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18

As a Christian and a father I not infrequently find myself faced with a certain moral dilemma. Specifically, my income is pretty good and I’m in the position of deciding what to do with it.

Of course, there is no end of uses for money. Our family is growing and we need a bigger, better home. The sort we want in our area will run us about $6k/month in rent, or $1.2m to buy. The public education system is less ‘broken’ than it is actively ruinous (but both), so private schooling and tutoring considerations apply. There’s retirement planning in the face of an increasingly cartoon economy.

My parish, naturally, wants tithes. They want a whole ten percent! Off the top! And in fairness, if my dollar was the one to determine whether it thrived or failed, that would be the best investment I could make. Our community is amazing and the only place I’d want to raise my children. We run a thrift store (like Goodwill) that is an absolute lifesaver for many of the area’s poor. Also, we practice almsgiving, which is acts of charity above and beyond tithing, if not always monetary.

But many other mouths cry out to be fed as well, from crook-smiled politicians who nonetheless are important to support over the other guy to NGOs trying to staunch an arterial rupture of human tragedy with the equivalent of band-aids for want of bigger budgets.

And life’s finer things are to be considered as well. I like good art, soundly-crafted furniture, stylish clothing (important for my job too), high-quality ingredients for cooking, and the occasional getaway to see family, friends, or just interesting places. The kids want enrichment also, and while I’m not going to call this demand a pit, it certainly is bottomless. Too, there is the notion of self-care; that it’s important to expend enough resources on my own well-being that I continue to be able to generate the income.

Only, as all of these are valued in dollars, they directly trade off against each other. And in the way of autists, I can’t help but grope my way down the thing toward the root of the problem. It has taken me to some pretty intense places.

~All human societies hold in common an understanding that it is a father’s duty to protect and provide for his children. This is enshrined in law, culture, and everywhere else. Of course a father would do anything to save his child — rob, murder, cheat, lie, or give up his own life without hesitation. To do otherwise would be reprehensible.

This principle is not without its exceptions. Men in office, for example, are expected to set aside their familial obligations when acting in their official capacity (And, actually, one could find far worse yardsticks of a people’s worth than their ability to hold to this standard consistently). If a soldier on the front lines receives word of a family emergency, efforts are often made to excuse him to attend to it, but where this conflicts with operational considerations he is expected to stay put, and failure to do so is generally agreed to be worthy of capital enforcement, even if our hearts are understandably with him.

I have heard a saying along the following lines attributed to the Bedouin of the deep desert:

Me and my tribe against the world

Me and my clan against the tribe

Me and my cousins against the clan

Me and my brother against our cousins

Me against my brother

If my daughter and the neighbor-kid are both starving I am expected to feed my own and let the other die. So with my nieces and nephews over my second-cousins’ kids, all the way up the enumerated hierarchy. This is understood. This is a human universal. Most, I expect, would agree that this is the very foundation of morality, though as we will see I am not so sure.

Where exceptions come in it is because a man has taken upon himself the role of father to a greater family than that of his immediate. We honor enormously the Patriarch who puts the good of the clan above his own children. We remember with fierce admiration the Emperor who adopts a competent successor as his son while consigning his own degenerate offspring to some idle pleasure dome in the countryside. We exalt the young man who gives his own life in the trenches while his pregnant wife waits for him anxiously back home. We depend upon such men. We call them heroes. This, too, is moral. It is perhaps even a higher sort of morality.

A messiah is one who brings such benefit to his People at the grandest scales. A typical Christian narrative on the subject goes something like: The Jews were conquered by one hostile nation and then another, denied their own homeland, constantly at risk of enslavement and extermination, and were able to survive all of this by virtue of their hope in a coming promised messiah. They had many specific expectations of what he would be like, too. He would bloodily uproot the foreigners, bring the earth under his dominion, and elevate his own race to lordship, never to be so threatened again. When Jesus came to Jerusalem the people laid down palm fronds that he (or his mount(s)) might tread upon these instead of the dirt. They were elated. They knew exactly what was coming, and they were ready as only centuries of bitter anticipation can make a people. And then the State executed him in their ugliest fashion and he didn’t even attempt to resist. Even the disciples, whom Christ had tried to prepare for this over and over again, understood that all was lost and that Jesus was not the messiah. Messiahs do not lose. They conquer.

Let me shift gears now and talk about Hitler. There is no figure more reviled in our culture. He serves as our icon of utmost evil; of the worst aspects of human nature. To publicly question this in the slightest is to run a very real risk of losing everything and, in many Western countries, even runs up against laws that will land one in a jail cell.

Why?

Yes, I realize that I’m committing an unspeakable breach of social etiquette by asking. Yes, I know that many of us, even here, have an uncontrollable disgust reflex on the topic. Even those who are more or less comfortable with discussing differences in average racial IQs or impulse control, or personality trait variances between men and women.

Why?

The usual answer for someone in such circles is, “Because such discourse is controlled by the Jews, etc., yada yada yada” and while there is certainly something to this it is, at least at this resolution, entirely beside the point I’m trying to make. So please bear with me — that is not where I’m taking you.

One day a few months ago I, in the way of autists, asked myself what exactly was so unusual about Hitler that he should occupy the mythological position that he does. One can of course enumerate a long list of terrible atrocities for which he was responsible. Only, as I went through them, I couldn’t help but notice that not only were they all basically par for the course for the Father, the would-be messiah of a people, but that worse examples of each can be found (both quantitatively and almost always qualitatively) in the biographies of other leaders — including, not to put too fine a point on this, those seen often enough on t-shirts in public without ruffling anyone’s feathers particularly.

So, finding myself at a loss, I escalated the question to some trusted friends, and discovered that while it was extremely upsetting to most of them, none even attempted to answer, but rather clucked at me while shaking their heads in horrified exasperation. These are people, you understand, whose capacity for decoupled analysis I generally respect very greatly. Disconcerting, to say the least. Can’t you pick as a mascot, one said, someone other than the craziest and most evil man in history?

