Indirection

I've identified a common, huge problem people have. They struggle with indirection.

They want Z. They find out that doing W will help them figure out X which will help them solve one problem with Y which is a component of Z. But they don't care about W much. They wanted to deal with stuff more directly related to Z. At every step in the chain of indirection, their motivation/interest/etc drops off significantly.

This ruins their lives.

Indirection is pretty much ever-present. Doing things well consistently requires doing some other stuff that's connected to it via several steps.

Say you want to be a great artist, but you're bad at English. This gets in the way of improving at art, e.g. by discouraging you from reading art books (reading is a difficult, slow struggle for you) and causing frequent misunderstandings of the content of art books and lecture videos. Do you then spend significant time and effort improving at English in order to improve your art? Many people wouldn't. They wanted to spend time working on art. They like art but not English. They're relatively rational about art, but not about English. And they suck at indirection. They do things like forget how working on English connects to their goal of making progress at art.

A lot more indirection than this is typical. When working on English, they will run into some other problems. While working on those, they'll run into sub-problems. While working on those, they'll run into sub-sub-problems. They'll need to solve some sub-sub-problems to make progress on the sub-problems to make progress on the problems in the way of English progress to enable making more progress with art books.

Sub-sub-sub-problems often get into philosophy and some other generic issues. They are bad at learning. They dislike criticism. They have problems with emotions. They aren't very precise or logical. They're biased rather than objective. They don't understand effective methods of problem-solving. They aren't persistent and just want things to be quick and easy or they give up and look for something they find more intuitive and straightforward. They are too "busy" or "tired". They are directing a lot of their effort towards their social life, and getting along with people, rather than to problem solving. etc, etc, etc

People are fine with indirection sometimes. They want a cookie, and they spend time reaching for a cookie jar and opening it, rather than only directly eating the cookie. That bit of indirection doesn't bother them.

One reason people have a problem with indirection is they have little confidence in their ability to complete long range projects. They don't expect to get to a positive conclusion they can't reach very quickly. They have a long history of giving up on projects after a short time if it isn't done yet. So any project with a lot of steps is suspect to them. Especially when some of the steps fall outside their primary interests. A physicist will work on a 20-step physics project, and if he doesn't finish it's ok because he was working on physics the whole time. But he won't work on learning philosophy of science in order to do physics better because if he doesn't complete that project (not only learn useful things about philosophy of science, but then also use them to make physics progress) he'll be unhappy because he enjoys physics but does not enjoy philosophy of science.

A major reason people suck at longterm projects is because their lives are overwhelmed with errors. Their ability to correct errors and solve problems is in a constant state of being overloaded and failing, and they end up having chronic problems in their lives. There are other reasons including that people have little clue what they want and that they have little freedom for the first 20 years of their lives so they can't reliably pursue longterm projects because the projects are disrupted by the people who control their lives (especially parents and teachers).

People also, frequently correctly, lack confidence in their own judgement. They think there is a chain of connections where they work on W to work on X to work on Y to get Z. But they don't trust their judgement. Often correctly. Often they're wrong over and over and their judgement sucks. It requires better judgement to deal with indirection. People with bad judgement (almost everyone) can have somewhat more success when focusing on limited, easy, short projects with fewer layers to them. But that's no real solution. The structure of life involves many connections between different areas (like English skill being relevant to being an artist, and philosophy skill being relevant to being a scientist) rather than being a bunch of narrow, separate, autonomous fields.

Pursuing problems in an open-ended way often takes you far afield.

One of the other issues present here is people have limited interests, rather than open-ended interests. That's really bad. People ought to have broader curiosity and interest in anything useful and important. One of the reasons for such limited interests is most people are really irrational with a few exceptions, so their interests are limited to the exceptions where they are less irrational. This gets in the way of open-ended problem solving where one seeks the truth wherever it may be found instead of sticking to a predetermined field.


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)

Harry Binswanger Refuses To Think

Harry Binswanger banned me – an active-minded philosopher who studies and loves Ayn Rand – from his Objectivist discussion forum.

Binswanger is a well known Objectivist. He knew Rand and Leonard Peikoff. He's affiliated with the Ayn Rand Institute and has been involved with some Objectivist books like the second edition of Introduction To Objectivist Epistemology and the Ayn Rand Lexicon. He wrote a book on epistemology, How We Know: Epistemology on an Objectivist Foundation. He published and edited The Objectivist Forum journal. Binswanger now runs an online paid Objectivist discussion forum, The Harry Binswanger Letter (HBL), which he started in 1998.

I participated at HBL for the last month. My contributions are publicly available (link).

Binswanger banned me, without warning, because he didn't like my ideas. I wasn't banned for violating any written rule. He didn't try to solve the problem. He hid the problem until the breaking point.

Subjective moderation makes discussion forums bad. Having discussions unpredictably shut down discourages anyone from putting effort into them. (Before banning me he shut down discussions about epistemology, because some readers didn't like them. And he shut down discussion about psychiatry, for no reason given.)

The unwritten HBL moderation policies disallow publicizing any mises.org webpage or George Reisman's Capitalism: A Treatise On Economics, but allow publicizing the evil, anti-capitalist huffingtonpost.com and Paul Krugman.

I advise members to find a better forum.

The announcement banning me, which hides the issue behind the title "Administrative note", reads (bold added, except in the first line):

One-line summary: I have removed Elliot Temple’s posting privileges

After much consideration, I decided to remove Elliot Temple’s posting privileges. His posts were not adding value to HBL, and they were: 1) coming from an alien context, 2) nearly always filled with wrong ideas–sometimes startlingly wrong (your eyes are, he says, “opinionated”)–ideas not well argued for, 3) combative, and 4) skating on the edge of violating our etiquette policy. They also were often too long.

All in all, I began to cringe when I saw his name on a post. Instead of the question “Is anything he’s written actually bad enough to take away his posting privileges?” I realized the question was more, “Why do I want him posting on my list, if almost every post brings me grief?”

After I made the decision, but before he knew of it, he posted a piece charging our dismissal of many of his “criticisms” as evasion–the cardinal sin for Objectivism. But, again, I read that only after reaching my decision.

In private email, he asked me to post the following for him:

1) I’ve been banned from posting to HBL, so don’t expect me to reply anymore.

2) It’s not my choice to end the discussions. I didn’t give up.

3) If anyone wants to continue a discussion, email me ([email protected]). I’m happy to continue any of the discussions and respond to outstanding points, but only if people choose to contact me.

Binswanger considers critics "combative". He cringed each time I'd post a new criticism. He wants passive participants who drop unresolved issues without trying to pursue them to a conclusion. He isn't interested in different perspectives on Ayn Rand's ideas. After thinking about his feelings, he realized he wanted me gone, whether I'd done something wrong or not. He shut down discussion because of his emotional states of cringing and grief.

He says my ideas are wrong. He selected one example to present, but it illustrates his own dishonesty. I said that eyes can see green but not infrared, Binswanger replied accusing me of primacy of consciousness, I clarified again, and Binswanger dropped the topic.

My point, which Binswanger evaded, is that eyes have an opinionated design in the same sense an iPhone camera does. Apple engineers formed opinions about what types of photos are good and designed their camera to produce those photos. They chose lenses according to their judgement of what photos have value to their customers. They run software algorithms to adjust photos to better please their customers. The iPhone doesn't try to show you raw data, they try to show you (Apple's opinion of) a good photo. (This is not a criticism of Apple's photography opinions, which I consider objectively good. The point is that Apple's judgement is present in the photo you see.)

