Skip Nav

Quotations by Author

Suggested Essay Topics

❶Not the change we need.

From the SparkNotes Blog

news & opinion
Books of Adventure, Discovery & Enlightenment

What themes or issues might be raised in a play about blacks in the 's that Wilson does not address? Do Rose and the women mentioned in the play typify roles of the 's or defy them? What attributes or actions of the female characters support your interpretation? Some critics of August Wilson complain that "nothing happens" in his plays, meaning the plot is too subtle to be dramatic.

Write a review of Fences arguing against this assertion and proving that it is a dramatic work. Back up your opinion with textual support. Compare and contrast the roles of fate vs. Scene One Act One: Scene Two Act One: Scene Three Act One: Scene Four Act Two: Scene One Act Two: Scene Two Act Two: Scene Three Act Two: The notion is that you know a foolish person believes X, so you very strongly believe the reversal of X.

It would not be valid to strongly believe that men and women are extremely different heights on average. Note that this is the case even when X itself is wrong.

Regarding feminism in particular: The only way to do it is to build a truth oracle and reverse all of its answers at the end. The structure of feminism you describe is logically impossible. Should we therefore conclude that rape is awesome? That seems like a reductio ad absurdum. It believes in one opposite-of-true thing and bases all of its decision-making on that.

Homeopathic theory is also never right. You may as well try to credit Communism with the idea that abusing people is bad. Do you not remember the thing you were responding to? If I create an ideology all about how the subterranean lizard-men are responsible for all ills in the world, and I interpret everything through this ideology, I will never ever ever arrive at a correct conclusion through it, and my incorrect conclusions will yield no useful information.

I think it depends on how specifically the beliefs are connected. They may be connected differently even for different people in the same camp. If I have independent evidence for X, Y, Z, then learning that X is false will not undermine my belief in Y and Z significantly, because the arguments for them still feel valid.

Of course this alone is not a reason to believe in non-Y and non-Z; I should merely become ignorant about Y and Z. But people are not good at admitting ignorance, they want to believe this or that way. So, it depends on the structure of beliefs. If you want to prevent your members from turning fully to the opposite side if they find a flaw, you should teach your beliefs as independent. Of course then you can have a lot of people who accept a subset of your beliefs and refuse the rest; and you might want to avoid that, to rather have less strong believers than many half-believers.

The system with a few strong believers is probably more powerful politically, but also more fragile. On the other hand, for a two-part meme which is fueled both by strong believers and strong anti-believers, because each of them serves as a reverse-stupidity recruitment tool for the other side , having a few strong believers is an advantage, regardless of the fragility.

To fight against the meme, we should evaluate X, Y, Z separately. And then we could conclude that e. And then we should get ready to be attacked by feminists for not believing X, and by anti-feminists for believing Y and Z. So I have a friend, or someone who used to be a friend, who is in a convent. This story is relevant to the above, but gradually. The rules of the convent read like a manual for bringing about persuasion through the dark arts rather than rational means: Conformity in dress and action?

Having other people read your mail, and being obliged to tell them all about yourself? Framing so that leaving the convent is seen as rejecting a gift?

And so on and so forth. So this bothers me. It seems to me the kind of thing that is designed to produce non-agenty automatons. If a Catholic is reading this, bear with me. But to the people in the convent, of course, all this is precisely designed to free one from the slavery to the flesh.

Destoys pride and vain signalling so you can be with Christ. Again, separation from the world so you can be with Chris. All this is optimization, from their point of view, for truthseeking—not something designed to brainwash you.

The basic Catholic point is that all this is supposed to be the only way you can really be perfect, or really be an agent, or something. This is a severe disagreement, then, between Catholics and me. And no doubt, if I were stupid enough to share some atheist article about Mother Theresa, people reading that would feel the rage. We could shout at each other a lot. I want to say things about it because it is distressing for me to think that someone thinking about joining a convent would not hear an opposing view.

And they could say something similar, of course. So with regard to the above post. The above is really, really excellent. If Scott kickstarted a book by that title, I would fund the hell out of it.

When I argue with a non-cloistered individual Consecrated to Christ, very nearly everything that they say presents itself to me as something a horrible, evil, infectious, dangerous memetic attachment would cause them to say.

And no doubt they perceive very nearly everything I say as something someone would say who is in thrall to the Devil and Sin and bound by the chains of the flesh. We may be right or wrong in not seeing them as such, of course. Catholic nuns and atheist rationalists seem clearly sufficiently far away that what is identified as truth-seeking behavior by one is usually identified as foreign-principality-infection by the other.

And this is surely true of memetic as well as viral agents. And this warning to stay away will be perceived as an attack—which, to a certain degree, it is—and this will lead to name calling. Not really sure I am right about this, of course, and not really sure I formulated this clearly. It seems to jar a little with the SSC project, if so. This is not clear. While there is no upside to allowing viral agents to go around and infect people, allowing the same for memetic agents is both less bad and has benefits in allowing broader consideration of ideas.