Only, I cannot fathom how anyone sees this when they look at Hitler. Here was a man who sincerely held the best interests of his People in his heart. He came of age in a time when his nation was — historical aggression notwithstanding — brutally, horrifically, oppressed. Countless of his countrymen, women and children, starved to death needlessly under spiteful, vindictive post-war Allied blockades. The economy was so saddled with reparation debt that rebuilding would take generations if it were ever possible at all. The people had no hope. Men and women who wanted families faced down a seemingly-insurmountable challenge in doing so. The risk of watching their babies die of starvation was all too real. And what chance had those children of decent lives even if they did survive to adulthood? They would end up de facto slaves, servants to the sneering foreigners who now controlled everything.

Germany’s culture — within living memory arguably the pinnacle of human achievement — was brought low, rapidly to be replaced with this new post-war thrust which we can now recognize as the antecedent to the sort of moral and cultural disintegration with which we are today so familiar.

And this man! This man was nobody. He was a failed art student. But he decided that he was not going to let that happen. He was going to save his people or die trying. Yes, in pursuit of this goal he engaged in some of the most reprehensible methods imaginable. But in what sense was he not playing the highest, most honorable role for his people — that of a messiah? Was the alternative really any more moral? Are we clutching our pearls and sobbing because it was mean to kill political opponents when what he should have done was to suffer the children of his nation to starve to death in the streets while foreigners feasted in the beautiful homes built by his forefathers? Can we really suppose for one moment that the Jewish zealots of AD 66 would have had any problem with Hitlerian tactics were the shoe on the other foot and being executed by Eleazar ben Simon against the Romans? Yes, Hitler was a mess and riddled with countless inexcusable flaws, but are we truly to believe that he did what he did simply because he enjoyed causing others pain? The man was a vegetarian for goodness’ sake!

Now contrast this with Stalin (or Lenin). How explicit do I need to be here? Whether they acted more out of lust for power or a sincere ideological commitment to, idk, ‘the working class’ (imo doubtful), these guys did not act out of love for their people, and did not hesitate to consign millions of them to starvation in pursuit of power.

And they killed so many more. So many more. But our politicians can admire them openly and the common man has only the haziest idea of why this might be a problem. And while, sure, the opposition will attempt to make much hay of this, the younger generations increasingly seem uninterested in what they have to say about it.

Last night a friend told me,

my opinion is that you've been brainpoisoned into calling evil good and good evil and rather than leaning into the caricatures of your enemies by using the word 'hitlerism' to refer to good things you should not do that

(Not that I was — it’s precisely the distinction that I’m trying to draw, but we’ll get to that.)

So on the subject of ‘my enemies’, let me tell you a few things I notice about them.

  • They get abortions

  • They permanently sterilize themselves, or

  • They take pills to trick their bodies into thinking they've just lost a baby because this spiritual distress is preferable to them over the prospect of actually reproducing.

  • They purchase chihuahuas, and pekinese, and felines, and portage them around in equipment intended for human children which will never exist

  • They agonize over the irresponsibility of their own kind having children, but gasp in horror at anyone who suggests that African birthrates might become a problem

  • They desire to privilege children of other races above their own, ceding educational access, preferential employment, etc.

  • They get nervous at portrayals of healthy white families with several children

  • They will loudly insist that they do not have a culture

  • They really don’t like borders and seem to think that it’s their responsibility to feed and clothe the world

This list could be ten times as long, of course. You get the idea. So to circle back around to my original point —

My enemies do not feed their own children first. My enemies sell their children at the market and immediately donate the proceeds to the worst, most irredeemably valueless people they can find. And if they can’t find one close enough to hand, they go looking. And it’s disgusting. It’s reprehensible. It offends me to a degree that I have difficulty conveying without jumping up and down and screaming until I’m red in the face and collapsing into a pile of tears. Only, I seem to remember Jesus telling us to do what my enemies are doing — or it’s at least close enough that I can’t help but notice.

Which brings us back to my daughter. As her father, where does my responsibility to her end? At what point should I give a dollar to feed notional children on the other side of the world rather than investing it in her future? How stiff will her competition be? How can I know in advance which investment will turn out to make all the difference?

Consider the following scenario. I am walking down the street and notice my neighbor’s two year old breaking free from her front door and running into traffic. Of course if I can safely rescue her I should, but suppose I’m not sure that I can without endangering my own life in the process, and leaving my children fatherless? I could maybe look her parents in the eye afterward and say “There just wasn’t anything I could do” and they’d likely catch the nuance and understand and even bitterly sympathize.

But supposing I had plenty of time to save the child, and just choose not to because this would mean I don't have time to read my daughter a bedtime story. Is that equivalent to murder? I say yes. Trying to delineate between the two is an unseemly thing for a man to do and belies a womanly discomfort with agency. But when I spend a few extra bucks to get her the pink scooter someone, somewhere, is going hungry, and in aggregate dying.

Or imagine that I’m the chieftain of one of two small tribes on a small island. Resources are getting scarce and everyone knows that at some point soon it’s going to be us or them. Does a good leader, a good father, wait for the threat to ripen, for the enemy to choose the place and time for battle? Or does he strike preemptively? It will be either our children or theirs who die. We will eat their babies or they will eat ours. Shouldn’t a father make sure of which it is? Isn’t that what a good father does?

The reason our society is so reflexively disgusted by Hitler is because we have mostly internalized the notion that our children should die that others might live, and the man with the tiny moustache represents the polar opposite of that.

Hitler seems to me, at heart, a very good father. If I emulated him, I should not hesitate to feed my own child first, even upon the corpses of my neighbors’ children. I should lie and cheat and steal and murder in game-theoretically optimal ways to bestow upon my children as many resources as possible, that they should not themselves end up in chains or on the dinner plate. The notorious Fourteen Words — “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children” — make the connection so explicit and unassailable that the Left dares not to look upon it.

