All of Raw_Power's Comments + Replies

The Problem Of Apostasy

More importantly, it forces constant, exponential economic growth. Jormungard has to grow faster than he eats himself, or the world collapses.

The Problem Of Apostasy

I got bogged down in the section on the development and spread of torture by electricity.

I thought it got too ugly for you and you just gave up in disgust at the senseless brutality.

0NancyLebovitz9yThe ugliness (there was a fair amount about the sort of torture which mutilates as well as no marks torture) was definitely a factor, but throwing in a lot of boring detail was the deciding factor.
The Problem Of Apostasy

You mean that "actual democracy" would be better than "representative government"?

1loup-vaillant9yWell, it would certainly be better than current representative governments. Maybe there's a way to make representative governments work even better, but I don't know how to prevent them to turn into oligarchies¹. A start would be gathering up a popular² constitutional assembly, which would exclude itself from the institutions it will create. Maybe it would come up with representative government anyway, but it may at least think of better checks and balances than what we have now. [1] Two examples of oligarchy-like features: * If I recall correctly, the winner at an election is overwhelmingly determined by the sheer amount of money that has been thrown in the election campaign. And the one who got elected knows where this money came from, and how to make it come again for the next elections. * Current monetary shenanigans basically allow private banks to create money out of thin air, lend it, and perceive an interest. Since a few decades, states (US, EU, and others) basically stopped themselves from creating money for their own expenses, so that they have to borrow it (typically to the banks) at an interest. That suspiciously sounds like rich people are taxing everyone else. I think taxes, however low you want them to be, should be under the control of the state, which is at least supposed to be accountable in front of the people. [2] By "popular", I mean basically the same thing as in "popular jury": you pick citizen at random, with a few precautions. You do not run an election.
The Problem Of Apostasy

Actually, starting a lobby with the goal of legalizing apostasy sounds like a good idea...

The Problem Of Apostasy

You mean in terms of Body Horror?

0NancyLebovitz9yI don't know what you mean.
The Problem Of Apostasy

Seeing improvements in ways that are immediately tabgible is very encouraging and motivating.

The Problem Of Apostasy

People do have an astoundingly aggravating ability to compartimentalize these things, though: see "Outside The Laboratory".

The Power of Positivist Thinking

Privileged Rituals of Thought?

0[anonymous]9y"If you are so smart why aren't you rich." Your rituals of thought should pay rent too. If you follow the way of 'rationality' and bad things happen, then you should find out what you are doing wrong, and act accordingly. There is no such excuse as 'but I did everything I am supposed to'.
The Problem Of Apostasy

Thank you for helping me remember what it felt like to think that way. The Dark Side Will Make You Forget indeed... :P

The Problem Of Apostasy

Well, I absolutely agree with all that you just said. But still, knowing what sentences the judge can dole out is important. The problem with mob-rousing stuff such as apostasy... or Frankenstein-monster raising, or being Black, or a Hugonot, or an adulterer, depending on context... is that you could easily be subjected to "mob justice", and there would be impunity for your murderers: Pontius Piwatus keeps his hands cwean, and evewyone is happy (the dead can't compwain).

0Douglas_Knight9yThe law does not even bound what the judge can do. It's just words. If you have a good model of the role of the law, knowing it is valuable, but I think your model is so bad you are made worse off by studying the law. I am very certain in this example, but I was completely serious when I said it in general. An exercise: (1) make lists of the ways the law might under- and over-estimate the punishments for apostasy; (2) research what actually happens to apostates.
4DanArmak9yI would be a wot happier if this dead had staid dead and uncompwaining...
The Problem Of Apostasy

I agree with you on all points here.

2CronoDAS9yThat depends on the movie. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harold_%26_Kumar_Go_to_White_Castle]
The Problem Of Apostasy

That is, indeed, the bit that I am worried about.

