0836: "Sickness"

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bkbutler83
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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby bkbutler83 » Wed Dec 22, 2010 5:52 am UTC

It sounds like you are going through a hard time, and I offer my condolences, or course.

But I also want to offer my solidarity in equal measure for your strength and...jeez I don't know the word..."ability to maintain your very reasonable convictions"...(is there a word for that?). I don't know what kind of loss you are facing but I know that you have brought me a whole bunch of nerdy joy over the years and I hate the idea of you suffering, I love the idea of you dealing with your pain in a manner that reflects the maturity and humor you present in your comics. Regardless....cheers, man. All the best. I wish for the same maturity I have unfairly placed on my image of you!

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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby Vaskafdt » Wed Dec 22, 2010 7:40 am UTC

bkbutler83 wrote:jeez I don't know the word..."ability to maintain your very reasonable convictions"...(is there a word for that?)


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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby SecondTalon » Wed Dec 22, 2010 8:25 am UTC

Eh, in that sentence Convictions alone would work just fine.
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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby Ephemeron » Wed Dec 22, 2010 8:43 am UTC

By the way, I thought some of the haters might like this. In case you don't know, I combined it with 298. It does at very least show Randall's apparent hypocrisy.

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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby J L » Wed Dec 22, 2010 10:32 am UTC

I don't think 298 was meant to be read in the same way as this comic, i.e. at face value. Therefore, the twist is suprising, but doesn't make too much sense.

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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby SirMustapha » Wed Dec 22, 2010 1:03 pm UTC

Ignorancia Selectiva wrote:off topic : SirMustapha and company, BE HONEST, are you trolling :D ?


Depends on what you call "trolling"! If you mean "saying deliberately nasty and negative stuff with the sole purpose to cause fights", then NO, I am not. But if you mean "saying things I don't agree with and give me butthurt", like many seem to say, they I guess I am. But unless "Post reply" in xkcdish is translated to "Suck Randall's dick", then I am committing no crime; otherwise I'd be banned already.

Also, since many people prefer to simply ignore the detractors, they'll permanently live on the fairy-tale land where Randall is always perfect. Too bad for them.

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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby eran_rathan » Wed Dec 22, 2010 1:52 pm UTC

Ephemeron wrote:By the way, I thought some of the haters might like this. In case you don't know, I combined it with 298. It does at very least show Randall's apparent hypocrisy.

Image



This mashup has far more win potential than the regular comic. The original was 'meh' to me, but this one is pretty darn sweet.

Although, the mashup does make it far more likely to be talking about magic instead of religions (since white hat guy is using Lightning Bolt and Levitate, respectively, and those just aren't cleric spells, unless he has the Air domain, in which case he could be using Air Walk and Chain Lightning.)


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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby Mazzula » Wed Dec 22, 2010 2:58 pm UTC

The fundamental nature of reality is ineffable, but science is still a great thing. Science, economics, ethics, etc all help us to understand how to understand the relationships between aspects of the world we have, but they don't create being-ness from non-being.

It is easy to see that the fundamental nature of reality is ineffable because otherwise there would be no fundamental difference between a description of reality and reality itself. That is, the mathematical model would be structurally identical to the reality, and thus there would be no way for us to tell that we were real and not just aspects of the described mathematical model. But, having subjective awareness, we can know the difference, even though, as shown, we cannot put that difference into words. Thus the fundamental "Is-ness" of reality, that distinguishes it from the mathematical model that describes it, is ineffable.

To look at it another way, you cannot build a machine that will verify for you that reality exists. That verification is always, ultimately, subjective.

Of course, this kind of argument is a personal one, not an objective one. This is to me a little reminiscent of the scene in Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy in which the mice want to replace Arthur Dent's brain with a computer. He asserts that he would notice a difference, but the mice assure him that he would be programmed not to.

bmonk wrote:Not quite. Heisenberg's point was that the only way to measure a particle's position with accuracy is to hit it with another particle, such as a short-wavelength photon--but the collision will change its momentum by an uncertain amount. The greater the accuracy of position, the greater the energy involved, and the greater the error of momentum. Similarly, if you use a low-energy photon, the momentum will not be changed much, but you will not know about the position.

The only way to improve this would be to find a better particle to use. Maybe it would be possible--but I'm not holding my breath. A better particle would already have been discovered.

That isn't it. Your explanation seems to say that the particle has a definite position and momentum, but the problem is an uncertainty in simultaneously measuring these things, because an error that is introduced by the measurement. In fact, the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle (HUP) says that the position and momentum are not simultaneously well-defined. It isn't really a matter of the measurement process, it is a matter of the definition of position and momentum not being quite compatible with the state of affairs. So finding a better particle to use doesn't help (unless the HUP is wrong).

The HUP is not a statement about measurement, or rather it is only a statement about measurement to the extent that all objective statements about reality are always statements about measurement. To put it more precisely, it asserts that there can be no objective consequences that are consistent with a particle having a simultaneously well-defined position and momentum. So it is only a statement of measurement in that all objective consequences are kinds of measurements. Within the underlying physical model, the uncertainty is inherent, apart from any measurement.

The question of whether such properties actually have well-defined, but hidden, values apart from their being measured (counterfactual definiteness) is an interesting one. Experiments such as the EPR Paradox, the Bell-Aspect experiment, the Kochen-Specker paradox, and the Elitzur–Vaidman bomb tester strongly suggest that they do not.

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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Dec 22, 2010 3:26 pm UTC

SirMustapha, I'm still waiting for you to tell me how Randall is being smug. Keep in mind, saying you disagree with him =! him being smug.

Also, I asked you a number of questions, and you didn't provide an answer to any of them, so I'll ask again. In response to you saying "a lot of scientists are religious" I said "A lot of religious people trust in science" Now, so what?
Simply replying that 'some people have disagreed with me on this thread and that means they suck Randalls cock' is not an acceptable answer.

I still want to know what;
A) Any of disagreeing with you has to do with sucking Randalls cock.
B) Why religion is so much more than 'comfort' and 'solace', and why Randall never begrudging someone that somehow means he's being an ass.
C) Why you're refusing to acknowledge that your interpretation of the comic isn't the only one, and that it's possible you're taking offense to something that isn't implied and isn't there.
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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby MrCode » Wed Dec 22, 2010 5:38 pm UTC

silverkitty wrote:I can't speak for everyone, and I doubt I can assuage your personal feelings, but I know I "put up with it" by dealing with the world at a higher level of abstraction than the predetermined parts. Analogy: a computer operates with perfect digital determinism, but can contain data like like "2+2=5" and Jabberwocky in its memory - so I deal with the things in memory, and don't worry that the mechanism encoding those things may well be deterministic.


Yeah, this is often what I do when I'm not thinking about the issue, but when I get started on it....yeah, it gets difficult to stop. I like to think of myself as a "computer person" (at least for the most part), and I'm fairly computer-literate; I've done some dabbling with programming in C/C++ and a little (read: very little) asm, and I still mess with Linux/UNIX shell scripts now and again. I mostly mention that because it doesn't really help the situation for me...I lost most of my programming interest as a result of this whole conundrum. Trying to do something that involves determinism (even in an abstract sense) while you're worried about whether everything in the universe is predetermined (particularly your actions) does not a good programmer make. But anyway I won't spend a whole page throwing a pity-party over myself about how "determinism ruined my life"... :roll:

I think I'll just stop looking at this thread. Somehow I doubt that all the free will discussion is gonna ever die down completely, and I'd rather not just make my problems worse.