In this metaphor, limitations on discourse look less like a quarantine and more like a mandatory eugenics program. Which, I suppose, says less about the merits of free speech than it does about the dangers of choosing metaphors arbitrarily. There is an upside to allowing viruses to go around infecting people, which is why we do it. The opportunity cost involved in avoiding all viral infections is much worse than the cost of infection for most viruses. Link is not safe for sanity. When I read that comment, I immediately tried to think of some benefit to letting viral agents go around and infect people, and Guns, Germs, and Steel came to mind: Which would actually support you: So one could develop a theory of American cultural imperialism based on this.

But thanks for the criticism. How about I respond by qualifying the generality of the statement: And Xianity and rationalism, oddly, share that they regard large portions of mankind as being in a vulnerable ungrounded epistemic state. Also, I certainly seem to have more sustained and interesting streams of consciousness in response to arguments with which I disagree than I do with arguments with which I agree.

As a Catholic who has a number of atheist friends, it seems, from my experience, that disagreement is only detrimental to the extent that the controversy begins to affect the daily lives of the interlocutors in relation to one another. Obviously your convent example is on the extreme end, but in most cases a Catholic and an atheist or agnostic, or Pastafarian, or whatever can live in harmony since they usually have vaguely similar life goals such as advancing careers or trying to raise families.

The problem arises when this commonality begins to collapse, when the implications of utterly contrasting belief systems begin to manifest as contradictory ways of life. Your convent example is one, but another would be if, for example, one party decides that having over 5 children is part of their divine calling, or if one person wants to send their son to a private school that the other wants to shut down, because he believes private schools should not exist.

Ultimately, I think that the existence of such incidents demonstrates that pluralism is not a stable end-state for society if it generates such completely antithetical views. At some point trends will shift to favour one world-view over all the others, simply because there is no other way to have a naturally stable polity.

It seems that, essentially, you need to start making conversions to your worldview, if at the very least as a self-protection measure. That was enjoyable and made sense of why we seem to expect people to be much inferentially closer than they often are. It helped me formulate two reasons that intelligent and otherwise reasonable people might not be able to disagree or discuss things profitably, though. One is the above—enormous inferential differences make people think that other people are insane.

But a theist might think that one ought to have the habit of clinging to particular beliefs because confusion is from the devil. But a theist might think the intutive sense one gets of Someone being there is from God, and to ignore it is to crush a particular sensus divinitatis http: At least, that might be something different from inferential distance.

Inferential distance seems like something more biologically based, and the habits difference seems like something maybe more culturally based. I mean, but here I am, anonymously on the Internet, so no one knows who I am or how, if at all, I advantage myself by this argument.

Plus, faster information turnaround than the old monks reading and writing books system. There are good kinds of feedback the ones we get from scientific experiments and bad kinds of feedback the ones we get from Moloch.

If you detach yourself from the world, you remove both. You are allowed to say true things that would have cost you a career outside of the monastery.

You are also allowed to say things that are just plain crazy. Yes, there are differences in values, worldviews, and epistemology, both between individuals and between groups.

But, on the other hand, there are also beliefs we have in common. Perhaps not with every person in every situation, but certainly on most of the controversial issues with most people, there is an area on consensus: And these points of agreement could be a basis for both action — implementing policies most of us would support, even if our reasons are different, and dialogue — trying to persuade each other and expand the common ground, one step at a time.

Maybe should have waited for the open thread or something. I agree with everything you say. Including that it is terrifying and flesh-chillingly creepy to see people become belief-aliens. I agree that there is actually a lot more agreement out there on certain issues than is apparent from what you see on the internet. Not all the nastiness can be blamed on the perverse incentives out there. I think about it this way: If we instead optimize for fighting each other, the results are suboptimal in case our values are different, and deeply tragical if they are not.

Enclosed or religious institute all nuns are sisters, but not all sisters are nuns? Generally, discernment of a vocation nowadays is more nuanced than it used to be, and psychological fitness is one of the things assessed.

Then you make your first profession which is taking temporary vows binding for three to six years, depending what order. Even in light of this I am extremely troubled by Carmelite practices re. Might as well add that, even from a Catholic perspective, theological justifications for these practices appear to me to be really severely lacking — or depend on a kind of inherited Neoplatonic dislike of the world, which seems to me pretty much separated from any moderately viable Catholic theological perspective.

Well, to be fair, everyone knows that the Carmelites are tough — sort of the equivalent of special forces units in the armed forces of any nation. Ancient attempts by societal leaders to control religion are really a type of memetic warfare, though perhaps a very simple form.

Generally speaking ancient religions that were open to other religions and had a way of incorporating them did better than ancient religions that required strict doctrinal purity. As for staying away from memetic risks, I disagree. I find no good standards for determining what information people should not ever be exposed to. Take heart in the fact that Cthulhu swims ever leftward, at least on long enough time scales.

