Monday, September 26, 2011

Alarmism is Intellectual Mugging

I just learned an enormously powerful heuristic. If someone feels that to survive they need to imply threats my safety, they're all but certainly corrupt. Meteorite bombardment. AGW. All revolutions. Peak oil. Population bomb. Global cooling. Islamic terrorism. Religious/ideological war. Nuclear/bio/chemical holocaust. Racism. Ignorance. Biodiversity depletion. Dysgenics. Unfriendly AI. Pandemics. Immigration. Supervolcanoes.

Nearly everyone who promises disaster proves themselves corrupt - they're intellectual muggers. Essentially mugging at one remove. See, they're not responsible for the threat, so they have plausible deniability. However, the logic goes, "Fork over your wallet because you should believe that otherwise the disaster, X, will occur." And they are responsible for trying to make you believe in the threat.

But...'nearly?' How does one tell the difference? In reality, these threats would also threaten the proselytizer. Remember that compassion is usually fake. They don't care about my well-being, but they do care about their own. What steps are they taking to safeguard themselves? Al Gore is trying to safeguard his future by nagging me. Like...that's obviously self-defeating, right? I don't really have to explain?

Protecting yourself is under your personal control - you can guarantee success. Someone who really believed in peak oil would simply short oil futures. They may tell others about it - but first, they'd set up the short sales. Someone who thought meteors were going to kill us all would build a shelter, and then maybe try to convince someone to launch a mission so they don't have to use it.

No, someone who immediately jumps to the non-guaranteed solution must either be a raving madman - and thus epistemically broken regardless - or must not really believe in the threat they're peddling - and thus epistemically broken.

I just realized I almost stumbled into this myself. I do believe sophism is a plague, and I nearly implied it would doom us all. I want to be clear: it won't. Athenian democracy was pretty bad for Athens, but there's a lot of ruin in a nation. Humans have been often wrong about stuff since the beginning of time. Apparently, trial and error is usually sufficient for civilization.

Moreover, my reaction to 'most people are wrong' is not 'make them Less Wrong' but rather to personally learn better epistemology. I think it's pretty awesome on this side and I heartily endorse it, but if you don't want to join me, then it is probably not cost-effective for you or something.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

To Appreciate the Limits of Knowledge

Eight questions where the correct answer is "I don't know." (Via.)

But don't stop there. Understand the current limits of knowledge so you can learn to hack them, and ultimately transcend them.

I suspect we have the tools to answer the ice question. Photograph it under an electon microscope, and compare it to the best image you can get without a vacuum. That, plus a solid background in solid state physics, should be sufficient.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Democracy Contradicts Freedom

Discussing an interesting post with the host, I just figured out specifically why I hate politics and want it to die. Freedom antecedently requires security, and democracy contradicts political security.

That's one thing I mean by, 'solved problem.' It should be a constant background I can rely on; individual political facts should not be rugs that could be yanked out from under me at any moment. Further, it should not be solved to my obvious detriment; political facts should not be hazards I need to avoid. My supermarket manages to survive without threatening me. Why can't politicians?

(Insight! Spoiler: found a heuristic. Nearly everyone who promises disaster proves themselves corrupt - they're essentially an intellectual mugger. Will post more Monday.)

Freedom, ultimately, is a subjective state, where you feel free. This does not mean, however, that arbitrary conditions can lead to this feeling - on the contrary, freedom requires very specific and intuitive conditions, assuming only your brain is functioning nominally. You can't simultaneously worry you might be mugged if you go outside and feel free. You can't simultaneously worry about a new tax crippling your business and feel free.

Being specific, freedom imply powers over objects, and the lack of power of other humans over you. These are the conditions that lead to the feeling of freedom. But without security, objects will decay from weather, animals, and thieves. Without security, someone will try to conquer you, and since you have no security, they'll succeed. (Indeed they try because they expect success.) Without security, you end up with as a slave with no objects. You can measure your security to the extent you're not a slave and can expect your e.g. wallet to be where you think you left it.

Democracy contradicts freedom because it repudiates security.
Democracy repudiates security because democracy is constituted by the totalitarian ability of the People/Majority to change the law.
There is no reason to expect they won't change most things, and empirically, democracies have constantly fluctuating 'laws.'
This is predictable because democracies, like all kratocracies, are based on legitimizing forms of coercion.

All extant democracies are totalitarian. Formally speaking, the people are allowed to vote for whatever they want. They can repeal the constitution, and they can 'amend' any 'human rights' declarations, arbitrarily.

Insofar as the extant entities called 'democracies' are democratic, the people have the power to pull that rug out from under me at any time. People are fickle so they habitually do exactly that. This is simply empirical fact.

But - to pursue deductive support - why would I expect that majorities won't shift? The majority is defined by who votes. Who votes changes, what voters think changes. Not only is it empirically true that democratic 'laws' will be in constant flux, but there is no deductive reason to think they'll be constrained. Heck, they'll change just because the people realize they screwed up the first time and try again.

However, as should be obvious, I should not pursue theory to the detriment of reality. The things called 'democracies' are not particularly sensitive to what their populations want. Perhaps in practice they're better?

Well, empirically the laws still change all the time. 'Lawmaker' is a synonym for 'politician' and that in itself is epistemically sufficient. Economic health does not need a thriving lawmaking industry. Indeed the opposite - wealth is created when laws are simplified. Every time security of property can be maintained but the legal overhead decreased, everyone wins. Except democratic governments, apparently.

To see this from another angle, analyze it as an argument for freedom and against Acton's 'power corrupts.' Our ancestors gave the people ultimate power and they outlawed slavery, they didn't expand it. They didn't try to repeal the constitution, and grant themselves unlimited formal power - it took a couple individuals, Hoover and FDR, to repeal it, and even still presidents have to pretend the constitution hasn't been repealed: the repealation was informal. (Actually...not 'gave.' The people took power because the previous holders essentially decided not to resist.) You find out what someone is really like if you give them power and make them unaccountable. Turns out people are pretty much as they seem...they like morality, but dislike change, are a bit lame, are shortsighted, make lots of mistakes...but ultimately, try to do better each time. In fact there are deductive constraints on how democratic law changes...but also, deductive constraints on it staying the same. Shockingly, human behaviour is usually intuitive. Gee, how did that happen. Who expected humans to know what a human is like? How could they possibly know that?

Democracy repudiates security ultimately because it does not respect property, and instead considers coercion legitimate. Security creates property - if you can't secure a thing, you can't expect to control it, and you don't own it in any sense. Conversely, securing a thing means nobody else can expect to control it. This should be obviously true now I've pointed it out. Democracy is constituted by the 'right' of the People to take that property from you at any time. Democracy is constituted purely by a direct threat to property.

There is an unpatchable hole in your security to the extent you actually live in a democracy, which means you and thus insofar as you live in a democracy, which means you cannot be free to the extent you live in a democracy.

Freedom requires security. Security requires stable laws. Democracy is constituted by the ability of the People to change the law.

Quod erat demonstrandum, motherfuckers.

Democracy is the opposite of freedom and yet people wonder why I accuse them of sophistry. Why did I have to figure this out myself? Surely someone noticed before I did? Why haven't I ever heard of them? Why isn't refuting them a central pillar of every demotist? Why isn't there a noticeable minority of demo-skeptics, like atheists or IDists or racists or post-modernists or monarchists or dualists or flat-earthers? Heck, people doubt everything under the sun, except, apparently, that democracy is freedom.

I guess believing things are their opposites is trendy these days.

Update: Looks like it's not just me. (HT) Though, with philosophy you can discover this result is likely before it has become a disaster, rather than having to wait till after. Still, more data is always great.

Up 2: (HT, emphasis mine.) "Many non-libertarians are convinced democracy needs fixing but find no problem with the fundamental democratic principles themselves. Our book refutes those notions. Democracy is the opposite of freedom" Same deal. Without philosophy, proof is book length. With philosophy, proof isn't. Confirmation is still super cool and awesome and stuff.

I should mention the drawbacks. Getting the logic complete and correct is highly non-trivial. The number one cause of bad philosophy is failure to think in straight lines, and the almost indistinguishable second is failing to include all relevant lines. If you want your philosophy to actually predict and therefore replace books length proofs, you have to do it like you really, really mean it.

This particular proof was the result of literally years of desultory searching, and follows multiple failed attempts.

Notes Vox and Ilk vs. cl of Mental warfare

I tried to find out what Vox thinks about intuition, as it is relevant to whether his beliefs are accurate. (He of course didn't answer, despite requiring everyone to answer his questions. [Primarily enforced against people he doesn't like.] He felt the need to provide an excuse once, but naturally it was lame and self-refuting. Didn't have time or some such. Plausible deniability ahoy.)

Instead, I found that cl and Vox are arguing about each other's character. Hey, new debate to fisk!
I very much doubt either Vox nor DS will ever take my notes into account, hence calling them 'notes' - they're for my own benefit. "Let us not pretend to doubt in philosophy what we do not doubt in our hearts." Frankly, neither of them would believe me even if I were exactly right. This implies neither cl nor Vox will believe me about this, either, and as such I am going to take some non-habitual steps.

Usually, when someone objects, I first assume I don't understand the objection and it is true, then when I must I assume I'm being unclear and they've misunderstood which means others will misunderstand, then I assume they have a plausible objection which I should dispel, and only at last do I assume they simply can't understand. However, this is for my own use and I will abide by my own standards and only my own standards. This basically means I'll answer an objection if it addresses something I've missed and otherwise I'll be ignoring it.

If you happen to like it, great. If not, close the tab.

Their insults are all right and their defences are all wrong. Vox's scoring is inconsequential and cl is slinging all sorts of personal insults while claiming that Vox should take the high road. Vox is assuming he should condescend, and as a result misunderstanding cl's comments. Vox is indeed sneaky; he's got a pretty heavy duty sophism infection. Vox is saying he doesn't care but sure as hell not acting like he doesn't care...and slinging personal insults. Yes, the ilk can be pretty echoy, but A) that's mainly a vocal minority and B) Vox encourages dissent, unlike Myers. Of course neither ever change their mind due to dissent.

-All four of these various scores would be perfectly valid and are supported by the evidence. However, only (d) tells you exactly what happened so far, which was my entire purpose in mentioning it. I'm not the scorekeeper. I don't declare the winner.

