All of Mycelia's Comments + Replies

First define "truth", and I'll start to worry about that.

Just don't start calling people names. It's not helpful in any sense. I'm not trying to lower the quality of discussion here, quite the opposite (not that it isn't high quality discussion). If we don't disagree, it's not cause I'm stupider than you (which is the implication in comparing me to a flat earther)... It's cause our experiences lead us to different conclusions. Maybe I am stupider than you. even then is that a reason to exclude someone from a conversation? Maybe I want to talk ab... (read more)

Truth is correspondence with reality. To quote the narrator:
5Eliezer Yudkowsky14y
Truth: Please take the hint on all the negative ratings and stop commenting here. Future comments from you will be removed.
I'm willing to agree with you on this, but this is a community devoted to rationality. Please no basketball on the tennis court. Thus the downvotes.
All your comments get harshly downvoted. You should take a hint and stop posting for a while.
Not joking, but speaking to a specific context, that of discourse whose purpose is to arrive at the truth of things. I can appreciate literary art in its place, but its methods tend to obscure the facts. "Sky spirits" are not a good metaphor for rain, they are a bad explanation. At some time in the distant past it might have been the only explanation that anyone had come up with, but we know better now. There are no sky spirits and there never were. To teach people falsehoods because they cannot understand the truth does them a disservice. The truth is a rock, and though the rain come down, and the streams rise, and the winds blow and beat against a house builded on that rock, yet it does not fall, because it hath a sound foundation. But to understand things by fictions and myths, is like a foolish man who build his house on sand. The rain shall come down, and the streams rise, and the winds blow and beat against that house, and lo, it falls with a great crash, because it hath no foundation. (Ahem. Metaphor. Shamelessly repurposed from another source.)
I'm going to guess that Kennaway was criticizing argument by analogy, not rhetoric.
I'm sorry if I sounded like I was calling you names, but I'm not sure how to convey my meaning more politely. Is "You sound like a first-year student who walked into a fourth-year class by mistake" any better? You're asking me to explain the difference between a fake explanation and a deep theory, and that's something that can take an awful lot of words to explain. A whole book's worth, even. The answer to your original question is short, but the reasoning behind the answer is really complicated if you don't know it already. If I said "Take my university course, and by the end of it, you'll know the difference between a real understanding and a fake understanding and be good at coming up with correct answers to Confusing Questions that had stumped philosophers for centuries," would you be up for it? Because, as far as I can tell from reading your posts so far, that's the kind of effort it would take to get you on the same page as many of the other people here. I'm willing to be your tutor if you're willing to be my student, but if you aren't willing to start with the basics, neither of us should waste any more time.
"You are mistaken" --> "you're stooping to name calling similar to your mother having indicators of low status" It isn't surprising at all but it certainly illustrates how beliefs operate among groups of humans.
I do give a damn which one is true. I have not been following the whole thread, but that sentence sure jumped out at me. What is a way I can convince you that I am being open-minded? I am willing to read through the thread and add my thoughts but I want to know where your open-minded threshold begins and ends. If I don't make the cut I won't bother.
I could write a whole essay in response to that but it would be way off-topic. Mail me via mporter at gmail and I'll respond.

Yes, we do understand where you're coming from. We just think you're mistaken and confused.

You really need to go read the entire Mysterious Answers to Mysterious Questions sequence before you comment again, because you sound like a flat-earther asking questions at an astronomy conference. :(

Either someone cares how condensation works or they don't. If they care, then you should explain how it works. If they don't you should talk about something else. Neither option involves making up bad metaphors for phenomena. Under what circumstances would you share extremely bad explanations?

I like avante garde art, sensory deprivation chambers, and MDMA as much as the next guy but I don't propagate deceptive non-explanations.

Saying "oh sorry I hurt your feelings" is just plain being nice, which is a good idea whether you are aiming to be rational or not.
That's not irrational.
This isn't really true. Long conversations routinely spring from downvoted comments. Karma helps ensure high quality comments and helps me know when I'm on the right track and when I'm being stupid. It absolutely helps with discussion and I doubt the place would be the same without it.
You neglect the flipside, which is that upvoting promotes insightful, witty, or otherwise worthwhile comments to prominence.

there are many myths that have turned out to be pretty good intuitions of real phenomenon.

That might be true ...

for instance, the Hindu belief in "divine vibration" sounds uncannily like string theory- then there is an African tribe known as the Dogon that was aware of the fact that Sirius is a binary system hundreds of years ago.

... but all that is not true. There is a long list of distinctively modern concepts and discoveries - DNA, the Big Bang, black holes... - which are constantly being linked in spurious ways to ancient myth and sc... (read more)

5Paul Crowley14y
You are not ready to participate in this forum, I'm afraid. If you've already read popularizations like "Irrationality", "Predictably Irrational" or "Risk", then start on the Sequences to understand what we discuss here.
You can have emotions while being rational, and you can be rational while having emotions. They are opposed sometimes, but they do not always have to be. But when there is a conflict between them, rationality (so long as you practice it properly) is more reliable in reaching correct, useful conclusions.
Take care not to call us Straw Vulcans. There is no conflict between trying to fulfill our goals and our goals.
More to the point, I'm not convinced that most people really know the difference between those two things. If you asked the average Neolithic villager, and they explained it in terms of spirits, and then asked the average high school graduate, who could explain it with the right language - does the average high school graduate really understand it more deeply? They've both been taught a certain way to talk about it, but I doubt the average high school graduate's language give him a leg up in the actual manipulation of the phenomenon.
The only good metaphor is a dead metaphor.
I see how "the water god finds purchase on the earth goddesses' children" is a metaphor for water coming to be on dust particles by way of condensation. What I don't see is how that metaphor explains shit. Yes the water god found purchase on the children of the earth goddess... but I knew that when I saw the water on the dust. Explaining condensation involves discussing phases of matter and how temperature affects them. Your metaphor hasn't told me anything other than "the water did something to the dust" (surely erosion or mud could be described with the same sentence). The metaphor only seems like it explains something if the person hearing the explanation reifies 'water god' and 'earth goddess'. Then there is a causal story ("Why is there water here? The water god did it. If you have a problem with it speak to the water god. Etc.").
That is one disgusting metaphor. And if I was talking to somebody who had a problem undertstanding condensation I would not make up metaphors. I would hold a glass over a small pot of water on the stove. Or perhaps better, ask them to breath on a window if it is a somewhat cold day.

We're not talking about quantum chromodynamics here - "clouds are made of water, and sometimes some of that water falls out" is pretty clear in any language.

Edit: Even if we were, I don't think supporting incorrect beliefs is wise, as a rule. Also, that wasn't the point of the post.