Friday, October 28, 2011

Genovesi, Athenian, Spartan, Human Castes

Since we're naming natural human castes after cities, I nominate Genoa for the merchant caste, due to its numerous contributions to the joint-stock corporation. I'd also be down with a Dutch city, to honour their hard-money economy.

Remember that - as Moldbug notes - finding out what non-Athenians think is quite hard, as they aren't scholars. Athenians account for about 20% of the population, and Spartans perhaps less; the bulk of human beings lean Genovesi.

Thinking about this, I was at first surprised to discover that Athenians are excellent at dominating societies. In India, we have the Brahmins. In China, we have the bureaucracy and their aptitude exam. In Japan, they tried to go for warrior-poets, but this whole fashion of risking life and limb in battle tends not to remain fashionable for very long, any more than it did among the European princes. Speaking of medieval Europe, we've got the Catholics. Which reminds me of the Imams. Not to mention the Progressives of modern times and the Sophists of Athens herself.

The ideal rulership is probably a King, embodying all three value hierarchies, with three advisers, one from each caste. This has probably never happened. And not just because the arrangement cannot evolve and must be derived from theory. The three castes have a rock-paper-scissors relationship. When a merchant tries to wheedle a scholar, the scholar just looks up the right answer. When a scholar tries to reason with a warrior, they get whacked. When a warrior tries to whack a merchant, they get paid off...and occasionally the Genovesi will restructure society entirely so that it never occurs to the Spartan that they might be better off to whack the Genovesi. See also aristocratic debt.

The historical dominance of Athenians is not surprising at all, in retrospect, due to this RPS relationship and because the bulk of humans are Genovesi, weak to Athenian methods.

The three castes appear to be aware of their weakness. In Japan and European principalities, where Spartan virtues held strong, trade is suppressed. In modern times, Spartan virtues such as honour and loyalty are deprecated, and the army is subject to continuous smear campaigns. I wonder what a Genovesi King would do about scholarship?

"I observe lately that a lot of writing on the right side of internet uses the traditional tripartite caste system – Warriors, Priests and Traders."

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Hypothetical Spread, Consequences, and Alternatives to Secular Anti-Consciousness

I planned to write more, and apparently it's actually occurring.

Like my assessment of the Enlightenment, this isn't fully verified. The standard I'm using here is that I haven't run across any contradictory evidence.


The pre-flight problem for all potential coercive masters is that not only is it obvious that to a human when they're not pursuing their intrinsic goals, there's even a special "I'ma bein coerced" feeling. Both that special indicator, and the values from which goals are derived, arise directly from the consciousness. Humans who are being coerced will usually get fractious, often to the point of fighting to the death. In the limit, if you can fulfill none of your values, a fight to the death risks literally nothing - it's all upside.

Coercion is endemic in 'civilized' societies, so this problem has clearly been solved. (Though as I mentioned before, all previous societies retained at least some beliefs in spirits and anima, which amount to accepting the fundamental reality and significance of consciousness.) Which meant that when the materialists arrived, they inherited a suite of time-tested methods to suppress the individual's appreciation of their own consciousness, and faced a population whose resistance to such sophistry had already been substantially eroded.

Neither theist nor atheist understands consciousness, and a result is that they make incorrect associations. Both think not only that a soul is necessary for consciousness, but that a particularly Christian-like soul is necessary. When the materialists discovered that Christianity didn't make much sense, they thought they had proven that consciousness doesn't exist.

At the same time, science and religion were gearing up to hate each other.
(Science was not a revolution, but an evolution of epistemology. I haven't bothered to work out what 'science' precisely refers to, but it is either advanced epistemology in general or a particular subset of advanced epistemology.)

Science, or more specifically people calling themselves scientists, keep stepping on the toes of religions, because - shock and amazement! - religions did not get everything exactly right on the first try. When truth steps on your toes, the only non-self-destructive response is to move your toes. However, truth-seeking is a rare and frankly deviant habit. Religions, naturally and reasonably, react to scientists stepping on their toes like another religion stepping on their toes. "This is my territory and my believers. Get the hell out!" They assume it's a dominance ploy. They can't tell the difference and we shouldn't expect them to.

Additionally, science was learning to discount subjective reports, to rely only on objective evidence when forming theories. Due to these concurrent events, scientists habitually discount to infinity and beyond.

It is not a coincidence that materialism appeared to arise out of the Enlightenment. Both were the result of innovation-class IQs finding each other, through improving communication and higher population densities.

Unfortunately, the Enlightenment was, inevitably, reviving systematic sophistry at exactly the moment materialists were discovering that they didn't believe in consciousness.

The advanced sophism, the evidence, the misunderstanding, the tribal rejection, and the rich tradition of consciousness suppression methods came together in materialists, in whom evolved a virulent mind-virus, which the materialists joyfully unleashed upon a population already subject to several spirit-breaking institutions. (I should also write about how to tame a human, as well. Untamed humans are better. Though Greg Clark makes me wonder whether this wasn't always true, it's true now.)

This is secular society. Religions immediately noticed this was a new attack, and attacked back, putting up the defences of any materialist who hadn't already adopted the coercive side of their inherited philosophies. Even if any particular materialst wasn't making a dominance ploy to begin with, they were now.

But by putting the fight into the realm of evidence, religions lost before they even started. The evidence for god isn't supposed to be good. Widespread adoption of secularism became inevitable. Some resist, clinging to religion, but it appears no religion is strong enough to clean a mind entirely.


As I implied earlier, the materialists have evolved the most advanced consciousness-suppressing memeplex ever, and any materialist subculture that wasn't originally interested in coercion was pushed off the edge when the Catholics tried to annihilate them. The morbidity has several threads.

Secular societies are some of the most violence-accepting in history. As a result, they barely complain under the most bloated parasite classes in history.

