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Invictus2017 last won the day on November 4 2017

Invictus2017 had the most liked content!

About Invictus2017

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    I move a lot.
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    computers, Objectivism, and starting an Objectivism-based society

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  • Experience with Objectivism
    Extensive, since 1983. I've read most, maybe all, of the important books and periodicals published before the mid 90's.

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  1. Neuromarketing and choice

    No, in their minds you were not challenging the science -- you could not have been, because you avowedly didn't know the science. Your challenge was to the philosophy -- that is, their dogma -- that they used to justify their belief that the science proved that people can be controlled by external forces. Yes, they disregard philosophy, as too many people do. But that doesn't mean that they avoided philosophy. All it means is that they relied on an unexamined philosophy, one that tells them that people's behavior is determined by external forces. Because, to them, determinism is an article of faith. It's dogma, not to be thought about, and certainly not to be challenged by those who don't accept the faith. This is mere sophistry, the sort of "reasoning" that the dogmatic use when they are confronted by unanswerable arguments. That said, yes, advertising doesn't need 100%. But the argument that people can be forced to act in a particular way by advertising does. Without 100%, either in actuality or in theory, the argument is simply false. (I think you need to beware of the trick of changing the goal-post. That's where a person you're arguing with changes the topic when you get too close to showing them to be wrong. So, once you pointed out the flaw -- that there are never 100% experiments -- they change the topic from the truth of determinism to the utility of advertising.) Agreed. Except that I'd say "evil", not merely "jerk". The arguments were not merely those of a disagreeable person but were also designed to subvert their opponents' reason. They were arguments from authority -- an unspecified authority, but an authority nonetheless -- and attempts at intimidation and at creating a sense of inferiority.
  2. Neuromarketing and choice

    If you start with the philosophical premise of determinism, you will interpret each scientific result in which stimulus seems to affect behavior as proof of determinism. If someone points out that no experiment gets a 100% response, you reply with the assertion that if only you could account for all the circumstances, you would get a 100% response. Conversely, if you start with the philosophical premise of free will, you will interpret each scientific result as merely quantifying the obvious fact that people are influenced by their environment. You will see no need -- or possibility -- of getting a 100% response; free will means that there's always the possibility of people doing something other than the expected. Can science prove determinism or free will? No. Because the interpretation of the results of scientific experiments depends on which premise you start with. To reach either position based on science would amount to question begging. The only field of knowledge that can speak to this issue is philosophy, and those who reject philosophy do not thereby escape philosophy. They merely take some particular (generally incoherent) philosophy for granted, as an article of faith, as essentially a religion. This, BTW, explains what those people were doing. In their minds, you weren't challenging the science, you were challenging their religion's dogma. Of course they responded with arrogance and condemnation -- just like any other religious fanatic.
  3. Neuromarketing and choice

    The answer to "X causes behavior Y" is the fact that behavior Y does not invariably follow X, and any explanation for why is just plain guesswork and special pleading. At best. The rejection of free-will as an explanation is philosophical, not scientific.
  4. A tyranny is objectively worse than a free society, regardless of any particular person's context, for all the reasons Rand so eloquently expressed. But evaluation must always take into account the particulars of a person's life so, for a particular person, a tyranny might not be objectively worse than a free society. This is a paradox, if not a contradiction. But it has a simple resolution: Get rid of the mind/body dichotomy at its root. For an irrational person, one might say that he's better off in a mixed economy like that of the US, if he can physically survive much better than he could in some poorer country. But a rational person recognizes that he must take into account not just his physical well-being but his psychological well-being. He will understand that, no matter how comfortable his life is, he will have it at the cost of either refusing to see the world around him or of living in a state of constant revulsion. Neither is an appropriate way to live for a rational animal -- and this is precisely what the OP expressed.
  5. Might be time to accept that this result may as well be a metaphysical fact, and move on to other uses of your time. That's my conclusion. I just don't waste my time with the anti-liberty types any more. If a person doesn't now respect the individual and his rights, he's history as far as I'm concerned. I might make an exception for the young and naive, but that's it. Everyone else has had their opportunity to learn and either used it or didn't.
  6. I'm certainly aware that most people still see things as, on balance, tolerable. But I never forget, and neither should those other people: First they came for the communists, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me. --Martin Niemoeller
  7. Are we on the edge of the Peter Schiff dollar collapse?

