Tuesday, 1 April 2014

A critique of vegetarianism, veganism and animal rights

Vegetarianism, veganism and animal rights market irrationality with a quasi-religious fixation on an arbitrary deontology detached from real-life outcome.
However, even a consequentialistic sentiocentrism still faces:
· No metric of sentience (panpsychism/solipsism)
· Aggregation and intersubjective commensurability of conflicting interests, supererogation
· Ignorance and chaos in predicting consequences

The purpose of education

1.      Jobs                             Imparting skills to make a living
2.      i) Happiness                Understanding how the world works leads to happier adults
ii) Citizenship             Wiser citizens involved in democracy makes a better society
3.      Autodidactism           Nurturing the ability to learn for oneself
4.      Intrinsic enjoyment   People sometimes enjoy learning (topic-dependent and not
shared by everyone!)

On Free Will

Determinism may be an example of something you can’t fully believe, else you may not act or think through the perceived options and resign yourself to fatalism. Perhaps we are condemned to have to entertain our illusion of free will in some way.
Maybe the dissonance of ‘determinism for everyone else’ but ‘free-will for yourself’ is the sanest choice.

Internet Laws

Kungfuhobbit's Internet Laws
1.      As debate on any topic continues over time, somebody will  blame the bankers
2.      As debate on any topic continues over time, somebody will  slander Richard Dawkins
3.      The first two-thirds of any debate is spent ad-homming and strawmanning before finally understanding each other’s points; the last third is spent coming to the realisation that intuitions are inexplicable and that people’s values are subjective, arbitrary and mutually irreconcilable
4.      If you want to make a devastating philosophical critique of their argument, there’s an SMBC for it; if you want to make a trivial, pseudo-profound observation there’s a TED Talk for it.
5.      If a phrase is attributed to Einstein, Gandhi or Russell on the internet, they didn’t say it.
6.      In a democracy, on every political issue there’s a popular answer and it’s nearly always wrong.
(Mencken’s Law)
7.      If there's a change.org petition calling for it, don't do it
(The Petition Heuristic)
8.      There is zero chance of getting people to respond to the content of your argument rather than its perceived emotional tone.
9.      If you can’t talk about quantum physics while referring to a PDE, shut up
(Colquhoun’s Law)
10.  As debate on left-right politics continues over time, somebody will voice the sentiment "Everyone's equal! And if you can’t see it then you’re a subhuman piece of shit and I’m so much better than you!”
(The Law of left-wing, anti-Tory discourse)
11.  Every nationality thinks they alone invented humour, war, compromise and cuisine.
12.  The only certainties of life are conflict, competition, disagreement and gossip.
Three laws of discovery
1.      Arnold’s law                Discoveries are rarely attributed to the correct person
(Of course Arnold’s law is self-referential)
2.      Berry’s law                  Nothing is ever discovered for the first time
(prompted by the observation that the sequence of antecedents under law 1 seems endless)
3.      Whitehead’s law         Everything of importance has been said before by someone
who did not discover it.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

