Banned from Ayn Rand Facebook Group

There is a Facebook group about Ayn Rand with 7000 members. I just got banned (I saw this coming and it wasn't valuable anyway). I was trying to post about how Reason is Urgent; Now or Never, which has four Ayn Rand quotes and discusses Objectivist ideas like how big a problem contradictions are, which the moderator deleted, twice. You can see what happened next in the screenshots below (comments are unmoderated).

Michael Brown is very irrational. It's interesting that he controls what might be the largest Objectivist group in the world. I suspect the way he accomplished it was by filling it up with thousands of non-Objectivists (a little like Wynand's large readership):

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (5)

Reason is Urgent; Now or Never

Imagine a person finds Fallible Ideas (FI) philosophy and they agree with 20% initially and contradict 80%. And they are excited and think FI's amazing. Sounds like a really good start, right? I think it is. That's a lot more than you could really expect at the start. Most promising newcomers will have less pre-existing knowledge and compatibility.

(FI is the best, purest advocacy of reason. But if you disagree with that, no problem, just substitute in Objectivism, Critical Rationalism, or something else. The points I'm making here do not depend on which philosophy of reason you think is best.)

(The percentages are a loose approximation to let me write this point in a simpler way. If you don't like them, consider what's going on when someone partly agrees and post a comment explaining how you think that works, and how you think I should have written this without percents. I'm trying to discuss the case of a new person who agrees with some stuff, disagrees or doesn't know a lot more, and learns a bit more over time.)

Now, imagine over the next 5 years they increase their agreement to 30%. Is that good progress? A nice achievement? A proper application of gradualism?

No, I think that's a disaster.

In that scenario, they just lived for 5 years while contradicting at least 70% of FI. How can they do that? Why don't they complete hate themselves? Here they are finding out about reason, and then living a 70% anti-reason lifestyle. How do they live with that?

The answer is: they deny that 70% of FI is good. They oppose it. To not hate themselves, they have to hate most of FI instead. They have to come up with a bunch of evasions and rationalizations, and they have 5 years to entrench those.

The moment you find out about reason, there is a ticking clock, because it's so very hard to live with contradictions. It's not viable to just live for 5 years half liking reason and half hating it. You'd tear yourself apart. You have to do something about this tension. FI offers ways to deal with it, but to use those you'd have to learn more about FI and embrace it more thoroughly. And irrationality offers ways to deal with it – rationalizations, evasions, self-lies, etc...

The middle, caught in between reason and unreason, is not a viable long term place to be. It doesn't work. It's not just a mess of contradictions like many people's lives, it's more like the strongest contradiction there is. And who could live with that? The only person who perhaps could, like John Galt, would be a better person and wouldn't even be in that situation, since he'd embrace reason more.

So at the same time this person learned 10% more about reason in 5 years, they also figured out how to rationalize not learning the rest, and be OK with that. They made up stories about how they will learn it one day, later, but not now. They backed off from feeling like reason is truly sacred in order to to reduce the contradictions in their life. They lost their sense of urgency and excitement about new possibilities, most of which they've now put off for 5 years. Most of which they still don't plan to start learning for years.

When there's a contradiction, something has to give. When you have such a strong major contradiction that's so hard to ignore – like life vs. death, reason vs. unreason, thinking vs. unthinking, open society vs. closed society, problem solving vs. destruction, initiative vs. passivity, independence vs. obedience, infinity vs. finite limits – then something has to and will change pretty quickly. And if they don't embrace reason in a big way, then it's clear enough what happened: while making their bits and pieces of supposed progress, they actually managed to find a way to either deny all these major contradictions exist or take the wrong side of them and be OK with that. There's no other way.

Once someone finds out about an idea and finds it notable and important, they have to take a position.
E.g. that it's good in theory but not very practical to use in life all the time. That's an example of a well known evasion. Or they think it's pretty good, but it's for geniuses. Or they think it'd be nice to learn it and they will work on it, later, but they are busy right now. There's many other evasions possible, many ways to rationalize why they aren't acting on the idea. Or they could believe it's really urgent and serious and try their best to learn and use it, which would be a good attitude, but is very rare. People always take some kind of position on ideas once they find out about them and acknowledge those ideas matter.

So the scenario I talked about, which I think lots of people see as an ideal to strive for, is actually really bad, and helps explain why the people pursing that plan seem to be stuck indefinitely and never become amazing.

