1077: "Home Organization"

This forum is for the individual discussion thread that goes with each new comic.

Moderators: Moderators General, Prelates, Magistrates

User avatar
Someguy945
Posts: 188
Joined: Fri Jul 22, 2011 5:09 am UTC

Re: 1077: "Home Organization"

Postby Someguy945 » Fri Jul 06, 2012 4:49 pm UTC

Having a giant box labeled "Misc" may make it difficult to find things, but it's very, very easy to put things away when you're done.

User avatar
eran_rathan
Mostly Wrong
Posts: 1822
Joined: Fri Apr 09, 2010 2:36 pm UTC
Location: in your ceiling, judging you

Re: 1077: "Home Organization"

Postby eran_rathan » Fri Jul 06, 2012 7:01 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:
The Moomin wrote:So if we have a blue sock three places to the right of a red sock, are they in the same place?

NO. There are no "places".
1SOCK = REDRED SOCK1
2SOCK = BLUEBLUE SOCK2

1 sock.... 2 sock.... red sock.... blue sock.... so simple WATSON


stop it, you'll make him a meme, like Timecube.
"Does this smell like chloroform to you?"
"Google tells me you are not unique. You are, however, wrong."
nɒʜƚɒɿ_nɒɿɘ

clockworkbookreader
Posts: 35
Joined: Fri Feb 10, 2012 6:11 am UTC

Re: 1077: "Home Organization"

Postby clockworkbookreader » Fri Jul 06, 2012 11:29 pm UTC

Istaro wrote:Maybe I'm getting old, but just looking at that stick figure makes my back and neck hurt.


I'm glad someone else said that. Getting old sucks. Not as bad as the alternative, but it isn't all that fun some days.
In the event of pneumothorax, stab me with an 18g angiocath just above the second rib in the midclavicular line.
Thank you.

ijuin
Posts: 934
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2009 6:02 pm UTC

Re: 1076: "Home Organization"

Postby ijuin » Sat Jul 07, 2012 4:53 am UTC

kasmeneo wrote:
Alltat wrote:
Djehutynakht wrote:Except for socks. You're screwed when it comes to socks; doesn't matter who you are.

The sock issue is solvable, or at least you can get around the problem if you resort to overkill.

Step 1: Throw out all the socks you own. All of them.
Step 2: Buy 40 or more pairs of identical socks.
Step 3: Put all of them in one drawer. Do not pair them up in any way.
Step 4: After each time you wash, put the clean socks back in the drawer (unpaired and uncounted) and shuffle the contents. This ensures an even level of wear.
Step 5: If wear and tear reduces your supply of socks too badly, start over from step one.



I really wonder what problems people seem to be having with losing socks in the wash. How do you do that?
I have never lost any socks. I check they are in pairs when sorting before washing and sort the pairs together
when hanging them to dry. On the rare occasions when I had an unpaired sock on the line, I found the other
either in the washing machine or in the laundry bin.

You sort before washing? I think that's the difference right there--I don't even like touching my clothes when they are dirty.

User avatar
Pfhorrest
Posts: 5008
Joined: Fri Oct 30, 2009 6:11 am UTC
Contact:

Re: 1077: "Home Organization"

Postby Pfhorrest » Sat Jul 07, 2012 8:02 am UTC

clockworkbookreader wrote:Getting old sucks. Not as bad as the alternative

What's so bad about eternal youth?
Forrest Cameranesi, Geek of All Trades
"I am Sam. Sam I am. I do not like trolls, flames, or spam."
The Codex Quaerendae (my philosophy) - The Chronicles of Quelouva (my fiction)

User avatar
ivnja
The spirit of things can bugger right off.
Posts: 816
Joined: Mon Dec 04, 2006 5:30 am UTC
Location: 19T526268 4971339 (NAD 83)

Re: 1077: "Home Organization"

Postby ivnja » Sat Jul 07, 2012 8:21 am UTC

eran_rathan wrote:
Pfhorrest wrote:
The Moomin wrote:So if we have a blue sock three places to the right of a red sock, are they in the same place?

NO. There are no "places".
1SOCK = REDRED SOCK1
2SOCK = BLUEBLUE SOCK2

1 sock.... 2 sock.... red sock.... blue sock.... so simple WATSON


stop it, you'll make him a meme, like Timecube.

I can't believe that damned thread is still going on. It's never going to end, unless somebody locks it. He's never going to admit he could be wrong, and the rest of us that are still there...well, we're still there, which I suppose says something. As frustrating as it is, I'm compelled by both a strange curiosity and an inconvenient stubborn streak to keep wading through his nonsense.

Image
Hi you.
she/her

User avatar
Pfhorrest
Posts: 5008
Joined: Fri Oct 30, 2009 6:11 am UTC
Contact:

Re: 1077: "Home Organization"

Postby Pfhorrest » Sat Jul 07, 2012 8:40 am UTC

eran_rathan wrote:
Pfhorrest wrote:
The Moomin wrote:So if we have a blue sock three places to the right of a red sock, are they in the same place?

NO. There are no "places".
1SOCK = REDRED SOCK1
2SOCK = BLUEBLUE SOCK2

1 sock.... 2 sock.... red sock.... blue sock.... so simple WATSON


stop it, you'll make him a meme, like Timecube.


He's already featured in an xkcd comic itself. If nobody has already, someone should add that to an In Popular Culture section on one of his Wikipedia pages. (Yes, he has several, Waterman butterfly projection and Waterman polyhedron; thankfully Steve Waterman is a disambiguation page and Steve Waterman (mathematician) is a redlink.).

This is a joke, of course, as having seen those pages I already know there is no such mention currently and that editors have asked that we Please don't mention XKCD on this article.

Oh hey look, his edit history.

ivnja wrote:I can't believe that damned thread is still going on. It's never going to end, unless somebody locks it. He's never going to admit he could be wrong, and the rest of us that are still there...well, we're still there, which I suppose says something. As frustrating as it is, I'm compelled by both a strange curiosity and an inconvenient stubborn streak to keep wading through his nonsense.

As I've stated in the thread itself, I consider this practice for arguing against stubborn idiots and dense fools (I'm not entirely sure which Steve is), which is a valuable life skill I think more people should exercise more often and more publicly. Either eventually you get through to them and they wise up and hurray we all win, or they eventually either admit or at least demonstrate that they are completely irrational and perfectly OK with that, at which point they can be safely ignored and publicly mocked. I prefer to push to the "admitted" stage, as it's not entirely clear when the "demonstrated" stage has been reached, though I think for this crowd we're probably at least sufficiently close. (I wouldn't count on the general public being able to call him out on it, though)

Alternately sometimes they get through to you and it turns out you were the dense fool all along, not them; in which case hurray, we all win. But If they really are the dense fool or stubborn idiot they seem like, these are the two outcomes to push for.
Forrest Cameranesi, Geek of All Trades
"I am Sam. Sam I am. I do not like trolls, flames, or spam."
The Codex Quaerendae (my philosophy) - The Chronicles of Quelouva (my fiction)

J Thomas
Everyone's a jerk. You. Me. This Jerk.^
Posts: 1190
Joined: Fri Sep 23, 2011 3:18 pm UTC

Re: 1077: "Home Organization"

Postby J Thomas » Sat Jul 07, 2012 12:54 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:
eran_rathan wrote:I can't believe that damned thread is still going on. It's never going to end, unless somebody locks it. He's never going to admit he could be wrong, and the rest of us that are still there...well, we're still there, which I suppose says something. As frustrating as it is, I'm compelled by both a strange curiosity and an inconvenient stubborn streak to keep wading through his nonsense.

As I've stated in the thread itself, I consider this practice for arguing against stubborn idiots and dense fools (I'm not entirely sure which Steve is), which is a valuable life skill I think more people should exercise more often and more publicly.


"Gentlemen may cry, Consensus, Consensus -- but there is no consensus. The dispute is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding opinions!"

I try to stay out of this sort of discussion, but just this once....

Why not agree to disagree? What value is there in the argument? I started out with some hope that Waterman might be on to something, but pretty soon it was clear otherwise. He wants relativity to be false, so he argues that its most basic underpinnings cannot be true. He does not propose an alternative that works, resulting in an alternative relativity that works as well as relativity does. Instead he just keeps arguing that the way somebody else looks at it is not acceptable. Why keep arguing with him about that? What good does it do anybody?

Either eventually you get through to them and they wise up and hurray we all win,


This is rare. Human beings are organized to do genetic algorithms. We try ideas almost at random and discard the ones that work the worst. So that we don't all get stuck on the same local optimum, some of us reject ideas at random and refuse to consider them, and this constrains those individuals and groups to search a different path that will lead who-knows-where. If they find something of great value they are likely to try to share it with the rest. They are sacrificing themselves for humanity, and you want them to stop! Does anybody actually win when after great effort you wear them down and they join the Borg? What exactly has been won?

or they eventually either admit or at least demonstrate that they are completely irrational and perfectly OK with that, at which point they can be safely ignored and publicly mocked.


