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.)

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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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 hates 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.)

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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.

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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. (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.

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.

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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.

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Rejecting Gradations of Certainty

Mike S. asks:

How should we think about gradations of certainty in Critical Rationalist terms?


there are the following 3 situations regarding one single unambiguous problem. this is complete.

1) you have zero candidate solutions that aren't refuted by criticism.

gradations of certainty won't help. you need to brainstorm!

2) you have exactly one candidate solution which is not refuted by criticism.

tentatively accept it. gradations of certainty won't help anything.

(if you don't want to tentatively accept it – e.g. b/c you think it'd be better to brainstorm and criticize more – then that is a criticism of accepting it at this time.)

3) you have more than one candidate solution which is not refuted by criticism.

this is where gradations of certainty are mainly meant to help. but they don't for several reasons. here are 6 points, 3A-3F:

3A) you can convert this situation (3) into situation (1) via a criticism like one of these 2:

3A1) none of the ideas under consideration are good enough to address their rivals.

3A2) none of these ideas under consideration tell me what to do right now given the unsettled dispute between them.

(if no criticisms along those lines apply, then that would mean some of the ideas you have solve your problem. they tell you what to do or think given the various ideas and criticism. in which case, do/think that. it's situation (2).)

3B) when it comes to taking action in life, you can and should come up with a single idea about what to do, which you have no criticism of, given the various unresolved issues.

3C) if you aren't going to take any actions related to the issue, then there's no harm in leaving it unresolved for now and not knowing the answer. you don't have to rate gradations of certainty, you can just say there's several candidates and you haven't sorted it out yet. you would only need to rank them, or otherwise decide which to pursue, if you were going to take some action in relation to the truth of this matter (in which case see 3B)

3D) anything you could use to rank one idea ahead of another (in terms of more gradations of certainty, more justification, more whatever kind of score) either does or doesn't involve a criticism.

if it doesn't involve a criticism of any kind, then why/how does it provide a reason to rank one uncriticized reason above another one (or add to the score of one over another)?

if it does involve a criticism, then the criticism should be addressed. criticisms are explanations of problems. addressing it requires conceptual thinking such as counter-arguments, explanations of why it's not a problem after all in this context, explanations of how to improve the idea to also address this criticism, etc. either you can address the criticism or you can't. if you can't that's a big deal! criticisms you see no way to address are show stoppers.

one doesn't ever have to act on or believe an idea one knows an unanswered criticism of. and one shouldn't.

also to make criticism more precise, you want to look at it like first you have:

  • problem
  • context (background knowledge, etc)
  • idea proposed to solve that problem

then you criticize whether the idea solves the problem in the context. (i consider context implied as part of a problem, so i won't always mention it.)

if you have a reason the idea does not solve the problem, that's a show stopper. the idea doesn't work for what it's supposed to do. it doesn't solve the problem. if you don't have a criticism of the idea successfully solving the problem, then you don't have a criticism at all.

this differs from some loose ways to think about criticism which are often good enough. like you can point out a flaw, a thing you'd like to be better, without any particular problem in mind. then when you consider using the idea as a solution to some problem, in some context, you will find either the flaw does or doesn't prevent the idea from solving that problem.

in general, any flaw you point out ruins an idea as a solution to some problems and does not ruin it as a solution to some other problems.

3E) ranking or scoring anything using more than one variable is very problematic. it often means arbitrarily weighting the factors. this is a good article:

3F) suppose you have a big pile of ideas. and then you get a list of criticisms. (it could be pointing out some ideas contradict some evidence. or whatever else). then you go through and check which ideas are refuted by at least one criticism, and which aren't. this does nothing to rank ideas or give gradations. it only divides ideas into two categories – refuted and not refuted. all the ideas in the non-refuted category were refuted by NONE of the criticism, so they all have equal status.