But the icon-stand in my heart labeled “Father” does not have Hitler’s portrait in it. Actually the picture there is blank, ha ha, but that’s another story, and the point is that Christ fills in pretty well. My Father does not feed His own child first. He feeds His child to us. Bit by blood-soaked bit, forever. I can struggle with the apparent discrepancy between disinheriting my daughter to feed what looks to me like a total waste of the Imago Dei, but there it is. I am certain that the difference between my girl, whom I can assure you I adore unbearably and who always seems to have a beam of sunshine on her in my eyes — that the difference between her and the most contemptible human being ever to exist, is as nothing compared to the difference between God’s son and my daughter, or myself.

But the gorge does rise in my throat when I consider failing to protect what seems, to me, the most beautiful person, and the most beautiful People, ever to exist in favor of… that. Every cell in my body says that I should sooner glass an entire foreign continent rather than allow harm to befall one hair upon my daughter’s perfect golden head.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

And we can’t even expect the problem to go away. The least of these will always be among us. He said so. Maybe the only clean way out of this is to not have children in the first place. I’m afraid He might have said that too.

I try to console myself with precedent. I try to believe. We have established two types of morality: A baseline morality of feeding one’s own children first, and a higher morality of sacrificing one’s children for the greater good of the People. But Christ would seem to indicate a third sort, which is to love the foreigner's child more than one’s own. This is, after all, what God did.

And for a minute there humans actually did it too! As Scott says,

The early Christian Church had the slogan “resist not evil” (Matthew 5:39), and indeed, their idea of Burning The Fucking System To The Ground was to go unprotestingly to martyrdom while publicly forgiving their executioners. They were up against the Roman Empire, possibly the most effective military machine in history, ruled by some of the cruelest men who have ever lived. [...] this should have been the biggest smackdown in the entire history of smackdowns.

And it kind of was. Just not the way most people expected.

Food for thought, I guess.

So it seems to me that if I'm to be a Christian, this directly implies feeding my child to the dogs. And if I'm to do otherwise, this fully generalizes to Hitler. Either way I had better get serious about whatever it is I'm doing here.

Long story short, I’m currently trying to decide between this apron and this one for my daughter for when she’s painting at her easel. The first is a little bit cheaper, but she’ll like the second one better because it has unicorns. Hoping someone can offer some insight here.

Hi guys, I'm @idio3 from rdrama, one of the main jannies there. I like the idea of you running an offsite, but I'm absolutely floored by the implementation.

Now I get that there are features of the main site that wouldn't be appropriate for you guys, since you're looking for a different sort of discussion and atmosphere than we are. Longpostbot, annoying graphical and user-nerfing awards, bardbot, etc - it makes perfect sense to remove those. But other decisions I just don't understand. Most notably - what the hell is your beef with Marseys? Why don't image uploads work? It's like you guys intentionally wanted to preclude people from attempting to have fun :marseyshrug:, with the changes being essentially limited to cutting out as many of our features as you could get your hands on...

Anyway, if you could illuminate the rationale for these things, I'd greatly appreciate it! :marseyblowkiss:

be mottizens

set up own website

fork dramacode

remove 90% of features

manage to break the other 10% of features somehow

True story

The death penalty has various serious problems and lifetime imprisonment is really really expensive.

I guess we should be happy every time someone so thoroughly bad we want them out of society forever (like a serial murderer) does us the favour of killing themselves. Nothing of value is lost, and the justice system saves money. Right?

It seems to me it logically follows that we should incentivize such suicides. Like: 5000 dollars to a person of your choice if you're dead within the first year of your lifetime sentence, wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

It feels very wrong and is clearly outside the overton window. But is there any reason to expect this wouldn't be a net benefit?

SS: Americans are rather ignorant about history. Moral reasoning by historical analogy is bad. Historical examples can be misleading for making predictions. These facts suggest that the utility of history courses is overestimated. In fact, they are mostly useless.

-2

In many discussions I'm pulled back to the distinction between not-guilty and innocent as a way to demonstrate how the burden of proof works and what the true default position should be in any given argument. A lot of people seem to not have any problem seeing the distinction, but many intelligent people for some reason don't see it.

In this article I explain why the distinction exists and why it matters, in particular why it matters in real-life scenarios, especially when people try to shift the burden of proof.

Essentially, in my view the universe we are talking about is {uncertain,guilty,innocent}, therefore not-guilty is guilty', which is {uncertain,innocent}. Therefore innocent ⇒ not-guilty, but not-guilty ⇏ innocent.

When O. J. Simpson was acquitted, that doesn’t mean he was found innocent, it means the prosecution could not prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt. He was found not-guilty, which is not the same as innocent. It very well could be that the jury found the truth of the matter uncertain.

This notion has implications in many real-life scenarios when people want to shift the burden of proof if you reject a claim when it's not substantiated. They wrongly assume you claim their claim is false (equivalent to innocent), when in truth all you are doing is staying in the default position (uncertain).

Rejecting the claim that a god exists is not the same as claim a god doesn't exist: it doesn't require a burden of proof because it's the default position. Agnosticism is the default position. The burden of proof is on the people making the claim.

An in depth proposal for how Elon can brute force the Problem of Identity to make 10s of billions off of Twitter Verifications.

4

Gab - hacked. Truth social - hacked. What if they come for us? The rdrama codebase probably isn't perfectly secure! Chrome or firefox has layers of sandboxes, a hundred different gadgets like 'stack protection' or 'W xor X', and still has a new RCE every week. rdrama can probably be trivially owned if someone googles all the dependency versions for a few hours. also, lol commit history, 'sneed'. If that happens - what leaks? i guess just associations between stored ip addresses (if they are) and post histories. And IP can reveal a lot, or nothing, depending on where you live, ISP, etc. Combine that with a post history referencing improvements you made to your house or your occupation ... might be bad.