The Problem Of Apostasy

Argue against? I can't find a single thing here that I disagree with. Except the bits where you argue in favour of mercantilism, but I never argued against that. I would (mostly along the lines of "freemarkets need specific cultural memes specific social and political infrastructures to function well: it's a great engine but you can't put it in just any car or in the hands of just any driver, otherwise people will die, and even in the right conditions it's still massively dangerous, but it's just so much more awesome than other crappier engines...&quo... (read more)

2mwengler9yIt must be incredibly frustrating to be told you are not X. If the US went to crap and I was able to move to Australia or New Zealand or France or UK, I think I would. I actually think the flow of people from worser places to better places is a feature, not a bug. That it provides a great deal of useful feedback in the world, and reallocates human resources to places where they will be way more useful and possibly happier as well. But it is a personally painful thing for the individual to face.
The Problem Of Apostasy

More like, after a certain point, it just gets impractical. Both "modesty" and "immodesty" (also, what a crappy word, synonymous with humility, which is not what this is about, right? well, except for Medaka-chan, but she's kind of special).

The Problem Of Apostasy

That's a very puzzling comment... care to elaborate?

Many countries have laws which are widely broken and selectively enforced, or which are easy to frame people for. In those cases, whether you are targeted and punished is a judgment call made by certain people in power, which in practice means that it depends mainly on not pissing off or threatening the wrong people, and on how effectively you would be expected to defend yourself (ie wealth and connections).

The Problem Of Apostasy

Martyrdom's outcomes are chancey, and, while sometimes it can trigger outrage and change, most of the time it's just a senseless loss. It is a loser's save roll. Rationalists are not losers.

3NancyLebovitz9yI'm not saying that rationalists will deliberately martyr themselves. I believe that some atheists will get caught because of bad luck or insufficiently careful precautions. For example, it can be hard to be sure whether government policies will change, so that being publicly atheist might only have social costs one year, but be a deadly risk the year after.
The Problem Of Apostasy

Many of those governments ardently desire their intelligent, rational people leaving, and will even facilitate that movement. They get in the way of a stable tyranny.

More importantly, the more they appropriate a foreign culture, the more the locals will see them as "foreign". A "Return of the Elites" might not be welcome: see Iran after the Shah was deposed,

Capitalism as the source of a nation's prosperity might also be a red herring: notice how America and Africa are full of perfectly capitalist, utterly miserable nations.

-4bogus9yI would not describe crony-capitalist, corrupt societies as "perfectly capitalist". Mind you, a lot of nations are sliding down that path, including the United States (see TARP, Cash for Clunkers, Obamacare etc.)
0mwengler9yI will argue against you, but let me first tell you that your exposure to this stuff means there is a lot of stuff you know that I don't know. I'll argue against to perhaps provide some support for some alternative approaches that might give a good idea when considered. Unfortunately, there is probably no winning in the short term. Cuba is a case American's no something about. The US Gov't has tried starving Cuba (by embargoing trade) and their brains have been highly drained. Even so, Cuba persists in a very non-free state even as its dictator is old and weak. It SEEMS to me that the community of rich and effective Cubans in the United States do much more towards putting pressure on the Cuban government than do any "dissidents" who stay behind and operate with few resources, and quietly enough to avoid arrest. I certainly don't know for sure. This is something you "fight" against by not fighing against it. Appropriate the foreign culture and stay connected to your friends and relatives back home. Be a "reasonable" non-Muslim. Give them all the reason in the world to see that a non-Muslim is not the devil creature they think. But it will take a long time, and there is probably no getting around that. Another path would be to pretend to be a moderate Muslim. Certainly many westerners pretend to a level of christianity that is so weak as to be nearly non-existent, because it doesn't cost much to do so and gains you some benefits. I would probably do that if I had to, I don't perceive the price I pay for being atheist-agnostic to be even vaguely high enough to make faking it worthwhile, but I live in California, not Morocco. I believe a consistent practice of rationality will move you away from dogmatic fights. Of course you are right, places that could reasonably be called capitalist do not all do equally as well by any means. There are other principles at play that are important. In my opinion, having read a lot, markets are very important. Better to have rel
The Problem Of Apostasy

Being afraid of being sent to hell for eternity is no more "evidence" that god exists than is being afraid of tigers evidence that there is one in your back yard.

That was beautiful.

In my opinion, the best advantages rationality can gain is a totally reasonable intelligent well spoken blond woman wearing sleeveless dresses smiling and explaining with devastating clarity just how much sense atheism makes.

That was oddly specific.

I am a "typical" american grew up in New York. When I was 18 and my sister was 17, my sister and I visited my father for a few weeks who was working in Esfahan. The shah was still in charge, it was the late 1970s.