i think what some people do is basically believe all their ideas are wrong, bad, refuted. and then they try to approach gradations of certainty by which ones are less wrong. e.g. one idea is refuted by 20 criticisms, and another idea is only refuted by 5 criticisms. so the one that's only refuted 5 times has a higher degree of certainty. this is a big mistake. we can do better. and also the way they count how much is one criticism (with or without weighing how much each criticism counts) is arbitrary and fruitless.

something they should consider instead is forming a meta idea: "Idea A is refuted in like a TON of ways and seems really bad and show-stopping to me b/c... Idea B has some known flaws but i think there's a good shot they won't ruin everything, in regards to this specific use case, b/c... And all the other ideas I know of are even worse than A b/c... So i will use idea B for this specific task."

then consider this meta idea: do you have a criticism of it, yes or no? if no, great, you've got a non-refuted idea to proceed with. if you do have a criticism of this meta idea, you better look at what it is and think about what to do about it.

for a lot more info, see this post:

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The Greek Achievement

anyone know some great books about ancient greece stuff?

i'm reading this and it's mediocre. 60 pages in.

The Greek Achievement: The Foundation of the Western World

author is kinda dumb

he doesn't know when he's making shit up vs. reporting facts very well

he doesn't know when to quote or reference other authors

he doesn't know what quotes or facts to include or not very well

he knows some stuff about greece. he knows what lots of scholars have written. he's summarizing lots of ideas. there's something good about that

i think he actually sorta likes multiple conflicting opinions at the same time

and there's something bad about that

but it helps him report more than just his personal biases

controversies can be interesting but i don't think he understands when to reject stuff as bad vs. consider it reasonable alternative possibility

he's bad at speculating about the motives of ancient social change and says some modern trendy lefty shit

that's one of the sadder things. he has travelled aroudn greece, spent his life studying it ... and doesn't recognize how much he's projecting modern notions on them

something that stood out was the white pillars like for parthenon are europoean invention

from like 1800s when revival of greece and finding its art was popular in europe

revival of greece the idea, not greece the country

he said the greeks painted stuff

and the euro recreations made it white

the parthenon ppl visit is really inaccurate in other ways

so the ottoman empire controlled the area

and built a mosque and a bunch of other buildings

and then greek independence and they tear that down and restore/rebuild some greek structures

and they left the area sparse with a few temples

and the original in ancient greece wasn't just a sparse tourist monument to look at, it was a functional part of life and there was stuff all over

1999 book. there's no ebook (lame for that recent!) so it's slow reading :/

this review has some good points in it

ppl who buy and read a book like that, and it's not for a school class, are a pretty promising group for someone who could be my audience. there are a lot of ppl like that (tens of thousands?) even tho it's not a big portion of the population.

i think they are mostly older ppl

not so many 20yos inclined to read that book. or others like it. or FoR as i read when i was 18. but still some.

school reading is one of the big blockers. puts ppl off reading and uses up their patience for reading scholarly works.

social life is another issue

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Let's Freewrite

Improving the world is hard. At least I've tried tons of stuff. You know a giant book series like The Wheel of Time? I've written way more than that about philosophy in lots of different styles and formats. I've tried tons of different approaches.

Most people won't try much. They aren't good enough to improve the world. You have to know a bunch of stuff before it makes sense to teach others. You need high quality knowledge, well above average, before you should put much effort into spreading it. People get stuck at the part where they need to learn good ideas themselves.

Some people in the TCS/FI community think they know stuff, but still don't do much. Doing they find doing stuff hard? What's hard about it? If you find it hard, there's problems there you don't know how to solve... Learn more!

People can be so passive. They can spend years and years not learning or doing much. It's sad. It makes the world kinda empty. Passivity leaves the memes in control, so all the passive people are kinda the same and sorta aren't really acting entities. They sorta are. They're still people. But it's iffy.