Similarly, rule of law depends primarily on the average bloke's willingness and ability to punish the responsible. (Where 'punish' means 'action designed to prevent a consequence' and 'responsible' means 'correct target for effective punishments.') Secular societies have almost no rule of law. Voters just barely complain when corporations can effectively operate above the law; when court systems bog down, making it too expensive in both time and money to pursue anything less than the most grievous offences; when they are stripped of all meaningful legal capacity to defend themselves.

Poetry especially, and many other arts, are dying or are dead. Art explores consciousness by intentionally producing sensations that do not naturally appear. The deprecation of sensation both implies art is worthless, and requires art be worthless, as art aficionados develop rich consciousnesses.
"It showed four fruits and vegetables, two suspended by string, forming a parabola in a gray stone window.

Even if you did not know that Sánchez Cotán was a seventeenth-century Spanish priest, you could know that the painter was religious: for this picture is a visual testimony of gratitude for the beauty of those things that sustain us."

For both rule of law and art, the lack of respect for consciousness is the root of decay. Your feelings about art are just subjective. Your feelings about being robbed, just the same. They're not 'scientific,' and therefore supposedly not reasonable.

And thus, when the TSA gropes your eight-year old, you're used to discounting your outrage. It's just a habit, by now. You write a strongly worded letter, instead of instantly shooting the bastard.

Materialism, ironically, harms even science, especially psychology. Behaviourism was attacked by a joke. Taking a puff of a cigarette, he asked, "It was great for you, how was it for me?" Such a simple refutation should surely be incomplete, but in the case of behaviourism, it isn't. Psychology really is that broken. They felt the need to deny the existence of feelings to be truly scientific. Though behaviourism has been fundamentally discredited, psychology hasn't gotten any better since the 1800's. The fundamental error that lead to behaviourism is still there. (Noting also their statistical heresies, it's a wonder any useful psychology gets accomplished at all.)

Most perniciously, materialism attacks the idea that your values are valuable, leading me into the next section. Ennui is a major symptom of this, being the result of an aimless life. It doesn't much matter what you value in particular, materialists will tell you that it's not objectively well-founded and you shouldn't care deeply about it. While this certainly cuts down on suicide bombing, it also raises simple suicide; if there's nothing worth dying for, what can be worth living for?


Frankly this materialist stuff is like a radioactive bacteria that secretes acidic mucus. It'll burn you even at a distance, and if you get too close it'll stick to you, eat through your skin, and you'll get mottled with fever.

In some ways, mind-viruses are easier to deal with than physical viruses, but for the same reason, can be harder.
You get rid of a mind-virus by changing your mind. Which in principle you can do just by deciding to do so - you just need to know what to change your mind from, and you're set. However, anyone who doesn't want to so decide cannot be cured, and will act as reservoirs for the disease.

It may be possible to make hardcore materialists want to change their mind, but I doubt it.
It can even be a problem to make yourself want to change your mind. The cure, then, is the things which make you want to purge yourself of materialism.

I like to think the truth will do it, but this belief smacks of philosopher's idealism.

However, Accepting the Ignorance Hypothesis works just fine for me. What is consciousness? I don't know! For this to work, I had to realize that materialists think they do know, and denigrate consciousness as a result. They don't have anything like enough information to know, because they refuse to study it seriously, because they don't really believe in it, which means their theory is guaranteed to be incorrect, which means all their downstream conclusions are also false. However, I may also have had to realize a whole bunch of other things I can't articulate - I wouldn't know, because I can't articulate them. (I suspect so, because I could only became able to articulate the consciousness-materialist connection in the past couple months or so.)

What else? Well, there's a problem - I also don't know what kind of things actually convince people in practice. I only learned the term 'ethnoepistemology' a couple weeks ago. Any suggestions are welcome.

In any case, as a philosopher, it is perhaps impossible to completely evade philosopher's idealism, so here's a few more truths, for perspective.

Materialists find it reasonable to suppose consciousness is an illusion. Were consciousness illusory, what are the rational conclusions? How would materialists act differently than they did before? They shouldn't - logically, there's probably no consequences. However, if materialists manage to get it widely accepted, they'll use it for coercion. They'll say your dislike for policy X is illusory, and therefore not a reason to oppose it.

Consciousness is the fundamental quality of humanity. For example, if language or planning make us not like other animals, then we have those things because we first evolved full-blown consciousness. If humanity has a purpose, it involves consciousness somehow, both because of the above, and because passions precede reasons. Values require consciousness, and it is in service of values that reason is employed.

Primarily what humans care about, what humans value, are other consciousnesses. If there is a god instinct, then humans wish to find a superior consciousness and put themselves in service to it. If the god instinct is just another cultural mind-virus, then humans wish to serve their own consciousness, and those of their friends and family. This latter may be a contingent result of having evolved to be a social species, but also it may be a necessary result of having evolved consciousness. Materialism, like any philosophy, should serve its hosts. Having the hosts serve materialism is sublimely perverse. Of necessity, materialism denies that the host can be subjectively served.

Note that many powerful materialists use the philosophy cynically, for their own benefit, without truly believing. I happen to doubt the Pope is Christian either.

Consciousness is the tool through which you appreciate everything else. A thing with no conscious manifestation is a thing that doesn't exist. For example, we can't feel nuclear radiation directly. But, we can hear clicks on a Geiger counter, and we certainly feel it if we die of cancer. If consciousness is an illusion, existence is an illusion.

Materialism was born in the group of deviants that actually care about the truth. However, materialists clearly care no longer. Since they don't care about truth, they must care about something else, and at this point I suggest actions are honest about intentions. They retain their beliefs to win those contests. What other contests would you say materialists care about winning?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Euthyphro Answered by Analogy to Poetry

Like any arrogant SOB, at first I thought I'd come up with a unique solution to Euthyphro's dilemma. Turns out, I sort of have, but this is hardly rare. The trolley problem, Mary's room, Euthyphro, every philosopher has their own take on these things. I'm thinking I should collect all of mine into a diagnosis card, for the purpose of allowing rapid evaluations of me to be accurate. Find out the philosopher's intellectual lineage at a glance.

Initial version.