Why wait? Anybody who has a minority idea can be safely ignored and publicly mocked, because they are in the minority. Why bother to argue with them at great length first? Does it somehow make you feel justified in your mockery? You're different from the people who used to mock you, because you gave them a fair trial first and demonstrated to your own satisfaction that they are wrong, wrong wrong!

I prefer to push to the "admitted" stage, as it's not entirely clear when the "demonstrated" stage has been reached, though I think for this crowd we're probably at least sufficiently close. (I wouldn't count on the general public being able to call him out on it, though)


So if you badger people long enough, eventually they may admit they are irrational to get you off their backs. Then you can mock them some more. Sweet.

Alternately sometimes they get through to you and it turns out you were the dense fool all along, not them; in which case hurray, we all win.


Sure, that's where the value is. But how likely is that?

But If they really are the dense fool or stubborn idiot they seem like, these are the two outcomes to push for.


Why does it even matter? Sure, we need consensus when it's important. Like, before WWII many Anericans sympathized with germans. They liked german culture, or thought that germany got a bad deal from the Versailles treaty, etc. And we had a lot of japanese immigrants and their children. Of course those opinions had to be suppressed so we could get on with the war effort. And after the war, we still had a lot of people who sympathized with communists. It was absolutely necessary to get them jailed or blacklisted and especially discredited, because if they had threatened our anticommunist consensus then we would not have been ready to fight the Cold War and beat the russians, and who knows what would have happened?

Similarly, today it's necessary to do whatever it takes to discredit AGW, an idea which is being spread by people who want to destroy the US economy. We must make sure that people believe the scientists who say it's happening are doing it because they can't get funding unless they go along with the lie. We must make sure people understand that there's no such thing as global warming, or if there is it's due to entirely natural causes and we mustn't distort the US economy in a futile attempt to stop it. Because we are in a war to save the economy from these irresponsibles.

But in general, when you see that people are not susceptible to your logic based on your assumptions, why not just live and let live? There is no necessity that we all agree about everything, or even about very much. What's the harm?
The Law of Fives is true. I see it everywhere I look for it.

Inifipy
Posts: 7
Joined: Tue Apr 26, 2011 5:10 am UTC

Re: 1077: "Home Organization"

Postby Inifipy » Sat Jul 07, 2012 6:09 pm UTC

Wooloomooloo wrote:You, evil, EVIL person! Don't you care at all about your entropy footprint?!? I mean, think of the children...!


I've always been wondering about this. Let's say you have two universes, each completely identical at a certain moment. At that moment, I'm sitting at the beach. But in one universe, I do nothing but sit and relax for twenty minutes, while in the other universe, I spend those twenty minutes building an elaborate sandcastle. I understand that the overall entropy of both universes increases. The decreased entropy of the sandcastle doesn't violate the second law of thermodynamics, because it's offset by the increase in entropy from my brain working, my muscles moving, and the body heat given off, so the the overall entropy of the universe increases.

But my question is, how does the increase in entropy compare between the two universes? After the twenty minutes, does the sandcastle universe have more entropy than the other universe? Or are they equal? Maybe in the other universe, the beach's entropy increases by a miniscule amount, let's say an x J/K increase in entropy. While in the sandcastle universe, the sandcastle has a 29x J/K decrease in entropy, while the rest of the beach, because of my effort, has a 30x J/K increase, and so the beach's entropy always equals out to an increase of x J/K every twenty minutes no matter what anything does. Or is there such a thing as an "entropy footprint" that increases the rate of entropy increase? And if so, might an extraterrestrial intelligence try to extinguish all life in order to keep the entropy increase of the universe at an absolute minimum, while either keeping their exterminations as entropy-conscious as they can or just not seeing the irony?

Anyway, I can get around to organizing when I'm in a dorm or apartment, but when I come home for summer, I just drop my stuff off and end up moving in somewhere else before I manage to touch it.

blowfishhootie
Posts: 486
Joined: Wed Sep 21, 2011 11:13 pm UTC

Re: 1077: "Home Organization"

Postby blowfishhootie » Sat Jul 07, 2012 6:58 pm UTC

J Thomas wrote:But in general, when you see that people are not susceptible to your logic based on your assumptions, why not just live and let live? There is no necessity that we all agree about everything, or even about very much. What's the harm?


This is really great in theory, but in practice a huge percentage of human interaction would become moot if people actually thought this way. In fact, you are blatantly being hypocritical: You are making the argument that it's not worth it to make an argument.

The truth is, discussions between people who disagree about something can be beneficial, even if both people never actually consider adopting the other's views. It can help someone clarify their own views to themselves, possibly identify inconsistencies in their own logic, and become better at explaining their views to others. In this particular case, when that thread has gone on for 30 pages or whatever, I personally would question the value of going on that long, but that's really an individual priority.

Anyway, your presence in this forum, you taking the time to make this post, is an example of the exact practice you are questioning the merits of.

EDIT: I also disagree very, very strongly with your claim that "There is no necessity that we all agree about ... very much." Humans who share any particular culture by definition agree about tons and tons and tons of stuff, it is those agreements that hold any given society together. It seems like we disagree more than we actually do, because it is disagreements that are actually worth talking about. A conversation about things we agree on takes two sentences:

"Parents sacrificing their offspring to a deity is wrong and should be outlawed."
"Yep, it sure should."

Also, concerning this:

J Thomas wrote:
Pfhorrest wrote:or they eventually either admit or at least demonstrate that they are completely irrational and perfectly OK with that, at which point they can be safely ignored and publicly mocked.


Why wait? Anybody who has a minority idea can be safely ignored and publicly mocked, because they are in the minority. Why bother to argue with them at great length first? Does it somehow make you feel justified in your mockery? You're different from the people who used to mock you, because you gave them a fair trial first and demonstrated to your own satisfaction that they are wrong, wrong wrong!


Tell me you're not mocking the person to whom you are responding. Tell me you're not doing exactly what you are criticizing.

User avatar
ivnja
The spirit of things can bugger right off.
Posts: 816
Joined: Mon Dec 04, 2006 5:30 am UTC
Location: 19T526268 4971339 (NAD 83)

Re: 1077: "Home Organization"

Postby ivnja » Sat Jul 07, 2012 7:26 pm UTC

re: "Home Organization"

I tried this way once. Except instead of a box, it was just a giant pile of all of my things on the floor of my room. Ostensibly, my idea was to immediately start to reorganize from scratch. In practice, i just had a giant pile on my floor for two weeks.

Findings: Mothers don't appreciate this method of organization.
Hi you.
she/her

User avatar
Pfhorrest
Posts: 5008
Joined: Fri Oct 30, 2009 6:11 am UTC
Contact:

Re: 1077: "Home Organization"

Postby Pfhorrest » Sat Jul 07, 2012 10:09 pm UTC

I agree with everything Hootie said, but also:

J Thomas wrote:Why not agree to disagree? What value is there in the argument? I started out with some hope that Waterman might be on to something, but pretty soon it was clear otherwise. He wants relativity to be false, so he argues that its most basic underpinnings cannot be true. He does not propose an alternative that works, resulting in an alternative relativity that works as well as relativity does. Instead he just keeps arguing that the way somebody else looks at it is not acceptable. Why keep arguing with him about that? What good does it do anybody?

In this particular case, it's become just an exercise to me, like throwing a ball around or play-sparring, because Steve's made it clear enough that he hasn't a coherent thought for me to learn anything from, and everyone else has made it clear that they're not falling for his nonsense either, so the worst outcome of dropping the conversation is Steve continues operating under his mistaken beliefs. Besides the value of just exercising dialectical skills and straightening out my own mind in the process (like Hootie describes), the only possible value that could come of it from here would be actually getting through to Steve, which would be very rewarding not for any "ha ha I win" sense but more in a "Oh me yarm I can finally communicate with Hellen Keller" sense.

In the general case, the value is that you might have something to learn from it, they might have something to learn from it, and everyone watching you both might have something to learn from it. The point of the discourse is for learning to happen, somewhere; to make at least someone, be it you, the other guy, or your audience, better-informed or better-thought-out than they were before.

This is rare. Human beings are organized to do genetic algorithms. We try ideas almost at random and discard the ones that work the worst. So that we don't all get stuck on the same local optimum, some of us reject ideas at random and refuse to consider them, and this constrains those individuals and groups to search a different path that will lead who-knows-where. If they find something of great value they are likely to try to share it with the rest. They are sacrificing themselves for humanity, and you want them to stop! Does anybody actually win when after great effort you wear them down and they join the Borg? What exactly has been won?

The Borg don't actually live up to their stated philosophy. If they did, they would be very much like the Federation, and good guys. The ostensible purpose of assimilation is that everything that was unique and great about the individual is learned from and shared with all the other individuals in the collective. It is, ostensibly, not about destroying anything that doesn't match the groupthink; rather, new things that don't match the groupthink ought to be treasured and learned from and shared with everyone.

