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Morality

I was just considering posting some jokes as an entry. Many of the jokes I like are, to some people, offensive. Blonde jokes, dead baby jokes, religious jokes, racist jokes -- these don't go over well with everyone. And I want readers, lots of readers. So, unsurprisingly, it occurred to me that posting the jokes might be a bad idea. Of course, if I don't post anything that might be offensive, I'll never post anything interesting. So what should I do?

There is a moral principle that tells us, if we imagine some stone-age people, who want a society with lots of washing machines, their best bet is not to campaign for them, and try to invent them, but rather to become capitalists and try to act morally. Similarly, the Arab world, if it focussed more on acting morally than acquiring weapons, would have more weapons than it does (just like the US has lots). Of course, in that case, the Arab world also would not want to use them to kill civilians... Also similarly, if one wants to be happy, one should not focus on trying to become happy directly, but should try to act morally, and happiness will come as a side effect.

If I want readers, I should not focus on how to get readers, but rather on creating a good blog, which means writing what I want and like.

Even if we imagine in the limit cases with perfect foresight and calculation, a focus on morality would still be superior to a focus on readers. Either, they would be the same, or the readers approach would result in more readers ... at the cost of acting badly, and I certainly don't want readers that much.

As to jokes, as I'm ambivalent about posting them, I won't for now, but may later.

Elliot Temple on February 6, 2003

Comments (20)

> I was just considering posting some jokes as an entry. Many of the jokes I like are, to some people, offensive. Blonde jokes, dead baby jokes, religious jokes, racist jokes -- these don't go over well with everyone. And I want readers, lots of readers.

what kind of readers do you want? i think what you said is vague.

i imagine that you don't care to keep bad people.

and i think only bad people would stop reading your blog because you wrote a joke of the kind you mentioned.

actually i think getting offended, in and of itself, is something pretty bad. like why be offended? why not give criticism instead?

why would you want to keep people that get offended?

why not do what happens to offend them and give them an opportunity to change (from easily-offended to less so and not at all).


> As to jokes, as I'm ambivalent about posting them, I won't for now, but may later.

what was your doubt?

Anonymous at 2:36 PM on January 28, 2016 | #4723
why do you like horrible jokes?

Anonymous at 3:00 PM on January 28, 2016 | #4724
there is some value in contradicting Political Correctness, taboos, authority.

Anonymous at 3:25 PM on January 28, 2016 | #4728
there is some value in free speech! and in taking things to extremes, pushing limits, etc

Anonymous at 3:25 PM on January 28, 2016 | #4729
> there is some value

what is the value? you didn't argue it. you just asserted a belief you have.

Anonymous at 10:36 PM on January 29, 2016 | #4741
which of those things do you agree and disagree with? can you give any indication of where you're coming from?

my blog gives some indication of where i'm coming from.

curi at 10:58 PM on January 29, 2016 | #4742
> why would you want to keep people that get offended?
>
> why not do what happens to offend them and give them an opportunity to change (from easily-offended to less so and not at all).

i agree. this is a very old post.

curi at 12:45 PM on January 30, 2016 | #4745
> which of those things do you agree and disagree with? can you give any indication of where you're coming from?
>
> my blog gives some indication of where i'm coming from.

interesting. you're cleverly evading answering the question.

Anonymous at 1:58 AM on January 31, 2016 | #4751
curi:
> there is some value in free speech! and in taking things to extremes, pushing limits, etc

anon:
> what is the value? you didn't argue it. you just asserted a belief you have.

curi:
> which of those things do you agree and disagree with? can you give any indication of where you're coming from?
>
> my blog gives some indication of where i'm coming from.

anon:
> interesting. you're cleverly evading answering the question.

i don't think this Anon knows what evasion is or how to recognize it.

curi asked questions about the question he was presented with. i'm guessing that he thinks that the answers to his questions are useful in forming an answer to the question he was presented with.

Anonymous at 6:34 AM on January 31, 2016 | #4752
seems like that Anon thinks that *any* case of someone replying to a question with questions is a case of evasion.

Anonymous at 6:37 AM on January 31, 2016 | #4753
> seems like that Anon thinks that *any* case of someone replying to a question with questions is a case of evasion.

i think you're assuming he's principled and that he's making his comments from a place of having some kinda principled general theory.

"interesting" is hostile sarcasm. this guy doesn't like Elliot. you can't tell what he thinks in a general way from this.

Anonymous at 8:59 AM on January 31, 2016 | #4754
>> seems like that Anon thinks that *any* case of someone replying to a question with questions is a case of evasion.