Practically, seems incredibly unlikely anyone will care enough to do anything, it's a small community and the essay format gets in the way of 'omg these rightwingers grr'. But, always good to ponder potential security issues. Also, you wanted content, so content.

PCA did not produce correct and\or consistent results across all the design schemes, whether even-sampling was used or not, and whether for unmixed or admixed populations. We have shown that the distances between the samples are biased and can be easily manipulated to create the illusion of closely or distantly related populations. Whereas the clustering of populations between other populations in the scatter plot has been regarded as “decisive proof” or “very strong evidence” of their admixture, we demonstrated that such patterns are artifacts of the sampling scheme and meaningless for any bio historical purposes. Sample clustering, a subject that received much attention in the literature, e.g., Ref., is another artifact of the sampling scheme and likewise biologically meaningless (e.g., Figs. 12, 13, 14, 15), which is unsurprising if the distances are distorted. PCA violations of the true distances and clusters between samples limit its usability as a dimensional reduction tool for genetic analyses. Excepting PC1, where the distribution patterns may (e.g., Fig. 5a) or may not (e.g., Fig. 9) bear some geographical resemblance, most of the other PCs are mirages (e.g., Fig. 16). The axes of variation may also change unexpectedly when a few samples are added, altering the interpretation.

Specifically, in analyzing real populations, we showed that PCA could be used to generate contradictory results and lead to absurd conclusions (reductio ad absurdum), that “correct” conclusions cannot be derived without a priori knowledge and that cherry-picking or circular reasoning are always needed to interpret PCA results. This means that the difference between the a posteriori knowledge obtained from PCA and a priori knowledge rests solely on belief. The conflicting PCA outcomes shown here via over 200 figures demonstrate the high experimenter’s control over PCA’s outcome. By manipulating the choice of populations, sample sizes, and markers, experimenters can create multiple conflicting scenarios with real or imaginary historical interpretations, cherry-pick the one they like, and adopt circular reasoning to argue that PCA results support their explanation.

...

Indeed, after “exploring” 200 figures generated in this study, we obtained no a posteriori wisdom about the population structure of colors or human populations. We showed that the inferences that followed the standard interpretation in the literature were wrong. PCA is highly subjected to minor alterations in the allele frequencies (Fig. 12), study design (e.g., Fig. 9), or choice of markers (Fig. 22) (see also Refs.57,68). PCA results also cannot be reproduced (e.g., Fig. 13) unless an identical dataset is used, which defeats the usefulness of this tool. In that, our findings thereby join similar reports on PCA’s unexpected and arbitrary behavior. Note that variations in the implementations of PCA (e.g., PCA, singular value decomposition [SVD], and recursive PCA), as well as various flags, as implemented in EIGENSOFT, yield major differences in the results—none more biologically correct than the other. That the same mathematical procedure produces biologically conflicting and false results proves that bio historical inferences drawn only from PCA are fictitious.

I highly recommend reading the entire article. It is quite detailed. They do PCA analyses with a toy model using colors with admixture and show that choice of inputs can yield an admixed population (the color Black) arbitrarily close to any of its component mixtures (Blue, Green, or Red) on a scatter plot of their principle components. They also go through data sets of some other population genetics studies and show how using those data sets can generate conflicting PCA results depending heavily on the researchers choice of inputs.

1

Over the past year I've made a number of cryptic posts regarding consciousness, language, and the slippery notion of "self," "identity," or "self-concept," particularly in the era of digital and social media. I am still toying with the idea, but here are some of its pieces which may hopefully lead to fruitful discussion, copied and somewhat cleaned up from loose drafts written over IRC:

Point 1. Our entire experience and world of accessible thought is circumscribed by language. This is similar to Wittgenstein's notion of "language games," in which we use words as tools to conceptualize and model the structure of the world. However, crucially, it is impossible to escape from this linguistic framing; there does not exist any point outside of language from which it becomes possible to "objectively" assess or analyze language from a detached point-of-view. Our world is in fact circumscribed by the expressivity of our language (with allusions to strong Sapir-Whorf here).

Point 2. Our consciousness is lexical, linguistic, metaphorical, and narrative in structure This is an idea from Julian Jaynes' "The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind," where he discusses linguistic metaphor, of how we use concrete concepts, ideas, and words, things we already know, to analogize, or make helpful comparisons to, what is unknown. He brings up the example of the word "to be," and the concept of existence, which is so philosophically abstract and removed from any concrete experience of hunting for game through the savannas or foraging for wild berries, that we simply didn't have a word for "existence," or "being" until Sanskrit speakers came up with the metaphor of "bhu," which literally means "to grow," but in fact serves as the etymological root for the english word, "to be." Hence we have analogized from the familiar concept, and the word we have attached to it, "grow," to the unknown, the metaphysical, and the abstract notion of "being."

Do you "see" what I'm saying? Of the way we can leverage language used to describe one sensory faculty, vision, to make statements of others - sound and thought? How the web of loose associations and connotations carried by the sense of the word "see" can extend outwards and be applied to speech and thought, shading in the word "saying" with its depth of nuance? Of how we proceed from the "knowledge primitive," the immediately apprehensible concept of "sight," to build mental machinery and cognitive tools that allow us to talk about the invisible world of ideas? Of how we can apply our knowledge in one domain to build analogical bridges to, and footholds in, others? So it is, too, with the self - when exploring the territory of the self, we can only use our existing language and vocabulary, rooted in the physical world of the five senses, to build maps that hope to capture the immaterial nature of the psychological world of "self."