People don't communicate much. Maybe they think no one cares? Why not try anyway? The FI people do stuff. They play games, they date people, they do parenting activities, they make big career decisions, they go on diets, they hang out socially with friends, they watch movies, and so on. They just don't talk about it. They don't think it through or have questions or comments about their life, and they don't try to get criticism and advice to do it better. What the fuck?

I think they talk with their personal friends in private more. Everyone living in their tiny little world when the public internet is right here. But the public is scary because people like me will point out mistakes. Rather than try to improve their mistakes, they hide and live static lives. And they put a lot of their effort into pretending they are pretty rational people learning stuff and making progress and solving problems, rather than actually doing it. They pretend that being able to deal with public criticism is a really high standard, and actually they're doing quite well to the lower-but-high standard of their 5 buddies who think they're quite smart.

And people are so caught up with the standard stuff that fills your life:

  • childhood
  • school
  • career
  • dating
  • marriage
  • parenting/family
  • travel
  • socializing (IRL events and also Facebook, Instagram, etc)
  • food
  • exercise
  • getting a house and filling it with appropriate stuff
  • entertainment (TV shows, movies, watching sports, YouTube)
  • the news (there's a kinda standard set of stuff people follow like some politics, some crime, some economic issues, really inaccurate articles reporting on recent "scientific" claims)
  • sometimes some Activism for some Cause
  • sometimes reading (mostly fiction or popular shallow books)
  • retirement

And some of them tried to find good ideas for a bit when they were age 15-25 or so. And they found a lot of disappointment. They read a few books and blogs on philosophy, rationality, improving the world ... and found crap. (Some rejected the crap, others were fooled by it.) They tried talking with people about ideas and it wasn't productive. Some people blame others (sometimes mostly correctly, often very arrogantly) and some know they aren't that great themselves.

Lots of people made some effort to learn about critical thinking, philosophy, etc. And they found bad philosophies. They found Plato and Kant. Quite a few people still kinda liked it and kept trying even though it didn't help them with life. But then they start paying their mortgage and needing to get their car repaired and still get their kid to baseball practice and they can't take a day off work because they were sick for a whole week last month. And so they move on. They finished their education. They finished the phase of their life where they were actively pursuing new ideas (many people never do that, but quite a few do).

Schools really beat the curiosity out of people. Professors are so awful and really discourage anyone from trying to be a good thinker or know much, and point them in the wrong directions for where and what and how to learn.

People under 15 or so don't have much control over their lives and really need to avoid conflict with their parents. So it's hard to interact with them and share ideas. Around 15-30 is when people make some decisions of their own and kinda set up their life and coast from there. But they're already so fucked from 15 years of torture and indoctrination by their parents and teachers.

Lots of people assume someone else knows what they're doing or has it together. Children usually think adults do. Adults sure pretend to and put a lot of work into deceiving children. People aren't very inclined to think they are – or even could be – anyone special or important. That makes it hard to recruit for a community about being exceptional.

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What to Write About

i figure it'd be useful to write about how to learn cuz ppl suck at it (and i know about it and like the topic). including how to discuss. ppl suck at asking questions, conceptual thinking, using examples, replying at all, choosing topics, knowing when they understand something (they often think they're done learning something when they're still pretty much clueless) etc, etc

it takes ppl tons of effort to do a little bit of stuff (e.g. learning) badly cuz they use their effort badly.

but if i start with this ppl:

  • don't know how to learn it
  • don't care, aren't very interested, want to get on with "practical" life

even if they say they care and read it, they usually still don't put much effort/study into it to actually understand it. just superficially look it over.

if i write instead about something people care about – let's say, diet – then ppl don't learn the concepts i'm using. they don't learn to think for themselves, judge ideas well, or figure out the next issue. and they may disagree with me about diet for badly thought out reasons and then have no clue how to seek the truth.

lots of how people judge ideas – about diet or anything – is by whether other people say the author is good. (e.g. gave him a PhD or an award or some praise). i don't want to compete at that stupid approach.

solutions? best approach?

