Open thread, 11-17 March 2014

Look at what warfare was like in China or Japan before major Western influences (not that is was much better after Western influences).

Vastly inferior to, say, warfare as practiced by 14th-century England, I'm sure. I also point you towards the Rape of Nanking.

Compare that with any group besides "The West". They would do much worse things and not even bother angsting about it.

You are comparing modern westerners with historical Buddhists. Try considering contemporary Buddhists (the group it is blindingly obvious I was referring to, given that the discussion was about the present and whether contempary non-western groups all lack moral qualms about torture).

I observe that you are being defensive.

Conversation Halters

Read the linked post. The main reasons we can't define words however we like are because that leads to not cutting reality at the joints and because humans are bad at avoiding hidden inferences. Not being a biologist, I can't assign an ideal definition to "duck", but I do know that calling lobsters ducks is clearly unhelpful to reasoning. For a more realistic example, note the way Reactionaries (Michael Anissimov, Mencius Moldbug and such) use "demotist" to associate things that are clearly not similar.

Stranger Than History

Firstly, that explanation has a very low probability of being true. Even if we assume that important systematic differences in IQ existed for the relevant period, we are making a very strong claim when we say that slavery is a direct result of lower IQ. As you yourself point out, Arabs also historically enslaved Europeans; one might also observe that the Vikings did an awful lot of enslaving. Should we therefore conclude that the Nordic peoples are more intelligent than the Slavs and Anglo-Saxons?

Secondly, your objection now reduces to "other people in history were predjudiced against blacks, so modern prejudice is probably not a consequence of slavery". Obviously it reduces the probability, but by a very small amount. Other people have also been angry with Bob; nevertheless, it remains extremely probable that I am angry because he just punched me.

Are you seriously trying to argue that the prejudice against blacks in Europe and the USA is not a consequence of the slave trade?

Stranger Than History

I've read it. Views about black people in the Islamic Golden Age were not the cause of views about black people in the nations participating in the transatlantic slave trade; a quick check of Wikipedia confirms that slavery as a formal institution had to redevelop in the English colonies, as chattel slavery had virtually disappeared after the Norman Conquest and villeinage was largely gone by the beginning of the 17th century. One might as well argue that the ethic of recipricocity in modern Europe owes its origin to Confucian ren.

Open thread, 11-17 March 2014

If we define all deliberate infliction of pain as torture then we lose the use of a useful concept. You are not cutting reality at the joint.

Open thread, 11-17 March 2014

But the big jump was in karma, not karma-for-the-month. My karma-for-the-month went down by two and my karma went down by 25. I'm now on {20, 5}, which is inconsistent with the {12, -2} and {16, 2} from earlier today.

Open thread, 11-17 March 2014

Thank you. I'm still confused, though, because I started out at 0 karma for the month, making the changes in the numbers non-equal. I'm now on {16, 2}, which is consistent with {12,-2}, though.

Open thread, 11-17 March 2014

Counterexample: most Buddhists.

Your enemies (and, you know, the rest of humanity) are not innately evil: there are very few people who will willingly torture people. There are quite a lot of people who will torture horrible mockeries of humanity / the Enemy, and an awful lot of people who will torture people because someone in authority told them to, but very few people who feel comfortable with torturing things they consider people. The Chinese governement does some pretty vile things; I nevertheless doubt that every Party bureaucrat would be happy to be involved in them.

Stranger Than History

Are there any countries that allow gay marriage that don't have a longish history of Christianity?

No. There are 17 countries that allow it and 2 that allow it in some jurisdictions. A list may be found here:

There have been plenty of cultures where homosexuality was accepted; classical Greece and Rome, for example. Cultures where marriage is predominantly a governmental matter rather than a religious one are all, as far as I am aware, heavily influenced by the cultures of western Europe. One might also observe that all of these countries are industrial or post-industrial, and have large populations of young people with vastly more economic and sexual freedom than occured before the middle of the 20th century. One might also observe that China, Japan and South Korea seem to be the only countries at this level of economic development that were not culturally dominated by colonial states.

The fact that a history of Christianity is positively correlated with approval for gay marriage does not imply that Christian memes directly influence stances on homosexuality. Christianity spread around the world alongside other memes (such as democracy and case law). Those countries where European colonies were culturally dominant also received the industrial revolution and the immense increases in personal rights that came as a consequence of the increased economic and political power of the working class. One might also point out that thinking black people are inferior is a meme that arose from the slave trade in Christian semi-democracies.

There seems to be abundant evidence that the Abrahamic religions have strongly influenced societal views worldwide with regard to sexual morals; indeed, I cannot imagine a remotely plausible argument for this being untrue. I also wish to observe that Eastern Orthodox Christianity survived the USSR and still affects cultural values in Russia; it seems highly improbable that it did not influence Russian culture in the 1930s.

Open thread, 11-17 March 2014

Yet another karma query: yesterday my karma was 37. Today my karma is 12 and I am at -2 karma for the last 30 days. What's going on here?

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