All of Joseph_Hertzlinger's Comments + Replies

I'm surprised the Super Happy People are willing to allow pre-sentient Baby Eaters to be eaten. Since they do not distinguish between DNA and synaptic activity, they might regard the process of growing a brain as a type of thought and that beings with growing brains are thus sentient.

Food Weirdtopia: We see the same type of taboos or enthusiasms that we see about sex in this world. The Catholic Church declares that artificial sweeteners are a perversion; there are pro-starvation articles at feministing; the Republican Vice-Presidential candidate weighs 300 pounds...

How does a nation ensure that in several generations its government will pursue current values.

I'm reminded of the openining of Leviathan, which sounds like it's about AI, but is actually about government: "For what is the heart, but a spring; and the nerves, but so many strings; and the joints, but so many wheels, giving motion to the whole body, such as was intended by the Artificer? Art goes yet further, imitating that rational and most excellent work of Nature, man."

The things that can go wrong with an AI (behaving in accordance with the rules as written instead of the will of the designer) even resemble things that can go wrong in a legal system.

On the other hand, the "no-cloning" theorem might imply that exact duplicates cannot be created.

If we take a statistical analysis of the scientists who tried using Einstein's method, what percentage would have been right? Aristotle was mentioned earlier. You can make a case that Marx and Freud tried using a similar style of reasoning without much success.

Of course it's possible to have heat that's unrelated to molecular motion. Just consider frozen mustard or red peppers.

Question: How much of today's psychology will look to future scientists like attempts to measure the hotness of jalapeno peppers by thermometers?

That's not heat, that's pain.

This may be related to the phenomenon of overconfident probability estimates. I would not be surprised to find that people who claim a 97% certainty have a real 90% probability of being right. Maybe someone who hears there's 1 chance in 34 of winning nothing interprets that as coming from an overconfident estimator whereas the 34% and 33% probabilities are taken at face value.

On the other hand, the overconfidence detector seems to stop working when faced with asserted certainty.

One way to look at the Christmas story is to compare it to another story (Easter) in the same religion. The Easter story looks coherent even when the serial numbers are filed off. The experiment was done by C. S. Lewis, who was able to write a coherent story (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe) that included a disguised version of the Easter story. As far as I know, that hasn't been done for Christmas. This makes the Christmas story look less coherent.

There are, of course, many different future visions that could be guarded.

The example of Communism shows that being future-oriented will not always eliminate the "Guardians of Truth" syndrome. Sometimes it will produce people who guard a specific view of the future.

It might be worthwhile to list statements about present-day society that would have seemed incredible to me at various times in the past. For example:

  1. That nobody has been to the moon since 1972.

  2. That the Soviet Union no longer exists and there has been no nuclear war. (One or the other would have been plausible but not both.)

  3. That we're still using fossil fuels on a large scale.

  4. President Ronald Reagan.

  5. That there is a major communications network that is not run by any single organization.

  6. That there would be a high-quality computer operating system based on free software.

"President Ronald Reagan." President Donald Trump

"1. That nobody has been to the moon since 1972."

Wow. I never realized it'd been that long - I grew up with that as part of my history, and never realized that it all occurred before I was born.

I've recently been trying to think of how to explain non-Euclidean geometry (or, what's worse, Cantorian set theory) to ancient Greek mathematicians. Is today's mathematics the same as their mathematics? After all, ancient Greek mathematics made falsifiable claims about actual measurements.

Meanwhile, over at the next table, there was the following conversation:

"I believe science teaches us that human-caused global warming is an urgent crisis."

"You mean if it's either not a problem or can be fixed easily, it proves science is false?"

Technically, it proves his belief about science is false. If he'd said "Science teaches us that human-caused global warming is an urgent crisis." then "You mean if it's either not a problem or can be fixed easily, it proves science is false?" applies. And yes, it in fact would. And then Science would (metaphorically) say, "My bad, thanks for that new evidence, I reject my prior theory and form a new one that accounts for your data and explains this new phenomenon that causes symptoms as if global warming were an urgent problem."

One problem with a professor telling students "I may be wrong." is that many of the students will hear that as "You must be right."

Easily reduced, in theory; educate them about the false dichotomy and other basic fallacies -early-, and have it cost them marks when said basic fallacies punctuate their thinking, the same as any other error. Of course, it's not so easy to get that implemented in the broader system, in a world where people refuse to be taught how to think. But while we're talking about the "ideal" education...

Why would cryonics etc. be incompatible with a traditional view of an afterlife? Physical immortality is supposed to be limited to Aleph_0 years and there are much larger cardinalities.

On the one hand, Judaism (and other traditional religions) accumulate experience that is post-dated to the origin of the religion. On the other hand, when parts of a traditional religion admit that experience can accumulate, the fact that change is actually possible frequently turns into a belief that change is possible at will and you eventually wind up with a "trendier-than-thou" religion.

You can compare this phenomenon to fiat currencies. Gold (or whatever the standard happens to be) might be an arbitrary sign of value, but it's a mistake to think that currency can be changed at will.

Some of Archimedes most potentially-important research involved things he regarded as trivial toys. So if we advise him to get interested in Rubik's cube...

It might make sense to ignore evidence that you are likely to fail if it is a competitive situation and the evidence comes from a rival who is likely to gain if you give up.

As far as Casey Serin was concerned, that didn't apply. The evidence came from a bank that stood to gain if he succeeded.

But when it comes to the actual meat of the religion, prophets and priests follow the ancient human practice of making everything up as they go along. And they make up one rule for women under twelve, another rule for men over thirteen; one rule for the Sabbath and another rule for weekdays; one rule for science and another rule for sorcery...


I thought those rules were the outcome of competition between different factions. The factions with the better rules were more likely to win. For example, a century or two ago, part of the Jewish community decide... (read more)

Not only competition, but what seemed logical. I'm only 5 years late to this, but I figure I'll add this regardless: Shrimp made people sick, so it only made sense to make rules against eating shrimp, regardless of the reason behind it making people sick. A lot of the old testament is pretty much a survival guide. That link is however a church, and as far as I can tell does not represent the Jewish faith. From what I know, it's not that shrimp were bad, and hated by God, but that since people got sick, it was not a great idea to eat it. Same logic that founded rules about washing your hands before dinner - they didn't think God hated your hands, they just figured out some correlation between sickness, and filth. That said, it's not all good, but it seems to me that at least SOME rules were based on logic. And that whoever had the worse rules DID die more frequently.

I suspect some Greens will take a spectral analysis of cerulean, point out that it differs from standard blue paint and that there's some green in it, and argue that the sky really is green after all. A new debate might start on the proper definitions of "blue" and "green."

BTW, what happens if the sky is overcast and gray?