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    Stephen Cook
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  1. Actually, you will be pleased to know, RationalBiker, that the third person on my list was in fact you and I got the third name incorrect on the list. aplologies for that Softwarenerd. I have been writing reports all day and my memory of who, what where and when on this forum was abit fuzzy when writing the post above. Who knows though, maybe i have dissapointed you by removing you from my hall of infamy....
  2. I was determined not to post here again. It is somewhat dishonerable. However, I am compelled to do so. I promise not to again. Apologies for this. So.... To reiterate. I do not feel personally harshly treated. Apart from anything else, I am too thick skinned for that, either personally or intellectually (though i hope less so intellectually). To be more specific, i must accept that it is not enogh for me to simply state that "some" people are intellectually fraudulent. I guess I did so because I think it is obvious who I refer to. I am referring in particular to David Odden and, to a lesser extent, Blackdiamond and Rational biker. David has a tendency to quote sections of AR to other contributers as though it were sacred scripture. As though, these quotes, in and of themselves provide self evident truths. Maybe it is sacred scripture. If so, it is not inetellectual debate that is takiing place here. Also, I note his other tendency to take umption if someone should question his underlying assumptions. His typical response is to rubbish such questioning as "irrelevant". At the same time, he is, quite correctly, ready at every opportunity to liguisticallt unpack the minutia of others contributions. I should like to make mention of Viking here. whilst, it might appear, at first glance, that Viking and I shaer ea similar position on certain issues contained in the "racial" thread that is currently running. There are a number of makor points of argument where we significantly differ. I point this out because I wish to state here that he has been treated on that thread in an intellectually disgraceful manner. I am quite sure Viking does not need me to come to his defence as he give me the impression he is someone who is well cappable of holding his own and so I would respectfully ask for his indulgence for my citing him as part of the argument I am putting forth here. Whilst I do not agree (I think) with Vikings underlying assumptions regarding racial differneces and their consequent behavioural consequences, he presented arguments concerning the use of probabilities that, whilst certainly debateable, were instead treated with intellectual dishonesty and retorical obfuscation. When that did not work (I find his tenatiousness admirable) downright ridicule and then false accusations were applied againts him. Disgraceful. So,,,this is what happens when you challenge a high priest in this place is it? Anyway....forgive the intrusion Goodbye
  3. I have spent some time recently on this forum in the hope that I might be able to subject my own ideas to strong intellectual scrutiny since this is how one grows intellectually. I was also hoping to learn from other ideas presented here. Regarding the above two things, I have had some success in both regards and would like to thank those contributors who have provided stong constructive critisisms of my arguments and who have also provided me with food for thought on a number of topics such that I have been driven to reassess some of my central opinions. However, I have also witnessed the treatment of some arguments, and also the proponants of those arguments to be petty and personal. There is more than a whiff of doctrinal orthodoxy in the posts of a number of high profile contributors here. Indeed, when the orthodoxy has been questioned on occassion. sometime clumsily, sometime with great erudition, it tends to be treated by the aforementioned contributors in an intellectually obfuscatory and off-hand manner. Which is to say, it is treated in an intellectually fraudulanet manner. As with any orthodox church, there are the lowley peasants and there are the high priests. As with any orthodox church, to question the orthodoxy is to risk hellfire and damnation. I guess that is fine if we are talking about a religion. However, I had initially taken this forum to be a place where honest, rigourous, and open intellectual debate would be possible. I was mistaken. Again, as I have said, there is much here to commend this forum in terms of the intellectual debate that takes place. However, there is also an intellectual rotteness lurking here aswell. The stench of which causes me, sad to say, to decide to take my leave. I have recently taken part in a thread that discussed the persistence of religion in modern day society. I find it quite ironic that a number of high profile contributors to this thread and to others, have made bold statements about the illogicallity and philisophical fraudulence of religion (a position I happen to concur with, by the way) whilst at the same time adopting a quasi religious position with regards to the foundations of their own arguments. I admit it, I give up. As the old adage goes, "you can't reason with a person of faith". Naturally, I do not refer to my own contributions and how they may or may not have been treated since this is for others to judge. Besides which, I am quite capable of looking after myself Goodbye
  4. You are correct in your interpretation HunterRose. I do mean pragmatic as being contextually beneficial. Regarding your last paragraph. I am intrigued by this. Please forgive my ignorance regarding its underpinnings. I would be grateful if you could unpack it a little for me.