Life is now. Reason is urgent. These things get much worse over time unless you're making rapid progress and pursuing reason with the utmost seriousness and vigor. There can be no compromises where you work on rational philosophy a little bit here and there in your spare time. It can't wait. Nothing's more important than your mind. Prioritize your mind now or, by betraying it, you will destroy it and never again want to prioritize it.

As always with these things, there are rare heroic exceptions which no one knows how to duplicate on purpose, or predict, or how it works, etc. The human spirit, or something, is very hard to crush with literally-exactly 100% reliability, and there's billions of people. Here's a few quotes about that from The Return of the Primitive, by Ayn Rand:
“Give me a child for the first seven years,” says a famous maxim attributed to the Jesuits, “and you may do what you like with him afterwards.” This is true of most children, with rare, heroically independent exceptions.
With very rare exceptions, [young men with independent minds dedicated to the supremacy of truth] are perishing in silence, unknown and unnoticed.
There are exceptions who will hold out, no matter what the circumstances. But these are exceptions that mankind has no right to expect.
Finally I'll leave you with one of my favorite Ayn Rand quotes about urgency, about now, not later:

The Virtue of Selfishness, Doesn’t Life Require Compromise?:
The excuse, given in all such cases, is that the “compromise” is only temporary and that one will reclaim one’s integrity at some indeterminate future date. But one cannot correct a husband’s or wife’s irrationality by giving in to it and encouraging it to grow. One cannot achieve the victory of one’s ideas by helping to propagate their opposite. One cannot offer a literary masterpiece, “when one has become rich and famous,” to a following one has acquired by writing trash. If one found it difficult to maintain one’s loyalty to one’s own convictions at the start, a succession of betrayals—which helped to augment the power of the evil one lacked the courage to fight—will not make it easier at a later date, but will make it virtually impossible.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (16)

Peikoff: Children Are Property–-...

in the podcast, Peikoff says 10 year olds are property. jesus fucking christ.

my loose notes on what podcast said:

shud biz be allowed to sell alcohol and tobacco to 10 year olds?

peikoff: no cuz they are the property of their parents

it is self-evident that a 10 year old is not a self-sufficient independent entity

you don't have to go investigating this stuff, but if something is visibly someone else's property and has no authority to make a purchase, you have to act accordingly

what do you even say back to that? he didn't argue, he said it's self-evident. i don't find it self-evident and don't know his reasons.

i do know that lots 10 year olds are smarter and more competent than the average adult in lots of ways. i know that in the past, it wasn't that rare for 10 year olds to be taking care of themselves without parents. i know that 10 year olds have clearly demonstrated a capacity to think and learn many years prior (icnluding especially, as Ayn Rand discusses in The Comprachichos, in their first few years of life). and i believe that if you can learn and think (universally, the same as any adult), you are a person, not property.

also from the same podcast he discusses swinging (in the sense like sexual promiscuity). he mentions common motivation being thrill of rebellion against morality and also feeling free from morality. i roughly agree but i think it's more rebellion against society, against social norms, against society's rules. and feeling free from all that stuff, like feeling you can do what you want instead of obey your culture's rules. i think it's less philosophical than Peikoff said, more about other people than moral principles.

Update: I transcribed the text about children being property. It's from 5:45 to 6:50.
Q: Should businesses be allowed to sell tobacco and alcohol products to people of whatever age they wish, for example a ten year old?

A: No. Because these are the property of their parents, legally and recognizably, objectively by anyone. It is self-evident that they are not, a ten year old is not, a self-sufficient entity and is under the control of someone else. And you must respect that as an issue of respecting someone else's property.

Now this does not mean a businessman has to inquire into the moral status of everybody he deals with. You don't have to find out if you're selling bread, is this customer a communist or an Objectivist? You're selling a product. But if something is visibly somebody else's property and has no authority to make a purchase, then you have to act accordingly.
(That's the full text. Then he moves on to the next question.)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (9)

Facebook's Website Design Sucks

Look how much vertical space is wasted by the pinned post, every single time I visit the Ayn Rand group.

Keep in mind I'm using a larger screen and larger browser window than most people. You're seeing this zoomed in. Most people would see less. The content starts where it says "Recent Activity", so lots of people wouldn't see any content at all without scrolling down.

Some of the best space on the screen is being used for information people only need to read once, and maybe refer to again rarely.