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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby SirMustapha » Wed Dec 22, 2010 7:49 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:SirMustapha, I'm still waiting for you to tell me how Randall is being smug.


Sorry if I have little time and little patience to go over all the questioning in this thread. People seem to dedicate themselves to feverishly to bashing my opinions that it even scares me, and it motivates me to pull off some of xkcd's fans' favourite cards: "SHEESH, IF YOU DISLIKE MY POSTS SO MUCH, WHY DO YOU KEEP READING AND REPLYING?!?!"

That felt good.

Anyway, Randall being smug? Randall IS smug. His attitude has shown in many other of his comics. Basically he uses his very popular comic as a stage for him to deliver his awesome speech, covered with difficult words and tricky turns of phrase, because he knows his fans will give him support. He is not delivering what he thinks: he's turning the spotlight to himself to show how awesome he is, how awesome his belief in science is, and how finishing a catch phrase with "bitches" makes him awesomely awesome. Randall knows he can't do wrong. The stick guy in that comic is a legitimate, perfect Gary Stu, with the difference being that Randall managed the amazing feat of turning his own comic into its own fanfiction for him to wallow in. Randall is not showing his human side: he is perfectly confident of the superiority of his beliefs. Also, he is not delivering this comic to people who may disagree with him: he is doing it for his fans, for people he knows will always agree with him. He's not just being smug, he is being an attention whore.

Izawwlgood wrote:Also, I asked you a number of questions, and you didn't provide an answer to any of them, so I'll ask again. In response to you saying "a lot of scientists are religious" I said "A lot of religious people trust in science" Now, so what?


I don't see the Randall detractors here criticising the xkcd fans for not believing in God, or saying that their atheism or whatever is a problem. I am seeing, however, people saying "you don't like this comic because you don't believe in God and you are OFFENDED!" and "How dare YOU insult my position of not believing in God??". They are reducing the naysayers to the position of "God believers" so they can pull out their 3-minutes-in-the-microwave-and-it's-ready! arguments and throw them in here. The thing is, I am agnostic myself and I hate this comic because it makes atheists, agnostic, sceptics and the like LOOK BAD.

Izawwlgood wrote:Simply replying that 'some people have disagreed with me on this thread and that means they suck Randalls cock' is not an acceptable answer.


Meh, a lot of people here know that some people are utterly incapacitated of taking contrary opinions because they bow to Randall as if he were the Carl Sagan of the Internet generation.

Izawwlgood wrote:Why religion is so much more than 'comfort' and 'solace', and why Randall never begrudging someone that somehow means he's being an ass.


I have already written about this, I'm am absolutely sure.

Izawwlgood wrote:Why you're refusing to acknowledge that your interpretation of the comic isn't the only one, and that it's possible you're taking offense to something that isn't implied and isn't there.


I have considered that and reject it, based mostly on Randall's body of work as a whole.

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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby elitekross » Wed Dec 22, 2010 9:29 pm UTC

SirMustapha wrote:
gmalivuk wrote:And if Randall is ruining anything for you, then stop reading his damn comic! It's really really not hard to do...


Actually, it is: recently someone in my Computer Science course mail-list posted (paraphrased) "HEY LOLZ XKCD MADE A COMIC ABOUT WIKILEAKS AND IT'S TOTALLY THE FUNNIEST THING LIKE EVER".

The worst thing about xkcd is that, even if I wanted to stop reading it, I couldn't. And, in case I hadn't made it clear, my problem is not with reading what Randall writes: it's the fact that people like him exist.

gangle wrote:Um. I'm pretty sure that's exactly the situation he described. Your mom took comfort from religion, and that's a beautiful thing.


She didn't want "comfort", or "solace": she was reaching out for help. She is not the kind of person who dismisses the doctors because they're not priests, but she is the kind of person who needs God in her side to keep moving forwards. That is not "finding solace": it's much, much stronger than that. People in this country are like that, and that's something that Randall will probably never understand. I can't properly understand it either: but the difference is that I don't try to diminish and underestimate their faith.

Again: What Randall is saying here is "yeah, yeah, your toys are all very fine, but I know that all our solutions are in science". Because "Science works", and all the rest doesn't.

gangle wrote:Also I don't know that art is a form of "Answers beyond science". Art can explore issues to be sure, and can be a great source of fulfillment. Art can even lead to a certain level of enlightenment. This being said, on a basic level art does not have the answers.


And does science?

As far as I am aware, science never gave and never will give answers; it only gives us a pretty good and sufficiently accurate explanations on how things work so we can handle them better. If science actually gave the answers, then it would never have to constantly revise itself and correct itself, right? Science tries to point towards the Truth, but it's quite a stretch to act as if science actually was the Truth, and people who go around thinking like that are almost always very misguided.

So if science simply points to the Truth, doesn't art do the same thing? Art gives us a lot of questions, but so does science! Art and science are in continuous dialogue and helping each other out, but they are completely separate things. It's not saying art is beyond science as in being "ahead" of it, but they're not in the same ground, and one cannot cover up the other completely. One can't do what the other does, and dismissing one of them is completely dumb.

Randall is not "dismissing" anything completely here, but he is clearly diminishing. Try to strip off the purple prose of the second panel, and what you get is pretty much him saying "No offence, guys, but you are all idiots".

And his fans hold out the "No offence, guys" part and say See? All you haters are COMPLETELY WRONG!

Q: what keeps objects on the ground and the planets in orbit
A: gravity

solace: Comfort or consolation in a time of distress or sadness
comfort:Things that contribute to physical ease and well-being
well-being:The state of being comfortable, healthy, or happy

if she needed no solace than she need no help because she was in a state of well being. your definition of solace is to shallow.

also as far as i can tell, he was saying that while he does not need to find solace beyond science, he respects those who do. he then goes on to explain why he doesn't find a need for religion in times of difficultly.

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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby elitekross » Wed Dec 22, 2010 9:44 pm UTC

No, this comic is nothing but a preachy harangue by randall's Gary Stu standin, and nobody is calling him out on his failure because they're busy agreeing with him and deciding which cheek to kiss.

Maybe its because the people who care enough to join the forum are either the people who agree with him immensely or the people who disagree with a vengeance. The middle ground is usually to apathetic to bother getting in on the conversation. and people are more likely to stick around if they agree with them than not. if you don't agree than usually people just leave it be. Even among the generally smart people of this forum, "wining an argument on the internet is like wining the special Olympics, your still a retard" (note i am just quoting something on the interblags, wining the special Olympics is a major feat). unfortunately this comic also draws the type of people who refuse to even admit that it really doesn't matter. i'm at fault here too, i do it all the time, but that the type of person i am.

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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby The Clinger » Wed Dec 22, 2010 9:46 pm UTC

SirMustapha wrote:I don't see the Randall detractors here criticising the xkcd fans for not believing in God, or saying that their atheism or whatever is a problem. I am seeing, however, people saying "you don't like this comic because you don't believe in God and you are OFFENDED!" and "How dare YOU insult my position of not believing in God??". They are reducing the naysayers to the position of "God believers" so they can pull out their 3-minutes-in-the-microwave-and-it's-ready! arguments and throw them in here. The thing is, I am agnostic myself and I hate this comic because it makes atheists, agnostic, sceptics and the like LOOK BAD.