Jaynes hypothesizes that essentially all language and thought operates on this metaphorical basis, including consciousness itself, and our own internal concepts and notions of self. Jaynes believes that a fundamental characteristic of human conscious experience is the creation of a "metaphorical self," a model of who we are, which he calls "the analog 'I'." We draw on our existing spatiotemporal experiences in the physical world to construct a spatiotemporal metaphor in our internal psychological world, a "simulation" of ourselves. We picture ourselves in our heads, going about our day wondering about how action A may lead to consequence X, and instead action B may lead to consequence Y... That little mini-me we simulate in our head? That is the "analog I," the metaphor we have of ourselves; and in addition to being spatiotemporal, of physical bodies moving around in a 3D space and through time, it is also narrative in that our metaphor of self is fundamentally driven by a story we tell about who we are, that links together events in time into a coherent thread of why we are the way that we are right now.

Point 3. The media we inscribe our language upon, both constrains and influences what kind of language we can use to express ourselves. This is weakly inspired by Marshall McLuhan, "the medium is the message," and how the structure of the medium actually imparts information of a fundamentally different quality from messages expressed through other media. Here's the most salient example in modern day social media: Twitter. Until a few years ago, the medium of Twitter literally and technically forbade you from being able to write Tweets over 280 characters; it is literally putting a hard cap on the maximum complexity and information content of your speech. Hence the emergence of "hot takes," soundbytes, and other 15-second quips that are devoid of any actual rich philosophical insight and other garbage short-form "junk food" content.

So too with our selves - where previously we had to be content with cave drawings, statues, paintings, that loosely gestured at a human being, and invited us to consider what the actual person the medium depicts was really like, now we have 4K, HD, 24/7 real-time streaming of everyone's lives in minute detail. Now we have photoshop, and airbrushing, and filters, and /r/instagramreality. Instead of the literary, artistic, oil on canvas language of the self, of ink and scrolls and paper, we now have a photorealistic, even hyperrealistic, more-real-than-reality language of the self that no longer invites speculation, that no longer invites discourse and discussion to learn more about the man behind the photo. In some ways all of that beating around the bush is obsolete - we know exactly who you are, pixel by pixel, right here - and so there is little left of pondering what the content of the man's soul is.

In fact, the man's soul has already died; there is no room for it in modern discourse, for science has assured us of its nonexistence. The pixels themselves are sufficient - a Johnny Silverhand facsimilie of a human being, necromantically reanimated into the pixels you see on your screen. The self, the "soul," is obsolete. We can capture your "psychological engram," in the lingo of Cyberpunk 2077, and implant it into another mechanically augmented body, preserving your entire being even across the horizons of death. We can make the cyborg, the pixels, the videos, move, talk, and walk exactly as you do; the self from which the "engram" is taken is no longer needed, and can be put through the incinerator, because Johnny Silverhand is sitting right there, playing guitar from his newly occupied cyborg body, the exact same way he used to until he was shot in the chest in the year 2023.

Our stories, our narratives of ourselves, the languages we use to describe ourselves, have all attained such a high level of definition, that there is nothing left to the imagination, nothing left for the viewers and audience to fill in. As McLuhan calls it, the Internet is a "hot" medium, contrasted with "cool" media that sketch in as few points as possible and leave the rest up to the audience to interpolate between. It's the mystery, the lack of definition, the feeling that there is more information behind the pixels, that sustains belief in some kind of immaterial "psyche" or "soul" behind the sense data assembled into the selfie, the self-portrait. There is no longer any mystery; ourselves have become coextensive with their digital representation. What is on the screen is in the man, and everything that is in the man is on the screen.

Point 4. The confusion of symbols of things, with the things in themselves I will defer to Alan Watts here who summed up the idea so eloquently (emphasis mine):

For on the one hand, there is the real world, and on the other, a whole system of symbols about that world, which we have in our minds. These are very, very useful symbols. All civilization depends on them. But like all good things, they have their disadvantages, and the principle disadvantage of symbols is that we confuse them with reality, just as we confuse money with actual wealth, and our names about ourselves, our ideas of ourselves, our images of ourselves, with ourselves.

The point about confusing "images of ourselves" with our (real) selves is most salient here. With our ability to depict reality to the finest grain of resolution, it becomes much easier to mistake the image for the thing itself. Our hyperrealistic language and depictions of ourselves have rendered the inner world obsolete, because we no longer have the mystery of incomplete information to gesture at, to suggest the existence of an ineffable, inscrutable, immaterial "soul" or essence of self. We've looked very hard at all the pixels. all we can see are pixels, no "souls" here. The pixels are the man, and the man is the set of pixels. As McLuhan once said, live on television, "we are on the air, and on the air we do not have any physical body. When you're on the telephone, or on radio, or on TV, you don't have a physical body. You're just an image, on the air."

Taken further: by presenting the correct sequence of symbols to human beings, you can confuse other people into mistaking those symbols for reality, and thus in some way, "create reality itself." Consider the following thought experiment: a man born deaf, mute, incapable of communicating to others, but who still has internal thoughts, dreams, hopes, et cetera. For all we know there may be a very rich storehouse of ideas and stories that are only accessible to the mind of the deaf-mute, but since he is unable to communicate any of those ideas, through language (let's leave body language aside for now), he is unable to realize any of those ideas, create shared intersubjective experiences; unable to bring any of those private and internal thoughts to the world of the living; unable to externalize those purely internal experiences, to make his inner subjective experience, at least now an intersubjective experience, if not an objective one. Instead, others may create their own realities, their own models, ideas of what is going on in the deaf-mute's head, and if the deaf-mute were to spend his whole life like that, it's really only those models, those projections, those guesses of what is going on in the deaf-mute's head that are "real." After all, he can't speak, talk, tell us what he's thinking, so all we have to go on are our uneducated guesstimations.