The strict logical answer is that gods like the pious because they're pious, as making them pious by liking them violates causation.
However, with actual liking in practice both come into play and feed into each other, as one can predict from general principle. It's weighted somewhat toward virtue, away from popularity.

If meter is good because people like it, then I suggest thinking about the generalized form of the following factor:

Things are sometimes liked because others like them. In this first fork, that makes the poem good. There is no such thing as a poem, that everyone likes, that sucks.

If people like meter because it is good, then they can fail to appreciate a good poem...but that poem is always appreciable.

This second fork implies that poems are good in ways that other things are not: poems are a unique form of wealth instead of yet another form of generalized wealth. Liking due to others liking it hardly stems from anything about poetry per se. Second, if the likeable trait is found also in, say, sand, it's probably not particularly poetic per se. Thus I can say that someone who likes bad poetry or music is not appreciating the art - I can only guess at what they're actually appreciating.

Moreover, no, in fact taste is not relative or subjective. Either poems offer unique wealth or they don't. Either a particular poem exemplifies that unique wealth or it doesn't. If they do and it does, and someone doesn't appreciate it, then they don't like and/or understand poetry, period.

Still, I do suspect this view uncharitably disparages the 'good because liked' view, and also makes untrue discriminations. I will think about it some more.


Using this framework, it becomes obvious that saying poetry is good because people like it violates locality.

I have a poem on Alpha Centauri. No one likes it. Then someone on Earth starts to like it. It instantly becomes good on Centauri. My evaluation goes from right to wrong but there's no possible way I could know.

If so, poems can be neither good, nor bad - rather a person's experience of the poem is good or bad. All you can say is some individuals like it, and perhaps predict based on similarity that other persons will like it. (The gods' experience of an individual is as pious or impious, and it is meaningless to claim that individuals are pious or impious.)

It has other problems with causation, too.

If it is predictable in principle when someone likes it, then it must be caused by the properties of the poem. If it isn't, then it violates causality. (Randomness does not solve this.) I believe this constitutes a reconstruction of a standard answer to Euthyphro: if the god changes their mind, but the individual doesn't change, for piousness to change means that piousness isn't a property of the individual.

More comprehensively, the prediction is based on the properties of the poem...and the rest of the observer's environment.

If there is any (unique-to-poems) contribution from the poem at all, then one can be mistaken about the poem and thus whether you like it, and thus whether it is good. And then taste is absolute.

At which point I suggest there are interesting implications for God. He can un-sin people by changing his mind. However, he's still bound by the laws of logic - he cannot make one person a sinner and another not due to the same action. This is very surprisingly restrictive because all the implications must also not contradict.

[Turns out Jesus isn't believed to be able to change the laws of logic.]

So I can just assume that it is impossible to make all free-willed agents non-sinners, no matter how the world is arranged.

Except...Jesus could use the null set, which has no contradictions. Now imagine what could make it impossible for Jesus to choose the null set.
A necessary antecedent: harm is bad by definition. The only question is whether harm can be said to meaningfully exist. I feel it's easy to show that it does: consciousness exists and doesn't like stuff. Anything which causes the not-liked stuff to happen matches the definition of 'harmful.'
I'm assuming Jesus can't use the null set, but if so, it can only be because the things not chosen would remain harmful. To be a sin and simultaneously not harm any consciousness is contradictory.
This means 'sin' reduces to 'unwise,' for Christians. Often just self-destructive, and definitively self-destructive for anyone who cares about not sinning against others. Which in turn implies morality is discoverable without God even if God exists. Even assuming the man is pious because God likes him implies that it's a property of the individual. The individual can then be investigated independently of religion. Which was Plato's point in the first place.

I believe those two lines of logic, about causality and about the null set, are independent, which means I've found a consistency. Which means it probably has integrity.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

How I Know Politicians are Evil

Update: Valid logic, unsound argument.
Oops. I forgot -again- that politicians don't govern, to first order. Why would they feel responsible? And bureaucracies, among other things, are designed to psychologically insulate the responsible from feeling responsible. So...

I've lead people before. Only twice, but it was enough. Both times, they didn't like the results, and I was genuinely disappointed with myself.

If I'd lead a country into a banking crisis, I'd be crushed. I don't even think it's much of a crisis. But I'd have to resign, even if for no other reason that the constant self-recrimination would make it difficult for me to concentrate.

So one case, it's all one big party to politicians. They don't know what's going to happen next, just as long as it's interesting. That means they've elevated the art of lying to the level of war crime.
Second case, they think they are truly leading and have no conscience. Their banks all die a horrible death and they hardly bat an eye. They get up there and solemnly intone their unqualified bullshit, just like they always do.

Independently, do I think politicians have no conscience? If someone had asked me two days ago, what would I have answered? Well, duh. 'Course they don't. How does someone with a functioning conscience get through the skillfully concentrated lying and backstabbing that is the electoral process? Bit stupid of me not to have realized the relevance before, really.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Self-Analysis Via Memetic Framing

Because I can't link it, here's a post from yesterday on GoodShit, reproduced in full. (Link generally NSFW - it has 'shit' right in the name, this should be obvious.)

this is not a political stand! this is what is happening in the news using art for a growing but still
un-programmed movement. Can change ever be brought about in America unless it happens via the electoral process?

First, this is an excellent case study in journalistic 'framing,' which is a form of begging the question. Lapides is trying to say that it's just a post about art, not supporting or attacking the politics of the movement. But it's actually a vehicle for the idea that the movement is un-programmed.

First, you can tell because it's obvious. You can check because Lapides somehow never finds reason to report on republican social trends.

But because it's obvious, it's not worth discussing. What is worthwhile is discussing whether you can tell when you're doing it.