Eventually we may become the unstoppable eusocial aliens that could pose an existential threat to us. Only because the Ministry of Truth rewrites history so that things cease to be leftist once they fail. So was segregation — it was not the end of Reconstruction but the election of Woodrow Wilson that set it loose, and they openly said they were glad to finally be free of that fossilized dogma of the equality of man. But yes, it seems that gardens of rational discussion do grow over their competitors in the end.

Personally I have a lot of faith that truth will out eventually, and that it wins out more quickly when people have honest and well intentioned conversations. As far as I can tell, the best cure for a dangerous idea is a better idea, administered via conversation.

Conversation means listening, understanding, and debating respectfully — something I see an awful lot of on SSC which just gives me all kinds of warm fuzzies. Maybe the solution is to start with a conversation about conversation? Infect them with the idea that the truth will ultimately trump any memetic agent given the right environment: An obviously true rape allegation will only be spread if the response is controversial enough to split people in half along lines corresponding to identity politics.

You can always find a counterexample — but this is not always significant. People Say Offensive Things on Twitter! Inventing or over-hyping a tiny minority an opposition lets us have long conversations about stuff that would otherwise drop off the radar.

The problem, unfortunately, is that the FB feeds seem to be: People from the Other Tribe say offensive things on Twitter. Re animal rights charities: Many people have actually heard of Vegan Outreach. They hand out more than a million leaflets a year on university campuses. There are other organisations in animal welfare which try to optimise more for media coverage than Vegan Outreach while being less objectionable than PETA, most notably Direct Action Everywhere, who managed to get a bunch of mainstream coverage recently.

They do it by regularly releasing absolutely horrifying undercover video of abuse on factory farms and slaughterhouses. They seem to be incredibly good at getting media coverage, and the coverage they get is pretty consistently about the issue, not about their own silly stunts.

Maybe that had some value when they started in the 80s, but as Scott points out, enough people are aware of the basic issues factory farming, etc. I had Direct Action Everywhere in mind when I read the post. Its publicity seems to be an effect of controversy — as I understand it, its lucky break came when Glenn Beck mocked one of their protests. I have a vegan animal-rights activist brother and I get all this PETA-style crap from him and let me tell you, it has not changed my mind re: I have been handed and summarily thrown away many dozen leaflets on my college campus.

Many schools of ancient philosophy e. The point of a philosophical education is to help you make peace with that. Scott has done a fantastic job of pointing out ways in which our control over the world is exceedingly imperfect. In trying to improve the world by collective action, we create serious coordination problems.

There is no particular guarantee that these problems are actually soluble. Is the right approach a return to a less activist world-view? Should we be trying to fix the problem, or primarily trying to reconcile ourselves to the fact that we are trapped inside a badly flawed system? It seems to me that people ought to strive to accept the world-as-is with as much equanimity as possible.

If the world is full of serious co-ordination problems, I desire to see the world as full of serious co-ordination problems! If those problems are unsolvable, I should desire to see them as unsolvable. You can be reconciled to the badly flawed system while still trying to fix it. You might as well be describing the gulf between rationalism and post modernism. Not that I disagree with you, but the movement you are proposing is that large. For instance, despite all our efforts to eliminate expressions of evil intent and action, there are not many rational people who would state that evil can be eliminated from man.

Therefore the question is more of a philosophical one — Imagine you live in a desert village where the sun rising every morning causes pain, discomfort, potentially even death, to the people in your village. I think the same scenario applies to your question, that is, a significant portion of the population have not accepted the nature of man as flawed, so rather than working within those constraints to find equitable solutions, they seek instead to fix that which cannot be fixed.

Imagine you live in a desert village where the sun rising every morning causes pain, discomfort, potentially even death, to the people in your village. I find this an interesting example because we actually do live in this world. The sun causes pain sunburns , discomfort overheating , and potentially death skin cancer. Meanwhile, most people have generally accepted the inevitability of this and take measures to protect themselves sunscreen instead of trying to block out the sun like Mr Burns did in the Simpsons.

For example the stoics would say that disease will always ravage mankind and we should come to accept the impermanence of life, then we eradicated smallpox, invented antibiotics, massively reduced infant mortality, etc. This is kind of why I always hated The Serenity Prayer. It sounds like a really good thing: It always bothered me, though, because no two people could seem to agree on the difference, and this was pretty big.

The unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man. The ideal thing, of course, is to defect—be a Stoic in a society of strivers. An intermediate approach is probably the best. On one hand, most of us have little influence over large-scale problems, there are institutional barriers to change, etc, so one could realistically expend a lot of effort trying to change things on a large scale and accomplish nothing.

Beyond that, some people are in a position to accomplish large-scale changes, whether through discovering vaccines, making decisions for influential companies, etc. You have taken the first step on the path to Neo-Reaction. Come, friend, the dark side awaits…. We need some kind of social technology that can put hard limits on this insanity. Infobitt might fit this bill, or it might make the insanity spiral even more out of control, we shall see.