    Back in the 90's, my now ex-wife and I were spending more than we took in. We were unable to increase our income and were not willing to decrease our outgo. Our debt kept increasing, but we insisted on maintaining our lifestyle, hoping that "somehow" we'd pay off our debt. Well, the day came when we had to start borrowing to pay off our creditors. Then, for me (we had by then separated), it became a hectic round of getting new credit cards, shuffling balances...and, as certain as sunrise, came the day when none of this juggling was possible, the day when I was unable to even pay for necessities. The day when I was forced to acknowledge my bankruptcy could not have been predicted -- that primarily depended on how much work I could manage and how foolish the credit card companies would be -- but the fact that such a day would come was entirely predictable. This, in miniature, is what is happening in the US. (Except that the US is being even more stupid than we were.) "Whether" is predictable, "when" is not. My excuse was major depression, which really messes with one's judgment. But only I (and my foolish creditors) paid for my stupidity. America has no such excuse. And when America falls off the cliff, the consequences will be much worse.
  8. Real Wage and Purchasing Power

    That $18,000 figure for 2011 is definitely not correct. (And if we're talking Nigeria, I seriously doubt that either figure is correct.) It would also be a good thing to think about the premises behind the CPI and ask whether it is a useful or even accurate measure of whatever it is supposed to measure.
  9. With the Govt spying, there are many reasons you can’t be assured it’s safe to do this. If you can stomach it, try listening to some of the far left and far right groups. Most of what they say is pure drivel, but mixed in are real horrors perpetrated by the government. Yesterday's news, for example, had the trial of a couple of cops for rape -- who asserted that their arrested and handcuffed teenaged victim consented to sex with the two of them. They may get off, since too many people still believe -- in spite of the overwhelming evidence to the contrary -- that cops rarely lie. (BTW, in thirty odd states, it is not illegal for a cop to have sex with an arrestee.) The reality is that all our rights go out the window if someone who can't be held to account decides to violate them. There are huge swathes of immunity, official and otherwise, granted to government agents. Your primary "guarantor" of free speech is not the Constitution or the courts but rather that your speech is of little or no importance to the government. But become a whistleblower against a federal agency, for example, and there's an all too good chance of your going to prison, whether or not you actually committed a crime. And never mind the innumerable ways the government and government agents can legally violate your rights.... From https://www.cato.org/human-freedom-index, The top 10 jurisdictions in order were Switzerland, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Ireland, Australia, Finland, Norway, Denmark, and, tied at 9th place, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. Selected countries rank as follows: Canada (11), Sweden (13), Germany (16), the United States (17).... (emphasis added). Other indices of freedom are similarly unfriendly to American pretensions. As to #1: You cannot reason a man out of what he wasn't reasoned into in the first place. #2: Today it's medical treatments. Tomorrow it will be something else. Being an ostrich is not an answer. #3: Not knowing your meaning, I can't comment. If you choose to stay in America, your best option is to batten the hatches against the coming storm of rights violations and eventual tyranny. How you do that depends on the particulars of your situation.
  10. The question isn't whether there is some statism in a person or government, it is the degree of fundamentality of any statism they might have. So, for example, if the people, acting on emotions, advocate government control of drugs, and the government, bowing to the wishes of the people, legislates control of drugs, but the people and government are otherwise rights-respecting, they are not statist in principle. One can hope that the contradiction involved will eventually out, and the people and government will correct their aberration. But if a person or a government grounds their politics in statism, they are statist in principle. That is the situation with the American people and their government. Except for a few putative nutjobs like libertarians and Objectivists, no one in America wants liberty; they want the government to serve their private agendas and to Hell with whose freedom is trampled in the process. And us nutjobs just don't count; we have no significant political power. It is impossible -- and foolish -- to think that this can end well; a society that acts inconsistently with its own necessities must necessarily disintegrate. All we can expect is increasing