Excellence Takes Effort

Someone posted this to FI list today:
pretty sure being great at playing games comes naturally for elliot
You're totally wrong about me.

Studying hundreds of chess diagrams is not natural talent.

http://www.amazon.com/Combination-Challenge-Lou-Hays/dp/188067386X

See the cover picture? The entire book is filled with diagrams like those, each one a puzzle to solve. And that's it. No badges, no congratulations, no praise, no funny stories, no fluff, just diagram after diagram after diagram. You do one. Then you do another. And, eventually, you turn the page. And after you study hundreds of them, you get faster at it and you find more similar stuff in your own games. Chess skills like looking ahead and visualizing positions are a skill you develop.

Reading books and taking tons of lessons is not natural talent.

Going over your games with others to find mistakes and get tips is not automatic. It doesn't just happen. It's not natural.

These are the kinds of things I did large amounts of, intentionally, to improve at chess. For years and years.

(The people who fail at FI and give up and leave usually never put in 1% the work I put into chess. Literally. And FI is harder than chess.)

I've been bad at a wide variety of other games, too. All of them...

I did not start out good at RPGs. I worked at it. I read tons of guides, forum discussion, etc. I watched video of how others play. I thought about how to do better. I practiced. I took action to improve over the course of well over 10 years.

I was not a natural at Hearthstone. First I played Magic the Gathering. I started out terrible. I read tons about it, looked into how pros played, practiced, etc. I got OK, not that good. That laid some groundwork for Hearthstone which is a similar kind of game. Regardless, I started out bad at Hearthstone. When I was trying to be good at Hearthstone, I put lots of time and effort into it. And not just messing around and playing naturally. I studied stuff. I did math. I recruited good players to collaborate with. I wrote articles with my ideas. I tested strategies in a methodical way. I tried to figure out what skills and knowledge I needed to win and focussed on getting that. Rather than playing whatever I found most natural to my personal style (typically mages across many games, and typically somewhat defensive longterm play), I played whatever I thought was good and would help me do well (like a lot of aggressive Warlock). I make an effort not to have a personal style when it matters. Play to win. Learn to be flexible and learn how to play every style. This isn't automatic but it's doable.

I was not a natural at Duet or Infinity Blade. I practiced the dexterity. I am no natural at Super Smash Brothers Melee. That takes a learning process: http://curi.us/1715-ssbm-training-1-marths-sh-double-fair

Do you think I'm a natural at Exile? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z0m3De1fQzc That speed run involved rather non-natural steps such as downloading and reading source code in C, and finding info from dead forums with archive.org.

It's always like that – being good takes intentional effort applied strategically. And after you get good at dozens of things, yes you can learn faster. There's some carryover. You can re-use some skills from some previous games on a new game. And you can re-use the methods of learning themselves on new games.

And it's not just new games that require learning. McIntyre, a top Heroes of the Storm players, struggled with Greymane, a new hero. He was already good at the game but had to put in a bunch of thought and practice to figure out how to play Greymane well. And it wasn't love at first sight. His initial impression of Greymane was negative.

There's a common misconception among bad players that games are easy for good players, that good players have (natural) "talent", etc. And there is a common belief by many good players that it didn't come automatically to them at all, they sucked at first and put in tons of work. The good players frequently actually remember sucking and struggling to get better. They're right.

It is possible to practice wrong. Some people put a lot of time into something and still suck. You can spend time on a game without learning much. But no one gets really good without working at it. Effort is necessary but not sufficient. It takes rationally-directed effort to get good. LOTS of it. Tons of bad players just massively underestimate how much effort being good is, and kinda give up early and don't really play to win and learn even if they do keep playing. And tons of people think if they play a lot they will get good automatically, whereas good players often did some more organized forms of practice and did more thinking about the game instead of just playing. And people who get good more often make spreadsheets, do math, do in-game experiments to test things, etc, etc. Top players usually put effort into learning the game, rather than just playing a bunch and hoping they'll naturally get better somehow.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (34)

Starting Fights

lots of people think "i don't start fights, but i do fight back".

but there are lots of fights between people who BOTH think like that. so who started it? a misunderstanding started the fight, then someone started fighting "back" in response to a misunderstanding.

the "fight back" type people FREQUENTLY end up being the first one to be mean and fighty. cuz they routinely think the other guy already started a fight, when he hadn't. so they end up initiating pretty often, sorta by accident, but they deserve a lot of blame here.

people also misunderstand how severe an attack was. like it could be someone really was attacking you, but only weakly, and you misunderstand it as strongly. the misunderstandings can be about degree of attacking, not just whether or not they were attacking.

if you wanna be a better, nicer person, you gotta at least REALLY check for misunderstandings and make sure things are REALLY REALLY EXTRA SUPER CLEAR before you think someone is attacking you and fight back.