I have no idea how you tell. But I can tell, by analyzing how I feel about the post. What I usually do is start composing, notice it could be seen politically, then want to claim, as Lapides does, it isn't political. (s/political/any hot button/g) However, I feel a characteristic discomfort with the idea. I feel the need to be emphatic about disclaiming it, I feel like an imaginary opponent is grilling me on it. Of course it isn't imaginary - it's me. I think it's a political stand. I feel like I'm being grilled because I'm grilling myself.
Indeed, now that I think about it, the fact that it occurs to me at all to disclaim its political nature is a bad sign - almost conclusive by itself. Lapides is acting exactly as I do when I feel this feeling, in other words, from which I infer he's also feeling it. So, Lapides could have known it's a political stand, even if he can't logically figure out how. Indeed, he subconsciously does know, and thus I find him culpable.

As long as that discomfort persists, I know I'm still dishonestly framing things. Indeed I feel it right now, from implying that Lapides' partisanship is so obvious as to be unimportant. I actually think it is unimportant because I don't think any progressives read this blog, nor that many ever will, so I'm not begging any questions, nor, if I'm wrong, will I mislead anyone who isn't already mislead. (Getting that paragraph right took a few tries. I'm comfortable now. [It would appear I'm not good at doing it recursively yet. What's most important to me is that I don't mislead people. For example, that I don't mislead you into thinking I care much if I beg the question. I should care, but don't.])

I just realized, through this same kind of self-analysis, that support for an idea is to some extent involuntary. Those pictures in fact make me more sympathetic to the movement. Rationally, they should make me less sympathetic, precisely because at best they don't know how to avoid using those mechanisms, and at worst they find it necessary to appeal to them. Either the movement is itself likely pwned by involuntary mechanisms, or they're intentionally using sophistry.

[Update: Just in case there wasn't enough evidence for you, apparently I'm not the only one who thinks it's obviously partisan.]

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Secular as Anti-Consciousness

This idea seems obvious to me, but it shouldn't. This post is this one thought, put into words, and look how long it is. Inspired by a Joseph Fouche comment, that he himself noticed was especially good. (Also, object lesson on priming, from his use of the word 'notion.')

Secular is supposed to mean anti-spiritual but ends up being materialist and meaning anti-consciousness.

Assuming gods don't exist, where does the notion of them come from? Why is it so natural to suppose e.g. volcano gods?

Humans are conscious. You unavoidably and unmistakably observe your own consciousness. Humans are similar - you see other people are almost certainly conscious - but their consciousness is also quite mysterious. Before civilization, you don't know what goes on in it exactly, or how they're conscious, or often, even understand consciousness well enough to realize it needs a name. Instead, when volcanoes show human-like traits, such as capriciousness, it's reasonable to suppose they're also conscious.

Indeed, when the wind and sun give you the same kind of feeling that humans do - when they seem meaningful - it's reasonable to suppose just about everything is conscious.

As civilization develops, the idea of consciousness is refined, (specifically spirits and anima) and more things start being seen as inanimate. More interconnected people makes more information come in showing that previously-reasonable rituals in fact do nothing, and thus the ritual target cannot be conscious - it cannot understand what you're trying to tell it to do, nor appreciate your offers and sacrifices.

However, all historical societies preserved certain spirits. For example, dualism is usually attributed to Descartes but the suite of notions that make up Cartesian dualism are basically instinctual. It's totally normal to think you have a mind separate or at least essentially different from the body. If the arguments regarding the God Instinct are true, it's also quite normal to believe in an idea similar to the notion that concepts are conscious. That Death is not only well-defined, but has desires and can make decisions. Or that Love can run around trying to promote the creation of mortal love. Or that Good, for that matter, wants more of itself around. ("Good likes us. We like Good - by definition. Perhaps we should cooperate, yeah?")

Eventually, though, materialists arose - people who were so well-networked they had all the information to realize that gods don't make much sense, if any. So, desiring to serve Reason, they rejected gods. Unfortunately, at this point their human natures doomed them, as Fouche noted.

Humans are tribal. When you reject a notion, it's perfectly natural to reject socially associated notions along with logically associated notions.

Humans naturally respect consciousness.
When materialists rejected respect for gods, they also rejected this respect for consciousness. Consciousness is associated with gods precisely because it's reasonable for the epistemically innocent to conclude that gods, given consciousness. Materialists were less innocent, they were better informed and networked, but not by enough. It seemed necessary for them to reject not only all spirits, but all spirit-like things, to avoid falling into logical traps that lead to belief in gods.

As a result, all 'secular' societies are consciousness-denigrating societies. This wasn't helped by the fact that consciousness is associated with freedom, (specifically free will) and so coercive hierarchies have routinely found ways to disparage consciousness - materialists inherit a long and respectable tradition.

I plan to also write on how badly mistaken this is, how broad the infection is, and how to work alternatives. We'll see what in fact happens.


P.S, presented without comment: (via)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

VPPZMM Debate Notes 3

What horrors shall we witness this week? Perhaps that's unfair...let's just say my honest prediction is not good things to come. It's times like these I like surprises.


And thusly, I am surprised. DS has already made it quite far without misstep.

-"That what we think or later interpret to be gods could very well be something else, something that isn't a god."

One of the things the debate should have done is to determine how to discriminate betwen god and not-god, which is why I get my panties in a twist when they screw up the definition. Without a discriminator, the nominal debate is impossible. None of the evidence can truly be said to support or deny gods. Since Vox and DS can't possibly be debating in any meaningful sense, what are they doing?

-"Is that we really are just like the fish of the analogy, and when we try to explain something using less than all of the necessary details, we get it wrong. We are consistently and reliably wrong."

Ah, something to test against my formalization of the heuristic.
The theory is wrong as a positive function of how many of the details you must imagine/infer from the existing evidence, (though don't give up; there are ways to solve the problem) because the imagination and inference are either in error or based on nothing at all.
It appears DS has alighted upon a similar understanding.

(Does a concrete example of, e.g. fisherman, help you understand what someone means to the extreme extent it helps me? If so, notice that understanding yourself is something you can fail at, and need all the help you can get.)

-"The concept of gods are what we first postulated to explain the inexplicable. Consequently, the concept itself, is wrong. Reality is something else entirely."

