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 (0)

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)

RPG Computer Game Design Flaw

When playing through computer RPGs, there are usually optional quests and areas. You can just follow the main path, or you can go off to the side and do some extra stuff.

Players who do extra stuff generally get higher level and more items. They become more powerful.

These players are also generally the players with more patience, more skill, more interest in the game, more willingness to put time into the game, and who learn more about how to play well as they go along (due to doing more fights from the extra stuff).

So these people who do the optional content are in general the ones who'd most appreciate the game being hard. They will on average be better players.

But instead they get an easier game. Why? Because doing the optional stuff makes their characters more powerful (more levels, more items).

The best players tend to get the easier RPG game experiences due powering up from completeing optional content. This is very unfortunate. They were doing the optional content for fun and for additional challenge, not to try to make the game easier.

The guy who likes the game and wants to do everything – which includes most of the best and most serious players – will accidentally, just by trying to complete every challenge in the game, make the game a lot easier.

One note: the optional content does serve the purpose of letting bad players, who get stuck, have a way to power up. Some of the worst players need to get strong to make progress on the game, so it helps them. If the optional content didn't let you gain any more power on your characters (no experience or item rewards), that would not just annoy the large majority of players (who irrationally seek virtual rewards to motivate them), it could also result in some especially bad playrs getting stuck.

I personally had this problem with Pillars of Eternity. By completeing everything I got too powerful. When I got to the later stages of the game, it was so easy that I got bored and stopped playing. I mostly liked the game quite a bit, but I just couldn't deal with how easy it was (and didn't want to take extensive steps to artificially handicap myself).

On a related note, games often have several difficulty modes. Pillars of Eternity did. I was already playing on the hardest when one the game became painfully, boringly easy. It would be very easy for them to have made another harder mode. Or just let me choose my own difficulty. Let me input two numbers: damage and hp multipliers for the enemies. If I want the enemies to have 10x the hp and 2x the damage (compared to their hardest mode) – which honestly sounds about right to me – then why not let me? People literally soloed the hardest mode using one character when it's supposed to be a game where you have a party of 6 characters...

Why do they make difficulty modes ranging from extremely easy to, at the top end, moderately easy? I think it's to protect the self-esteem of bad players who don't want to admit how much better some people are. They don't want a mode that only the best players can beat because a lot of other people will try it and fail and find failure frustrating and say the game is "unfair" and blame the game designers for allowing a hard difficult mode to exist at all.

I find that basically every single game makes the maximum difficult mode way too easy (often in objectively measureable ways, e.g. the game is beatable on maximum difficulty without any party members, meaning that with a full party you have at least a multiple like 6x of the combat power needed to beat the maximum difficulty). This is one of the many ways that being better at thinking and learning can set one apart from other people and create some incompatibilities.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (5)

Humor Hurts People

Fallible Ideas doesn't have a lot of jokes because jokes don't have a lot of clarity.

Humor is bad for communication. It means more misunderstandings, more miscommunications.

Talking is hard enough without adding vague non-literal humor. Especially talking about difficult topics like parenting and philosophy.

People like humor because it helps them avoid sticking their neck out. It lets them deny they meant what they said. "I was just joking". "You don't get it". etc. By being less clear about what one is saying, it's easier to deny one ever said it (in case it gets criticized). Humor helps people avoid meaningful critical discussion.

Humor seems to work well when:

  • people don't care about communication
  • people want to be mean, enforce social conformity, or torment outsiders and "aspies"
  • people are all stereotypical enough (in the relevant ways they interact about) to understand each other with very little communication
  • people act like they understand what's going on, rather than admit ignorance or bring up a problem

Using lots of humor keeps people away who don't get it. It alienates those who are different. It's a subtle, indirect way to be intolerant.

Using emoji and all other non-verbal communication works similarly. It makes it harder for anyone who doesn't already "get it" to participate. It communicates less clearly. It's primarily about social vibrations and social calibration, rather than objective ideas.

This is not the only possible use of humor (and emoji, and facial expressions, and so on), but it's the most common one. It's the #1 purpose they serve in society. They help enforce social rules and make things harder on "misfits".