also, even if you were correct that someone is attacking you, it's often best not to fight back anyway. lots of attacks can be ignored, like if someone insults you what are you going to gain by fighting back? it'd usually be better to drop the matter.

note i'm not talking about like a guy coming at you with a knife. if he's shooting a gun at you, go ahead and fight back!

but if you think someone insults you, then it could easily be a misunderstanding. same with mean jokes, social slights & snubbing, voice tones, facial expressions, and "unconstructive" criticism. this stuff is more subtle and much easier to misunderstand than physical violence.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (6)

Reddit Censorship

I tried to participate in a reddit AMA ("ask me anything") for Ann Coulter. I was immediately banned:



That's everything I said. Then:



A few minutes later the moderators changed their mind and made it a permanent ban because, apparently, I'm a "moron". (I had said nothing further.) What's moronic about doing fact checking and research regarding Ann's writing? I found a clear error in Adios America which should be fixed. Instead I get banned:


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (10)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (29)

H1B Visas

H1B visas allow immigrants for filling high tech jobs. They're getting attention currently from anti-immigration presidential candidates like Ted Cruz and Donald Trump.

Some right wing people like the idea of H1B visas, contrary to the Republican presidential candidates. H1B visas sound compatible with the free market. What's wrong with educated immigrants coming here to work? Isn't that part of free trade? Doesn't capitalism mean competing in a global marketplace?

A fired Disney employee gave emotional testimony about the H1B program recently. He said Disney workers were forced to train foreigners to replace them at their jobs with threats of withholding their severance pay if they didn't do it. And they were lied to about the availability of other Disney jobs to transfer to.

A lot of people are upset. Some libertarians don't care. They say, "Too bad, anyone should be able to be fired for no reason at any time".


I looked at how H1B visas work. To bring in foreign workers, you have to agree to pay them market wages and you aren't allowed to displace American workers from their jobs.

Disney brought in foreign labor as a cost cutting measure. They wanted to fire Americans and pay the new workers less money. This is a blatant abuse of the H1B program. Whatever you think immigration policy should be, it's bad when companies break the law.

The H1B visa program is only meant to bring in workers for tech jobs that a company couldn't find an American to do. The point is not to get cheaper labor, it's to get labor at all when there's a shortage. Disney is abusing the spirit of the program and violating the clearly written terms of how this law works.


None of this is ambiguous. Let me show you some of the conditions involved with bringing in H1B workers:

Labor Condition Application for Nonimmigrant Workers ETA Form 9035 & 9035E

Wages: Pay nonimmigrants at least the local prevailing wage or the employer’s actual wage, whichever is higher, and pay for non-productive time. Offer nonimmigrants benefits on the same basis as offered to U.S. workers.

Displacement: Non-displacement of the U.S. workers in the employer’s workforce
Secondary Displacement: Non-displacement of U.S. workers in another employer’s workforce

Recruitment and Hiring: Recruitment of U.S. workers and hiring of U.S. workers applicant(s) who are equally or better qualified

If you want more of the fine print, look here.


Finally, I want to explain, from a free market capitalist perspective, why the H1B visa program is crony capitalism, not free market competition.

Capitalists might think, "if the foreigners will work for lower wages, that's a good thing and they should be hired".

But, workers who come here with the H1B program can't really change jobs. They are stuck with the company sponsoring their H1B visa. So they don't get to freely compete on the market, and therefore they get underpaid.

US citizenship has value. The H1B program lets some government-favored companies hand out valuable US citizenships – which the company is given for free – and then pocket that value in lower wages paid to the immigrants. And that's in addition to the lower wages they can pay to people for the several years where firing them would mean they get deported.

American workers cannot compete on wages with workers who are underpaid because they can't change jobs, and who take lower pay in return for immigrating. That isn't an ideal of capitalism, it's government distorting market wages. And it's a way for companies with friends in the government to get ahead – crony capitalism.


Edit: My mistake: H1B is a temporary work permit. It can last for 3-10 years but they don't get citizenship. Consequently it's called a non-immigrant visa. Thanks Justin.

This doesn't substantially change any of my arguments. A permit for staying in the US has value, just as handing out a citizenship would. And with the H4 visa, they can bring in their wife and kids, who may be able to work or go to school in the US too, while the H1B visa lasts.

H1B workers still have less job mobility than domestic workers.

And people here on an H1B visa are allowed to seek a green card and try to stay permanently. It can be a step which helps them immigrate. Wikipedia says:

Even though the H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa, it is one of the few visa categories recognized as dual intent, meaning an H-1B holder can have legal immigration intent (apply for and obtain the green card) while still a holder of the visa. In the past the employment-based green card process used to take only a few years, less than the duration of the H-1B visa itself. However, in recent times the legal employment-based immigration process has backlogged and retrogressed to the extent that it now takes many years for guest-work visa holders from certain countries to obtain green cards. Since the duration of the H-1B visa hasn't changed, this has meant that many more H-1B visa holders must renew their visas in one or three-year increments for continued legal status while their green card application is in process.