  5. Since you do not appear able/willing to address the post by the last contributor and, since my problems with your arguments are (more or less) the same and, since you indicated in your post just previously that you were primarily addressing me, parhaps you might be encouraged to deal with these issues if I put them to you, since, as I have said, much of the previous contributer's issues with your argument match onto my own at least on this particular fine point. Before I begin, though, please allow me to apologise for referring to the content of one of your previous post's arguments as being silly. Obviously, I am happy to apologise for this. However, please be note that the apology extends that far and no further. That is to say, I apologise for offending your argument. since I did not offend you personally (I didn't actually realise that arguments had feeling that could be hurt). Unlesss, of course, you are unable to distinguish the difference between an argument and a person. I am assuming you are able in this regard. In reference to the above, your use of the word "cause" causes me concern. The reason being that probabilites rarely imply cause. Or, at least it is very unwise to infer cause from them. However, what they do provide is evidence of a "correlational" relationship" between variable. However, a correlational relationship does not imply no-cause. It simply tells us that two or more variables are related. That is all. You use of the word "cause" suggests to me that you think unless a cause can be absoloutly established, probabilities are innapropriate. But, that is the point of them. If a cause can be absoloutly established, you will not require the use of probabilities. Well, if we accept the original thought-experiment premise (hopefully I have got this the right way round!) that there were more tall people in prison than short people, there is, by definition, a relationship between the two variables of "presence in prison" and "height". It may or may not be a causal relationship. But that there is a relationship in evidence is logially undeniable. Thus, when faced with a moral dillema to place trust in a tall person or a small person, in the absence of any other evidence, logic would dictate that you chose to place your trust in a shorter person. Probabilities, being what they are, menas that you would be likely to be correct in your actions X percentage of the time and incorrect Y percentage of the time. This would be the case whatever the nature of the relationship between the variables. Be it correlational or causal.
  6. What? No need for probabalistic assumptions on your part here BlackDiamond. You can be certain that I have absoloutly no idea what on Earth you mean by saying that there is an "established metaphysical relationship with your current situation". Perhaps you might be so kind as to enlighten me as to its meaning? Please be slow though, because my limited intellect might miss it's meaning otherwise. On the basis of the limited information I have in my possession at the moment, I must make the probabalistic calculation that either the above statement you have made has a meaning that is logically explicable, but which I am quite happy to accept I am too ignorant or stupid to have understood it without further explanation. Althernatively, it is a grand sounding, but essentiially vacuous statement designed to rhetorically obscure a lack of coherent argument.
  7. I would be very dissapointed if I thought you and I (or for that matter, any significant number of us) were of the same mind. Apart from being extremely boring, such a situation would be of little value to anyone concerned since it would mean that no learning could take place. A desire to learn from others by listening to their ideas as well as subjecting my own to scrutiny is the primary reason I join forums such as this. I am susrprised by your post suggesting that unless we are of a similar mind I am in the wrong place. Perhaps I too have mis-understood.
  8. Hang on a minute...I think you are mixing up certainty with probability. It would be the case that, in the absence of any other evidence (in other words, not knowing the woman had just arrived on a plane) the probability would be 70%. That doesn't make the probabalistic assunption invalid. It just makes it a probabalistic assumption. Nothing more, nothing less. What I think Viking is trying to get at and I think I at least agree with him on this point (please forgive me Viking if I have misunderstood you) is that if you use probabilities in such a situation you will probably be correct in your probabalistic assumtions 70% of the time. The whole point about probabilities is that they are used when all of the causal (or even correlational) factsd are not known. Thats the point of probabilities. If you knew all of the variable sinvolved, you wouldn't need to use probabilities because you would know for certain. Your critisism of vikings reasoning in this regard is actually a critisism of the use of probabilities...period. Which is a bit silly really. Anything as messy as biology..of which psychology and behaviour are a sub set must make use of probabilities otherwise we might all just as well go home. If you don't think that you use probabilities in your everyday interactions with the world consider this thought experiment: Lets assume that you have to cross a river at one of two points. which you choose is up to you. However, historical records have been kept for mortality rates of the people crossing the river at the two points. At one point, 50% of people have been found to drown when trying to cross. At the other point, 1% of people have drowned. Which crossing are you going to use Blackdiamond? On a more everday note, whenever you plan anything, you are taking probabilities into account (or are at least doing somthing in your brain that is functionally equivalent to calculating probabilities). For example if you are choosing where to go on vacation between two or more options. You eventual choice will come down to which of the propposed destinations you think might offer the most interest to you. You can't know for certain because you haven't had the experience yet. You must simply make a probabalisitc calculation based on the limited information you have. etc etc etc...
