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For example, if I know nothing more about a particular conflict than that person A was talking to person B and person B shot person A in response, I have a pretty high confidence that person B reacted inappropriately.

But what it it's one person A who is committed to drawing cartoons which offend a billion muslims. He flatly refuses to stop over an extended period of time. Eventually one (or more) of them kills A..

Did the killer(s) act inappropriately in this case? It looks efficient under Yvain's calculus, doesn't it?

What would you say to someone who replied "Many punches would have hurt me deeply 15 years ago but hardly any can now because I've studied martial arts. It is within my power to feel zero pain from any blow you might deliver. People really can change their physical capabilities to take less physical pain if they want to."?

There is play there, but the ability to your ability to change your body is really not remotely close to your ability to change your mind.

Yes. Say the Brits had put the electrodes in their own brains and built up a tradition of shocking themselves if others produced and published drawings of King Arthur.

To me, that seems closer to what the muslims in question are doing.

And people would be a lot less sympathetic with my Brits than Yvain's, for good reason.

"But the argument here is going the other way - less permissive, not more."

No, I'm defending a bright line which Yvain would obliterate. If they are interchangeable it follows that answering an argument with a bullet may be the efficient solution.

"To hold that speech is interchangeable with violence is to hold that certain forms of speech are no more an appropriate answer than a bullet."

So which to which argument would you prefer a bullet?

"The issue at stake is why. Why is speech OK, but a punch not? Presumably because one causes physical pain and the other not. So, in Yvain's salmon situation, when such speech does now cause pain should we treat it the same or different from violence?"

The brits are feeling the pain of a real physical assault, under the skin. That's not mental torment, it's electrodes.

A crucial difference is that we can change our minds about what offends us but we cannot choose not to respond to electrodes in the brain and we cannot choose not to bleed when pierced by a bullet.

"To just repeat "violence is different from speech" is to duck the issue, because you haven't answered this why question, which was the whole point of bringing it up.

It is not my comprehensive answer but I think it is a sufficient answer. They are not interchangeable. Many words would have hurt me deeply 15 years ago but hardly any can now because I've changed my mind about them. It is within my power to feel zero pain from anything you might say. People really can change their minds to take less offense if they want to. They cant choose to not be harmed by a punch or a bullet.


People don't typically get trapped in Scientology by trying it out either.

But if you try a cigarette there's some risk you'll want to smoke another and then another.

I'm confident smoking is a bigger danger to me than Scientology.

Yes, that's what I mean. And "relatively cheap" has to factor in the benefit of all of the pain you avoid for the rest of your life by thickening your skin, not just the cost of modification of the "offender".

There's a lot of win on that table.

If most people succumbed when exposed to such techniques we'd see a lot more explosive growth.

This caused me to modify my priors:

"Most cult converts were children of privilege raised by educated parents in suburban homes. Young, healthy, intelligent, and college educated, they could look forward to solid careers and comfortable incomes. Psychologists searched in vain for a prevalence of “authoritarian personalities,” neurotic fears, repressed anger, high anxiety, religious obsession, personality disorders, deviant needs, and other mental pathologies. They likewise failed to find alienation, strained relationships, and poor social skills. In nearly all respects – economically, socially, psychologically – the typical cult converts tested out normal."

I expected those at risk to be more easily identifiable. If they are not identifiable than the risk of conversion of most people is much higher than I thought.

On the other hand

"Moreover, nearly all those who left cults after weeks, months, or even years of membership showed no sign of physical, mental, or social harm."

Supports the view that the supposed danger of cults is overblown.


"Stated somewhat more abstractly, the fundamental sociological “law” of conversion asserts that conversion to religious groups almost never occurs unless the recruit develops stronger attachments to members of the group than to non-members. Among other things, the law explains why the establishment of a new religion, cult, or sect almost always begins with the conversion of the founder’s own family members and close friends.11 The law likewise predicts that as long as people remain deeply attached to the social networks of one faith, they rarely ever switch to another faith."

...does seem to provide some criteria by which you could assess risk to yourself or another individual.

To hold that speech is interchangeable with violence is to hold that a bullet can be the appropriate answer to an argument.

Surely more people die from it.

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