I would disagree with you on this point, but mostly because this comic falls within my point of view (No, I didn't just change my point of view to fit the Artist's). If my point of view makes me look bad, so be it.
SirMustapha wrote:Sorry if I have little time and little patience to go over all the questioning in this thread. People seem to dedicate themselves to feverishly to bashing my opinions that it even scares me, and it motivates me to pull off some of xkcd's fans' favourite cards: "SHEESH, IF YOU DISLIKE MY POSTS SO MUCH, WHY DO YOU KEEP READING AND REPLYING?!?!"

That felt good.

The thing that annoys me about your point of view stems from your apparent opinion of the audience. You make fun of repeated themes in the forums (GooMHR). You also seem to want everyone to suddenly realize the 'true' quality of the comic. It is true that some work stays popular despite failing quality, but the people who post on the forums are beyond the mainstream 'everybody reads this comic'. This is the core audience that would read anyway. They know and analyze the quality of the comic. They read it because they know what it is. They already know the flaws.

Your comments don't make me want to stop reading the comic, they make me want to stop coming to the forums. The fake offense is cute. You come here knowing that is the response that you get. Don't act so surprised.
elitekross wrote:"wining an argument on the internet is like wining the special Olympics, your still a retard" (note i am just quoting something on the interblags, wining the special Olympics is a major feat).

I would disagree with that. Winning an internet argument is a huge feat, considering that most people who 'argue' on the internet seem to ignore the strong points of an opponent's posts more than in face to face conversation. Actually getting someone turned over to your point of view on the internet is hard. This comes from a major opinion of mine. Conversation with anonymous strangers is not trivial.

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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby elitekross » Wed Dec 22, 2010 10:21 pm UTC

Ephemeron wrote:By the way, I thought some of the haters might like this. In case you don't know, I combined it with 298. It does at very least show Randall's apparent hypocrisy.

read the alt-text: For scientists, this can be the hardest thing about dreams.
that was a dream/nightmare sequence where science actually doesn't have to work

@ The clinger: good point, the context of the "joke" was that they were retarded for being part of the argument, and for most of the intertubes this is correct.

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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby sophomore » Wed Dec 22, 2010 11:32 pm UTC

MrCode wrote:Yeah, this is often what I do when I'm not thinking about the issue, but when I get started on it....yeah, it gets difficult to stop. I like to think of myself as a "computer person" (at least for the most part), and I'm fairly computer-literate; I've done some dabbling with programming in C/C++ and a little (read: very little) asm, and I still mess with Linux/UNIX shell scripts now and again. I mostly mention that because it doesn't really help the situation for me...I lost most of my programming interest as a result of this whole conundrum. Trying to do something that involves determinism (even in an abstract sense) while you're worried about whether everything in the universe is predetermined (particularly your actions) does not a good programmer make. But anyway I won't spend a whole page throwing a pity-party over myself about how "determinism ruined my life"... :roll:

I think I'll just stop looking at this thread. Somehow I doubt that all the free will discussion is gonna ever die down completely, and I'd rather not just make my problems worse.


The Hitchhiker's reference actually plays pretty well into the explanations I've heard about this. The "soft determinists" (aka compatibilism according to my Google search) have a tendency to hold that the impression of unimpeded free will is effectively the same thing as free will in my area. I fall into the camp that any form of determinism is very difficult to differentiate from deism and prefer to find another route. This wants to drag itself into epistemology when originating on the Christian side of things, and I never could get through Kant's Critique of Pure Reason. Ah, what fun the suggested reading list holds.

I have the feeling that the expression you're providing is one that has been entwined into a good deal of science fiction with reasonable difference or derivation. The conundrum is a fun one.

On a partially related note, the question that always piqued my interest is how the difference of intention has anything to do with responsibility. Then again, I do have a utilitarian ideal or two. I'm not entirely sure if this post is terribly appropriate for the thread (or too wildly unfocused), but I had a bit too much fun writing it and decided to post anyway.

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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby dedwrekka » Thu Dec 23, 2010 5:34 am UTC

nash1429 wrote:
SerialTroll wrote:While science has been wonderfully beneficial to us as a species, I think a world run by scientists would be as scary as the (Western) world when it was run by the Catholic church.


How many scientists have you met in person? While the world should never be run solely by one group of people, scientists are far preferable to Medieval theocracy.


I think it's also a far cry to describe scientists as a people. There's a wide diversity within Science. Not just when considering different disciplines, but within the disciplines of Science themselves. When Einstein proposed his theory of relativity, it all but split the theoretical physics community down the middle. Even after several tests and different conclusions to his calculations, there were still plenty of detractors to his theory of general relativity. As there is for String Theory now, and as there has been for climate change.

However, before I get into the later half of this discussion, I would also like to point out that religion is implied but not mentioned in the comic. Also that Randall's avatar within the comic states that he never begrudges people their means of solace.

As to the medieval theocracy, I'd like to point out that the modern sciences owe much to various religions and even to a very specific theocracy that currently seems to be counter-intuitive. When Visigoths, goths, gauls, and other tribes were picking pieces of Rome out of their teeth, burning libraries and generally overturning civilization as it existed at that time, it was the Eastern Roman Empire and particular priests within the remains of the Eastern Roman Empire that maintained the arts and works of Aristotle, Pythagoras, and Hippocrates.
They were not only responsible for maintaining the works of much much older civilizations and thinkers down to us, they were also the ones doing experiments themselves. Often times, in history, you'll find men of the cloth that advanced the fields of chemistry, physics, and human anatomy. The Jesuits in particular are/were renowned for their body of literature, science, and mathematics. Galileo himself was backed by Pope Urban the VIII (who gave the papal seal to his book) until a possible snub by Galileo within "Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems" landed him in front of the Inquisition. Which Galileo fought not only with science, but with the words and teachings of various saints.
As to Theocracies, you wouldn't have calculus and much of modern mathematics without Muslim priests and thinkers, who were not only renowned for the spread of their faith but for their reasoning abilities. They also tried to make war cleaner. While Vlad the Impaler was creating a garden of bodies. The Muslim armies were saving prisoners, allowing free movement in the holy land, and avoided harm to people not actively fighting them.


Just throwing this out there, but science and religion are not mutually exclusive (unlike in Civ 5). Now fundamentalism and liberalism, which are separate entities from the subjects they're attached to (like Chaos and Law to Good and Evil), certainly are. I think that's what people tend to see when they find Science and Religion in a discussion. Rather than a coherent discussion on both, it becomes a "vs" no matter where it begins.

As to pretedermination and free will. Nature Vs Nurture anyone? That discussion is relevant in both science and relgion.

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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby elitekross » Thu Dec 23, 2010 6:23 am UTC

I would like to point out that it was the muslims who did most of the work. What little the church did save, they proceded to lose in the middle ages. The Islamic people had a habit of archiving everything they could for the most part. Most of the greek's innovations would have been lost without them.

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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Dec 23, 2010 7:55 am UTC

SirMustapha wrote:People seem to dedicate themselves to feverishly to bashing my opinions that it even scares me,

You mean hold you semi-accountable for your ludicrous claims? Yes, WE'RE the crazy people here.

SirMustapha wrote:Basically he uses his very popular comic as a stage for him to deliver his awesome speech, covered with difficult words and tricky turns of phrase, because he knows his fans will give him support

I've seen people tear apart his comics when he makes comments that are sexist or weird; frankly, the comments he makes on religion are very even keeled and require the most paranoid of minds to take offense to. That you repeatedly jump on the these threads to decry how you're being oppressed by Randall Monroe really, more than anything, reflects on your issues, not his. As gm pointed out, it's a FREE webcomic; your continual tantrums on these threads draws attention not to the fact that you've taken offense to the highly mild comic he posts, but to the notion that you are probably a really unpleasant person to be around because sneezing in your proximity is going to start a shitstorm.