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (3)

Having Reasons

People on FI were discussing having reasons for things and saying it was justificationist and you should only worry about whether there is a negative problem with something, not a positive reason for something.

If someone asks why you're doing something, that isn't bad. It's good to have some concept of what you're doing, and why. What problem are you trying to solve and how will this solve it?

If you can't answer – if you can't say any reasons for what you're doing – prima facie there is a criticism there. Why don't you know in words what's going on? Why are you choosing to do it?

This is not unanswerable. But you should have an answer. If you can't say any reasons for what you're doing and you also don't have an answer to why you're doing it anyway (to address the kinda default well known criticism that knowing what problem you're trying to solve and how this will solve it is generally a pretty good idea), then that's bad. You should either have a reason you can say, or a reason to do it without a reason you can say.

If you can't say a reason to do it without a reason which you can say, what about a reason for doing it without that? Whatever you don't have, you could have a reason for doing it despite not having that.

The point is, you ought to be able to say something of some sort. If you can't, there is a criticism – that you have no idea what you're doing. (If you can argue against that – if you do have some idea what you're doing – then you could have said that info in the first place when questioned.)

I'm not convinced the quotes are substantively justificationist. And I'm really not convinced by like, "Don't ask reasons for doing stuff, only point out criticisms." Doing stuff for no reason is a criticism. In general people ought to do stuff to solve problems, and have some concept of how doing this will solve a problem they want to solve. If they aren't doing that, that isn't necessarily bad but they should have some idea of why it makes sense to do something else in this case.

You can't even criticize stuff in the usual way if you don't know what their goal is. You normally criticize stuff by whether it solves the problem it's aiming to. But if you don't know what they are aiming for, then you can't criticize in the normal way of pointing out a difference between the results you think they'll get and the results they are aiming for.

And if they can tell you a goal, or a problem they want to solve, then they do have a reason for doing it. They are doing it to accomplish that goal / solve that problem.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (4)

Automizing

Objectivism discusses automizing the use of your ideas. For example, you automized walking. You can walk without consciously thinking about it. Walking works automatically. Walking is actually pretty complex and involves moving multiple muscles and balancing, but you can do all that automatically. Pretty cool!

Some people think automizing sounds mindless and are wary of it. What if I automate how I handle a situation and then I keep doing the same actions over and over without thinking? How do you automatize anything without losing control over your life?

Let's step back. There's a simple concept here. You do some stuff and the first time it takes time, effort, attention, work. But if you do it often, you learn how to do it easier. This frees up effort for other stuff. Learning better ways to do things, that consume less resources, isn't bad. That isn't losing control over your life.

You need to make good choices about what to use when. If you have a method of doing something without thinking about it consciously, that's a good tool. You can still choose when to use this method, or not. If you know how to clean your house without thinking about it (letting you focus on listening to audiobooks), that doesn't make you clean your house. You still get to control your life and choose if and when to clean.

People's methods of doing something – automatic or not – can be used as building blocks. You use the walking method while doing cleaning. The cleaning method involves doing multiple simpler methods together. (If you're a programmer, think of these as functions. You can build a cleaning function out of a walking function, a looking around function, an identifying dirt from visual data function, and so on. You would not want to write a cleaning function only in terms of basic actions like moving individual muscles.)

People build up many layers of complexity. They automate things like a life schedule, and routine cleaning, and routine cooking and eating for mealtimes, and so on. Those automizations threaten their control over their life. They get so set in their ways, they have trouble choosing whether to keep doing that. The problem here isn't automization itself. It's having a bland repetitive life and basically habitually not thinking. That's a totally different sort of thing than creating building block methods – like walking, or cleaning – to use in your life or in other methods. And figuring out how to do them better, faster, easier.


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (2)

Pragmatism

A lot of pragmatism is because people lose arguments but still disagree. They don't know how to deny the truth of an idea, but they still don't want to do it.

There is a gap between the knowledge they live by and the knowledge they use in debates. The knowledge applied to debates is what they call ivory tower abstractions, and the knowledge applied to life they call pragmatic.

This gap is a very very bad thing.

This separation results in lots of bad intellectual ideas that contradict reality. And lots of bad life choices that contradict principles and logic, e.g. by being superstitious.