Breaking from that metaphor: I am not saying, at all, that minority opinions should be shouted down. I am saying that arguments should continue, where practical, until rational agreement is reached, until the exchange of good reasons results in some sort of consensus (which may be neither of the starting positions); or until an appeal to bare reason is made and someone bald-facedly rejects it (e.g. dismissing the relevance of any evidence or logic at all because they "have faith" or "are just right" or something), showing themselves to be unreasonable, at which point any hope of rational agreement is lost so it's OK to give up.

Why wait? Anybody who has a minority idea can be safely ignored and publicly mocked, because they are in the minority. Why bother to argue with them at great length first? Does it somehow make you feel justified in your mockery? You're different from the people who used to mock you, because you gave them a fair trial first and demonstrated to your own satisfaction that they are wrong, wrong wrong!

For one, I'm not just talking about arguing against minority opinions. I use and advocate this process when arguing for a minority opinion as well; in fact there of all places it's most important.

And the "safely" part means safe in terms of epistemological concerns. If there's a possibility that you may be mistaken and have something to learn, or that you might be able to teach them something, or that the people watching might be misled if you gave up or might be educated if you continue, then quitting the argument sacrifices possibly learning. But if the person has backed into a corner of outright rejecting reason itself out loud, then at that point it's clear that you have nothing to learn from them, you won't be able to teach them anything, and nobody reasonable in the audience will listen to them, so you can quit without risking any possible loss of learning.

So if you badger people long enough, eventually they may admit they are irrational to get you off their backs. Then you can mock them some more. Sweet.

No, I keep offering what I think are good reasons, and reasons for those reasons, and reasons for those reasons, and so on, until they see reason (or I do, in either case this is preferable) or say "screw reason!" (at which point they've shown themselves a laughable fool).

Why does it even matter? Sure, we need consensus when it's important. Like, before WWII many Anericans sympathized with germans. They liked german culture, or thought that germany got a bad deal from the Versailles treaty, etc. And we had a lot of japanese immigrants and their children. Of course those opinions had to be suppressed so we could get on with the war effort. And after the war, we still had a lot of people who sympathized with communists. It was absolutely necessary to get them jailed or blacklisted and especially discredited, because if they had threatened our anticommunist consensus then we would not have been ready to fight the Cold War and beat the russians, and who knows what would have happened?

Similarly, today it's necessary to do whatever it takes to discredit AGW, an idea which is being spread by people who want to destroy the US economy. We must make sure that people believe the scientists who say it's happening are doing it because they can't get funding unless they go along with the lie. We must make sure people understand that there's no such thing as global warming, or if there is it's due to entirely natural causes and we mustn't distort the US economy in a futile attempt to stop it. Because we are in a war to save the economy from these irresponsibles.


Are you agreeing with that suppression of dissent, or implying that I would? Because if the latter, you misunderstand me entirely, and if the former... I don't even know what to say.
Forrest Cameranesi, Geek of All Trades
"I am Sam. Sam I am. I do not like trolls, flames, or spam."
The Codex Quaerendae (my philosophy) - The Chronicles of Quelouva (my fiction)

J Thomas
Everyone's a jerk. You. Me. This Jerk.^
Posts: 1190
Joined: Fri Sep 23, 2011 3:18 pm UTC

Re: 1077: "Home Organization"

Postby J Thomas » Sat Jul 07, 2012 11:58 pm UTC

blowfishhootie wrote:
J Thomas wrote:But in general, when you see that people are not susceptible to your logic based on your assumptions, why not just live and let live? There is no necessity that we all agree about everything, or even about very much. What's the harm?


This is really great in theory, but in practice a huge percentage of human interaction would become moot if people actually thought this way. In fact, you are blatantly being hypocritical: You are making the argument that it's not worth it to make an argument.


In my defense, let me point out that I do not say to never ever make an argument. And it might be a good thing for a huge percentage of human interaction to become moot.

The truth is, discussions between people who disagree about something can be beneficial, even if both people never actually consider adopting the other's views. It can help someone clarify their own views to themselves, possibly identify inconsistencies in their own logic, and become better at explaining their views to others.


Agreed, those are potential good outcomes that can come of otherwise-fruitless arguing. However, it might be good to consider the possibility that when you argue with the wrong person your views might get distorted and muddled, and you might on fact create new inconsistencies in your logic. You might get worse at explaining your views to others who are more mainstream.

In this particular case, when that thread has gone on for 30 pages or whatever, I personally would question the value of going on that long, but that's really an individual priority.


It's all individual priorities, isn't it? Not like there are universal social norms we all agree about. When I say it isn't worth doing I'm stating a personal opinion from my own values. Other people can legitimately disagree.

Anyway, your presence in this forum, you taking the time to make this post, is an example of the exact practice you are questioning the merits of.


So, am i wrong? For the sake of argument, imagine that my reasoning is objectively correct. But to actually make the argument, I have to be an evil hypocrite! What kind of world is it where only evil hypocrites can tell the truth?!

OK, for the sake of argument I will admit to being an evil hypocrite. That does not make me wrong.

EDIT: I also disagree very, very strongly with your claim that "There is no necessity that we all agree about ... very much." Humans who share any particular culture by definition agree about tons and tons and tons of stuff, it is those agreements that hold any given society together. It seems like we disagree more than we actually do, because it is disagreements that are actually worth talking about. A conversation about things we agree on takes two sentences:

"Parents sacrificing their offspring to a deity is wrong and should be outlawed."
"Yep, it sure should."


Yes. So how would we measure how much we agree about versus how much we disagree? I was struck by a story an old man told me in Birmingham, AL. He said that when he was a child, middle-class white women wore white gloves whenever they went out, and so did the girls. And it was important to them not to do anything that would get their white gloves dirty. Every Sunday after church a lot of people would go eat lunch at a fancy restaurant; they would go to the same restauarant every week, and for some of them lunch at that restaurant was a significant slice of their food bill for the week. To get into the restaurant they had to match the restaurant's dress code, and they had to be the right sort of people. The wrong sort of people would not be seated. He described something that sounded to me like a peculiar class structure, where almost everything people did depended on who they were and how they fit into the system. And I remembered when I was little my family went to a hotel restaurant every Sunday for lunch, but my sisters did not have to wear their white gloves. They hardly ever wore them.

And I remembered going to the movie theater, and when I was little I had to drink from the low water fountain that was just for little kids and negros, because I wasn't tall enough to drink at the other one. I wanted to watch a movie from the balcony, but I wasn't allowed up there -- only negros were allowed to sit in the balcony, and I felt cheated. The culture the old man described to me had not fully collapsed yet in my own childhood.

Then I look at today. To eat at MacDonalds you have to wear a shirt, and something you can call shoes, and you need enough money to pay for what you order. The rules aren't very strict beyond that, just don't do things that get them to call the police. Has the old culture where it mattered intensely who you were, been replaced with one where anyone can buy stuff if they can pay for it? Has the old consensus broken down? Or is it still there, but I have been thrown out of it to the point I never think to go anywhere the old rules would be enforced on me?

I think societal consensus is not easy to measure.

Also, concerning this:

J Thomas wrote:
Pfhorrest wrote:or they eventually either admit or at least demonstrate that they are completely irrational and perfectly OK with that, at which point they can be safely ignored and publicly mocked.


Why wait? Anybody who has a minority idea can be safely ignored and publicly mocked, because they are in the minority. Why bother to argue with them at great length first? Does it somehow make you feel justified in your mockery? You're different from the people who used to mock you, because you gave them a fair trial first and demonstrated to your own satisfaction that they are wrong, wrong wrong!


Tell me you're not mocking the person to whom you are responding. Tell me you're not doing exactly what you are criticizing.


Does it matter? I was being sincere. Except I admit to a degree of irony about global warming. And somewhat less irony about the Cold War. And a bit less still about WWII.

Pfhorrest and I have had a series of discussions that I found interesting. I will not expect him to drop his assumptions and reason from mine, but he tends to reason honestly from his own assumptions.

What he's talking about here is setting intellectual climates and ideological hatchet jobs. Mock somebody so that third parties will not take him seriously. I am not trying to get people to ignore Pfhorrest. I am appealing to his higher nature. Why do the hatchet job unless it's necessary? Sure, if it's somebody messing with your livelihood, then you stop him any way it takes. But when it's just one more somebody wrong on the Internet, why bother?

I admit I don't always follow my own higher nature.
The Law of Fives is true. I see it everywhere I look for it.