tyranny, followed by a period of anarchy and revolution, once people have decided they've had enough of expropriation, fear, and death. But even then, the odds that they'll choose liberty are miniscule (this is why I am not a revolutionary) -- most likely, it'll be "meet the new boss, same as the old boss". As a homeless unperson, I have little choice but to hang around church people. They provide me with food, shelter, and clothing; my very life depends on their charity. Most of them are pleasant to deal with and wish nothing but the best -- their conception of the best -- for everyone around them. They are, by most peoples' reckoning, good. But, without exception, they advocate abandoning reason and one's mind in favor of blind faith in the Christian God, and abandonment of ethics in favor of supposed biblical pronouncements. Essentially all of them advocate government intervention in morality or economics or both. None would call themselves theocrats, but most of them want government policies and actions to be informed by their particular brand of irrationality. Are they evil? In their daily life, no. But in the life of the polity, they are evil incarnate, for they would subjugate mind to authority or give aid and comfort to those who would. To preserve civility and keep my blood pressure down, I focus on the short-term good they do, but I never lose my background awareness of the long-term evil they do. And these are the consciously and conscientiously "good" among us. Looking elsewhere, I see nothing better, except among us nutjobs. Yes, most people contribute in small ways and in large to our material well-being, whether hauling garbage or launching rockets. But these very same people act for our eventual doom via government. So, yes, I call them evil; the short-term, practical good they do is vastly outweighed by the catastrophe they will bring upon us. But as for governments, I condemn them all, for not a one of them, even in principle, can refrain from even short-term evil. Never mind the tyranny that all do or will impose.
  11. I've been up to my ass in alligators for the last few weeks, which is why I haven't done more than read this forum. But this one I have to respond to. Whether a country is free or not does not depend on the particulars of its laws and institutions, but instead depends on the principles informing those things. The Founders gave us a Constitution based on individual rights and limited government. But the Supreme Court -- which decides the actual principles that run this country -- has repeatedly affirmed that the rights that our Founders intended us to have must give way to asserted government necessity -- asserted by the government, that is. Moreover, in 1824, in Gibbons v. Ogden, that court decided that the principles that the Founders intended to inform and limit the powers granted to the government by the Constitution were to be ignored when interpreting the Constitution. It has by its decisions removed both individual rights and limited government from the principles that animate our government. The government we have and our lack of rights are not products of accident, nor are they incident to evil government officials, they are a consequence of those principles. Similarly, whether a person is evil or not depends on the principles he espouses and lives by, not on whether he does or does not act like a monster. The man who pushes FDA control of drugs is just as evil as the criminal who would break into your home and steal the drugs you need. The man who pushes licensing of hairdressers is just as evil as the man who would burn down a hairdresser's shop. The man who pushes government control of sex -- whether it be deciding who may marry whom or whether one may buy or sell sex -- is just as evil as one who would enact the biblical law requiring the stoning of homosexuals. Do not confuse "pleasant" with "good". And remember that the filth that runs our government got elected by people who know -- or who chose not to know -- what that filth stands for and wants to do. Listen to your neighbors and what they say, hear their words, and ask yourself what principles underlie those words. You will not hear misinformed or thoughtless would-be libertarians, never mind Objectivists, you will hear reality-rejecting, rights-ignorant, would-be thieves, kidnappers, and murderers, people who are so craven that they won't even do their own dirty work, but will instead hire it out to the cess-pool inhabitants of government. So, yes, I agree with the OP. But it is equally true that there is no better place. The best you can do is go somewhere like Europe where they don't pretend so hard that they're individualists. You won't be any more free, but you won't see quite so much hypocrisy about it. My own answer is to start a society elsewhere. I've set up a web site, https://cityofenterprise.wordpress.com/, to get my project off the ground. Please drop in if you'd like to contribute, or just to kibitz.
  12. Dealing with the Hostile Reader

