Fake Burke Quote Attacking Godwin

I found a quote of Edmund Burke trashing William Godwin:

'Pure defecated Atheism', said Burke [of Godwin], 'the brood of that putrid carcase the French Revolution.'

I was especially interested because I'd been unable to find any other direct quote of Burke saying negative things about Godwin. People claim Burke disliked Godwin, but I have my doubts and have searched for the evidence that those people never provide.

So I tracked down the citations, and ultimately the quote is unsourced. While doing that, I found another quote of Burke trashing Godwin which also turned out to be unsourced.

I also contacted an academic expert who agreed the quote is fake.

Here's what I looked up:

The defecated atheism quote is from Godwin's Moral Philosophy: An Interpretation of William Godwin by D. H. Monro.

I originally found it in a different Godwin paper which didn't even try to source it.

Monro says it's quoted from Ford K. Brown, Life of William Godwin (London, 1926), p 155

So I got that book. It has the quote along with a footnote. The footnote states:

Edmund Burke, who is also said to have called Godwin "one of the ablest architects of ruin." (Gilfillan's Literary Portraits (First Series, Edinb. 1845), p.16.)

I found the Literary Portraits book. On page 16 it has the architect of ruin quote, unsourced. It doesn't have the defecated atheism quote at all.

It's no good to source a quote to a secondary source without following the citations back to an adequate source. That spreads myths.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)

By Any Means Necessary: A Violent Marxist Cult

(Co-authored with Justin Mallone.)

When you see violent thugs rioting in the streets, you may assume they're strong, scary zealots. They claim to care deeply about strongly-held political views. They present themselves as being so inspired and motivated that they're willing to fight for their ideals.

I want you to reconsider. Most of them are ignorant victims. They are abused and controlled by a few leaders (aka "community organizers"). Just like how cults control, indoctrinate and abuse people. Most of the violent thugs are actually weak, pathetic wretches with no money, no control over their lives, and no idea what's going on. They're sad victims to be pitied, not strong zealots to be feared.

Violence is a serious matter and the police need to provide protection and arrest rioters. Don't walk up to these people for a chat; they're dangerous. But do change your perspective on them.

Yvette Felarca & BAMN

Yvette Felarca is a leader in a left-wing, American, political cult called By Any Means Necessary (BAMN). They use violence for political purposes. They indoctrinate and abuse children. They're Marxists. They've been in the news recently for violently shutting down speeches by conservatives.

The ridiculous full cult name is Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration, and Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary.

BAMN was created in 1995 by Attorney Shanta Driver, in Berkeley, California, in order to oppose Proposition 209. Proposition 209 ultimately ended affirmative action in the state's university system. Affirmative action is racist – it's literally about treating people differently according to their race – so BAMN is a racist group. More about BAMN.

Riots and Violence

BAMN participated in violent riots that shut down Milo Yiannopoulos's talk at Berkeley earlier this year, and Felarca defended the riots on TV! She said rioting was necessary to shut down Milo, who she victim-blamed as a fascist. She defined fascist as "someone who’s organizing a mass movement that’s attacking women, immigrants, black people, other minority groups in a movement of genocide." Milo hasn't called for killing anybody. Felarca is a liar who wanted violence first (to suppress ideas she hates) and made up an excuse second. BAMN's violence also led to suppressing the free speech of Ann Coulter and David Horowitz, and the students who invited them, at Berkeley.

Felarca has a history of personally participating in violence. She attacked a man and incited others to attack him at a gathering of white nationalists called the Traditionalist Workers Party in Sacramento in June 2016. That violence left seven people stabbed and nine hospitalized. A California Highway Patrol officer said Felarca's group started the violence, “If I had to say who started it and who didn’t, I’d say the permitted group didn’t start it." A statement from the California Highway Patrol agreed, saying that the Traditionalist Workers Party had obtained a permit and that "non-permitted groups confronted the permitted group, leading to violence."

And this violence is all part of a conscious strategy of, in Felarca's own words, building a "mass militant" movement.

A Danger to Children

This would all be bad enough if Felarca was a full time communist activist working for George Soros. But she's actually a teacher at Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School in Berkeley. She uses her position of authority over children to recruit for BAMN during school. She pushes her political agenda when she's supposed to be teaching.

And BAMN isn't just a group of violent communists (that'd be bad enough!). It's worse. It's a cult which abuses children. BAMN lures children to join (including directly from public school) and uses intimidation, threats and force against its own members to prevent them from leaving. It has dozens of dirty tactics including lying to get people psychiatrically institutionalized when they try to leave BAMN and placing guards on people to prevent them from leaving.


There are numerous testimonials regarding BAMN's cult-like operation and recruiting methods. Secret Survivors of BAMN is a blog where people who escaped discuss their trauma and how the cult operates. They made it private after BAMN's recent rioting drew attention, but a copy remains publicly available.

I'll present three testimonials so you can judge for yourself what BAMN is really like and whether the police should shut them down:

Jevon's Testimonial

Jevon (PDF mirror) is a UC Berkeley Alumni. He was recruited into BAMN at age 14 and then pressured to leave his family (in Detroit) and live with BAMN members in Oakland. BAMN said he could get legally emancipated soon after and rejoin his family if he wanted to. But after he arrived in Oakland to live with Yvette Felarca, Jevon was instructed to change his name and cut off all contact with friends, family, and even other BAMN members in Detroit. (Isolating people and cutting them off from their old life helps cults control them.)

Jevon wound up being told he could go home after some time had passed, but the time to return home never came, a charade that continued for almost a year. Eventually he reconciled with his family and his mother bought him a plane ticket back to Detroit. But cults don't let members just walk out the door:

When they realized they could not talk me out of leaving, they got physical. Yvette Felarca came into my room one night and instructed me to read out loud a statement that Shanta Driver had written and convinced me to sign about how my family was abusive. Tired of debating my decision with them, I refused. That night, Yvette and other BAMN members took turns sleeping by my bed to “make sure he doesn’t go anywhere.” They confiscated my house keys to restrict my movement.