My sister was a beautiful young woman with blond hair. Despite being warned by other non-Iranians that when we went in to see Esfahan she should dress modestly, she went out in a sleeveless dress because it was warm and sunny. Angry old men spat at her (at least one anyway) and the young men brushed up against her and copped feels.... (read more)

The Problem Of Apostasy

So they should avoid having their Real Life personas being linked to LW in any way, shape, or form. This might be difficult if LW grows famous and their influence in the secret apostate is too obvious... How would one go about being a rationalist "with the serial numbers filed off".

3mwengler9yThere is plenty of support for rationality science and math in Arab history. There is probably plenty of support for rationality in the koran [https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ie=UTF-8&ion=1#hl=en&safe=off&output=search&sclient=psy-ab&q=support%20for%20rationality%20in%20the%20koran&oq=&gs_l=&pbx=1&fp=3a50ef9c1ec22192&ion=1&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_cp.r_qf.,cf.osb&biw=1252&bih=701] . While in Morocco, there is no reason to flaunt your atheism or disdain for much of what religion concludes: this is the shiny tip of the iceberg to a rationality you are developing whose real benefits are from the much more massive rational workings under the surface. So you could learn the support for rationality in the koran and the islamic traditions, and in any discussions cite these as support for a more rational position. Just an idea that occurred to me.
7TheOtherDave9yYes, if I'm in an environment where being associated with LW is potentially costly, I ought to avoid having my real identity linked to LW. The same goes for pretty much every other website and organization in the world. My first suggestion would be to drop the whole formulation of "being a rationalist," which is more about identity than practice. I find that when I think about X as an identity rather than a practice, it starts to feel important that I express my affiliation with X, that I associate with other X-identifiers, that I talk about myself as an X, and so forth. In an environment like you describe, that's counterproductive. (Personally, I find it counterproductive in general, but YMMV.) Relatedly, our hypothetical hotheaded youth should take care not to indulge in the impulse to declare their superiority to the people around them by virtue of their greater rationality. My second suggestion is basically the one I gave before: when I infer opportunities to achieve my goals, and the expected cost of taking those opportunities is one I am willing to pay, and the expected value of those opportunities is positive, I should take them.
7mwengler9yKeep in mind the idea that Rationalists Win [http://wiki.lesswrong.com/wiki/Rationality_is_systematized_winning]. Rationalism is a collection of methods for knowing more and using that knowledge to get more of what you want. If you learn that greeting the local police with "Allahu Akhbar" will lower your chance of being arrested, then all other things being equal, it is quite rational to greet them that way. Extending that, unless you have a particular plan in mind, you should not put yourself in danger merely to avoid "lying" about your connection to or sympathy with or hatred of certain ideas. Personally, I am a big fan of getting out of there. Every country whos intelligent youth leaves in noticable numbers is being sent a message that is received at some level by both the populace and the government of that country. Either that society fixes itself and its intelligent people stay, or it whithers and has smaller and smaller impact on the world as a whole, but at least the steady flux of intelligent people out of it provides an "infrastructure" that future intelligent youth can use to get out more efficiently. Over the last 40 years, the west has made tremendous inroads against the communist oppression. Soviet Union is GONE. Communist China is a capitalist success story. Defectors and then later students leaving to study were a tremendously valuable part of that process. If you need to stay in an evnironment where wearing a vertically striped shirt might get you killed, by all means wear a horizontally striped shirt. That is the rational choice.
The Problem Of Apostasy

Democracy and social mobility... and the ability to alter one's circumstances.... What if those were red herrings?

There is a fair number of Lesswrongers that challenge the notion that "Democracy is Good".