  9. Go on then..i shall be brave/foolish......20% The above is based on the following assumptions: Each man has 4 wives All women have, on average, the same number of children Without the above assumptions....erm...I'm not sure...
  10. Hello Sophia. I am sorry to say that I am not. However, I would be obliged to you if you could outline it's principles here or, alternatively, point me in the direction of a suitable introductory publication.
  11. Forgive me..I must be misunderstanding you...You can't actually be trying to suggests that a moral code is based upon an objective reality can you? If you are, then please do explain which of the moral codes of say Christians versus Muslims is the objective one and which is the self delusion? In an attempt to anticipate your reply, I would might guesse that a possible reply to the above question might be to say that all codes based on a religeous foundation are self delusional. If that would be your response, then perhaps you might like to answer this question as an alternatve: Which of the two moral codes of say a capitalist versus a socialist....or a humanist versus an objectivist is the objectively based code and which the delusionally based one? Please feel free to substitute any particular philisophical/political/religious code for the ones I have provided I look forward to your reply
  12. Yes I agree. I remember watching a doumentary on an anthropologist who spent a year living with an indigineous tribe of people in the Amazon. At first he was welcomed into the tribe. However, two weeks in, he was nearly murdered in his bed. He managed to persuade the tribal elders to spare him. He asked them why they had decided to kill him. They explained it was because he was a child in a man's body. This was something they found deeply offensive. An incident the previous day had led them to this conclusion. He had brought a camera with him. They had asked him how it worked. He explained that you aimed and pressed a button. you then sent the film off to a developers to be processed. They quickly deduced from this that much of what had initially made the anthropologist appear to be superior to them was in fact an illusion. Pretty much all of the things he relied upon for his survival were poorly understood by him because he relied on many other agents in his society to provide them for him. This is pretty much the definition of a child. They understand little of what is required to keep them alive, and why should they? they are children. These things are provided by the adults that are caring for them. The tribal eleders explained to the anthropologist that a fully formed human should know intimately all of the things he needs to keep himself and his family alive. Every tribesperson was taught this form a very early age. Pretty much the rest of that year was spent by the anthropologist learning how to be a man as defined by these tribespeople.
  13. Quite so Mobius. However, I would not define the above as altruism. I would define it as "reciprocation" based on rational self interest. I do realise that, superficially, "reciprocation" looks like a duck and quacks like a duck when compared to altruism. But that doesn't mean it is a duck. To reiterate, I would define pure altruism as the giving of resources (materials, time, etc) that profits the reciever and leaves the giver economically neutral at best and at a loss at worst. Profit and loss are defined in terms of reproductive success.
  14. Perhaps you might like to provide an answer to the following question: Why is it that in the scandinavian countries (Norway, Iceland etc.) where welfare provision, as viewed from your standpoint, is hideously high, do we find exceptionally low level of civil disturbance, crimes against the person, self harm and just about any other definable human deviance? I should add here that comprehensive welfare provision is not merely the provision of resources in order to allow a person not to have to work. On the other hand, in countries that, relatively speaking, have much lower levels of welfare provision, all of the above deviances are much higher in their incidence. I am thinking particularly of the US and, to a lesser extent, the UK, as compared to the scandinavian countires mentioned above. It seems to me there must be one of two explanations to the above question: 1) Countries such as the US have other cultural factors that lead them to have greater levels of deviance which is unaffected either way by welfare provision. 2) Welfare provision is positively related to lower deviance levels in society. If you have other explanations, I am genuinely interested to hear them.
  15. Yes I agree with the point about rational self-interest. Also I would like to go further and make mention of the morality of paying taxes to fund a welfare system. If I pay less taxes, it would appear, in a superficial sense, that I am servicing my own self interests more than I might if I were to pay more taxes. However, if the consequence of my paying lower taxes is such that those people who might have recieved more welfare payments are now more socially unruly as a result, my life may well be affected. This can range form the trivial...As I go to the theatre to enjoy a new play, my experience is negatively impacted by having to clamber over the people living in carboard boxes on my way to the ticket offfice! On a more serious note, the civil disturbances that become more likely in a society where the welfare system is less generous than might be otherwise means that I have to spend more money on personal security, my freedom to live, work and play wherever I want is limited to those areas that are not too poor etc. I realize that the morality I am advancing is one of pragmatic rational self interest. But I believe that to be the best basis there is. Since it is rooted in the real and not in the ideal.
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