While trying to make his flight, BAMN members tried to take away his suitcase. Then three cultists assaulted him to grab his phone to prevent him from arranging to leave. Jevon fought off the assault enough for his mom to hear what was going on over the phone, and she called the police. BAMN lied to the police who were then hostile to Jevon. He eventually managed to talk the police into letting him leave after BAMN stole all his money and ID cards.

With the help of a neighbor Jevon made it to the airport and escaped. BAMN still did what it could to punish him for leaving the cult:

When I tried to inform other BAMN members about what had happened to me, particularly other youth many of whom I had recruited and therefore felt responsible for putting at risk, I learned that BAMN had denounced me to everyone. They told people that I had went crazy and turned against the organization and went to the police and that everyone should call off all contact with me. They were also instructed to report my whereabouts to Shanta because they were looking for me to put me in a mental institution.

From talking with people afterwards, Jevon learned that BAMN had treated other people in a similar way to his own nightmare experience.

Alex From Detroit's Testimonial

Alex from Detroit gives an account (PDF mirror) of his experiences with BAMN. He was manipulated by his girlfriend who threatened to dump him if he wasn't in BAMN's inner circle. And he tells us about BAMN's recruiting methods:

So they start out luring kids with field trips and the chance to skip classes for meetings. When I was at [Cass Technical High School] they had a very strong presence because Steve Conn was one of the math teachers and most of their student leadership came directly from Cass. The kids who are just in it for ditching school are [used] mostly as bodies and extra mass during the rallies and protests. They could care less what happens to these kids but the more numbers they have on their side the better the protests look to the media.

School teachers exploit their captive audience to recruit for BAMN. Children come to meetings to get out of school. What kind of system is that? Teachers shouldn't be encouraging kids to cut class and attend Marxist cult meetings instead. And then they use bored, powerless students as extra bodies at political rallies and protests which they sometimes turn violent!

Alex explains how involvement escalates as children are pressured to do more and more BAMN activities:

If you are not just in it for ditching school and had actual political leanings, they invited us to after school meetings where we would discuss current group events or if there was a particular rally, protest or election coming up we would do things to contribute to that, such as making signs and calling people who had signed petitions with their contact information. Here again, is where I specifically was pressured into doing things that made me uncomfortable. I do not like talking on the phone. I can talk to family members and I have, after years of doing it, been able to be comfortable talking at work. I used to have extreme anxiety about it. I expressed this very clearly to my ex and to the leaders of BAMN but was given the impression that there would be consequences if I didn’t ie: Being ejected from BAMN’s inner circle which would lead to being dumped.

It's cruel to make Alex work the phones when he could have easily done a different task instead. But uncomfortable, stressed, anxious people are easier to control. BAMN wanted to keep Alex off-balance.

Alex also describes being pressured to attend events even when he didn't know what he was protesting or why. In one city council meeting, Alex read a new Harry Potter book and only looked up or chanted when another BAMN member elbowed him.

At a political debate, Alex didn't know what he was protesting. His mom asked him but he couldn't answer. He was "instructed to come along to the protest, hold a sign, chant something and walk in a circle within a specific radius outside of [the protest location]. There was no other information given."

Interestingly, BAMN seems to recognize the ignorance of its members. BAMN's own pledge says:

To those who criticize the legitimacy of our walkouts or other youth-led mass actions by saying “most of the students/youth cannot even say what they are fighting for”, I say rest assured we are always fighting for our dignity, equality, respect and justice.

So the kids don't learn anything at school from their BAMN teachers who tell them to cut class for BAMN, and then they don't learn anything at BAMN either!

Jason Wright's Testimonial

Jason Wright's testimonial (PDF mirror) is about the Revolutionary Workers League, a predecessor to BAMN involving some of the same people like Yvette Felarca and Shanta Driver.

Jason reports members being publicly condemned for their private romantic problems, and then engaging in "Maoist self-criticism" where they talk about the struggles of revolutionary consciousness under capitalism and profusely apologize to the group for their private behavior.

What happens if you privately question any RWL decisions, such as kicking someone out because he didn't want to financially support a jobless RWL member? Shanta Driver "began shrieking" that Jason was a racist (the person kicked out was white, the person to be financially supported was black).

Being denounced as a racist by a cult leader had consequences:

The experience had a somewhat scarring effect on me in that it showed a number of comrades, already [possessing] a certain appetite for Stalinist style [bureaucratism], that I was fair game for criticism in the leaderships eyes. As such my political life was for several months very difficult in Albany. Sarah W. and Yvette F. were continually denouncing me for one thing or another and I was held at [candidate] membership for an extended period of time.

RWL did not care about Jason's health or well being. People are easier to control while in extreme poverty and dependent on the cult for shelter and food:

While formally enrolled in college I neither attended classes nor worked. The RWL did not have many paid staffers, nonetheless I was subsidized (in an extremely minimal manner) by the organization in order so that I could work for the org. full time. I was constantly broke, without money for books or an adequate diet, couch surfing at various comrades apartments.

Later, RWL lied to have Jason involuntarily held at a psychiatric facility in order to prevent him from dissenting at an upcoming meeting. Jason explains:

I was horrified, I never felt so trapped against my will.


the RWL, in ordering comrades to undergo treatment, is utilizing a form of [bourgeois] medical process to marginalize inactive or oppositional cadre and isolate them from the party. This is horrible.

Cults don't allow dissent.

When Jason and his girlfriend decided to leave the cult, he was in a such a powerless situation that they had difficulty with basic matters like bus fare and packing luggage.

The RWL must have sensed [something] was amiss [...] From that moment on we were never left alone together.

They actually risked packing luggage to leave while being watched by a spy who, thankfully, didn't rat them out.