It seems like I need a sophistry theme song. I get tired of simply saying 'sophistry' each time, and songs are entertaining.

So, I already knew this, which is why I noticed that cl's complaint about the score didn't hold water. However...Vox didn't say it. Until he did. He laid a trap and cl sprung it.
This - as should now be obvious - isn't valid. It only proves that Vox is dishonest, or at best incapable of meaningful honesty, and that cl was too honest to be familiar with the trap. It's looking like this is all predictable from the AWCA label, actually. If you think contempt is a good strategy, you're probably unable to understand your opponents, and hence epistemically broken. (I can explain how this operationally works, but don't feel like it at present.)

That aside...
Vox is rejoicing that he chose the judge wrong, as measured by his own metrics. "I failed, woo." "I was totally blindsided, yeah, wow." Not that I really expect due diligence in an internet debate - not really worthwhile - but I do expect voters not to celebrate when it turns out their failure of responsibility has its natural negative consequences.

As for the other side, I confronted cl about his insults and he denied he was slinging them. "And you wonder why people find you off-putting," indeed.

Being sexist is not good strategy.

-"So I ask my readers: did any of you get the impression that I entered into the debate as opposed to judging it?"

Yes, it is easy to confuse the two. Indeed, this is why I didn't want to judge unless I had to - my actual judgments are about the quality of the arguments, which everyone would confuse with entering the debate. I would have had to refrain from justifying myself and other unsavoury things to avoid this impression.

(I am elitist - I think only those competent to recognize the difference should have the right to have their opinion respected on debates. Yes, this does imply the sticky problem of determining who is competent.)

-"Did alexamenos “enter into the debate” for doing the same damned thing? Scott Scheule? I don’t think so."

They did, in the sense they would be confused as doing so. And indeed if they'd insulted Spacebunny they'd have been accused of it too - nobody notices because they weren't out-grouped.

-I’ve washed my hands and my soul of this poisonous chimera.

Speaking of due diligence, I could have told you in advance that detailed judging was a waste of time, if you intended your judgments to be read honestly. How did you miss that? For example, I entitled these 'notes' because they're for my own benefit. I can guarantee that not a single Ilk will find an iota of value in them.

-"I disagree, and counter that you are blazingly, glaringly, unequivocably in the wrong on the issue of when and how a scoring system should be instantiated, and by whom."

Everyone else realizes the score is inconsequential precisely because he's a contestant. So by his scoring system, DS can't win anymore. Yes, and when that happens, you say, "Well, that is a contestant's scoring system - I'm not surprised it makes himself the winner. As you can see (ref: my judgment) I disagree." At this point Vox looks bad and you don't.

In reality, you both look bad. Indeed worse because you're bad and fighting each other.
Intriguingly, cl is intuitively correct. Vox is a sophist and introduced the scoring system precisely to bias his readership towards a no-win situation for DS. However, cl's actual arguments barely touch on this.

Moreover, anyone who was paying attention knew that DS was in a no-win situation from minute 0. How do we predict that Vox will win? Because the Ilk are involved. The arguments have no causal power at all in the matter. (Falsification, put statistically; Vox can't win every debate. The Ilk thinks he does. Well, I suppose he can if he ensures he never debates anyone competent, but that would - as should be obvious - prove absolutely nothing.)

The point is that, as usual, both sides deserve to lose.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Predictions of Original Sin and Dukka?

Does Christian theology predict that I can't eliminate suffering from my life, because I cannot eliminate sin?

Does Buddhist theology predict that I can't eliminate suffering from my life, because I cannot eliminate impermanence?

Would a truly happy person then falsify both religions?
I refer to the religions as they are - but it does seem most religions undertake special pleading where they're not allowed to make mistakes or be corrected. This, despite several corrections in Christian theology in historical document, and I would not be surprised to find the same for Buddhism. They evolve/change, ironically due to impermanence.

If you need a definition of 'happy,' just interpret charitably until it works; though I'd take it kindly if you'd let me know what definition you end up with.

Monday, September 19, 2011

VPPZMM Debate Notes 2

The less unedited, not-as-temporally-ordered notes. I've got the in-order baseline now, so I can check my natural editing process against it for self-flattering biases. (Fact is I suck at getting things right on the first try, and the best technique I've found for doing a second round is to let it simmer on the back burner for a while.)


-"correctly conceded two significant points. They are as follows:

1. There is something, possibly of a distinctly external nature, is imposing itself on people throughout history"

Incorrectly, actually, as the facts can easily go either way. The correct response is the ignorance hypothesis, "I don't know," or by defining how you're lowering your usual evidence standard so as to accept the case for one side or another.

(I was not previously aware consciously that lowering one's standard is a workable strategy.)

I should re-state; something is clearly making desert tribesman apprehend a massive force of good, however, the list of things that could cause that is a mile long.

-"2. Objective evil, as defined as a self-aware, purposeful, and malicious force which intends material harm and suffering to others and is capable of inflicting it, is quite real."

Again, factually incorrect.
Again, if you try to define 'harm' antecedent to defining morality, you get nonsense, and moreover 'malicious' means 'to mean harm.' Vox sucks at definitions. 'Suffering' is a kind of harm. Neither 'purposeful' nor 'self-aware' can be objectively measured.
So, charitably interpreted, we've got 'evil is harm.' Well, no shit. Identities are identical. Do I have to hammer this home harder? Let's anyway. If you're not harming anyone, can what you're doing be evil? Identities are identical...

This is a good example of why debates are epistemically pointless. You 'win' debates by having the opponent concede points, but half the time they concede for bad reasons and the other half it's all bullshit anyway.

Empirically speaking, if you believe anything due to a debate, you should stop, drop and roll, because you're on fucking fire. Heat, light, and ouch.

-"This is not the case. Most dictionaries similarly distinguish between God and gods, sometimes more specifically than Oxford, and many even define the concept more broadly. For example, Merriam-Webster defines "god" thusly:"

The problem is not consensus between dictionaries - a curious thing for anti-AGW Vox not to realize - the problem is that there is no extant definition of 'deity' and the dictionaries only put something down because they have to.

At this moment I predicted a philosopher's dictionary would do better. And indeed... Stanford, take it away.

"This brings us naturally to the question of what we might consider to be an adequate concept of God, whether or not we wish to argue for the existence of such a being. [...] Would it help towards an adequate conception of God if we said that God has the sort of existence or non-existence that prime numbers have?"

Etc, etc. Oxford and Webster can suck it, basically. Their definitions are as they are because they're ignorant, and they're ignorant because everyone is. (Except possibly me and anyone else who accepts 'consciousness of concepts.')

-"The second Merriam-Webster definition is helpful"

The second definition is disastrous because it directly implies 'supernatural' which means 'immune to evidence.'

-"because its use of the term “believed” points to the important aspect of the potential confusion between technologically advanced space aliens and gods. While one could get technical and assert that a mistaken belief in the divinity of a technologically advanced individual is sufficient to prove the existence of gods as per the dictionary definitions, this is not an argument I am making."

Well, this looks like it is going to be a tangled mess. Something about beliefs - truths inform beliefs, not usually the reverse - and an apparent admission that Vox wants to argue for the divine, not whatever Oxford has in mind. I'm this close to /headdesk already.

-"My purpose in citing a correct dictionary definition of gods and the potential confusion of aliens for them is merely to show that the intrinsic difficulty in distinguishing"

Really, really should have said so.

-"renders reliance upon the science-based materialist consensus an inherently invalid metric."

Sophistry. Of course relying on consensus is a fallacy. However, relying on the science-based method is not inherently invalid, even though it currently cannot make the distinction; it can in principle, as long as 'deity' doesn't imply 'supernatural.'

The technique is deeply entangling true statements with false ones. Vox has plausible deniability if you point out his point shouldn't dismiss the methods of science from discussion - as indeed the focus on 'evidence' should suggest. However, the naive, undefended response to such wording is to forget exactly that.

I have low hopes for where this is going.

-"it means that the perception of gods and/or aliens, and more importantly, the means of perceiving them are unreliable and therefore cannot be appealed to as if they are conclusive, or even meaningful in this specific regard."

Owww. The pain.

By the way, the verbosity is also likely a sophistic technique making Vox appear more sophisticated than the thoughts he's forwarding. He could also just be incompetent.

What Vox just wrote means, "the instruments for perceiving gods cannot even be appealed to as meaningful." That is, all meaningful instruments are recording not-gods. Well, case closed, Vox concedes debate. Let's all go home.

Owwwwwwwww. I shudder to think what Vox was intending to mean.

-"this means science is an intrinsically unreliable means of determining what historical evidence for the existence of gods and/or aliens is valid and what is not."

Well, now I know.
Science is empiricism. If it's evidence, it's scientific - regardless of what Vox' straw materialists think.

-"Therefore, the science-based materialist consensus is incapable of judging the mass of available historical evidence for gods."

I have a bad feeling that this isn't sophistry. That Vox really thinks that one cannot be a historian and a scientist simultaneously.

I guess that explains why Vox thinks that the Bible having accurate accounts of contemporary events is some kind of blow to materialism.
It's painful for me to try to figure out the causal net of that logic, however, so I'm going to stop.

-"I showed that the failure of modern science to detect gods during only 0.6 percent of modern Man's existence is analogous to the Aztecs assuming that because no white men were seen during a given 201-day period between 1427 and 1519, Cort├ęs and the conquistadors did not exist."

No, you didn't.

Again, debates == epistemically pointless, to first order. I suppose they can be used as sort of second-order punching bags, though. To first order all debaters in all debates are wrong, but one could structure instruction around tasking the curious with determining how and why they're wrong.

-"According to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, there are 5.8 million science and engineering researchers in the world,"

Incoming mathemology alert. Arguments are not true just because they have numbers, even if the numbers are correct.

-"it is worth recalling that despite eyewitness testimony and historical evidence dating back to The Apadana of Xerxes in 424 BC, modern science did not credit the existence of the okapi for 299 years, the first three-quarters of the modern scientific era, despite the fact that an estimated 15,000 okapis still live in the wild today."

