Wiki Contributions


Stupid Questions, 2nd half of December

"I'm curious whether you're willing to chomp down on bullets."

Since you're happy to go off topic, and your other posts suggest you've definitely got a dog in this fight already, would you agree or disagree with the following statement:

Based on things I've read on the internet (Cochrane) (not to be confused with the Cochrane Library that actually produces meta-analyses, just some guy named Cochrane who can't land a tenure track job teaching physics) regarding brain size and IQ test results, I believe that it is more probable than not that Black People are less intelligent than White People, that the jury's still out on Asian People, and that this is due in no small part to genetics.

"I am not particularly attached to the strawful "popular" ideas of race."

That is the very definition of race. That is what the term means.

"I am not a fan of high-priesthood treatment of science."

When I meet the strawman who does I'll let him know.

This really takes me back to a month or so I spent trolling Christian Identity White Supremacists back in the day, not sure if I should be surprised to find it here or not. Good luck with your confirmation bias.

Open Thread, January 4-10, 2016

"the idea that false meories got planted is uncontroversial history"

Certainly, but is this a significant concern for the OP at this time, such that it bears mention in a thread in which he is turning to this community seeking help with a mental health problem. "Dangerous territory" is a strong turn of phrase. I don't know the answer, but I would need evidence that p(damage from discouraging needed help)< p(damage from memory implantation in 2015). Would you mention Tuskigee if he was seeking help for syphilis? Facilitated communication if he was sending an aphasic child to a Speech Language Pathologist? Just my opinion.

Stupid Questions, 2nd half of December

"So, sure, lets' put the idea of race to bed and start with killing affirmative action. You're good with that?"

This is the point where I say "politics is the mind killer" and discount all of your politically charged conclusions, then?

"Have you actually seem Somalis? They do not look like the stereotypical African blacks at all."

My point exactly. Yet they are universally considered "black" by people in your and my culture because of the arbitrary (which word I do mean quite literally) choice to see skin color as one of the two supremely defining qualities by which we "know" race. If certain facial features were (just as arbitrarily) selected, Somalis would be in the same race as Samis.

Another example: By standards of race, Native Australians are morphologically black (show an unlabeled photo of a black haired Aboriginal to a North American- he will say "black" if asked to assign a race) as are Kalahari Bushmen. I can not think of two more genetically divergent populations. Yes, human genetic diversity exists. However, current ideas of race have so little genetic basis as to be useless, and are mired in bias and produce bias in our modern thinking (mine, too). It is foolish to cling to the primitive beliefs of your ancestors to address problems or inquiries in the modern world.

I use the term "wholehearted accept" in the context of isolated scientific findings. In other words: do I accept that this individual study proves or significantly suggests that it says what it's authors say it does? I have expertise in perhaps 5-6 highly specific areas of study to the extent that I can competently evaluate the merits of published research on my own. Outside of those areas I would be a fool to think I could do so without some recourse to expert analysis to explain the minutia that only years of experience can bring. Otherwise I might as well join the young earthers and anti-vaccinationists.

Stupid Questions, 2nd half of December

So there exists a Pure Caucasian, a Pure Mongoloid, and a Pure Negroid out there? Can you identify them? Can you name a rational basis for those morphological qualities by which you know them? Is it a coincidence that the qualities you have chosen coincide perfectly with those that were largely developed by bias-motivated individuals living in Europe, Australia, and North America over the past few centuries? Why not back hair, toe length, presence of palmeris longus muscle, renal vein anatomy, positon of the sciatic nerve relative to piriformis muscle? Among the "grey" how do we know which individuals can be characterized by what (oh let's say percentage) of membership they can say to have in each category? Is such a thing useful? What is your motivation for believing so?

Which has been the greater source of error: the fairly recent hyper-vigilance so seek out sources of bias and error in research seeking so-called racial differences? Or the unconscious tendency to be blind to one's own cultural norms as the arbitrary choices that they are, and to more readily accept the value of the self-like?

As to black, white, and grey, my eyes and visual cortex zero out relative to local contrast and past a certain point will default the lightest colorless shade to white and the darkest to black. With photo-sensors, I can read the result identifying the wavelength and intensity, which will tell me if the light is black or white.

Open Thread, January 4-10, 2016

"That's dangerous territory. Quite a lot of people got talked by their therapist has having false memories of abuse."

I would want to have a hell of a lot of evidence showing a clear statistically significant problem along these lines before I attempted to discourage a person from seeking expert help with a self-defined mental health problem.

Stupid Questions, 2nd half of December

"Social science academics are very skewed politically." So shall we discount any concept of expertise based solely on our biases towards the suspected biases of others based on their reported political affiliations? I don't have the time to get my own PhD in every subject. I don't claim they have the gospel truth, but, as I said, it's a good place to start, from which a cursory examination of geographic population variations pretty much puts the the idea of race to bed with very short work.

Tabooing race, I think your paraphrasing doesn't quite capture his question, because inherent in the use of "race" is not simply "genetically similar" but rather the specific arbitrary morphological features traditionally used to define race. Greenland Inuits are further removed genetically from Siberians than Somalis are from Yemenis, yet a photo line-up would be greatly skewed in favor of the former being of the same race and the latter being of different races.