Felarca Indoctrinates Students

The Berkeley Unified School District has catalogued allegations against Felarca going back to 2009 which it detailed to Felarca in a 30-page letter. These included "immoral conduct, evident unfitness for service, persistent violation of or refusal to obey school laws, dishonesty, unprofessional conduct and unsatisfactory performance." Berkeley Unified School District's complaints include:

  • In 2009, Felarca "repeatedly solicited students to participate in protests" against a proposed charter school during the work day, in defiance of a formal reprimand.
  • In 2011, she asked for permission to take an after-school club on an all-day field trip to protest against Proposition 209, and was told she couldn't because it would be a chance for her to "indoctrinate" students and violate what she'd been told in 2009 regarding non-permitted activities.
  • In 2013, Felarca repeatedly used leave to attend immigrant rights marches in Washington, D.C., which is not a permissible purpose for leave. They docked her pay and told her to stop, but she kept doing it. When they tried to have a private meeting with her, “employees in the District office were confronted with a loud group of over ten young people … chanting and carrying signs” protesting “teacher harassment.” Felarca refused to answer how the students knew about the meeting.
  • Felarca wrote a celebratory Facebook post that the District was backing down on discipline and "encouraged supporters to sign a petition that called Felarca a hero and role model, and said she should be allowed to use personal leave at her discretion."
  • The District said “it was evident that you and your [By Any Means Necessary] representatives were actively trying to brainwash and manipulate these young people to serve your own selfish interests in not being held accountable to the same rules that apply to everyone else. As a teacher, your conduct was particularly reprehensible.” [Emphasis added.]
  • In 2014, Felarca allegedly misused her leave again, protesting UC regents and participating in Black Lives Matter demonstrations. She then lied and claimed she had no recollection of these events, despite the fact that:
    [Felarca] had taken two full days off work to attend, had spoken during public comment [as documented on YouTube], had a large bullhorn in [her] hand outside and spoke to a large group of students, and passionately and loudly advocated for [her] cause; and despite the fact that [she] clearly wanted the attention and media coverage. [Felarca's] continued and repeated claims, frequently accompanied by long pauses and a smirk on [her] face, that [she] could not recall being there, were patently dishonest.
  • In 2015, Felarca requested permission to take students to immigration court for the hearing of a woman seeking asylum, and didn't disclose BAMN's involvement in the case. Felarca's request was denied, but she went anyways and was interviewed on TV during the event.
  • The District also claims that a parent contacted them and said Felarca had “marginalized Caucasian students” in her classroom and presented controversial issues in a biased manner.

After all this and her Sacramento violence, Felarca finally was put on leave in September of 2016.

What was Felarca's reaction to being put on leave? She followed her previous pattern of weaponizing her students and other supporters against the administration in a high-pressure campaign.

At an October 5, 2016 meeting of the Berkeley School Board, various Felarca supporters spoke out, with some making references to Felarca teaching them their "rights" as immigrants as they were cheered on by the crowd. One particularly troubling scene makes clear how much this was an organized political action and not a spontaneous outpouring of support from students. A young boy appears to be directed to read a statement by a woman wearing a BAMN t-shirt. In the course of the statement, he says "That's not fair, that the District don't let Yvette bring kids to protest." A young girl speaks immediately after (with the BAMN minder still present), repeating the same theme and saying "It's not fair what you guys are doing, because Ms. Felarca deserves to take kids out to protest on her free time" and concluded her statement by bashing President Trump. Observe that this defense of Felarca is the very behavior the District had been asking her to stop since 2009 (that is, taking students to political protests).

The October 5 meeting ultimately descended into chaos when protestors started shouting & chanting when the Board attempted to move to the next agenda item.

Felarca also filed a lawsuit against the District in October, claiming that "BUSD had interrogated her students, removed her from a staff meeting, and threatened to withhold funding, for longstanding programs, from colleagues who expressed support for her." And Shanta Driver filed a lawsuit on behalf of 8 students against the District in November "alleging [the students] were racially targeted and intimidated by district officials."

Felarca was ultimately reinstated on November 2, 2016. One might reasonably think this a result of Felarca's high pressure tactics and the use of her students as weapons against the BUSD. But it may be more because Felarca has friends in high places: the Mayor of Berkeley, Jesse Arreguin, is a member of BAMN's Facebook group and Facebook friends with Felarca.

And what did Felacra do in 2017 after keeping her schoolteacher job? Organize anti-free-speech rioting (discussed earlier) which destroyed over $100,000 of property.

It's disturbing that Felarca still has a job as a school teacher after all this violence, indoctrination of children, and refusal to do what her employer asks.

A Sad Story of Victims

Members of BAMN and other "anti-fascist" organizations present themselves as zealots so committed to their political cause that they're willing to use violence.

But the reality is different. We've seen that many members are children abused by the BAMN cult. People join to skip school classes or get lured away from their family and aren't allowed to leave. Children are tricked by authority figures like their teachers. Many are victims, not zealots.

And then BAMN uses criminal tactics to prevent members from leaving: violence, guards, lying to members, lying to the police, and lying to psychiatrists. As well as pressure, psychological manipulation, denunciations, etc...

This is a monstrous evil. The cult leaders should go to jail. But the victims actually could use rescuing.


BAMN's leaders are violent criminals who are a lot better at exploiting children than understanding politics and economics. They should be prosecuted and shut down.

The bulk of BAMN's membership are abuse victims who would benefit from learning American values and the American way of life. They're not protesting because they disagree with society – they never learned how to be part of society in the first place.

Next time you see an anti-free-speech riot, remember it's just a facade. Behind the mask of strong, violent zealots are weak, pathetic sheep. They may be able to throw a few rocks and start fires but, as usual, evil is impotent.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (59)

Liberalism + Popper = TCS

I was asked:

How did people find out about how to find Common Preferences and TCS [Taking Children Seriously] stuff?

Here are two of the big ideas that went into TCS:

  • Karl Popper's philosophy, which is about how people learn.
  • Liberalism, which is about how people deal with each other.