Well, at least it is profoundly flawed instead of obviously flawed.
This is why a coherent debate about gods would focus on the epistemic unavailability of the supernatural. There's a category difference between mammals and gods, shockingly enough. From there it would move on to what constitutes reasonable evidence to discriminate gods from not-gods, and from there presumably would actually show some of this evidence. ( many years do you reckon until such a debate actually takes place? I figure the science-religion culture war will end first, making it moot.)
It is true that arrogant scientists are often wrong, but has little place in the debate. The question is whether evidence exists, not whether there are epistemic idiots.

-"And given how we are informed that 90% of the matter in the universe still remains undetected,"

Sophistry, unless Vox wants to claim that gods are solely comprised of non-baryonic matter. Which would, again, instantly sink his own side, as 'undetected' means 'there is no evidence of.'

It would be a much more interesting debate if he did, though. It would mean the correct analogue for a particle accelerator to dark matter would be prayer and meditation. Cheaper: far less government cap-feather megaproject and much more individualist and libertine.

-"one cannot reasonably say that our evidence for the supernatural has begun to wane; if anything it has increased in recent decades because the testimonial evidence for the supertechnological is indistinguishable from the testimonial evidence for the supernatural. At this point, we have no idea if ancient evidence for gods is more indicative of technologically advanced aliens than current evidence for technologically advanced aliens is indicative of ancient gods."

Hard-core sophistry.
Indeed gods and aliens are indistinguishable to intra-debate methods. That, however, means that Vox is arguing for aliens to exactly the extent he supposes himself to be arguing solely for gods.
Which is why his repeated and egregious category errors are so fatal. The first step is to find out how to distinguish them, not to try to use what could very well be evidence for aliens as evidence for gods.
Not that it has been established the evidence is in fact of aliens OR gods.

This is broken-window sophistry. The idea is to find it plausible that the evidence is for gods because Vox points that way, and thus forget it is identically plausible that Vox is systematically proving himself wrong.

-"All we know now is that there is a long and consistent record of evidence of something with superscientific abilities"

Ah, so that's why Vox is so hung up on Oxford's non-definition. (Did you notice the irony of invoking dictionary consensus and then disparaging scientific consensus?) He's attempting to show that there's evidence of Oxford's definition of 'god,' (true, there is) and hoping that nobody notices that it isn't what anyone normally means by 'god.'

More sophistry; Vox is trying to gradually slip in the assumption that the evidence in fact demonstrates super-scientific abilities. Plausible deniability: sloppiness or even admission of error; the strategy is to insert many of these so that, statistically, some slip past, and secondly so that addressing them all would consume DS's entire word limit.

I have little doubt that, as last time, the judges will be taken in.

-"This does not mean that gods exist. This does not mean that aliens exist. This does not mean that aliens broadly defined as gods exist"

It's this kind of thing that damns Vox. It shows he has mens rea. How can I be so sure?

-"This merely means that the weight of the historical evidence strongly indicates that aliens and/or gods exist"

No. No it doesn't. Non-sequiteur.

-"and that it is at least conceivable that supertechnological aliens, transdimensional beings, and supernatural gods are actually one and the same thing."

No. No it isn't.
For one, aliens don't even try to solve the first-mover problem.
This is truly dumbfounding. I...I can't quite believe I understood that properly. Yet, I can't see any interpretation other than Vox==dumbass.
Again, supernatural means immune to evidence.
Transdimentional beings don't even have an overconfident dictionary definition, because nobody but nobody knows how that could possibly work. Especially if Vox means reality-hopping, not just 5D or whatever.

He would have done better to just quote some Dr. Seuss here.

-"However, it should be noted that even iron-clad scientific proof of the existence of gods would not be sufficient to prove the existence of a creator god, still less the existence of a Creator God, and less yet the existence of the Christian Creator God"

More mens rea. Vox knows better, but prefers not to act better.

-"A very different case is required."

Mens rea. Should have started with that if that's where you were going. Suspense is good in a novel, not in papers nor debates. Deliberately misleading your opponent is not good form, oddly enough.

-"I shall endeavor to explain why the analogy of light and shadow is correct and how the existence of evil suffices to prove the existence of a creator god worthy of the more significant term God."

I hope you'll forgive my skepticism about the endeavor, as it would be a first. (Addendum; well, he did endeavor, it just didn't work.)

-"the two steps in the logic that still need to be demonstrated here are a) that the existence of evil requires the presence of a source of good, and, b) that the only entity capable of dictating an objective and definitive good is the Creator or His agent."

See? Capable of logic. Simply prefers not to use it.
Well, mostly. As before, 'source' is hopelessly ambiguous. This is a natural mistake, however.

Though last time I did learn to make conscious that possibilities imply the opposite possibility, while necessities imply the opposite's impossibility.

-"However, of the seven deadly sins, wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony, only gluttony even requires an action for its commission."

In case you had any doubt that Vox was really interested in 'gods' as opposed to 'God.' Pain.

-"And yet, those who admit to the existence of evil uniformly consider these intentional states of consciousness to be evil even when the actor remains completely inactive."

Ooh, ooh! I don't. Indeed the idea that thoughts can be 'wrong' is one of the major epistemic blocks that prevent most people from seeing the truth, I just realized consciously. In principle it is possible to do both, but you'd have to correctly assess a priori that no correct thoughts were morally wrong. Due to beliefs being imperfectly true, even this stricture is not enough.

('Uniformly' my ass.)

Second, it now becomes obvious that Vox thinks he thinks that one can be evil but harm no-one. (He's still ontologically committed to it, though - sins harm the sinner and God. If it harms neither, it isn't sin, and I understand it cannot harm one without harming the other.)

-"It is not merely the pedophile's actions which are evil, but also his state of consciousness previous to any subsequent evil actions."

Sophistry, though this one is probably unintentional: due to sincere belief in thoughts-as-sin. The strong visceral reaction against pedophilia makes it hard to reject the idea that the pedophile's thoughts are wrong - precisely because of the thoughts-as-sin mistake. Thing is, epistemically, you can't know in advance. You have to consider that maybe they're not wrong and then find out. Necessarily this means thinking the evil thought, because it needs to be realized to be examined - a thought nobody is thinking doesn't exist. Therefore, if thoughts can be evil, discovering if a thought is evil or not is itself evil. The contradiction should be obvious at this point.

I think I can safely predict that reducing evil-precursor thoughts reduces evil actions. However, that begs the question of whether evil thoughts can be reduced. What causes them in the first place - are you in fact responsible for them? Moreover, how?

Vox probably has all this tangled up in his head so tightly he can't see the individual threads.

-"So, evil is fundamentally a matter of consciousness, which at this point in time places it beyond the current ability of the science-based materialist consensus to examine."

Another technique for dealing with sophistry is to take it bluntly seriously.
Again, going by consensus is an ad authoritam fallacy. So, no shit.
See? Easy. Since it is sophistry there are multiple avenues for this attack, such as the epistemic categories, curiosity as to Vox's attack on materialists specifically, and curiosity as to how Vox thinks he has proven any link between consciousness and morality.

I can, by the way, which is why I know what to look for and can recognize the flaw even in Vox's handwaving. Short version: morality is about value, which is valuable because consciousnesses value it, which sounds tautological but is normal for consciousness because consciousness is direct. Vox isn't even aware of half these issues. (Moreoever this approach reproduces the golden rule, basically.)

-"But those who have experienced such states of consciousness already know that the materialist explanation for cause-and-effect are insufficient,"

Vox is now in over his head.
If the materialist explanation is insufficient, then evidence will be impossible to come by. If that doesn't make sense to you, you're over your head too. I'm happy to put in simpler terms on request.

-"Consider [...] a Man who possesses both the capacity to consider consequences as well as a moral sense."

Hey Vox, what is a moral sense? How does it work? If morals are objective, couldn't a dog be trained to recognize them? Or a computer? If we black-boxed our intuitive prejudices about right and wrong, would we be able to tell Man has a moral sense? If so, how? Would it occur to amoral aliens that Man has such a sense, is it necessary to explain his behaviour? Etc, etc?

Do you have any fucking idea what you're talking about at all?

-"Man's consciousness observably has at least three aspects, as unlike animals, which operate according to a simple utilitarian dualism, Man has an additional sense which acts as an internal brake upon his desires"

You've been observing animal consciousnesses? Neat. So how does that solution to the other-minds problem go again?

The 'logic.' It hurts.

-"When Man contemplates an action, he is capable of taking at least three elements into account. [...]
3.The morality of his action"

Apparently animals can't imagine that it will harm others, or something? Going by the definition above? They don't harm on purpose - no animal ever tried to kill another?
What, exactly, are they supposedly not doing?

Well, Vox misstepped. I think he could have glossed over the weaknesses in his background knowledge for morality, instead of openly revealing his ignorance and letting people like me pin it down.

-"The sense that is required for the third step is what I referred to in the previous round as the antenna that is indicative of the existence of some form of transmission."

Raw assumption.
At least he has a theory, but that means it can be tested - and it fails most tests. (Not in the mood to be exhaustive at present.)

-"It is usually referred to as conscience, or in religious terms, the 'still small voice'"

The small voice is a far more interesting topic for debate than gods-yes/no.
Note how indeed it doesn't occur to Vox to justify his assumption. (Addendum: I think I'm talking about how Vox is reasoning forward but not backward.)

-"Materialists assume that this third element does not exist and is merely a variable result of combining the first two elements,"

Begging the question. Do they? The materialists I've observed understand morality even less than Vox, and it doesn't occur to them that thoughts have elements at all.
Attacking materialists specifically will most likely be immaterial to Vox's overall argument. Well, 'argument.'

-"but their opinion is irrelevant at this point"

"Hi, I'm Vox. I waste words on pointless and unsupported attacks of my ideological enemies! Please take me seriously."

-"since they are still wrestling with the question of the material existence of consciousness itself."

I probably should note that I'm not a materialist for this exact reason.

-"we must decide if it is more likely that the signal is internally or externally generated."

This is getting tiresome. Should have done this with aliens vs. gods. Didn't most likely because he intuitively understands he can't. Unfortunately, that means I can predict he'll fail here as well.

-"but nearly 100 years of the consistent failure of psychoanalysis and its theory of the unconscious mind suggest that external generation is more likely"

A prodigious logical leap. It is superVox; leaps tall proofs in a single bound.

-"especially when one considers the external model's relative success in comparison with the internal model when everything from suicide rates to life expectancy are compared."