    I think it'd make more sense to respond to the idea, than make it all about you. If the example is wrong, show it, or if you made a mistake, acknowledge it. Doesn't need to be a battle. I think it just all amounts to misreading. It happens, and at times you can read a person's tone as hostile. Perhaps Invictus, too, was a hostile reader of MisterSwig. It's a thing to be aware of. Thick skin as SK suggested doesn't solve it. I made the considered choice to not include an attribution so that the example of hostile reading might be addressed on its merits rather than through personalities. If MisterSwig wants his name to be attached to the example, I would be happy to edit the post (or to have a site administrator edit the post) to reflect his authorship of those quotes. You're right that thick skin does not solve any problem here. This being an Objectivist forum, I would suggest, "Judge, and prepare to be judged" is a more appropriate response. In that vein, let's note what MisterSwig did in response to his asserted desire for attribution -- he didn't ask for attribution, he asked to have my post eviscerated. That is not the action of someone who wants rational discussion, it is the act of someone who wants to curtail rational discussion.
  13. Dealing with the Hostile Reader

    Odds are good that I've been on the Internet longer than you've been alive. As for gtfo....are you here to discuss or to flame?
  14. Correcting the nonaggression "principle"

    Perhaps. Or perhaps there was a contradiction within their arguments that they did not recognize. Yup. And, if so, I might have made a similar error....Anyway, I do hope you understand that I was merely poking a little fun at your labeling my arguments as statist; I certainly don't imagine that either of them are statist. (I also see that my attempt to get rid of those pesky italics was less than successful.) Just to note, I think this takes a different approach than has thus far been taken in the thread, and one that I've been considering for a little while, as well. I've grown to suspect that if subpoena is appropriate in any manner, this may be the way to get there. Rand's position as described in that quote is actually where I started from, but the problems I saw with it ultimately resulted in my starting this topic. The Randian derivation of rights starts from the premises that one must do certain things in order to live and force prevents one from doing those things. Therefore (skipping a few steps), one has various rights and the only time one may use force is in response to another's initiation of force. Rand's validation of the subpoena power, accepting this derivation as valid, requires that any violation of rights be considered a species of force, but this begs the question of why violating rights constitutes force. That said, Rand's position here is not utterly impossible, but it requires an additional proposition before it can stand up, one that I don't think Rand has stated explicitly, but which is implicit in a number of things she said. This proposition is simply that one's right to be free of force extends only to those actions one has a right to take. The most obvious example of this proposition in use is in the NAP itself: Since one has no right to initiate force, doing so negates one's right to be free from force, thus allowing others to reply with force. If this proposition is accepted, Rand's argument makes perfect sense -- if I refuse to comply with a subpoena, I violate the rights of the parties to justice, thereby removing from me the right to be free from force in retaliation for my refusal to comply. The government then has the option to use force to obtain my compliance. This proposition is entirely consistent with the logic of Rand's theory of rights; its main drawback -- for Objectivist purists, anyway -- is that it is inconsistent with Rand's oft repeated assertion that force may only be used in response to the initiation of force. I'm pretty sure that I already proposed the idea that one's right to be free from force extends only to those actions one has the right to take, and that this idea was pooh-poohed. If memory serves, that's why I tried an argument that is closer to the Peikoffian one. (I note that I do not agree with Peikoff's argument, insofar as it seems based on some notion of a social contract. But there is a version of his argument that does not require the use of a mythical social contract. In essence, one assents to the actions of a proper government because one is rational and recognizes one's need for such a government. Anyway, before delving further into Peikoff's argument it would make sense for me to pause to see how you react to my interpretation of Rand's argument.) Just to be sure I'm clear here, the thrust of my argument is that force-in-retaliation is not limited solely to responding to force, but may also be used in response to any violation of rights. Of course, if there's a proper government around, the individual's right to employ force in response to a rights violation is limited to immediate self-defense; otherwise, the government, acting in accordance with law, must act on the individual's behalf. Among the consequences of such a theory is that the government would have the subpoena power, for the reason that Rand gave. ADDED: You said: "This, however, reflects the approach you've taken (at times, at least), and I continue to disagree with it, for all of the reasons already given." In case it isn't clear, I regard this conversation as a method of clarifying my own thoughts on the NAP. I therefore reserve the right to change my mind at any time, in the face of a sufficiently compelling disagreement.