Being able to speak intelligently about your life knowledge allows for getting advice and learning from criticism. Being able to apply abstract knowledge to life allows for using the scientific method, free trade, or successfully finding a book in a Dewey Decimal organized library.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (7)

Watching The World Burn

While watching men burn the world, sometimes i wonder why they do that and if there's some way to persuade them to change. I wrote a dialog about it:

curi: doesn't that hurt?
Mark: what?
curi: the fire
Mark: what fire?
curi: you're burning off your legs
Mark: no i'm not
curi: you can't walk anymore
Mark: sure i can
curi: then walk 10 feet, show me
Mark: later, i'm tired
curi: [astonished] you lie so much!
Mark: why are you so mean and critical and negative?
curi: such a better life is possible. you could walk and produce instead of putting all your effort into destroying yourself and your children
Mark: i'm happy, my life is pretty great, go bother someone else
curi: you burned off your legs!
Mark: so what? it's a sexy new look
curi: that's not a pretty great life. that's not happiness
Mark: i think i know more about my feelings than you do
curi: can i help? would you like some medicine?
Mark: no
curi: why not?
Mark: i have my own vision and goals. go live your own life and stop trying to control me. and what do you have against fire or pain anyway? my kids LOVE them, which proves how rational fire and pain are, since kids are born without all the hangups adults like you have.
curi: would you be willing to read a book and reconsider?
Mark: [doesn't reply]

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (5)

Ann Coulter's Bad Scholarship

Ann Coulter tweeted:

Professor whose statistical model predicted every election since 1912: Odds Of President Trump Range Btwn 97% & 99%-http://bit.ly/1p63RMW

After my previous positive reviews of her book scholarship, I wanted to highlight how atrocious this is. Let's look over the article:

Political Science Professor: Odds Of President Trump Range BETWEEN 97% AND 99%

The model has been correct for every election since 1912 except for the 1960 election

Ann said "every election". Did she even read the article? What a travesty.

Specifically, Norpoth predicts that Trump has a 97 percent chance of beating Hillary Clinton and a 99 percent chance of beating Bernie Sanders.

The predictions assume Trump will actually become the 2016 presidential nominee of the Republican Party.

So it doesn't predict either primary. It only predicts Trump is 97-99% to become president if you throw in the big assumption that he's literally 100% likely to win the Republican primary.

So that's two major factual errors in Ann's tweet.

Besides getting the basic facts wrong, twice, there's also the issue that the article and prediction model are utter crap.

“When I started out with this kind of display a few months ago, I thought it was sort of a joke,” the professor told the alumni audience

You know what would have been impressive? If the prediction model was published in 1911.

Instead it was worked out a few months ago and has never actually predicted anything? It's really easy to "predict" past data. It's called back-fitting and it's well known. Making a formula to fit past data is completely different than making successful predictions about the future.

(That it was back-fitting, not prediction, was predictable to me before I even clicked the article. Ann should have known better even if she literally didn't read a single word of the article.)

Norpoth, a 1974 University of Michigan Ph.D. recipient who specializes in electoral behavior alignment, said his crystal ball also shows a 61-percent chance that the Republican nominee — Trump or not — will win the 2016 presidential election.

Wait what? This is pretty incoherent. These numbers do not make sense. For this math to add up – around 98% chance for Trump to win if he's the nominee, and 61% chance for any Republican to win – requires Trump to have only around a 60% chance to be the nominee (if the other Republican candidates are somehow all around 0% likely to win the general election) or less.

I also checked out the Daily Caller's source:

Political science professor forecasts Trump as general election winner

“You think ‘This is crazy. How can anything come up with something like that?’ ” Norpoth said “But that’s exactly the kind of equation I used to predict Bill Clinton winning in ‘96, that I used to predict that George Bush would win in 2004, and, as you remember four years ago, that Obama would win in 2012.”

Note the wording, "the kind of equation". So he made up a new equation just now. He's made up other equations in the past. He keeps changing them each time, rather than re-using an equation that's ever predicted anything.

In contrast, Norpoth forecasted that a hypothetical presidential race with Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio on the Republican ticket would be a much closer race. The results showed Clinton with a 55 percent chance of winning the race against Cruz or Rubio with a 0.3 percent lead in the popular vote.

So Trump needs to have a very low chance to win the GOP primary for the math to work out. Meanwhile the prediction model saying he'll win the general election is based on him doing so well in the primaries! This is all a bunch of contradictory nonsense.


And Ann Coulter is promoting this utter nonsense on Twitter while making factual errors. This fits her recent pattern of saying anything – even stupid and dishonest things – that are on Trump's side. :(


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (2)

Popper and Brainstorming

I got a Critical Rationalism (CR, aka Popperian Epistemology) question today about how conjecturing/brainstorming/guessing works. I'd already given an initial answer that people already know how to brainstorm, so what's the problem? But there was further concern about a missing piece in CR.