0loup-vaillant9yThat's not very surprising. "Democracy" isn't about democracy to begin with. The correct technical term for our political systems is "representative government". Today, that means choosing your next leaders among a select few that pass a number of filters, such as media exposure. The intention of such a system is to select an elite that is genuinely better at ruling us all than laypeople. Whether it actually works is another matter, especially if you look at the conflict of interest that went on in most constitutional processes: rulers writing the laws of ruling. Democracy, on the other hand, is when the people rule directly. The most famous example of this it antique Athens (if we count women, slaves, and strangers as non-people). To be actually democratic, a political system's decisions must be sufficiently close to the (non-extrapolated) Coherent Volition of the set of people that live under it. Under this definition, representative government could very well be democratic. However, our western governments do quite differently. For instance, I'm sure there are a number of referendums that were subsequently not respected by the relevant governments. And I'm not even counting the times where there was no referendum in the first place. By the way, I'm not even sure actual democracy would be very good. But it's the best I can think of, short of a Friendly AI.
2mwengler9yThe cliche is that democracy is horrible and stupid, but it is better than all the alternatives. Every time you have imposition by the few on the many, even if it starts with the few you agree with imposing the ideas you agree with, there is no mechanism to keep it that way. Indeed, the mechanism for gaining power within a system like that is probably quite different from the mechanism of having the kinds of ideas you agree with. So what do we do when we have something that sounds good in theory, but sucks in practice? If we are rational we abandon it. Allowing the unwashed masses of fools and hypocrites to pick the policies of their nation by voting on them is a horrible idea. Its just better than forbidding it.
-3[anonymous]9yI'm not arguing that "democracy is good" as such (though I would argue that it is a good in itself, but that's a separate argument). But more important is the feeling of power over one's own circumstances. When your life really is under the control of other intelligences, whose aims you don't know and which aren't the same as yours, then it makes an intuitive sense that everything is controlled by such an intelligence. I don't know for sure that that's the mechanism -- I'm not an historian, though I do have a layman's interest in history, especially recent European history -- but democracy and secularism at least seem to correlate very strongly, and I've seen the above proposed as a mechanism, and it makes sense to me...
The Problem Of Apostasy

I guess every drop of water counts in eroding the rock...

0[anonymous]9yExactly. You can't change social structures on your own, but you can make an appreciable difference.
3NancyLebovitz9yI think we're seeing something of the sort in China, where having idealist laws and constitution eventually give people a little leverage against corruption.
The Problem Of Apostasy

Speaking in long term terms, what is the mechanism by which societies secularize themselves, and are there ways to trigger it? For instance, the Jews too have a very explicit, canonic policy of stoning proselytizing apostates to death. When did they stop doing that, and why?

9CronoDAS9yIn Europe, it took decades/centuries of religious wars. As for the Jews, I think they stopped doing it because they were conquered.
3mwengler9yThere is no single mechanism by which realization of the overwhelming economic and technical advantages of intellectual freedom seeps in to other societies. The angry old religious man spitting at the girl who doesn't have her head covered seems to be a fact of human life. But so is the not-so-angry young family, learning technical truths by staying in the west for a few years, and even if they go back home and have some religion, never really resonating again with the reactionary backwardness of violently enforcing stupidity. There is no magic bullet. The religious whackos are right. If you don't suppress rationality entirely, it will eventually supplant all the whacky ideas you are violently pushing on people. A big part of the way it does that is by simply starving the religious whackos of the fruits of the labor of intelligent not-too-whacky people.
0NancyLebovitz9yThat's a good question. I have no idea how much or if that law was enforced.

I don't think that question's going to give you the information you want - when in the last couple thousand of years, if Jews had wanted to stone apostates to death, would they have been able to do it? The diasporan condition doesn't really allow it. I think Christianity really is the canonical example of the withering away of religiosity - and that happened through a succession of internal revolutions ("In Praise of Folly", Lutheranism, the English reformation etc.) which themselves happened for a variety of reasons, not all pure or based in rat... (read more)

The Problem Of Apostasy

Now that you mention Rushdie, another topic comes out: how not to appear to be a Westernized sellout? I don't know much about Rushdie himself, but the image I got of him from popcultural osmosis is that of a professional traitor attacking Islam for the sake of getting accolades from Westerners. Regardless of how much of that is true, this is obviously an image one needs to avoid at all costs.

I would compare it to the amalgamation of "Socialist" and "Servant of the USSR" that took place during the Cold War.

People can have interesting pe... (read more)

4mwengler9yI fear that finding a way of attacking fundamentalist Islam while not being villified as one form of evil (sellout) or another (apostate) may not be possible. And if it is not possible, then all your efforts at accomplish it will prove wasted efforts. Efforts that could have been spent working on something that is possible. There are PLENTY of people who work against fundamentalist islam, some from within moderate islam, some from a position that abandoning islam is the only reasonable choice. I think you would do better finding good information about your choices for resisting by studying these people and what they do and how they do it and what they say. As a non-believer, I still find I have great respect for BOTH believers and non-believers who work against fundamentalist stupidity, violent oppression of non-believers, non-education of women, crappy education of men. I have worked with many believers who I respect greatly as good people and good scientists, enough to know that the moderate believer is not an an enemy of rationality the way a fundamentalist is. And I reach this conclusion as a non-believer.
The Problem Of Apostasy

That is the conclusion to which I had come, though I was hoping for an alternative. Now the question remains:

How can a rationalist pretending not to be a rationalist help spread serious rationalism without them and the people they inluenced getting caught (in early stages) or triggering a witchunt (supposing they were somewhat successful)?

