All of ugquestions's Comments + Replies

Do we ever act or simply react according to our habits. I do believe habitual thoughts about our own character determine the basic principles at play in our decisions/actions. Our actions re-enforce habits, habits re-enforce actions and so on. Rarely, it seems, do people allow the possibility within themselve to act in a way that is "out of character" and are thus reduced to being vertual automatons, reacting to their established habitual proclivities. Perhaps this is true for everyone. Occassionally acting "out of character" may be jus... (read more)

Without knowing what variables are missing in statistical data, how can you trust the results of any statistical evidence. How could one analysis be more accurate than another.

This is an example of the Fallacy of Gray. No statistical analysis can account for absolutely everything, but one analysis can be more accurate than another, by accounting for more of the important things. A statistician earns trust the same way anyone else does: by being right in cases you can verify, and by presenting evidence of good and detailed reasoning.

The problem with self help is that most people don't know what they really want. If they did then maybe self help books might work.

That data is complicated or difficult to evaluate is not a good reason to ignore it.
Everything must be taken with a grain of salt, but the size of the grain varies, and it's smaller for statistical judgments than for most other things.

This particular person was raised by an absolute nutter. From a very early age they were told there were demonic forces at work everywhere and the end of the world and the second coming were about to occur. This kind of upbringing probably necessitates a literalistic approach to life. If is not against the law to teach children such things, then it should be.

Who are you referring to by "this particular person?" In circumstances like that, I think there's another way you can also go, which is to eventually learn to start interpreting it all figuratively as a defense mechanism for your own mental health.

I'm sorry if I didn't make myself clear. The topic asked for examples of bad logic. The use of the idea "all men are created equal" by people absolving themselves any responsibility for the destitute and failures in societies today is the use of bad logic I was trying to refer too.

This particular idea itself (not the entire declaration of independence), however, is poorly phased and open to ridicule because of its obvious falseness. Political ideas are routinely used and interpreted in ways that demonstate poor or bad lagic. All I was trying to ... (read more)

Good, yes, but only to those who believe.

They would probably reply "Thats not what athiests say".

Well, of course, but is your relative trying to please atheists or to please God? What if he can only please God by disbelieving in Him?

After all, if an all-powerful God wanted to be believed in, he could easily make his existence self-evident. We could ask the heavens "Are you there, God?" and a booming voice from the skies could reply "Yes, I AM".

But if there exists a God that wants to be disbelieved in, the reply to "Are you there, God?" is silence -- and that's indeed confirmed by testing. This God's existence seems theref... (read more)

"I think therefore I am"

Would it be more accurate to say I think therefore I think I am. What if I think I am not am I not. If I think I am a goldfish or a black hole is this what I am. If you were to show me a thought it would be by an action, so perhaps it should be I act therfore I am.

The question of what constitutes an "I" is the question that needs first to be answered in order to be able to demonstrate "I am".

(probably gone a little to far with this one, just interested in the nature of the self and what others think about this kind of idea. Maybe point me to a different more relevent post)

Whatever I am, I am necessarily something that thinks. Cogito ergo sum is, in my view, an example of how language can produce analytic, a priori truths, without using synonyms.

A relative once told me they believed in god because;

"If god exists and I believe I go to heaven, If god exists and I don't believe I suffer for eternity in hell, if god does not exist then It does not matter if I believe. The logical and sensible thing to do therefore is to believe in god."

This is truly someones logic. When confronted with what happens to a person who has not been told to believe the reply was "I'm sure god will take that into account". When asked what happens to people of different faiths and beliefs "all thats i... (read more)

7Eliezer Yudkowsky12y
Except for religionites so young or so isolated as to actually believe that stuff, people are not believers because they fear hell. Rather, they fear hell in order to go on believing.
4Zachary_Kurtz12y's_Wager ['s_Wager]
I'm wondering whether your relative believes that God is good. Because if so, combined with zhir other beliefs, zhir morality would seem very scary.
If you aren't familiar with Pascal's Wager [], you might find it salient.

Next time ask your relative "What if God only saves atheists, and sends believers to hell?"

What about access to resource / opportunity. Also family circumstance / environment / status. All men are not born / created equal.

You're basically saying that kings and aristocrats exist. Everybody knew that (I don't think anyone doubted the physical existence of George III), so it obviously can't have been what the Declaration of Independence meant. Why are we even discussing this? What the Declaration of Independence seems to mean (to me atleast) is that these dynasties of kings and aristocrats don't exist deservedly or "naturally".

I giggled quite a bit at that statement too.

Questions of right and wrong are an entirely different arguement. In this case it is not a question of the idea being right or wrong. Its the beleif in the idea while ommiting the obvious flaws. I wouldn't try to argue that anyone writing on this site would use this idea in this way.

What do you think of "gods love is unconditional". No-one seems to have commented on this.

I think "god's love is unconditional" is wrong in exactly the same way, but LessWrong doesn't have as many theists as it does Americans.

It is in the use of an idea that the facepalm response occurs. Argueing for the concept of meritocracy for example by using the idea all men are created equal. I believe many feel people fail or succeed based on their efforts without consideration for other factors such as those outlined above and probably the most impotant factor LUCK.

Thank you, my thoughts exactly.

Is it the worst argument in the world because it cannot be refuted or argued against? Maybe the one-sided argument is the way we define a bad argument.