I've seen questions like this before. They involve a misunderstanding of epistemology. People are looking for theory of epistemology to be a standalone complete framework, rather than a collection of useful knowledge.

CR takes human knowledge and adds and subtracts some things. It does not replace all existing knowledge from the ground up.

This is really important. I've seen a lot of questions about CR and *stuff people already know how to do*. And questions about CR not being totally complete instructions for every detail of how to do things.

It's not supposed to replace your life. It's supposed to augment your life.

CR doesn't teach you how to type. You already know how to type. But not perfectly. No one here is a perfect typist. And I'll bet some people here actually make frequent typing errors, press some keys with the wrong fingers, need to look at their keyboard sometimes while typing, etc

Nevertheless, CR leaves your typing skill alone. It doesn't offer a new and better way to type. Your typing may be imperfect, but CR isn't trying to help with it and make it better. (At least not in any direct way. Indirectly CR helps with everything.)

You already know English. Your grasp of English has various flaws. Nevertheless, CR largely leaves it alone. CR does not try to replace your knowledge of English with a better understanding.

CR builds on top of pre-existing flawed knowledge you have – like typing and English.

In the case of English, CR does give a few tips, changes, and improvements. E.g. CR offers some clarifications on the meanings of "science", "justified true belief", "positivism", "induction", "authority", "rational" and "knowledge".

With brainstorming or other guessing/conjecturing, it's a pre-existing skill you already had before you'd ever heard of CR. Like English and typing. (For most people).

CR does offer some tips, changes, and improvements for how to brainstorm. But CR does not offer a from-the-ground-up replacement. Why would it? Your ability to brainstorm ideas, while imperfect, does basically work. Yes people get stuck in some ways (and a lot of the tips, both from CR and other places are directed at that). But the big picture is you can think and don't need that to be replaced anymore than you need a replacement for your knowledge of English.

Take what you already have and improve it and solve problems with it. But just look for reforms, not a fully-formed complete replacement.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)

Abortion and Planned Parenthood

In US politics, pro-life people hate Planned Parenthood, and pro-choice people defend it.

Last night in the GOP primary debate, Donald Trump (who now claims to be pro-life, despite past statements that he's very pro-choice) got criticized for his support of Planned Parenthood. After calling Ted Cruz a liar, Trump bizarrely continued by saying that Planned Parenthood does wonderful things, thus freshly demonstrating that Cruz is right.

I've heard a lot of right-wing atheists, like many libertarians, complain about Republican opposition to abortion. It's a big sticking point that lures them leftward. What I don't hear them talk about as much is that Planned Parenthood should not receive taxpayer funding; that violates the proper role of government and taxes. But what I really don't see them saying is that Planned Parenthood is an evil organization.

Contrary to the typical dynamics, I'm pro-abortion and anti-Planned Parenthood.


Planned Parenthood is not just a "neutral organization that provides abortions and other health services", as many people seem to imagine (without having done any research). It's a radical (and powerful) leftist institution which actively promotes evil agendas.

Planned Parenthood was founded by the racist eugenicist Margaret Sanger. Why? Because she disliked human beings. She liked abortion because she wanted fewer black, poor and stupid people to exist. She wanted to control and limit the human population and get rid of the types of people she considered undesirable. She also advocated sterilizing people and contraceptives. Abortion was one more tactic designed to promote the agenda of population control and race purification.

(This stuff is not controversial or seriously disputed. Research it if you're curious.)


The "pro-choice" position is disgusting. The issue is: is abortion murder? To reply to that with "it's a woman's choice" is absolutely stunning. Everyone should find this shocking and appalling.

The only defensible pro-abortion answer could be, "No, abortion is not murder."

I don't want to debate all the details and get into exactly where the line should be, but I will now tell you why I favor abortions in the first trimester:

I don't believe in God or the soul. I consider that mysticism. I look at the issue scientifically.

For murder to take place, there must be a human being which is murdered. I don't think a sperm or egg is a human being. And nor do I think an embryo is a human being.

What would it take for me to believe there is a human being capable of being murdered? At minimum, it would have to have a brain which has some electrical activity. Without the physical existence of a brain, which is doing something, there cannot be a human mind. And without a mind, there's no person. No mind means no consciousness. No mind means no one there to have preferences, to think, to say "I", to want to live.


I've noticed a lot of Democrat politicians say they are "personally against abortion", but want it to be legal. They also say they'd like abortion to be "safe, legal and rare". My question is: why?

If abortion isn't murder, then why are you personally against it? If abortion isn't murder, why do you want it to be rare?

What claims are there about abortion being bad, other than the issue of murder? What anti-abortion ideas do these people believe? In what non-murder way is abortion bad? They never explain and this has never made any sense.


