): 

  • (1) Bodily autonomy: in general, the individual body is an inviolable domain, the sole property of every individual. Should we stop a child from walking into the street in front of an on-coming bus, or from playfully tipping over the pot of boiling water on the stove onto themselves, and so on? Sure (that is, yes, for crying out loud). But do we have ethical grounds for preventing a mother from choosing an abortion? No. Thus, neither is there any ethical grounds for intervening into free-choice reproduction. The choice to reproduce or not is inviolable. 
  • (2) Reproduction = (a) non-defensive (b) +suffering, (c) +death, (d) w/o consent: however, reproduction invariably and non-defensively increases suffering and death without consent. It is unethical, therefore, and any justification for reproduction that invokes the idea of decreasing suffering and death is nonsensical (and abusive, more importantly). Childbirth should be discouraged, just as abortion should, in principle, be avoided/discouraged (in the form of availability of birth control tools and singing the praises of celibacy and non-reproductive sex), even though there is no justification for actively intervening into either (due to bodily autonomy). 
  • (3) Existing children are completely innocent, and utterly helpless/dependent. Attending to the well-being of existing children is the top ethical priority for humanity, whether we acknowledge this or not—it is the most “fundamental question of philosophy” (not suicide, as Camus claims). Therefore, disregarding or abusing existing children in favor of the non-existent “unborn” or non-existent “future children” is unethical, delusional. The top priorities of EAAN: advocating for existing children in every conceivable way; advocating for the CAVE (Compassionate, Accessible, Voluntary Euthanasia); discouraging reproduction on ethical grounds. “Eugenics” is not EAAN, whatsoever, nor is encouraging people to kill themselves, nor is denying people the dignity of non-abusive joy. “Abusive joy”, importantly, is also no justification whatsoever for abuse. “A mother’s joy” is still a form of abusive-joy, fundamentally, regardless of the good intentions paving the road-to-hell which is the birth canal.  

EAAN is fundamentally anti-abuse. The Basic Seven Abuses/Moral Catastrophes of EAAN: 

  • Survival-At-All-Costs (killing and eating the sick cabin boy to survive being stranded at sea, or participating in genocide with a gun to your head only to avoid being killed yourself—the correct answer is to accept starvation, not murdering and cannibalizing the cabin boy, and to accept being killed rather than participating in genocide. See: “Custom of the Sea”, and, you know, every genocide ever.)
  • Childbirth (extreme limit of child abuse)
  • Child Abuse (extending from birth)
  • Adult/On-Going Abuse (extending from child abuse)
  • Slavery (extreme abuse)
  • Sexual Assault (extreme abuse) 
  • Genocide/Murder (combines all of these horrors into a horror-of-horrors, basically a divergent infinity of horror)

The usual serious-minded negative responses to EAAN:

  • “Naturalist Defense” (ND) / “Survival Instinct” (SI): Nature is life. We reproduce because we’re designed to reproduce. It’s just what we do. To deny humans this fundamental instinct would be to deny them their humanity, their own nature. We seek life because we are life. We all want to go on living, we all have the ‘survival instinct’. To deny the survival instinct would be tantamount to murder (or is at least leaning in the direction of indifference to murder). Anti-natalism is the mere celebration of death at the expense of being grateful for life, as we’re designed to be by nature (survival instinct = gratitude for life = life is a gift). Refutation: to start, to paraphrase Jean Amery, “we don’t actually have to live, and, news flash, we’re going to die” (suicide’s a thing, death’s a thing). Secondly, if the reproductive and survival instincts are so inviolable according to Natural Law, why are there anti-natalists? We’re a minority, sure, but a non-zero group, throughout history. ND/SI is no different than presuppositionalist fideists (see: von Til) claiming everyone actually believes in God whether they admit it or not despite the obvious fact that many people don’t (“Why did God create me to be an atheist, then?” / “Why did Nature design me to be an anti-natalist?”). This is religious/magical thinking, in other words. Nature is not “pro-life”, but life-tolerant and ultimately pro-death. Thirdly, if the reproductive/survival instinct is an inviolable Natural Law, and if we suppose that everyone is actually deep-down pro-natalist by natural default, why do all humans not reproduce as often as possible until they physically can’t (you know, the way mothers have historically been forced to do against their will in many societies throughout history into the present, and the way many other animals do)? Would such militant pro-natalism be a good thing? Few ND/SI advocates are willing to adopt this (insane) position (even many contemporary religious pro-life advocates don’t go this far—even many/most hyper-conservative theonomists don’t go this far). Yet, this is the logical conclusion of ND/SI. More reproduction = more life = more better. Except why does it make everything worse, then? (Reproduction = increasing suffering and death and lowering the already very low likelihood of attending to existing children, i.e. it makes everything worse.)
  • Joy > Suffering (J>S): Joy is worth suffering for, worth living for. One moment of ecstatic joy may be worth a lifetime of otherwise terrible pain. Primo Levi was an optimist, right? No matter what might happen to our children, we have reason to believe they can experience ecstatic, life-affirming joy. Therefore, having children, if not mandatory [see ND/SI] is still always justifiable. We can and should weight “joy” conceptually to be worth far more than suffering, or at least consider the joy/suffering ratio to be 1:1, 50/50. Refutation: firstly, Primo Levi, let’s face it, committed suicide, same as Jean Amery (Amery left an “On Suicide” essay and a suicide note that were consistent with all of his other writings, though). Denying this is an example of the same optimism-bias that Levi was (in)famous for. In other words, even this person appears to have considered life not-worth-living at some point. More importantly and regardless, while we EAAN-ists are a minority, sure, there are still countless examples of people like myself who either openly consider life to be not worth living (even if, like me, we consider going-on-living to be worthwhile only to try to defend innocent children from abuse as we’re able), who regret having been born (and thus resent having been left out of the decision-making process by default), or who take their own lives. To paraphrase Heine: “the living are to be pitied, the dead are to be envied, and best is never having been”. There is some wisdom to the idea of “don’t make the best the enemy of the good/better”, but only in scenarios where “the worst” is highly probable/avoidable only with great difficulty, and where “the best” is highly improbable/difficult to obtain in comparison with a much more probable “good/better”. Childbirth is not one of these scenarios. It’s actually quite easy to choose to not reproduce, and thereby achieve “the best”. It’s a two-step looping algorithm: (1) don’t reproduce; (2) repeat. Sure, I’m mostly asexual (no surprise, I’m sure), so this is easier for me than it is for others. But it’s still comparatively quite easy. It’s infinitely easier than any “alignment” project, or any utopian project whatsoever, that’s for damned sure. It’s also 100% effective, at next to zero cost, excepting the probability of being forced to reproduce by others. Lastly, objectively speaking, there is more existential suffering than there is joy. The larger the existential dataset we consider, the more we are forced to conclude that existence is subjectively non-dialectically unilaterally negative, qualitatively (“life is suffering” is, sure, somewhat of an overstatement—it’s also relief, joy, ecstasy, bliss, good-times of whatever kind—but it’s also mostly true). If we forego artificially weighting either suffering