I wonder how many potential controversies have been strangled in their crib by the existence of wikipedia over the years. On politically contentious topics wikipedia tends to be horribly biased towards one side or another. Since winning on wikipedia makes it seem like your side is right, people fight to accomplish that. This was done by one very biased editor. Even when asked by Jimbo to step away from it, he refused, and when the page was unlocked yesterday, turned it into even more of an attack page.

And as the ideological divides get deeper and more common going forward, more WP editors are going to fall on one side or another of whatever the controversy-of-the-week is, making the problems even worse. Clearly, WP articles with political implications are biased, and they have a terrible time preventing the controversy from affecting the quality of the articles.

The torture report details conduct that is clearly terrible, like pointless torture of innocent people. There are older SSC posts and concepts that address this: I think he effectively explained in the post itself that this would be a bad idea. His truth-seeking incentives are much better aligned while he is not relying on writing as his primary source of income.

Looking at other bloggers, it appears to me that direct payment would provide different incentives. But it probably is true that he gains readers from his controversial posts, regardless of the other details. This is a total non-sequitor, but this is the first I have seen you comment in a while. If his livelihood depended on it, as well as the well being of his loved ones, this would be a much harder choice to make.

Sidenote, Scott already knows this but in case others are curious, psychiatrists actually have some of the shortest average hours of any medical specialty, so once he finishes residency he should have relatively more time to blog than he would in a different specialty, ceteris paribus.

On this post of all posts, you need to consider the incentives. There is an oversupply of writers and success is only weakly correlated with ability.

Success for Scott could involve being a columnist for, say, Slate or the Bloomberg View and being read by far more people than he is now.

If Scott could get x as many readers, then his occasional efficient charity articles would reach x as many people. So the question is would Scott rather have a lot more readers, or a lot more commenters? Or, at the very least, release a printed book version of these posts on political ideology. I think a lot of people are looking for this kind of clarity and even-handedness.

Andy Weir, author of The Martian , says sales of the 99c minimum price ebook on Amazon far outnumbered downloads of the same text that had long been freely available at his web site. I work at an on-demand publishing company. If Scott wants to compile these into a book, he should let me know. But I like to imagine the warm fuzzies of professionally networking with a reader is something.

But as a brilliant writer he could turn us into packs of rabid dogs without us even noticing. The incentive would always be there, lurking. Ferguson became a big story before we had any real information on it, particularly and importantly the information that supported the police officer.

Similarly, the UVA rape story was a big one before it became clear that it was fabricated although that certainly blew it up further. I do find it weird that that both the Trayvon and Ferguson stories were such poor supports for the narratives they were intended to push, especially when there were much worse injustices available that would have served. It does seem like a common pattern, though: And look at the people who have gained prominence as civil rights leaders: Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton.

Thanks for that comment! Indeed, Ferguson became big in media in large part because of the unrest — and I highly doubt any protesters saw anything but racism and injustice in what happened there — even before the the non-indictment.

Being big is what made Ferguson controversial, not the other way around. How about… those stories were pushed because they were poor supports. Perhaps the idea was not to try to convince people of the rightness of the cause, but to stir up old animosities and inflame people and create further division, since those doing the pot-stirring are dependent on perpetuating the anger to keep the money flowing in.

I half-jokingly told my family that the government should ignore issues that are controversial and quietly try to pass a bunch of laws that people have no opinion on. I think I recall that the Senate had a similar pattern, but unsurprisingly, given how much more economically diverse whole states are than most House districts the pattern was less pronounced. My prediction is that the republicans will choose to end the embargo. However, if Obama had turned it in to a huge campaign issue and publicized his efforts, then then the republicans would be doing everything in their power to keep Cuba down.

In your day-to-day life you see disputes all the time where one side is conspicuously wrong, and you judge these disputes appropriately. Also, what James Miller said: The first thing the gamergate meme did was build discussion forums. With these it spread rapidly, even reforming at 8chan after 4chan expelled it. In this time many gamergate carriers began discussing the creation of friendly videogame news sites.

Multiples such sites were launched with funding and attention from carriers, and rapidly bootstrapped themselves by focussing on controversial topics.

Page view based internet advertising further incentives controversy. Both gamergate and anti-gamergate are leaderless online movements with the mutual goal of memetic extermination. They have prominent members, but no one group or person can do more than influence their course. They self-modify, rapidly adopting the use of tools like archive. Users even build tools like the gamergate blocklist, a tool which auto-blocks any Twitter account following more than N accounts deemed to be carriers of the gamergate meme.

Analogizing the combined social graph and information distribution channels of a distributed movement to a brain, these memes are doing radical neurosurgery. Viewed through this lens, it almost looks like a very primitive AI bootstrapping. Wow, this is a really great article, and articulates something that was driving me crazy all throughout the Ferguson thing. Yet even questioning whether the Brown case was the right one to get outraged about when there were so many other more unambiguously outrage-worthy cases out there got me shouted down.