Humor is routinely used in really mean ways. And then many people side with the bullies. Most people are happy to be apologists for bullies if the bully is funny. They will make excuses for a bully like: "oh, it was just a joke" or "oh, i wasn't siding with him, i just thought it was funny".


You might think some of the problems with jokes only apply to in-jokes, and recognize that in-jokes do the stuff I'm talking about.

All jokes are in-jokes. The only difference is how big a group is in on it. Is it an in-joke for a whole culture, a large group, or just a small clique?


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (8)

Cruz vs. Trump Fantasy Debate

Ted Cruz (Elliot Temple):
    Brian Phillips @RealBPhil 3 minutes ago
Cruz: "I'm going to pay to air Jimmy Carter attacking me."...and supporting Trump! http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/cruzs-new-weapon-against-trump-jimmy-carter/article/2582390?custom_click=rss
Donald Trump (Justin Mallone):
    This guy Cruz, I mean, honestly, all he brags about is how much everybody hates him. All the senators hate him. He doesnt have any big backers. Not even his own daughter wants to be near him. And quite frankly, I think you should have more to brag about than not having any friends.
Ted Cruz:
    I have friends like Jeff Sessions, Steve King and Bob Vander Plaats. Trump, I will admit has more friends. He's friends with everyone in the Washington Cartel from Hillary Clinton to Jimmy Carter
    He's not friends with very many pastors though
    Trump makes friends because, "when they call, i give"
    "i give to everybody"
    And I will note, I never bought any of my friends.
Donald Trump:
    I thought Canadians were supposed to be nice. But maybe he's just really mad cuz I've said, as everybody from Larry tribe to Ann coulter agrees, that he's not eligible.
Ted Cruz:
    cruz not nice -> proven Cruz not canadian
Donald Trump:
    (Wise guy)
Ted Cruz:
    (unwise guy)
Donald Trump:
    U see? He think every thing is a joke, which is why he mocked the values of the brave men and women who went into the burning towers on 9/11
Ted Cruz:
    i would note that donald helped cause 9/11 by donating money to democrats
    Donald wants to sling mud because he can't debate the issues. He can insult me and the intelligence of the 9/11 firefighters if he wants to, but everyone knows I prayed for them. We should stick to the issues, so I have a question for Donald: do you think Bill Clinton, and the money you donated to the Clinton Foundation, played any role in 9/11? Are the Democrat's policies a national security disaster? Yes or no????
    And I would note that I have extended multiple offers to Donald to debate me 1-on-1, so we can ask each other questions like this that the liberal moderators on the collectivist debates won't ask. But Donald doesn't want to deal with substance questions like this because not only his record, but many of his current positions like in favor of socialized medicine, are indefensible.
Donald Trump:
    Honestly if Ted wants to accuse the Clinton foundation of being Osama bin ladens backer he can try and win with that line if he wants. Maybe his idea of the Reagan coalition is bringing together people who are some kinda 9/11 conspiracists and people who believe in UFOs and bigfoot
Ted Cruz:
    that's rich coming from a birther leader
    and i would note who ACTUALLY believes in UFOs: hillary and bill clinton. maybe some of donald's donations went into UFO studies.
Donald Trump:
    It's not a conspiracy theory if you were actually born in another country, Ted
Ted Cruz:
    like YOUR MOM
Donald Trump:
    People attacked me cuz I asked for a birth certificate because I wanted to make sure the president was born here. Now they attack me for mentioning the UNDISPUTED fact that Ted Cruz was born in a foreign country. That's media bias right there folks
Ted Cruz:
    it is beyond dispute that Donald pays a lot of attention to lineage and birth and nationality. i think maybe he's racist. he is pretty cozy with Al Sharpton, after all.
Donald Trump:
    Al sharpton basically runs a racket in NYC, threatens you with negative PR if you don't say nice things. So I said nice things because I'm a businessman
Ted Cruz:
    here in America – apart from maybe NYC – we care more about a person's values. Is god in his heart?
    if you want someone who goes along to get along, i'm not your guy. if you want a Neville Chamberlain who will negotiate with Democrats, appease NYC mafia rackets, and seek peace in our time with racists, then i'm not your guy.
Donald Trump:
    If you want someone whose record consists of getting everyone to hate him and accomplishing nothing, Ted Cruz is your guy. If you want a guy who tells voters they're breaking the law in order to scare them into voting for him, Ted Cruz is your guy. If you want a guy who will Make America GREAT AGAIN , TRUMP is your guy.
Ted Cruz:
    What Donald is saying is that he will make deals with Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer. He thinks it only counts as an accomplishment if you pass a bill, add a new department to the government, have the government do something. i say that a lot of the best accomplishments are in what the government doesn't do, in standing up and saying NO to the washington cartel and their big government policies. let's all unite as courageous conservatives to make government smaller and do less. that's an accomplishment i'd be proud of.
    that's why i'm going to abolish the IRS. so that big businessmen like Donald pay the same taxes as the rest of us. because handing out subsidies to NYC fatcats who bribe our politicians is not an "accomplishment".
Donald Trump:
    If I'm so great for the democrats why is Ann coulter backing me? Is she a big fan of Nancy pelosi now? Why did Jeff sessions advise me on my immigration paper? Is he a big fan of chuck schumer? Why did Sarah Palin endorse me? Is she a secret Harry Reid supporter?
Ted Cruz:
    if you want a guy who invites a different Democrat to each of his weddings – first Hillary Clinton, next time probably Jimmy Carter – then I'm not your guy. i don't have enough weddings to make as many Democratic friends as Donald has.
Donald Trump:
    Ted I don't think it's very nice to attack someone for having had martial problems, nor is it nice to say their current marriage is going to fail. Very dirty!