Liberalism includes some of the world's most important ideas. Many thinkers and writers have tried to advocate it. And its opponents often try to steal its concepts. Some liberal ideas are peace, freedom, progress and cooperation. Today, everyone says those are great – even the people who actually hate peace, freedom, progress or cooperation.

Liberalism talks about how peace, freedom, progress and cooperation imply capitalism and free trade.

Most liberal thinking focuses on politics. It looks at topics like government, laws, rulers, production, wealth, commerce, and fighting (including big stuff like wars and genocides, and also little stuff like robberies or assaults).

Liberal ideas also have a place in families. Families need peace and cooperation, not fighting. People in families need freedom and want to make progress in their lives.

Liberalism has criticisms of authority. Families usually have the parents as the authorities over the children. And sometimes the "man of the house" is the authority over his wife, too.

So part of where TCS comes from is taking liberal ideas, and understanding them well, and applying them to families.

Popper focused the most on how learning works in science. But his ideas apply to all learning. And he knew that. But he didn't write much about children or students learning. He didn't write much about education.

TCS took Popper's ideas and worked out what they mean for education and parenting. We looked at what the implications are.

Popper's ideas contradict authority. They don't fit with having authorities.

Popperian philosophy says to judge ideas by what the idea says, not by who said it. So if the child says an idea, it doesn't matter who said it, it's just an idea. You have to look at whether the idea is good, not whether a child or parent said it.

Popperian philosophy says that people have to think in order to learn. The learner has to do most of the work. You can't pour ideas into someone's head like water into a bucket. The learner has to figure stuff out.

Popperian philosophy says that finding and fixing mistakes is really important. People make mistakes. So we should look for them and fix them. And to find and fix mistakes we need criticism. Criticism means trying to point out mistakes. Lots of people don't like criticism, but it's really helpful. Parents should be happy to get criticism from their kids, but usually they aren't.

If someone understood liberalism and Popper really well, and then they thought carefully about education and parenting, they could come up with some ideas similar to TCS. Maybe not all the details, but a lot. It'd be really different than regular parenting. But people don't do that, instead they hurt their children's ability to learn.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)

Can Win/Win Solutions Take Too Long?

Win/win solutions don't ever take too long.

Suppose you have conflicting ideas X and Y. Then you can decide: "this would take too long to sort out whether X or Y is better. so I will just do Z right away b/c it's not worth optimizing". Z can be a win/win.

note: Z could be X or Y, but is more often similar to X or Y but not exactly identical. Z can also be some kinda compromise thing that mixes X and Y. or Z can be something else, like a simple, unambitious alternative.

if doing Z is something that the pro-X and pro-Y factions in your mind can be happy with (since they value saving time and not over-optimizing), then you have a win/win.

so that's why win/wins never take too long. the cases where choosing between X and Y would take too long are addressed in this way.

if you cannot find a Z which is a win/win, you have a problem to address there. it's worth some attention. why does one or both factions in you reject every Z you think of? the reason is worth considering more than zero. it ought to be addressed somehow. you need to know what's going on there and come up with something OK (not terrible) to do about it; don't just ignore the problem.

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Cosplay and Effortful Appearances

Cosplay (e.g. dressing up as anime characters), goth and various other less mainstream fashion hides how naturally beautiful (by our current cultural standards) you are or aren't. Costumes cover you more and divert more attention to your clothes and accessories, and they sometimes include heavy makeup or even a mask. This is attractive to people who'd have less success with mainstream beauty. It's not a coincidence that you get lots of less-pretty people in fringe groups favoring appearance styles which make their physical appearance less relevant. Less-pretty people also decide to be trans at higher rates.

Cosplay also lets you put lots of effort into your appearance. It makes it socially acceptable to try hard. You don't have to pretend, "This old thing? I just threw something on." when you make a costume. That's appealing to people who are less naturally beautiful (by our culture's current standards) and want to put in effort to compensate.

More mainstream fashion has a lot of behind-the-scenes effort where you do subtle makeup and try to look like you didn't put much effort into your appearance (that would be shallow!).

This relates to the "law of least effort" explained by PUA site Girls Chase. The law is clearly explained in the book: whoever appears to put less effort into a social interaction has the social status advantage. Note it's about appearances, not actual effort behind the scenes.

Cosplay is an exception which lets you openly put lots of effort into your appearance in a socially-acceptable way.

So what? I think social dynamics that no one talks about or points out (afaik) are interesting. And mean.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (2)

Compulsory Government Education

The Final report of the Commission on industrial relations is a large government report from 1915. It has a disturbing section on education [emphasis added]:

All minors entering industry after 14 years of age are entitled to further aid from organized society in order to enable them to complete their vocational and cultural education. This is possible only through the establishment of compulsory daytime continuation schools of at least five hours per week at the expense of employers, and night schools.

This is supposedly about helping people. Why is compulsion the only possible way to help people?

These schools, in order to be of value, must be compulsory upon all minors in industry up to at least 18 years of age.

Why? No reasoning is given.

Our children need to know more as to their economic value, and more of their social duties and responsibilities. The schoolhouse is the place where much of this should be taught, in order that the duties of honorable citizenship shall be appreciated. Real social service is the highest attainment the individual can aspire to reach. All education is of value in life and the State should properly be held responsible for the education of her children, in order that the best possible use shall be made by the greatest possible number of the opportunities of life as they present themselves from year to year.

This says the State owns "her" children and must educate them to appreciate their social duties so the best possible use of their lives can be made.

This is really scary... And lots of it has now been implemented in today's "public" (state) schools which indoctrinate children on a massive scale.

The report also states:

The minimum amount of education which any child should receive is certainly the grammar school course, yet statistics show that only one-third of the children in our public schools complete the grammar school course, and less than 10 per cent finish high school.