-1Eugine_Nier9yPaul Graham discusses some ideas in this essay [http://www.paulgraham.com/say.html], granted he's mostly thinking about the western world, where the worst that's likely to happen to you is being shunned and possibly fired, but some of the advise still applies.

You pick the people you want to influence, and you make yourself like them in all ways EXCEPT a carefully chosen few that are your most important targets of change. You might seriously consider publicly espousing a moderate version of Islam no matter what you believe if you are committed to the Islamic people of Morocco. You could even do it pretty honestly I think, isn't the essence of Islam submission to the will of Allah (as opposed to a believe in Allah)? If you made this choice couldn't you honestly say "I have deliberately and rationally chos... (read more)

8gjm9yThey probably can't. Living in a seriously oppressive society is, well, seriously oppressive. Sometimes it really does get in your way. They might be able to chip away a little at the edges here and there. That's probably about it, unless they want to change tack and start a revolution. In which case they'll probably need a cause with more popular appeal than rationalism.
The Problem Of Apostasy

Oh. So it does work, the propaganda.. Morocco is only a consitutional monarchy on paper. The power resides in the Palace, and it is absolute. Parties have been proven, time and again, to be utterly impotent before the King. That is why people don't even bother to vote. That is why you will often spot people sleeping during parliament sessions: those simply don't matter.

People have picked up on this. Now, when they make protests, they address the King directly, ignoring the Ministers. Their tone is very deferential, but that's one fuse that's burned out.

And the most popular contenders, were the regime to change, are the Islamists...

1mwengler9yWow. Even more reason to want to get out now and enjoy your life among people who think in a way you consider valuable. Consider it from the democratic point of view. Morocco DOESN'T WANT to be what you want to live in. It is not because of the evil king, it is not because of the evil Islamists. (Well at least not entirely). The people are not looking for the kind of rationality you are looking for. It might be a nice democratic move to "live and let live." To let Moroccans (or at least the bulk of them) do what they want to do and to go someplace where people do what you want to do. To me "live and let live" may be a statement of the most basic rational precept ever. It lets you win and it lets them win.
0[anonymous]9yAnd speaking in long-term terms, secularism tends to correlate with an increase in the perception by the individual that they have the ability to alter their circumstances. There are exceptions (the US is really weird in being something like a functioning democracy but still having a ridiculously rabid level of religiosity) but in general democracy and social mobility seem to lead to higher levels of secularism, though they're not a panacea.
-1[anonymous]9yOh, the propaganda definitely doesn't work. I said semi-democratic for a reason -- the forms of democracy are there, but they're not doing much of anything. They are a very, very, very weak form of pressure -- but that's not the same as no form of pressure at all. Tiny incremental changes (like the constitutional change last year which didn't change anything on the ground level but did remove the king's supposed divine status) can eventually add up. It's just that those add up on ridiculously slow timescales.
A Rational Argument

Explaining and rationalizing/justifying are two different things. Pleading the "humanity is insane" is, to put it bluntly, unproductive and lazy. If you want to say "don't think about it too hard, it's not worth the effort", then say that, and spare us the theatrics.

A Rational Argument

That's a bit of a non-explanation: it predicts anything, and nothing. How about, instead, you name three specific patterns of craziness (you know, fallacies, errors in judgment, bad heuristics, and so on) that are decisive factors in this state of affairs.

0Grognor9yNo. The whole point [http://wiki.lesswrong.com/wiki/Occam%27s_Imaginary_Razor] of that phrase is to not get overly complicated in explaining other people's failures.
A Rational Argument

Thank you very much for sharing these. I am very glad to find out that such organizations exist.

3pnrjulius9yPolitico, PolitiFact, FactCheck.org
"The Book Of Mormon" or Belief In Belief, The Musical

Edited that mistake out. It might also be a matter of external perception. When one sings "Sunday Bloody Sunday" or "We Are The World", people treat it as fake fuzzy drivel that tastes like diabetes at best. "Darned Beatniks (or insert some other inaccurate label here), they don't understand how the world works!".