> i think you're assuming he's principled and that he's making his comments from a place of having some kinda principled general theory.
>
> "interesting" is hostile sarcasm. this guy doesn't like Elliot. you can't tell what he thinks in a general way from this.

hmm. so, what should i learn from this?

i should have recognized that starting with "interesting" indicated hostile sarcasm.

i should have treated the rest of what he said after the hostile sarcasm with the understanding that he's not truth-seeking, so it'd be a bad idea to try to figure out what he thinks from the non-truth-seeking comment.

Anonymous at 9:49 AM on January 31, 2016 | #4756
more generally, **most people are quite different from you**. maybe you're overly inclined to expect them to have some similar thought processes (e.g. have and use general theories like you try to).

Anonymous at 9:51 AM on January 31, 2016 | #4757
> more generally, **most people are quite different from you**. maybe you're overly inclined to expect them to have some similar thought processes (e.g. have and use general theories like you try to).

hmm, similar to when i was using math in my emails and it was explained to me that maybe 5% of people would follow what i'm doing, where i was kinda treating it like all or most of them would.

so, one lesson is, just because i'm using certain methods (e.g. have and use general theories), doesn't mean that everybody else has figured that out.

Anonymous at 2:00 PM on January 31, 2016 | #4758
> interesting. you're cleverly evading answering the question.

i wonder how this commentator came to the conclusion that curi was evading. like what was his reasoning?

my guess is that he didn't have any reasoning. and if he writes any reasoning now, it'll be something he invented *after* being asked for his reasoning.

Anonymous at 2:05 PM on January 31, 2016 | #4759
i wasn't being sarcastic. i found it genuinely interesting.

the reasoning that i think he is evading, is that he didn't answer the question but with a vague "my blog gives some indication" and then attempted to manipulate the conversation by asking questions so he could remain in control of the outcome. so he could keep it predictable.

by saying "my blog gives some indication" i think he is implying that a person who is not a regular reader and doesn't already know why he likes these ideas is not worth discussing with.

i think his reply was a useful strategy to use with enemies, but not for truth seeking, not for learning.

why didn't elliot just answer the question?

he seems to be protecting his ideas. if he is not doing this, what is he doing?

why is telling horrible jokes a good idea? why is there value in free speech, taking things to extremes, pushing limits? it remains unanswered. he likes these ideas, but why?

why does it matter if you like a person or not? as truth seeking is concerned, should it matter?

Anonymous at 2:01 AM on February 2, 2016 | #4778
out of context questions do not work well. vague questions do not work well.

i could pick a random meaning for your question and answer that. it wouldn't answer the question in your head – which you haven't communicated, even when asked to elaborate about it – but i would be able to say "well, literally, that was an answer to your question as written". that wouldn't help either of us.

i have written many things about this in public. i don't know which of those you want, or if you want something different. you aren't communicating about what problem you have. you have to communicate to get relevant answers and also to provide any value to the other person you're talking with.

my public writing provides paths forward on this issue. you are blocking paths forward.

curi at 5:26 AM on February 2, 2016 | #4779
> my public writing provides paths forward on this issue. you are blocking paths forward.

the person blocking paths forward is the one evading.

Anonymous at 9:41 AM on February 3, 2016 | #4807
you are blocking paths forward by coming up with reasons for not answering a simple question. it was not a vague question, it was quite straightforward. why do you value this thing you value?

and you rather fight answering the question with arguments of why you don't answer it than answer it.

you seem to want punish me because i didn't read your blog throughout to find the answer. you are more concerned who is a faithful reader.

Anonymous at 5:23 PM on February 3, 2016 | #4818
just because you believe a question is clear and complete does not mean it is. there are a million possible answers to your question (about what's good about free speech) and you aren't giving any information about which one you want.

put another way: there are a million different misconceptions you might have which is *why* you don't understand the value of free speech. and you could have any combination of them. when you give zero information about what the problem is, where you're coming from, what you don't get, then i don't know what to tell you.

the thing you're disagreeing with is common knowledge. so it'd make sense if you said why you disagree with the standard opinion instead of asking me to repeat arguments I'm sure you've already heard against unspecified opposition.

your ignorance of problems with your question, combined with your refusal to discuss the matter, is what's blocking the discussion.

we have a disagreement about how discussion works, and you want me to go ahead with your approach anyway, and are not open to discussing the disagreement. that makes no sense.

curi at 5:59 PM on February 3, 2016 | #4825

What do you think?

(This is a free speech zone!)