User avatar
SerMufasa
Posts: 159
Joined: Fri Feb 17, 2012 2:00 pm UTC
Location: Casterley Rock

Re: 1077: "Home Organization"

Postby SerMufasa » Sun Jul 08, 2012 12:20 am UTC

For the love of Xenu can we not spread that thread to this one?
"Winter is Coming, Simba"

User avatar
Pfhorrest
Posts: 5008
Joined: Fri Oct 30, 2009 6:11 am UTC
Contact:

Re: 1077: "Home Organization"

Postby Pfhorrest » Sun Jul 08, 2012 1:44 am UTC

J Thomas wrote:What he's talking about here is setting intellectual climates and ideological hatchet jobs. Mock somebody so that third parties will not take him seriously.

Except that I'm not, if you'll read what I'm actually writing.

I'm talking about being more patient with somebody than most would say they really deserve, to the point that either genuine understanding eventually happens (preferable but rare), or they make a complete fool out of themselves. I'm not talking about using mockery as a debate tactic, I'm talking about being so reasonable that the other person makes a mockery out of themselves if they won't step up to that same level. It's similar in some ways to ahimsa (Gandhi's nonviolent civil disobedience): you win a battle by being so good to your enemy that either they come around and be good to you in return, and you (both) win, or they show themselves to be the baby-burning monsters they are, and they lose as the public turns on them.

Of course ahimsa relies on there being a public who will turn against people who show themselves to be total monsters, and my dialectical method here relies on there being an audience who will turn against people who show themselves to be total loons. But if that's not the case then you're fucked one way or another, unless you have unilateral power over your opponent; and if you do, then this is still a good method of exercising your power justly and not abusing it.

One of your earlier comments did make me realize that I've been omitting another possible outcome of this, however:

Either you both learn something (ideal),
Or one of you corrects the other (next to ideal),
Or you both realize neither of you has good reasons to sway the other and the debate just sputters out as you run out of things to say and so stop saying things (what I omitted, which you might call "agree to disagree" if you like),
Or one of you runs out of reasons but not the other and yet the first still doesn't concede, showing himself to be irrational (the best fallback if all else fails),
Or you both run out of reasons but keep shouting at each other anyway, showing both of you to be irrational (the worst case scenario that all this is meant to avoid in the first place).
Forrest Cameranesi, Geek of All Trades
"I am Sam. Sam I am. I do not like trolls, flames, or spam."
The Codex Quaerendae (my philosophy) - The Chronicles of Quelouva (my fiction)

J Thomas
Everyone's a jerk. You. Me. This Jerk.^
Posts: 1190
Joined: Fri Sep 23, 2011 3:18 pm UTC

Re: 1077: "Home Organization"

Postby J Thomas » Sun Jul 08, 2012 1:53 am UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:I agree with everything Hootie said, but also:

J Thomas wrote:Why not agree to disagree? What value is there in the argument? I started out with some hope that Waterman might be on to something, but pretty soon it was clear otherwise. He wants relativity to be false, so he argues that its most basic underpinnings cannot be true. He does not propose an alternative that works, resulting in an alternative relativity that works as well as relativity does. Instead he just keeps arguing that the way somebody else looks at it is not acceptable. Why keep arguing with him about that? What good does it do anybody?

In this particular case, it's become just an exercise to me, like throwing a ball around or play-sparring, because Steve's made it clear enough that he hasn't a coherent thought for me to learn anything from, and everyone else has made it clear that they're not falling for his nonsense either, so the worst outcome of dropping the conversation is Steve continues operating under his mistaken beliefs. Besides the value of just exercising dialectical skills and straightening out my own mind in the process (like Hootie describes), the only possible value that could come of it from here would be actually getting through to Steve, which would be very rewarding not for any "ha ha I win" sense but more in a "Gee Willikers I can finally communicate with Hellen Keller" sense.

In the general case, the value is that you might have something to learn from it, they might have something to learn from it, and everyone watching you both might have something to learn from it. The point of the discourse is for learning to happen, somewhere; to make at least someone, be it you, the other guy, or your audience, better-informed or better-thought-out than they were before.


That sounds pleasant. So you figure that you are actually straightening something out in your own mind when you argue with Steve? Something about coordinate systems, maybe? I guess the Hedonist's Creed applies here:

If it feels good, do it.
Until it stops feeling good. Then quit.

This is rare. Human beings are organized to do genetic algorithms. We try ideas almost at random and discard the ones that work the worst. So that we don't all get stuck on the same local optimum, some of us reject ideas at random and refuse to consider them, and this constrains those individuals and groups to search a different path that will lead who-knows-where. If they find something of great value they are likely to try to share it with the rest. They are sacrificing themselves for humanity, and you want them to stop! Does anybody actually win when after great effort you wear them down and they join the Borg? What exactly has been won?

The Borg don't actually live up to their stated philosophy. If they did, they would be very much like the Federation, and good guys. The ostensible purpose of assimilation is that everything that was unique and great about the individual is learned from and shared with all the other individuals in the collective. It is, ostensibly, not about destroying anything that doesn't match the groupthink; rather, new things that don't match the groupthink ought to be treasured and learned from and shared with everyone.


Sure, but as I understand the story the Borg didn't live up to their philosophy. And to the extent that our consensus has a philosophy like that, we don't live up to it either.

Breaking from that metaphor: I am not saying, at all, that minority opinions should be shouted down. I am saying that arguments should continue, where practical, until rational agreement is reached, until the exchange of good reasons results in some sort of consensus (which may be neither of the starting positions); or until an appeal to bare reason is made and someone bald-facedly rejects it (e.g. dismissing the relevance of any evidence or logic at all because they "have faith" or "are just right" or something), showing themselves to be unreasonable, at which point any hope of rational agreement is lost so it's OK to give up.


You are implicitly assuming that reasonable people will come to agree. But people base their reason on different starting points. They reason from their own experience, leavened with their own assumptions. They don't have to be irrational to disagree. There is no particular reason to expect that any amount of argument will or should lead to agreement.

Well, unless your own special assumptions lead you to the expectation that an unlimited amount of argument should lead to agreement.

Why wait? Anybody who has a minority idea can be safely ignored and publicly mocked, because they are in the minority. Why bother to argue with them at great length first? Does it somehow make you feel justified in your mockery? You're different from the people who used to mock you, because you gave them a fair trial first and demonstrated to your own satisfaction that they are wrong, wrong wrong!

For one, I'm not just talking about arguing against minority opinions. I use and advocate this process when arguing for a minority opinion as well; in fact there of all places it's most important.


What, mock the majority opinion? They will mock you back, with numbers on their side. No percentage in that strategy.

And the "safely" part means safe in terms of epistemological concerns. If there's a possibility that you may be mistaken and have something to learn, or that you might be able to teach them something, or that the people watching might be misled if you gave up or might be educated if you continue, then quitting the argument sacrifices possibly learning.


OK, that makes sense. But when you can expect a finite lifetime, you should choose your battles. Consider the marginal cost. What is the best thing you could do with your time instead of that particular argument? Is it worth doing that alternative instead?

But if the person has backed into a corner of outright rejecting reason itself out loud, then at that point it's clear that you have nothing to learn from them, you won't be able to teach them anything, and nobody reasonable in the audience will listen to them, so you can quit without risking any possible loss of learning.


Maybe. On the other hand, you might still learn from them even if they publicly reject reason. Their claim to use or not use reason need not have much effect on your ability to learn from them. I have learned pretty much from dogs and cats who make no claim at all to reason.

So if you badger people long enough, eventually they may admit they are irrational to get you off their backs. Then you can mock them some more. Sweet.

No, I keep offering what I think are good reasons, and reasons for those reasons, and reasons for those reasons, and so on, until they see reason (or I do, in either case this is preferable) or say "screw reason!" (at which point they've shown themselves a laughable fool).


If you give them the idea that the easiest way to get you off their backs is to tell you they reject reason, they just might do that. Communication happens on many levels.

Why does it even matter? Sure, we need consensus when it's important. Like, before WWII many Anericans sympathized with germans. They liked german culture, or thought that germany got a bad deal from the Versailles treaty, etc. And we had a lot of japanese immigrants and their children. Of course those opinions had to be suppressed so we could get on with the war effort. And after the war, we still had a lot of people who sympathized with communists. It was absolutely necessary to get them jailed or blacklisted and especially discredited, because if they had threatened our anticommunist consensus then we would not have been ready to fight the Cold War and beat the russians, and who knows what would have happened?

Similarly, today it's necessary to do whatever it takes to discredit AGW, an idea which is being spread by people who want to destroy the US economy. We must make sure that people believe the scientists who say it's happening are doing it because they can't get funding unless they go along with the lie. We must make sure people understand that there's no such thing as global warming, or if there is it's due to entirely natural causes and we mustn't distort the US economy in a futile attempt to stop it. Because we are in a war to save the economy from these irresponsibles.


Are you agreeing with that suppression of dissent, or implying that I would? Because if the latter, you misunderstand me entirely, and if the former... I don't even know what to say.


I say that most of the time, suppression of dissent is not even useful. Live and let live. Agree to disagree. In the examples I gave, suppression of dissent was in fact useful to somebody. It's hard to fight a war when a big part of the population is against it. It's hard to maintain vast fortunes in a capitalist society when too many people are communist sympathizers. It's hard to keep making lots of money doing the same old things when most of the population insists that you have to do something different.