How things change in 100 years! Now our society takes k-12 schooling for granted without much thought.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (3)

Health Insurance and Psychiatry

A Health Care Plan So Simple, Even A Republican Can Understand! is Ann Coulter's new article advocating the free market regarding healthcare. It's good. I have a point to add:

INSURANCE COMPANY: That will be $700 a month, the deductible is $35,000, no decent hospital will take it, and you have to pay for doctor's visits yourself. But your plan covers shrinks, infertility treatments, sex change operations, autism spectrum disorder treatment, drug rehab and 67 other things you will never need.

Unfortunately, having coverage of things you will never need isn't merely wasted money (or, essentially, hidden taxes to pay for other people). In some cases it's actively harmful. Rather than paying for zero value, it's paying for negative value.

The main issue is involuntary psychiatry. It's harder to subject people to unwanted "treatments" when you have to find someone to pay for it. The victim doesn't want to pay, the people who don't like the victim usually don't want to pay, and the mental prison won't pay. So who pays? Sometimes the government steps in to pay, but not always. You know what makes it easier to victimize someone? When the victim's insurance company pays. You can have a psychiatric "treatment" you don't want -- such as being imprisoned without a trial -- paid for by your own insurance company, against your will. Sometimes this makes the difference and gets you imprisoned when you wouldn't have been otherwise due to lack of funding.

Unfortunately, millions of Americans are harmed by psychiatrists every year, so this kind of issue is not as rare as one might wish. I provide some details on this in the next section, below.

There's also a milder scenario, which is you're pressured to see a psychiatrist. Or you're pressured to make your kid see a psychiatrist. Pressure can come from a teacher, friend, spouse or boss. Sometimes the pressure is tiny, and sometimes it's heavy pressure. And if you don't have insurance, you can use price as an excuse not to go or not to send your child. But if your insurance (or employer, school, or government) will pay, then you'll have to come up with some other reason to resist the pressure. Losing a particularly convenient, socially-acceptable excuse to say "no" will result in some unwanted trips to psychiatrists for some people.

So it's worth cash not to have psychiatric coverage. It'd be worth paying a higher monthly premium for it to exclude psychiatry coverage, if that were allowed (it's not). How much it's worth to get rid of psychiatric coverage is difficult to judge, but it's something.

It's the same with drug rehab. Suppose I took drugs for some reason, and then my friends were all pushing me to go to rehab but I wanted to quit on my own at home. The price of rehab – which my friends wouldn't want to pay – would be a good excuse that would help me resist their pressure and stay home.

I also wouldn't want coverage for any kind of "help" from social workers.

An interesting case is marital counseling. That can have value to people who go voluntarily, but it can also hurt people who are pressured into it. Even surgery depends. It's possible for a sports player to be pressured into a risky, expensive surgery that wouldn't have happened without an insurance company to pay for it.

The big picture is it's actively bad for you to have money readily available to pay for things you don't want. It's easier to avoid harm when finding money to pay for it is an extra obstacle in the way of it happening.

Also: read Thomas Szasz's short article, The Myth Of Health Insurance.

Psychiatric Harm

Just in California, there are over 300,000 involuntary psychiatric imprisonment orders per year. Many are converted to "voluntary" status because they will be locked up longer if they don't. Sucking up to one's captors is the standard path to freedom, rather than standing up for yourself. Many people are released quickly if they confess they were in the wrong and take a drug which causes brain damage.

Any time during a 72 hour hold, the doctor may arbitrarily place the victim on a 14 day hold if he wants to. At the end of the 14 day hold, the doctor may add another 30 days if he wants to. Meanwhile, family members are discouraged from showing up at all if a probable cause hearing takes place. And the probable cause "hearings" do not involve standard legal protections like excluding hearsay from counting as evidence. Victims commonly don't even get to wear normal clothes, they are forced to wear a hospital gown which is prejudicial.

In Florida, 194,354 involuntary (Baker Act) examinations were done in one year, and the number has been increasing significantly over time. This count intentionally ignores up to another 5,952 instances where the examiner forgot to write the date on the form. These involuntary examinations can last over 72 hours. This number includes children who were 22% of the victims. Roughly half of time time this is initiated by "mental health professionals", and half the time by law enforcement. Children are more likely to be victimized on school days. 22.7% more men are victimized than women, which the sexist report downplays as "slightly more" men.

The Florida numbers are substantial underestimates about psychiatry's reach. How many people say "no" to an authority when told they can agree to be examined now, and if they hesitate, are told their alternative is a legal order that they be examined anyway by a now-hostile examiner and lose their rights for 72 hours? That's common and documented.

The California Hospital Association says 4.1% of American adults are labelled seriously mentally ill per year and 58.7% of them receive some form of "treatment". After a little math, that means 6 million American adults per year are labelled seriously mentally ill and then have something done to them by psychiatry.

This is scary stuff. And there's a lot more info like it, and plenty that's worse. E.g. look up the present day use of electroshock "therapy" (torture) and lobotomy in the US. The FDA actually came out in favor of electroshock last year.

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Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (2)

Syria Missile Strike

My quick thoughts on Trump's missile attack on the Syrian airbase which Assad launched a despicable chemical weapons attack from:

Trump's attack was a pretty moderate, normal, mainstream thing to do.

It was OK, not great.

It's not what Trump said he'd do. E.g. in 2013 Trump wrote a bunch of tweets about staying out of Syria.

I'd prefer if Trump focused on his campaign promises more – destroy ISIS, get out of the Iran deal, build the wall, repeal Obamacare, and move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. None of those issues are going very well so far.

There's a selective attention issue. Why is this the right conflict to intervene in instead of a different one?

Trump and others haven't explained the self-interest of the attack in a clear, convincing way. What are the big-picture goals we're hoping to achieve by intervening? Spending $75,000,000 to help a few foreigners in the short term is bad policy which is contrary to the purpose of the US government and the purpose of our taxes.

Most people believe military actions should be proportional. That's wrong. They should involve whatever force is necessary for effective defense and resolving the problem.