I am forced to assume - because he didn't say - that Vox is referring to the well-being of the religious as compared to the irreligious. Vox is nakedly asserting that the religious boost is due to the external model of morality - whatever that means exactly - as opposed to the million other things it could be.

-"Moreover, neither the materialist perspective nor the internal model can account for the difference between the rapid rate of claimed moral evolution observed in the United States with regards to homosexuality and the very small variations in moral sensibilities observed across societies separated by geography as well as the full extent of the historical record."

A: unsupported, not even explained.
B: the external model can't explain it either. Unless it can. Vox should probably at least mention his actual point, not just make a raw assertion that implies it.
C: he should probably check whether DS thinks morals evolve or not, in this sense. It is a belief professed by politicians, which means it is likely nobody but the basest fools genuinely believe it.

For the record, I think morals are absolute, we evolve to appreciate them, like math, and a few hundred years is not even close to enough time for that genetic basis to shift. Did I mention this already? I mention it because it brings the corruption of Vox's ideas into stark relief.

-"If we accept that the signal is externally generated, the next question is the extent of the signal."

Not sure why you'd accept that or even what difference it makes.

-"Due to the relatively small range of variations in moral sensibilities, we can see that this signal has a vast scope in terms of time as well as space."

'Big' is not 'infinite' and 'long' is not 'eternal.' So,

-"The transmitter, then, must be able to transcend the material to at least the same extent that human consciousness does"

Hardly. Also begging the question of whether consciousness is immaterial.

If it is a transmitter we should be able to intercept the signals with a suitable computer peripheral. Else, there cannot ever be evidence of the signals.

-"And it because it is departures from the signal that result in states of consciousness that we have shown to be evil, it is obvious that such states can only exist insofar as the signal also exists."

Well, that is an impressive ball of fallacies. I guess I know why Vox resorts to sohpistry so much; the alternative isn't better. More comfortable to read, though.

Is it departures from the signal that result in 'evil' thoughts? I suppose it answers the a priori, 'how do you know' question, but begs the question of how the signal knows.

In fact they weren't shown to be evil.

In fact the signal hasn't been show to exist, let alone be good.

The conclusion is circular. (Hence my 'ball' impression - you can probably learn this trick too.) Assuming the signal exists, is good, and that only departures of the signal are evil, that indeed it is impossible to appreciate good or evil without the signal, then yeah evil is impossible without the signal.

As a bonus, it proves that God is not good, because the signal needs a source, which can't know morality without the signal in the first place. (Morality bootstrapping; arising from more fundamental principles?)

What's actually obvious is that this is something Vox took on faith, not reason. He trusted an idiot and is now spouting idiocy, idiocy he doesn't really understand...but he has demonstrated an ability to reason forward from this moronic starting place, spreading the contamination.

Well, or he trusted a sophist which would mean mimicry is the source of his sophistry.

-"The Law can only be broken if the Law exists."

Quite so. By all means, demonstrate that a law exists. Also, a definition of 'law' would be nice, so we know when you've supported your beliefs and when you're just in la-la land.

-"It could also be a pre-programmed implant, in which case we would speak of the implanter rather than the transmitter."

If it is implanted at each birth, it can be intercepted. If it was implanted implicitly, it is subject to evolution.

-"so long as we accept that (1) evil exists, (2) potential differences between one's consequentially safe desires and one's moral sense can be observed, (3) the moral sense is informed by a source external to the conscious mind, and (4) Man's moral sense has not greatly changed over time, then the existence of evil logically indicates the existence of a definitive moral law that is as constant and as arbitrary as most, if not all, of the physical laws of the universe."

Ah! Yes.
It would be nice to establish those things, particularly because I clearly mean different things by them than Vox does.

-"And because this definitive moral law is constant and arbitrary, there must be a lawgiver capable of both defining and transmitting it."

So close, but no. If moral law is like physical law, it is subject to 'materialist' methods, which (probably) do not require any god to discover, explain, or exploit.

REBUTTAL 2: The rebuttaling.
"Rebut this, heathens!"

-"I would like to thank Vox for letting me off the hook for having to wrack my brain to come up with a sufficiently entertaining argument to prove a negative."

I find highly amusing the popular belief that you can't prove a negative. To prove x = !God it is sufficent to contradict x = God. Disprove the positive, respecting the difference between possible and necessary. Handily, most things people care about go into the 'necessary' category, even black swans - for example, is it necessarily possible that economic black swans occur? If so, you have to take them into account. If not, it is necessarily impossible and so you can ignore them.

-"It was my mistake to overlook the topic of the debate being towards "gods" rather than the preconcieved yet popular notion of "God"."

Haha, no actually, it wasn't a mistake.

-"establishing that, contrary to the arguments presented, there is evidence showing A3, B3, and B4 are each false statements will invalidate the conclusions drawn by both (A) and (B)."

DS doubts;
It is ahistorical and denialist to dismiss the testimony for gods,
The moral sense is inherently external to minds, (I think it's sort of both?)
Man's moral sense is constant through time.

Okay? Okay.

No, wait;
That Man's constant moral sense indicates that moral law is like physical law.

I think. Well, I'll find out. (Edit: I don't, really. DS establishes that there is at least one reason 'moral sense' may possibly not conform to the given definition of evil.)

-"However, testimony of personal contact with gods is a class of testimony, clearly defined by being an experience of the apparently supernatural, out of the ordinary, and demanding of an explanation."

What DS wants to say is that it cannot be dismissed out of hand, but can be categorized and characterized.

-"By presenting evidence that we have every reason to dismiss testimonial evidence of alien abductions due to the fact that pre-existing cultural influence both preceedes and largely defines what is later reported by alien abductees, and the same can thus be said of angelic visitations, demonic possession, and ornery leprechauns."

Long winded, but basically, yes.

Vox could counter this by finding a sub-category that DS was making a parallel category error about. Indeed I had hoped he would.

-"The only argument Vox has presented that A3 is true are increasingly elaborate ways of saying "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence". I completely agree that this is true."

Not quite true. Local absence of evidence is evidence of local absence. I may not be able to prove, 'there are no black swans on Earth' but I can definitely prove, 'there are no black swans in my backyard.' The difficulty is empirical, not epistemic.

-"However Vox's responses thus far regarding A3 have been against an imaginary materialist-concensus opponent who dogmatically insists that gods aren't real because he hasn't personally poked one with a stick."

And here's where I become vulnerable to accusations of siding with a side.
Which is why the point of this exercise is not to convince you one way or another, the point is to be dispassionate to the best of my abilities and record it, to see how good my best actually is.

Or, 'yeah, strawmen.'

Don't be taken in by accidental sophistry, though. I may agree with some of the things DS says; that doesn't mean he establishes what he intends to establish. For now, it only means he's not just a lamb for the slaughter.

-"That it would have been silly for a hypothetical group of Aztecs to deny the existence of hostile Spainards before ever meeting a white man is intentional obfuscation, because Vox's own argument is entirely dependent on the idea that the gods have in fact been met."

I wanted DS to hit back and I got my wish.
I wonder if part of the reason Vox has trouble with debating integrity is that he rarely runs into anyone who can hit back? It's hard to notice one's own internalized sophistries, no matter how sincere the attempt.

Though also note this is a good example of DS not properly supporting his own assertion. Yes, Vox's counter-argument is a failure. No, pointing it out doesn't explain why testimony for aliens is exactly the same as for gods, and therefore both can be dismissed.

-"We have established thus far that "not A3" is a true statement, given my evidence that this is such and Vox's complete lack of any rebuttal."

I can't be arsed to check if this is true. Obviously if true, yeah sure, but it could easily be false.

-"it could equally just as well be an integral part of us that is just another influence on our decision making process."

Think of a computer chip that is programmed by a signal in a single burst, but then runs around in the computer for the rest of their lives. It is, for all intents and purposes, external to that computer.
It doesn't matter if the signal is radio, spiritual, transmitted by proteins through the placenta, or transmitted by transcription from the genome.

Specifically, 'integral' and 'internal to the consciousness' means that the consciousness can affect the moral sense. If causation only flows in the opposite direction, it is not meaningfully internal. This is entirely plausible.

Vox most likely will prefer to hit DS where he's weak, avoiding as possible the stronger one above. He could surprise me with a valid counter-argument.

-"Vox himself admits there has been a "rapid rate of claimed moral evolution observed in the United States with regards to homosexuality". I could leave it at that."

This isn't engaging Vox's argument. The fault is somewhat Vox's for equivocating on 'evolution,' but DS should still know better. Vox, critically, used the word 'claimed.' Admitting that it has been claimed...yeah...about that...

-"Since this is what I was expecting from the very beginning, though, I will go ahead with what I had at the ready."

While tempting, showing contempt in the middle of a broken formal debate is not good strategy.

-"Man's moral sense greatly changes on a regular basis, even within the span of a moment. In fact, man's moral sense completely reverses itself and actively pushes us towards evil so often we have a word for it."

This is why Vox really, really, really needed to define 'moral sense.' Is vengeance an example of the moral sense changing, or not? I don't know if DS would normally think so and I don't know what Vox thinks either. DS may be proving a point or he may be wanking.

-"A man who gets his hands on the boy who raped his daughter meets every single clause of the definition presented above."

Another problem is that Vox is clearly assuming several facets of Christianity - which neatly answer this objection - without submitting them to debate.

I believe Christianity says that vigilante justice is evil. Judge not lest ye be judged, throw the first stone, and that thing about it being God's place and not yours. Probably others as well, such as render unto Caesar.

Vox can respond by noting that the moral sense didn't change - the little voice - rather the avenger didn't listen. Without either side establishing what a moral sense is, this argument could be perpetual.

-"Yet both the man and what happens next is not evil, it is justice. Depending on who you ask, of course."

Vox: ask God, get the right answer. Ask the signal, don't poll receivers.

This might be sophistry, depending on what exactly DS really believes. I'll assume it is for sake of illustration.
The answer you get depends on who you ask. Does the right answer depend on who you ask? I thought DS was on record as a moral absolutist?
Okay, yeah, sophistry. We have a definition of evil. Does it match the definition? If you ask someone and they say it isn't evil, they're just wrong.

Let me state it again. If you ask someone if vengeance matches the given definition, and they say it doesn't, they're simply incorrect.