I blame Facebook. The group owner, quite reasonably, wanted all members to read some information. He used one of the few features Facebook made available to him.

Part of the problem is he has a large signature. What should he do, get rid of it? It's Facebook's fault again. Why can't they hide the signature (and the "Add Friend" button) on the Pinned Post that people see all the time?

Look how much vertical space is wasted by the picture at the top. Again that's Facebook's choice. Facebook is the one who should make it easy to get a good looking group page. Facebook presented the guy with a place to put a picture. He put a picture. The results are bad. That is not his fault, he just followed along with what Facebook told him to do.

Look how the "Like, Comment, Share" buttons and the "27 Likes, 7 Comments" could fit together on one line, but are taking up extra vertical space by being separate. Look how the text "Pinned Post" and "Recent Activity" take up crucial vertical space. There's got to be a better way. Look how Michael Brown's profile picture appears twice on one post, wasting pixels. (And, by the way, I'm not even a web designer. I just dabble.)

Let's look lower down on the page now:

Count how many times my profile picture (the white C on a red background) is visible. Six! And all I did is post two links. What a waste of pixels!

Look how little content fits on the screen, even once we're scrolled down. My two posts have one sentence and a link. Then there's a post with two sentences. Then three comments, none with very much text (considering that Facebook hides long comment text behind a "See More" link.) And that's all you can see with a large browser window. That's so little!

Facebook has like a billion monthly active users. That's way more than enough to hire some good web designers. Facebook could spend a lot of money on good design for their major groups feature and it'd pay off.

I think Facebook does spend lots of money on this. Maybe they should spend more, but money isn't the primary problem. One big problem is Facebook doesn't know how to buy good design. There are lots of people offering to sell good design, and some of them are good designers, and some of them are bad designers. I figure Zuckerberg doesn't know what good design is, and his close friends and top executives don't know, and they doesn't know who to trust. They don't know which designers to believe. They don't know how to judge who really is an expert.

Another big problem is bureaucracy. I bet Facebook has some good designers, but then they get ordered to go do some specific stuff, rather than go around and take the initiative to fix whatever problems they can find. I bet Facebook has some capable employees who'd like to fix this, but their boss tells them to do something else.

And Facebook is a big company. Lots of different internal parts of Facebook have their own priorities and goals. So they all fight over screen space, each wanting their stuff, and that can make a mess. Good design requires saying "no" to a lot of requests, and that can be tough. You need to find designers who are actually good and then also empower them to stand up to the rest of the company and say "no" to most demands.

It's a hard problem to buy talent if you don't know how to think for yourself, so you aren't able to judge talent well. The only solution is philosophy. Zuckerberg and the rest of the top people at Facebook have to learn how to think well. Then they could detect a lot of phonies and fakers, and figure out which designers are good thinkers, even without learning design. With philosophy, they could tell which designers have the right sorts of methods of thinking, and make design arguments in ways and forms that could be correct. They'd be able to see if someone was the right kind of person doing the right kind of thinking about design, even if they couldn't judge all the details. And they could easily learn and go through a few basic examples. With good philosophy, this wouldn't be too much of a problem.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comment (1)

Induction is Authoritarian

Induction is about authority.

You come up with an idea. And someone asks, "How do you know that's right?"

And what do you say? How do you answer that.

Induction is one of many attempts to answer that question. It's a positive way to know you're right, to build up your idea. You say, "My idea is good because I induced it."

Another tempting answer is, "Because Einstein said so." An appeal to authority is a natural answer to how you know an idea is right. Ultimately that is what the question seeks – some kind of authority, above your judgment, which you can appeal to. By it Einstein or induction, no authority is necessary.

What they want, the motivation behind the question, is a guarantee that'll hold into the future. A defense against the uncertainty of new ideas and new thinking.

The question, "How do you know that's right?" is a bad question. It's inherently bad. It begs for an authoritarian answer. And, worse, it drops the proper context.

(A little like how "Who should rule?" begs for an authoritarian answer, like Karl Popper explains. Questions can be bad and designed to prompt bad answers. Sometimes you have to dispute the question itself.)

A good reply is, "You got a better idea?"

The only context in which it's proper to dispute an idea is if you have an alternative idea, or you see something wrong with the idea (a criticism).