It's bad to get drawn into back-and-forth tit-for-tat conflicts with only minor escalations. Ongoing fighting is awful. Instead, take little or no action until you're ready to go all-out and win. Trump's strike isn't anything like a last warning or second-to-last warning. It was just a response and Trump has threatened to do more small responses if Assad behaves badly again. That's a bad approach. (But note also that it's a moderate, mainstream approach. I'm the one who is out of the mainstream in my views here.)

If you're going to get involved in military conflict at all, there should be a plan to win in a fast, brutal, one-sided, non-proportional manner which is either pursued immediately or else threatened and ready. If you're just bluffing and have no plan for winning, stay out of it.

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Don't Bring Up Your Own Negatives

People are often nervous, defensive and stressed out about flaws they have.

For example: they are short, they have a small dick, their breasts are too small, they weigh too much, they have a blemish...

If everything else goes well, many of these issues frequently wouldn't matter to their date. But people bring up their own flaws and then act weird about them. The social awkwardness of saying, "I know I'm too fat but please don't be a bigot against me" is a much bigger problem than an extra 10 pounds. Saying, "I'm going to warn you in advance that I have a small dick, but I'll be really try-hard to make up for it." is even worse. (They don't say "try-hard" in those words, but they say stuff which has this meaning and is unattractive for this reason.)

It's ironic because people create their own disasters by awkwardly drawing attention to their own flaws. Then they take that as evidence their flaws are a big deal, deal breakers even, and so they're even more worried the next time.

If you don't bring up a flaw, a lot of times it will never be brought up. Relax and focus on stuff that matters, not "flaws" that aren't even a big deal you're just worried the other person will care about. If you don't want someone to care about something, don't start talking about it!

The same issue comes up in other contexts. Don't have a lot of work experience when applying for a job? Or maybe you haven't already done work exactly identical to what this job involves. Or you had a 2 month break between jobs. Or you got a B in a relevant university class. Or you and your previous boss didn't get along. In general, don't mention it. Don't start objecting to yourself and telling them reasons not to hire you. Address it briefly if they bring it up, but often they won't.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (6)

Vacation Travel Is Overrated

People go on vacations and enjoy them. But they routinely mix up several different benefits, some of which are unrelated to traveling and staying at a hotel somewhere.

Traveling to a place with something good about it (sunny beaches, museums you want to visit, etc) is one benefit of vacations.

Not working for a while is another benefit. People have more free time while on vacation. You'd still get this benefit if you took the same time off work but stayed home.

Another reason people like vacations is they spend more money. Not just on travel and the hotel, but also on food, spas, massages, entertainment and conveniences (to save time or hassle at the cost of money). They are less frugal about buying luxuries while on vacation. It's a common mistake to attribute some of the fun of this additional purchasing to travel. They could stay home but go to nice restaurants for a week and buy some other stuff they want, like they would on vacation, but without also buying a plane flight and hotel room.

I consider vacations (and travel) overrated. There are some good things about them, but try not to mentally bundle everything together. Recognize that you could do some of the stuff you do on vacation (take time off work, spend more money on your happiness for a week) without traveling, and save a lot of money, and it'd be better and more convenient in some ways. (Your home is nicer to stay in than a hotel room unless it's really expensive, and even then your home has all your stuff. And you have your car if you stay home.)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (2)

Explaining Infinite Sets, Measures, and Mappings for Quantum Physics

Alan Forrester wrote in a discussion of multiple universe quantum physics and David Deutsch's books:

The stuff [in the multiverse] doesn’t come from anywhere. There is a continuous infinity of fungible frogs, like the real number line. That continuous infinity of fungible frogs differentiates over time. The number of instances of frogs doesn’t increase or decrease as a result of the differentiation. You’re just taking the set that already exists and dividing it up. The same amount of stuff exists before and after a division.

And Justin Mallone asked:

I've found stuff involving infinity really difficult to wrap my brain around in a way I felt like I could understand and explain and apply. This post reminded me of that fact.

And I don't have trouble understanding complex concepts generally, so I assume I have some systematic mistake or set of mistakes I'm making in my thinking about infinity in particular, but I don't know what it is.

I can easily conceive of some actual set number of universes differentiating many times. Like you have 1024 universes, and they differentiate in some way where something happens in half the universes and something doesn't happen in half the universes (lets call the thing Event A or something). And then you look at the 512 Event A universes and something happens in 3/4 of them (Event B) and so you have 384 Event A + B Universes, 128 Event A Only Universes, and 512 No Event Universes. And on and on.

But the endless differentiation of infinities of universes seems weird to me. I guess cuz one of the things about the sort of differentiation I was just describing is that you can easily assess the ratios of stuff happening in them. You can think of stuff in terms of probability of happening across the set of universes you're considering -- like above you could say it's equally likely that neither Event occurs and that at least 1 Event occurs.

But doing that with infinity seems harder. If you differentiate an infinite set of universes in some way, you still have an infinity after the differentiation, although both are smaller (?!) than the infinity that you had before the differentiation. What??? 🤔

To compare sizes of sets you need ways to measure the sets.

For finite sets a standard measure is the integer number of elements.

It's not the only measure people care about. Another thing you can do is weight the elements of the set and then measure the total weights of the sets and compare that. This kind of comparison can be more useful. E.g. you could look at the total weight of the set if you were looking at carrying sets of tools in a backpack. In that case, volume would be an issue too. And you could come up with measures of the utility of each tool and add up the total utility of each set.

Real scenarios are often more complicated than easy-to-calculate measures. Just because your tools have X total volume, and your backpack has X+1 total volume doesn't mean they will fit. One could be too long, or there could be no way to pack them together without empty space in gaps between some tools. And the utility of a set of tools isn't just the sum of the utilities of the individual tools. If a screwdriver is 4 utility, that doesn't mean 2 of that screwdriver is 8 utility. And nails have more utility if you also have a hammer.