But to address your notion that Randall is smug; I see SIGNIFICANTLY less smugness from his webcomic than I do in your posting. Randall posts comics that make silly little polite commentaries on the world as he see's it; you on the other hand, scream foul and flagrantly denounce someone who has done extraordinarily little to upset you. Of the two of you, you, SirMustapha, YOU appear far more smug than Mr. Monroe.

SirMustapha wrote:Meh, a lot of people here know that some people are utterly incapacitated of taking contrary opinions because they bow to Randall as if he were the Carl Sagan of the Internet generation.

In order for you to progress through life, you're going to have to accept the notion that disagreeing with you does not equal sucking the cock of the opposition. Just because we think you're being ridiculous doesn't mean we think so because we're all in bed with Mr. Monroe. It's a smug position for you to hold, that we aren't capable of formulating our own opinions without some web comic telling us what to think.

SirMustapha wrote:I have already written about this, I'm am absolutely sure.

I'm pretty sure you didn't answer the question, beyond some odd retort stating the contrapositive.
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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby dedwrekka » Thu Dec 23, 2010 11:16 am UTC

SirMustapha wrote: People seem to dedicate themselves to feverishly to bashing my opinions that it even scares me, and it motivates me to pull off some of xkcd's fans' favourite cards: "SHEESH, IF YOU DISLIKE MY POSTS SO MUCH, WHY DO YOU KEEP READING AND REPLYING?!?!"

That felt good.



If you dislike people replying to your posts so much, why do you post them?

If using the caps lock is that big a release for you, I can give you the URLs to several forums where it is quite common. I can assure you that volume is the hardest vocal attribute to mimic in text, right behind sarcasm.


He's not just being smug, he is being an attention whore.


Pot calling the tree black?

Yes, it's a less common usage, but it's almost always more fitting.

Though I'm always more impressed when a pot can describe anything. Usually they're more obsessed with their being a pot, which actually seems to be the case here.

Dissenting opinions are common and accepted here, but if you express a dissenting opinion, please don't over-react to it being treated like a dissenting opinion.

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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby SirMustapha » Thu Dec 23, 2010 2:40 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:You mean hold you semi-accountable for your ludicrous claims?


No: going head over heels with nerd-rage as if Randall needs defence from the "bullies".

Izawwlgood wrote:I've seen people tear apart his comics when he makes comments that are sexist or weird;


Yeah, a small layer of this forums, consisting of people who do think for themselves, eventually denounces his opinions. But for virtually EVERY comic he puts out, you can see the valiant fans waving their praises in fancy words and with many references to icons of nerd culture.

Izawwlgood wrote:That you repeatedly jump on the these threads to decry how you're being oppressed by Randall Monroe really, more than anything, reflects on your issues, not his.


Think about it: I could be making a "self-autobiographical" webcomic in which stick figures speak out my opinions as if they were in a Shakespeare play and almost demand a little plaque underneath with "APPLAUSE" written in it. I could put all my "issues" on it: about how people don't feel satisfied in a relationship, about how people are lonely and imagine their loved one also being lonely, about how it's really important to measure sciences by their "purity" and about how women are all misunderstood and need a strong, manly male webcomic artist to defend them in such a harsh world. But no: I'm merely critiquing.

Izawwlgood wrote:As gm pointed out, it's a FREE webcomic; your continual tantrums on these threads draws attention not to the fact that you've taken offense to the highly mild comic he posts, but to the notion that you are probably a really unpleasant person to be around because sneezing in your proximity is going to start a shitstorm.


What about the notion that some people in here would be fighting to, in the occasion that Randall Munroe sneezes next to them, be the first one to lick the snot? Does that deserve being discussed? Of course not: I'm not stupid to make personal judgements on people in here. If there are people that low, it's not my fault, is it?

Izawwlgood wrote:But to address your notion that Randall is smug; I see SIGNIFICANTLY less smugness from his webcomic than I do in your posting.


Sure. You're a fan of Randall, that's what you want to see.

Izawwlgood wrote:Randall posts comics that make silly little polite commentaries on the world as he see's it; you on the other hand, scream foul and flagrantly denounce someone who has done extraordinarily little to upset you. Of the two of you, you, SirMustapha, YOU appear far more smug than Mr. Monroe.


Being vocal and loud has nothing to do with "smugness". I, on the other hand, detect a lot more of self-importance and pride in Randall's "unassuming" pose which, amazingly, is as subtle as a rhinoceros in a jewellery store. I remind you: I don't have my own xkcd. I don't want to have one. I don't want to take the position of "geek messiah" that Randall enjoys so proudly. I'm content with being just a commentator, I have always been. There is no "hierarchy" here among the commentators, and that's the environment I want to be in.

And "silly" my ass. Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal is silly. Dinosaus Comics is silly. And why? Because Zach Wiener and Ryan North don't have "important, personal truths" to spread through their webcomic. xkcd merely wears its "silliness" as a façade: it's a way to try to mask the fact that xkcd IS Randall, in pretty much every sense. There is never the slightest hint of self-depreciation or irony in Randall's stick-Gary Stu... just like a legitimate Gary Stu. I repeat: xkcd is its own fanfiction, and Randall reigns supreme in it. "Silly", I repeat, my ass.

Izawwlgood wrote:In order for you to progress through life, you're going to have to accept the notion that disagreeing with you does not equal sucking the cock of the opposition.


I accept the notion completely when it comes from a portion of members here. Heck, I accept that from you. But not from the majority, I'm sorry. A lot of people are here just for the nerd-cred, and I'm not the only one who thinks that. That belief explains why many old and frequent members haven't posted here for ages.

Izawwlgood wrote:It's a smug position for you to hold, that we aren't capable of formulating our own opinions without some web comic telling us what to think.


Well, I am trying to brush off that position myself. I post here always hoping that I will find more people willing to disprove my opinions rather than trying to discredit them. It's always a pleasure seeing people who can put five words together without saying a word of praise to Lord Randall, I assure you.

Izawwlgood wrote:I'm pretty sure you didn't answer the question, beyond some odd retort stating the contrapositive.


Well, honestly, I'm not going to wade through these pages to reread everything I said. Patience has a limit.

---

dedwrekka wrote:If you dislike people replying to your posts so much, why do you post them?


Who said I dislike it?

That doesn't stop me from pointing out, with delight, the contradictory and hypocritical attitude of many "defenders of Lord Randall" here. I just can't help it.

dedwrekka wrote:Pot calling the tree black?


Wait, do I have a webcomic? How the heck to I compare to Stick-Randall when it comes to attention whoring? You have to be kidding me.

dedwrekka wrote:Dissenting opinions are common and accepted here, but if you express a dissenting opinion, please don't over-react to it being treated like a dissenting opinion.


Don't tell me about over-reaction. If someone appears in a thread saying something like "I'm sorry, I have been a fan for years, but I really dislike today's comic", you'll bet that ten or fifteen posts later, someone will be with a sword and shield in hand, ready to send "all those haters" straight to Hell for such heresy.