Offer a rival idea, or criticism, or stop complaining. If you can't point out any problem with an idea, and no one knows any alternative, you should be accepting the idea, not raising meaningless, nonsense doubts (which is what "How do you know that's right?" does).

The question, "How do you know that's right?" offers neither a rival nor a criticism. It doesn't provide the appropriate context to defend an idea. An idea can be defended against a criticism. And it can be argued against a rival. But an idea cannot be defended against NOTHING, against arbitrary contextless demands that your idea be better, somehow, and justify itself in a vacuum.

How do I know it's right? Well, how do you know it's wrong?

I'm not omniscient. I don't know it's right in that sense. What I know is it doesn't contradict any of my observations, it doesn't come into conflict with my other knowledge, it's not refuted by any criticism I know of. And what I know is, it's useful, it solves some problem, that's why I made the idea and what it's for.

If an idea solves a problem, and no one knows anything wrong with it (the idea or the problem) or any alternatives, then that's the highest standard of knowledge possible to man (who is fallible and non-omniscient, which is fine, that's not a bad thing). By asking for more, the questioner tries to hold knowledge to an impossible standard. That is a generic tactic he could use to attack any and all knowledge, and is therefore a recipe for complete skepticism. It should be rejected out of hand.

I know it's right – in the fallible, contextual way – because I thought about it. I judged it. I exposed it to criticism, I sought out rivals, I used the methods of reasoning proper to man. I did what I could. What'd you do, Mr. Generic Doubter? These actions I took do not ensure it's right, but they are actually useful things to do, so that's good, not bad.

If you come up with a criticism or an alternative, none of that stuff I did is any protection for my idea. I can't refer to it to win the debate. My idea is on its own, left to its merits, to be judged by its content and nothing else.

What people want to do is set up positive authorities so they can stop worrying about their ideas. They know it's right, so they don't have to fear criticism or alternatives, since they already have the answer. They are trying to close the book on the issue, permanently. They want an out-of-context way to positively support an idea so that it will apply to all future contexts, so they'll never have to think again.

That is what the tradition of positive justification of ideas – the "justification" found in the ubiquitous "knowledge is justified true belief" – is all about. It's about out-of-context authority to preemptively defend against unknown future criticisms and new alternative ideas. It's about setting up an authority for all to bow down to, and ending progress there. So that when rebellious thinkers dare to criticize the status quo, instead of addressing the criticism, they can simply give their generic (contextless) answer to how they know they are right, the same one they've always given, and always will give.

No matter how much support, authority, justification, or positive validation an idea has, that is no defense against criticism. If there is a reason your idea is false, then it's false, too bad about all the authority you made up for it. It's not relevant, it's useless, it shouldn't be part of the discussion, it's just a bunch of nonsense with no functional purpose in a debate. You can never answer a reason your idea is false by saying how much evidence supports it. So what? An idea with a bunch of evidential support can still be false, can't it? No matter how much authority of any kind is behind your idea, it can still be false, can't it? So what good is that authority? What's it for? (Disclaimer: I do not accept that evidential support is a meaningful concept. But I think those that do accept it, also accept that it doesn't guarantee against falseness.)

Do you intend deal with alternative, rival ideas by adding up the positive authority for each and seeing which gets a higher score. That method is terrible. One problem is there's no way to do the scoring objectively. What you should do is point out something wrong with the rival idea – a criticism. If you can't do that, why are you opposing it anyway?

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)

Ayn Rand Quotes Discussion

The Return of the Primitive, The “Inexplicable Personal Alchemy”:
Who can take any values seriously if he is offered, for moral inspiration, a choice between two images of youth: an unshaved, barefooted Harvard graduate, throwing bottles and bombs at policemen—or a prim, sun-helmeted, frustrated little autocrat of the Peace Corps, spoon-feeding babies in a jungle clinic?

No, these are not representative of America’s youth—they are, in fact, a very small minority with a very loud group of unpaid p.r. [agents] on university faculties and among the press—but where are its representatives? Where are America’s young fighters for ideas, the rebels against conformity to the gutter—the young men of “inexplicable personal alchemy,” the independent minds dedicated to the supremacy of truth?

With very rare exceptions, they are perishing in silence, unknown and unnoticed. Consciously or subconsciously, philosophically and psychologically, it is against them that the cult of irrationality—i.e., our entire academic and cultural Establishment—is directed.