or joy in a biased manner, and consider both qualitative categories objectively, suffering dominates joy by a landslide. In other words, “survival instinct” = death-denial/death-anxiety/fear-of-death, not “life = gift”. We don’t need to acknowledge this fact to conclude EAAN. But, if we’re going to go down the road of objectively calculating suffering vs. joy, suffering dominates. We all know this. We only deny it due to bias (death-denial/death-anxiety/optimism-bias/sunk-cost fallacy/etc.). The simplest illustration of this I can think of is the classic “glass half full/half empty” thought experiment. Like all ill-formed thought experiments, this one assumes its conclusion without actually demonstrating it in the experiment. We’re supposed to conclude that this ½-full/empty glass is a neutral object, interpretable however we wish. But the reality is that, if you assume the “optimistic” interpretation, you can’t have your water and drink it too. The utility of the water is in drinking it—the taste of water is thirst, as I like to say. That is, great, ½-full. Now what? You have to drink the water. And then your glass is empty. You need more water. Do you have more water? You can’t just optimistically assume you do, can you? Nope, you have to actually go find more water. And there is no guarantee of even a ½-glass of potable water unless you already know you have access to it. And that’s the optimistic interpretation. The realist/pessimist interpretation is to simply point out that, even if you decide to have your water rather than drinking it (which means you’re defining dying of thirst to be “good”, which is already an obviously pessimistic conclusion), if the amount of water is, say, ~150ml, the glass will be empty due to evaporation in something like ~20 days, evaporating at something like ~.0001ml/sec (or something like that). That’s the universe we live in. The glass, eventually, is empty, like it or not. Is dying of thirst worth savoring one droplet of water? (No. It isn’t. Childbirth, in this universe, is unjustifiable.)   
  • The Unborn Deserve Birth (UDB): Who are we to deny the unborn the joy of living? Refutation: the “unborn”, or future-children, don’t exist. This idea of the unborn deserving life is a reification, a pure conceptual abstraction, a fiction. There are no such “children”. “Children” means existing children. (Sorry for the repetitiveness, but once you see this fact for what it is, it’s mind-boggling that anyone can’t see it.) We cannot commit abuse against the non-existent, whatsoever, ontologically, but ethically we certainly can’t justify abuse against the existent on the grounds that this avoids abuse against the non-existent. This idea is manifestly nonsensical. If there are 100 children in need of scarce resources, creating infinitely many more children to distract from these initial 100 children is abuse committed against not only the initial 100, but against this entire infinite set of children. If you’re struggling to finish 5 tasks at work by the end of the work-day, knowing you’re very unlikely to finish but trying your best, and your boss comes by and drops another 12 tasks on you and says they need them all done by the end of the day, then walks away, all your boss has done is layered failure onto your already likely failure (to attend to even 5 let alone 12 of these tasks). The 12 new tasks can’t take any real priority over the initial 5, because you weren’t even going to finish the 5 without a mad rush of effort. Your only hope is to, by the end of the day, discover/invent an entirely new revolutionary method of task-completion (good luck). The boss has simply made everything worse, and is accepting no responsibility for this—they are projecting their (ir)responsibility onto you; you’re to blame, the boss assumes. Creating more children is invariably abuse against existing children, including/especially those most recently born—it only lowers the likelihood of attending to the needs of existing children, invariably.   
  • The Unborn Have No Rights (UHNR): Sure, we can’t obtain consent from the non-existent, but because this is impossible, we are justified in reproducing without consent. Pretending that the unborn have a right to not-exist is nonsensical, since they have no rights. Therefore, bringing a child into existence can’t be considered a violation of consent, and is thus always or at least mostly justifiable. Refutation: firstly, this idea goes entirely against UDB above. The unborn can’t both have no rights and deserve to exist, this is nonsensical. Which is it? Secondly, it’s wrong to sexually assault the unconscious. Right? The inability to obtain consent does not justify committing abuse without consent. The non-existent have no rights, sure—because they have no anything, they don’t exist. But this, of course, doesn’t carry over into existing. The existent have rights, including the right to not being non-defensively submitted to suffering and death without consent (which has been violated as of their existing). Hence, childbirth is abuse against the existent, by definition, not the non-existent (against whom there can be no abuse, by definition).    