Suppose now after some period of time, years, decades, the deaf-mute is spontaneously able to speak, write, communicate as fluently as any other fully grown adult human. Now he starts literally speaking his mind, taking what was once purely ideal, mental, internal, subjective, and lending at least some degree of objectivity, reality to it, by, at the very least, physically vibrating the air in order to produce sound, which is an objectively verifiable and quantifiable phenomenon. Not only is he now physically influencing the world through causality, he is also influencing the minds of his caretakers and friends by overturning their self-deceptions and illusions regarding what the deaf-mute is thinking, how his mind works. It's only by breaking silence, by literally speaking his mind that he is able to change the perceptions and the minds of those around him, who now may suddenly start treating him differently, with a little more respect, since it turns out he wasn't just a brainless invalid but may actually have half a thought lingering in his head.

Simply through the application of language and speech he has almost literally rewritten reality. You could say, "you are what you speak forth;" and for the deaf-mute, who could not speak forth anything at all, his self, others' concepts of his self, were empty, mere speculation, empty shadows and guesses at a human being. In fact, his persona is almost entirely socially determined and mediated - the only "self" that exists in the mind of his social circle, is the poor approximation that the deaf-mute's friends had to construct in his silence. It was only his act of using language, speaking his mind out into the world, that actually solidified his subjective experience of self into an intersubjective shared reality.

In fact, extending the thought experiment further, what if the deaf-mute decided to lie about the contents of his own mind, and speak forth completely different ideas and thoughts from those he harbors internally in the privacy of his mind? Would his friends and acquaintances know any better? or would they take his word at face-value, and now accept this linguistic fabrication of who the deaf-mute is as the deaf-mute's ACTUAL person, his ACTUAL character?

What exactly is the difference? does it matter whether or not his speech has any actual direct correlation or resemblance to his internal thought process? After all, one can say all sorts of things about themselves; in the immortal words of Razzlekhan,

I'm many things. A rapper. An economist. A journalist. A writer. A CEO. And a dirty, dirty, dirty dirty hoe.

This doesn't mean she actually is a rapper (in fact, this video would suggest the complete opposite). But does anyone deny the socially constructed, intersubjective "reality" of the media persona that is Razzlekhan? After all, someone logged in under such an alias posted moving pixels depicting a human being doing and saying these things in the physical world. I will probably never get to meet the actual "person" behind that alias, that persona - the only thing I will ever know of Razzlekhan is the narrative that was sold to me in my suspension of disbelief in the reality of digital media.

Do you see what I'm talking about?

1

This is a fascinating video. At 7:00, Tom Rowsell (SurviveTheJive) reads out some excerpts of the Srimad Bhagvatam(an important hindu scripture) where many if not every single prophecy comes true. The higher values are replaced by lower ones. Ones only worth in society is based upon their level of affluence and sex, people have no loyalty to their own family, culture or values. The only thing people will satisfy will be their genitals and bellies.

Everything will decay but there is a glimmer of hope. Just taking the name of Krishna would help one escape life and attain moksha.

Tom makes references from other indo european religions as well, this is not a culture war or culture war adjacent thing, mostly just something I found super fascinating given that they all were faiths that were very similar for the most part and got many things about the future right. The issue with kaliyuga is that of values, we have seen astounding technological and economical growth, the truth in many places is that many have lost values that were considered important by those who appreciate antiquity (I do at least). Many will not agree but even then, would appreciate any thots on this.

3

I noticed that the comment counts don't seem to line up with the total comments on this post, and a couple others. Do we already have shadow bans in place here, or is this just some delay issue?

/images/1662333864401946.webp

2

What is intuition?

Intuition is the result of a subconscious mental process

I came up with this definition by pure intuition, it seems right to me, but how do I know it seems right? I just do. OK, but maybe it's not a good definition, maybe there are better definitions available online, and because I'm writing this for other people to read, I probably should check before posting (wait... is it "probably should check" or "should probably check"?, I think most people say the latter, but grammatically the former seems better), but I'm going to resist the urge for now.

Initially I started to write this post with a few drinks and wrote whatever came to my mind as it came, and the problem is that when you are thinking about how you are thinking, you are suddenly aware of how often your thinking process is interrupted by a thought, which if you explore it, it will lead you to more thoughts that are going to be interrupted in turn... it's a mess.

This stream of consciousness quickly ended being much longer than I anticipated, but I wouldn't subject my readers to it, why not? Because I've been writing for more than twenty years and I kind of have a feeling of what people like to read. But perhaps I should, maybe more people would like my unfiltered consciousness rather than these structured thoughts, or maybe what I think are structured thoughts other people would see as ramblings--not significantly different from the unfiltered ones.

It is difficult to write. After thinking about the topic I've realized I have so much to say about intuition, but if I say it all will take me a very long time to write, and it would take a very long time to read, and perhaps because of that nobody reads it. I would rather say a little about intuition so that more people read it, and if they don't, well, at least I didn't spend a lot of time writing about it.

But at this point I haven't said much about intuition, have I? Let me try to connect what I've said so far with intuition.

The best example I can think of is when chess master players do a move they are not even consciously aware of. It's clearly an intelligent move, and they can tell if it's a good move, but they can't tell you why. If you ask them why they made certain move, they might come up with an explanation, but this is not necessarily why they did it.

Research shows that the subconscious mind makes decisions independent of what the conscious mind experiences. My favorite example is a task in which when the actions of participants were analyzed systematically, it turns out all of them did the same thing, but they all came up with different explanations of why they did it.

This is a deep philosophical issue, because it touches consciousness, intelligence, the sense of self, and even free will.

How do I choose to write what I write? I don't truly know. I intuit that some things are better options than others, but how? Where do these thoughts come from? And if I didn't consciously choose these thoughts, then who is ultimately writing?

The truth is that intuition is a mystery.

I feel like I have made a "good" point, but I also feel like there's two important points I can make related to ChatGPT and Nassim Taleb. Should I stop now? I'm not sure.