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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby elitekross » Thu Dec 23, 2010 6:14 pm UTC

you mean the constant attention whoring coming from you? that may be it. and they have tried too disprove, you just rebut it by making <s>scathing</s> remarks about sexual acts, which the last time I've heard a comeback like that was from a third grader. but my Ad Hominem attack has nothing to do with my actual point. its about time you smeg off and stop posting, because you are not advancing the topic in in intellectual way and detracting from those who wish to have a civil discussion. as one of the few places on the internet we can do so, you shouldn't continue. complain to your real life friends. at least they can physically leave

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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Dec 23, 2010 6:45 pm UTC

SirMustapha, again, you need to be able to formulate a disagreement that doesn't hinge on the notion that we're leaping to Randall's defense, here for the nerd-cred, or wantonly agreeing with everything our Savior Monroe has to say; I'll be as blunt and as clear as possible to make sure you understand what I'm saying, because after 7 pages of back and forths, you seem to still be missing the point:
We disagree with YOU. With your assertion of smugness, of pity, or of arrogance coming from Mr. Monroe. We find YOUR arguments lacking, and we find YOUR behavior to be juvenile. Every claim you've made about Mr. Monroe's inner thought process has been disagreed with by people pointing to things in the comic, in the definition of words, and in the interpretation of how words go together, yet you continue to claim to be able to read the mind of Mr. Monroe and tell US what he intends in his comic, and proceed to tell US that we're being ridiculous by disagreeing with you.

So, bluntly, defend your position not by appealing to the telepathy that you promise us you possess, but by responding to the arguments laid out by forumites who find your position to be incorrect.
SirMustapha wrote:But no: I'm merely critiquing.

For lack of a better way to put this; critiquing requires understanding the subject matter. Simply pointing and screaming, over and over and over, that you think it sucks donkey balls, is not critiquing. It's throwing a temper tantrum, and generally makes you appear as though you're incredibly jealous of the success of the artist, or that no one's listening to you.

SirMustapha wrote:What about the notion that some people in here would be fighting to, in the occasion that Randall Munroe sneezes next to them, be the first one to lick the snot? Does that deserve being discussed? Of course not: I'm not stupid to make personal judgements on people in here. If there are people that low, it's not my fault, is it?

I don't see any one like that in this thread. I see you doing a lot of finger pointing, but frankly, you're the only here whose brazenly biased. Again, and you even agreed with me about this, disagreeing with you doesn't mean we're sucking the cock of, or licking the snot of, the opposition. That you think that, still, is not only unbelievably smug, but truly indicates the depth of your argumentative prowess, and let me tell you, kiddie pools are a blast for maybe 5 minutes.

SirMustapha wrote:Well, honestly, I'm not going to wade through these pages to reread everything I said. Patience has a limit.

And mine has worn thin attempting to have a discussion with you. If you feel like responding to direct queries, or responding to people who very calmly and rationally refute your claims, then welcome to the discussion. Otherwise, I'm heading to the other parts of the fora that have reasonable discourse and intelligent opinions. I'd invite you, but I like the average level of interaction that typically happens, and don't want to see it lessened.
... with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet.

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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby Nexxo » Thu Dec 23, 2010 8:32 pm UTC

SirMustapha wrote:My mother suffered a domestic accident two weeks ago. It could have been way, way worse, since she didn't hit her head or break any bones, but it left an haematoma right between her ribs and her lung. After going to the hospital and been prescribed some medications, she got home and spent one of the most terrible evenings of her life. She is a strong and very resistant woman, yet she couldn't bear the pain. While we were waiting for the medicine to take place, she struggled to find a position on the bed; and without anything left to do, she asked my sister to hand her the Bible, and he grasped it against her chest.

It wasn't really the moment to try to rationalise the situation, but what else can a person do when all else fails? My mother is strongly religious, and even though I received a religious education in my youth, I ended up an agnostic. But if her faith and her believe have an effect on her, why should anyone deny it? Could there be an "answer beyond science" in her desperate act? Or maybe could science explain it? All I know is that, in moments like that, it's stupid to deny any kind of help. My father, when he was in the hospital, received a lot of comfort from religious people who visited hospitals, and he was much less religious than my mother. Yet, it had a positive effect on him. Who knows? Maybe the person who is actually experiencing such hardships develops a different view on it, while the people who are watching from a safe distance find it easier to keep a stubborn attitude and grasp to their pride and their concepts.

Therefore, Randall, fuck you. Fuck your metaphorical, "scientific" ass. You think now is the appropriate time to rehash one of your first and best comics ever with that idiotic "context" of a family illness, and you don't realise that all that wordiness and that ATROCIOUS writing replaces the masterful simplicity of the original comic? And do you seriously think that adding "bitches" to anything adds actual effect? You are an idiot, Randall. You are (at least technically) an artist, yet you fill your lungs to boast your lack of belief in "answers beyond science", without realising that art itself is a form of "answer beyond science"? You ignore the fact that human beings are extremely complex and it's almost impossible for them to follow one exclusive line of thought without branching off into other possibilities, and the fact that MANY SCIENTISTS ACTUALLY HAVE RELIGIOUS, SPIRITUAL OR ESOTERIC BELIEFS? Do you REALLY think that, in this perfect fairy-tale world we live in, all scientists are 100% grounded and follow their Science like their only divinity? Do you seriously believe that ANYTHING that is not "pure science" has never done any good and all benefit you take comes exclusively from science alone?

Only your rabid fans can swallow that shit, really. You are such a disgrace that now you made me want to be religious, only to reject that self-righteous, obnoxious arrogance of yours. Next time you're writing your Gary Stu fanfic you call a "comic", consider this answer beyond science: you are such a terrible writer that YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW WHAT "INEFFABILITY" MEANS.


Wow. Somebody got issues, and it ain't Randall. Why the rage, dude? What button got pressed there?

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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby Pfhorrest » Thu Dec 23, 2010 9:25 pm UTC

SirMustapha wrote:My mother suffered a domestic accident two weeks ago. [...] without anything left to do, she asked my sister to hand her the Bible, and he grasped it against her chest.

Did nobody else catch this?

"Not cool, Randall. My mother turns to things beyond science for comfort. Not cool, not funny, not a good comic."
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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby Volbla » Thu Dec 23, 2010 9:38 pm UTC

You know what they call alternative medicine that's been proven to work?

Medicine.

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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby Softfoot » Thu Dec 23, 2010 10:22 pm UTC

Person A, being religious, experiences a personal crisis.
Potential results include:
- Person A holding onto their religious belief throughout said personal crisis, and emerging from said personal crisis with strong convictions in their religious beliefs.
- Person A, not holding onto their religious belief, and emerging from their personal crisis with strong convictions against their previous religious beliefs.
Person B, not being religious, experiences a personal crisis.
Potential results include
- Person A remaining irreligious, and emerging from personal crisis with continued or strengthened conviction
- Person A becoming religious, and emerging from personal crisis with strong religious conviction.

These results can be irrespective of the kind of personal crisis, the external support given, reliance on scientific means of support, and even regardless of the success or otherwise of the emergence from crisis.
Sound like psychology to me.

Incidentally, when anyone talks about 'take solace' or 'take comfort' - these are passive phrases. If you're passive about what you believe, whether it be religion, science, fairies, or the ground beneath your feet, why bother?

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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby Mazzula » Thu Dec 23, 2010 11:23 pm UTC

MrCode wrote:But anyways, for me the debate is more than just something interesting to talk about...it's a serious personal issue, and I probably shouldn't take this much further here (if any further at all). I don't believe myself to be religious (I'm damn confused and undecided as far as beliefs go, if any), but personally I feel that if everything is really predetermined, then it pretty much renders life meaningless. :( Seriously, I don't see how the determinists here can put up with it...