Religious people, on the other hand (especially those belonging to very popular religions or religions you are supposed to believe in), seem to be exempt from this perception: no matter how outlandish and naïve they ... (read more)

The Singularity Institute's Arrogance Problem

I think he did the right thing there. He did it badly and clumsily, but had I been in his place I'd have had a hard time getting a grip on my emotions, and we know how sensitive and emotional he is.

Rational Wiki are great guys. We try to watch our own step, but it's nice to have someone else watching us too, who can understand and sympathize with what we do.

"Can't Say No" Spending

if health care is free people will seek it even when it is not needed

You have paid for your private insurance. Do you go to the doctor as much as you possibly could? When you are healthy, you have better things to do with your life, than travel the city from one appointment to the other.

2Jack10yWhen you're healthy, sure. That is not the only time you don't need a doctor.
Rationality Quotes September 2011

1.You mean they incur in the exact same kind of legal practices as private groups, with the same frequency? Given the difference in position, methodolgy and resourses, I doubt it, but I don't have any evidence pointing to either side about the behavior of Universal Health Coverage systems. I'd need time to ask a few people and find a few sources.

2.I don't think it's a matter of "layers" so much as one of how those layers are organized. The exact same amount of people can have productivity outputs that are radically different in function of the al... (read more)

Rationality Quotes September 2011

Human rationality can be trained and improved, it's not an innate feature. To do that is part of the entire point of this site.

I hope you enjoy it. It is very interesting. Beware of generalizing from fictional evidence... but fiction is sometimes all we have to explore certain hypotheticals...

0Normal_Anomaly10yTrue. Individual budget allocation would be a bad idea in present day America, but it wouldn't be a bad idea everywhere and for all time.
Rationality Quotes September 2011

Well, given that the government's allledged goal is to provide the service while the private organization's alledged goal is to make a profit, one would expect the State (I like to call the organization the State or the Adminsitration: the Government should simply mean whoever the current team of politically appointed president/minister/cabinet are, rather than the entire bureaucracy) to be less likely to "weasel out of" paying for your treatment, a risk I (in complete and utter subjectivity and in the here and now) deem more frightening (and frustrating) than the disease itself.

And yes, risk mitigation is always negative sum, that's kind of a thermodynamic requisite.

2Eugine_Nier10yWell, since the ministry of health's budget is finite, whereas the potential amount of money that could be spent on everyone's treatment isn't, the state very quickly discovers that is too needs to find ways to weasel out of paying for treatment. And the more layers of bureaucracy involved, the more negative sum it is.
Rationality Quotes September 2011

I like this answer, if only for emotional reasons :). I also think the vast majority of seventy-years-old would be compelled by this argument.

Rationality Quotes September 2011

Your post confuses me a lot: I am being entirely honest about this, there seem to be illusions of transparency and (un)common priors. The only part I feel capable of responding to is the first: I can perfectly imagine every human being having as much medical care as the chief of the wealthiest most powerful organization in the world, in an FAI-regimented society. For a given value of "imagining", of course: I have a vague idea of nanomachines in the bloodstream, implants, etc. I basically expect human bodies to be self-sufficient in taking care o... (read more)

0lessdazed10yThank you for leading with that. This seems to sidestep the limited resources issue, making your argument not clearly apply outside of that context. Let me give an example outside of health to discuss the resources issue. I have read that when a guy tried to make a nuclear power source in his garage from clock parts, government agents swooped in very soon after it started emitting radiation - presumably there are people monitoring for that, with field agents ever-ready to pursue leads. This means that, for some 911 calls where the nuclear team would be the first to the scene, we allow the normal police to handle it, even at the risk of people's lives. If that isn't the case, imagine a world in which it were so, and in which it would be easy to tell that the police would be slower than the nuke guys (who don't even leave their stations most days). I think having such an institution would be worthwhile, even at the cost of crimes in progress being responded to slower. Similarly, I think many things would be worth diverting resources from better policing, such as health - and from health to other things, such as better policing, and from both to fun, privacy, autonomy, and so forth. I'm only referring to a world in which resources are limited. It is possible that there is a society wealthy enough to ensure very good health care for those it can influence by eliminating all choice about what to eat, mandating exercise, eliminating privacy to enforce those things, etc. It's not obvious to me that it's always the right choice to optimize health or that that would be best for the hypothetical society. Considering the principle of diminishing returns, there's no plausible way of describing people's preferences such that all effort should be put towards better health. we don't have to be able to describe them perfectly to say that being forced to eat only the healthiest foods does not comport with them - ask any child told to eat vegetables before desert.
Inferring Our Desires