DS should be objecting to that definition of evil, and has instead fallen into Vox's trap.

-"Evil is suddenly not evil when the victim deserves it, this is what our moral sense tells us, yet meeting out justice and punishment satisfies every single criterion for objectively identifying evil presented."

Ooh, harsh equivocation.
He's trying to say that the moral sense doesn't match the given definition of evil. Unfortunately DS never established that vengeance is part of the moral sense, and Vox, not providing a definition, has the opportunity to claim he never thought so whether he in fact did or not.

-"The argument is that there is an objective and consistent Good that we can sense with the morality identifying part of our conciousness"


-"But I have shown that the moral sense itself completely reverses course and calls evil, the Good, on a regular basis."


-"Time to put Mere Christianity down, C.S. Lewis can't help you now."

Thou shalt not waste words upon contempt. (In a debate. Actually I just realized that alone is a good reson I should never debate, regardless of epistemic issues.)

-"it is apparently still incumbent on me to make a positive case for the non-existence of gods, again."

For the first time would be nice, too.

-"The hypothesis which I sought to prove being that for any new experience or phenomenon, when man attempts to explain the phenomenon using the tools for understanding at his disposal, the first attempt (and sometimes 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc...) at explanation is almost invariably wrong."

DS knows a thing!
Judging by the complete misunderstanding of this principle by everyone else involved, it is a lot harder than I thought it was.
Moreover, the first attempts are wrong in a characteristically human way. They are invariably more familiar and easier to understand than the truth.

This is one reason I did well in physics. I find the familiar and easy boring and I don't really understand why anyone would prefer it. I sometimes have the opposite problem, of positing complexity where there is none.

-"Test it if you like."


-"Find a young child, turn the tables, and be the person to ask them how babies are made."

Proving the heuristic is quite hard; my advice is 'take university physics.' Shortest path I can see from here to there. Explaining the heuristic is much easier, and this isn't that explanation.

-"When physicists were first exploring the atomic and subatomic, they went in with the expectation that little particles couldn't be all that different from big ones, with experimental results very quickly overturning that assumption."

That's...a bit better. The following examples are good as well...

-"Take Dark Matter, the idea that the universe is mainly composed of just more matter that it so happens we can't see or detect any direct way, but it's got to be there, because nothing else could account for these gravitational anomolies. I expect it to be consigned to the dustbin of history along with the tachyon soon enough."

That was my expectation before I saw the colliding galaxies picture, where the lights ran into each other than the gravitational lensing kept going. Sometimes the simple explanation is, contrary to all reasonable expectation, true.

-"the explanations that fall under the domain of this hypothesis were those that required imagination to fill in the missing details."

Indeed, it is these assumptions of the details that are so invariably wrong, I just realized.
Most especially, the assumption that you haven't missed or forgotten anything. Un-assuming this assumption has been most fruitful for me personally.
Take anything you think. Almost anything - what could be true that would make it wrong? Focus on that for a few minutes, and you'll find a galaxy of possibilities. As a professional epistemologist, I have to test them all, without exception. Do you?

On God, believers have almost invariably not done so.

-"the retort so far has been remarkably asinine."

I've never known a person to be terribly impressed by someone calling them asinine. Have you?

-"Gods are not real because the true reason for the eyewitness testimony that they are based on is something else entirely."

Though ironically DS's original defence showed me that in fact the god-experience-generator is likely to be far more awesome and complicated than God. It's not impossible that it is mundane and boring...but not likely, statistically.

-"Further, attempting to claim that this argument does not disprove any and all potential gods rather than those identified thus far is outside of the scope of this debate."

Awkward. He wants to say, "I don't have to disprove arbitrary gods, just god as internally defined."

And...doesn't he? Well, I would have to, regardless. And you know what, I can't. (Hence my search for a definition of 'deity.') On the other hand, it is true I feel no need to make up entirely new ideas of god to disprove; it is sufficient to rebut specific examples of gods placed before me. (So far they've all been supernatural which as far as I'm concerned means, at best, potentially existent if repaired.)

I read debates hoping to learn things. Haha, more fool first order. I do, as I've pointed out, learn things, just not what the debaters are trying to show. So far in this case I could have held this entire debate in my head against myself, except it would have been a way higher standard of debate. Though it is harder to learn things that way because I don't have to think up justifications for the things I disagree with. Instead it would be an exercise of looking for contradictions, and as a method is ureliable; orders of magnitude less accurate than just writing it down, for example.

I realized something. Individualist a-la carte philosophy is impractical because of the intense labour necessary to accurately evaluate individual claims. Individuals should in most cases choose a philosophy patron - by which I include priests and churches and so on - and then stick with it.
As an epistemologist (you're welcome to disagree, the point is I think I am) it is in my professional interest to evaluate claims, and by practice I get good and stay good at it. Even with all this practice, if I don't specifically evaluate claims, I end up believing in nonsense. Epistemic layhumans are far more likely to make a mistake if they attempt a DIY philosophy, to break something, and don't have the time in any case.

A comment by Nate:
"Its not out of the ordinary at all. Virtually every self described Christian out there will tell you not only do they believe in God, they believe they have a relationship with Jesus Himself. They believe they have met Him."
Indeed? So what's that like? What constitutes this meeting?
See guys, this is evidence. At least potential evidence.

Addendum: Dominic's 'truth is stranger' is a very reliable heuristic. However, it can only be supported by sheer weight of evidence - not conducive to word-limited communication. Ideally, one learns the intuition personally so you can evaluate an argument by feel - even worse for communication. As such he shouldn't be using it.

While there must be details the intuition is picking up on, and in theory these details could be extracted and shared, nobody knows what they are. The one detail that I see is that these explanations fit precisely alongside human intuitions; by contrast, human intuitions must be fully right on something, by chance alone. Intuitions in this sense are basically a priori knowledge or at least a priori ability-to-understand. It makes sense that humans would have inborn knowledge of some things, (e.g. conservation of matter, a basic conception of number) but as they're imperfect, they'll conflict with other truths. Given the constraints of inborn knowledge, indeed most truths. However, to use this heuristic in a debate, you have to figure out what kinds of truths are likely to conflict, which requires among other things agreement on what the constraints of inborn knowledge are. Also, by the time someone is old enough to articulate it, a lot of cultural knowledge has gained equal status to inborn knowledge in their brain; they have no way to distinguish them without looking at different cultures.

Well, I agree with my own constraints...
Perhaps inborn knowledge is complete? In some sense? Evolved adaptations seem to get fine-tuned with regularity; these facts would be self-contained.
Ah. It's not vague. (Thanks, intuition.) Vague, hand-wavy beliefs don't lead to much in specific actions and can't confer any adaptive advantage. So they're concrete and quite specific. You don't get multiple variations on beliefs about whether or how stuff falls when you drop it - only on why.

Which is to say Dominic, even interpreted mega-charitably as to have implicitly thought of this, is begging the question.

Though now I'm curious as to where Vox thinks intuitions come from. I guess I'll ask, though I bet it won't work. Update: Indeed, no answer.

Update: The section on Vox vs. cl got large so I gave it its own post.

I forgot something I said about DS's argument from strangeness, and found it reading the notes over yesterday. Today, remembering my ending caveat, I put the two together and started to figure the thing out.

In sum, the hypothesis of e.g. 'God' is made mainly of inferences, not evidence. Naturally, humans tend to make intuitive inferences. If you need to infer, reality is not intuitive. Ergo, if you make inferences and they're all intuitive, you haven't reflected reality - it isn't strange enough.

So the test is to check whether a hypothesis is made of evidence or inferences. Now, it is entirely possible to check inferences - e.g, mathematics. However, if on first glance all the inferences make intuitive sense, if they don't have those swirls and blips and strangeness so characteristic of evidence, it is overwhelmingly likely the inferences are there to make you feel better, not to be true.

There, that's more or less what DS should have said in the first place, and the fact he didn't proves he doesn't really understand the principle either, and can hardly expect anyone he uses it on to take it seriously unless they already know it.

As should be obvious, sometimes inferences turn out to be both true and intuitive, but (not obviously) this doesn't violate the principle - rather, it affirms it at the meta-level. Anyone who gut-understands the principle finds it weird that nature is ever intuitive, and thus the weirdness quota is met either way.

More on this when I've thought about it some more. I'm not yet confident it's correct or sufficient.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

To Test a Paleo Theory

I kind of want to start some regular series on this blog. This would normally be a good entry for one of them, I think. (I haven't fully planned them out.) But today it is true, and today I haven't figured it out yet.

Oh my god I am so high right now.

What did I do?

I've been eating various versions of paleolithic/archevore diets for about a year now. I decided to go out and gorge on some steamed rice to see what happens. (Specifically to distinguish between the effect on my system of glucose compared to galactose.)

Well...I'm so high relative to how I high I expected to get off rice. I'm drunk. I'm actually drunk. I cannot concentrate. I am entertained by making siren noises and randomly waving my arms. I'm lightheaded. (The rice feels like a solid object got lodged in my gut.) Lots of things are funny that shouldn't be, in a nervous giggle sort of way. I'm starting to get jittery. No wait, I am jittery - I'm starting to have to suppress tremors in my hands. The tremors are chaotic, not regular. The tremors make me want to spaz out. I want to punch something just because it would be a sharp movement. Come to think, it started at least by the time I requested the bill - I did so with a sharp, birdlike motion, out of character for me. (Though this turned out to be a better strategy.)

These tremors are actually entertaining. I'd prefer to keep watching my hands shake than keep writing this post. Okay now I'm actually waving my arms randomly. I didn't exactly decide to, it was just fun at the time. Well, not randomly, I'm doing the wave by myself.

On the plus side I am thinking faster. I'm having more ideas, of roughly my average quality. (Such as having it occur to me that this post might be worthwhile.) I don't want to stop talking. Anybody have a spare ear I can talk off?

Ow, my gut hurts. I'm not full, or satisfied, it just hurts and is obviously telling me stop and/or not to do that again.

Talking about it has changed the sensation, except that my gut still hurts. Not a lot, but it is not exactly subtle. (Or possibly the insulin spike is successfully neutralizing the glucose toxicity.) The things I described above sound fun instead of retarded.

I don't care if you want to read this or not. Screw you, basically. You should care, dammit! (Not really: that is the drugs talking.)