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What To Read

I'm trying to decide what to read.

open to a wide variety.

i just read a book about a navy seal who went on the kill bin laden mission.

i read all The Expanse books (sci fi) recently and before that i read some fantasy. i'm getting pickier about fantasy.

i generally dislike books about "regular people", especially living today or in the somewhat recent past. especially if they are losers or don't do much. i don't like unhappy people.

i prefer books where people do big or notable things (even if the character is e.g. a thief).

i like reading about the important parts of history.

science stuff is good if the book is actually good. but i find it usually has some really bad arguments or explanations. so either i think it's wrong or i don't find it very helpful for learning anything.

philosophy is good if there is a purpose to reading it. i don't like reading bad thinkers for no particular reason just because they are famous (e.g. locke, hume, kant, plato, artistotle, mill, marx, hegel).

i like spies and military stuff but don't know which books are good. might try more kinda randomly.

i read modern politics books but i generally don't like it when the ideas are bad. i read Flynn's book (The Field of Fight: How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and Its Allies) the other day. it was ok. not that great. he did a pretty good job of being right (by saying stuff he knows and not overreaching). but it was a bit superficial and short, i felt i didn't learn that much due to the lack of detail arguments.

i could read more economics stuff (like ricardo, menger, adam smith, or some of the new austrians alive today) but i don't have in mind a clear purpose of what to do with the info and i don't really expect to learn many good ideas/args i don't already know.

i can read bad thinkers and write criticism but what for? no one's listening. i don't learn a lot from it. sometimes i get interested in some instance e.g. when it comes up in a discussion.

one purpose to reading bad thinkers is to try to understand people's confusions. except who actually read locke or kant or plato or whatever? and even if they did, is that REALLY where they are getting their ideas? nah, at least not directly. even if someone basically believes stuff Plato advocated, and read some Plato, they usually will be totally lost if you criticize Plato. even fans of Plato mostly don't know enough about his writing to follow criticism of it, let alone learn something important and change their minds.

i liked reading some stuff about the people who built the railroads and oil companies and the "robber barrons". and some stuff about steve jobs. maybe there's more good stuff like that. i don't know what to search for though. i have low opinions of a lot of the modern famous/rich businessmen. i'm not gonna read a book about Gates or Musk. fuck them.

i liked reading some books about the history of dungeons and dragons, war games, etc. there's a really long detailed one full of scholarship. i think i got the idea though.

i generally don't like reading about psychology, persuasion, rhetoric, etc, b/c it's confused crap. same with parenting or relationships. it's hard to find worthwhile books on a lot of the topics i write about.

sometimes i read anthology or collection type books. like you get fiction books with a different authory for each short story. or non-fiction with a different author for each chapter. it's good for sampling a variety and then you can try more stuff by authors you like. i've found some fiction i liked that way. for the non-fiction i often find it all sucks.

taking suggestions.

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Two Stories About Changing Emotions

People think changing emotions is really hard and limited. They have a bad perspective. These two stories help:

In the UK they drive on the left side of the road, in America on the right side. Alastair (who's British) was visiting America and traveling around by car. This quite a while back before smartphones, GPS, computer maps, etc. Signage was a lot worse. Driving was newer and the rules of the road were much less well known.

Alastair was driving on a small road out in the countryside with no one around. Suddenly another car comes along, around a bend. It's coming right at Alastair! He slams on his breaks. The other guy slams on his breaks. They stop just short of each other.

Alastair gets out of his car and starts yelling. "What the hell are you doing? Get on the left!"

Alastair is mad as hell. He's really steaming. This fool came pretty close to killing him. Alastair's seeing red. He's considering punching the guy.

The stranger gets out of his car. He's mad too, and yelling. He shouts, "The right! Drive on the right!"

And all of a sudden, Alastair wasn't mad anymore. He saw he was in the wrong.

The moment Alastair recognized intellectually that he was mistaken, his anger disappeared. Instantly he felt sorry and started apologizing.

