All of stripey7's Comments + Replies

Unless you're on a really short deadline, why even regard this as a problem? Maybe your brain does some things best while your conscious attention is elsewhere.

"What many people refer to as common sense is nothing more than a collection of prejudices accumulated before the age of eighteen." -- Einstein (first quote I ever memorized, at age nine)

Kinship, or more accurately the lack of it, is likewise in the mind. That's why it always annoys me to see the parenthetical phrase "no relation" in a newspaper or magazine article.

This question never sounded like a meaningful one to me. By the time I first heard it, I was familiar with the understanding of sound as vibrations in the air, so the obvious answer was "yes."

I can recall at least one occasion on which I momentarily doubted I was awake, simply because I saw something that seemed improbable.

There's a very good reason not to consider longitude vs. latitude as a degree of freedom. Latitude is measured from the Equator, which is objectively defined by the motion of the Earth. But longitude is measured from the Greenwich meridian, which was defined by nothing more than where the creators of the coordinate system were located.

It may be a particular incident or person in EY's head, but it's not a unique one. It was very reminiscent of a crank interviewed for a segment of This American Life, who evidently wasn't unique judging from the way physicists reacted to his communications. It's also reminiscent of at least one conversation I've had.

The Christian in your example isn't projecting ter mind into the atheist's mind. Te is, OTOH, if te says, "You must hate God," or "Why are you so pessimistic?"

True, but from the definitions I found on this site, those aren't quite the same.

I "got" 2/5 of the above, before reading they were inverted.

When I took a psychology survey course in college, Dr. John Sabini gave a lot of attention to social psychology experiments, and much of the class was very surprised at their results; they didn't say they "would have predicted them." Of course Sabini may have been cherry-picking results that were likely to surprise. But I've seen it claimed elsewhere that social psychologists in the '60s were largely preoccupied with producing results that would grab a lot of attention by being counterintuitive.

That quote from J. S. Mill would be perfect for a pasted-on "billboard improvement."

What do you think of Huw Price's suggestion ( that if one allows for the possibility of advanced action, it's possible to have paradox-free physics within a single universe, since Bell's theorem only proved the non-existence of non-local hidden variables?

Especially since Mormons are in the habit of converting non-Mormons after their deaths.

My value system is just the opposite. To me eternal hellfire is the worst thing possible, hence infinitely worse than nonexistence. But since the chances for it appear infinitesimal, I easily assign greater expected utility to the freedom from cognitive dissonance that consistent empiricism affords me.

Actually many such groups exist already, except they're not arbitrarily limited to self-described rationalists -- for instance, the committee that's working on a garden for an elementary school in my neighborhood.

I could be called libertarian socialist or libertarian communist. It's hard to say whether I fit the "usual" meanings of the individual words since most people don't have a clear idea of what any of them mean. Certainly I don't fit any of the categories in the first part of the survey. In the extra credit part I could pick "socialist," but only by ignoring the definition in the first part. "Anarchist" would describe one aspect of the desired end (non)state, but often implies a more rigid attitude toward present-day politics than I actually have.

A third point would be that, often, the reason for the miscarriage was a fundamental defect of the embryo or fetus that makes it nonviable.

The latter is exactly my position and the reason for it, although I didn't know the term "Schnelling point" years ago when I decided that.

The political ideology question seems to equate libertarian with libertarian capitalist, and communist with totalitarian There's no option for libertarian communism/socialism.

Also, the moral philosophy question seems to assume one believes moral questions have truth values. "None" isn't given as a choice.

The first option reads "Moral statements don't express propositions and can neither be true nor false." I'm curious what else you wanted. The second clause without the first?
There were ‘left-libertarian’ and ‘anarchist’.
"None" is presumably included in "Other", though next year it should probably be a separate option.
That looks like an oxymoron to me.

Wow -- quite an emotive piece. I suppose that very fact illustrates the point.

Sorry for you, but that's sort of a relief for me, since just a few months ago I got punched in the face in exactly the same way, and I was starting to think it must be part of this "trend" the media are reporting in the past couple weeks (of which I'd never heard before). So perhaps this was just a temporal coincidence. Or perhaps there are periods when it increases in popularity and others when it declines. The media stories I've heard didn't suggest a racial angle, by the way.