Not quite correct. Approximations are not wrong, they are approximately true. As Dominic himself strongly implied, reality is probably not something else entirely; something that we perceive as awesome and inspiring is probably far more awesome and inspiring than anything our puny human imaginations can come up with.

We might just be hallucinating; that can't be ruled out. (Vox needs to rule it out.) It's just not likely.

(Actually human imagination isn't intrinsically puny; it is itself awesome and inspiring. However it is usually used in service to base subconscious goals and lowers itself to that standard. As far as I can tell, the idea of Jesus is such that priests can get power and wealth without having to deserve it. Ditto Yahweh, Allah, Zeus, etc.)

-"(disclaimer: this is not a statement of hard fact but a statement of belief based on the weight of evidence)

[...]Not much else to say on the matter other than to scour history books and populate an absurdly long list of theories and explanations that ended up being wrong."

Having alighted on a theory similar to mine, DS could profit by, you know, actually fleshing it out, like I did. (Always be suspicious of proposals like, 'be like me,' this case...seriously...)

Either the heuristic can be objectively defined, or it can't. If it can't, it's not a real heuristic. If it's difficult, that just makes it interesting.

-"Presenting a hypothetical situation where someone somewhere gets it right the first time is ignorant and cowardly."

I do so enjoy it when reality does as I wish, apparently without me having to do more than wish. Go on, DS, hit him again!

As a bonus, this is pretty well correct. While Vox is correct that nothing in particular stops someone from getting it right the first time, it's still incumbent upon him to show that it is indeed the case.

Though as a counter-example, I've noticed that sociology seems to be epistemically easy. Shockingly so. For example, Soviet propaganda apparently passed directly from theory to practice without going through glitchy prototype. Lenin didn't manage Leninism on the first try, but getting it on the third try, considering the complexity of society, is like compiling and running a million-line program on the third debug pass, and moreover just by thinking about it. Imagine an engineer getting their car prototype working as intended on the third try just by sitting at a desk and wondering how it went wrong.

-"It also does not fall under the domain of the hypothesis my argument rests on. [...] it is not a new phenomenon that requires him to extrapolate on what he knows to fill in any details."

DS is indeed using the heuristic correctly. Starbucks is a combination of elements which you separately have pre-existing evidence for. Gods, especially in their true definition, suppose things which you cannot have evidence for.

I should make explicit that I think the two are arguing about their intuitive definitions, not the formal definitions they think/pretend they're arguing about.

In this case, my lack of criticism should not be taken as broad agreement with DS but rather as result of lack of content, combined with the fact I don't remember details of what he's supposed to be rebutting, which means I often won't catch it when he misses the point. (Another reason I'm glad I'm not formally judging.)


-"Dominic has committed a category error in attempting to appeal to this principle of Initial Error."

For example, this is exactly the kind of rebuttal you'd predict if Vox were arguing for the existence of Jesus, as opposed to gods. It may also apply to gods, but Vox consistently picks ones that apply to Jesus, and fairly consistently avoids ones that apply only to gods.

This is a real rebuttal! I am surprised once more. Yay. Please, Vox, surprise me more.

I'm enjoying that I brought up category errors first.

-"although I note Dominic did not actually provide any support for his assertion that gods are a first attempt at understanding anything, natural or supernatural"

Because it shouldn't be necessary? Like, do I have to start by explaining what an 'understanding' is? I note that Vox doesn't claim it's a second, third, or nth?

-"First, it is a matter of easily establishable fact that the concept of gods are not an attempt at explaining most supernatural experiences, either initial or subsequent."

Apparently so.
An explanation or understanding - interchangeable in this context - is simply a set of data describing an event. Vox's explicit words mean that no supernatural experience has ever been described, which directly contradicts the idea that there is any evidence for such, whatsoever.

Obvious but pathetic sophistry. Vox has been pushed into a corner and he's showing his fear, and now I feel sorry for him. He clings to his faith in Jesus, but also his faith in Reason, and he's just realized they don't get along.

Moral: the Buddhists are correct. Don't cling to Reason. Adopt it if you feel like it.

I'm not entirely convinced that Jesus and Reason are incompatible. However, Vox's Reasons for believing in Jesus are false.

Indeed, I just realized it means he's been infected with materialist sophistries, as well as Christian sophistries.

My understanding of theology is that there should be no definitive evidence about Jesus - for or against - because it would undermine the free will of being able to choose faith.

-"Astrology, ESP, clairvoyance, telekinesis, telepathy, ghosts, reincarnation, necroparlance and demon-possession have nothing to do with the existence or nonexistence of gods."

Irrelevant. Vox is grasping.

-"Gods may be one of many aspects of the supernatural, but they are largely unrelated to any means of explaining the majority of supernatural experiences."

Desperate attempt to deflect.

-"The connection is tangential; for example, one European survey reported that 60 percent of those who do not believe in gods nevertheless believe in the existence of the supernatural."

See? Vox is now relying on voters to be logically consistent.

Is Vox hung over? This is terrible.

-"More importantly, gods could not have originally been conceived as an explanation for supernatural experiences because the concept of gods long predates Man's distinction between the natural and the supernatural."

Now this is a category error. When we recognized the difference, we correctly evaluated gods as the latter. As a result, gods are descriptions of the latter. The the originators were ignorant of the distinction is irrelevant; moreover DS is mainly using it as a convenient tag.

-"Dominic's assumption that gods are an attempt at explaining supernatural experiences is incorrect and therefore his conclusion based on that assumption is also incorrect."

Vox really is breaking down. I mentioned DS's original post was flat and Vox's was sophisticated - now we can see Vox taking refuge in the simple. Unfortunately, that just makes the error obvious.

It just occurred to me that Vox might be intentionally throwing the match. I seriously doubt it, but it shouldn't even have occurred to me.

So: what category error?

-"Based on the sheer number of creator gods identified throughout the course of human history, it is much more reasonable to conclude that the primary reason the god concept exists is to explain the phenomenon and purpose of material existence."