On politics and economics

In politics people’s strength of opinion often goes untempered by their ignorance of the topic in a way they wouldn’t dream of in most other subjects.
“The greatest argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.”
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming”
-Theodore Roosevelt
Political labels oversimplify and encourage tribalism, bristlingly proud identities, attachment and conformity.
Avoid tribalistic affiliation; aim to be neutral, floating and to decide issue-by-issue. The merit of the argument is all that matters.
Modern society doesn’t mean majoritarianism.
“Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion”
We get the politicians we deserve, sampled from ourselves, flaws and all. (We want better? ‘Educate our masters’ –Disraeli)
Due to the subjectivity of individuals’ values and the corresponding utility functions, when clashes of interests occur they are settled by an equilibrium which minimises disruption from all relevant groups, rather than from some shared universal moral objectivism.
“We won’t understand human conduct until we grasp that societies are collections of individuals seeking their own self interest”
-Richard Alexander, paraphrased
“It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity, but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities, but of their advantages.”
The unique shading and composition of our subjective values are products of the indoctrination of upbringing, past emotional experiences and cultural environment, rendering them often inert to cognitive argument/debate.
You can’t please everyone.
Something is only worth what someone else is willing to pay for it.
Wages and effort aren’t linear; collectivism alters motivations, responsibility and introduces disincentives to production.
“Do you think that the person taking care of the pigs is going to stay up all night watching the Soviets’ sow have the Soviets’ pigs? The answer is no.”
-Earl Butz, allegedly
“Man will become better when you show him what he is like”
Balancing market forces and central government is an optimisation problem; views should merely be based on evidence, with government deciding which values to maximise.
Greed can be good; it is a driving force in innovation and increasing productivity, ultimately benefitting everyone. Productivity is a dispassionate optimisation problem.
Communism assumes the homogeneity of values, interests and benevolence; anyone still with hope for communism has clearly never lived in a shared house.
“Not to be a radical at twenty is proof of want of heart; to be one at thirty is proof of want of head.”
-Georges Clemenceau, paraphrased
Even the poorest have never had such good quality of life (p11). Don’t confuse relative and absolute poverty.
Fairness is a fictitious, subjective and self-serving notion. If the world’s (thirdworld) poor staked a claim to our wealth on grounds of fairness would we concede it to them?
‘Fairness’ is an egotistical mechanism - the politics of envy narrated through the socially acceptable lens of a victim mentality, somewhere between entitlement, anger and jealousy.
How do we reward adults for their efforts with money - creating inequality - without condemning some children to the negativities of this inequality?
At what point will we ever be comfortable that things are equal enough?

Monday, 2 December 2013

On Driving

Driving is the greatest responsibility you will ever have (including raising children).
When you take on the responsibility of handling a 2,500kg lethal weapon, you take on the responsibility for your actions.
A driving license and the act of driving is a privilege, not a right.
We are responsible not just for our own health but for preserving the lives, limbs and ability to walk of everybody else on the road and pavement.
Perennially we hear
“I can react better than other people”
“My car is better than what those distance chevrons are based on”
“Speed limits are set only for the average driver”
Funny how so many saying this are in the highest risk 17-25 category.
Odd how so fewer than 50% say they are below average.
Power (in this case a car) is psychologically intoxicating; exaggerating existing dispositions of a person’s character.
Driving on the roads is no time to act like an insecure child on a power trip.
What are your attitudes towards driving and towards other drivers?
Good drivers are aware of their attitudes and make an effort to keep them from impacting their driving behaviours.
They recognize that driving is nothing more than the behaviour required to get from one place to another.
Driving is not a measure of self-worth, not a competitive sport and not a stress reliever.
Driving is a means of getting from one place to another that requires your effort and attention, literally as a matter of life and death – for you and for other people.
The situation on the road can change in an instant.
And no, the laws of physics will not suspend themselves just for you.
We do not learn to drive at 17.
We start to learn at something like age 6 from watching our parents or adults around us.
Conditioning ourselves with their faults reinforces a dreadful standard as the norm from a young, impressionable age.
We need to teach driving earlier – at school. We need to teach it at age 11 and 12 before hormones, power trips, conformity, image and showing off become even greater factors.
17 is completely the wrong time for children to learn to drive.
Crashes are commonly referred to as accidents, suggesting no-one is to blame. Nonsense.
Let’s destroy the acceptable use of this irresponsible word.
You take responsibility for yourself and others sharing the road when you drive.
Many people are hurt and disabled by driving - don’t do your part in really messing up innocent people’s lives.
Let’s make speeding socially unacceptable.
Let’s make any bad driving practices socially unacceptable.
It is a matter of life and death.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

On Religion

Problems of Theism
(an interacting God with specific properties)
·      Unreliability of inner feeling
Cultural/familial specificity of ‘deeply felt truths known only to the mind’ renders it unreliable. Mutual incompatibility of religions. On chance alone expect yours to be wrong.
·      Unreliability of scripture
Historical unreliability and errors of holy books. Chinese whispers.
·      Incoherence
Theodicy/ Evil God Hypothesis, Inconsistent triad, Free will – Omniscience
Problems of Deism
(a non-interacting, mathematician/physicist creator)
·      Fallacy of composition, re: ‘first cause’
·      Unfalsifiability
Eg. Russell’s Teapot
Religion is comforting for some people, but that doesn’t make it true.
It was humanity’s first attempt at philosophy and science, to try and understand an emotionally difficult world.