The time people really need to suppress dissent, is when the dissenters are messing with their livelihood. It isn't a matter of truth or lies, it isn't a matter of right or wrong, it's a matter of people's bread and butter. People will do whatever it takes to maintain their place in the world.

You definitely cannot expect to come to a consensus. AGW is a fine example. Global warming deniers are immune to science. They have a concept of the politics -- there are powerful people who want to destroy the US economy, and they control the funding for science. Scientific research cannot get funded unless it supports global warming. They have a concept of science as an economic activity -- scientists who tell the truth cannot get funding and cannot be published and must give up being scientists. If those two assumptions are right, then all of the published science that relates to global warming is lies and can safely be ignored.

Many of these people can be quite adept at applying logic to their starting assumptions. You will never get a consensus with them unless you adopt their assumptions, or you somehow persuade them to adopt yours.

Are they wrong? Yes, I think they are wrong. It's pretty obvious that they are wrong -- if you start out with my assumptions.
The Law of Fives is true. I see it everywhere I look for it.

User avatar
Max™
Posts: 1792
Joined: Thu Jun 21, 2012 4:21 am UTC
Location: mu

Re: 1077: "Home Organization"

Postby Max™ » Sun Jul 08, 2012 2:07 am UTC

I am unconvinced regarding AGW for numerous reasons, and am hardly immune to science... merely resistant to certain types of memes.

Your example may hold true in many cases, but it is far from absolute.
mu

J Thomas
Everyone's a jerk. You. Me. This Jerk.^
Posts: 1190
Joined: Fri Sep 23, 2011 3:18 pm UTC

Re: 1077: "Home Organization"

Postby J Thomas » Sun Jul 08, 2012 2:23 am UTC

Max™ wrote:I am unconvinced regarding AGW for numerous reasons, and am hardly immune to science... merely resistant to certain types of memes.

Your example may hold true in many cases, but it is far from absolute.


Of course. People who deride one particular idea don't have to have a whole lot in common. I'm only talking about the dominant paradigm.

Given what I know, it's utterly plausible that if you take a bunch of carbon that's been sequestered for well over a hundred million years and you introduce it to the biosphere -- more carbon than all of life had access to before -- it will result in some big changes. Old feedback loops will become unimportant and after a chaotic period we might find there are new feedback loops that aren't real similar to the old ones. Will there be a place for mammals under those conditions? Who knows, mammals hadn't evolved yet the last time we had conditions like that.

But some people think they can predict just what changes to expect. I'm kind of dubious about that. On the other hand, some deniers say that if scientists can't predict exactly what will happen then that means they don't know what they're talking about and there's o reason to expect any changes. I say this is utterly stupid. If nobody has models that successfully predict short-term climate, that does not in any way imply that short-term climate will be stable.
The Law of Fives is true. I see it everywhere I look for it.

User avatar
Max™
Posts: 1792
Joined: Thu Jun 21, 2012 4:21 am UTC
Location: mu

Re: 1077: "Home Organization"

Postby Max™ » Sun Jul 08, 2012 2:33 am UTC

Eh, that's not my issue, just the idea that the climate is driven by a high gain positive feedback initiated by changing the concentration of a single gas by 100 ppm~, and that this idea or any other can be somehow proven by computer modeling runs.
mu

User avatar
Pfhorrest
Posts: 5008
Joined: Fri Oct 30, 2009 6:11 am UTC
Contact:

Re: 1077: "Home Organization"

Postby Pfhorrest » Sun Jul 08, 2012 7:22 am UTC

J Thomas wrote:That sounds pleasant. So you figure that you are actually straightening something out in your own mind when you argue with Steve? Something about coordinate systems, maybe? I guess the Hedonist's Creed applies here:

If it feels good, do it.
Until it stops feeling good. Then quit.

when you can expect a finite lifetime, you should choose your battles. Consider the marginal cost. What is the best thing you could do with your time instead of that particular argument? Is it worth doing that alternative instead?

I did say somewhere above that I advocate this "where practical". If I didn't have the time or had other things I need to devote my mental energy to instead, I would stop, because nothing urgent hangs on this argument.

as I understand the story the Borg didn't live up to their philosophy. And to the extent that our consensus has a philosophy like that, we don't live up to it either.

Whose consensus has what philosophy? You lost me here.

You are implicitly assuming that reasonable people will come to agree.

Yes, that's what reasonable generally means, can be persuaded with reasons. So long as someone has sufficient reasons to offer, a reasonable person will come to agree with them. And if there are not sufficient reasons either way, they will acknowledge that the issue is unsettled and stop talking as there is nothing reasonable to say. Only an unreasonable person will continue to argue without reasons to back their arguments, much less in the face of contravening reasons.

What, mock the majority opinion? They will mock you back, with numbers on their side. No percentage in that strategy.

You still seem under the mistaken impression that mocking is part of the tactic, rather then a product of one of its fallback outcomes.

I'm saying if someone representing the majority opinion can be reasoned into a corner, and then, rather than change their opinion in the face reason, instead explicitly put down reason per se in order to cling to their opinion, then they have made a fool and a mockery of themselves in the eyes of reasonable people (whatever their opinions may be; reasonable people can be mistaken, but will change their opinion when shown their mistake). It's tantamount to them saying "Damnit, I got nothing... but I'm right anyway nyah!"

you might still learn from them even if they publicly reject reason. Their claim to use or not use reason need not have much effect on your ability to learn from them. I have learned pretty much from dogs and cats who make no claim at all to reason.

I might learn something from observing them, sure, but not from the propositional content of anything they say. When they abandon reason they have ceased to have the status of a person in dialogue with another person and have reduced themselves to the level of your cats and dogs, creatures to be observed and studied perhaps, but not partners (however antagonistic) in an intellectual activity.

If you give them the idea that the easiest way to get you off their backs is to tell you they reject reason, they just might do that. Communication happens on many levels.

A reasonable person wouldn't need to claim to reject reason just to exit an argument. They can just politely bow out without conceding anything, and other reasonable people won't hold that against them. But this only applies to optional arguments like we're having with Steve. I'm not advocating chasing people around hounding them to continue an argument, I'm talking about what to do when you've got someone arguing with you, either because you two can't avoid this argument as it's something important that has to be resolved, or just because they're pressing the matter and you're able to entertain it.

Global warming deniers are immune to science. [...] You will never get a consensus with them unless you adopt their assumptions, or you somehow persuade them to adopt yours.

That's the whole point of reasoned debate. Persuasion. Even things people consider foundational assumptions can be challenged by reason, either by showing them inconsistent with other foundational assumptions they already hold, or by illuminating even more foundational issues they hadn't even considered yet and making persuasive arguments there. Or sometimes, since people often reason their way to foundational assumptions from many particulars consequent to them, by showing them that the assumptions they cling to aren't actually necessary for those consequences, and thus that they can relax on those issues without it disrupting absolutely everything about their worldview. Often times this is what a "third option" does; shows you that your choices are not P-and-not-Q vs Q-and-not-P, that you can have Q-and-P if you want, because P ≠ not-Q.

On this global warming example, I consider my position such a "third option". I don't question the science whatsoever; I trust scientists to be doing their jobs, or more to the point I trust the scientific method they adhere to to keep them in check, and the competitive world of scientific paper publishing to cut down anyone whose science doesn't stack up and highlight anyone who comes up with solid novel results. However, these results do not entail that any kind of economy-destroying state socialism is necessary; the argument about whether climate change is happening is a different one from what to do about it. Certainly something will need to be done, but that something doesn't have to be any drastic measures to prevent it, and it doesn't even necessarily have to be to prevent it at all (though certain things which would help prevent it are good things that we should be doing anyway regardless of climate change, like looking for renewable energy sources and putting checks on pollution of all kinds).