The exceptions that even many pro-life people make to allow abortion are weird. Suppose that human life begins at conception and abortion is murder:

If abortion is murder, why should being raped make murder acceptable? Why should incest justify murder? If that's a human being in the womb, it doesn't matter how it got there, and how unwanted it may be, it's absolutely not OK to murder it.

The life of the mother exception is the only one that makes any sense. If the mother's life is in danger, then you'd have a consideration (a human life) that could actually matter when discussing killing a human being in the womb.


Some pro-life people would ask me: "How confident are you in your science? Do you really want to risk it? What's so great about abortion to be worth the risk that it's murder? Why not just let this issue go?"

The answer is that abortion is important. Having a child is a huge change to the life of the mother and father. Parenting is a really big deal. It absolutely makes enough difference for the abortion issue to be worth exploring.

Not everyone wants to have a child. And people who do want one may want their child later. And that's good. People are right to decide if and when they should start a family. Making good decisions about that is a big deal. Parenthood should indeed be "planned"! It deserves thought, organization, and being with the right co-parent.

Abortion can enable choosing a different person to marry who you get along with better. It can enable finishing your education. It can enable having a savings and keeping your finances under control your whole life, rather than having a kid early and struggling with money for decades. These are a big deal.

Abortion helps prevent the unfortunate situation of a man paying child support and a stressed single mom trying to cope. That's not a good situation. It happens. Abortions let some people avoid that fate.

Abortions make a big positive difference in some people's lives.


You may ask: Why can't people just use contraceptives? Aren't the people getting abortions irresponsible?

Contraceptives are not 100% effective. But, yes, many people getting abortions are irresponsible. So what? If you want to work to teach people to think better, live more responsibly, etc, go right ahead. That'd be great. Not letting them get an abortion will not help them.

You may ask: Do some people use abortion as a backup plan to help enable a more promiscuous lifestyle? Does it contribute to cads and sluts having drunken parties, rather than doing something more worthwhile with their time?

Yes. But the potential misuse of a technology is no reason to ban it. Medical technology, like plaster casts to help heal broken bones, enable people to be more reckless in their lives, but it's still a good thing.

You may ask: Why can't they just be abstinent if they aren't prepared to be a parent?

It's a matter of freedom. Many people have different values than you. Some live sinfully. Some live pretty responsibly but do have pre-marital sex.

On the premise that abortion isn't murder, then: it's a technology which helps some people's lifestyles. Whether those lifestyles are good or bad, as long as it's non-violent, non-criminal, non-rights-violating, they deserve liberty and tolerance. If you've got some suggestions about how to live better, go ahead and persuade people, but do not use the government to ban technologies.


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (6)

Stefan Molyneux is a Dishonest Hack

The Truth About Ted Cruz by Stefan Molyneux is a hit video that throws everything it can against Ted Cruz while pretty much ignoring all his merits.

It purports to be a well-sourced factual takedown relying mostly on quotes. Molyneux made a website for it with a detailed table of contents and a long list of sources with links.

One of the issues, "Texas Values", discusses the Michael Wayne Haley court case. Here's what Molyneux says:



And he has two sources for this:

The Brutalism of Ted Cruz from The New York Times, a leftist propaganda rag that hates Cruz, and which can't be trusted after getting caught in so many lies. And, second, David Brooks’ (Slightly) Unfair Attack on Ted Cruz which basically agrees with the first article.

When I google for "cruz prosecute haley" (without quotes), the articles Molyneux used come up first and sixth. What Molyneux ignored is the second google hit:

David Brooks’ Dirty Hit On Ted Cruz: How Pundits Lose Credibility

Both articles Molyneux links are light on details. But this one is a detailed scholarly refutation of the position Molynex repeated straight from the New York Times. Why did Molyneux ignore it?

Molyneux is offensively dishonest because he pretends to be a scholar. He didn't just make a video attacking Cruz. He put together a big list of sources in order to lie to people that he'd done a bunch of proper research. He hadn't. He just looked for one-sided ways to smear Cruz no matter how false they were. There's no excuse for missing the second google hit on the topic. (Which also comes up on the first page of google results for a variety of other search terms I tried.)