They perish gradually, giving up, extinguishing their minds before they have a chance to grasp the nature of the evil they are facing. In lonely agony, they go from confident eagerness to bewilderment to indignation to resignation—to obscurity. And while their elders putter about, conserving redwood forests and building sanctuaries for mallard ducks, nobody notices those youths as they drop out of sight one by one, like sparks vanishing in limitless black space; nobody builds sanctuaries for the best of the human species.

So will the young Russian rebels perish spiritually—if they survive their jail terms physically. How long can a man preserve his sacred fire if he knows that jail is the reward for loyalty to reason? No longer than he can preserve it if he is taught that that loyalty is irrelevant—as he is taught both in the East and in the West. There are exceptions who will hold out, no matter what the circumstances. But these are exceptions that mankind has no right to expect.
This is about Western culture (it's 45 years old, but still applies). Few people care about truth and reason. There are some loud people who claim to be free thinkers, but actually conform to gutter standards.

The people who care about ideas are discouraged because, wherever they look, it's hard to find anyone else who does. So they are isolated, and surrounded by a culture of irrationality. It wears them down and beats them up, and eventually they lose some of their confident eagerness, and start to see the evil in the world, and find it confusing and awful, and eventually they give up, alone. That's the standard story that happens to most of the best of the human species.

And (almost) no one cares. These bright young minds are not an object of sympathy and charity. Far more help goes to trees and ducks than to men with intellectual integrity. Isn't that awful?

Ayn Rand tried to help these people. I try, too. I pursue ideas publicly and offer the Fallible Ideas Discussion Group. There, people can experience rational discussion in an atmosphere that puts truth before conformity. They can see that some people take ideas seriously, and are eager for criticism and bold thinking. That can be part of their life. And they can learn about and ask questions about philosophy, liberalism, and any other topics.

A few men can hold purely to reason without help, alone, in a world that punishes them for it. But we must not rely on heroes like that for the future of humanity. We should lead the way and offer some better voices into the public discussion. There are people out there to hear reason, and appreciate it, and they could really use the help.

The Virtue of Selfishness, Doesn’t Life Require Compromise?:
The excuse, given in all such cases, is that the “compromise” is only temporary and that one will reclaim one’s integrity at some indeterminate future date. But one cannot correct a husband’s or wife’s irrationality by giving in to it and encouraging it to grow. One cannot achieve the victory of one’s ideas by helping to propagate their opposite. One cannot offer a literary masterpiece, “when one has become rich and famous,” to a following one has acquired by writing trash. If one found it difficult to maintain one’s loyalty to one’s own convictions at the start, a succession of betrayals—which helped to augment the power of the evil one lacked the courage to fight—will not make it easier at a later date, but will make it virtually impossible.
If you aren't taking reason seriously NOW, when will you? How will waiting help? When will things be easier? Never. If you can't stick to principles now, spending a year compromising them won't help. If purity is tough now, how much harder will it be after you spend more time learning to live in a less pure way?

Lowering your standards temporarily is not how you get high standards. Your standards are never going to go back up. You'll get used to living with lower standards. You'll do more things which violate the higher standards. So, later, the higher standards will be more inaccessible than they were before.

Taking life seriously, and really insisting on the best right now, is the only way to live. Pursuing the truth with no boundaries is completely urgent. Do it now, or you never will.

Philosophy: Who Needs It, An Untitled Letter:
Like any overt school of mysticism, a movement seeking to achieve a vicious goal has to invoke the higher mysteries of an incomprehensible authority. An unread and unreadable book serves this purpose. It does not count on men’s intelligence, but on their weaknesses, pretensions and fears. It is not a tool of enlightenment, but of intellectual intimidation. It is not aimed at the reader’s understanding, but at his inferiority complex.

An intelligent man will reject such a book [like Rawl's A Theory of Justice or Kant's Critique of Pure Reason] with contemptuous indignation, refusing to waste his time on untangling what he perceives to be gibberish—which is part of the book’s technique: the man able to refute its arguments will not (unless he has the endurance of an elephant and the patience of a martyr). A young man of average intelligence—particularly a student of philosophy or of political science—under a barrage of authoritative pronouncements acclaiming the book as “scholarly,” “significant,” “profound,” will take the blame for his failure to understand. More often than not, he will assume that the book’s theory has been scientifically proved and that he alone is unable to grasp it; anxious, above all, to hide his inability, he will profess agreement, and the less his understanding, the louder his agreement—while the rest of the class are going through the same mental process. Most of them will accept the book’s doctrine, reluctantly and uneasily, and lose their intellectual integrity, condemning themselves to a chronic fog of approximation, uncertainty, self doubt. Some will give up the intellect (particularly philosophy) and turn belligerently into “pragmatic,” anti-intellectual Babbitts. A few will see through the game and scramble eagerly for the driver’s seat on the bandwagon, grasping the possibilities of a road to the mentally unearned.
It's so hard to stand up to authority after an entire childhood being bullied by your parents and teachers, and taught to obey authority, and punished for disobedience.