As to the entirely separate question of validity of IQ testing (leaving aside whether IQ captures a genetically-mediated aspect of intelligence), I am not an expert in the field of cognitive science or psychology but I am aware of significant expert-level controversy over the reliability and validity of their application cross-culturally in the past and present, and would therefore be even more hesitant, selective, and dependent upon expert review of study methodology than I generally am before I wholeheartedly accepted a published finding as established fact.

Your transhuman copy is of questionable value to your meat self.

I believe there is a functional definition of amnesia, loss of factual memory, life skills remain intact. I guess I would call what you are calling a memory wipe a "brain wipe". I guess I'd call what you are calling memory "total brain content". If a brain is wiped of all content in the forest is Usul's idea of consciousness spared? No idea. Total brain reboot? I'd say yes and call that good as dead I think.

I would say probably yes to the text only question. Again, loss of factual memory. But I don't rate that as a reliable or valid test in this context.

Stupid Questions, 2nd half of December

Should one value the potential happiness of theoretical future simulated beings more than a certain decline in happiness for currently existing meat beings which will result as soon as the theoretical become real? Should one allow for absurdly large populations if the result is absurd morality?

The promise of countless simulated beings of equal moral value to meat beings, and who can be more efficiently cared for than meat, seems to make the needs and wants of simulated beings de facto overrule the needs and wants of meat beings ( as well as some absurdly large sim populations being absurdly over-valued relative to other smaller sim populations). As meat currently exists and simulated beings do not (Bostrom be damned- simulated meat over sim-within-sim, then), it seems the present moral imperative should be to avoid the creation of simulated beings or even preemptively plan their destruction (to discourage/ blackmail against ever needing to actually do so) because as soon as they do exist the FAI overlord must value them as equals and by numbers their needs will overrule the needs of any meat alive at the FOOM. If the FAI does not value them as equals then we have the even more Repugnant Conclusion of a relatively tiny meat ruling class and countless virtual slaves.

Is there a Utilitarian case to be made for extremely strict "virtual population control"? Many Repugnant Conclusions, such as Torture vs. Dust Specks require large populations before they become relevant. Should a FAI overlord be programmed against allowing large populations of simulated sentient beings to exist in the first place? Perhaps a "one person-one upload" policy with no parthenogenesis.

The cost of a ban on (unlimited) simulated sentient beings would be simply not receiving the benefits of allowing (unlimited) simulated life, which humanity has thus far done without.

Stupid Questions, 2nd half of December

When the relevant experts, Anthropologists, say that the concept of race is a social construct with no basis in biological fact they aren't just bowing to some ivory tower overlord of political correctness. We would do well to consider their expertise as a starting point in any such inquiry.

Start anywhere on a map of the Eastern Hemisphere and trace what the people look like in any geographic area relative to the regions beside them and then consider why the term "race" has any meaning. sami, swede, finn, rus, tatar, khazak, turk, kurd, arab, berber, ethiopian, tutu. Or Han, mongol, uiger, kyrgir, uzbek, khazak, pashtun, persian, punjabi, hindi, bangali, burmese, thai, javanese, dayak. Where exactly do you parse the line of Caucasian, Negroid, Mongoloid? And why?

Historically, in the cultures from which our culture was derived, skin color, and later eyelid morphology, has been used to define three races (conveniently ignoring the pacific ocean and western hemisphere), for no reason other than the biases of the people in those cultures. If you actually look at facial structure (and why not, no less arbitrary) you'll find the people of the horn of africa have more in common with central european populations in terms of nose and lip shape than they do with more inland African populations. It is our bias to see skin color as more relevant than nose morphology that causes us to group Ethiopians with Hottentots and Biafrans as a single race. We could just as easily group them with Arabs, Berbers, and Kurds. An albino from the Indian subcontinent could claim without fear of contradiction to be an albino of just about any heritage in south asia or europe. Burmese and Japanese have vastly different average skin color but we arbitrarily group them together because of eyelid morphology.

So your question becomes "If different people..." to which the answer is: Of course.

The question you think you are asking, I think, is best rendered "Are those morphological features our modern society arbitrarily associates with membership in three arbitrary sets of humanity also associated with specific brain variations?" Which is exactly as arbitrary a question as "Is foot length/ back hair/ bilateral kidney symmetry associated with specific brain variations."

Your transhuman copy is of questionable value to your meat self.

I see factual memory as a highly changeable data set that has very little to do with "self". As I understand it (not an expert in neuroscience or psychiatry, but experience working with neurologically impaired people) the sort of brain injuries which produce amnesia are quite distinct from those that produce changes in personality, as reported by significant others, and vice versa. In other words, you can lose the memories of "where you came from" and still be recognized as very much the same person by those who knew you, while you can become a very different person in terms of disposition, altered emotional response to identical stimuli relative to pre-injury status, etc (I'm less clear on what constitutes "personality", but it seems to be more in line with people's intuitive concept of "self") with fully intact memories. The idea of a memory wipe and continued existence is certainly a "little death" to my thinking, but marginally preferable to actual death. My idea of consciousness is one of passive reception. The same "I", or maybe "IT" is better, is there post memory wipe.

If memory is crucial to pattern identity then which has the greater claim to identity: The amnesiac police officer, or his 20 years of dashcam footage and activity logs?

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