Regardless of whether we are changing our climate now or not (and again, I accept the scientific consensus that we are), the climate has changed drastically over the time that humans have been around, and we coped with it then, and are if anything better-equipped to cope with it now; and it will, no matter what we do (barring some technological marvels of climate control), change drastically again at some time in the future, and we will have to deal with that when that happens, be it our fault or not. All evidence shows that even our accelerated change happens slowly enough, and with diverse enough effects, that even if we "do nothing", and just react to the problems as they crop up, we will be at worst severely inconvenienced, but it's not going to be the end of the world or even of civilization. As some places get too hot, other places that were too cold get temperate; as sea levels rise, some people will have to abandon their beachfront property, and then the new beachfront property will have to be abandoned, but we're talking over centuries here. (For example: I live in a coastal city, I can walk to the beach from my house, and the sea level would have to rise over 30m for me to have beachfront property, whereas the last estimate I read was a worst-case-scenario of about 32cm over the next 100 years). We're not going to have some 2012 movie catastrophe where the Himalayas suddenly get swamped by a tsunami and all the coastal cities drown overnight, or a Day After Tomorrow where we wake up one morning and the world is frozen or on fire or something. We'll have to cope, but we'll be able to. So lets not panic: lets be reasonable stewards of our planet as we should be anyway, keep working on technology to make us more independent of its whims, have contingency plans in mind for some probable events, and otherwise deal with the problems as they crop up slowly over the centuries.
Forrest Cameranesi, Geek of All Trades
"I am Sam. Sam I am. I do not like trolls, flames, or spam."
The Codex Quaerendae (my philosophy) - The Chronicles of Quelouva (my fiction)

J Thomas
Everyone's a jerk. You. Me. This Jerk.^
Posts: 1190
Joined: Fri Sep 23, 2011 3:18 pm UTC

Re: 1077: "Home Organization"

Postby J Thomas » Sun Jul 08, 2012 3:00 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:
J Thomas wrote:.... as I understand the story the Borg didn't live up to their philosophy. And to the extent that our consensus has a philosophy like that, we don't live up to it either.

Whose consensus has what philosophy? You lost me here.


The mainstream consensus. In theory we allow lots of diversity of thought. In practice that diversity is strictly limited -- it's OK to *be* Jewish or *be* hispanic provided that doesn't affect your opinions in any important ways. It's OK to *be* Republican and kind of OK to be Democrat, provided you think inside those boxes.

You are implicitly assuming that reasonable people will come to agree.

Yes, that's what reasonable generally means, can be persuaded with reasons. So long as someone has sufficient reasons to offer, a reasonable person will come to agree with them. And if there are not sufficient reasons either way, they will acknowledge that the issue is unsettled and stop talking as there is nothing reasonable to say. Only an unreasonable person will continue to argue without reasons to back their arguments, much less in the face of contravening reasons.


When people start with assumptions that are too dissimilar, it's implausible they will bridge the gap. Somebody who continues to argue with more and more reasons to back his arguments, reasons that come from *his* assumptions, is not being reasonable. He is being a jerk.

What, mock the majority opinion? They will mock you back, with numbers on their side. No percentage in that strategy.

You still seem under the mistaken impression that mocking is part of the tactic, rather then a product of one of its fallback outcomes.


If you take up mockery because you are just too psychologically frustrated to care about your strategy, then OK. It's just something that happens to you. I can accept that.

I'm saying if someone representing the majority opinion can be reasoned into a corner, and then, rather than change their opinion in the face reason, instead explicitly put down reason per se in order to cling to their opinion, then they have made a fool and a mockery of themselves in the eyes of reasonable people (whatever their opinions may be; reasonable people can be mistaken, but will change their opinion when shown their mistake). It's tantamount to them saying "Damnit, I got nothing... but I'm right anyway nyah!"


Some people are quicker than others. I am a pretty quick thinker so I get this response a lot. The truth is, just because some glib talker can out-talk you, that doesn't mean he's right. If I can show somebody that there is a flaw in their thinking, it might take them a long time to think things out and repair the flaw, and in the meantime they don't know what to think. To me it's proper for them at that point to concede something. "You have shown me I have not completely thought this out. I need to think about it more. Everything you believe might be wrong, I'm not ready to concede that you're right about anything, but right now I don't know what is right." But if it's a slow thinker he might just be frustrated. People tend to back up their reasoning with intuition. If an idea seems intuitively wrong, then they will reject it unless they see overwhelming evidence. If somebody tells me they have a perpetual motion machine, or an automobile that runs on just water, or an everlasting battery, I tend to reject it even if I don't see just where the flaw is, because I intuitively believe in thermodynamics. Like that. If they are arguing that they don't want to sacrifice their children to the sun god, and you find a flaw in their argument, they will not change their minds very fast. And if you tell them that reason is on your side, they are likely to say screw reason.

I get some consolation from psychology. There's a concept called a "pre-learning dip". When somebody is just about to get a new breakthrough, pretty often their performance goes way down first. They go back and make all the old mistakes and sometimes new ones. They may get angry. And then they get the new idea. I have an idea why it could be that way, but put that aside -- the important thing is that it is that way. When they are actually thinking, on the verge of something new, they may be prone to tantrums, to talking unreasonably, and they need to avoid distractions for awhile.

you might still learn from them even if they publicly reject reason. Their claim to use or not use reason need not have much effect on your ability to learn from them. I have learned pretty much from dogs and cats who make no claim at all to reason.

I might learn something from observing them, sure, but not from the propositional content of anything they say. When they abandon reason they have ceased to have the status of a person in dialogue with another person and have reduced themselves to the level of your cats and dogs, creatures to be observed and studied perhaps, but not partners (however antagonistic) in an intellectual activity.


It sounds like you are making some big distinction here, but I don't see what it is. They can be partners in showing you what they want to show you, regardless.

If you give them the idea that the easiest way to get you off their backs is to tell you they reject reason, they just might do that. Communication happens on many levels.

A reasonable person wouldn't need to claim to reject reason just to exit an argument. They can just politely bow out without conceding anything, and other reasonable people won't hold that against them.


How often is it actually reasonable people they are arguing with, though, as opposed to people who're good at the reason game who want to play because they like playing games they win? How often have you politely bowed out of an argument without the opponent claiming victory? On a good day I can ignore that. If I'm interested in exploring, in understanding what they think and extending what I think, then it doesn't matter that the other guy thinks it's a debate and he's trying to look good to bystanders and win against me. I can still learn as much from him as I would from a cat, regardless that we are at cross purposes. On a bad day I hate it when he thinks he's won and he's busy telling the crowd I'm a loser, because he's taking a position that we both think the crowd would find more palatable. Even when nobody bothers to agree with him, or only one or two sockpuppets, on a bad day I hate losing to a manipulative hatchet job when reason is actually on my side.

But this only applies to optional arguments like we're having with Steve. I'm not advocating chasing people around hounding them to continue an argument, I'm talking about what to do when you've got someone arguing with you, either because you two can't avoid this argument as it's something important that has to be resolved, or just because they're pressing the matter and you're able to entertain it.


Good, I'm glad to hear that!

Global warming deniers are immune to science. [...] You will never get a consensus with them unless you adopt their assumptions, or you somehow persuade them to adopt yours.

That's the whole point of reasoned debate. Persuasion.


What happened to seeing what you can learn? "I'll show you mine if you show me yours"? Earlier you talked about keeping third parties from being misled. Debate. Persuasion. Uh-oh. You're morphing into one of the bad guys again.

Even things people consider foundational assumptions can be challenged by reason, either by showing them inconsistent with other foundational assumptions they already hold, or by illuminating even more foundational issues they hadn't even considered yet and making persuasive arguments there.


This is something that people tend to reject, or at least go slow on. I considered trying out an example, but we already have the global warming thing going. I'll sketch it out quickly -- lots of people consider it a foundational assumption that free markets are good, period. I argue that free markets are examples of feedback systems, and it's the feedback that gives the good results. Free markets are not the only way to do feedback, and not always the best way. They are subject to all the occasional misbehaviors of feedback systems -- limit cycles, self-induced increasing oscillation, stabilization at the wrong setpoint, etc. When designing a free market various palliatives could be designed to reduce the problems, with each palliative creating its own occasional misbehaviors. But markets are usually designed by traders who themselves hope to profit from the markets' flaws.

Some people who hear this argument are simply skeptical. I'm blathering on about all this stuff when the reality is that free markets are good and government interference is bad. If I want governments to "design" free markets that's bad because it's government interference.

Others say that free markets are inherently moral. When two people both want to make a trade, and they freely make the trade, they are both better off. If they weren't both better off they wouldn't make the trade. This is the only possible moral behavior, everything else is coercion. There is no morality apart from free markets. So If I want to say that free markets are not perfect, they say no thank you. If I have a proof that free markets will result in the extinction of humanity and we have to coerce people to survive, then no, it's better we all die with our free markets than survive in slavery.

In general you won't get very far challenging people's foundational assumptions. At least not in the course of a debate. You are more likely to persuade them that you are an evil manipulator. "Everybody, did you see that? He doesn't believe in free markets! Ohmygod, I've been arguing with a communist!"

Or sometimes, since people often reason their way to foundational assumptions from many particulars consequent to them, by showing them that the assumptions they cling to aren't actually necessary for those consequences, and thus that they can relax on those issues without it disrupting absolutely everything about their worldview. Often times this is what a "third option" does; shows you that your choices are not P-and-not-Q vs Q-and-not-P, that you can have Q-and-P if you want, because P ≠ not-Q.


Sure, that's possible. If you show people that they can have a moral society without Christianity then they are more likely to give up Christianity. If you show them they are more likely to be wealthy under communism, then they might turn communist. Etc.

On this global warming example, I consider my position such a "third option". I don't question the science whatsoever; I trust scientists to be doing their jobs, or more to the point I trust the scientific method they adhere to to keep them in check, and the competitive world of scientific paper publishing to cut down anyone whose science doesn't stack up and highlight anyone who comes up with solid novel results.