They are supernatural explanations of those things, yes. Also, really should have chosen a definition that was about creator gods, not the humanist-leaning Oxford crap.

-"And throughout the 50,000 years of modern Man's existence, divine creation still remains the first and foremost hypothesis explaining it, with one brief and partial exception during the 17 years in which Fred Hoyle's Steady State theory was formulated, embraced, and rejected by the cosmological community."

That's a bit better.

However, that its the only explanation just means that our only explanation sucks. It means that ignorance dominates our thinking on the subject. Why do I have to explain for a Christian that humans are bedevilled by ignorance?

-"While Ockham's Razor is a heuristic, not a proof, it is at least as reliable as Dominic's principle of First Error."

In fact both can be characterized and their reliability measured.

-"And since Ockham's Razor recommends the selection of the hypothesis that makes the fewest new assumptions, it dictates the selection of the only serious and lasting hypothesis that Man has ever produced in preference to the others."

Quite so! And that hypothesis is the Ignorance Hypothesis; "Fucked If I Know."

-"This conclusion is bolstered by the fact that the only two concepts that could loosely be considered as competing hypotheses at this point in time, the multiverse concept and Nick Bostrom's simulation hypothesis"

Failing to consider the Ignorance Hypothesis is one symptom of the Ignorance Hypothesis. You don't know that you don't know.

-"As I have previously pointed out, from Man's perspective there is no meaningful distinction between a) a conventional creator god, b) a technologically advanced creator being from another dimension, and c) a programmer of Man's virtual world."

Which, as I have previously pointed out, means all the evidence is at best ambiguous.

-"In conclusion, I note the irony of Dominic's appeal to the historical record in an attack on a significant aspect of it."

What? How? When? Etc?

-"This alone should be sufficient to invalidate the aspects of his argument that depend upon the Initial Error hypothesis."

Should it be? Is that so. Pray explain. Oh wait, this was after an 'in conclusion.'

In reality, DS attacked a significant aspect of Vox's interpretation of the historical record, exactly as one is supposed to in debate. Vox, you're supposed to show that your interpretation was correct, not assume it's correct. That's an error called 'begging the question.'

Or: this alone should be sufficient to validate aspects of my argument that Vox is a sophist.

I shouldn't be, but I'm seriously disappointed that Vox never defended his interpretation. I never really expected him to, which is why this exercise was mostly in checking whether Vox is a sophist in detail, not just in intuitive impression.

Nevertheless, I'd hoped to discover why Christians believe in Christ. I'm afraid I must still hold to the Ignorance Hypothesis on that one. Like, I know how they justify it ex post facto, (and indeed those justifications are often impressive) but I cannot see any Reason to adopt Jesus.

-"Dominic commits a logical error when he concludes that Man's present failure to understand consciousness necessarily places the moral sense on par with our other urges and desires. There is simply no basis for this leap of logic."

DS's point is that there's no basis for the reverse leap, either. And presenting it as a leap is suspicious.

-"He also fails to understand that in referring to the moral sense as a third aspect of consciousness I was not limiting its existence to the human consciousness."

Is that so? Pray explain.

-"This should have been obvious since I made an explicit distinction between the internal and external models."

Right. Of course.
When you(personally) think your opponent is missing something obvious do you A: tell them it's obvious or do you B: explain it? If you choose only A, do you expect them to understand?

-"So, not only did I not defeat my own argument, but the assertion that I did makes it clear that Dominic did not understand it."

Haha, no.

-"While the moral sense is integrated into human consciousness and at least partially accessible to it, my entire argument is based upon the observable fact that it is often opposed to human desires and therefore cannot be dismissed as just another competing one."

Apparently, to Vox, desires cannot oppose each other.
I want ice cream. I don't want to spend money. I can't get ice cream without paying for it.

Compare: I want ice cream. I want to be moral. Eating ice cream is immoral.

Vox is either a sophist or an idiot. He writes complicated (though fallacious) logic.

-"I did not, as Dominic asserts, ignore 'this inconvenient fact', since I stated that examining the nature of consciousness is presently 'beyond the current ability of the science-based materialist consensus'"

Well, that certainly makes it appear as if you didn't. DS did not strongly demonstrate that Vox did ignore the fact, so I'm not entirely sure what DS meant; I'm willing to give Vox the benefit of doubt.

However, stating that you didn't ignore it because you mentioned a thing doesn't demonstrate the converse, either. It demonstrates you think you did, not that you actually did.

-"And while it would be a false dichotomy to note that either Freud's theory represents the possibility that the signal is internally generated or the moral impulse must come from a source that is genuinely separate from our conciousness, I never proposed any such dichotomy."

This made me look more closely at DS's argument, and I found they're both wrong. Again.

It isn't a false dichotomy. Either the moral impulse's causation is internally contained, or it isn't.

If it were external, you'd have a decent case for some kind of moral transmitter. This is an empirical question, though as before you'd be able to intercept the signal and thereby teach morality to computers.

-"I cited its legacy of failure to demonstrate b) the materialist internal model cannot be assumed to be correct."

It's a good think DS didn't assume that, then, isn't it?

-"In support of the likelihood that the external generation for the impulse was more likely than the internal, I also cited the external model's greater success in modifying human behavior, the divergence between the rates of moral evolution when viewed from societal and historical perspectives, and the observed spatio-temporal range of the relatively static moral impulse."

Indeed you did, and I bet if DS hadn't had space limits he could have demolished those just like I did.

-"I was thinking of the moral sense as being wholly accessible to the human consciousness, but this is not the case."

Should be...interesting.

And indeed, sophistication is returning. Vox's apparent hangover is dissipating. He's getting into it.