I also dislike the sneaky claim that Cruz was "just following orders". That is not something Cruz said, nor is it what the Cruz defender I linked at Ethics Alarms said. It's just Molyneux dishonestly trying to call Rob Garver a Cruz defender (the guy from his second source who wrote, "Yet it’s hard to argue with many of [Brooks'] conclusions."). Molyneux is pretending to give both sides of the issue, but he just attacks Cruz twice and attributes one of the attacks to Cruz defenders, while ignoring Cruz's actual defenders.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (7)

Trump's Pro-Amnesty CPAC Speeches

Donald Trump at CPAC 2013 (video) (transcript):

Now this is a hard one, because when it comes to immigration, you know that the 11 million illegals, even if given the right to vote. You know you're going to have to do what's right. But the fact is 11 million people will be voting Democratic. You can be out front, you can be the spearhead, you can do whatever you want to do, but every one of those 11 million people will be voting Democratic. It's just the way it works, and you have to be very, very careful, because you could say, that to a certain extent, the odds aren't looking so great right now for Republicans, that you're on a suicide mission. You're just not going to get those votes. [emphasis added]

What Trump said is:

Immigration is hard because the 11 million illegals are all going to vote Democratic after we give them the right to vote. And we "have to" give them the right to vote because that's "what's right". But we should be "careful" doing it because its' a "suicide mission" for Republicans. (But do it anyway.)

Why is it right to give illegal aliens the right to vote in America? Are we a country of laws, or not? This isn't just some kind of legal resident status (which would be bad enough), Trump is saying we have to give every illegal full citizenship including voting. No we don't have to do that! No that's not right!

I'm not surprised that Trump is a squishy leftist.

I already knew Trump was a protectionist with no clue about the free market. I already knew Trump praised Obama in 2009.

I already knew Trump favors eminent domain, doesn't like guns, is pro-choice, has New York values, sympathizes with social justice warriors, and isn't very religious. I knew Trump favors big government healthcare because he has a "heart". And Trump favored taking in Syrian refugees, and funding Planned Parenthood, before changing his position.

I already knew Trump doesn't want to cutback on Social Security and Medicare. His ridiculous entitlements plan (that he advocated at CPAC 2013 and 2014, not just on the campaign trail today) is no reforms or cutbacks, just grow the economy and don't worry about spending. Trump is not a small government kinda guy.

I already knew Trump had praised Hillary Clinton, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and Al Sharpton. I already knew he was involved with some of the worst leftists. I already knew thinks he can make deals with the left as President, instead of standing up to the Washington Cartel.

I already knew that Trump was squishy as hell on Free Speech – when Muslim terrorists attacked a free speech event in Texas, Trump questioned why people say offensive things that "taunt" Islamofascists.

What surprises me is that Ann Coulter praised Trump's 2013 CPAC speech and cited it as evidence that Trump has a previous history of being good on immigration:

The assumption Ann's readers will make is that Trump is against suicide. Nope. Trump was demanding suicide!

He wasn't saying, "It's suicide, don't do it." He was saying, "It's suicide, so be 'careful' with it, but we 'have to' do it anyway because it's 'right'."

How can Ann take a speech where Trump advocates giving every illegal alien the right to vote in US elections – even though he thinks this will destroy the Republican party – and then tell us to support Trump (as a Republican!) because he's great on immigration? Why is Ann covering for Trump on the one issue she cares about?

Ann told us that Trump was the one guy joined her in opposing immigration in CPAC 2014.

But Trump said the same thing again:

When you let the 11 million — which will grow to 30 million people — in, I don't care who stands up, whether it's Marco Rubio, and talks about letting everybody in, you won't get one vote. Every one of those votes goes to the Democrats. You have to do what's right; it's not about the votes necessarily. But of those 11 million potential voters which will go to 30 million in a not too long future, you will not get any of those votes no matter what you do, no matter how nice you are, no matter how soft you are, no matter how many times you say 'rip down the fence and let everybody in' you're not going to get the votes. So with immigration, you better be smart and you better be tough, and they're taking your jobs, and you better be careful. You better be careful. [emphasis added]

This transcript isn't perfect. He actually said it twice in the video at 14:50: "Now with that you have to do what's right. You have to do what's right. It's not about the votes necessarily." Trump emphasized doing what's "right". Regardless of who they're going to vote for, you have to do the right thing. Let them vote even though it will be for Democrats. That means amnesty.


I support Ted Cruz who has wanted to build a wall since at least 2012. Cruz, besides being better than Trump on individual issue after issue, is smarter and more principled. Cruz favors free markets, limited government, and liberty in a way Donald Trump doesn't understand.


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)

Fisking Conventional Complaint

Buying a house was the worse decision I have ever made.

he didn't just buy a house. he bought into a conventional life.

I have been working since I was 14, I'm 30 now, married and with a kid.

house, wife, kid, career.

he bought into a bunch of things, not just the house.

I would have had $100,000 or more saved up by now if I never got married, didn't have a child, or bought a house and tie myself down to a 30 years mortgage.

he must have known that houses, wives and kids are expensive. he thought it'd be worth it.

now he's complaining about something he saw coming as if it's news.

he's not thinking about the REAL problem. what went wrong that he didn't expect? what was the SURPRISE problem? what violated his expectations? what isn't what he thought he was signing up for? spending 6 figures doesn't answer any of that.