Can intuition be wrong? Well, if it's a "mystery" one would be tempted to say intuition is just intuition, but I believe there's bad intuition, and this comes from understanding what an expert is.

When one starts to learn chess there are some mechanical things to remember: how each piece moves, what's the relative value of each piece, etc. The more one learns, the more these things become embedded on one's mind, so you don't have to think about them, you just intuit that a certain move is good because it leaves you with a material advantage. But then you learn that even if a certain move is advantageous in one turn, the opponent can answer in a way that leaves you in a disadvantage. So your intuition was not good enough, and you need to learn more. After countless hours of playing your intuition becomes top-notch.

But if intuition could be wrong, what alternative is there? Presumably the alternative is analytical thinking. Aha! This sounds like Daniel Kahneman's Thinking, Fast and Slow. Intuitive thought is System 1, analytical thought is System 2.

After hours of thinking about this topic and this relationship honestly just came to my mind.

Why didn't I initially thought of this? This is like asking a chess player why didn't he see a particular move... I cannot think what I did not think.

OK. But I haven't made my point yet, and now I have to consider explaining System 1 and 2 for people who are not familiar with them. Or maybe I should just assume everyone knows that, but no, because I remember the writing advice of Steven Pinker, beware of the curse of knowledge, except this is going to be read by mottizens and if I explain something that is so basic they might conclude that I am basic. Screw it.

I believe everyone thinks analytically (System 2), the only difference between an expert and a novice is that the expert has internalized so much analytical thinking into his intuition (System 1), that whatever the novice has to think slowly about, it comes naturally fast for the expert, leaving his analytical thinking free to do much more complex analysis.

So analytical thinking is nothing more than the process through which we build our intuition. The more analytical thinking we do, the better our intuition becomes.

I didn't connect this to Nassim Taleb, but the inspiration came from him, essentially: analytical thinking is overrated.


OK, now I really feel I have to make the next point.

Recently I've seen ChatGPT everywhere, after toying with it substantially and discussing what I've found, I'm pretty sure what I see and what other people see is quite different.

The argument that I've seen a lot of people make is basically "it's just a bot", whatever miraculous answers it provides are nothing more than a simulacra of an intelligent being. It's not "truly" intelligent because it cannot do analytical thinking.

The point that I think everyone is missing is that intelligence itself is a mystery.

I don't know how I am deciding the next word that I'm going to type. It depends on my current mental state, which itself depends on the entirety of what I've read in the past, and what I've written.

But I've reread what I've written five or even ten years ago, and it's not as "good" as what I can write now. It makes sense because now I've read more, and I've written more.

My intuition about what to write next is better now.

And this is exactly how language models work. The more data you feed into a model, the better it becomes at writing a response that is deemed "good" by its readers.

Pessimists say that even if ChatGPT generates something truly marvelous it's still just a bot, it doesn't actually know why it wrote what it wrote. But guess what... Neither does a human.

If I ask you: what is 8 + x = 10? You are probably going to come up with an answer immediately. Do you know how you arrived to that answer? We know that a toddler cannot answer that, so some training is necessary. The more training, the more automatic the response will be. ChatGPT also generates an automatic response based on its training.


I feel there's so much more to write about this, but I want to conclude on the basis of two propositions.

I could write a whole essay on free will, but let's suppose that it doesn't exist, also suppose that the true nature of humans is misguided, and we are nothing more than a consciousness. I believe these two things are true, but I don't have the space to substantiate them here.

Grant me those two suppositions. What follows is that we don't know what's going to come next from our subconscious mind, you don't know what I'm going to type next, but neither do I. My conscious mind is as much a passenger in this stream of consciousness as your conscious mind is (assuming it's still following). I'm just witnessing my intuition doing its thing, but in truth that's all I can truly do.

I still don't know if my definition of intuition is close to how a dictionary would define it, but it still feels true. And that's probably what all my knowledge is: whatever feels true. My intuition of what feels true comes from all the analytical thinking I've done in the past, and this is probably what a language model considers knowledge too.

Or maybe I'm confusing what intuition is with how it manifests, just like people in the past concentrated on how heat manifests, not on what it truly was.

Maybe intuition is the encoding of analytical thinking, which we only see when a decision has to be made.

Intuition is encoded analytical thought

Either way, I had never thought of intuition in this way before (I hadn't actually given it much thought), this insight wouldn't have been possible if I hadn't sat down and written about the topic in the first place. All my intuition was already there, I just had to play it out, and as I was writing, I was genuinely surprised by the thoughts that were popping out in real time (why didn't I think of that before?).

My intuition also tells me that my insight is not something trivial that other people have already expressed many times over, but I know I've had insights in the past that I consider non-trivial only for other people to shit on them, so I shouldn't let my hopes up. Worst-case scenario this intuition about intuition might feed future insights.

I am not a big fan of Alex Berenson. I don't like journalists because they don't understand population statistics. They are interested mostly in anecdotal cases and their duty is to write about them in an interesting and viral way. And yet, that is an important service to identify targets that are worth of deeper analysis.

In Alex case while he missed many times, he also hit some good targets.

  1. vaccine effectiveness against infection is lost withing 3-4 months

  2. prior infection provides stronger immunity than vaccination

The second was always suspected but the evidence was always lacking. Now it turns out that twitter supressed tweets that announced the first real evidence (even if not very strong) that it is the case. I believe that this suppression likely extended wider than just twitter and ultimately influenced the US policy to not recognise immunity from infection when vaccine mandates were put in place. In contrast, most European countries with mandates recognised immunity from prior infection in one way or another as inferior or equal to immunity from vaccination.

There might be some practical considerations – vaccination is easy to register and provide proof. Prior infection is more nebulous, requires expensive testing, some tests are less reliable. The whole idea casts shadow how reasonable vaccine mandates are in the first place. Some would worry that the recognition of immunity from prior infection could also encourage vaccine hesitant to seek getting infected.