Every "Because I said so" from a parent teaches the child to do things because the government said so, too. Or to believe things because Kant or Rawls said so.

Parents are so shortsighted. They are in a position of temporary power over their kid. To make the most of it, they demand universal obedience to authority from their kid. He ends up obeying many other authorities too, some of which they parents don't even like. And once the kid can read books and get access to ideas his parents don't control, he may well find some greater authority than his parents, so they begin losing control.

One of the saddest things is I have refuted a lot of awful ideas, carefully in writing which is publicly available. And what are the results? Hardly anyone wants it. I don't have Kant's authority. They go by authority, not understanding. So it doesn't matter if my arguments are better than Kant, they aren't thinking through the ideas. If it was effective, I'd be happy to untangle more gibberish. I still do it sometimes, but a man has to have some merit to seek out and benefit from the untangling. And it's hard to find many people with merit. Their parents and teachers attack their minds, and their culture tells them that's life and offers rolemodels who no man of intellectual integrity could seek to emulate.

Most of academia is like Rand describes, but on a smaller scale. Not many read it, but fewer will stand up to it. Most of it isn't as confusing as Kant's writing, but it's still awful and littered with gross errors. And when you try to tell people not to believe some "scientific" conclusion which they read second hand in a magazine, because the actual paper is crap, they don't want to think through the issues themselves and they don't want to take your word for it, they just want to accept the authority of academia and magazine writers.

See also my searches for other people discussing this stuff online. In summary, no one else cares.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)

Trump, How To Get Rich

Comments on Donald Trump's book, How To Get Rich:

One thing I wondered is: is he a good candidate to learn philosophy or a bad one? He's smarter than most people (that's not saying much). He has lots of money and attention. He could have a ton of free time if he wanted to. He reads, he said he particularly likes biographies and mentioned reading about philosophers like Socrates. On the other hand, he's really busy with what he's doing, and he's already good at what he does. Most people could switch to philosophy without giving up anything very important.

I think the answer is: if he learned philosophy, he'd basically find himself in Gail Wynand's position. Rand covered this.

A couple days ago, an anonymous Fallible Ideas was especially impressed with Trump. I think he overestimates. Here's some of his flaws that Trump intentionally chose to share in a public book (he's hiding anything he considers a significant flaw! in fact he made a comment in the book about how people should hide their weaknesses in general.):

Trump at least somewhat believes in star signs. He's a Gemini and thinks that may help explain or determine his personality (like work ethic).

A visitor said Trump and his employees act like a family ... *having a fight*. Trump repeated that like it isn't terrible.

Trump didn't fire a bad employee for 2 years cuz he kept getting fooled by the guy's bullshit ("i'm about to get a deal done! almost there!")

Due to big mistakes, Trump used to have a net worth of more than 9 billion NEGATIVE dollars.

Trump thinks it's important to dress conventionally to please people. He talked about this a fair amount – he pays attention to it – and he said something like: don't give people extra reasons to reject you. (why would you want to deal with such bad people?)

Trump has conventional problems with diet and weight.

Trump was cowardly in the face of a friend making a huge mistake – didn't speak his mind. The disaster Trump saw coming then happened to his friend. (It was about a guy with 4 failed marriages getting a pre-nup this time. Trump is pro pre-nups in general. That was one of the many good points in the book.)

Trump doesn't like shaking hands (because germs) and wishes people would bow like in Japan instead. He shakes people's hands anyway out of fear that, if he doesn't appease them, they will dislike him. He said this clearly with an anecdote where he did it for that reason even though he had reason to be especially doubtful of the other guy's hand cleanliness at that moment. It wasn't even someone super important, just some kinda writer I think, maybe a journalist.