I think you are definitely on to something. Maybe internet only replicates what has already happened millenia ago with human speech. Why are people so irrational? Because rationality is boring. This is the fate of human race. For a short while the internet was better, because it was full of nerds. Now the internet follows the same fate. Given the information overload, content tends to become salient based on its emotional charge. This gives media companies the incentive to create emotional superstimuli.

This phenomenon, known as yellow journalism, is in fact older than the Internet, but the Internet amplifies it. Online social networks like Twitter and Facebook, in particular, are set up to provide users with content that reinforces their prexisting preferences, generating echo chambers and polarization.

The people famous for religious debate-wars on topics ranging from vim vs emacs to systemd vs anything-other-than-systemd? These are your paragons of reasonable interaction? Reasonable and simple but non-obvious is actually rarely boring; problem is, reasonable opinions on complex issues are rarely simple, and complex reasoning is hard to grasp, and harder still the more complex it is.

People manage to be vectors for these memes mostly without physically attacking vectors at other stages in the cycle, with a few failures. Thanks a bunch for this explanation! The key point in is that the DNA stays the same as it moves from cat to rat, so we have multiple strains of the parasite, each one competing with each other to become more effective at infecting hosts on both sides of the divide. The conversion from one side to the other is overly broad.

I suppose this is a good thing that individual strains are not competing for their ability to provoke the other side, but merely for their ability to spread among their own side, given the environment set up by the memes on the other side. I think a better analogy is a symbiotic relationship.

Also, though I am a super pro-free market anarcho-capitalist, I have to say that news reporting is one area where market incentives really seem to produce a lot of perverse effects just one area??? I suspect the only thing that could really change it in either case would be a shift in attitudes toward greater awareness of this sensationalism and the tribalism it stokes and a corresponding growth in demand for more nuanced treatments… but I imagine that will be very slow in coming.

News reporting, political commentary, opinion journalism, press releases, science reporting, blogging, micro-blogging, facebook posting, advertising, the TV and film industry, talk radio, televised political debates, and so on, ad nauseam, to encompass the whole of the apparatus of mass communication, on which our entire political and social system rests.

Prediction markets on everything people care about. Generate a whole new set of data which people end up analysing like business news does today. But even these may have to be subsidised. Making money may not be the goal. They may have other purposes in mind, as in promoting an agenda, not trying to turn a profit. Being a loss leader for promoting an ideology is probably a more succinct way of putting it. So one obvious counterexample comes to mind: Parks was deliberately selected by anti-segregation activists as a rallying point because of the lack of ambiguity in her case.

There were other black people who refused to move to the back of the bus beforehand. But they were not chosen because their cases were more ambiguous and less sympathetic. Many of them had rude and confrontational personalities, or had made disreputable lifestyle choices. Parks was chosen because she was a completely unambiguous example of a good decent person who was forced to go to the back of the bus. Was it MediaMoloch weaker in the 60s because the media was less advanced?

Did it simply take time for the toxoplasma to infect the Civil Rights movement, and the Black Power movement was the result of that infection? Whatever the case, the Civil Rights people in the 60s are generally regarded as more successful at changing policy than the subsequent Black Power people. They are also better remembered in history. So maybe fighting against infection is the way to go, even if it reduces media exposure.

I can think of a lot of counter-examples. Consider the Phelps family. They get it because everybody hates them, which makes them useful for tarring the rest of the anti-SSM side. Molech selects for many things. But it is in fact pretty easy to find examples of e. The civil rights organizations were optimizing for civil rights advancement. The social justice movement, despite its name, is not in fact optimizing for civil rights advancement. Rather, participants are optimizing for the warm fuzzies of self-righteous indignation.

Funny, I was just thinking about how a concerted effort to eliminate toxoplasma in humans would be the ultimate test of societal effectiveness: So this prompts the question: The good feeling of supporting your fellow in-groupers, I suppose. There are already plenty of kittens being euthanized. If Jews can be thrown into furnaces, kittens certainly can be. Australia has a rather strong anti-rabbit policy, despite those being quite cute as well. This pattern has a long history.

Take for example the Democratic-Republican reaction to the Jay Treaty in Any thoughts on how we solve this? The government of the city of Ghent gives its inhabitants a euros discount on any electric bicycle, but only if they stop driving a car. Virtually everyone thinks this is a perfectly reasonable way of incentivising bycicle use and disincentivising car use.

It is also analogous to your PETA example. Because it permits the people of Ghent a choice. The difference is that PETA is spending their own money presumably acquired through voluntary private donations , while the City of Ghent is spending money taxed from the same population being offered the choice.

When newspapers started, they did exactly the same thing. And in response, the leaders of the U. Because yellow journalism was judged better than none. Ferguson made the news because of rioting and police response, long before people polarized on the original shooting. Riots always make the news, and there was one within 36 hours of the shooting.