Fortunately, once Alastair admitted he was in the wrong instead of yelling, the other guy didn't feel threatened anymore and relaxed a little bit. When Alastair explained he was from Britain, and they drive differently there, the stranger saw what happened and his anger faded too.

The lesson is that very strong emotions can change in an instant to match your intellectual view on what happened. E.g. if you're mad about someone's mistake, but you realize (with total clarity) that you were the one who made a mistake, then it's common to immediately stop being angry. And it's common to completely stop being angry with no lingering anger and no effort to suppress any anger.

This is not guaranteed. Some people would stay angry. But a lot wouldn't. It's completely achievable to dramatically change emotions like this in accordance with reason.

The second story comes from William Godwin:

let us suppose a man to be engaged in the progressive voluptuousness of the most sensual scene. Here, if ever, we may expect sensation to be triumphant. Passion is in this case in its full career. He impatiently shuts out every consideration that may disturb his enjoyment; moral views and dissuasives can no longer obtrude themselves into his mind; he resigns himself, without power of resistance, to his predominant idea. Alas, in this situation, nothing is so easy as to extinguish his sensuality! Tell him at this moment that his father is dead, that he has lost or gained a considerable sum of money, or even that his favourite horse is stolen from the meadow, and his whole passion shall be instantly annihilated: so vast is the power which a mere proposition possesses over the mind of man. So conscious are we of the precariousness of the fascination of the senses that upon such occasions we provide against the slightest interruption.

In other words, in the heights of sexual lust, people will forget all about sex if you tell them their father died, tell them they gained or lost a lot of money, or tell them their horse was stolen. People are so familiar with the fragility of sexual emotions that they take steps to avoid interruptions.

Read the whole chapter, The Voluntary Actions Of Men Originate In Their Opinions. Actually read the whole book, Enquiry Concerning Political Justice And Its Influence On Morals And Happiness. Godwin was one of the all time greatest thinkers. Not for his time (1756-1836), but period.

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Forget The Trump Tape

There's a new tape out. Trump said some rude stuff about women in the past. Trump has issued a great apology.

The left is attacking Trump. The media is attacking Trump. And a variety of Republicans are attacking Trump too:

Mitt Romney tweeted:

Hitting on married women? Condoning assault? Such vile degradations demean our wives and daughters and corrupt America's face to the world.

My reply: Why aren't you this mad about the much worse things the Clintons have done?

Ted Cruz tweeted:

These comments are disturbing and inappropriate, there is simply no excuse for them.

My replies:

1) Hillary's said much worse in public. Can we hear more about that? You don't have to attack a Republican every time the media is really mad.

2) Do you find #TrumpTape surprising? If so you're dumb. If you already knew he was like this then nothing's changed, so focus on immigration

Jeb Bush tweeted:

As the grandfather of two precious girls, I find that no apology can excuse away Donald Trump's reprehensible comments degrading women.

My reply: Why don't you attack Bill Clinton's reprehensible, sexist actions and Hillary's reprehensible comments about them?

David Horowitz's reply to Bush:

What an asshole. And there are many out tonight. This is a guy who will put his arm around Bill Clinton who actually raped & groped women.

Can we please try to win the election instead of sucking up to the outraged media? Hillary will do her best to destroy the country. Trump will do his best to Make America Great Again!

If Hillary is elected it'll materially increase the chance of civilization being destroyed (we're at war and Obama has been trying to lose, a policy Hillary will continue). And it'll mean tens of thousands more die in the war even if we win.

As just one of the issues that matter: Hillary will continue the Obama policy of helping Iran acquire money and weapons (including nuclear weapons and missles that can hit the US). Iran is the leading state sponsor of terrorism, wants to destroy the West, and has been actively taking steps to harm the West (including killing lots of people) for decades. And, by the way, a lot of women will be treated very badly when Hillary enables radical Islam to conquer and hold more territory.

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