Trump's had significant book-mentionable issues with conventional ideas about revenge and payback. (He vaguely indicated improving somewhat and made some bland suggestions about focusing on more positive stuff when you can let problems go. He was very vague about when you can and can't just let a problem go. He told a story about spending more money on lawyers than was at stake in business to get back at people who screwed him. He didn't regret that, he presented that as a good thing. Maybe it's to teach people not to fuck him? But he didn't say that. He's not that great at explaining what he means. He tries to let examples speak for themselves way too much.)

Trump is into prestige. He likes to play golf with Bill Clinton and maintain lots of relationships with fancy people and brag about it. Trump doesn't seem to care that Clinton is a Democrat, and Trump is a Republican, and there's a big incompatibility there. No comment about that. Why would anyone want to be around Bill Clinton? What an awful guy. Fuck him. Trump with all his friends and stuff can't find anyone better than fucking Bill Clinton to play golf with? He's doing something wrong.

The book has a bunch of good stuff too (nothing GREAT or super notable though). It's a decent read, and quick. I think in general the lives of the rich and famous are really overestimated. This is just a sample of major flaws and problems Trump revealed about himself in one book containing only what he chose to reveal. This is what comes out when Trump does his best to present himself positively and seem great. That says a lot.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comment (1)

"Zero" Calorie Lies

i tried a new drink (Sparkling Ice Peach Nectarine) which was good. i saw it said both:

1) 0 calories

2) 3% fruit juice

(no i don't look for zero calorie or diet foods. i think those are dumb. but i like nectarines!)

fruit juice contains calories, so that's weird. so i looked it up:


...(b)Calorie content claims. (1) The terms "calorie free," "free of calories," "no calories," "zero calories," "without calories," "trivial source of calories," "negligible source of calories," or "dietarily insignificant source of calories" may be used on the label or in the labeling of foods, provided that:

(i) The food contains less than 5 calories per reference amount customarily consumed and per labeled serving.
4.9 calories PER SERVING (servings are usually kept small to make the amount of calories and fat seem small. like a bag of chips might be 10 servings. this drink is counted as 2 servings in a bottle). so a food with 30 calories could easily be labeled "0 calories".

and it's not even just advertising like "free of calories". they actually write the number 0 in a nutrition info chart like it's a real number. wouldn't it make more sense to put the real number in that chart? why not write 4 instead of 0 there? how is this helping anything?

our government at work.

this is stupid.

i wonder if they would have put a little more juice in the drink and made it better, but had to stop at just under 5 calories per serving for marketing. maybe the optimal amount to make the best drink would be a little more juice and 7 calories per serving. :/
(ii) As required in 101.13(e)(2), if the food meets this condition without the benefit of special processing, alteration, formulation, or reformulation to lower the caloric content, it is labeled to disclose that calories are not usually present in the food (e.g., "cider vinegar, a calorie free food").

(2) The terms "low calorie," "few calories," "contains a small amount of calories," "low source of calories," or "low in calories" may be used on the label or in labeling of foods, except meal products as defined in 101.13(l) and main dish products as defined in 101.13(m), provided that:

(i)(A) The food has a reference amount customarily consumed greater than 30 grams (g) or greater than 2 tablespoons and does not provide more than 40 calories per reference amount customarily consumed; or

(B) The food has a reference amount customarily consumed of 30 g or less or 2 tablespoons or less and does not provide more than 40 calories per reference amount customarily consumed and, except for sugar substitutes, per 50 g (for dehydrated foods that must be reconstituted before typical consumption with water or a diluent containing an insignificant amount, as defined in 101.9(f)(1), of all nutrients per reference amount customarily consumed, the per 50 g criterion refers to the "as prepared" form).
abolish the FDA!!!!!!!! it's not busy keeping us safe!!! it's busy making medicine more expensive and making up a bunch of dumb rules.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (2)

Awesome Stuff

I posted my 17th YouTube Video of me writing philosophy. Watch them!

I've been posting on Twitter. Follow me!

I've been answering questions at Ask me stuff!

I've been writing a ton at the Fallible Ideas Discussion Group. Join if you value your life!

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)

How Much Philosophy?

I'm a philosopher. It's my #1 favorite thing. I'm happy to learn all kinds of stuff about philosophy. (BTW I didn't just naturally grow up that way, or anything like that. I changed. I chose philosophy over various other interests I already had, and many other options I could have had if I wanted.)