I don't know what Binswanger thinks about opinionated camera designs or evolution's design of human eyes. He refused to discuss it.

It's dishonest for Binswanger to use this example to say I was wrong. He took my words out of context to imply I think eyes are conscious (which is ridiculous), rather than fairly presenting my actual views about opinionated designs. And this was the best attack he could come up with to excuse banning dissent.

No one made a complete case that I was mistaken about any idea I presented on HBL. No one pointed out a mistake I made and then argued the point to a conclusion. Nothing got resolved. They did hit-and-run attacks and then didn't address my counter-arguments. Or they'd misunderstand something, then drop the issue when I clarified.

Seeing how our initial discussions weren't reaching resolutions, I started to post about the topic of how to have a discussion. How to resolve debates is a difficult skill worth discussing. I expected discussing our differences to take time, but Binswanger was already out of patience. I talked about how to pursue issues to conclusions. Rather than reply, Binswanger banned me.

HBL is for Objectivists. I'm an Objectivist. I've extensively studied and discussed Objectivism, including over 50 readings of books by Ayn Rand. I agree with Rand more than most, perhaps all, HBL members. I've also studied other Objectivist thinkers, like Peikoff and Binswanger, but I disagree with them more (e.g. regarding induction and their leftwing political sympathies.)

Philosophical Detection

To get into more detail, I'll analyze Ayn Rand's Philosophical Detection, from Philosophy: Who Needs It. I'll compare her views to mine and to Binswanger's. Italics are from Rand, bold is from me.

A detective seeks to discover the truth about a crime. A philosophical detective must seek to determine the truth or falsehood of an abstract system and thus discover whether he is dealing with a great achievement or an intellectual crime.

Ayn Rand (AR) says philosophical detectives "must" figure out what's true and false. That means taking issues to conclusions, not just making a few arguments and stopping before anything is resolved.

The layman’s error, in regard to philosophy, is the tendency to accept consequences while ignoring their causes—to take the end result of a long sequence of thought as the given and to regard it as “self-evident” or as an irreducible primary, while negating its preconditions. ...

As a philosophical detective, you must remember that nothing is self-evident except the material of sensory perception—and that an irreducible primary is a fact which cannot be analyzed (i.e., broken into components) or derived from antecedent facts. You must examine your own convictions and any idea or theory you study, by asking: Is this an irreducible primary—and, if not, what does it depend on?

Binswanger said some his ideas, like 2+3=5, were unquestionable. He said they were too simple to analyze, criticize, or be mistaken about. He maintained this even after two ways to break 2+3=5 down into components were discussed in detail. (One way involves computer circuits, the other involves Peano Axioms.) Binswanger objected to analyzing the components of arithmetic because he thought consciousness just adds and it's trivial. He treated a long sequence of learning math at school as an irreducible primary.

"2", "+", and "3" are components! Are they too trivial to misunderstand? Binswanger himself makes claims about integers that most people disagree with. Either he's mistaken, or others are, so someone misunderstands integers. Binswanger says infinity is a mistake and even says that very large numbers don't exist, like 10100100.

In modern history, the philosophy of Kant is a systematic rationalization of every major psychological vice. ...

... The wish to perceive “things in themselves” unprocessed by any consciousness, is a rationalization for the wish to escape the effort and responsibility of cognition

Binswanger was consistently hostile to my statements about how we don't perceive things in themselves, and have to actually think to figure out what's in reality. We have to take steps like understanding the physical properties of our eyes, the algorithmic information processing done by our visual system, the physical properties of photons, etc... We have to interpret what we see, taking into account many complex factors. This was the issue he chose to highlight when banning me. AR considers his attitude Kantian.

Perception is one of the areas where Binswanger openly disagrees with AR. He says he disagrees with her in footnote 22 on page 64 of his book How We Know.

Correspondence to reality is the standard of value by which one estimates a theory. If a theory is inapplicable to reality, by what standards can it be estimated as “good”?

This is another area where Binswanger and I disagree. Like AR, I value reality (meaning physical reality!) and I care about how theories correspond to reality. Consequently, I was interested in connecting my claims about epistemology to physics (the science which studies reality). And I spoke about what is and isn't physically possible (possible in reality).

Binswanger didn't care about the project of understanding epistemology in terms of physical reality and physical processes. He was content to treat intelligent consciousness as an irreducible primary without concern for the physical components. And he's a dualist! (That means he thinks consciousness is separate from physical reality.)

Rather than consider topics like evolution and computation which relate epistemology to physical reality, Binswanger treats consciousness as a starting point and believes it has special characteristics unrelated to physical reality. He just wants to do philosophy without worrying about physics too. Why dual major in both like John Galt?

Human brains, being physical objects (and computers in particular), do (physical) information processing. This computation replicates, varies and selects information. It's evolution, literally, and that's how humans are able to learn in physical reality. But Binswanger isn't interested in ideas like these. He'd rather divorce consciousness from the physical world.

The problems Binswanger is trying to address, which drive him to dualism, include dealing with the reality of abstractions and understanding emergent properties. David Deutsch has explained these issues in his books. Binswanger won't read the books which explain better views than he has, nor does he know of any refutation of the books by anyone, nor does he care that the books contain unanswered criticism of his positions.

You must attach clear, specific meanings to words, i.e., be able to identify their referents in reality. This is a precondition, without which neither critical judgment nor thinking of any kind is possible. All philosophical con games count on your using words as vague approximations. You must not take a catch phrase—or any abstract statement—as if it were approximate. Take it literally. Don’t translate it ... Take it straight, for what it does say and mean.

Binswanger repeatedly treated words and explanations approximately. He was unable or unwilling to discuss what Popper and I literally said. His attacks were routinely against unsaid conclusions he jumped to, which we denied. He translated our statements into approximate gists and got confused by narrow, limited statements.

Instead of dismissing the catch phrase, accept it—for a few brief moments. Tell yourself, in effect: “If I were to accept it as true, what would follow?” This is the best way of unmasking any philosophical fraud.

Binswanger used tactics like saying his ideas were unquestionable, and smearing critics as skeptics, rather than carefully and literally considering their arguments. Rather than consider and try to unmask philosophical errors, he spent his time presenting excuses for not thinking about criticism.

Since an emotion is experienced as an immediate primary, but is, in fact, a complex, derivative sum, it permits men to practice one of the ugliest of psychological phenomena: rationalization. Rationalization is a cover-up, a process of providing one’s emotions with a false identity, of giving them spurious explanations and justifications—in order to hide one’s motives, not just from others, but primarily from oneself. The price of rationalizing is the hampering, the distortion and, ultimately, the destruction of one’s cognitive faculty. Rationalization is a process not of perceiving reality, but of attempting to make reality fit one’s emotions.

Binswanger spent more effort rationalizing why not to engage with my ideas than considering my ideas. He felt grief and cringed when I wrote about ideas. He blamed me for his bad feelings. He says he doesn't like my ideas because I'm wrong. He says he dropped out of every discussion because I'm wrong. He came up with rationalizations for his negative emotions about my criticism.

Binswanger didn't win a debate on any point. He dropped out every time. And when I kept talking about ideas, he banned me.

Binswanger didn't make a rational case that I was ruining debate and preventing any conclusion from being reached. He didn't even try. He didn't know of some error I was making that would prevent him from from showing I was mistaken about one point. He just wasn't interested in being challenged. He has a passive mind.

I approached discussion in an active way. When one thing didn't work, I'd try something else. I demonstrated patience and perseverance. For example, I asked people to point out any errors in my methods, but no one had anything to say. And I made a long video where I thought out loud and recorded my writing process. I hoped someone could use the video to point out an error in my approach, but no one did.