-"As it happens, Dominic contradicted both the current scientific consensus as well as his own statement that no one has 'a complete model of what constitutes conciousness' when he declares the moral impulse 'is just another desire, a consequence of biology, and accepted as an internally generated part of us.' If this were true, Freud and his successors would not have had to construct their tripartite model in the first place and various moral researchers such as Lewis Petroninovich, John Mikhail, and Marc Hauser would not concur that 'much of our knowledge of morality is... based on unconscious and inaccessible principles for guiding judgments of permissibility'. Emphasis mine. Were the moral sense nothing more than one of many biologically driven desires as accessible to the human consciousness as any other, there would be no need for wide-ranging efforts across several scientific and philosophic fields to explain the experiential and observable divergences from the simple two-level materialist model."

It looks like a straight-up non-sequitur to me. But it's awfully tangled, so let's untangle it.

So Vox states that declaring that morality is a kind of impulse implies a complete model of consciousness. (I don't even know what that is supposed to mean. How does it imply? What is a 'complete' model supposed to entail?)

Either one of:
Vox claims that if morality was just another desire, Freud etc. would have not had to construct a tripartite model.
Vox claims that if nobody had a complete model, Freud would not have had to construct his model.

Vox claims that science claims that morality is based on consciously inaccessible principles. Which would mean principles, embodied in brain architecture, that lead to conscious sensations. Or else drive decisions without leading to conscious sensations.

Vox claims that if morality were accessible, there would be no need to explain the diverges from some unknown model. (This statement is patently meaningless, as he does not explain what model.)

Interpreting charitably as I can, I discard the second of the 'either one of.'

Vox failed to demonstrate that DS assumed a complete model of consciousness.
Vox failed to explain how morality forced Freud to construct a tripartite model.
Vox failed to communicate what he means by 'explain [...] divergences from the simple [...] materialist model.'

The Ilk think this is a good rebuttal. This phenomenon is familiar from the political campaign trail.

-"The scientifically established fact that parts of our moral sense are not even accessible by our conscious mind is further support for the external model, even if it falls well short of providing proof of it."

How does Vox think this non-conscious moral sense drives behaviour? How can it conflict with conscious desires without a conscious manifestation?

It doesn't matter whether the principles are largely unconscious. To drive behaviour it has to have conscious consequences at some point.

-"they simply assume it is an artifact of biological evolution even though their attempts to locate either a moral organ or an area of the brain devoted to moral reasoning have thus far proven fruitless."

Vox is apparently unaware of the experiments involving trans-cranial magnetic fields.

Also this is a God of the Gaps argument. If it turns out Jesus isn't necessary to explain the workings of the brain, Vox won't stop being Christian. He'll just retreat further.

-"But the present consensus shows it cannot be reasonably said that [X] is in any way tantamount to an admission that B3 is false."

Amusingly, DS failed to support his point and Vox failed to show why he wasn't supporting it. DS, because he failed to properly understand what internal/external mean in context, Vox because...the same.

-"Later in the book, he also underlines one of my earlier points about the speed of moral evolution when he refers to the famous silver fox breeding experiment of Dmitry Belyaev and notes how the observed speed of intense selection 'sets up a significant challenge' to the conventional materialist perspective on the evolution of the human mind."

The silver foxes suffered artificial selection. Humans don't.
Further, as Vox himself would note in another context, evolution of this kind only brings out latent genetic potential; it is far too fast for beneficial mutations to arise and propagate. If the silver fox experiment had proceeded, they would have hit a wall.

-"Since the conclusions of the various scientific researchers into morality show that Dominic's statement about the dynamic nature of man's moral sense was false, this, combined with his previous concession concerning the existence of objective evil, is sufficient to support the conclusion that since Man's moral sense has not greatly changed over time, 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."

No, combined with the correct interpretation of the silver foxes, it indicates that morality is indeed slow to change, as any competent geneticist would expect out of a naturally-selected sexually-reproducing species. Complex features are conclusions relying on several assumptions, and during sexual recombination all those assumptions have to match not only in detail but in location on the genome, or the conclusion won't be sound...and you get a psychopath. Or more often the foetus just self-aborts due to organ failure.

-"the difference is that Dominic fails to understand that the theistic concept of gods, and even the Christian concept of God, is much broader than he imagines."

Then Vox, perhaps you should have used that definition to begin with.

-"The Christian cannot reasonably insist that he knows much about the specific nature and character of God in light of how the Apostle Paul, who actually claimed to have encountered the risen Lord Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus, subsequently wrote in 1st Corinthians, 'For now we see through a glass, darkly.'"

In case you were still worried that you might be wrong in your impression that Vox is arguing not for gods but for Jesus.

Of course this is precisely why DS's heuristic applies. Christians don't even know enough about Jesus to know what constitutes evidence for or against Him. He has no falsification condition.

-"'Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom.'"

See previous statement. Don't worry, it hasn't stopped being self-defeating for Vox in the intervening seconds.

-"he is not so much arguing for the nonexistence of gods as he is revealing a failure to understand what a god is and why any being would be considered worthy of worship."

Sensing an incoming question-begging on 'worship.'

-"First, because the god merits worship due to being the lord and maker of the worshipper,"

I guess I really should justify this.
You don't get to impose obligations. This isn't a matter of quantity of desire, but quality.
No god gets to be my lord without my consent, because no consciousness whatsoever can rightly do so without my consent.
Even if they made me, I cannot agree they deserve worship when I don't exist. After I exist, if they can impose an obligation to worship upon me, by symmetry I can impose such an obligation upon them.

So why is there a category difference between animal and human, but not human and god? Simple. If you try to grant animals legitimate moral duties, they cannot carry them out. Everyone has an obligation not to impose obligations; colloqially, to leave alone those who wish to leave you alone. Animals cannot understand this well enough to carry it out. (And may not have the will if they did.) Humans can. Gods also can, and thus are equally bound by it.

-"second, for the material benefits that the god can grant to the worshipper,"

Awfully venal. That's not worship, that cupboard love. Should I worship my supermarket because it provides delicious food, demanding only those tithes necessary to support itself?

-"third, because the exceptional power of the god is feared."

That's not worship, that's intimidation. Bullying, in English.

Question duly begged.