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (26)

Philosophy Tweetstorm!

I wrote philosophy tweets. (Sorry that isn't a permalink, Twitter doesn't support linking to a particular date on your feed.) I tried embedding tweets on my blog but the feature is basically broken: The problem is you can't see the quote I'm replying to. You can see it on the website. Doesn't Twitter have money to make their stuff work? :(

So I took some screenshots. Sadly, as you may notice, some text in the quotes gets cut off because Twitter is also broken when merely trying to display tweets in Safari. Twitter cuts off large portions of quoted images, which is especially a problem when they are images of text and the text is hidden. But at least you can mostly read what I said:






I don't like how if someone blocks you then it breaks the display of your own tweet. If someone writes in public with a permalink, and I quote it, that should work forever. It's fine if they don't want to read my comments, but it's unreasoanble that Twitter ruins my tweet. Below you can see my tweet, that I'm blocked, and the original tweet I was replying to:



Follow me @curi42 on Twitter!

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (5)

Where Are The Philosophers?

Elliot Temple:
    i want some philosophers to follow on twitter – or elsewhere
    there's like constant stream of politics news and ideas and things to read and comment on
    but not for philosophy
Justin Mallone:
    curi42 pretty gud, dunno of any others
Elliot Temple:
    they don't have to be like perfect at all
    like the politics ppl aren't perfect
    and the articles that get linked often less so
    i tried to follow some Oists b4
    but it was like uhh bad
    like less interesting than Daniel Horowitz
    or Daniel Greenfield
    or Caroline Glick
    i remember a claim that a lot of the reason for lack of Oist discussion groups on web is they are on facebook
    but i couldn't find any decent ones there
    that Evan liar bro claimed there's lots of good private ones
    i think he has low standards
    https://www.reddit.com/r/Objectivism/comments/3h6hrr/best_objectivists_on_twitter/?
Justin Mallone:
    peak quality on even best secret galt’s gulch FB forum is probably like 5% of quality of mediocre FI thread
Elliot Temple:
    https://twitter.com/mdobjectivists <-- too shit to follow
    https://twitter.com/canobjectivist?lang=en <-- google found me a bro who last tweeted jan 2012
Justin Mallone:
    MD group looks maybe better than DC one
Elliot Temple:
    google top hit was https://twitter.com/daniellemorrill/lists/objectivists <-- PAGE DOESN'T EXIST
    > Wallace Runnymede [email protected]_Runnymede 27 Dec 2015
Are you surprised #individualism has a bad name, when it's been co-opted by #AustrianSchool & #Objectivists? Don't let them get away with it