Some people don't want to be philosophers.

But everyone needs philosophy. If you have NO philosophy, you're fucked. You'll make tons of mistakes, suck at solving problems, suck at noticing problems, and generally be a fuck up.

Some people want philosophy for a practical purpose – learn some philosophy to be a better parent.

Learn some philosophy to stop fighting with spouse.

Learn some philosophy to understand political debates better, like liberalism vs socialism.

Those are a bit narrow. One also needs some philosophy just to have a better life in general – it helps with everything.

Why does philosophy help with everything? Because that's the name of the field which includes topics like:

- how to think well, in general, about everything

- how to learn

- generic methods of solving problems

- generic methods of identifying and understanding problems

- generic methods of truth seeking, question answering, and idea understanding

So of course you need a bunch of that, no matter what sort of life you want.

It is acceptable not to have philosophy as your #1 interest. But it needs to be an interest.

I do philosophy that is not strictly required, because I like it. Other people like it less. Partly their preferences should be improved, but partly it's OK to have different interests.

So there's a question: how much philosophy do you need? How much is enough? When can you stop?

(Another distinction worth considering: do you want to make progress in philosophy, or just learn what others already know?)

The current situation looks something like this:

- Philosophy is a pretty small field with a limited amount of productive work ever done in it, despite dating back over 2000 years. It's possible, and helpful, to be loosely familiar with most philosophy.

- Some topics, like Objectivism, liberalism, Critical Rationalism and Fallible Ideas require detailed study. This is not at all optional. If you don't do that, you're missing out, hugely.

- If you're not one of the top 100 philosophers in the world, you're not even close to good enough. Virtually everyone is super super bad at philosophy, way below the basic amount you'd want to not fuck up your life.

- Philosophy courses (and professors) at universities are very bad.

This doesn't tell you the exact answer. But it gives enough of an indication to start with: you're not there yet.

There's no need to try to understand at what point you could stop learning philosophy until you're already most of the way there. Then you'd have a lot more skill to use for figuring it out. Trying to understand it right away would basically be the general, common mistake of trying to do stuff before having skill at philosophy (aka skill at thinking).

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (3)

Major Jewish Groups Betray Jews

Stop Donating to Jewish Establishment Organizations


Establishment Jewish organizations like ADL, AIPAC, UJA, JDC do not love Israel or Zionism, did nothing about the holocaust, sent piles of money to Russia, now fund BDS and won't do anything effective about Obama's deal to give nuclear weapons, ICBMs and $700B to Iran (the world's leading sponsor of terrorism). They wouldn't seriously stand up to FDR, won't seriously stand up to Obama now. Then they rewrite history and fundraise off their failures which "ended in dust, ashes and death", then spend the money on progressive causes. They only started being pro-Israel after Israel succeeded, and still just in name only, not seriously.

You must read the full article:

Stop Donating to Jewish Establishment Organizations

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)

Hacker News Hiding News About Apple

Hacker News pretends to be a social news site where the users decide which news stories reach the front page with their votes. This is a lie.

Today, Apple had its quarterly earnings call. This is interesting news, and there were a bunch of articles about it. What did I find on the Hacker News front page about it? Nothing. So I clicked through and found Apple's press release at story #95:

You can see the amount of votes, and the age, of the other stories near Apple's earnings. Apple's story was heavily penalized so that far fewer people would see it. Hacker News moderators have the attitude that penalizing stories isn't censorship, and is not that big a deal, even though it makes a large difference in what links most readers see. (Most people only ever see the top 30 stories.)

For a comparison, at the same time, here is the #10 story which had fewer up votes than Apple's earnings report, while also being older. The Apple story should have easily been in the top 10, not #95 (and if it had been on the front page longer, it'd have gotten a lot more up votes). Meanwhile all the other articles about Apple's earnings were blocked from the site (or penalized out of the top 120 that I checked).

I don't think most Hacker News readers have any idea how much the stories they see are controlled behind the scenes, rather than controlled by user voting.

(Yes, I'm aware this could have been done by a behind the scenes algorithm, rather than personally done by a human moderator. The human moderators are not shy about doing this kind of thing, but they do also have algorithms which do unexpected things such as penalize stories with a lot of discussion in comments (the rationale is to reduce debate/argument, in hopes of raising quality). And Hacker News uses flags as stealth down votes with extra weight.)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)