I think they're trying to do science on something where the science is hard, and so at best there are large error bounds for predictions more than a few years ahead. Not to mention we only have one world to experiment on, and no control group.

However, these results do not entail that any kind of economy-destroying state socialism is necessary; the argument about whether climate change is happening is a different one from what to do about it.


Yes, definitely!

Certainly something will need to be done, but that something doesn't have to be any drastic measures to prevent it, and it doesn't even necessarily have to be to prevent it at all (though certain things which would help prevent it are good things that we should be doing anyway regardless of climate change, like looking for renewable energy sources and putting checks on pollution of all kinds).


This should depend on your estimates of the probabilities of various outcomes, versus your estimates of the likelihood that we are capable of effective action.

Regardless of whether we are changing our climate now or not (and again, I accept the scientific consensus that we are), the climate has changed drastically over the time that humans have been around, and we coped with it then, and are if anything better-equipped to cope with it now; and it will, no matter what we do (barring some technological marvels of climate control), change drastically again at some time in the future, and we will have to deal with that when that happens, be it our fault or not. All evidence shows that even our accelerated change happens slowly enough, and with diverse enough effects, that even if we "do nothing", and just react to the problems as they crop up, we will be at worst severely inconvenienced, but it's not going to be the end of the world or even of civilization.


You say "all evidence". I say the evidence is weak. There is no particular evidence that when we have burned all the available fossil fuels we will stabilize at a climate that humans can survive in. We are doing something that is completely unprecedented. We have no reliable data about what to expect.

As some places get too hot, other places that were too cold get temperate; as sea levels rise, some people will have to abandon their beachfront property, and then the new beachfront property will have to be abandoned, but we're talking over centuries here. (For example: I live in a coastal city, I can walk to the beach from my house, and the sea level would have to rise over 30m for me to have beachfront property, whereas the last estimate I read was a worst-case-scenario of about 32cm over the next 100 years). We're not going to have some 2012 movie catastrophe where the Himalayas suddenly get swamped by a tsunami and all the coastal cities drown overnight, or a Day After Tomorrow where we wake up one morning and the world is frozen or on fire or something. We'll have to cope, but we'll be able to.


I think that's fairly plausible in the absence of evidence. Maybe we could get some very fast changes. We just don't know.

If we get "mild" changes over the next 20 years or so there's no reason to think our agriculture can cope. It takes a series of bad years for us to see that the situation has changed. Then we adapt, and if it changes more? When too many crops fail, poor people die. It wouldn't take a lot of change to halve the world population in the next 50 years. That might be a good thing in the long run, of course, though bad for the individual victims. What's the likelihood the population drops 90%? I don't know, but that needn't be a bad thing either. 95%? 99%? Disrupt the world economy, get a few wasteful wars, maybe start losing technology.... How likely is that? I have no way to tell. You don't either.

So lets not panic: lets be reasonable stewards of our planet as we should be anyway, keep working on technology to make us more independent of its whims, have contingency plans in mind for some probable events, and otherwise deal with the problems as they crop up slowly over the centuries.


That's a pleasant possibility. I hope you're right.

I say we have no way to tell how likely it will be very bad. People who are truly conservative should look for insurance to keep it from being way too bad. So, what could we do?

The first obvious possibility is to reduce the rate that we burn fossil fuels. That would require a difficult consensus among the world's governments. Consider the problems that OPEC had trying to regulate oil sales, when success brought them immediate wealth. Could we get the whole world to agree, when the benefit is to prevent something that might not happen regardless? Consider OPEC's problems when Iran and Iraq got manipulated into a war, and both had to sell as much oil as they could to finance the war.... Any nations that got into a serious war would burn fossil fuels as fast as they could to win the war.

To actually reduce the rate we burn fossil fuels, we would need to prevent serious wars. Effective world government? Or else find some cheap energy source that makes fossil fuels obsolete. I think the latter is worth working for. The former is out of reach.

Freeman Dyson had an idea I kind of like. He wants to change the way we do plowing. Switch to something that accumulates a lot of humus, all the organic matter that got incorporated into the world's farmland would be pretty much harmless and would reduce CO2 elsewhere. It's worth a try. We could start trying it out and expand it as fast as it looks practical. If it turns out cost-effective apart from carbon sequestration, then that's great!

We might get on a treadmill where we make drastic new changes to palliate the old ones, and then more new changes to palliate the side-effects of the last ones. We might not fall off that treadmill for awhile. It's worth a try if we start seeing effects that justify it.

I wind up agreeing with you about what to do. I'm not nearly as optimistic as you are, but we are not capable of effective action to prevent a possible tragedy, so we have to hope we can muddle through.
The Law of Fives is true. I see it everywhere I look for it.

User avatar
Max™
Posts: 1792
Joined: Thu Jun 21, 2012 4:21 am UTC
Location: mu

Re: 1077: "Home Organization"

Postby Max™ » Sun Jul 08, 2012 3:17 pm UTC

I know that it is unlikely that civilization will collapse and we'll lose 90% or more of the population barring a major asteroid impact or nuclear war, I know this because of all the shit humans have gone through without such collapses, as well as what has caused prior collapses.

I seem to recall that most major civilization ending collapses involved colder weather, not warmer, correct me if I'm wrong there.
mu

J Thomas
Everyone's a jerk. You. Me. This Jerk.^
Posts: 1190
Joined: Fri Sep 23, 2011 3:18 pm UTC

Re: 1077: "Home Organization"

Postby J Thomas » Sun Jul 08, 2012 4:48 pm UTC

Max™ wrote:I know that it is unlikely that civilization will collapse and we'll lose 90% or more of the population barring a major asteroid impact or nuclear war, I know this because of all the shit humans have gone through without such collapses, as well as what has caused prior collapses.

I seem to recall that most major civilization ending collapses involved colder weather, not warmer, correct me if I'm wrong there.


I don't know. What does it mean for civilization to collapse? When the Roman empire slowly disintegrated, that likely involved various forms of resource limitation. They lost technology that was not particularly sustainable, because they depended on slaves and firewood etc and they just couldn't get enough of what they needed to continue the way they had been.

We haven't had a serious population collapse since then, and that one was only europe/north africa. After the plagues the european population bounced right back. Likewise after the various famines. For awhile, a couple of years that were too wet at the wrong time of year was enough to cause a famine where the poor people died. There have been various "civilization" collapses in south america, and I don't know how much population decline was involved or why they happened.

We are doing something that is unprecedented and there is no particular data to use to estimate how likely we will get a population collapse, or how hard it will be to maintain our technology. I can't make a good estimate of the odds, and neither can you.

As a first approximation, if things went wrong in ways that destroyed the world economy, that wouldn't matter a whole lot to 30% to 40% of the world population because they don't much depend on the world economy. The rest of us would suffer a lot, particularly poor people who live in cities who would tend to die. It takes a lot of technology to produce the amounts of food we need, and to distribute it.

But even the peasants depend heavily on the weather. Get two or three years where the weather doesn't match up to the crops they plant, even if it would be fine for some other crops, and they will be in serious trouble. Even if they would do just fine if they happened to live somewhere else and they would do just fine if they had a few hundred years to adapt to the new weather.

How likely is it that weather patterns change enough within your lifetime to disrupt agriculture a lot? I don't know and you don't know either.
The Law of Fives is true. I see it everywhere I look for it.

User avatar
Pfhorrest
Posts: 5008
Joined: Fri Oct 30, 2009 6:11 am UTC
Contact:

Re: 1077: "Home Organization"

Postby Pfhorrest » Sun Jul 08, 2012 7:22 pm UTC

J Thomas wrote:
Global warming deniers are immune to science. [...] You will never get a consensus with them unless you adopt their assumptions, or you somehow persuade them to adopt yours.

That's the whole point of reasoned debate. Persuasion.

What happened to seeing what you can learn? "I'll show you mine if you show me yours"? Earlier you talked about keeping third parties from being misled. Debate. Persuasion. Uh-oh. You're morphing into one of the bad guys again.

To persuade someone with reason is to teach them something. To persuade is to change someone's opinion. To teach is to form a correct opinion in them. So if you change someone's opinions to be correct, that is, supported by good reasons and not against any good reasons, then you have persuaded them and taught them something.

If we get "mild" changes over the next 20 years or so there's no reason to think our agriculture can cope.