Once when I was maybe 13, I played a card-guessing game with my father. He would hold up a card and I would guess what it was, then he would show me what it was. For what seemed a very long streak -- like 15-20 cards in a row -- each of my guesses was not the card my father was holding, but the next card he held up, drawing from the top of a face-down deck. Although at the time I was inclined to believe in ESP, I knew this was anecdotal evidence, however bizarrely improbable a coincidence it might seem. In retrospect I wonder why we never repeated the game... (read more)

One may surmise that, if the family not been in an unusual state of tension already, your younger brother would have figured it out for himself.

One movie that certainly portrays a rationalist favorably is Contact. An almost-perfect humanist movie is UFOria, which weaves the two leads' developing connection with each other and with reality together in a very organic way. Unfortunately, in the last few seconds it seems to wimp out in favor of ontological ambiguity.

Contact is about as anti-rationalist as a movie can get. The main character was right in that she really did violate the known laws of physics, but her reasoning was completely wrong. The government's public arguments were correct because they correctly valued the prior probability that the known laws of physics are correct. The fact that the main character's conclusion turned out to be correct anyway is then used to promote religious faith. I very much dislike this movie.

Possibly you'd previously mentioned his name to her before forgetting it. Or she'd seen the name somewhere. Or she'd seen him on the street.

Or she'd seen him... a-hem... otherwise. Sorry, I couldn't resist the joke. Literally.

The red appeared to be in the water only for a split second, and then everything was clear again. The kind of transition you're proposing would surely take longer.

Not necessarily. The brain pattern-matches continuous sensory experiences to something already known, which is discrete. I tend to think about it as rounding-to-nearest. Blood gradually transforming into water before your eyes doesn't make sense to the mind.

On rereading your post (and decoding the last part), I realize my explanation doesn't fit.

I have a similar dream frequently, in which I levitate simply by pointing my toes upward, causing me to rise a few feet off the ground. Alternatively, I sometimes fly horizontally like Superman. This has led to the repeated experience of waking up and realizing I can't fly after all, and subsequently dreaming it and realizing "I can fly after all." But there are also times when, after starting to fly in a dream, I recall that this is something I can only do in dreams, and thereby infer that I'm dreaming. Sometimes this induces a creepy paradox fe... (read more)

The most anomalous experience I can recall was when I was 14 or maybe 15. My workplace was a makeshift walk-down below ground level, in which the restroom was constructed from plywood with a bare electric light bulb hanging over it IIRC. At the time of this incident, I was being frequently harassed by a co-worker about the same age as myself. While using the restroom on one occasion, it seemed for an instant that I was spraying blood into the toilet, yet in the next instant there was no sign of blood anywhere and the water in the bowl seemed perfectly clea... (read more)

Gur yvtug va gur erfgebbz cebonoyl unq erqqre gvag guna gur bhgfvqr, juvpu jnf cebonoyl syhberfprag, evtug? Jura lbh jrer bhgfvqr, erq frafvgvir pryyf va lbhe rlrf (naq lbhe oenva) jrer yrff nqncgrq guna oyhr naq terra frafvgvir pryyf. Jura lbh jrag va, gur vasbezngvba guebhtu erq frafvgvir pryyf sybbqrq sbe n juvyr naq gur vasbezngvba guebhtu gur bgure pryyf gung jrer nqncgrq gb bhgfvqr yvtugvat qvzvavfurq. Lbh unq cebonoyl qenax yrff jngre gung qnl naq lbhe hevar jnf qnexre, fb gur rssrpg jnf zntavsvrq. Nsgre n yvggyr juvyr, lbhe rlrf naq lbhe oenva nqncgrq gb gur yvtugvat naq rirelguvat frrzrq abezny ntnva.

I have no studies to cite, but in my personal experience, expanding my social circle from almost exclusively a rather ideologically narrow grouping of political activists, to people with whom I shared various other sorts of interests, I became much less defensive about my beliefs and much more capable of revising them, and in fact did so for a number of them. In real time, I perceived this as a consequence of no longer being totally dependent on the first group for my senses of community and identity.

I'll have to reread before I can make a comment specific to this story. But I found the collection as a whole (Stories of Your Life and Others) incredibly stimulating. I don't think I've ever seen so many really original ideas between two covers.

