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Dude, I got no problem with your Historian's Perspective. There have been lots and lots of changes throughout history and if you feel like coining some particular set of them "THE SINGULARITY", then feel free to do so. But this aint your big brother's Singularity, it's just some boring ole "and things were never the same again..." yadda yadda yadda - which can be said for about three dozen events since the invention of (man-made) fire.

The Singularity of which sci-fi kids have raved for the past fifteen years used to be something that had nothing in common with any of those Big Ole events. It wasn't a Game Changer like the election of the first black president or the new season of Lost, it was something so ineffable that the mind boggled at attempting to describe its ineffability.

You want to redefine THE SINGULARITY into something smaller and more human scale that's fine and if your parlance catches on then we'll all probably agree that yeah, the singularity will happen (or is happening or maybe even has happened) but you'll be engaging in the same sort of linguistic trickery that every "serious" theologian has since Boruch Spinoza became Benedict and started demanding that "of course God exists, can't you see the beauty of nature? (or of genius? or of love? or of the Higgs Boson particle?) THAT'S God"

Maybe. But it aint Moses' or Mohammed's God. And your singularity aint the one of ten years back but rather the manifestation of some fealty to the word Singularity and thus deciding that something must be it... why not the evolution that occurs within a hundred years of globalization? or the state of human beings having living with the internet as a window in their glasses? or designer babies? The historian of 2100 will have so many Singularities to choose from!



I'm just a visitor in these parts so I'm sure this is common but this is the first I've personally seen of some weasling out of/redifing The Singularity.

The Singularity isn't supposed to be something like the invention of farming or of the internet. It's supposed to be something AT LEAST as game changing as the Cambrian explosion of vast biodiversity out of single-celled organisms. At least that's the impression that non-Singularitarians get from happening upon the outskirts of your discussions on the subject.

I suppose as the community has grown and incorporated responsible people into it it's gotten more boring to the point where it appears likely to soon become a community of linguists warring over the semantics of the thing: "Did The Singularity begin with the invention of the airplane or the internet?"

This is somewhat disappointing and I hope that I'll be corrected in the comments with mind-blowing (attempted) descriptions of the ineffable.




In dealing with the demons that haunt rationality among those who assume that they are in fact being rational I find no word as helpful as "svara".

I'm going to guess that you grew up pretty Modern Orthodox and therefore never swam and drowned in the sea of svara that chokes the souls of Chareidi youth. You see, in the word of "Iyun" ("In Depth") Talmudic study, the Talmud is NOT the text that occupies anyone's focus. The Talmud is just a small step ahead of the Torah in being a source text from which to jump into further discussions. An hour or two might be spent on studying a Talmudic passage after which a good month will be spent on the commentaries upon the commentaries upon the commentaries on the Talmud. Knowing the Talmud is nice, but no more impressive than knowing how to read - it's a simple means to an end, and one that's taken for granted.

The focus during the subsequent 14-hour-a-day "Talmud Study" is on explaining why a particular commentor holds a particular opinion regarding a particular law when - in a different volume - he holds an opinion that would seem to be at odds with the one that he expresses here. And after much shouting and pulling of hair the "Svaras" (loosely: "reasonings") are set on the table.

"The reason why he claims that a table that fell on a horse that fell in a pit full of imaginary gas is still a table that cannot contract impurity, while in the other case he says that a man with two penises is required, according to Rav, to have only the larger one circumcised (laws that - when analyzed - appear to be based in contradictory premises) is because he holds that a penis is not created until the fourth month which would imply that we can assume that a boy is a girl until that time which means..."

yah. That's the svara. It's the ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT and intellectually beautiful way of explaining how Rabbinic opinions that appear to be inconsistent are actually FULLY consistent and priorly thought-out to a degree that borders on the incomprehensible.

And brilliant it often is, but bullshit it almost always is as well. There are NO TWO Rabbinic opinions (of the Rishonic Age - say 950 CE to 1430 CE) put forth by the same Medieval Rabbi that modern Yeshiva scholars would be hard-pressed to find a seemingly brilliant svara for. It's like Nostradamus (or Evolutionary) explanations (and pardon the sacrilege there, but ON THIS SUBJECT they're often, sadly, comparable) - except performed with mental gymnastics on a far higher sphere.