I'm high on rice!

Kids, to starch, just say no.

Will update if there's a second wave. Ow, my gut's getting worse. Or right now, I guess.

Now I'm intentionally doing the wave by myself to see if it is fun. It is making me dizzy and lightheaded. And yes it is. Though that might be because, "Heh, I'm doing the wave by myself, AND I"M NOT EMBARRASSED TO ADMIT IT!" So basically, screw you guys, again.

Yes the spontaneous desire to do the wave has gone, but others have replaced it. But don't worry, you wouldn't want to do any of them in public either. Right now, I would find it exciting to be in public. I'm high, screw you.

The idea of embarrassing myself because 'screw you' is getting more appealing. Oh god I'm legitimately considering going outside and actually doing it. It's raining. Apparently I don't much care. (I won't actually do it; I do retain reasoning capacity.)

Gut hurts less, but feels more funny. Ooh, if I move wrong I get a sharp pain, not the usual dull kind. Ah, I'm starting to really feel the remaining hunger; it's softening the ache but now I'm hungry. It's kind of hard to tell where the ache because ow starts and the hunger begins; the hunger feels a bit sick. Yeah now I'm a little nauseous.

I recognize all these sensations from when I ate staple carbs. The

Ah, calm begins to return. A trend or a cycle?
As I begin to come down, it wasn't so much that I enjoyed being weird but that I enjoyed the idea of wanting to be weird, and actually doing it reinforced the idea that I actually wanted to. The 'fun' sensation could easily just be a 'lots of energy' sensation.

Ow, my gut hurts. I'm beginning to spontaneously wonder whether you care.
My gut objects. It definitely thinks you should care.

Sitting up straight is not a good idea, I found. Okay, yeah, I'm not even going to test that. Gut, if you want me hunched the fuck over, you can go right ahead. Back, you're just gonna have to deal with it.

I feel like I need to burp. I don't think I do. Still feeling contradictory hunger and don't-eat-there's-a-lump-in-the-way sensations. (For lack of a better term.) Definitely want to eat but can't.

Ooh, the energy feeling is having a second wind. Jitters are gone - I can evoke them but I don't have to suppress them.

Hey hunger, how do you feel about rice? It would work, apparently.
Gut objects to the idea.
Yeah, that's a better description of hungry-but-can't-eat.

Rice-induced hunger is familiar from my cereal days. It's like hunger mixed with that jittery energy feeling from earlier. I'd forgotten I used to feel like that.

Hmm, new sensation. Err, a staring sensation. Neck's a bit jittery, brain It think? Yeah. Stuff. It feels like what you feel like when you produce that kind of thing. Airy, but full of stuffing.

Spontaneous impulse to grin like a mad clown. To grin as such, say, "Hi guys, I'm high! Whee! Or aaaaaagh! Something!"

Rice. This is what rice is doing to you; you just think it is normal. Go on, just try it the other way, see what the difference is.

I took a large dose to accentuate the symptoms for easy analysis. (See how different that sentence is from when I didn't care?) While indeed it may not be scale independent, the reasonable assumption is dose-response.

You rely less than totally on starch, and have some resistance from chronic exposure. (Also my metabolism may be slightly broken from chronic insulin toxicity.) But fact is you probably feel all these things at a low level.

Which is annoying. I like decaf coffee with table cream. Table cream has way, way too much glucose in it, and the coffee tastes simultaneously bitter and empty without it. Empty like chewing on glass.

You'd think 'waving my arms is fun' would be a nice state. Easily entertained means cheap entertainment which means lots of wealth. I would certainly think so...until now.
No, it is way more comfortable not being high. Relaxed, satisfying. Jittery is definitely bad. I would never have realized I was jittery, nor that I didn't have to be, if I hadn't gone paleo. (I intuitively realized this long before I consciously realized it.)

Sober is, "I can move if I want to." Sugar high is, "I have to move....!"

Oh god now I'm stiff. My joints normally don't crack. Both shoulders just (slightly) cracked simultaneously.

My muscles...pre-ache. It doesn't actually hurt, but it has all the other parts of an ache. If it got worse it would definitely hurt.

It's sort of like the non-hurt ache from being sleepy or having worked out, but noticeably different. It's unmistakeably a sugar-ache not a tired ache. It feels...flatter? I feel a bit jellified. It is unsatisfying, unlike a workout ache. It doesn't lead to the impulse to lie down like a sleepy ache.

But overall is definitely 'ow.' Yeah: it's like what I imagine waking up from a phaser set to stun is like. I have a sensation of having been hit by something. It is inherently unpleasant. (Should you care? I'm not sure...)

Ooh, more airy brain fog. Hold up a minute - I'm just going to watch it pass.

Spontaneous thought: hey guys, I'm writing.

That is definitely a curtain.

Yup, sure is a curtain.

Did you know it is brown? Sort of a light brown. It's got floral crap on it. (I didn't pick it.)

Hey impulses, do you care that they don't care? Not so much, eh? Just want me to tell them that my curtains are brown, then? You do. I see.

I have a nintendo DS. It is a good game. (Dude, it isn't a game.) Wheeeeee....

I like peanuts. They are tasty. Did you know? I bet...something.

The key here is I could stop, but these urges aren't normal. Which reminds me my gut hurts. I want to see what they are, perhaps characterize them.

I have a potato. That was a lie. You should like potatoes. Potatoes are brown. Not brown like the curtains. Yes they are. No they're not.

My hands are pre-tingling. So pins and needles without the actual tingles. The joints are stiff. Arthritis-y, in fact. They're stuttering - getting caught and releasing. Also mild throbbing in all ten fingers. Not apparently in time to my heartbeat, so that's weird. The finger throbbing is also not synced across fingers.

My stomach feels sugary. That's really just the succinct way to put it - sugary. Starch-staple hunger feels sugary. Though it currently doesn't have that burning sensation table sugar has, so non-burny sugar. Instead it has an element of the feeling of breathing in, except at the stomach.

Ooh I can sit up again, mostly.

The muscle ache is on the cusp of actually hurting. Ah, and there's the rush of blood to the head, a headache precursor.

It's like a mild flu case. Muscles don't actually quite ache, head doesn't actually quite hurt, but they're clearly flirting with the idea.

Hands feel slightly alien. If I wave them, they got just a smidge further than I told them to. They're surprising me...just a bit.

You know when you black out, your vision narrows, and your head feels like it is filling with blood? Expanding a bit, I think is a good analogy? My head's gone half a step down that road and then stopped. I can easily induce it to go further, though it settles back.

Yeah, confirmed I'm feeling muscle fatigue, but in a different way from workouts and sleepiness. Simultaneously, it is late enough I should be getting yawny and eyelid-droopy and I'm not.

Muscles unexpectedly fatigued, even though I know they're fatigued. I rested and then it was worse when I moved again.

Spontaneously tempted to deliberately clench my face muscles, inducing the pre-headache to touch its peak. (Presumably to force the correction harder? Why is this urge spontaneous?)

Muscles surprisingly fatigued again.

Right, okay, that should be enough. I think. 'Ow my stomach' is really the point here. Though I have a meta-point that mindfulness can show up things you never expected, even when applied to raw physical sensations.

Okay, yeah. Never, ever, ever doing that again. You can stop punishing me now, body, I get the point.

My metabolism is fast enough that I have the hangover from poisons the same night.

I wonder if you care how bad it gets. If you do, I should briefly update at the nadir. I probably won't.

For science and stuff. Pretend I said that excitedly. This has been a great success, as an adventure. When the hangover's gone, I will be pretty excited.

Huh, the hangover has an element that feels kind of home-y. Like going to sleep in my own bed.

Right, yes, enough logging. Alrenous. Stop. Stop --- yeah. Stop.
Brain fog rolling in.

Blunt Object Smashes Mayor Dilemma

Clever titles aren't good for search optimization, but this one is just too juicy.

Attempting to strategize for bluntobject, (via) I was inspired to realize what consent of the governed actually means, which solved an ethical dilemma I was having about the rights of anarcho-capitalist mayors. (Summary: can he change the [by-]law? Not without changing your residency contract, which means not without your consent, unless you're an idiot. Addenda: I reconstruct democracy and solve a problem regarding children.)

In anarchotopia, mayors would basically be barons. They would own cities - they would decide which water firm to patronize, who handles law enforcement and how, directly own all the roads, and so on.

Property tax would essentially be replaced by a land rental contract - unless for some reason the mayors see fit to outright sell you a postage stamp of land. You may own the house, but you'd rent the land under it in perpetuity or thereabouts. When you sign that rental contract, you'd explicitly agree to all the laws of the city and customs of the neighbourhood it is in.

But, er, what if the mayor needs to change the contract? He's imperfect; he will screw it up the first time. And it is his land, he has the right to use it as he sees fit. Okay, so there will be some provision for revision.

But, er again, what if he tried to use that provision to dictate primae noctis? Until today, I had no answer to this.

Approximating anarchotopia for the present time gave me the idea to make universal healthcare only apply to those who sign up for it. (This is a hilarious and instructive image: proggies would piously sign first.) This brought me to realizing that consent of the governed actually means that every act of parliament is ratified by every individual it affects - and conversely, it affects only those who ratify it. And there's my solution to the mayor dilemma.

Your rental contract for the land will (if you're not an idiot) require your permission to make most amendments. The mayor will have to re-negotiate with you if he wants to introduce a new law. If he tries for primae noctis, you just say no.

This principle has other salutary effects. If he tries to raise your property taxes without also sweetening the deal with services, you say no, and ditto if he wants to cut services but not taxes. (Though this brings the amusing spectre of whole cities going bankrupt because service costs outstrip taxes and the populace childishly refuse to pay more. Err...what are the citizens going to do when the city actually runs out of money, hmm?)

Another failure mode is not renting in perpetuity, in which case the mayor can simply refuse to renew if you don't agree to their doltish demands. In this case, as a matter of empirical fact the citizen expected the mayor to be constant and linear, and he wasn't. As a matter of empirical fact, everything that happens is predictable as a possibility, and so this is an epistemic failure on the part of the citizen.

Look, if you guess the mayor isn't going to put in any new laws and therefore buy only a one-year renewable land rental, and it turns out you're wrong, it's all on you. If you were really going to be that badly affected by him changing the law, then save up for a perpetual lease. As another matter of empirical fact, humans aren't unpredictable. They don't go cartoon insane all of a sudden. You don't trust people without track records, and people with track records will almost always adhere to that record.