The utility of a set of tools is too complex an issue for people to define a measurement function that's very accurate, so they do critical thinking instead (which may involve some utility measures as loose approximations). The weight and volume issues are both simple enough someone could do a good job defining it and inputting their measurement function into a computer which would accurately calculate it. This isn't trivial but it's doable today and people could get good, useful results with it. Companies like FedEx have computer programs that worry about packing objects into spaces and considering weight and volume. FedEx cares especially about putting boxes into cargo holds of trucks and planes. And there are mathematicians who like to calculate how to tightly pack spheres and other shapes into spaces with the least wasted volume, and they know some stuff about how to do that.

So some facts:

  • You can define dozens (or trillions) of different measures on one set. You can measure the same set multiple ways.

  • Some measures are more useful to human concerns than others. Some are harder to measure than others.

  • There is no canonical single measure for sets provided by the universe's instruction manual. There isn't like the one objective measure. There are often a variety of worthwhile measures for a set, and also many, many more arbitrary and dumb measures.

  • Some measures help address many different human problems, as well as more important problems. Their reach is a sign of their objective value.

  • Inches and meters are measures created by humans to help solve human problems. They are relatively useful and objectively valuable compared to many other measures.

  • Quantity is a more complex measure than people take for granted, and it's not really a singular measure across all types of sets. In order to measure quantity of iPhones you need a definition of what sets of molecules constitute one iPhone. Then if you want to measure quantity of hammers, you need a totally different definition of what is one hammer. Quantity is only measurable with a supplemental function defining what is "one" of something, and that supplemental function varies for different objects. This complexity is something humans take for granted as common sense

OK now let's talk about numbers.

Different infinite sets can be measured and get different results.

You can look at infinite sets and measure them as "Is it finite or infinite?" and come to the conclusion "infinite" for all of them, and think they're the same.

But there are other measures. The set of all real numbers has more stuff in it than the set of all integers, even though they're both infinite. This fact is then actually used for measuring other infinite sets -- is it the same size as all integers, or all reals, or something else?

The way to compare infinite sets is to consider whether there is a mapping that puts the sets in one-to-one correspondence.

I will show you a mapping from the set of all integers to the set of all odd integers. This shows they are the same size! (Same size according to the normal, useful way mathematicians measure infinite sets.)

The mapping function is: n*2-1

You take an integer, n, and you double it and subtract 1. Now you have an odd number, m.

This is a one-to-one correspondence. No m repeats and no m is left out. You can pick any odd number m and find that there is exactly one integer n which corresponds to it via this mapping function.

The function is also reversible and the reverse gets you a one-to-one complete correspondence from odd integers to integers. You just take an odd integer, add 1 and halve it and boom you've got an integer. And you can get any integer by doing this.

BTW you only need to find one mapping function to make your point. There are other mapping functions which work just as well. Such as n*2-27. That also maps integers to odd integers with complete one-to-one correspondence.

This set mapping stuff is counter-intuitive because people initially feel like there are twice as many integers as odd integers, so the measure should say it's twice as big. But this measure says they are the same size! Yet this is the measure that's actually useful, has reach, has lots of objective value, is used in math a bunch. You could define some measures which assign an integer size to infinite sets and assigns twice as large an integer to the integers as the odds, but that's either not useful or sufficiently obscure/niche that I'm not familiar with it.

And people feel like you would run out of odd integers when trying to have one odd integer for every integer. And you would with finite sets. There are twice as many integers from 1-100 as odd integers in that range. And the same goes for 1 to a trillion.

But you don't run out of numbers with infinite sets. That you're mapping 101 to 50 and 10001 to 5000 is not a problem. You can just keep going up and never run out of odd integers to map to all the integers. I think the best way to look at this is just that you can pick any integer and clearly see there is exactly one odd integer it corresponds to with our mapping.

A complete one-to-one correspondence means sets are the same size in some meaningful sense. It's like putting one set on the left, one on the right, and drawing a line between every element on the to every element on the right. And every single element in each set has exactly one line connecting it to the other set. Just like if I have 4 goats and you have 4 cows and we drew 4 lines and saw our sets of animals were the same size. But if you had 5 cows then we couldn't draw lines in this way, you'd have an extra cow with no line touching it, or else i'd have a goat with 2 lines touching it.

There is no one-to-one correspondence from the integers to the reals, which is why the reals are considered a bigger set. That thing you can do to correspond odds to integers is not possible with integers to reals. That makes reals a bigger set than integers in a way which integers aren't bigger than odds. And this particular way of measuring set size turns out to be valuable, useful, helpful -- it's a good way to think about things for many purposes.

You're having trouble because you're using your intuitions about quantity measures of finite sets, including I presume that there's only one way to measure a set.

Physicists have a measure of infinite sets of universes. The results are fractions like 0.2 or 0.01. And it means what you would expect: e.g. you measure the universes where event A happens, get 0.5, and that means it happened in 50% of universes.

You could measure as a fraction of the whole multiverse but you normally don't want to. You can also measure as a fraction of a region of the multiverse, like the ones where you exist and are doing this experiment at this time and everything else is the same too. Then of those initially identical universes, you end up with 3 sets of universes and one has a measure of .5 and one has a measure of .375 and one has .125 (these are the numbers from Justin's example quoted above for No Event, A Event Only and A+B Events.)

How can an infinite set get a finite measure? Well it's just like if there were hypothetically infinite points in an inch, it could still be measured as one inch. And another distance could be two inches, and they both have infinite points but there's still this useful measure in which one is twice as long as the other. Current physics doesn't say an inch of space is infinitely divisible into infinite points, but that is a familiar classical physics scenario which people's intuitions don't struggle with so much.

Anyway this stuff is really confusing without the right background knowledge: having some general understanding of sets, measures, mappings, infinite sets, etc. So this should help give you some leads to think about and lead to some followup questions.

BTW I don't even know where this stuff is taught or good books explain it. I learned most of this from David Deutsch personally.