I saw Binswanger approach discussion badly in a way which prevented reaching conclusions. He'd make a few arguments, hear a few counter-arguments, and just stop there. He'd refuse to read books. He'd refuse to answer questions. He'd refuse to answer criticisms. He'd misunderstand the same point in the same way, repeatedly, even after multiple clarifications. When I brought this up, I was banned instead of answered. I could deal with all those flaws if he'd continue to engage in discussion, but he won't.

I've developed an approach I call Paths Forward for how to take discussions to conclusions. One can always take discussions to conclusions and address all criticism in a timely manner! Isn't that great? Binswanger wasn't interested. He doesn't want to write down his views in public, endorse good writing by others, expose all this to public judgment, and then work to improve his system of ideas to deal with critical challenges. He's content to think he's right, according to his own system of rationalizations, and refuse to deal with mistakes that people point out.

I have an epistemology which gives absolute yes/no answers instead of concluding with the vague maybes that Binswanger favors. Binswanger, like Peikoff, says ideas have a status like possibly, probably or certainly true, rather than dealing decisively with absolutes like true or false. I explained how we can always achieve an up-or-down verdict on an idea in a timely manner. Binswanger wasn't interested.

I say one must address every criticism of one's ideas. I talk about how this can be done without taking up too much time. Binswanger wasn't interested. He felt bad and banned me. What does AR say?

At their first encounter with modern philosophy [like Kant], many people make the mistake of dropping it and running, with the thought: “I know it’s false, but I can’t prove it. I know something’s wrong there, but I can’t waste my time and effort trying to untangle it.” Here is the danger of such a policy: ...

Even if I was advocating Kant (the worst of the worst), AR would say to answer my arguments!

Why bother dealing with criticism? Because you have no way to know which ideas are true or false if you don't. And:

What objectivity and the study of philosophy require is not an “open mind,” but an active mind—a mind able and eagerly willing to examine ideas, but to examine them critically.

Critical discussion is just what I advocated and emphasized, and Binswanger banned me to avoid. I was eager to examine ideas; Binswanger was unwilling.

An active mind does not grant equal status to truth and falsehood; it does not remain floating forever in a stagnant vacuum of neutrality and uncertainty; by assuming the responsibility of judgment, it reaches firm convictions and holds to them.

AR is saying to pursue ideas to the point of actually reaching answers! Don't just stop in the middle! That's what I attempted. Binswanger faked it. He announced some conclusions (I'm wrong!) that he hadn't rationally reached. (What was I wrong about? He declared I was wrong in the middle of the discussion, then didn't allow me to speak further.)

Since it is able to prove its convictions, an active mind achieves an unassailable certainty in confrontations with assailants—a certainty untainted by spots of blind faith, approximation, evasion and fear.

This is what I do and have achieved. I deal with all criticism, and have no fear of it. I have no need to dismiss ideas without answering them because I have answers.

People are welcome to try to assail my ideas. That helps me learn. I've now become familiar with all the common assaults. I learned answers to them or, in some cases, changed my mind.

I wish I could find critics with ideas that would take more effort to answer. Unlike Binswanger, I'd love that. It's one of the things I hoped to find at HBL. I seek out criticism that will require effort for me to address. I seek out challenging ideas.

If you keep an active mind, you will discover (assuming that you started with common-sense rationality) that every challenge you examine will strengthen your convictions, that the conscious, reasoned rejection of false theories will help you to clarify and amplify the true ones, that your ideological enemies will make you invulnerable by providing countless demonstrations of their own impotence.

That's been exactly my experience. But Binswanger banned me rather than deal with a challenge.

No, you will not have to keep your mind eternally open to the task of examining every new variant of the same old falsehoods. You will discover that they are variants or attacks on certain philosophical essentials—and that the entire, gigantic battle of philosophy (and of human history) revolves around the upholding or the destruction of these essentials. You will learn to recognize at a glance a given theory’s stand on these essentials, and to reject the attacks without lengthy consideration—because you will know (and will be able to prove) in what way any given attack, old or new, is made of contradictions and “stolen concepts.”

Of course! If criticisms get repetitive, come up with counter-arguments which address entire categories of criticism at once. Then write them down and re-use them. Learn to recognize when ideas make known errors which already have a written refutation, then give a reference instead of writing something new. This is what I advocate and do, but Binswanger couldn't or wouldn't do it.

Philosophical rationalizations are not always easy to detect. Some of them are so complex that an innocent man may be taken in and paralyzed by intellectual confusion.

I agree. But Binswanger finds it offensive to say you think someone is rationalizing or evading, and explain your reasoning. What's offensive about trying to share useful information about a difficult problem? He doesn't want criticism to tarnish his reputation and he doesn't want to reconsider his ideas.

if the false premises of an influential philosopher are not challenged, generations of his followers—acting as the culture’s subconscious—milk them down to their ultimate consequences.

I challenged Binswanger, who is influential in Objectivist circles, and he banned me for challenging him. One of his excuses was that some of his followers had been complaining. He's attracted followers who don't like challenges, and he tries to please them. (Several people contacted me with positive messages. I think they're too intimidated to tell Binswanger what they think.)

If, in the course of philosophical detection, you find yourself, at times, stopped by the indignantly bewildered question: “How could anyone arrive at such nonsense?”—you will begin to understand it when you discover that evil philosophies are systems of rationalization.

AR's position is like my position, which Binswanger opposed: Rational thinking centers around error correction!

How's it the same? AR says "evil", I say "irrational" and consider irrationality evil. AR says "systems of rationalization", and I know those prevent correcting errors.

AR and I agree: it's the blocking of discussion, the refusal to think about criticism, that's really evil and irrational. That's how people not only arrive at nonsense, but keep believing it over time.

I'd be happy to forgive Binswanger a thousand misconceptions. What ruins him is that he approaches philosophy with an elaborate system for refusing to deal with criticism. He's set things up so that when he's wrong, he stays wrong.

A “closed mind” is usually taken to mean the attitude of a man impervious to ideas, arguments, facts and logic, who clings stubbornly to some mixture of unwarranted assumptions, fashionable catch phrases, tribal prejudices—and emotions. But this is not a “closed” mind, it is a passive one. It is a mind that has dispensed with (or never acquired) the practice of thinking or judging, and feels threatened by any request to consider anything.

Binswanger has a passive mind. Rather than be curious about new ideas, he bans them. Rather than actively consider challenging ideas, Binswanger passively, stubbornly clings to a mix of unwarranted assumptions, catch phrases, prejudices, mistakes – and emotions. Binswanger doesn't pursue ideas to conclusions, so he's missing out on the limitless possibilities of The Beginning of Infinity.

Binswanger Quotes

Here's a brief sample of what Binswanger said on his forum over the last month. (His italics, my bold.)

There's no computation done anywhere outside the human mind. Even computers don't actually compute. In philosophy, we have to speak literally, not metaphorically.

He refused to explain what he means.

I think that it is unquestionable that counting is a simple operation. And it is unquestionable that an adult who adds, with reasonable care, 2 to 3 cannot be mistaken about what the answer is.

(He clarified that he declares it irrational to question the ideas he declares "unquestionable".)

Counting is a physical process which occurs in reality, so how simple it is depends on the laws of physics (and the method used). Physics is not only questionable, it's highly controversial.

it is impossible that I could be mistaken in saying “Two plus three is five.”

The obvious fact is that ... “2 + 3 = 5” cannot be wrong.