  15. I spent a lot of time during the 90's on Usenet discussing philosophy. One of the things that really annoyed me was what I call the "hostile reader". They were like cockroaches in the philosophy discussion groups, always there and always ready to pollute the discussion. I encountered one such person on this site and, after his nature because clear to me, I put his username in my ignore list. (I also announced that I had done so, but it appears that he missed that.) But one day I checked the site without logging in, and I saw how he had responded to a couple of my posts. Ordinarily, I would have put his posts out of my mind, but they provided such a good example of hostile reading that I was unable to. After waiting several days (to avoid unnecessary emotionalism on my part) and after some thought, this post resulted. The context was that DonAthos and I were having a discussion that was going nowhere. Over the years, I've learned that if a proper debate results in seemingly irreconcilable positions, the cause is probably not the bullheaded stupidity of one's opponent, it is likely that there is at least one proposition that has not been debated, a proposition relied on by both debaters, which they have different views on. In order for the debate to progress, it is necessary to identify that proposition. So, I decided that I'd get a little Socratic and try a few questions to see if we might spot our real point(s) of disagreement. My first question was, in relation to a situation I had described, "Do you think that it would be legitimate for you to use violence then?" DonAthos' reply was to ask, "what do you mean when you say that the use of violence is 'legitimate'"? He wasn't sure which of the many meanings of the term I had intended, so he asked me. Our hostile reader, by contrast, asserted that, "'Legitimate' is a stolen concept." Of course, "legitimate" is not inherently a stolen concept; what he meant was that I had employed the fallacy of the stolen concept. He based this on the assumption that I had intended the meaning of "legitimate" that is associated with law. I replied to DonAthos, "I meant 'legitimate' in the sense of 'morally proper'". The hostile reader then insisted that, "'Legitimate' hierarchically comes after moral knowledge." and that I was "conflating the moral with the legal." So, instead of accepting that I had used "legitimate" in the sense I had specified (see Merriam-Webster's "conforming to recognized principles"), the hostile reader insisted that his definition was the one I had used. DonAthos displayed the virtue of benevolence: He assumed that I had something sensible to say, and wanted to know what it was. What the hostile reader displayed was irrationality. He put words into my mouth (or, well, meaning into my words), for reasons that had nothing to do with advancing the discussion. A hostile reader is different from a flamer, and is a lower form of life. The flamer is at least honest about his intent -- he wishes ill to that which he flames. But the hostile reader is fundamentally dishonest. He uses the seeming of rational argument, but his goal is personal gratification by means of provocation. He isn't looking to understand or to be understood; he wants to control. In the current example, this is fairly obvious: The hostile reader tried to control the language of the discussion, by insisting that "legitimate" could only mean what he said it meant. No self-respecting debater would tolerate that sort of control, and many will respond by arguing against the hostile reader's position. This is what that person wanted. Had I fallen for it, I'd have become embroiled in never-ending arguments, which would have gratified the hostile reader, but wouldn't likely have done anyone else any good. In my view, the correct response to the hostile reader is to remove him from the forum he disrupts. Failing that, ostracism works well. Like any troll, if he can't get the emotional gratification he seeks, he'll go elsewhere to get it. Arguing with him is a pointless waste of time, because he will only argue on his terms, and his terms are not intended to foster understanding. Those who want to engage the hostile reader must do so with a firm statement of reality. Had I been so inclined, I might have said, "You may not dictate how I use the language, you may not impute to me meanings I am not using, and you will not provoke me into a fight. If you wish to contribute to this discussion, you will make an effort to understand what other people are saying and you will respond to their actual meanings, not what you want them to mean." Repeat, mutatis mutandis, and probably ad nauseam. This is unlikely to generate a change in the hostile reader's behavior, but it may render him impotent.