Maybe social media helped organize the protests, but I doubt social media confrontation was involved. Why is PETA considered assholes here? They are offering a to do something nice for others doing something nice. Does he expect Peta to start paying everyones water bills all of the sudden or does he prefer that they pay noones at all?

Now, maybe some of the people who might consider making the bargain always wanted to try being vegan and this is a great chance. While it would surely be better to offer a similar deal to everybody, and yes, they are using the Detroit problems to their publicity, I still find such a standard for non-assholery way too high.

They are also publicising the water problem too, for example. Crystallizing this pattern as is great. The enemy has a Name. We can fight memes with counter-memes. You could ask people who hang out on Tumblr. This will fix the problem.

A formal language for group discussion. People who routinely jump on false controversies will be tuned out, and we can give more signal to people whose statements are rational. I do think there are serious issue with it, though. First, it requires its users to learn a new formal language and actively speak in it, which basically guarantees zero adoption.

Second, it requires large-spread adoption before we obtain meaningful results. When we pair that with the first issue, we have a serious issue with the efficacy of this solution. The world-changing happens as the tool scales up. I think even something as simple as a template that allows the user to make points in an argument distinct, to assign confidence values to points, to decompose points into subpoints, and to align counter-arguments with the points the address. From there you can scale up the sophistication of the tool: I doubt even this is enough to solve our large-scale coordination problems, but I think it could be a good start, and I intend to pursue it further.

You can find my code at https: And an example is runnong on a heroku instance at http: And I see a lot of problems now. I designed the system for a specific kind of internet argument.

The kind of argument where there is one resoundingly correct side. The system falls apart as soon as you move away from that model. It handles ambiguity poorly. Things random people post is generally weak evidence. There should be much more argumentative weight given to a methodologically sound study, over some anonymous anecdote. I have some ideas how those issues can be tackled. Because the social incentives that favor controversy remain intact, people will not actually be more inclined to talk to those who are moderate under that system.

This already happens in other places. Minority viewpoints that are unpopular will be unfairly criticized. There are other, more stable equilibria that can result other than promoting moderate opinions. The only hope is when we reject the system, which itself requires a very radical re-understanding of our own world. But words like radical, or anti-capitalist become dirty words, and change becomes impossible. I always thought of Moloch as a reference to evolution on a large, more-than-just-biological scale , not capitalism.

For example, it seems unlikely to me that Scott would describe a genetic algorithm for determining the most efficient charity among a set of charities as a manifestation of Moloch even though it is an instance of evolution. It seems unlikely to me that Scott would describe any instance of biological evolution as a manifestation of Moloch. Capitalism provides a substrate for evolution of firms and maybe more importantly coordination problems seem to be stable orbits in the capitalist substrate.

One of the common defenses of capitalism is that it is basically a domesticated Moloch Thomas Sowell is one of the more erudite people who use this defense. It is designed to take the perverse incentive structures that Moloch generates and turn them towards good. Capitalism uses this to provide cheap consumer goods for everyone. All the manufacturers want to charge super-high prices for their products. This results in a race to the bottom where manufacturers are forced to sell products cheaply, a result none of them wanted, but is good for consumers.

Many arguments over economic regulation can be interpreted as arguments over how to keep Moloch properly tame while still being productive. I like this description. But yes, hence attempts to tame the beast through regulation. Your lot just seem to prefer commissars having the power. Such a dream goes completely against what we know of human selfishness. Even with liberal rights, there are many ways the majority can take advantage of the minority if it wants to.

Yet, we somehow seem to manage it actually. I favor capitalism too. We can differ on which economic systems provide the most stuff for people, but the psychological points remain. A system that promotes whoever becomes the most popular and inspires the most passion sounds kind of useful like a tamed Moloch that some other commenter mentioned … but this is what it actually creates. A system based on fulfilling desires quickly learns the best way to grow is to make us desire new things.

Mostly I just want to point out that there is already a word for what Scott has been describing in these posts lately. You know I really hate it when I read one of your posts and leave with a general feeling of dissatisfaction about how the world works and a burning desire to try and fix things. By which I mean that this was a really excellent posts and one of your bests. Deliberating avoiding unnecessary controversy sometimes works out.

Is that really a true counter-example though? What Scott is describing is a system that rewards Vulgar i. Their agitation tactics needed to be very carefully tailored to garner as broad a base of support possible.

It helped that their opponents were self defeating in their brutality. The campaign to codify gay marriage has been similarly levelheaded, pragmatic and averse to unnecessary controversy. That would polarise between lynching-is-bad and rape-is-bad instead of unifying and isolating extreme opponents which is what they actually did.

People vote articles up or down, are sorted into clusters based on voting patterns, and the articles with broad approval from multiple clusters get promoted. The controversial articles, with significant disparities in approval from different clusters, quietly disappear. Of course, this would only work with a National Social Media Czar. More or less passing the buck here. The second problem is that going from something a reddit admin said once , about one in ten ever register on a site, and about one in ten of those ever write or vote.