That's a tiny sample of his many infallibilist claims. Meanwhile he cast doubt on his own understanding of numbers:

it is widely believed that there’s a number like: 10^100^100. There isn’t.

He also has a problem with infinity.

[The claim that] You can’t guarantee that you reached your decision rationally. [That claim is] false. You can and had damn well better be sure you reached your decision rationally.

He thinks he can't be mistaken about whether his thinking is rational. He claims an infallible guarantee letting him ignore all criticism of his rationality.

Although I hesitate to use terms from an alien context, the closest, of the conventional terms, for the Objectivist semi-position on the mind-brain issue is “property dualism.”

... I’m not sure, myself, whether or not the issue is exclusively scientific.

What I'm resisting is the idea that on the subconscious side there is some unconscious equivalent of computing, judging, deciding. There isn't and couldn't be.

Addition is an action of consciousness.

He thinks the subconscious is like a hard drive that doesn't do any thinking or even compute any algorithms like addition.

Mr. Temple raises the question of how knowledge arises from non-knowledge. It doesn’t.

Also, when you write that you are not “afraid” of the arbitrary, I think you should be. If arbitrary assertions are good until refuted, nothing can be refuted.

positive support comes down to sameness; non-contradiction comes down to difference.

A child pushes a ball and sees it start to move. That is positive support for “Pushing balls makes them move.”

He's a naive inductivist. You look at the world and you see what causes what (somehow).

Now what can epistemology say about the [process of selecting ideas]? Several things, but none that will result in an algorithm, i.e., a mechanically applicable formula replacing judgment.

He presupposes an intelligent consciousness using intelligent judgment as the base of his epistemology. We know by using our intelligent judgment to know! He has no answers to how an intelligent consciousness actually works.

Conclusions

Ayn Rand wrote in The Virtue of Selfishness, How Does One Lead a Rational Life in an Irrational Society?:

One must never fail to pronounce moral judgment.
...
to pronounce moral judgment is an enormous responsibility. To be a judge, one must possess an unimpeachable character; one need not be omniscient or infallible, and it is not an issue of errors of knowledge; one needs an un-breached integrity, that is, the absence of any indulgence in conscious, willful evil. ...
... A judge puts himself on trial every time he pronounces a verdict. ... a man is to be judged by the judgments he pronounces.
...
The moral principle to adopt in this issue, is: “Judge, and be prepared to be judged.”
...
When one pronounces moral judgment, whether in praise or in blame, one must be prepared to answer “Why?” and to prove one’s case—to oneself and to any rational inquirer.
...
Moral values are the motive power of a man’s actions. By pronouncing moral judgment, one protects the clarity of one’s own perception and the rationality of the course one chooses to pursue. ...
Observe how many people evade, rationalize and drive their minds into a state of blind stupor, in dread of discovering that those they deal with—their “loved ones” or friends or business associates or political rulers—are not merely mistaken, but evil. Observe that this dread leads them to sanction, to help and to spread the very evil whose existence they fear to acknowledge.

I judge Harry Binswanger to be immoral. He lacks patience, curiosity, honesty and precision. He wants to tell others what to think and be admired, but doesn't want to learn. He has a system of rationalizations instead of an active mind. He calls his ideas obvious and unquestionable, and claims infallibility, to evade critical debate. He doesn't know how to resolve disagreements, judge ideas, or reach conclusions. He bans dissent that he emotionally dislikes.

If you have questions, criticism, or doubts, write them in the comments below. Don't just tell yourself that I'm mistaken and evade my counter-arguments. Either pursue the issue to a conclusion or don't judge it.

I'll close with Atlas Shrugged (my bold):

There were people who had listened, but now hurried away, and people who said, "It's horrible!"—"It's not true!"—"How vicious and selfish!"—saying it loudly and guardedly at once, as if wishing that their neighbors would hear them, but hoping that Francisco would not.

"Senor d'Anconia," declared the woman with the earrings, "I don't agree with you!"

"If you can refute a single sentence I uttered, madame, I shall hear it gratefully."

"Oh, I can't answer you. I don't have any answers, my mind doesn't work that way, but I don't feel that you're right, so I know that you're wrong."

"How do you know it?"

"I feel it. I don't go by my head, but by my heart. You might be good at logic, but you're heartless."

"Madame, when we'll see men dying of starvation around us, your heart won't be of any earthly use to save them. And I'm heartless enough to say that when you'll scream, 'But I didn't know it!'—you will not be forgiven."

Update: I've been banned from reading HBL for writing this post. Binswanger offered no explanation or reply.


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (15)

Block Havoc Video

Block Havoc is a hard, fun game where you dodge obstacles by spinning two balls clockwise or counterclockwise. I made a gameplay video with commentary. You can see me die a ton of times and talk about what I'm doing and how I'm figuring the game out a little at a time.

Update: I made a second video! I play Hard, Dark (445 high score!) and Color mode. Lots more commentary!


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (21)

Today's Left is Especially Bad

Harry Binswanger claimed:

As to how bad the current Left is, it is far better than the Left of the 60s

I also understood Binswanger to have the position that it was OK not to vote for Reagan, because the left wasn't so bad then. And it's also OK not to vote for Trump, because the left isn't so bad now.

To better compare the left today with the recent past, I read an article from 1980 which talked about the current and past situation. Emphasis in quotes is added by me.

In terms of philosophical fundamentals, the direction is still downwards.

And it blames Kant.

At the end of the 60's, the leftists acted as if they owned the world. But in fact, their power never extended much beyond the inbred world of today's intellectuals; the leftists never owned, or even grasped the nature of, America.

Today, the leftists have real power. They've had the presidency for 8 years and they nearly had another 4. They own California, New York, Washington DC, and a lot more.

America took the other steps the "doves" demanded: we gutted the FBI and CIA, cut defense spending, abandoned the anti-missile system, recognized Red china, increased trade and exchanges with Soviet Russia, withdrew our support from anti-communist regimes, and gave away the panama canal. The movement has failed, however, in its ideological aim. With each falling domino, from South Vietnam right through to Afghanistan, the spectacular failure of appeasement and the insatiable aggressiveness of Russia have become so clear that even president Carter has felt constrained to declare that he has changed his mind about the Russians.

Obama and Hillary have not changed their mind about the Iranians.

The American public's furious indignation over Iran's seizure of hostages and Russia's invasion of Afghanistan is a dramatic confirmation of the fact that the "peace" movement has not succeeded in extinguishing this country's self-esteem.

This year, Obama paid a fortune in ransom money for the return of Iranian hostages. The American public is not particularly furious that Iran took hostages nor that Obama paid ransom for them.

The anti-technology movement – "ecology," "environmentalism," "conservationism" – is fading rapidly. Remember "Spaceship Earth," "the limits to growth," and "man's rape of the earth"?

That movement is alive and well today. It has massive influence in both government policy and the culture. It has created international agreements. It has killed our soldiers by convincing our military to use worse equipment to be more "green." It has become disrespectable to doubt global warming.

Observe what the left has been unable to achieve. The drive for socialized medicine is stalled. The move to break up the oil companies has been abandoned.

Socialized medicine and the destruction of the oil companies are real dangers today. Those are Obama policies and he achieved a lot. Thankfully Trump favors fossil fuels and has promised to repeal Obamacare.

The best sign of the times is, perhaps, the disappearance of avowedly liberal political leaders. The very term "liberal" has become a stigma, politically.

That's sure gotten worse.