I guess in addition to 'deity' I should start working on defining 'worship.' Indeed the latter may assist the former.

-"it is the definitive elements of godhood that are the significant aspect of the existential argument here, not the assumed supernatural element,"

And now the debate can begin!
Round one, fight!

/facepalm. /headdesk.

More precisely, now Vox thinks he has laid the groundwork that would be required, though unfortunately he doesn't know - as doesn't anyone - what 'worship' actually is.

-"much less the peripheral paranormal phenomena that the supernatural is said to involve, since our understanding of the supernatural is a limited and dynamic one involving 'that which is presently believed to be beyond natural limits'."

Really? You know, that sounds plausible. I guess I have something to teach, kids. Siddown and have a listen.

I don't like the term 'supernatural' because 'natural' implies existing and having evidence, and so super-natural implies not existing and not having evidence. I prefer the term 'spiritual.'
If spirits exist, it is entirely natural that they do so, and are super-natural only in that we misunderstood what was natural.
In the end, spiritualists are adopting a materialist term of abuse when they refer to these things as supernatural.

Spirits can be defined exactly without reference to what is natural, and evaluated against natural categories subsequently, so that spirits themselves lose the ambiguity-causing dynamism.

As it turns out, all spirits proposed to date are supernatural.

-"Gods are not synonymous with the supernatural"

It would be great that Vox said that except he thinks Jesus is supernatural.

-"But theists readily admit our understanding of the nature of the divine is far from perfect. And not only is that understanding imperfect, it is quite reasonably capable of encompassing a significant portion of the alternatives Dominic has posited. [...] Not all natural aliens could be gods, but natural aliens that created the human race would at the very least bear a strong claim to legitimate status as creator gods."

The debate would have been fine if it had been about what Vox wanted to debate from the start. However, this is just sophistry.

The technique is to move the goalposts so that the opponents falls into them. DS thought it was in a debate about whether Jesus might exist. (He was right.) Now Vox is claiming he was in a debate about whether Creator Greys deserve worship.

If we grant Vox's profoundly flawed definition of 'worship,' DS has more or less admitted that Greys may exist and if so deserve worship. Therefore gods are scientific, Vox wins! Yay!

When I said that sophistry spread because nobody had a defence, I meant in part that Vox and similar ilk can get away with this without anyone noticing it's being blatantly, blatantly sophistry. Also sophistry is addictive.

-"The difficulty, and what in some cases may be the impossibility, of distinguishing between gods, natural aliens, transdimensional aliens, and computer programmers isn't a valid argument against the existence of gods."

Yes it is.

If you can't tell the difference between a world created by Jesus and a world created by not-Jesus, then Jesus is literally meaningless.

Well...that said, beliefs are tools, there to serve you. As believing in Jesus has no logical consequences, it cannot harm you. If believing makes you happy, then the meaning of the belief is that it makes you happy, so you might as well believe.

The reason I believe theology thinks that belief in Jesus should be a choice is things like, "in some cases the impossibility of distinguishing between gods and aliens." Thus, there is no reason to believe in Jesus over Creator Greys...aside from faith. (Or the aforementioned affective bonus.) Jesus doesn't want your belief, he wants, specifically, your faith.

-"It is merely an object lesson in the importance of not leaping to conclusions or placing inordinate confidence in a tool that is inadequate for the task at hand."

Such tools; cf. Vox's logical skill. Also worth noting, debates.

-"Dominic is correct to say that Man is consistently and reliably wrong with regards to his various explanations for various phenomena, but he is incorrect to say this in defense of strict scientific materialism for the obvious reason that science itself is subject to precisely the same problem!"

Hence my need to specify the heuristic. Science is not for the exact same reason Starbucks is not; it is a combination of familiar elements. It could be said that science is the process of getting familiar with the unfamiliar, precisely because the unfamiliar is roughly unfathomable.

-"Dominic is somewhat unfortunate in this regard because [...] two weeks ago, before the physicists at CERN announced the overturning of what scientists had long assumed was one of the fundamental laws of the universe, the cosmic constant."

The term 'overturned' is sophistry. Many predictions have been made and confirmed based on the speed of light. Do you expect all those predictions to jump out a window, like stock brokers during a crash? "Oh yeah guys, uhhh...GPS never actually worked. It was all an illusion! Like consciousness!"
Newtonian physics isn't wrong. It is approximately true. Einstein's theory reduces to it; it includes it; Einstein expanded upon Newton. Similarly, even if those 60ns are real, it will expand SR and GR, not suddenly prove that the speed of light isn't remotely fundamental.

-"the unexpected announcement that the speed of light limit has been broken underlines the fact that a dynamic, technology-based temporal snapshot simply cannot serve as a reliable arbiter of what is possible and what is not possible, or even what exists and does not exist."

True, but does not follow.
That's what philosophy is for. If Jesus has no meaning or directly contradicts confirmed predictions...

-"Science, and the materialist consensus based upon it, are clearly incapable of providing a valid means of assessing historical evidence in general"

Vox. Leaps tall proofs in a single bound.
Vox thinks the speed of light has something to do with historians. I know when I'm talking about Athenian Democracy, I always take the speed of light into account, to eight significant digits.
Sorry, that was sophistry too.

-"and the testimonial evidence for the existence of gods in particular."

The opposite, actually, as no 'overturning' actually occurred. In fact, GPS still works. If there was a thing based on historical theories and testimony using physics-based epistemology, it would be similarly robust in the face of new findings.

-"The concept of gods are not what Man first postulated to explain the inexplicable, but rather to explain the observable."

Ah, indeed calling it 'inexplicable' is itself a piece of materialist sophistry, begging the question. However, Vox simultaneously flip-flops, putting gods back into the heuristic's domain.

-"the significant body of historical evidence is more than sufficient to support the conclusion that gods exist."

Uh...did Vox ever counter DS's point that the evidence is suspect? Yes, totting up the points is going to be very surprising.

I'm measuring whether their arguments have anything to do with one another by whether they remind me of each other, and they generally don't.