I think that the most meaningful definition of free will is the alignment of outcome with desire.

All choices are, ultimately, based upon a chain of events that arise from our innate natures, the impact of external influences, and random chance. There is nothing else that can influence our choices, and none of these things do we choose.

Of those three, the source least likely to make life meaningful is random chance. So I don't see how predetermination is at all at odds with a meaningful life.

Happiness and suffering are real, even if they are predetermined. Our actions to reduce suffering and increase happiness are thus meaningful, even if they are predetermined. The subjective experience of suffering and happiness give these actions meaning.

True freedom is for our ultimate innate desire to be satisfied. I think this entails happiness. Because we are likely united in awareness, it likely also entails the happiness of others. This alignment of ultimate outcome with the ultimate innate desire (and thus the cessation of further desire) is liberation. It is debatable whether this is something that exists universally, or even whether it exists at all, but I don't think meaning can be found elsewhere.

Tillich thought the word God properly referred to the motivator of one's ultimate concern, and in that case the spiritual quest is identical with the quest for liberation.

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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby phlip » Fri Dec 24, 2010 12:19 am UTC

SirMustapha wrote:Because Zach Wiener and Ryan North don't have "important, personal truths" to spread through their webcomic.

Huh. Not only are you seeing a different xkcd to me, but you're seeing a different SMBC, too. I think there must be something very wrong with your computer. Since it's happening on multiple sites now, it's probably not a network fault... it's probably a problem at your end. Maybe you've got some kind of virus or malware on your computer that's redirecting your requests to those comics to something else? I'd recommend MBAM to clear that up. Feel free to stop by the Help Desk forum if you need assistance clearing up your infestation.

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enum ಠ_ಠ {°□°╰=1, °Д°╰, ಠ益ಠ╰};
void ┻━┻︵​╰(ಠ_ಠ ⚠) {exit((int)⚠);}
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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby Pfhorrest » Fri Dec 24, 2010 12:40 am UTC

Mazzula wrote:I think that the most meaningful definition of free will is the alignment of outcome with desire.

I agree that that is the correct definition of freedom generally. If you desiring something about X is causally effective upon X, then you are in the broadest sense "free to X". There are more restricted senses of "free to X" based on absence of various impediments to the causal effectiveness of your desire, e.g. you can be politically or socially free in that there are not adverse motivations put in place specifically to deter you from bringing about X (e.g. you won't be punished or censured for X), but still not be physically, financially, or otherwise free to X if you lack the means necessary to X.

But I'd say freedom of the will is a specific kind of freedom restricted in another way: not in "how" you are free, but in what you are free to do. Specifically, you have freedom of the will if you have the freedom to will what you desire to will, where "will" is defined as whatever desire ultimately moves you to act, and freedom thereof is thus having your desires about what desires you have and how you act upon them be causally effective on what desires you have and how you act upon them.

So, if me desiring to drink beer would be sufficient cause for me ending up drinking beer (e.g. nothing would impede that desire being realized), then I have the freedom to drink. But I may not have free will in that respect; I might be an addict and have desires to drink that I wish I didn't have, or at least wish weren't effective. But if I do have freedom of will, then I my desiring not to desire to drink, or my desiring not to act upon those desires, will be causally effective, and my desire to drink, or my acting upon that desire at least, will be suppressed. Converse scenarios involving the evocation of will instead of the suppression of it also fit, e.g. in overcoming phobias.

Determinism is obviously not an impediment to free will in this sense, but an approximation of at least is a requirement. If the desires you act upon are completely random, then you have no control over them, and are thus a slave to your will, not free of it.
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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby Mazzula » Fri Dec 24, 2010 6:55 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:
Mazzula wrote:I think that the most meaningful definition of free will is the alignment of outcome with desire.

I agree that that is the correct definition of freedom generally. If you desiring something about X is causally effective upon X, then you are in the broadest sense "free to X". There are more restricted senses of "free to X" based on absence of various impediments to the causal effectiveness of your desire, e.g. you can be politically or socially free in that there are not adverse motivations put in place specifically to deter you from bringing about X (e.g. you won't be punished or censured for X), but still not be physically, financially, or otherwise free to X if you lack the means necessary to X.

But I'd say freedom of the will is a specific kind of freedom restricted in another way: not in "how" you are free, but in what you are free to do. Specifically, you have freedom of the will if you have the freedom to will what you desire to will, where "will" is defined as whatever desire ultimately moves you to act, and freedom thereof is thus having your desires about what desires you have and how you act upon them be causally effective on what desires you have and how you act upon them.

It seems to me that you are bringing two main points into this. First, the question of whether our effective desires are in line with our ultimate desires (e.g. an addict may ultimately desire to be free of the addiction, but acts contrary to that). The second is the notion that free will implies not simply the alignment of outcome with desire, but also that the desire is causally effective in bringing about that alignment of outcome.

With respect to the first point, I agree that free will most meaningfully refers to the alignment of ultimate outcomes with ultimate desires. So the addiction is a kind of trap that limits the freedom of the addict. I would agree that the free will of such an addict has been thwarted, so that they are not free. Theologically, I think that all sin falls into this category. The turning away from the divine is a kind of mistake that one falls into. But, as with an addict who recovers, the trap may be escapable and so we may, ultimately, be free. According to Augustine, this turning away wasn't logically necessary, but it was so likely as to be virtually certain, except for grace.

And this brings me to the second point. This grace thus is liberating, and yet our will may not be causally effective in bringing this liberation about. There is the possibility that we are saved by grace. (The notion of grace exists in many religions, not just Christianity.)

Whether we liberate ourselves or are liberated by grace, or by something or someone else, seems to me beside the point of whether we have free will, especially since I cannot have meaningfully chosen to have had the power to liberate myself. A person who becomes free is free, even if they could not have liberated themselves.

Note that, in my view, not all individuals necessarily do have free will. I believe in the possibility of liberation, but also in the possibility that an individual's ultimate outcome is not in line with their ultimate desire. I think that is one reason that science and technology are so important. Pain and suffering are both real and a kind of bondage. But the reality of pain and suffering transcends science, these aren't simply fascinating behaviors worthy of study. The urge to use technology to alleviate pain and suffering, or even simply to understand reality as it is, is a compassionate urge, and this is not divorced from the kind of ultimate concern that gives live meaning.
Pfhorrest wrote:So, if me desiring to drink beer would be sufficient cause for me ending up drinking beer (e.g. nothing would impede that desire being realized), then I have the freedom to drink. But I may not have free will in that respect; I might be an addict and have desires to drink that I wish I didn't have, or at least wish weren't effective. But if I do have freedom of will, then I my desiring not to desire to drink, or my desiring not to act upon those desires, will be causally effective, and my desire to drink, or my acting upon that desire at least, will be suppressed. Converse scenarios involving the evocation of will instead of the suppression of it also fit, e.g. in overcoming phobias.

But consider the case in which you cannot stop drinking without help, and someone else acts in a way that helps you out of your addiction. I believe that, in that case, your free will is thwarted without that help, so I don't really see that your doing it "on your own" has anything to do with the question of free will. To me, the question is simply whether your outcome aligned with your ultimate desires. So that, at the end, you consider the state of affairs as being aligned with your desire.