For the first time since the beginning of the New Deal, there are some areas in which the government's power is being rolled back. The gains made by the left have been due to inertia; the left is on the defensive – and they have plenty to feel defensive about.

The left hasn't been on the defensive lately. The main sign of hope here is Trump's victory. But Trump will not be rolling back the government's power much, if at all. Nor will the Republican congress which contains many leftist sympathizers, RINOs, moderates, and career politicians.

In America, there was never any chance that the statists would take over.

Obama and Hillary are statists. Today there is at least a clear chance of statists taking over.

Trump has promised to freeze most federal government hiring and require two regulations be repealed for each new one added. But on the whole he isn't a very good advocate of limited government.

Do the American people, today, really want limited Government? I don't think the majority do.

The economic and political state to which the intellectuals have brought this country is so horrendously counter to the American spirit

The American spirit is in danger. Far too many Americans now identify with its enemies like Obama and Hillary. Far too many Americans have been educated in "progressive" schools. Far too many "Americans" are foreigners, here legally or illegally, who have not adopted American values and do not possess the American spirit.

After every anti-American statement and action by Obama, his policies nearly got a third term. Our culture is in grave danger. Anti-Americanism is everywhere. Western Europe is even further gone down a similar road and provides some dire warnings.

The American pro-reason, pro-freedom, pro-achievement "sense of life" has swung away angrily from the consequences of even semi-statism.

Something like that won us this election, but only barely, and despite the opposition of many Objectivists.

the moral code of altruism will carry us to statism, regardless of short-term backpedalling. Our only hope is finally, fully to reject the premise that sacrifice is moral, and proudly assert man's right to exist for his own sake.

Altruism hasn't gone anywhere. That "only hope" hasn't happened.

At the dawn of the 80's, the left has collapsed, and the right is waiting to be born.

Any collapse of the left was only temporary. The left is strong today. It dominates the media, the government agencies, the public schools, the universities, the non-profits, the technology companies, and the "intellectual" culture.

The left riots in the streets, releases criminals from prison, and says the statement "all lives matter" is racist. The left gets away with ridiculous farces like saying voter ID requirements are racist. The left has given billions of dollars to the leading state sponsor of terrorism and is working to help arm them with nuclear weapons capable of hitting the USA. The left uses the IRS to attack political enemies and uses the FBI and justice department to help cover up their crimes. The left has betrayed our country repeatedly (e.g. leaving Iraq and letting ISIS become a major power) and has the power and influence to get away with all this. (Or they nearly did. We'll have to see what Trump does about this.)

The article the quotes are from is The Swing To The Right by Harry Binswanger. In 1980 he said the 60's left never had much power in America. Today he says the left in the 60s was worse than today. Does he think that Obama had no real power, or that Obama isn't so bad!?


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comment (1)

President Donald Trump

We won the election! 🇺🇸🗽🎇

Today is a great day! 😁😃😊😀👍

❤️ Trump! 😍😘

It's morning in America! 🌅🌇🌄

What's ahead? 🛣💵🏭💰🏙💸🌆👷👮‍♀️👷‍♀️👮

Ideas matter. We won because our ideas are better. 🤔📚

Thank you, Ann Coulter.

Adios, America: The Left's Plan to Turn Our Country into a Third World Hellhole explained the immigration issue and changed the election. Trump requested an advance copy on his own initiative, then made politically incorrect remarks about immigration to kick off his Presidential campaign.

American patriot Ann Coulter didn't stop there. After speaking at a Trump rally, she wrote: In Trump We Trust: E Pluribus Awesome!

Thank you Front Page Magazine and Breitbart News Network.

Thank you Project Veritas and Wikileaks.

Thank you, Donald Trump!

#Trump2016

#DrainTheSwamp

#BuildTheWall

#LockHerUp

#MakeAmericaGreatAgain


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (56)

Screencast of my Objectivism Discussion Thinking and Writing Process

I recorded a screencast while writing replies on HBL about epistemology.

Link: Video: HBL Thinking and Writing Process

Watch to see me think out loud about HBL posts. See how I approach the topics, how I organize my thoughts, and how I write.

Talking allows me to provide different information about where I’m coming from than text does.

I’d appreciate comments, including criticism, on my method. You can see my process instead of just the final product.

HBL people tell me I’m mistaken about epistemology. Presumably there’s something wrong with my approach behind those mistakes. Please tell me if anyone can point out something I’m doing wrong.

The video will help people understand what I mean better and how I’m approaching HBL discussion. I hope the extra perspective on my views will clear up some misunderstandings.

I like seeing other people’s processes when I can. I can learn from how they do things, and it’s uncommon to get to see behind the scenes. Perhaps you could pick up a few tips and tricks from me, too.

You can get text copies of my replies on HBL or in my blog comments. (The linked comment plus the next 5.)

I talk a lot in this video. Strongly recommended! It was 3.5 hours raw. I reduced that to 2.5 hours in editing. I sped up the whole thing to 125%, then sped up some parts where I'm not talking to 300%.

If you like it, check out my other videos:

Philosophy Writing Playlist

Evidence and Criticism Playlist

My Gumroad store sells some newer videos I put extra effort into.


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)

Presupposing Intelligence in Epistemology

I've been discussing with Objectivists. I learned something new:

Lots of their thinking about epistemology presupposes an intelligent consciousness and proceeds from there.

They don't say this clearly. They claim to have answers to epistemological problems about how learning works (with perception, concept formation and induction). They claim to start at the beginning and work everything out.

Traditional approaches to induction try to say how intelligence works. They claim they solved the problem of induction. But they aren't actually focusing on the traditional problem. They aren't very clear to themselves about what problem each idea is meant to answer, and don't consistently stick to addressing the same problem.

Their approach to concept formation presupposes intelligence. How do you know which concepts to form? How do you know which similarities and differences are important? How do you decide which of the many patterns in the world to pay attention to? Use common sense. Use intelligent judgement. Think about it. Use your mind. Consider what you value and which patterns are relevant to pursuing your values. Consider your interests and which patterns are relevant to your interests. And, anyway, why do you want a mindless, mechanical answer someone could use without thinking, anyway?

So induction requires concept formation which requires being intelligent. Their take on induction presupposes, rather than explains, intelligence. It's kinda like saying, "You learn by using your intelligence to learn. It handles the learning, somehow. Now here are some tips on how to use your intelligence more effectively..."

They don't realize what's going on but this is a dirty trick. Induction doesn't work. How do you fix it? Well, induction plus intelligent thought is adequate to get intelligent answers. The intelligent thought does all the work! Any gaps in your theory of learning can be filled in if you presuppose an intelligence that is able to learn somehow.

One of the big points of epistemology is to figure out how intelligence learns without presupposing it works somehow. Yes it does work somehow, but let's figure out the details of the somehow!

I say new knowledge is created by evolution. They don't address the problem of how new knowledge can be created. Intelligence can do that, somehow. They don't know how. They seem to think they know how. They say intelligence creates new knowledge using perception, concept formation and induction. But then when you ask about the details of concept formation and induction, they presuppose intelligence...

Note: I do not blame Ayn Rand for this. I don't know how much of this is her fault. As far as I know from studying her writing, she didn't do this herself in her published works.


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigration

Tons of immigration is great given your country is good at:

1) capitalism
2) assimilation and cultural confidence

If your country is bad at capitalism and has a welfare state, then it works better to limit immigration to people who have money or valuable job skills (e.g. fully trained doctors), not people who will go on welfare.

If your country is bad at assimilation, it works better to limit immigration to people who already share similar values. For the US, that means mostly immigration from the English speaking nations.