And it's almost always BS.*


*Lest Iyun-Learning have any defenders here let me point out that its entire fundamental premise - it's foundation stone, if you will - is based on the premise of Rabbinic Infallibility. It's based on the belief that what Maimonides wrote when he was a young adult was letter-perfect and that his opinions/reasonings/traditions are expected to be identical to what he wrote in his final decade.

Which is naturally preposterous on account of the fact that Maimonides was human, he lacked modern archival resources, he STATES CLEARLY on a number of occasions that people who focus on Every Single Word in a text (even in the Bible!) - and expect brilliance therein - are fools, he writes about his own past errors and ask people to point out others that he might have missed and - did I mention? HE WAS VERY VERY HUMAN, and thus, likely NOT to be infallible. - Yah, and if HE wasn't a letter-perfect God, you can damn well be sure that his less methodical, brilliant and intellectually honest colleagues likely were not as well.


Such are the things that consistently befall me

I come to say "Hi!" to let know of my appreciation and I arrive at a post that seems poetic masturbation.

Nightly I read listen learn love laugh at the litany of biases being overcome by Overcoming Bias' staff

  • and by the commentors as well, ye, the commentors as well -

But Alas! and Woe! and forsooth! (and my tooth!) For I read in bed by the light of my phone and can join the choired commentors, Not.

So I power-up tonight! (my laptop delicate) to say "hello, y'all!" from a position not prone (I stand, I won't sit) "Leizer, you're the best! You're fun to read and to cheer for!" "And Robin, your free-market posts are so full of bias and herefore! But I love you anyway, for I'm a disciple of Jesus, And I would not laugh or cackle if he beat out of you the begeesus! (And also you offer us this blog, which may mitigate some sins...)"

But what do I find? What does my screen show? A post about poetry! of which nothing I know...

sigh, sigh / a kercheif for mine eye ~



Beautiful piece.

(Owing to blogs' unfortunate chronological set-up, there's a good chance no more than three or four people will ever read this comment and an even better chance that no one will follow up on something that I write here. This refrains my passion from expressing itself further on this subject in this particular cyber-location. May the future of blogging be kinder to the intellectual/literary output of who were yesterday.)




Let me begin by noting that I'm writing this on Shabbos. Nonetheless, I'd like to make mention of the fact that I LOVE the Jewish Bible. Love it, love it, love it.

Is it a good piece of literary work? That might depend on whether you're a Jew or a goy, and furthermore whether you're a Jew who considers it possible that these words might be more than just some census report or "stam a yid".

Anyhow, I could certainly speak to the subject of what value the Bible might "objectively" have (once we've "overcome our biases" based in childhood and tribal identity) but for now I just want to wish you a gut shabbos. ;-)

And no, no, no - I don;t mean to taunt you. My own opinions are (it appears to me based upon what I've read of yours as well as a few educated guesses) likely quite similar to yours. Furthermore I've read quite a bit of your writing and appreciate it.

Nonetheless, at this exact moment (perhaps because I just came from Sailor's blog and had to fend off a handful of Nazis) I'm a full-fledged yid, and I just wanted to give you a big chabadsker hug :-)

Also, just to reiterate: I love the Jewish Bible. Partially because I've chosen to view it as canon (much as I view Shir Betar as canon - despite its obvious lack of being brought down to us by a Navi in any conventional sense) but,,, for many other reasons as well - and as a literary text of your people (provided one subscribes to the notion of "Peoplehood") it's obviously inspirational.

And in all honesty, as literature it rocks as well. In fact, so many of the literary themes and devices of later literature first showed up (so far as the surviving record indicates) in the Bible - and is thus worthy of appreciation much as Citizen Kane is, despite the later improvements made to Cane-ian themes and directions which showed up in subsequent films.

Ani Yosef! - Tell me you don't tzitter. HaShomer Achi Anochi? - Tell me a chill doesn't run down your spine Ki Sheal Nu: Miyamim Rishoinim asher hayu lifanecha, limin hayoim asher barah eloihim adam al ha'aretz umiktzei hashamayim ad kitzei hashamuyim hanihiyah kadavar hagadoil hazeh oi hashumah kumoihu? etc.... - tell me that isn't dramatic and doesn't give you pause as to the possibility of Moshe referring to some actual event. "Yadeinu lo shafchu hadam hazeh!" - tell me the din of egla arufah isn't brilliant Eicha!! - It's not a lament that rends your heart? etc. etc.

Come on Leizer, fess up!