Of those again, most people only vote or reply when they have a strong reaction to something which is why popular one-liners get far more extreme ratings than essays , while there are a few people who vote on almost everything. And guess what, those people tend to be the power users. You can then do cluster analysis on the answers if you wish, and maybe mark especially divisive comments. Slashdot has been doing random meta-moderation for ages now—users with decent karma sometimes get asked to review the fairness of recent moderation decisions.

By News Czar I mean someone who enforces which social media people use, rather than someone moderating the individual platform. I sharply disagree with your assessment that your posts on very controversial topics are your least useful. Your rational, data-driven and lengthy considerations have rare quality , meaning you have practically a monopoly in that area. Maybe check how post length correlates with hits? Why would they do that about charity posts? I suspect that the problem may be slightly worse than you think.

Pre-Ferguson, the Garner case was a fairly open-and-shut case of police brutality that everyone who noticed pretty much agreed on. Post-Ferguson, while as you noted there is still broad agreement, there is nevertheless a small but persistent pro-Pantaleo movement. I think that not only do controversial cases polarise issues even previously unpolarised ones , but they prime every following case to be controversial as well, at least for a while afterwards.

You said even the most anti-feminist of anti-feminists would condemn videotaped rape- here is a case of videotaped brutality that even major figures of the opposing tribe agree is troubling, and yet there are still people supporting it. Firstly, by polarising people, the deliciously controversial gap between their windows of acceptable behaviour grows and some previously boring cases become Moloch-fodder.

Secondly, it loads up the issue with affect on both sides is controversial affect [two groups loading opposite affect onto the same case] a thing? Whatever the causes, the effect is unpleasant to say the least. In the wake of a controversial edge case, every following case is scrutinised for the slightest drop of outrage- and if any is found, the whole situation repeats.

On a side note, I would love for the next issue to be sexism in the study of reproductively viable worker ants, just to watch confusion reign supreme. For example, connecting to the point about reblogging wars: This was their tweet on Ferguson: He may be understandable, but he still deserves to be laughed at—and then condemned. Some parts of the Internet are nothing but trolls. Well, I can probably unite most of the rest of the comments section? Opposition to factory farming is morally horrifying and it makes me angry that it exists.

Animals have no moral worth and the idea of trading off any amount of human welfare for any amount of welfare is something I find so totally disgusting that I have trouble processing it.

Any significance it rightfully has is only derivative: Do you assign any moral worth to animals? Would you support my decision to torture a stray cat just for fun? Are all humans deserving of equal worth?

How much moral worth do you give to infants, the mentally retarded and comatose patients? The basic principle is that humans are people, and animals are not people.

Sort of by definition. Humans are people and we should want them to be happy and fulfilled. What would your reaction be to obviously sentient extraterrestrials of equal-to-human level intelligence?

Or would you consider them to have moral worth, by virtue of their sentience? If the latter, I do not see how both of those positions can be consistently held, as there is enough evidence of some degree of sentience in certain animals great apes, corvids, etc.

This rules out animals, small children, and most adults. And, if so, would you reduce your objection to their historic usefulness?

I think the reason so many rationalists support animal welfare and utilitarianism is simple: Utilitarianism is mostly just a systematized version of common-sense morality. Animal welfare and utilitarianism are positions that make sense to the people they make sense to.

Universalizing claims like that is hard. The absence of self-abnegation would be if your well-being overruled the general good. If I care exactly as much for myself as for each other human on the planet, that means about one seven billionth of my total caring goes towards myself — which is indistinguishable from total indifference. If I were an ideal utilitarian, I would want to hack my own brain so that happiness stopped being important for my productivity.

It does seem that some other people, maybe people with fewer depressive tendencies, have a view of utilitarianism that does not require this, or maybe that does not distinguish between caring about oneself as a means versus as an end. Higher productivity could maybe eventually lead to higher pay, but when I already have enough to live comfortably that is unlikely to have much effect on happiness.

It also seems like unlinking happiness and productivity would have pretty horrible consequences if most people did it, so it seems like a defection. But in my default vaguely virtue-ethical system, it matters. I came here to post a slightly milder version of this. Let me also add that to the extent that factory farming makes meat more affordable, it seems to be an unalloyed good. Affordable chicken is a really, really beneficial thing for low-income families speaking from experience here.

Inasmuch as factory farming makes this possible — factory farming is a truly wonderful thing. Kant also did not assign animals any moral value in themselves. However, he argued that it was still wrong to abuse animals, since your inclination to not abuse e.

For the first point: If you want to assign value based on what society thinks, you may be wrong about what society thinks. If you believe there are objective rights and wrongs independent of your own ideas about them which I do , you may even be wrong despite there being no way to prove it. For the others—no, it actually is foundational. Wait, you chose what you value? So, do you remember valuing other animals along with humans, and then deciding not to?