The US needs to limit immigration – like Trump proposes – because we're bad at both these points. Yes I'm a classical liberal who would like free movement of persons as a matter of principle similar to free trade. But we don't live in a classical liberal society. Many classical liberal policies don't work when individually used in a culturally-relativist welfare society. Bringing in a bunch of anti-liberal immigrants who are going to stay anti-liberal is not a classical liberal policy!

Taking tax money from some Americans to give handouts to other Americans is bad enough. Bringing in a bunch of immigrants, then raising taxes (or debt) to give them handouts too, is stupid and destructive. Immigration should be for people who will support themselves.

Having millions of citizens who dislike our country is bad enough. Bringing in millions more people who don't like our country is stupid and destructive. Immigration should be for people who like American values and, while not necessarily understanding our values very well already, are willing to learn and change. (For example, someone who doesn't know English, and doesn't want to learn it, should not immigrate to the US.)


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (16)

Hillary Clinton is a Far Left Criminal

Guest post by Justin Mallone:

Hillary Clinton is a dangerous choice for President. She is a criminal traitor whose immigration policy is so bad it might destroy the United States.

This is a strong statement. It requires explanation.

Let's start with criminal. You've probably heard about the email scandal. It's a big deal:

Hillary set up a private email server in her house for official business while she was Secretary of State. This violated the law. There are exceptional situations where you can use regular email, e.g. in some emergencies. Setting up a private server for all your official government email clearly violates the Federal Records Act. It also thwarts Freedom of Information Act requests.

Hillary said there weren't classified emails sent across her private email server. She lied. The FBI Director confirmed that she lied. He called Hillary "extremely careless in [the] handling of very sensitive, highly classified information." Over 2000 emails on her server contained classified information. Some of the emails on her server even wound up being classified Top Secret. Hillary committed a crime. Security issues with her server have been well-documented and exposed national security secrets to foreign hackers. And that's not just my speculation – we know her server was probably hacked.

Hillary got a subpoena on March 4, 2015, from Congress, which was investigating Benghazi. Several weeks after that, an employee of the company that Hillary used to manage her email server deleted the emails using software called BleachBit to make the emails irrecoverable. Hillary lied when she said she only used her personal email – and only carried one device – for personal convenience. She also had at least some of her thirteen total devices destroyed with a hammer. Hillary obstructed justice. This is a crime.

The facts are not in dispute. Hillary may imagine some "vast right-wing conspiracy", but even the biased Washington Post confirms what happened.

The Washington Post defends Hillary saying that, "Clinton’s staff had requested the emails to be deleted months before the subpoena, according to the FBI’s August 2016 report." Suppose you're a regular person, and you intend to delete some emails. And then suppose the government asks for those emails in a subpoena, and you delete them anyway. The fact that you were intending to delete them before you got the subpoena is not a good enough reason to avoid going to jail. Most people getting the subpoena would say "Oh, I guess I shouldn't delete those now." But different rules apply to Clintons. And there's plenty of concrete reason to think that the FBI investigation may have been corrupted by backroom deals and shady donations.

Let's talk about traitors.

The Constitution says that "Treason against the United States, shall consist ... [of] adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort." Basically, if you help our enemies, you are a traitor.

Hillary likes to talk tough about Russia. She's said she sees Putin as "a very cold-blooded, calculating former KGB agent" and said "his agenda is one that threatens American interests." Sounds like she thinks he's an enemy!

I agree – Putin is a very bad guy. That's why it disturbs me that Hillary's State Department approved the sale of half of America's uranium output (20% of our total supply) to a Russian company, in exchange for millions of dollars of donations for the Clinton Foundation! That sounds like helping the enemy to me.

Hillary didn't stop there. She's worked hard to undermine the US and aid and comfort Russia. Her State Department "recruited and facilitated the commitment of billions of American dollars in the creation of a Russian 'Silicon Valley' whose technological innovations include Russian hypersonic cruise-missile engines, radar surveillance equipment, and vehicles capable of delivering airborne Russian troops." Sixty percent of "Key Partners" of this "Russian Silicon Valley" either made financial commitments to the Clinton Foundation or sponsored speeches by Bill Clinton. Hillary also brags about having worked to ratify the New START Treaty with Russia, which involved the U.S. making a unilateral pledge to freeze its nuclear technological development, which hurts the United States' ability to defend itself.

Uranium is a strategic U.S. asset. Why did she give our uranium to the Russians? It's been documented that this was Pay for Play – the Clinton Foundation was paid to help Russia, and Hillary did it. She committed this treason for money. Then she called Trump Putin's puppet, which really takes some nerve!

Hillary's problem is not just stuff she's done in the past. Hillary would harm our country big league. It came out in Wikileaks that Hillary's dream is open borders. The stuff in Wikileaks on open borders is damning, but mostly for confirming what we already knew. Hillary says right on her website she wants amnesty (by the codeword "comprehensive immigration reform") and to continue Obama's lawless executive amnesty programs (DACA and DAPA). She'd appoint Supreme Court Justices who would uphold executive amnesty, which was narrowly defeated by an equally divided Supreme Court. As Trump says, if you don't have borders, you don't have a country. Hillary is running with an agenda of not having a border. She has no plan for securing the border. She wants amnesty in the first 100 days. She wants a massive increase in Syrian refugees. She supports sanctuary cities. She wants illegal immigrants to be able to use Obamacare, and suggested that her amnesty plan would even let them qualify for Obamacare subsidies. She even has illegal immigrants doing voter registration for her campaign. Hillary's immigration policy is an agenda for destroying the United States.

Trump, by contrast, is a moderate. (Really! No joke. Read the link and see, rather than just listening to what the media tells you!)

This isn't the full case against Hillary Clinton. Even documenting just her corruption alone (let alone her criminality, incompetence, awful policies and older scandals and crimes) takes a whole book. But selling us out to Russia, and breaking US law, is plenty of reason to fear a Hillary presidency. A corrupt criminal traitor whose immigration policy would destroy America is unfit to be President!

Anyone on the fence needs to get off. Even if you don't like Trump and think he's a jerk, it doesn't matter. Civilization is at stake. We need to stop a radical, traitorous criminal like Hillary Clinton from being elected President.

(Enjoyed reading? Read more of Clinton's record from Front Page Magazine.)


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (4)

Donald Trump is a Moderate

Trump's reputation is misleading. Politically incorrect remarks don't make you an extremist.

Trump's views on immigration have gotten the most negative reactions (and also many positive reactions). Instead of calling Trump a bigot, let's consider what Trump actually said: Illegal Mexican immigrants commit additional crimes (including rape) – that's true and documented. Mexico isn't sending us their best people! And Trump wants to pause Muslim immigration in the wake of Muslim terrorist attacks, until we figure out what's going on.

Hillary called half of Trump voters deplorables who she considers irredeemable. That's around 25% of Americans, including me! 😩

I wanted a right winger (Ted Cruz) for president. I'm not a moderate myself, but I'll happily take a moderate who likes America over a far left liar who dislikes America.

There are decent people on the left. Hillary isn't one of them. (Most of the decent ones aren't politicians or prominent media figures.)

Trump is moderate on most of the issues:

Trump has promised to appoint Supreme Court justices who will uphold the constitution. Hillary has made it clear she will appoint activist judges to radically transform the country.

Trump opposes Obamacare. But he isn't opposed to all government involvement in healthcare (as I am). He just advocates some moderate stuff like to allow competition for health plans across state lines.