"Interpretation" creates/is rationality or logic.

How does that square with interpretations being right or wrong? Is that not possible?

"All men are created equal"

"God's love is unconditional"

I feel the pain in my head. I think its because I genuinely want to understand why they truly believe what they are saying while not seeing the clear contradictions, but try as I might I just cannot. I have found that I feel the same way when a contradiction betweeen a belief and action within myself occurs. For example I believe nothing really matters, but every decision and action I take obviously contradicts this belief.

The pain has a name. Confusion. With awareness that such id... (read more)

I don’t understand the problem with “all men are created equal.” Leaving aside the Creator/God implications of the original, this boils down to a claim about certain “rights” that all people should have and how the government should treat people, i.e., by leaving them free to pursue the same rights. Obviously the idea was implemented very imperfectly at the beginning, and continues to be implemented imperfectly today, but the idea itself – that all people have a right to live, to be free, and to own property, and that the government should set up a society in which those rights are protected and should not play favorites – doesn’t seem that crazy to me. edited to add: I see that you're a relatively new poster. Welcome to LessWrong! []
What is wrong with your example sentences? They are not arguments, there is no logic to be flawed. Sure, they can be interpreted to refer to factually wrong conjectures, namely that all men at some early point in their live are literally identical and that there is a god with associated bunch of problematic properties. But this is not necessarily or even often so. For one, these sentences easily lend themselves to non-problematic interpretations: (1) says that all men are similar in significant ways, or that the commonalities are more important than differences, or that they start with the same machinery and may or may not develop it in different ways; while (2) simply means that life and human condition is good and death and non-existence is bad. Finally, you've got to look at how these are actually used in speech. I'm beginning to see your point here, these sentences are often used as universal rebuttals, or refer to some vague moral maxims which are hard to argue against, they fulfill several patterns, trapping thought and leaving impression of closure where there is none. Is this why you react to them so badly? Do they simply trigger facepalm response without you actually struggling against bad logic?
I think the first one is politically useful if it's interpreted as something like "no one is automatically dispensable".

I guess I was thinking of necessities like food, water, electricity, medicine etc which the lack of is causinG the preventable premature deaths . Passing the costs of production on to consumers (including increases in tax) in order to maintain or grow profit margins is at the heart of our economic reality.

'Not worth working as hard for less reward" is the reason for the lottery for the top 10% of earners. Most of these kind of individuals would have the belief that this would be a lottery they would not win and therefore continue to work as they would. An increase for all the top 10% (tax) would only modify their behaviour and at least some proportion of the cost would enievitably be passed on to all consumers.

I was aware of the many possible negative consequences such an action could have ( and the impossiblity of it ever having a chance of happening) however if there was a majority support across a society above 75% would the basic idea of sacrificing a small number of people to a modest lifestyle in order to save a large number of people be something you could support. Would a bloodbath be triggered with such support. I pose the question and think its a meaninful question because it is in a "general" sense a decision societies and civilization as a ... (read more)

IIRC, the actual cost of saving a life is about $100-$1000, but certainly not $10.

an increase in tax would only create an increase in product prices as the wealthy try to recoup their losses. This would adversely affect the very people you would be trying to help. The middle class whose support you wold require would also be affected negarive and the proposal would be then over turned.

Increasing taxes would not work.

Huh? You're going to have to explain how increasing the tax (on the wealthy) would lead to increased product prices. They might try to recoup their losses. (Or they might decide it's not worth working as hard for less reward -- this is the usual assumption in Economics) But what's the mechanism that leads from that to raised prices? There is an optimal price to set to maximize profit. Raising prices past that point isn't going to increase profits, because the volume sold will be lower.

The top 10% of humanity accumulates 30% of the worlds wealth. 20% of the humanity dies from preventable, premature death (and suffers horribly)

The proposition...

10% of the top 10% had all their wealth taken from them (lottery selection process) They are forced to work as hard and effectively as they had previously and were given only enough of the profits they produce to live modestly. They lose everything and work for 5 years and recieve 10% of original wealth back The next 10% of the top 10 % is selected The wealth taken is used to ensure the

... (read more)
Replying to another old post, but isn't this suggestion just Omelas, except that you're replacing the one child with the 1%?
This is just too complicated a scenario to boil down to such a simple question. The efficacy of that kind of redistribution would depend on all sorts of other properties of the economy and of society. I can imagine cultures in which that would work well, and others in which it would trigger a bloodbath. I don't think it's meaningful to ask whether someone would support it "in general."
There is a major flaw in your proposal: the bottom 40% would not be in favor. Some of them would be, but there is a demonstrable bias which causes people to be irrationally optimistic about their own future wealth. This bias is a major factor in the Republicans maintaining much of their base, among other things. However, to answer your question, while I would not favor your proposal, I would favor a tax on all of that top ten percent which would garner the same revenue as your proposal.

It appears that we live in a world where not only will most people refuse complicity in a disaster in order to save more lives, but where many people reject outright the idea that they should have any considered set of moral standards for making hard choices at all.

We live in a world where most people refuse complicity in a disaster in order to "maintain a certain quality of life even though it costs many lives".

Perhaps this is the reason for opting out of answering the question, acting is just to hard. The decision and its consequences is for s... (read more)