    #Objectivists hashtag not meeting my expectations
Justin Mallone:
    lol
Elliot Temple:
    oh and note that's last year. only one result for this year for that hashtag
    > Emanuel Rutten [email protected] 17 Dec 2015
A majority of professional philosophers identify themselves as moral #objectivists, rejecting moral subjectivism. (Bourguet & Chalmers 2013)


^ wrong objectivism >>
    > a dynamic psychological self-defense weapon TO PROTECT YOU FROM IRRATIONALLY SELFISH PEOPLE
    wtf i click anti-love article from some twitter Oist and get a libertarian site attacking selfishness as irrational
    :(((((
Justin Mallone:
    odd
    hey u could reply to my ITOE posts
    :D
Elliot Temple:
    > Some happily discover fulfilling relationships. The rationally selfish individual cherishes value for value relationships—and this includes love. So you know rewarding love relationships do exist. Unfortunately, the lonely and scorned cry out “Oh love, sweet love, why have you forsaken me?” During the darkness of an endless night, reeling from love’s forgetfulness, staring sightlessly at the ceiling, their swollen eyes blurred by endless tears, they wonder in their immense suffering how long Mr. Heartache will remain an unwelcome guest.
    Robert Meyer [email protected] 15m15 minutes ago
#Socialism is a faulty, decadent theory from top to bottom, violating the #LawsOfEconomics and human decency.
    decadent not the word i would have chosen
    Robert Meyer [email protected] 21m21 minutes ago
Libertarian Warrior Challenges the Absolute Moralist – Chapter 1 – The Battlefield http://dld.bz/d2qnP #Liberty #Freedom #Oppression
    what kind of Oist calls himself a libertarian warrior?
Justin Mallone:
    a deeply confused one?
Elliot Temple:
    his bio
    Robert Meyer
@robertmeyer9
My CONQUERING LIFE'S ILLUSIONS book supplies you arsenal of dynamic weapons to conquer irrationally selfish/ self-defeating behavior http://thedynamicweapons.com
    > I hope that out of the ashes of despair a philosophy of hope, honesty and accomplishment arises.

You may ask “What philosophy is this?”

It is an integrated philosophy extolling the virtues of self-reliance and unhampered capitalism. It’s the Way of The Libertarian Warrior. Since these virtues put into practice result in unheard of prosperity and abundance, people will find it much easier to achieve the Zen State of Mind. In addition, something wondrous also occurs.
You ready? You’ll love this. Because more individuals soar to a higher level of awareness, a spiritual and intellectual revolution eventually ushers in a New Age of Enlightenment.

Justin Mallone:
    i skimmed ur paste, looks like trash
    i saw a reference to Zen
    didn’t look promising
Elliot Temple:
    i pretty sure it is promising things
Justin Mallone:
    lol
Elliot Temple:
    like zenness and that you'll love what he's selling
    Laurie Rice
@LaurieRice_
Writer @theatlassociety, Exec Alum @sfliberty. #Libertarian, #Objectivism, #feminism. Likes #AynRand, pop culture, #ReproFreedom, tech, #bitcoin, pretty things.
    lol @ kelley society ppl
Justin Mallone:
    ayn rand  fan club
Elliot Temple:
    http://nextobjectivists.blogspot.com

latest post, dec 2014:
    begins:
    > The workshop has been on hiatus, but while we wait for momentum to seize us again, here are three events in the next few days that feature work by members of the workshop & are guaranteed to be of interest. I hope to see you there!
Justin Mallone:
    momentum to seize us again eh
    don’t sound like prime movers to me
Elliot Temple:
    turns out waiting for external motor to "seize" you can be a long wait
Justin Mallone:
    heh
Elliot Temple:
    > Ayn Rand opened up her thought provoking book The Virtue of Selfishness, a primer on Objectivist ethics, with a question people sometimes asked her. Why do you use the word selfishness to denote virtuous qualities of character, when the word antagonizes so many people to whom it does not mean the things you mean?