Trump (like me) isn't very religious and doesn't hate gays. He's not going to be pushing Intelligent Design. Many typical concerns with right wing politicians don't apply to Trump.

Trump is no laissez-faire capitalist (as I am). He's a protectionist who wants to use taxes and tariffs to try to "win" at trade. He worries about "trade deficits" (which means more goods flow into our country than out). This is pretty moderate. He isn't much of a socialist, and he isn't much of a principled capitalist. He's not the kind of guy who will be trying to set up a gold standard and get the government out of the economy (as I would).

Trump isn't a small government booster (as I am). He's not looking to eliminate a bunch of government departments (like Ted Cruz proposed to). He doesn't even want to cut Social Security or Medicare (he says he'll improve the economy so much we can pay for them with no changes, which is absurd). I think Trump is planning to keep the government around the same size (and will actually make it bigger) – standard moderate stuff – whereas Hillary will enthusiastically expand government.

Trump is in favor of law and order, unlike Hillary and Obama. The left has replied that Trump is racist for advocating law and order.

What about energy? Hillary wants to put coal miners out of work. Trump doesn't attack solar and wind power (as I would). Trump wants to pursue all types of energy. That's moderate. Trump favors reasonable energy policies like drilling for oil here because electricity is a good thing, it'll create jobs, and then we can buy less oil from unfree countries. Trying to cut back on fossil fuel use by over 50% in a few decades is an extreme position that would impoverish the country. Trump is being reasonable by siding with industrial civilization. I don't think it's a requirement of being left wing to want the dark ages back. I think there are decent left wing people who aren't anti-industry and anti-energy and could agree with Trump about energy.

Trump won't be an enemy of our own military, like Obama. Trump wants us to win, not lose. But he also wants to militarily intervene in the world less. Not a hawk, not a pacifist ... seems pretty moderate to me. I don't think it's perfect, but I can live with it.

There are left wing people who, like Trump, have a problem with Islam and Sharia. This isn't just about terrorism and Iran building nuclear weapons (which any decent person must oppose). There's also the Islamic oppression of women, homosexuals and minority groups (e.g. Christians and Jews). And there's Palestinian "schools" indoctrinating children into a death cult to hate Jews and do suicide bombing attacks. Leftists like Bill Maher and Richard Dawkins do not approve of this. How can any decent person defend it? You don't have to be a fan of Christianity to recognize that, today, Christianity treats people better than Islam does. (Let's not get distracted by the Crusades and Inquisition!)

Trump isn't Israel's biggest fan, but isn't their enemy either. (Obama is Israel's enemy). Trump will continue the standard, normal US policy of having an alliance with Israel.

Being left wing hasn't always meant trying to destroy the second amendment. Not everyone on the left wants to do that. Hillary sure does. Trump doesn't. Good.

Trump is pro-abortion. He's lying about it now but he made this clear in the past. As President he won't do much in either direction on abortion. And he's not doing much to hide this. He defended Planned Parenthood (PP) in the primary debates to an audience that didn't want to hear it. I love abortion (it's a wonderful life-enhancing technology, not something to make safe, legal and rare and then personally oppose) and I wouldn't defend PP! I recognize PP as a radical leftwing organization that was founded by a racist eugenicist who wanted to reduce the number of black/poor/stupid people being born. PP has pivoted to illegally selling fetus parts and promoting environmentalism. They sure shouldn't get government funding.

Even on immigration, Trump holds some views that Democrats held not too long ago. Harry Reid (lead Democrat in the Senate) tried to end birthright citizenship (anchor babies) in 1993. Many of Trump's immigration positions, like building a wall, are already US law. Trump has emphasized he wants to enforce existing laws! That makes way more sense than having the same deported criminals keep coming back over the border.

In short, Trump is a moderate Main Street American who is being painted as an extremist by an extremely left-wing media.

Update: Trump just announced wonderful new policy proposals vindicating my essay. I urge everyone to read through these.


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (10)

Twitter Pulls "Make Detroit Great Again" Pro-Trump Video Ad for "Hate, sensitive topics, and violence"

Make Detroit Great Again is my pro-Trump video showing what Detroit looks like today, along with audio of Trump speaking about inner cities. I was pleased to get covered on Truth Revolt.

Last night I bought an ad on Twitter to promote my video. Twitter promptly removed it, claiming it violates their Hate, sensitive topics, and violence policy.

Here's the advertised tweet. Do you think this is violent hate speech? Or is Twitter blocking right-wing political messages?

Twitter's hate content, sensitive topics, and violence policy covers:

  • Hate speech or advocacy against an individual, organization or protected group based on race, ethnicity, national origin, color, religion, disability, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran status or other protected status.Violence or threats of violence against people or animals
  • Glorification of self-harm or related ads
  • Organizations or individuals associated with promoting hate, criminal, or terrorist-related content
  • Inflammatory content which is likely to evoke a strong negative reaction or cause harm.
  • Offensive, vulgar, abusive or obscene content

As broad as this is, my ad doesn't realistically fit. There's no hate speech or violence in my video. Twitter does allow political ads (even though they can evoke negative reactions). And vigorous political debates are common on Twitter.

Twitter also specifically allows both "[n]ews and information" and "[c]ommentary", which do fit my video.

This is the notification Twitter emailed me:

(I have no affiliation with Donald Trump or his campaign.)

Update: I contacted Twitter to ask specifically what the "Hate, sensitive topics, and violence" was. I've now received the following reply, "Apologies for any confusion, you are now eligible to use Twitter Ads." That does not address the issue. I can now run the ad again.


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (5)

The Harry Binswanger Letter Posts

Today I rejoined The Harry Binswanger Letter (HBL). It's an Objectivist discussion forum. I left in the past because it was moderated and didn't allow me to say some things. It also limited how often you could post to something like 4 posts per week if I remember right. I also had some disagreements with Binswanger (e.g. he hated Popper from a position of ignorance). It's been changed to allow unlimited posting on a web forum and then he only emails selected posts out to the members.

You have to pay for HBL. I don't mind that, but I do mind the lack of public links. (If I ever make a paid forum, maybe I'll have people pay for posting but allow reading for free.)

What I'm going to try doing is reposting my own posts as comments below (unfortunately I'm going to lose the formatting sometimes). I want to have my own copies in case I unsubscribe, they lose their data in a computer crash, or they edit or delete some of my posts. (They actually pay someone to go through and edit formatting and typos. I don't know how far the editing goes.)

Update: I've been banned from HBL. Read my blog post explaining. In short, Binswanger dislikes critical discussion.


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (260)

Objectivists Should Vote Trump!

I wrote this message to an Objectivist facebook group:

Supporting Trump is the only realistic way to stop Hillary this year. Stopping Hillary, and judging her to be worse than Trump, seems compatible with Objectivism to me. (Note Gary Johnson's problem isn't just that he can't get enough votes to stop Hillary. His campaign has actually been less anti-Hillary than Trump's campaign.)

Let's look at some of the issues to see that Hillary is a lot worse than Trump:

Trump is pro drilling for fossil fuels, Hillary wants to put coal miners out of work.

Trump opposes the Iran deal and Obamacare.

Trump wants to enforce US immigration law and secure our border against criminals and terrorists.

Trump isn't running as Obama's third term.

Trump has promised to appoint supreme court judges from a pro-constitution list. They aren't ideal, but Hillary will appoint truly awful judges.

Hillary wants to make government way bigger, more intrusive, more rights violating, bigger budget, more agencies, etc. Trump isn't any kinda small government guy. I'd guess Trump views himself as planning to keep government around the same size, and will in fact grow it significantly. But he won't expand government as much or as enthusiastically as Hillary.