PS I am not an expert on math or physics terminology and may have used a technical term a little bit wrong or omitted a technical term that is normally used. And I've focused on important concepts, not mathematical precision (like there may be some other rule for what counts as a 1-to-1 mapping which is common sense but math people like to write it down).

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (3)

Problems Are as Hard as They Are

Some people think problem X should be easy. Then they get frustrated when it takes a bunch of time/effort/etc to solve. Sometimes they complain about the difference between their initial conception of the problem and the reality. Sometimes they give up entirely.

If a problem turns out harder than you expected, you can reevaluate if it's worth the effort. If the reward for a solution is minor, then it could be reasonable to do something else instead. But don't think the problem is being harder than it *should* be and get offended by that. You were wrong about how hard the problem is or how skilled you are. Accept that reality and change your mind appropriately.

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Ignoring or Refusing

Most people don't like being told "no".

It's common that people ignore a request instead of refusing. They say nothing instead of "no". Especially online. In person sometimes it's hard to say nothing so they change the topic, or some something unclaer, or say "maybe" (then don't do it), rather than clearly saying "no".

In Overwatch, people commonly ask you to switch to a different hero. If you reply, "no" you're giving them useful information. You aren't going to change, so maybe someone else should consider changing. Knowing what you're going to do lets people synergize with it better. But people get angry if you say "no" and take it better if you silently ignore them. If you refuse them they feel challenged and confronted and try to fight with you. But if you're silent then you haven't challenged their right to order you around, and haven't confronted them socially, and they don't have anything to fight over. You appear the coward. And what happened is ambiguous. Maybe you're having problems with your headphones and didn't even hear them.

I prefer the type of people who say "no" instead of being silent. But most people are the silent coward types, and most people dislike it if you say "no" as if you have a right to say it and it's a valid, reasonable decision. People want conflict to be hidden in general. If I say "no" it's obvious we disagree, you want me to do X and I refuse. Silence hides the conflict better.

Passivity is immoral but normal. Asserting yourself stands out more. Communicating provides useful information, and silence is ambiguous – but people don't care much about that, they care about social status and interaction.

People are frequently silent because it's easier. Why go to the trouble of saying "no" – even if it's useful information – when people will hassle you for it? This is unfortunate. It'd be better if people communicated more honestly and weren't punished for it.

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Asimov Foundations Review

Elliot Temple:
i read asimov first foundations book today
it's very parochial. more adventure story, not sci fi. not intelligent or about ideas.
the writing is bad in some ways, kinda confusing.
however he crams a lot of plot into a relatively short book and makes it pretty exciting/dramatic
i guess that makes sense that famous "sci fi" wouldn't be about science, would just be a regular parochial story. if it had ideas it'd be less popular.
a lot of the content is taken from history. there's a giant space empire that declines for vague reasons. he got the idea from rome.
it has one fancy idea which is very bad and is unoriginal. it's that smart people can predict the future non-specifically by looking at history, statistics, patterns, mass psychology, etc
it has some other unoriginal ideas that are not about futuristic science either. like that religious people are blind fools and religion is a tool of social control. it has more or less nothing about future science.
Justin Mallone:
Elliot Temple:
it has present day morality. but like worse than Trump. it's full of authority, power, biggggggg government (a whole planet with 40 billion central government administrators ruling the galatic empire thingie), war, petty politics, betrayal, etc
Justin Mallone:
Lots of popular sci fi stuff is either current stuff slightly fictionalized or historical allusions
Star Trek notorious for that lol
Elliot Temple:
the best part is it's fast paced.
it covers several sets of major events, decades apart, and is only like 250 pages or something
Justin Mallone:
40 billion administrators lol
Lib dream
Elliot Temple:
the "intellectual" dude with the grand plan and prophesies is so arrogant and condescending and shit. and basically his plan relies on the people carrying it out over 1000 years being dumb b/c he can't predict ppl if they are too smart and creative.
and he intentinoally gives them limited info
he realizes the empire will decline and has a plan to make the dark ages before a new empire be 1000 years instead of 30000 years. this is revealed very early
he says the dark ages are unavoidable
Justin Mallone:
Sounds like he should learn about win win solutions
Elliot Temple:
so you end up with this story set in space with so many planets, galaxies, etc ... so far future they forgot what our home solar system is ... and the declining planets start using oil and coal power b/c they can't figure out nuclear reactors anymore
Justin Mallone:
They lost earth?
Elliot Temple:
they still know where it is and could visit. not sure if ppl live there or not.
it was mentioned as one of the theories about our original home planet
Justin Mallone:
Elliot Temple:
but they aren't sure if we came from that solar system or several others
Justin Mallone:
Elliot Temple:
some idiot is mentioned briefly. he says he studied various scholarly arguments in favor of different home solar systems and weighed the argument quality.
and a main character thinks he's dumb for not visiting the planets and looking for evidence
and teh guy is like that'd be dumb the ppl in the past probably searched the planets better than i would anyway
u can tell the author thinks the book-researcher who won't do archaeology is dumb
Justin Mallone:
If there's some ambiguity in the field it sounds like doing some digging could maybe help!
It's like peoples credulity about secondary sources
I could see interplanetary archaeology being more of an issue than reading Popper for economic reasons tho heh
Justin Mallone:
Elliot Temple:
i'm confident Asimov has zero clue about economics. there are also minor hints he kinda hates trade and sees it as like having some benefits but being an unfortunate thing to put up with temporarily. also wikipedia said he writes in this like school of thot named after a communist so...
it’s hard to find good books
also reviews aren’t a big help
it took me ~2.5 hours to read the book
how much time would it have taken to get an accurate understanding from secondary sources? i think just reading it was better
Justin Mallone:
lol yeah
I was talking with someone the other day actually about how plot synopsis can get basic details wrong
Just like ordering of events
And that kind of stuff
Elliot Temple:
can’t be that big a surprise. ppl also get basic ordering of events from their lives wrong. from earlier today.

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