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Abstract synthesis. There.


Can we stop deleting Caledonian's references to the fact that his comments are being deleted/altered?

Censorship is a form of bias, after all.


Do you believe that books should not be published?

Is that a serious question, or is it rhetorical? I don't object to publishing, I object to the publishing industry, its orientation, and the treatment of authors. Of course I believe writers' work should be published. In fact, in a lot of cases it is the publishing industry which prevents this - because it is too often a game of politics and capital. Most books don't get published anyway, as I'm sure you know - making this objection a moot point. So really, if you support the publishing industry, I should be asking you this question... Well?

I'm not limiting my arguments domain to book publishing, either.

Do you also work for free?

Writing is only lucrative for a very small minority. Most writers effectively work for free, partly because their work never gets published. And for most of the rest, writing is not a primary source of income - meaning that if they had to live off writing, they would be living in poverty.

Anyway, to really answer this question I would have to get into a discussion about the merits of guaranteed income.

But if you're really curious, and not just trying to draw me into a debate, then I suggest you start by inverting or redirecting all of your questions to the publishing industry itself. And if you want to investigate alternatives, look to the internet - which definitely has the potential to destroy the industry.

And like I said, I'm not limiting my argument to book publishing either. The internet is already destroying newspapers. You realize what we're doing now would have had to go through a newspaper's editorial page some time ago - with some editor picking and choosing which of our opinions to publish, and the obligatory inclusion of his own thoughts on the matter (not that it doesn't happen here, also, as I've heard that comments getting deleted on OB is not as rare as we all think)?

There are also good possibilities for applications to academic journals.

Point being, the industry is a dinosaur. And there are as many reasons for it being evil as there are for perceiving it as ancient - the way writers are treated, its affect on the assimilation/dissemination of information, the way readers are treated, elitism, etc.


Why? People don't value what they get for free. Education was once valued very highly. . . that changed once education began to be provided as a right, and children were obliged

Nice try. I'm not advocating that we force other people to read Eliezer's writing (I would never advocate that), in the same manner that children are forced to undergo American indoctrination at a young age. By your reasoning, the Nordic countries should value education less than the US since higher education is free there - except that the Nordic people are some of the most educated on Earth.

You think people value the access provided by the internet and libraries less, simply because they're essentially free (especially when compared to products of the publishing industry)?

The main distinction, I think, is that I'm talking about the free availability of information whereas you're trying to make it appear as though I'm talking about forcing it on somebody (like making children go to public school). There's free, and then there's "free because it's required".

You say that like it's a bad thing. I am neither a Randian nor a libertarian, but comments like yours push me closer to that line every day.

Whether or not selfishness is a bad thing depends on the context in which it exists. Also, your philosophical stances should not be reactionary but pragmatic and rational. If my mere commentary can push you towards Rand or libertarianism, then something else is wrong entirely and I should not be blamed.

Just to warn you, if you see a building labeled "Borders" or "Barnes and Noble" around, use caution. The culture shock could be a bit jarring. Similarly with online references to amazons.

I already believe the publishing industry is evil, so I'm not sure effect you're going for - because the distributors can't be much better.


H+ -> Bronsted-Lowry acid

I'm much less likely to try charging for access to my future writings. No promises. . . If my (future) popular book on rationality becomes a hit, I'll upgrade to big-name fees. And later in my life, if all goes as planned, I'll be just plain not available.

Why? That's really very elitist of you, in my opinion. Bear in mind that even if "rationalize" the property owning gentry (which may or may not be possible), the poor, uneducated, and irrational groups will still oppose your AI and H+ on the grounds that they are unnatural. Information and education should be free - you're planning on eventually charging people money, just for access to your writing? That's very selfish, and, if you do so, I actually expect that the quality of your work will deteriorate proportionally.


I don't even know what this blog is supposed to be about anymore. Also, your popular book on rationality - has that come out yet?


Caledonian: What fundamental principles? As far as I can tell the only fundamental principle is that it has to work. But I'm open to counterexamples, if you are.

The recognition of what 'working' is, and the tools that have been found useful in reaching that state, is what constitutes the scientific method.

The scientific method is actually pretty specific - and it is not a set of tools. There is no systematic method of advancing science, no set of rules/tools which are exclusively the means to attaining scientific knowledge.

Scientists do not concern themselves with what philosophers say about science -- it is my experience that they are actively contemptuous of such. . . It's almost as though the philosophers didn't know what they were talking about.

That's actually my point. Scientists do what works, and employ methodological diversity - the "scientific method" is not an actual description of how real scientists do their work, nor how real science has advanced. It's propaganda, made up by certain people who were/are absolutely horrified that science has no defining and fundamental underlying principles - which would throw their entire schema of epistemology into turmoil.

The "rules" of science, if they exist, are subject to change at any time. Science has physical reality at the input and useful models at the output - and no bona fide, tried and true, structure in between.


Normative beliefs (beliefs about what should be) don't [require evidence], IMHO. What would count as evidence for or against a normative belief?

That's correct if you don't consider pure reason to be evidence - but I consider it to be so. So morality and ethics and all these normative things are, in fact, based on evidence - although it is a mix of abstract evidence (reason) with concrete evidence (empirical data). If you base your morality, or any normative theory (how the world should be) on anything other than how things actually are (including mathematics), you necessarily have to invoke ascribe some supernatural property onto it


Isn't the scientific method a servant of the Light Side, even if it is occasionally a little misguided?

Too restrictive. Science is not synonymous with the hypothetico-deductive method, and nor is there any sort of thing called the "scientific method" from which scientists draw their authority on a subject. Neither is it a historically accurate description of how science has done its work. Read up on Feyerabend.

Science is inherently structureless and chaotic. It's whatever works.


I'm looking for Dark Side epistemology itself - the Generic Defenses of Fail.

In that case - association, essentialism, popularity, the scientific method, magic, and what I'll call Past-ism.

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