Of course, you are free to define "free will" however you like. It is just that to me, it isn't such a useful term if it must include the notion of desire being causally effective. In part, this is because I don't think there is really any meaning to the idea of doing something on our own, because all choices are based in things we haven't chosen (our innate natures, external influences, and random chance). Even the existence of reality in the first place is something we have not chosen as individuals. So, to me, the lack of free will (e.g. through an addiction or through sin) is more of an unfortunate circumstance than a just reward for immoral choices. (This is not to say that I don't believe in incentives and deterrents, just that I think wrongdoing and the desire for wrongdoing is, ultimately, a mistake. The tricky part is that I am not super-human, so my judgment about what is and is not a mistake has to be taken with a grain of salt. There is a distinction to be made between judgment and sovereignty.)

It seems to be that your definition of free will is better suited to discussions of a notion of "just judgment", whether the justice of our outcomes may be seen to be consistent with our innate natures as revealed by the consequences of our actions. I just have a hard time with that kind of concept of justice, because I don't think we choose to be who we are, nor that such a choice is meaningfully possible.
Pfhorrest wrote:Determinism is obviously not an impediment to free will in this sense, but an approximation of at least is a requirement. If the desires you act upon are completely random, then you have no control over them, and are thus a slave to your will, not free of it.

Yes. You bring up an interesting point here, which is whether the desires themselves are random. Even if the desires are random, I don't think a person can be said to be a slave to their will unless by that it is meant that one's ultimate desire is being thwarted by these lesser, random desires--as in the case of the addict's ultimate desire being thwarted by the circumstance of the addiction. Again, free will most meaningfully refers to the alignment of outcome with ultimate desire, and we do not (and cannot) meaningfully choose to have that ultimate desire. So I don't really see what difference it makes if it is random. There might be a problem if it were self-thwarting, if the desire were inconsistent with any possible outcome. But in that case, I would simply agree that the person did not have free will.

There are other problems I have with requiring causal effectiveness. One that is that the notion of causation is itself very hard to define. Causation, however it is defined, seems to require the existence of some physical laws which can be used to by the will in effecting some outcome. We might ask why such physical laws exist in the first place (I think that the answer lies in the unicity and theological simplicity of the source of the manifestation, such that the manifestation must hang together according to a "simple" rule that has a "simple" axiomatic basis). In any case, it can hardly be said to be our choice that this tool of causation exists for us to use. The other problem is that there has to be some starting point in the causal chain. It may be that A causes B, but that only raises the question of whether we were causally effective in producing A. Even if we found some way to define causation, at some point there is a beginning to the causal chain that will align with desire (or not) without a causal connection.

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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby Pfhorrest » Fri Dec 24, 2010 11:57 pm UTC

Mazzula wrote:With respect to the first point, I agree that free will most meaningfully refers to the alignment of ultimate outcomes with ultimate desires. So the addiction is a kind of trap that limits the freedom of the addict. I would agree that the free will of such an addict has been thwarted, so that they are not free.

I don't know that I would agree with your first sentence there, because your notion of "ultimateness" does not seem well defined. My definition is in terms of reflexivity, not any kind of scalar measurement like "ultimate" seems to imply.

For example, say I have one recurring desire to X, and then later on I acquire another desire not to X (e.g. I enjoy doing something, but then for some reason I become afraid to, like a trauma). Call those desires D and not-D. D is the earlier desire, the one I've had the longest. But not-D is stronger than D, so on that first-order level, I will end up not Xing (my fear wins out). Now lets say after a while of not-Xing I acquire a second-order, reflexive desire that D be stronger than not-D (i.e. that my fear be overcome). But, that second-order desire is too weak, so not-D continues unabated and I continue not-Xing.

I would say that in this circumstance "not-D" is my will (the desire I "ultimately" act on), but that I do not have freedom of it, because I cannot change it. That second-order desire is the closest thing to an "ultimate" desire in this scenario, but it's not just an earlier, stronger, deeper, or any otherwise superlative desire; it's a completely different kind of desire, reflexive, second-order, "meta" you might say, desire turned in upon itself, and that loop is what makes it special. It is the inclination to control one's will; and just as effective control of some domain in the world is freedom in that respect (your actions are not limited, you can do what you want to do), effective control over your own will is freedom of the will (your will is not limited, you can will what you want to will). "Free will is self control" is basically the point I'm arguing.

Whether we liberate ourselves or are liberated by grace, or by something or someone else, seems to me beside the point of whether we have free will, especially since I cannot have meaningfully chosen to have had the power to liberate myself. A person who becomes free is free, even if they could not have liberated themselves.

But consider the case in which you cannot stop drinking without help, and someone else acts in a way that helps you out of your addiction. I believe that, in that case, your free will is thwarted without that help, so I don't really see that your doing it "on your own" has anything to do with the question of free will. To me, the question is simply whether your outcome aligned with your ultimate desires. So that, at the end, you consider the state of affairs as being aligned with your desire.

I agree that a person can be freed by something or someone external to themselves, but I think this is confusing the issue of being free and becoming free.

Take our addict. He wants to drink; and that want is effective, so if he can drink, he will; but he wants that want to drink to be ineffective, or gone entirely; but that second-order desire is weak, so he continues wanting to drink; and so if there is drink about, he will drink it. Now, someone could keep him away from the booze, and his actions would align with not-drinking, and it sounds like maybe in your definition he would be free from his addiction then, because the outcome matches the "ultimate" desire (still not clear on "ultimate" here). But in my definition, the fact that he still has that effective first-order desire to drink, and would drink given the chance, despite wanting that not to be true of himself, means that his will is still not free. Someone else has controlled him in the way that he is trying to control himself, but he still does not have self-control and so his will is not free.

Now of course, he cannot necessarily just reach out and take self-control by his own power. (Maybe he can, but lets say he can't in this case). But someone or something can come along and do something to him, transforming him, and somehow giving him control over himself. That seems to be the kind of liberation you are talking about, and I agree that it is possible. But it's a different issue than the one I was talking about.
  • Having free will is being able to change what first-order, unreflective desires are effective in yourself; and that is equivalent to having effective second-order, reflexive desires. In order to have free will, you must be able to control what your effective first-order desires are, meaning that you must have effective second-order desires.
  • Acquiring free will is changing whether your second-order desires are effective. If you lack free will you probably lack the ability to do this (you can't change your first-order desires, how could you change your second-order ones?); but someone or something could do this to you, and in doing so, give you the ability described above, which is free will.

I don't think there is really any meaning to the idea of doing something on our own, because all choices are based in things we haven't chosen (our innate natures, external influences, and random chance).

In what sense is an action being caused by one's innate nature not doing it on one's own? I agree with your trichotomy and argue that the cause of an action being from the first branch (understood a certain way) is what makes it done of free will.

So, to me, the lack of free will (e.g. through an addiction or through sin) is more of an unfortunate circumstance than a just reward for immoral choices.

I agree, and I didn't think this was in question.

It seems to be that your definition of free will is better suited to discussions of a notion of "just judgment", whether the justice of our outcomes may be seen to be consistent with our innate natures as revealed by the consequences of our actions. I just have a hard time with that kind of concept of justice, because I don't think we choose to be who we are, nor that such a choice is meaningfully possible.

To be clear, I am not a big fan of retributive justice, and am all about restitution and rehabilitation. I am also a pragmatist (in the philosophical sense of that word), so my approach to any kind of judiciary action or degree is "what use does this serve?"