Which means even if perpetual land leases are not available, you can approximate them by patronizing a city with a solid track record.
Similarly, the mayor has a responsibility to only accept citizens that will agree to reasonable changes. If he promises the moon for the price of a doughnut hole, you agree to it and then the city goes bankrupt, it is on him. This may mean they have the right to restrict sale of the perpetual lease - though of course they should always accept selling it back to them; I would demand that put explicitly in my contract.

For my next trick, I work out whether anarchotopia needs idiot-patron firms to stop idiots from doing idiotic things. The requirement that idiots consciously accept their idiocy may make it impossible, or perhaps idiocy won't be nearly as dangerous as generally assumed. It might take a while, so stay tuned. :P

Well tiff on a biscuit, I reconstructed democracy in contract law. (This is why these things enrage me - they could have asked my consent, they just didn't.) Ahem.
"The signee agrees to amend the contract regarding issues that affect all signees alike, (e.g. acceptable road maintenance noise levels) if the signee is presented with a petition signed by no less than every 6 in 10 fellow signees; amendments to be in accordance with procedures outlined above."
The point of anarchy isn't to destroy democracy. The point of anarchy is that some people don't want democracy, and everyone should be allowed to move to that place if they end up freer and more prosperous. (Hint: they would.)

Thinking about this itself re-confirmed that thinking about contract law is worthwhile. (I suspect that's why I like doing it.) Moreover I've now solved a dilemma about the contract relationship between parents and children.

In a state of nature, parents have no obligations toward their children. Neither implantation nor giving birth can consistently imply an agreement to do anything. This can easily be verified as children have no obligations to their parents; they cannot possibly agree to be conceived as they don't exist yet, and therefore their conception and birth cannot imply any obligations. They have zero moral responsibility because they have zero physical responsibility. (Best you can do is say giving birth to someone you don't intend to feed is very, very cruel. But also, equally unlikely; this cruelty has little factual implications.)

However, aside from the obvious objection that parents hardly need laws to make them feed and clothe their children, it is also true that cities would not allow the state of nature to stand. Aherm. Ahem.
"All dependants found 'wild,' independently of their guardians, will be genetically or legally traced to their guardians. If guardian or dependent does not consent to returning the dependent to the care of the guardian, The City will take the dependent as a ward, and the former guardian will be found liable for the care and feeding of the dependent until such time as the dependent applies for and passes the emancipation exam."

This clause has at least two salutory effects.
First, the city will not particularly mind vagrants, as they automatically become wards and the wards will be paid for by someone else, even if the vagrant is seven years old. It also constitutes fair warning of same.
Second, children of irredeemably abusive parents will have no less than two escape hatches. They can run away and intentionally get into a city orphanage. Similarly, they can apply for the emancipation exam. Do I trust children not to abuse this freedom? Absolutely I do; if anything they're biased in the opposite direction. And regardless, to first order, even if they do run away from satisfactory parents, the parents won't feel any extra, undeserved financial burden.
Giving exit to children; anarchy at its finest.

As a loaded aside, I'd really like it if people stopped pretending to care about what happens other people's kids. If it isn't affecting you personally, I don't buy it. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

VPPZMM Debate Notes; Replies 1

Mostly unedited, mainly in temporal order.


-"Aliens seem to first have been introduced as forms of social commentary coupled with an increasingly materialist worldview, from Voltaire's 'Micromegas' (1752) as a vehicle for warning against anthrocentric hubris and a convenient means to lampoon a few people he didn't particularly care for"

Aliens are a clear extrapolation from bog-standard non-human myths such as elves and trolls. The only meaningful difference is one lives on another world the other comes from another world, which means they feel slightly different to read about.

Though it is true there have been strange sightings throughout history, and the descriptions of them have followed pop culture. As nobody but the sighters have ever managed to track one down, nobody knows WTF they are. They could easily be just outright lies.

-"Detailed descriptions of the aliens themselves, and what subsequently happens to a person after meeting them, were all wildly different, and a more consistent story does not emerge until after science fiction literature and Hollywood have a crack at it"

Which is exactly what you'd expect from some sort of delusion - either an intentional or subconscious lie.

-"the first observation to make is that familairity with the context is a mandatory prerequisite for having the experience, just as no one remembered being abducted by a Grey alien with giant unblinking eyes until after Hollywood gave us Grey aliens with giant unblinking eyes."

Same again.
Note that these things can be falsified - relatively consistent medieval accounts of greys would do it, for example, would require DS to change his mind.

I just realized I'm not going to check this for actually responding to Vox's points, though I'm betting it will generally fail. I will fail by broken-window fallacy; I will forget a point not answered. Of course I've already shown what I think the response should be.

-"Again, this isn't to say that all the experiences are delusional, given the logic that 50 to 88 percent of such accounts can be considered honest accounts by people who are not crazy, simply that the actual explanation, the real source that triggers these experiences, is something quite different, and let's not forget stranger, than what they appear to be to the eyewitness"

Ah right, I forgot.
I have to say I have a hard time thinking of them as not crazy. They believe an epistemically objective event occurred that clearly did not. That's the essence of crazy - so, what, is this just law of large numbers as applied to human error? Sometimes, a real whopper? Or they're just crazy.
The simplest explanation is that stuff is as it appears to be.

-"This is not an 'interpretation' of details, these are entirely different details, one of gods, the other of aliens."
Bzzzt. It could be exactly that. A) What if angels don't always have halos? B) What if they fail to recognize a god? C) And so on?

So about those cities? "Capernaum, Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Nineveh, and the empires of Assyria and the Hittites." Apparently they proved something about the existence of gods. I want to know what it is.
So I guess I'm not entirely pwned by the broken-window fallacy. 

-"that of the materialist position rejecting such accounts on the basis of the lack of an objective measuring tool which would verify the validity of the accounts of gods made by the eyewitnesses is ahistorical and the intellectual equivalent of burying one's head in the sand. Here, there is no dissagreement."

Err...huh? That almost went in the right direction.
If you lack an objective measuring tool, you don't give up, you go out and find one. The accounts above suggest a good one. Form a hypothesis of what they're describing, then go out and try to find it in the present.

I am amused to recall that priests would often disparage sightings of dragons and such. I wonder how Vox will respond.

-"and our religions (with the exception of the Mormons) are clumsy attempts at describing what we now have better tools for understanding, that we're being visited by aliens. Maybe the Mormons are actually right and we should follow Matt Stone and Trey Parker to the promised lands."

As before, using Vox's numbers, the odds of two intelligent races arising near each other are approximately eleventy zillion to one. His numbers may not be right but if you go through the calculation you'll realize they don't have to be anywhere near right for the conclusion to hold. Unless he's making a cosmological constant 137 degrees of magnitude error, his numbers will still go the same way. (Or non-random distribution; what could cause that?)

-"I would argue in turn this application of the Oxford definition actually makes one group of men gods over others."

That's because it does. Next.
It probably isn't any more unintentional than the UFO sightings are; Oxford is run by humanists, and so it isn't surprising their definition all but deifies humans. (Also because defining it is really hard and they should have put 'I don't know.')

-"Objective measurement is one where the point of reference does not move."

Objective are things which don't go away or otherwise change if you stop believing in them.

-"Here I believe we can all be in agreement that objective evil, as defined as a self-aware, purposeful, and malicious force which intends material harm and suffering to others and is capable of inflicting it, is quite real."

Do you see how handy it is to have a real definition of evil? Looks like DS is going to fall straight into Vox's trap. I wonder if Vox knows it is a trap?

-"It would be an impossible task to actually prove that people have never or do not act with self-ware, purposeful, and malicious intent to cause material harm and suffering to others"

Instead... As before,

-"Some people go so far as to do it for its own sake because it pleases them."

If sadists stopped feeling pleasure from inflicting pain, would they keep doing it? If politicians stopped profiting politically and financially from war, would war continue?

But I can go even further.
Define 'harm.' Good. Now define 'harm' without begging the question on morality. I'll wait. Handily, 'suffering' is mentioned separately, so you can't even use, 'they didn't like it.'
The definition is fundamentally circular. 'Malicious' is the same.

Easy, no?

-"This statement is always taken at face value as axiomatically true, and is always phrased as a light/dark dichotomy for illustration. I also happen to disagree with it."

It seems Vox placed the trap in DS's mouth, so when he put his foot in it, his foot became trapped.
I suppose it is possible he made the implication unintionally, and didn't mean that shadows can form without a light source.

At least his arguments are getting a less flat. While easy to parse...I don't like 'easy.' Easy is boring.

-"but leaping to the conclusion that it couldn't exist without the objective and definitive Good strikes me as awfully non-sequiteur"

Ah, I'm wrong. Excellent. It is a non-sequiteur. Congratulations!
There might be a way from point A to point B, but Vox sure as hell didn't provide it.

Edit: I really shouldn't analyze when I'm tired. I argue myself out of this below. In my feeble defence I made assumptions about where this was going, and it turned out to head instead into the territory of consciousness and existence.

-"Besides, calling Good and Evil laws requiring a lawgiver is not only assumption, but in light of my opening arguments, just too convenient as well."

See? This. This is pretty tangled, in possibly a good way.
It depends what one means by 'law.' If you just mean regularity, such as physical law, then the idea they require a giver is indeed an assumption. I agree that it is too convenient.

A lawgiver is a cause of laws. But it either begs the question of ultimate cause, or else is itself immune to cause, in which case why not simply attribute that property to the laws themselves?

-"(which is also why its safe so say we all see colors in roughly the same way, philosophers and their "what if my blue is your red?" be damned)"

For various reasons, consciousness, in contrast to physics, needs to be absolute. For example, you can't believe you're seeing red but be mistaken and be seeing blue; technically, it is ontologically subjective. What makes it red is the fact you think you're seeing red. Therefore, the experience of red is the essential nature of red.

-"yet the third gets a free pass as a universal law that we know though our moral intuition, that would hold true even without us around. This makes no sense."

For the record I think morals are similar to math - meta-ethics exists without us, but we have to learn about it, but luckily the genome knows and we learn from that.

