All of caiuscamargarus's Comments + Replies

As someone who went to an elite university: professors can indeed be extraordinarily lax with deadlines, and 9 times out of 10, the reasons for turning work in late are not what anyone would call "legitimate".

"Everyone gets what they deserve" is the unironic (and secular) motto of a close family friend who is wealthy in Brazil, one of the countries with the greatest levels of economic inequality in the world. I have heard the sentiment echoed widely among the upper and upper middle class. Maybe it's not as extreme as that, but it is a clear expression of the idea that unfortunate people deserve their misfortune to the point that those who have the resources to help them should not bother. This sentiment also characterizes Objectivism, which is commonly (though not always) associated with libertarianism.

You misunderstand Rand's Objectivism. It's not that people who bad-luck into a bad situation deserve that situation. Nor do people who good-luck into a good situation deserve that reward. You only deserve what you work for. That is Objectivism, in a nutshell. If I make myself a useful person, I don't owe my usefulness to anyone, no matter how desperate their need. That may look like you're saying the desperate deserve their circumstances, but that is just the sort of fallacy Eliezer was writing about in the OP. Where libertarian political theory relates to Objectivism is in the way the government often oversteps its bounds in expecting successful people to do extra work to help others out. Many libertarians are quite charitable--they just don't want the government forcing them to be so.
Sounds like our good friend the just-world fallacy.

The kind of epistemology that allows you to be that certain about something so false is immoral.

To wit:

Ludwig Wittgenstein: Why do people say that it was natural to think that the sun went round the earth rather than that the earth turned on its axis?

Elizabeth Anscombe: I suppose, because it looked as if the sun went round the earth.

Ludwig Wittgenstein: Well what would it have looked like if it had looked as if the earth turned on its axis?

There's a better version of this discussion - Anscombe's reply, for example, is worth quoting:
If you don't know about relative motion and inertia, then it does seem like the sun moves around the earth (even when you know, it still looks that way). Prior to the "Copernican" revolution, it was generally thought that our sense experience of everyday life was sufficient to expose the truth to us. Those two things combined make a major roadblock in establishing that the earth rotates. Now we can fully appreciate that it doesn't even make sense to make an absolute statement either way. If earth is taken to be stationary, then the sun does move around it (interestingly, this was Tycho Brahe's solution to the problem of shifting to a helio-centric view.)

Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away.

Philip K. Dick

Looking for new information in proverbs, this one in particular, seems wrongheaded to me. Both interpretations are equally plausible (and I wonder what it would mean for an interpretation to be "correct" in this case, except in context), and its metaphor is so removed from its literal content that it can do absolutely nothing to inform the issue: anyone who is convinced by this proverb is doing it wrong. Its meaning depends heavily on what you bring into it (though it does express a relationship, as Annoyance says, which isn't a blank screen). Gi... (read more)

Based on the original Newcomb Problem post, I would say this statement has a definitional, an empirical, and a normative component, which is what makes it so difficult to unpack. The normative is simple enough: the tools of rationality should be used to steer the future toward regions of higher preference, rather than for their own sake. The definitional component widens the definition of rationality from specific modes of thinking to something more general, like holding true beliefs and updating them in the face of evidence. The empirical claim is that true beliefs and updating, properly applied, will always yield equal or better results in all cases (except when faced with a rationality-punishing deity).

And even there, arguably, the true beliefs of "this deity punish rationality" and "this deity uses this algorithm to do so" could lead to applying the right kind of behaviour to avoid said punishment.

That the psychoanalytic theory of psychodynamics is in some sense true, and that it is a useful way to approach the mind. My belief comes from personal experience in psychotherapy, albeit a quite unorthodox one. I have found that explanations in Freudian terms such as the unconscious, ego, superego, Eros and Thanatos help to greatly clarify my mental life in a way that is not only extremely useful but also seems quite accurate.

I should clarify that I reject just about everything to come out of academic psychoanalytic theory, especially in literary theory ... (read more)

Given how many people I see making the choice of being mediocre--and I say this from an elite university--I would second rwallace. Without wanting to become stronger you lose much of the incentive to be truly rational. Tsuyoku Naritai should be the first thing in your book.

Second that. I know too many people who are unwilling to even discuss things like physicalism because they think it can only lead to overwhelming existential angst. It would be nice if the "That which can be destroyed by the truth..." principle were enough to compel people to think about things; but while there is this crippling fear of existential angst, perhaps reassurance that angst isn't permanent or even necessary is the best thing you can spread.

"Newcomb's Problem and Regret of Rationality" is one of my favorites. For all the excellent tools of rationality that stuck with me, this is the one that most globally encompassed Eliezer's general message: that rationality is about success, first and foremost, and if whatever you're doing isn't getting you the best outcome, then you're not being rational, even if you appear rational.