This theory seems to debunk the classical "people need an economic incentive to do their jobs": it seems to imply that imposing and economic reward on the tax detracts from the intrinsinc enjoyment of the task by making the task performers think the task is for the sake of the remuneration rather than for its own sake. It also seems to suggest that, were this reward system be removed (but what would it be replaced with, practically speaking?) people might be happier by enjoying their own work.

1Vaniver10yThis suggests that if you pay someone to do X, they will be less likely to do X as a hobby, and enjoy X less while they're doing it. That does not imply that if you didn't pay them to do X, they would do it enough to satisfy the job requirements. There are cases where that's true- open source programming comes to mind- but they seem to be the exception, rather than the norm.
Rationality Quotes September 2011

^Hm. That'd be some very near-sighted companies and people, don't you think? The Defending Your Doorstep fallacy etc. etc. Still, with some education fo the public ("Dear viewers, THIS is what would happen if everyone decided all the money should go to the Army right after a terrorist attack") and some patches (I can't imagine why people would put all their money into whatever they think is most important, rather than distributing it in an order of priorities: usually people's interests aren't so clear cut that they put one cause at such priority... (read more)

1Normal_Anomaly10yRe your 1st paragraph: you have a much higher opinion of human rationality than myself. I hope you're right, but I doubt it. Re your second paragraph: I am currently watching Kino's Journey, and will respond later. Thanks for the reference, it sounds interesting.
Rationality Quotes September 2011

Well, at least the bureaucratic inefficiencies are entirely incidental to the problem, and there's no decisive evidence for corporate bureaucracies to be any better than public ones (I suspect partisanship gets in the way of finding out said evidence, as well as a slew of other variables), so that factor... doesn't factor. As for the higher taxes... how much are you ready to pay so that, the day you catch some horrible disease, the public entity will be able to afford diverting enough of its resources to save you? What are you more afraid of, cancer and ot... (read more)

0NancyLebovitz10yThe advertising would get very tiresome, but probably not bad enough to oppose the idea for that reason.
0Eugine_Nier10yWell, maybe if it wasn't for the taxes I would be able to afford to pay for treatment myself. (Taxes are a zero-sum process, actually negative sum because of the inefficiencies.) If the idea is risk mitigation, then why not use a private insurance company?
3Eugine_Nier10yCorporations that develop excessive inefficiencies tend to go bankrupt. (Ok, sometimes they can get government bailouts or are otherwise propped up by the government, but that is another against government intervention.)
4Normal_Anomaly10yThis claim is disputed, but I have negligible information either way. Personally, I say that universal health care would be worth the higher taxes. For any given person the answer depends on their utility function: the relative values assigned to freedom, avoidance of harm, happiness, life, fairness,etc. This sets off my Really Bad Idea alarm. I don't trust the aggregate decisions of individual citizens to add up to any kind of sane budget relative to their CEV. (Note: the following sentences are American-centric.) Probably research would get massively under-funded. Defense would probably be funded less than it is now, but that might well put it closer to the optimal value if it forced some cost-effectiveness increases. Basically, each person would assign all their taxes to whatever they thought was most important, thus prioritizing programs according to how many people pick them as first choice, regardless of how many dollars it takes to make a given one work. The same kind of math used to discuss different voting/electoral college variants would inform this, I think, but I'm too lazy to look it up. And of course, if too much freedom was allowed in deciding, all companies and most people would decide to allocate their money to themselves.
Rationality Quotes September 2011

I have left it ambiguous on purpose. What this means specifically depends on the means available at any given time.

IDEALLY: Universal means everyone should have a right to as much health service as is necessary for their bodies and minds functioning as well as it can, if they ask for it. That would include education, coaching, and sports, among many others. And nobody should ever be allowed to die if they don't want to and there's any way of preventing it.