Man, the Babylon story and the Arab world story were both incredible. Excellent worldbuilding passing off complex ideas and making them Buffy-spoken in terms of understandability, with scattered crunchy genius bonuses.

I'm no fan of Chick's, but that's a bit of a reach.

Well, I don't think that Chick really accepts that conclusion. But I don't see how "The day that changed Harry--forever" would have gone differently if Harry had not been told about Santa etc, but the children had taunted him over Jesus instead. (Obviously Harry is not a Christian by Chick's standards, but we know that he has been told about Jesus.) If we are to blame stories about Santa etc for his actions, then we stories about Jesus are just as dangerous. Now that I write this out, perhaps Chick would agree. Stories about Jesus of the sort that you get in wishy-washy liberal churches (especially Roman Catholicism) are harmful, according to Chick. I came to my conclusion by assuming that Chick would never consider stories about Jesus to be harmful, but this was a mistake. So you are right.

I'm aware of no evidence that theistic belief even helps people be more altruistic. I subscribe to the view held by many psychologists, that philosophical rationales (including theistic ones) are usually the effects of behaviors, not their causes, while the actual causes are typically emotional in nature. As TheOtherDave suggests, the kind of emotional response people have to a situation is largely shaped by their previous social experience.

Right; I agree with you. Theism, in and of itself, doesn't get you anywhere. It does, however, help enable the rest of organized religion. It's hard to take church or whatever too seriously if you're a confirmed atheist. Organized religion, in my opinion, does have many useful and powerful resources for building character. I doubt that getting access to these resources is worth the irrationality, though, so I'm looking for substitute character-building resources. Other commenters have suggested teaching people about tit-for-tat, collective action problems, etc., but I'm not convinced that game theoretic education can take the place of character education -- you can understand quite clearly how the world would be better off if everyone cooperated, and nevertheless feel that your best individual course of action is to defect around the edges and try to hide it.

I would suggest you be a good skeptic and answer the question about Santa Claus the same way you answered the question about Jesus: that you don't believe in him. Note this isn't the same as saying he doesn't exist, as this would be stating as fact that which is only highly probable.

The problem is that I'm already complicit in the deception. Besides putting quarters under her pillow, last night (Dec 24) I helped her mother put presents from Santa under the tree. Even before then, I was with her mother while she bought presents that were going to be (and eventually were) from Santa, and I knew all about it. If somebody were fooling her about Jesus in this way, I would be a lot more worried. (I'm not sure how I'd intervene, which would depend a lot on circumstances, but I'd certainly want to.) But she'll find out about Santa soon enough; I justify it to myself as less important. Lying to a kid about Santa, like making honest mistakes when talking about Jesus, is raising a child differently from how I would (whereas as lying to a kid about Jesus, with the intent that they believe the lie forever, is a step beyond). However, I do have an answer for questions from random children about the existence of Santa (which I haven't really tried out yet). And that is to quiz them about where they think that their presents come from, giving them a chance to figure out this answer [] for themselves. That's probably what I'll do here; the complication is that I know exactly where her presents come from (and by direction observation rather than by deduction from reasonable assumptions, as I would for a random child). In any case, I don't think that she's likely to ask me for another year now.

There's a valid point here, with one big qualification: one can learn the truth about Santa Claus without first being deceived by one's parents, with the emotional confusion that may bring. It's the same as how I learned about skepticism of God: I was acquainted with the concept through my peers' belief in it, and when I asked my mother about it she explained that this is an idea people came up with when they didn't understand the Universe as well. My parents could have let me learn about the fiction of Santa the same way, without modeling deception themselves.

Well, what I like about that comic is that it implicitly accepts that killing a fellow child in a murderous rage would be OK if that child denied the existence of Jesus, because Jesus is real!

I stopped believing in Santa Claus at age seven, probably shortly after Christmas, when my older brother told me he didn't exist. I was very upset and cried at the time. But a year later, as Christmas approached I had a very "special," superior feeling from knowing something my parents didn't know I knew. I think it was on the same Christmas day when I was eight that I informed them I knew he wasn't real. Mysteriously, after this he no longer gave me any presents, though I think the total number was unaffected.

I don't recall having any conscious ... (read more)