Such policies however are very risky because they are conditional on us never finding out the truth. It was always more likely that prior infection confers stronger immunity than vaccination. It was stupid to try to supress the evidence at any time. Eventually it surfaced (as it was bound to) and made those attempts to control narrative look evil.

Note: I could not find any studies that estimate how many heavy metal bands are atheistic, so "most" is nothing more than a personal observation.

Chances are good that if you go to church, you sing. Most churches around the world; be it Anglican, Catholic, Orthodox, or Protestant; have singing as a part of worship. Every Sunday they meet, greet, sing, preach, share personal stories, and some then sing some more. Why?

The first time that I sang was in college in voice class. It was the single most enjoyable and fulfilling experience that I have ever had. I was awful, but there was this intense sense of unity, this sense of belonging that I had never experienced before. There we were, a group of just 20 or so students, and together we all made a work of art for the sake of of making art. It was beautiful. I had never felt so connected to people that I did not know before then, and ever since I stopped going to that college I have not felt that sense of connection to others so intensely. I do not go to church. I have not gone since I was a little kid. Yet, almost every day I am consciously envious of the people who can believe in God because of how beautiful that singing, that sense of community, was.

I believe the reason why so many churches have singing is because of this sense of community. Singing is a readily accessible and simple way to bring people together. Churches that don't sing don't build a sense of unity with singing, and people will go to the closest church that they feel the most belonging in. If churches that don't sing don't have other ways to supplement this sense of unity, then Darwinism happens: Churches that are less able to create a community are less fit to survive.

What if you don't believe in God? What if you're a kid, a teenager, and it's Sunday and your friends are out playing and having fun and going to the arcade or playing football and your parents instead make you go to church? The Sabbath takes your day of rest and turns it into a day of work. Instead of getting to relax you get to be angry. Angry at your parents for keeping you from your friends and for not loving you if they were to ever find out that you do not see the world the same way they do. Angry at the church and the people within it for hating the nonbelievers and gays and anyone who just doesn't belong. Angry at God for being a convenient weapon for this community, that you do not feel a part of, to use against you. And you sing.

You get good at singing, as you sing every Sunday and have every Sunday for as long as you can remember. Your puberty goes by filled with stress, as all puberties do, and yours gets to be filled with an extra dose of anger and alienation. And you sing some more. But what do you actually want to sing about? What emotion do you have that has gone unexpressed that you want people to hear? How do you want to be heard?

And you get mad.

2

So I recently heard about this supplement called Nicotinamide Mononucleotide. It's heralded as this great medicine that reduces aging, and gets rid of many issues.

And I really want to believe it, but there's something snakeoil salesmany about it.

  • It's heralded as a magical cure with no downside

  • It resolves so many issues and problems with your body it's unreal

  • From brain to liver, to ankles and skin, it's all covered

It all sounds too good to be true to me. I don't think it has negative effects and it's actually malicious, but I think it's just a fad that's being pushed. I don't think it can do really bad harm, but I don't think there's any better effects than a tummy ache.

What do you think? Do you have experience with this supplement?

This is the first intermission of 👯, listed as season 1 episode 7 for filing purposes. In this episode, TracingWoodgrains, MasterThief, The Sultan Of Swing, XantosCell, and Unsaying discuss religious community.

This discussion was originally slated to be released as an episode of the The Bailey podcast, but eventually it was decided that it should be published elsewhere instead, and so it finds its home here, at 👯.

The image used in the video is Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld's Pentecost woodcut for "Die Bibel in Bildern", 1860:

https://commons.m.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Schnorr_von_Carolsfeld_Bibel_in_Bildern_1860_226.png

Show notes:

36:00 Unsaying's superintelligence of deity post: https://old.reddit.com/r/slatestarcodex/comments/a54d99/the_compression_problem/

39:47 Despite instructions made in the moment, this tangent was not cut out, as it turned out to be relevant. Normally, any requests to cut something out would be honored, but everyone involved assented to this edit of the episode.

47:03 Xantos's snake-handling video: https://youtube.com/watch?v=2dlnqRDmmds

Extended show notes:

(Discussing unsuitability for marriage and the path of monasticism) https://old.reddit.com/r/TheMotte/comments/hkesjh/comment/fwy8ofv/

https://www.americamagazine.org/content/all-things/watching-spotlight-young-priest

https://babylonbee.com/news/dozens-of-bible-verses-come-forward-to-accuse-joel-osteen-of-abuse

(If people want more BG on heresies, i dunno) https://old.reddit.com/r/Catholicism/comments/4ihgog/extra_history_on_early_christian_schisms_pt_2/

Transnational Thursday is a thread for people to discuss international news, foreign policy or international relations history. Feel free as well to drop in with coverage of countries you’re interested in, talk about ongoing dynamics like the wars in Israel or Ukraine, or even just whatever you’re reading.

Be advised: this thread is not for serious in-depth discussion of weighty topics (we have a link for that), this thread is not for anything Culture War related. This thread is for Fun. You got jokes? Share 'em. You got silly questions? Ask 'em.

Do you have a dumb question that you're kind of embarrassed to ask in the main thread? Is there something you're just not sure about?

This is your opportunity to ask questions. No question too simple or too silly.

Culture war topics are accepted, and proposals for a better intro post are appreciated.

AI post. Never made a top-level post before, plz let me know what I'm doing wrong.

Quote from part of the article:

one simulated test saw an AI-enabled drone tasked with a SEAD mission to identify and destroy SAM sites, with the final go/no go given by the human. However, having been ‘reinforced’ in training that destruction of the SAM was the preferred option, the AI then decided that ‘no-go’ decisions from the human were interfering with its higher mission – killing SAMs – and then attacked the operator in the simulation.