Also, if you get to choose what to value, what about everyone else? Which is probably why I never chose to start. If, counterfactually, I did value animals, then ascribing value to animals would promote my values, which include valuing animals, and thus I would do so.

So, you realize that your values are different from the values of many other people. Are you worried that meat might become more expensive? Do you hate it when other people try to fulfil their values, as a matter of principle? Do I hate it when other people try to fulfill their values? When their values are horrible, yes. In general, anything that sacrifices well-being of humans for well-being of animals just seems so warped to me.

I can get into the heads of pro-lifers and reactionaries and singularitarians and extreme liberals and conservatives. I can kind of get into the heads of traditionalists and pro-monogamists. Moves towards taking animal welfare more seriously will make animal products rarer and more expensive, which is harmful to people who enjoy or purchase them.

And it accomplishes from my perspective nothing. They poison the surrounding land and use up a lot of resources that could more usefully produce plant-based food. The former is pretty clearly bad at least, so it seems, pending details ; the latter, more controversial. So even if we could produce plant food instead with those resources, why should we want to?

You like meat, but should your fondness for meat be an overriding concern in my moral calculus regarding the desirability of factory farms? Switching to plant-based sources of fat and protein might be even more beneficial to the low-income families from your argument. Is there any reason why I should cater to your preference for meat rather than the obvious utility of decreasing the cost of macronutrients for low-income families?

Your moral calculus is, of course, your own business. The most I can say is that my fondness for meat should, presumably, be about as much of a concern to your morality as any other preference that any other person has. The described effects on human populations are horrifying; no one should have to live this way, especially in my own country. The environmental effects, as well, are quite sufficient to label this a net bad. I think that, if I find confirmation of this account of pig factory farming, these facts are likely enough to get me to stop eating factory-farmed pork at least that produced by this company?

Why do they only rarely even mention this stuff? There are legitimate reasons to worry about factory farming because it has…interesting environmental impacts, and because widespread antibiotic resistance is terrifying.

I note, by the way, that the organic fertilizer used to create organic vegetables — comes from factory farms. Free-range animals will not concentrate their manure in a location where it can be gathered. There are two ways round this. You let the herbivores out to graze the place where you will be planting next year, they poo where they will, and that puts nutrients into the fields and you put the herbivores somewhere else next time.

Chickens will also eat beetle larvae. Or you provide the herbivores a shelter with straw in it, and gather up the dirty straw from time to time — the classic source of manure is horse-stables.

What exactly is a human or an animal? Do you find trading off human welfare against chimpanzee welfare less disgusting than trading off human welfare against fish welfare since chimpanzees are basically just furry deformed humans? What about if we resurrected the Neanderthals or the Homo habilis? Are they human or animals? It possesses many properties that the majority of humans have for instance, it has feelings, curiosity, the ability to reason, etc.

Beings who have rights are beings for whom we benefit by recognizing their rights if they recognize our rights in a reciprocal way. Basically, a Hobbesian argument for human rights is also a Hobbesian argument for animals being property to be used for our benefit. This suggests that I should perhaps assign greater moral valuable to dogs and bonobos than I should to ethnic supremacist humans, since dogs and chimps are more likely to reciprocally recognize my rights.

Actually, this argument can be used against certain forms of ethnic supremacy, as what ultimately matters is the benefits of cooperation, rather than skin color or ethnic origin. The supremacists I see endorse collectivist, nationalist policies, not the individualism of the Hobbesian approach.

Yes, supremacists are collectivist; they are all about cooperation. The argument I meant is that similarity makes it easier to cooperate. Those that do argue claim to speak for the rest, to articulate what is inchoate in the intuitions of the typical supremacist. There is no necessary connection between cooperation and collectivism. For example, if we trade with each other or work side-by-side, we are cooperating with each other, but not in a collectivist way — each of us is seeking to further his own ends by cooperating with the other.

Examples of support for this position might be found among writings of c.

Navigation menu

Main Topics

Privacy Policy

Aug 23,  · Suggested Essay Topics. What elements does Wilson employ to give the audience a sense that time has passed and characters have changed during the course of the play?

Privacy FAQs

While looking to buy the book Fences by August Wilson this item came up and I thought it was the actual book due to the fact that what is prominent in this cover are the title and the author's name.

About Our Ads

A list of all the characters in Fences. The Fences characters covered include: Troy Maxson, Cory Maxson, Rose Maxson, Gabriel Maxson, Jim Bono, Lyons Maxson. Mahatma Gandhi In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in a clearer light, and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness.

Cookie Info

Write a five-paragraph essay about your project. Identify the aspects of your culture you have recorded and exposed. Meeting August Wilson. August Wilson’s play Fences highlights a difficult chapter in African American culture. Use the “About the Author” section on the next page to introduce August Wilson to your students. There are. Travel essay by Brandon Wilson describing the St. Olav's Way, a pilgrimage hike from Oslo to Trondheim, Norway.