Take our addict again. Say we catch him breaking into a liquor store to steal some booze. I would say that restitution is obligatory regardless of who broke in or why; the poor shopkeeper deserves to have his window fixed, and whoever broke it is responsible for making that happen, even if it was a perfectly well-meaning careless accident. But upon talking to the addict after apprehending him, we find out that he is an addict and that he feels overwhelmingly compelled to do these things and he knows they're wrong and wishes he didn't do them but he keeps finding himself doing them anyway and can't seem to help it. That doesn't let him off the hook for the broken window; someone's still gotta fix that. But there's more to blame than just restitution.

If he was some kind of unremorseful criminal, then there might be some point in blaming him in the sense of lecturing him on how bad his actions are and why, "think of the poor shopkeeper", etc etc. If he was both unremorseful and unresponsive to such reason (e.g. a repeat offender), then the application of more than just words (on top of fixing the window) could be appropriate; a non-rational incentive to address a non-rational motive. (I might even phrase this as that in being unremorseful and unreasonable, this sort of person is failing to be a person at all in this respect, and so does not deserve the respectful treatment becoming of a person; e.g. retribution is not normally a warranted response, but in this case it is).

But there's not much point in moralizing at our addict about how bad his actions are, or punishing him further to drive that point home, because he already agrees, and is just unable to control them. Some kind of rehabilitative therapy to help give him control over his actions is the most appropriate response in this circumstance. (And he still has to fix the window).
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dedwrekka
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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby dedwrekka » Sat Dec 25, 2010 5:16 am UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:
SirMustapha wrote:My mother suffered a domestic accident two weeks ago. [...] without anything left to do, she asked my sister to hand her the Bible, and he grasped it against her chest.

Did nobody else catch this?

"Not cool, Randall. My mother turns to things beyond science for comfort. Not cool, not funny, not a good comic."

I think that getting enraged over someone saying that they're not personally going to re-examine their source of solace is... well, very jerk-ish.

The comic in no place stated that any particular form of solace is better than any other. It's actually written right into the comic like that. It simply states that the character is not going to re-examine their own personal source of solace simply because of a family tragedy, and explains why in a suitably nerdy fashion.

It's not an attack in any way. Where as the general dissent seems to stem around people getting very angry about someone not turning their back on their core beliefs in the face of tragedy. It has nothing to do with anyone else's beliefs other than Mr. Monroe's. Any baggage anyone else brings to the conversation has nothing to do with the message of the comic, as the message is directed at the author not the reader.

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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby SaraPickell » Sat Dec 25, 2010 1:27 pm UTC

SirMustapha wrote:People in this country are like that, and that's something that Randall will probably never understand. I can't properly understand it either: but the difference is that I don't try to diminish and underestimate their faith.


I don't really get how you figure Randall doesn't understand that. I mean, I find the comic great and I totally get that feeling of needing your religion to keep going. Hell, unlike you, I understand it from personal first hand experience. Although maybe I don't get misty over it because I found that honestly it was a terrible thing, and that time of my life is now among my bitterest memories. Anyways, more to the point how do you know that Randall doesn't understand it? I mean I get it and I would use the same word, solace that is, so what proof is there that he doesn't understand it just fine?

Seems to me like you're just reading your own understanding of things into his words. In and of itself that's actually fine though, most of literature is part author part reader, but treating Randall as a jerk for the bits that are coming from you doesn't seem like a good deal though.

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Bruce Springsteen
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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby Bruce Springsteen » Sat Dec 25, 2010 11:32 pm UTC

I agree with this issue wholeheartedly.

This one time, I was on a trip visiting third world country, and I helped this boy afflicted with skin cancer get over his barbaric indigenous beliefs that spirits of nature would allow him to find peace after death by telling him what scientists are doing to some day possibly find the cure for cancer for his great-great grandchildren's great-great grandchildren. I guess you could say he now held on to the hope that his people would prosper in leukemia of his blind faith.

Furthermore, when I taught philosophy (yes, a social science; I, too, am ashamed in myself) at an inner school, I was telling my students not to worry about AIDS, because my people will one day be able to afford the treatment for it. Alas, I was fired when one of my students criticized Dawkins and I ripped her golden cross chain right off her neck (as if it were real gold :lol:).

And before anyone says anything, I had a family member afflicted with a vague sickness, so I had every right to do what I did. Boy am I glad for that family member was ill, as I got to take a 2-week break from work, and I already only work 3 days a week, with very little hours, and get paid more than enough.

I this is where I should say, "get out of my head, Randy." lol
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Hoopla
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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby Hoopla » Sun Dec 26, 2010 1:49 am UTC

SirMustapha, I don't understand how religion gives anything but solace and courage. To say otherwise would be to suggest that religion makes a physical difference. Do you believe that religion has anything other than a psychological effect? you aren't sounding much like a skeptic to me. I did reread the comic, and in retrospect it definitely sounds like soap-box grandstanding, of which I do not approve. However, IMHO, I think most skeptics, agnostics, and atheists would agree with the base message, which I read as "religion is good and nice and it helps some people deal with the world, but I think I can do without." Cocky yes, but I can handle it.
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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby *Kat* » Sun Dec 26, 2010 1:53 am UTC

I've been reading xkcd off and on for three years. I've seen a lot of good stuff on it but none have been deeper than this panel. Truly its one of the few things I have read that I KNOW will stick with me through the years. Because its right! Find comfort where you can, but don't hesitate to use the tools at hand to accomplish what you need. Afterall, maybe that is why He has given you those tools to begin with.

Major kudos to Randal, and I hope he gets better soon. (Yes, I think he's breaking the fourth wall because otherwise I think he would have said, "we" where he said "I". As in, "and WE are going to live to experience more of it..."

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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby DakkonA » Sun Dec 26, 2010 4:10 am UTC

I just typed out a really long reply on the topic of freewill and lost it when the site asked me to log in again. So I'm not going to repeat it now.

Long story short: Your brain does everything that free will would otherwise be doing, and we can change the person by changing the brain. Since "you" are your brain, "you" still get blame and credit for what "you" generate. Lastly, acting as if you are fated to do "x" is an incorrect interpretation of being a deterministic being, because those exact same conditions will NEVER occur again--even if the external conditions were the same, "you" would not be the same.

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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby *Kat* » Sun Dec 26, 2010 6:47 am UTC

Ephemeron wrote:By the way, I thought some of the haters might like this. In case you don't know, I combined it with 298. It does at very least show Randall's apparent hypocrisy.

Image


That's not hypocrisy. That shows continuity.

Comic 298 shows us that White hat guy doesn't believe in Science because he possesses Magic and therefore has no need for science based tools. Furthermore, I'd say that other peoples assumption that Comic 0836 was a reference to Comic 54 is incorrect. 0836 is a response/reference to Comic 298 and an indication of an ongoing debate between White Hat Guy and Stick Figure Man.

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Pfhorrest
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Re: 0836: "Sickness"

Postby Pfhorrest » Sun Dec 26, 2010 7:25 am UTC

You realize that 298 doesn't actually feature White Hat Huy, right? In fact, it's actually Black Hat Guy in that one. They're also facing the other direction, the background colors are different... heck, whole poses are subtly different... it appears that Ephemeron went quite a bit further than I at first noticed to blend 298 into the style/context of 836. It's not a simple wholesale copy and paste of panels from one strip in with those of another.
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The Codex Quaerendae (my philosophy) - The Chronicles of Quelouva (my fiction)


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