All the other usual negative responses to EAAN in my experience amount to mere hysteria, an emotionally understandable but still irrational freakout in the face of an initially disturbing (yet irrefutable) argument—they’re not worth mentioning here, that is, as I see it. 

Hope this helps (prevent childbirth/promote lessening child abuse). 

Combat it is :) 

Where to start...well, firstly, I've been acting on my anti-natalist beliefs for many years, and intend to continue to, yes. These actions include: (1) not reproducing (has zero effect on your life or anyone else's, btw); (2) prioritizing the needs of children. And yeah, I suppose if you literally consider this somehow dangerously insane, then, sure, we don't have much more to say to each other, haha. Wolf-meme away, if you must. 

Secondly, not sure why you'd assume placing an idea in a meme box with a wolf pic constitutes a rational argument against an idea? You even admit on your page that you have no interest in refutation, just in...saying an idea is wolf-crazy, just because? Also not sure why you'd assume I'm unaware of <the survival instinct> in formulating my view of ethical anti-natalism. Yeah, I'm aware there's this thing called the survival instinct. Another term for this would be "death anxiety", or "death denial". I'm also aware that people are willing to do all kinds of unacceptably unethical things as a consequence of the survival instinct. For example: genocide, murder, abuse of all forms. For more on this, see (uh oh): Terror Management Theory. Seriously, though, you can just read the articles, the book "Worm At the Core"? If you think the survival instinct is a refutation of ethical anti-natalism, you clearly haven't thought very seriously about either concepts--most people don't, for the reason that it's unpleasant and contrary to the usual death-denial instinct.  

Existential pessimism, ethical anti-natalism, ethical euthanasia, and TMT (which, yes, is not concerned with advocating for anti-natalism or euthanasia directly, but which explains why humans in general are predisposed to reject anti-natalism and euthanasia unthinkingly due to death-denial/cognitive bias)...these are all serious philosophical positions with rigorous arguments behind them. I understand if you want to criticize them, but yeah, you'll have to contend with the reality of the arguments ("the survival instinct" is not a valid counter-argument). Consider checking out: Hegesias, Schopenhauer, Mainlander, Freud, Gunther Anders, Zapffe, Jean Amery, Jacques Ellul, Thomas Ligotti, David Benatar, Ray Brassier, Mo Gawdat, etc, and, you know, Darwin? 

The main thing you might want to consider is: since "the survival instinct" is, of course, not justification enough for any non-defensive action that results in suffering and death without consent (childbirth, rape, slavery, murder, etc.), what <would> a pro-natalist/anti-anti-natalist argument actually be? You have to somehow justify total absence of consent with regards to forcing another being to suffer and die. All I can say is, good luck (there is no rigorous, rational, consistent argument to dispel this problem). 


I thought this was a very compelling argument, honestly. Looking at Viliam's comment, I can't answer for the author, but I interpret the argument to mean that, yes, alignment in general is essentially illusory/unobtainable. It's effectively obvious just by considering Godel's "Incompleteness/Completeness" and Wolfram's "Computational Irreducibility"--that is, not much math is needed, really, as I see it, but the math presented here seems consistent enough to me to be supportive of the overall point. 

"Awooga!! Awooga!! Universal defence [sic] against all refutation detected!"

Haha, alright, I can dial it back if need be. 

You have a right to be skeptical, surely, no denying that. But this is a common issue in science, where we don't <like> a theory, for cognitive bias issues, and thus we refuse to acknowledge the giant mound of evidence for it. I mean, I don't know why the TMT wiki article doesn't have a section called "Obvious Proof For TMT", but if you look up the references in the article I linked above, there is plenty there. It is comparable to Einstein's suspicions regarding Quantum Mechanics--or ether-clingers' suspicions regarding Einstein's own General Relativity. He had intuitive reasons to feel ill at ease with quantum indeterminacy, superposition, entanglement, etc, but...the evidence is in, that's just how things are. That is, this is the most consistent explanatory theory available. Don't like that complex numbers are indispensable to our best descriptions of nature? Well, I can't tell you that you have to <like> it, because it does involve irresolvable cognitive dissonance, but...there's also no avoiding it. 

The same is true regarding death-anxiety as it pertains to cognitive bias. We can (and should, absolutely) debate the fine points of the overall theory of "Worldview" as a function of MS (mortality salience), and if there are replication problems with the experiments, we should take that seriously (provided we also take seriously any reasonable challenges to those replication failures), BUT...again, if what you are saying by dismissing TMT entirely is that death-anxiety is literally irrelevant regarding cognitive bias...yeah, again, how could we actually claim such a thing? I'll go ahead and challenge you: are you willing to argue the opposite hypothesis against TMT as being true? TMT has a ton of evidence for it, most importantly, but it's also just an obvious theoretical claim to begin with. That is, it's very easy to gather your own evidence for TMT just by paying close attention to practically any aspect of human behavior. It's like "entropy" in this way. The precise all-encompassing explanation for The Second Law of Thermodynamics is still being debated (it seems like maybe Stefan Wolfram has cracked the code, but he still has to convince people), however it's very easy to observe the phenomenon of entropy. It's impossible not to, in fact, of course. Same with gravity. Quantum gravity is still a hotly contested issue, and there is no complete unification theory that fully explains gravity yet, and we can and should (or physicists can and should, anyway) debate all the relevant issues there. However, denying that gravity exists is absurd, and gathering evidence for the mere existence of this force, gravity, is extremely easy--again, just pay attention to basically anything.  