Between "leaving anyone to die because they don't have the money or assets to pay for their treat... (read more)

4lessdazed10yResources are limited and medical demand is not. The medical response time if the President of the United States gets shot is less for than if anyone else gets shot. It's not possible to give everyone as much health protection as the president. So it's not a scenario. I can imagine each person as being the only person on earth with such care, and I can imagine imagining a single hypothetical world has each person with that level of care, but I can't actually imagine it. That indicates that no argument about the type of thing to be done will be based on a difference in kind. It won't resemble saying that we should switch from what happens at present to "no-one being left to die just because they happen not to have a given amount of money". We currently allow some people to die based on rationing, and you are literally proposing the impossible to connote that you would prefer a different rationing system, but then you get tripped up when sometimes speaking as if the proposal is literally possible. Declaring that someone has a right is declaring one's willingness to help that person get something from others over their protests. We currently allow multimillionaires, and we allow them to spend all their money trying to discover a cure for their child's rare or unique disease, and we allow people to drive in populated areas. We allow people to spend money in sub-optimal ways. Resources being limited means that not every disease gets the same attention. Allowing people to drive in populated areas is implicitly valuing the fun and convenience of some people driving over the actuarially inevitable death and carnage to un-consenting pedestrians. I don't understand how you want to ration or limit people, in an ideal world, because you have proposed the literally impossible as a way of gesturing towards a different rationing system (infinitely) short of that ideal and (as far as I can see) not different in kind than any other system. By analogy, you don't describe what y
8wedrifid10yYes, unless there is nobody else that can use them. If my watching of House tells me anything it is standard practice to prioritize by this kind of criteria.

So, are you going to deny that seventy-year-old their new organs?

Yes, it's amazing how many bad decisions are made because it's heartbreaking to just say no.

Why do people commit mathematical mistakes? What are the mechanisms behind them?

Motivated Continuing and Motivated Stopping? But accusing someone of that would be incurring in the Genetic Fallacy...

Rationality Quotes September 2011

Here are two excellent examples of what you just explained, as per the Fiction Identity Postulate:

*Doom, Consequences of Evil as the "bad draft", and this as the done-right version.

*Same for this infuriating Chick Tract and this revisiting of it (it's a Tear Jerker)

*And everyone is familiar with the original My Little Pony works VS the Friendship Is Magic continuity.

Why do people commit mathematical mistakes? What are the mechanisms behind them?

... That's basically what many theists object to Yudkowsky's sequences. "There are inferential gaps".

1nazgulnarsil10yI don't remember the exact quote or source, but I once read something along the lines of "humans don't prove anything, we just decide which side of the argument we will hold to a higher standard of proof."
Rationality Quotes September 2011

What, you mean like in Gangs of New York?

Could you please give more links to the stuff that helped you form these opinions? I'm very interested in this, especialy in explaining the peculiar behaviour of this generation's youth as opposed to that of the Baby Boomers when they were the same age. After all, it's irrational to apply the same tactics to a socipoloitical lanscape that's wildly different from the one in which these tactics got their most spectacular successes. Exiting the mind-killing narratives developed in bipartidist systems and finding the wa... (read more)

Rationality Quotes September 2011

I dunno man, maybe it's a confusion on my part, but universal health coverage for one thing seems like a good enough goal in and of tiself. Not specifically in the form of a State-sponsored organziation, but the fuction of everyone having the right to health treatments, of no-one being left to die just because they happen not to have a given amount of money at a given time, I think that, from a humanistic point of view, it's sort of obvious that we should have it if we can pay for it.

1Jack10yThis conversation appears to not have incorporated the very strong evidence that higher health care spending does lead to improved health outcomes. Personally I'd reform the American system in one of two ways- either privatize health care completely so that cost of using a health care provider is directly connected to the decision to use health care OR turn the whole thing over to the state and ration care (alternatively you could do the latter for basic health care and than let individuals purchase anything above that). What we have now leaves health care consumption decisions up to individuals but collectivizes costs-- which is obviously a recipe for inflating an industry well above its utility.
1lessdazed10yWhat does this mean? What does this mean? What does this mean?
4Normal_Anomaly10yFree universal health care is a good thing in itself; the question is whether or not that's worth the costs of higher taxes and any bureaucratic inefficiencies that may exist.
5nazgulnarsil10yNo matter how well you atomize a proof there remains inferential gaps that gets filled by humans agreeing that something is obvious. Some are considered axiomatic, many aren't.
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