Trump isn't a literal traitor who would be in jail if not for government corruption.

Trump likes America and wants us to win. He mostly promises to do good things (that he probably won't live up to very well). Hillary dislikes America and mostly promises to do bad things.

Trump is not very religious and is kinda moderate. I don't approve of moderates, but it's still better than Hillary. Moderate means compromises, lack of principles, and (for a right winger) some leftist sympathies. Trump will compromise and sympathize with the anti-life left in a variety of ways, and will not solve most of our problems. But Trump will also do a few things pretty well, and we'll fall apart slower than with Hillary who has promised to destroy us in a dozen ways.

One of the issues where Trump is a breath of fresh air is opposing establishment politicians in both parties. Will he fix it? Nah. He'll try a bit and we'll be better off with him than with Hillary who will intentionally make it worse. Of the people on the ballot, Trump's the best one to vote for.


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comment (1)

Questioning Apple's Direction

There are some big things I dislike about Apple's direction:

Tim Cook is a dumb leftist who has gotten Apple involved with leftist activism including hiring Lisa Jackson (former Obama EPA head) to head up their quite active environmentalism department

Apple sided with Hillary against Trump in the election instead of staying out of it. Apple refused regular tech help/support stuff to RNC over Trump. Cook did fundraisers for Hillary and Paul Ryan.

Tim Cook does some dumb celebrity stuff like selling charity fundraiser coffees. Apple itself also cares more about celebrity cameos at their events, celebrity endorsements, that kinda stuff.

the Mac is being neglected.

Tim has claimed they still care about Mac and updates will come. They have updated the software regularly but for power users like me it's basically gotten slightly worse, and mostly the same, since Snow Leopard in 2009. As to hardware updates, there just haven't been many lately. See e.g. http://buyersguide.macrumors.com/#Mac (MacBook is Neutral, the rest are Don't Buy. This evaluation is based on hardware update dates.)

Apple is apparently working a bunch on car stuff. This would be OK if the Mac wasn't being neglected, but I think it's bad for Apple to prioritize it ahead of Mac. Also there's rumors the car stuff is a mess, e.g. http://daringfireball.net/linked/2016/10/17/bloomberg-apple-car

I think Apple should be really careful about branching out and losing focus. I think the Apple Watch project was fine, but that's way more in their core competency area than cars are. (Apple also has some other distractions like being involved with making some TV shows. Seems pretty minor but still kinda concerning because they ought to limit distractions until they get the Mac doing better.)

Some good things about Apple's situation:

  • there are no high quality competitors to the iPhone, iPad, iPod, Apple Watch or Mac for many, many use cases. (e.g. Macs have plenty of competition from linux for servers, but neither windows nor linux is of anywhere near comparable quality for general human computer use.)

  • Apple will have over a billion active, paying customers, who individually chose to be Apple customers, in the foreseeable future

  • Apple customers bring in lots of recurring revenue

  • the iOS Appstore is doing great. (the Mac appstore is neglected and not doing well.)

  • Apple has great branding, brand awareness. People have heard of Apple and know it means high quality. Apple products continue to live up to this reputation and achieve very high customer satisfaction survey results.

  • Apple is actually decent to contact about e.g. tech support.

  • Apple's physical stores continue to do great.

  • Apple basically doesn't actually have to innovate or grow in order to bring in a fuckton of money going forward (kinda like MS and Google have been very profitably coasting for ages). I'm not saying Apple is coasting – I don't think they are. I'm saying even if all their new stuff failed (e.g. whatever the car project is) and they just coasted, they'd still make a fuckton of money for a long time.


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)

New Videos for Sale

This post is adapted from my newsletter. Sign up for my newsletter! View past issues.

Everyone deals with ideas, whether they study Philosophy of Ideas or not. The question is whether they learn good methods, or pick stuff up from their culture and never think it through. I work on the problem of getting people interested in philosophy, but it's hard. People are busy, think they're already wise, think all philosophy is low quality, or aren't looking to be intellectuals. Paths Forward is one of my attempts to help.

Recently I've been working more with video. Many people dislike reading, and video lets you show information that's hard to capture in writing.

I made 23 free videos showing my writing process and 6 free presentation videos. Recording my writing was fun. It shows a raw, unedited look at philosophy writing (complete with pauses to read and think). That helps people who have misconceptions about how it works. For example, most viewers thought I go fast (I didn't always, but I've gradually sped up with experience). But one guy thought I was slow! He hadn't realized how much he was rushing his own reading and writing. That helped explain some mistakes he made and gave him insight into what to change.

I like screencasts so people can see more of what I'm doing by viewing my screen just as I see it. They can follow along as I scroll back to reread something, look something up on google, rewrite or delete something, etc. Whatever I do, they can see it. That helps avoid misunderstandings by showing details that are missing from general descriptions about writing and thinking.

I've also been working on edited videos. The best part about editing is making videos shorter. I'm less interested in doing a bunch of takes and edits to try to sound eloquent and charismatic, because I don't think that's useful to learning. I'm not trying to attract an audience that's impressed by something other than good ideas. (Besides, if you want really exact phrasing, then text is a better format.) But making shorter videos is great! And editing out mistakes is good too.

I just edited a video down to half length. And I barely cut anything out. Here's what I did:

  • I sped up the entire video to 130% speed. Most people are wasting lots of their lives by watching and listening to things at only 100% speed. They could easily handle a bit faster.
  • I sped up parts where I'm typing instead of talking to 350-500%.
  • I sped up parts where I'm reading or thinking to 500-1000%.
  • I sped up some little pauses in my speech to 350%.
  • I sped up longer sections by larger amounts so there'd be a shorter wait before I talk again.
  • I didn't want to edit sections out entirely. Just speeding them up lets you still see my entire process.

I know which parts to speed up by how much, and when to slow it back down. So it works better than speeding the video up yourself. You'll have to pause to read and think through everything. But pausing is easy and supported by every video player. I'd rather have a shorter video and let people pause sometimes than have everyone wait so some people can read more without pausing.

I've been working on talking more in videos. In the early videos I wrote like normal and made a few comments. I'm glad to have some videos in that style so people can experience it. But now I'm narrating more of what I do. I try to explain the background of discussions I comment on, walk people through how I read and interpret difficult passages, discuss writing decisions (like what to include or leave out), summarize my thinking on topics more often, and do my brainstorming out loud.

I've also been learning to use Screenflow, Final Cut Pro and Compressor. I got a mic and pop filter, and put a towel under my keyboard to quiet it down. I increased my mouse cursor size so it's easier to see in videos. It's fun learning to use new tools and optimize what I'm doing.

I've also enjoyed recording discussions with other philosophers. And I think they're helpful. People can see how to have a serious discussion that isn't bickering or talking past each other. They can get examples of how to ask questions and how to build on a point productively. And I think one of the best parts is seeing how to mix philosophy with regular life. These aren't just abstract discussions. We deal with practical issues from life and mix in philosophy concepts to address them better.

I've just released a new bundle of videos for sale: Behind The Scenes: Philosophy Writing. They cover a wide variety of topics (view what's included) and provide an edited view of my thinking and writing process. Choose the second tier to get a 3 hour Philosopher's Discussion too.

I'm also selling a new educational video: Reading Hard Passages – Examples from Capitalism: A Treatise on Economics. There's a lot of good books which are hard to read. I put a lot of work into writing in a simple way. But you can learn from difficult material, too, if you know how to figure it out. I've read lots of hard books and want to help others with it.


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)