She said for the reason that makes you afraid of it, which is obviously a bold statement. Unfortunately, her bold statement could lead to some confusion. We need to understand that she was referring to rational selfishness, not the irrationality people normally associate with selfishness.

Justin Mallone:
    people definitely associate some stuff that’s good with selfishness
Elliot Temple:
    i find this weird cuz Rand did explain this in the chapter
    he just does a super brief tl;dr of Rand, then gives his own much worse version of what she already wrote
Justin Mallone:
    lol
Elliot Temple:
    he's like "Rand was obviously bold, but some ppl confused. let me fix that..."
    no, she wasn't going for boldness in particular, and she explained it
    she's literally all like
    "but for the better bros lemme explain more"
    > Let’s put Objectivism and spiritual beliefs into perspective. You can accept most of Rand’s political, economic and philosophical beliefs and still practice a spiritual discipline. Acting as if she possessed godly powers and thinking you have to either accept Objectivism 100% or reject it is unrealistic.
    OH JFC
    OK I"M OUT
    DONE
    see this is what happens when you go look for some philosophy comments to read
    u r hoping for like random breitbart contributor quality
    u don't get it
Justin Mallone:
    lol
Elliot Temple:
    :((((

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (4)

Social Dynamics: Cruz, Trump and PUA

Some knowledge about social dynamics from pick up artists applies to politics. Candidates aim to gain a social status advantage over their rivals. It's not the only factor in how people vote, but it's a big one.

Long-Time Leaders of Conservative Movement Unite in Support of Ted Cruz

“There are two big differences between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz that explain why I think Cruz will prevail,” Bozell says.

“First, in every other clash between a competing candidate and Trump it was that candidate picking a fight with Trump. In this case it was Trump picking a fight with Cruz out of necessity,” Bozell notes.

“Second, in this case it is Trump who sounds angry. Cruz is responding with humor,” he adds.

“The more this plays itself out, the more it is being established that Cruz is the real conservative and Donald Trump is a charlatan,” Bozell concludes on the Trump-Cruz matchup.

This analysis has some good points. It's a good start. But real social dynamics style ideas can add more. I'll talk about reactivity and the law of least effort.

Trump is the more reactive one. He's reacting to Cruz more than Cruz reacts to Trump. This is contrary to Trump's previous fights where he was the less reactive one.

The article says Cruz is in a good spot because Trump picked the fight with Cruz. That's less accurate. You can pick a fight with someone and get them to react more than you. If you poke them a little and they have a big reaction, now they look bad.

Initiating means you are reacting to them. But it doesn't mean that you react more to them overall. Whoever picks a fight is more often the more reactive person, but not always.

Another way to look at reactivity is: it's about who is living their own life with their own strong frame, and who is leaving their world to go visit the other person and give them attention on their terms. Going to pick a fight with someone is a disadvantage here. But it's not game over. If an attacked person gets defensive, that shows a weak frame and that they are reacting to the attacks, so then they can lose this social context.

Cruz has dealt with Trumps attacks with poise. He hasn't gotten overly defensive. He hasn't started accepting Trump's premises or framing of the issues. And he hasn't started reacting a lot. Cruz does react, but less than Trump is reacting to Cruz. Cruz is the more calm and chill person in their squabble.

Trump comes off as more interested in talking about Cruz, and interacting with Cruz, than vice versa. Trump is seeking out Cruz and reacting to what Cruz does (e.g. go up in the polls) more than vice versa.

Note that the media in general, which has attacked Trump so much, has been the more reactive and higher effort party there. That's helped Trump.


The law of least effort also provides some insight. In short, whoever appears to put less effort into an interaction has higher social status.

Trump is appearing to put more effort into going after Cruz than the effort Cruz is putting into doing anything about Trump. So Cruz looks better here.

Cruz has highlighted this pretty clearly. He's said some stuff about he's on Trump's mind and Trump is tweeting so much about him.


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (17)