I regret so much marrying her, I regret so much having a child...and I regret so much buying a house. Before I use to do whatever I want...whenever I want.

he must have known about the loss of freedom associated with having Adult Responsibilities, being a Bread Winner, and so on. that's soooo well known.

maybe he didn't think very hard about what it'd be like. but he did know about it. he sounds irresponsible. and he managed to get taken by surprise by some mix of 1) stuff everyone including him already knows about 2) some other stuff he doesn't want to think about or say or even try to look for.

Now I can't even quit my shitty job and have to suck it up to asshole employees that think they are highly above you.

another very well known issue.

If I never met her, never got married to her, never had a child, never bought this house, I would be so much happier and so much more free.

he doesn't want to take responsibility for his choices.

if he never met her he would have married someone else. he would have done the same lifestyle.

not meeting her would not address his own mistakes.

Why were we fed with the fact that getting married, having a kid, owning a house, is the right way to live?

better question: why did you believe it? why did you judge it to be true? and how does your conventional life differ from your expectations? what actually went wrong?

did you never see how you could be happy with a conventional life, but not think about it much and just assume it'd work out somehow since everyone recommends it? if so, you're REALLY bad at some major things. work on that. if you don't, you'll keep making lots of bad decisions for the rest of your life too.

I wish I could go back in time and should've broken up with her when I had the chance.

but then you would have dated someone else. it wouldn't fix your bad ideas.

I fucked up my own life.

yes you did. it was you, not the happenstance of meeting this particular female and the happenstance of not having a breakup.

And tomorrow...I will have to wake up to drag myself into a 2 hours commute

why do you have a 2 hour commute? lots of conventional people do better than that.

maybe your problem is you just suck at stuff? maybe you're shitty at life, be it in the conventional mold or not? since you not only set things up with a house and a 2 hour commute, but also you hate that.

to a shitty job that I can't quit because I have a mortgage to pay and a child to feed. If I never met her I would be fucking freed from all this bullshit

this guy is so thoughtless. he would have met other females.

and do whatever the fuck I want.

i don't think he knows what he wants. he just doesn't like his life and wants to blame his circumstances, not himself.

he means if he was living in different circumstances that'd solve his problems. he's denying the need to think, to change, to problem solve...

things are going to continue to go badly for him.

I wouldn't have to worry about the projects that's due for my boss, or waking up 6:30 in the morning to catch that fucking bus

the reason you don't have a car is not that you chose a conventional life and got married. plenty of married conventional people have a car. you're blaming the wrong things.

to commute a 2 hours ride to a shitty desk job and to fake these fucktards that expects everything they requested to be completed and handed back to them in the next hour, WHO THE FUCK DO YOU THINK YOU ARE ASSHOLE, I DON'T FUCKING WORK FOR YOU. Then I go tell my boss and he just tells me to get it done and move on.

interacting with your boss in ways conventionally considered "being a whiny bitch because you're a spineless loser who can't deal with his coworkers" is not a good idea. and, realistically, what does he expect his boss to do about this?

Money does not buy happiness,

dude, you don't have a car. you don't have much money.

you say this like you got rich but aren't happy. but you're poor.

if you had money you could buy a car and quit your job and stay home and do a lot more of what you wanted. if you got rich, your wife wouldn't mind if you spent a ton of time chilling, hanging out, whatever. it actually would solve a bunch of your problems.

if I can choose again I would rather make $20,000 a year and rent a $500 basement like I used to and live the fuck out of my life.

what does he actually want to do with his life? i wonder if it involves trying to meet women and pursue sexual relationships with them...

I don't need all this, I don't want all this. I want my original life back.

you mean the life of an unmarried man with no house who thought to himself "i want a wife and a house"? that's the life you want? you seem to be ignoring the problem there. that life led to where you are now!

I feel like I'm just a dead soul in a living body. I used to be lively and had that flame and dreams, those slowly died once I aged and my wife tells me my dreams are not dreams...and I should just focus on better myself in education and get a better job and higher pay. But she doesn't know me, she doesn't know what I really want inside.

what dreams? why, really, didn't you do them?

why, if you cared about these dreams, did you marry someone who doesn't respect them? did you even tell her your dreams and plans, and get her to agree to them, before marrying her?

I know she's doing this for the best of us

no she's not. she doesn't want you to risk her finances (which she cares about a great deal) for your happiness (which isn't her priority).

but whenever I mention my dream job...she would shoot it down and become very unsupportive. Sometimes I have suicide thoughts and I would just think of ways to commit suicide. No one knows this and I don't want to tell anyone I know because I don't want to explain it to them. Sometimes I just wanna jump off a building and be freed from all these....things that's complicating my life...I just want a simple life...

he's right to be scared to mention suicide to people. our society treats it a lot like a crime.


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (16)