That is, if you want to reject TMT entirely, ok, but you'll also have to reject Tarvsky/Kahneman's work with cognitive bias and its significance to cognitive science. Are you willing to say that "cognitive bias science" isn't "settled science"? Because I used the phrase "settled science" intentionally to refer to Yudkowsky's own use of this phrase ("settled science") to refer to cognitive bias science in his article, "Artificial Intelligence as a Positive and Negative Factor in Global Risk".

Bringing it back to the original essay: the point is that fear-of-death/death-anxiety is undeniably a motivating factor for reproducing life, this undeniably involves cognitive biases that result in demonstrable error relative to definite, correct judgments. This is irrational thinking leading to outcomes diametrically opposed to the thinker's stated goals. 

I'm not suggesting universal rejection of all objections. I'm rejecting, specifically, the ideas: (1) that "intelligence" <isn't> axiomatically defined and therefore incomplete and forever constrained by "computational irreducibility", and therefore "intelligence" is inherently, indefinitely "good", "necessary", worth reproducing and amplifying [it's not; it's, in a nutshell, bad]; (2) reproduction of suffering and death without consent [this idea is manifestly insane]; (3) that we're failing to see the irrationality of this for any other reason than cognitive bias stemming from death-anxiety [cognitive bias science is, like it or not, settled science].


That's a fair concern, being suspicious of the "social sciences" and replication crises in general. I'm with you on that much, at least.

However, we need more context to evaluate this properly. TMT did have a recent supposed replication failure. However, (1) the TMT theorists objected to the structure/criteria of the experiment, and, though we might just assume they are being biased, the objections they raise are entirely reasonable and worth considering: (2) TMT is not just a ten-a-penny "social science" theory, this would be a misrepresentation. I get it, "social sciences" are usually not sciences, and they usually have not just one replication failure issue, but a total replication crisis, where no evidence is replicable. In contrast to this, though, despite this one supposed replication failure, TMT studies <have> been successfully replicated (hundreds and hundreds of times, in nearly 40 countries) far more than any competing theory at least in "psychology", but it's also highly competitive among any theory in "cognitive science" as far as conclusive evidence. There is a ton of evidence for this theory, basically, and next to no evidence for any directly competing theory. Is it a flawless theory with no room for updating? Certainly not. However, it's very obviously far and away the most evidence-supported overall explanation for most of human behavior at least at a low-resolution level of explanatory detail. TMT has answered the question of why humans commit genocide, for example. Like, this is extremely significant. This is no mere "fad". (3) Even if mortality salience's relationship to "worldview" can be better explained or disproven by some other yet-to-be-proven theory (and there isn't one, importantly), if what you're suggesting is that the idea that death-anxiety being a crucial factor in the overall problem of cognitive bias is literally not-settled, that this idea is actually demonstrably wrong or scientifically ambiguous, then...I mean, good luck with that. All cognitive biases fall under the umbrella of "optimism bias", in that they all assume a false positive, and it's rather obvious that optimism bias with regard to ignoring the reality of death is hugely significant for explaining human behavior/experience. Humans don't like death. They prefer survival, generally speaking. Their/our fear of death informs our behavior in fundamental ways. If THAT isn't "settled science", then...what is?  

But I get it, all of this is inherently hard for us humans to accept. We're all looking through a glass darkly, and our attempts to polish or repair the glass only deface and fracture the glass further despite our best efforts. Glass is hard to swallow. 

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