However, depending on how you define morals, the directness of consciousness can apply. I don't define it this way, but Vox may define it such that the experience of witnessing or suffering evil is what makes it evil.

I hope so, actually, because that would be salutary for Christian theology as philosophy. The lawgiver thing gets tied up with existence. Why is red, red? Law of identity. Why is there a law of identity? Why does red exist at all? The Christian creator God answers these questions, at least nominally.

-"I'm not saying that our common biology is the definitive answer [...] but it is just as good an explanation, if not better, than jumping to the conclusion that our recognition of evil is a window into some absolute moral law"

As above, Vox may or may not be jumping to conclusions. I await with interest.

-"much less saying that the very act of recognizing it requires some corresponding Goodness."

Depends on your definition.
Which is why debaters depend so heavily on explicit definitions...normally...
Is an act that lacks all evil, good? I think so, and similarly the converse.
Every single thing which is possible but not necessary implies the converse possibility of its contradiction. Therefore even if you only experience good, you could infer the possibility of evil.

(I learned something! I hadn't explicitly formalized the relationship between possibilities like that before.)

-"We know that what we consume can and does affect our minds, personalities, and perceptions, [...] and for the most part we all consume roughly the same, [...] so it's unsuprising that we have some experiences and attitudes that are common across the board."

No matter what you eat, you're not going to experience red as blue. It's logically impossible.

Once again, I don't recall Dominic actually establishing anything. At best he has appearances on his side, but hasn't drawn any functional conclusions from his data. There are a lot of dangling threads - DS seems to want to go places but often gets distracted and goes somewhere else instead.


Prediction: oh dear. Here we go.

-"I feel that I must begin by congratulating my opponent for not only producing a far more intriguing piece than I had reason to expect [...] If nothing else, Dominic has produced a genuinely original case for atheism."

Non-transparent plea for goodwill. Good? I think?

-"but concocting one that I suspect makes my case for the existence of gods look downright sane by comparison."

Sophistry, implying opponent is insane.

-"By the definition he assumes, neither Zeus nor Athena would qualify as gods, much less Baal, or Chemosh, or other gods known to have been worshipped in the course of human history."

Everything Vox says is factually true, but as I've mentioned the debate is, at least so far, actually about the Christian God, which means...sophistry, specifically uncharitable interpretation.
The idea, again, is to distract from a false assumption by mentioning a bunch of implications that are true. As the debate is actually about God not gods, DS's response should be, 'Then it's a good thing we're not debating those gods, then, isn't it?' - his definition works in context.

For verification, this is the first time Vox has brought up specific non-Christian gods.

I was hoping for a debate about gods, but I'm not surprised I've got one about God.

-"However, the assertion that the existence of the supernatural depends upon the axiom that cause precedes effect or that space-time is causal and linear is both incorrect and unsupported."

It is interesting that Vox thinks it is unsupported. I understand what DS meant by it; why doesn't Vox? If that was 'unsupported,' then I'll have to say Vox's lawgiver stuff was equally cloudy fluff.

Oh wait, I got pwned by sophistry. DS argued the existence of God depends on such axioms. The supernatural is an ex nihilo addition by Vox.
This is what I get for interpreting charitably - I assumed Vox meant to refer to what DS referred to, but he didn't.

It is true that DS mentioned that he thinks his evidence contradicts the supernatural, but immediately dropped the subject. (One of many dangling threads.) So again, true consequences, but about a false assumption.

I now suspect Vox's plea for goodwill functions as a smokescreen for his subsquent foul play.

-"While there is plenty of reason to criticize both his self-evident assumptions"

Normally I'd assume Vox means DS's self-evident assumption of causality, which would mean Vox agrees that with the proof, "I have no brain." Unfortunately now I must suspect I don't know what he means.

-"because he has failed to do more than nakedly assert"

I do like accusations of bare assertions. In this case, DS is referring to pre-existing arguments by specific people, which is very far from a naked assertion. All you have to do is assume he sees the argument the same way you do.

Admittedly I'd much prefer not to have to make that assumption, but claiming these are bare assertions is to claim that Plato's argument for gods is a bare assertion.

I wonder if Vox will end up nakedly asserting that DS's assertions are naked.

-"So, although I find them intriguing,"

Looks like it.

-"I have nothing to say here [...] because none of them are relevant to this debate given the nonexistent logical link between those four things and the existence of gods."

Vox just murdered his own argument.
Charitably he's dodging the evidence for space reasons. (Though he certainly showed enough aversion to evidence in his own piece.) But that only proves that debates shouldn't have word limits.

-"the problem of infinite regress as it relates to consciousness rather than to particles, the problem was solved long ago by Aristotle in Posterior Analytics."

Huh, looks like Aristotle and Vox might know a thing or two about dualism.

-"To summarize, the concept of infinite regress depends upon an assumption that there is no way of knowing other than by demonstration. But not all knowledge is demonstrative, because knowledge of the immediate premises depends upon indemonstrable truths. Thus there is no regress and the argument is defeated."

I guess I'll have to look up what 'demonstrative knowledge' is. Apparently, it is knowledge obtained by deduction. I guess that makes sense.

Either Vox or Aristotle are not quite correct, however. If by 'immediate premises' he means thoughts, then thoughts don't depend on anything but the law of identity, as I mentioned above. 

Indeed I suspect 'existence' itself is the justifying framework which is self-justying, whatever that turns out to be.

That said I think Vox just did entirely reject the first-cause argument.

This is starting to get tiresome. The actual issue is that God is epistemically unavailable. Doubtless, if the debate ever flirts with addressing it, the debaters will run from it like frightened children. I had so much hope when Vox used 'evidence for gods' as it seemed like he might actually put up an argument by counter-example.

So keeping score.
It appears to me that Vox believes in God because it occurs to people that things have moral properties. Since Man recognizes Evil, there must be a source of Good. He does not deign to detail the argument enough to tell what he means by that without making a whole mess of assumptions.

DS doesn't believe in God because he doesn't find the usual proofs convincing. One point is that he realized aliens may appear divine, but has no metric for telling the difference, meaning all his evidence (come to think, rather incoherent) for aliens is possibly evidence for god or God.

I suppose 'indemonstrable truths' could be thoughts too, which would make it correct. Except that thoughts embody the immediate premises.

-"there is no rational requirement that the first thought need be the purest one, therefore that first thought need not be thinking about thinking, much less thinking about thinking about thinking."

I want to credit Vox for nearly coming up with the right answer, but he isn't nearly specific enough for me not to have to make a mess of assumptions about what he means.

-"because in the Decartesian formulation the first thinking about thinking does not concern more thinking, but rather the existence of mind."

Physiscs training says; operationalize.
So, before the first thought, God knew about the ideas/definitions of existence, self, thinking, and logical implication, and for an ouvre decided to combine them. If he knew all that, why not just assume he was a perfect logical entity who knew all logical truths whatsoever?

-"The regress ends and the appeal to the problem of infinite regress is once more defeated."

Got problems much worse than regress at this point, buddy.

-"Nevertheless, convenience is not a serious argument against existence. 7-11 indubitably exists."

Conflation/equivocation on the term 'convenience.' this not obvious? Who's tricked by this?

-"Ockham's Razor is certainly not a proof, but it is a useful rule of thumb and parsimony is usually considered to be a scientific positive"

Good, Vox noticed there's competing heuristics.

-"I can certainly point out that "obviousness to Dominic" is not a objective metric that is relevant in any way to anyone else."

Hmm? I need to go back and read what DS wrote, see if there's a more charitable interpretation. Notably I have no idea what Vox is trying to disprove at this point.

-"Had I argued that gods exist because their existence is obvious to me, I would have expected his rebuttal to consist of little more than pointing and laughing, because that is all that would have been needed to dismiss such a feeble appeal to personal sensibilities."

Obvious and self-mortifying insult; sophistry.

-"it is obvious that his subsequent arguments are invalid to the extent that they rely upon it."
The only thing following DS's statement about obviousness is his conclusion; no arguments rely on it. When I was reading it, I simply ignored the statements of obviousness as non-contributing. While DS should have left them out (with much else) why didn't Vox also realize they're non-functional?

Trying to verify what I just wrote, found this.

-"Second, there is obviously no need for the first thought about thinking to concern more thinking, as is evidenced by Decartes's famous statement, "I think, therefore I am","

So...pointing and laughing, you say? Let the jubilation commence.

Specifically, there is one use of 'obvious' by DS before the conclusion, and it is characterizing Newtonian mechanics as an obvious example of something else. Leave the word out and the argument is unchanged.

Broken-window sophistry?
Eh, the point is Vox chose to address an argument by making fun of it. Presumably he did not choose this strategy for its paucity of strength, so this was the best he could do.

In conclusion, no DS won't hit back. He'll stick with his logical obliviousness, thank you very much. Vox, not content with fouling it up, will foul it up with vigor. I therefore expect more of the same in parts 2 and 3.

I suppose I should read the rest of Vox's reply.

-"With the continued advance of technology and the concomitant changes in Man's future understanding of the universe that will come from that advance, it is entirely possible that a belief in the material limits of the universe which rejects the supernatural may well one day look as ignorant and crazy as a belief in Newtonian physics which rejects quantum physics."

I wrote, "Basically this is a great argument for Vox to make. I wonder why he didn't make it?" But I see I was in error. He did try to make it, but insists on using the term 'supernatural,' which distracted me. Supernatural is, by definition, epistemically unavailable, and so either he's using an idiosyncratic definition or this is a self-contradiction.

-"But most of the time, that simple explanation is true and our senses are observing things because those things are real."

An excellent point, often forgotten.

-"But often, we don't see anything because our eyes are closed."


I learned that I'm tracking the points made by whether I learn anything. So maybe they've managed to establish things, and I just can't remember because I already knew all of them. The point is this is a poor showing. Predictable, but poor.

Though I did learn a couple things from Vox. A) There's something about some ancient cities that has something to do with materialism! B) Aristotle apparently knew his shit! I'ma go read his Stanford dictionary entry about Knowledge of First Principles: Nous now.

Later, I may check these notes for errors and write some about that.

Addendum; I'm starting to forget what I'm supposed to think they're arguing about.
Vox really needs to explain why he thinks the causality thing doesn't work, since it's not like DS will magically intuit it. DS disagrees and Vox has given him no reason to change his mind.