I'm less sure about this because I'm not an expert on agricultural technology, but my impression is that we have technology which can artificially make places that wouldn't be suited to growing a certain crop suitable; it's just expensive to do so. So the climate changing will make it more expensive to grow crops in some places, and less expensive to grow crops in other places, inciting a change in where people are growing crops; but it won't suddenly make existing crops stop growing while we wait for people (collectively) to figure out they need to relocate their farms.
Forrest Cameranesi, Geek of All Trades
"I am Sam. Sam I am. I do not like trolls, flames, or spam."
The Codex Quaerendae (my philosophy) - The Chronicles of Quelouva (my fiction)

J Thomas
Everyone's a jerk. You. Me. This Jerk.^
Posts: 1190
Joined: Fri Sep 23, 2011 3:18 pm UTC

Re: 1077: "Home Organization"

Postby J Thomas » Sun Jul 08, 2012 8:45 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:
J Thomas wrote:
Global warming deniers are immune to science. [...] You will never get a consensus with them unless you adopt their assumptions, or you somehow persuade them to adopt yours.

That's the whole point of reasoned debate. Persuasion.

What happened to seeing what you can learn? "I'll show you mine if you show me yours"? Earlier you talked about keeping third parties from being misled. Debate. Persuasion. Uh-oh. You're morphing into one of the bad guys again.

To persuade someone with reason is to teach them something. To persuade is to change someone's opinion. To teach is to form a correct opinion in them. So if you change someone's opinions to be correct, that is, supported by good reasons and not against any good reasons, then you have persuaded them and taught them something.


People very often use good logic starting from their own assumptions. In the USA we used to have a considerable "consensus reality" that a whole lot of people claimed to agree with. The media mostly agreed about the news, except for the tabloid press that most reasonable people said was full of nonsense. The black press and the jewish press had different messages, but mostly mainstream people didn't pay any attention to those.

Now the US media has two different consensus realities. There's one for the GOP and one for traditionalists. People who get their information only from one, tend not to even understand what people from the other are saying. They don't understand the background assumptions.

How often do you actually persuade the people you argue with? You can suppose that you are persuading third parties who are not active in the discussion, but the other guy can suppose he's persuading them too....

If we get "mild" changes over the next 20 years or so there's no reason to think our agriculture can cope.

I'm less sure about this because I'm not an expert on agricultural technology, but my impression is that we have technology which can artificially make places that wouldn't be suited to growing a certain crop suitable; it's just expensive to do so. So the climate changing will make it more expensive to grow crops in some places, and less expensive to grow crops in other places, inciting a change in where people are growing crops; but it won't suddenly make existing crops stop growing while we wait for people (collectively) to figure out they need to relocate their farms.


I'm not all that expert either. My impression is that we can adapt to anything that happens slowly enough, but we might not choose to adapt.

There isn't much we can do about drought, short of increased expensive irrigation. We can breed crops for combinations of temperature and wet-dry, within pretty broad limits, but then we have to choose what to plant each particular time. Crops that were bred for the wrong climate tend to grow worse and be more susceptible to blights and such. Easy to get big failures.

In the big picture, we could target higher crop yields, and when we get surpluses store the surplus. The USA used to do a lot of that, and now we do less because it's expensive and it does not pay off in the short run. We could do that if we wanted to. Try to grow more than we need, stockpile the extra, and sell off part of our old surplus when somebody else has a shortage. It would cost us, but it would pay off when we had crop failures that would otherwise kill off the poorest Americans. When we start seeing the need for that, how long will it take us to actually do it? Pay extra now for stuff that might never make a profit at all, so we can keep our welfare recipients alive ... people who currently tend to be fat....

The USA could handle a quick moderate shock easily. Just give up feeding corn to our beef cattle and give up gasohol, and we could feed a lot of people. Would we do that, if it was a shock somewhere else? Would the USA go to a lot of trouble to keep half a billion poor people from dying in India? Or would we say "They have a lot of social programs, they can't feed themselves because at heart they're socialists and socialism doesn't work, it isn't our problem.". How much luxury would our prosperous people sacrifice to keep poor people alive?

We can handle moderate sudden shocks if we want to, and we can handle slow systematic changes. We don't know what will come because we have created a situation which has no precedent during our species's history or prehistory.
The Law of Fives is true. I see it everywhere I look for it.

User avatar
Max™
Posts: 1792
Joined: Thu Jun 21, 2012 4:21 am UTC
Location: mu

Re: 1077: "Home Organization"

Postby Max™ » Sun Jul 08, 2012 11:34 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:
J Thomas wrote:
Global warming deniers are immune to science. [...] You will never get a consensus with them unless you adopt their assumptions, or you somehow persuade them to adopt yours.

That's the whole point of reasoned debate. Persuasion.

What happened to seeing what you can learn? "I'll show you mine if you show me yours"? Earlier you talked about keeping third parties from being misled. Debate. Persuasion. Uh-oh. You're morphing into one of the bad guys again.

To persuade someone with reason is to teach them something. To persuade is to change someone's opinion. To teach is to form a correct opinion in them. So if you change someone's opinions to be correct, that is, supported by good reasons and not against any good reasons, then you have persuaded them and taught them something.

This is the root of my skepticism to AGW.

If we get "mild" changes over the next 20 years or so there's no reason to think our agriculture can cope.

I'm less sure about this because I'm not an expert on agricultural technology, but my impression is that we have technology which can artificially make places that wouldn't be suited to growing a certain crop suitable; it's just expensive to do so. So the climate changing will make it more expensive to grow crops in some places, and less expensive to grow crops in other places, inciting a change in where people are growing crops; but it won't suddenly make existing crops stop growing while we wait for people (collectively) to figure out they need to relocate their farms.

Well, there is one important thing to consider, crops don't grow very well in less than 400~500 ppm of CO2. To get maximum productivity from most crops you need closer to 1000 ppm, actually.
mu

J Thomas
Everyone's a jerk. You. Me. This Jerk.^
Posts: 1190
Joined: Fri Sep 23, 2011 3:18 pm UTC

Re: 1077: "Home Organization"

Postby J Thomas » Mon Jul 09, 2012 1:03 am UTC

Max™ wrote:
Pfhorrest wrote:
J Thomas wrote:
If we get "mild" changes over the next 20 years or so there's no reason to think our agriculture can cope.

I'm less sure about this because I'm not an expert on agricultural technology, but my impression is that we have technology which can artificially make places that wouldn't be suited to growing a certain crop suitable; it's just expensive to do so. So the climate changing will make it more expensive to grow crops in some places, and less expensive to grow crops in other places, inciting a change in where people are growing crops; but it won't suddenly make existing crops stop growing while we wait for people (collectively) to figure out they need to relocate their farms.

Well, there is one important thing to consider, crops don't grow very well in less than 400~500 ppm of CO2. To get maximum productivity from most crops you need closer to 1000 ppm, actually.


Yes, in many cases CO2 concentration is the limiting factor for plant growth. Some places it's water, or some essential mineral, but lots of places it's CO2. There's a chance that as CO2 levels rise, plants will remove it faster than expected, and this is another way for the climate models to fail.

We can of course move north. (Supposing the Canadians are not strong enough to stop us.) We can breed crops that do well with northern seasons and temperate temperatures. We can learn how to breed crops that will do well on podzols, and with time and effort we can improve the soil. It will involve a lot of research and a big investment, but it should be possible, eventually. Assuming the climate doesn't change too much while we do it.

Atmospheric CO2 may not be the main danger in the longer run. As biomass goes up, the world changes. It's hard to predict such things in any detail.

So for example, there are some places where there's a wet season and a dry season, and plants have adapted to that by growing fast in the wet season and producing lots of aromatic poisons to slow down their competitors, and then in the dry season they put down lots of stuff that burns hot to kill off their competitors. The plants that do that are one way or another resistant to fire themselves. If we get that sort of thing in large areas and the plants grow faster and make bigger and hotter fires, that might not be good for us.

Places that cold doesn't kill off a lot of hibernating insects and insect eggs in winter, the bugs can become a problem sometimes. Vegetation that grows faster in those places leads to more bugs than before.

We can make up lots of stories by examining individual links, but it's hard to tell ahead of time which of them will be important. As the world changes humans will have to adapt. If it changes very slowly we can adapt and hardly notice the changes. If it changes too fast then we might find ourselves always behind the curve. We might find that as fast as we adapt to changing conditions, they change to something else. This probably would not allow a population of 5 billion people, at least until things stabilize. But there's no guarantee things would change fast, either. We might as well hope that it will be nice and gentle, since there isn't much we can do about it.

We lack the organization and the political will to do anything significant about the potential problems, so hope is our fallback plan.
The Law of Fives is true. I see it everywhere I look for it.

User avatar
eviloatmeal
Posts: 562
Joined: Thu Dec 11, 2008 9:39 am UTC
Location: Upside down in space!
Contact:

Re: 1077: "Home Organization"

Postby eviloatmeal » Wed Jul 11, 2012 5:38 am UTC

Randall!!!

Promptly vacate my cerebral cortex!!!

Image

Before you ask, yes I move A LOT of things from the floor to the bed and back again on a daily basis to maintain this living arrangement. It's worth it.
*** FREE SHIPPING ENABLED ***
Image
Riddles are abound tonightImage


Return to “Individual XKCD Comic Threads”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: da Doctah and 30 guests