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Everything posted by necrovore

  1. I still think one of the best ways to make a cultural impact is to produce literature or other dramatic works. Then you can appeal to the American sense of life while also providing the intellectual basis for that feeling. This is what Ayn Rand herself was doing when she wrote Atlas Shrugged -- but there is plenty of room for other works, in a variety of genres and styles, and with a variety of subjects and themes.
  2. True. I'm just saying that the operation of the senses is deterministic, just like a rock rolling down a hill, so the operation of the senses cannot "err" any more than the rock can. What matters is how we interpret what the senses are telling us. In many cases the naïve interpretation is actually fine, which is why our species is still around, but there are some cases (such as illusions) where the actual situation is not what it looks like.
  3. I disagree: can a rock err while it rolls down a hill? Our senses, whatever their limitations, are deterministic. The possibility of error does not arise until you get the information from your senses, and then the error, if any, is yours.
  4. I was absent from the site during 2014, so I wouldn't have seen Nicky's comment when it was posted. This might have been ambiguous; what I meant was, the answer to "which part of reality should I look at?" is obvious, even if it may not be "obvious" what you would actually see when you looked there.
  5. Wouldn't it make more sense to simply read the article? Isn't it important if the NATO secretary general says for the first time that "The war didn't start in 2021, it started in 2014"? There are plenty of citations that show that the NATO secretary general did indeed say this. The implications are interesting, though... for example... how could Putin have started the war in 2021 if it actually started in 2014? Might that make Putin's action possibly retaliatory instead of initiatory? Or did Putin start the war in 2014? I followed the links and it looks like the article's authors are referring to evidence in order to support their contentions. So it's certainly possible they are correct.
  6. If you're allowed to do it, then you're free to do it. Sounds synonymous to me. On the other hand, this syllogism seems wrong: In a capitalist society, all forums are privately owned. There is no freedom of speech on a privately owned forum. Therefore, there is no freedom of speech in a capitalist society. An exception is that you would have free speech if you owned your own forum. However, it should certainly be possible for a forum owner to allow free speech if he wants to, and I think that would be a good idea. (Of course, the government has to allow free speech, too, or free speech cannot exist.) I have no objections. Regarding free speech, though, I think it's important to allow mistaken arguments even though they are mistaken. It may be possible and even necessary to learn from those mistakes, and to learn how to identify them as mistakes. Maybe I am misunderstanding you, but that seems like a formula for infinite regress: I could offer a justification, only to be told that it, too, is arbitrary, so I would have to offer a justification for that, and so forth. Ultimately the best I can do is tell you what part of reality needs to be looked at. The fact that there is a part of reality that can be looked at, should be enough to establish that the claim isn't arbitrary. Most of the time, though, the part of reality involved is obvious. But nobody can offer any kind of proxy or substitute for that reality. You're just going to have to look at reality. There is a difference between how you run your own mind and how you run this board. You can decide (and say) that a point of view is invalid, without preventing it from being expressed. An Objectivist book seller, for example, might well sell copies of the Critique of Pure Reason in his bookstore, even though he disagrees with it. He might want people to see its mistakes for themselves. I suppose I believe the old saying that if you give the mistaken people enough rope, they will hang themselves. (Yeah, I'm aware that this might apply to me, too, but I'm willing to take the risk.)
  7. Here's another interesting article: https://www.zerohedge.com/geopolitical/nato-chief-belatedly-admits-war-didnt-start-february-last-year-war-started-2014
  8. Well obviously free speech also requires that we allow people to post valid arguments. But yes, I meant invalidity. Sometimes people have decided that they can deem facts they don't like to be "arbitrary" just so that they can then demand that those facts be removed from consideration and debate. I think each person should be able to make their own assessment about what is "arbitrary" because that's just another form of making their own assessment about what is "invalid."
  9. There is, if and to the extent that the forum's owners and moderators allow it.
  10. Facts are "out there" in reality; facts as such cannot be posted on any forum. (Except that you can post the words that someone else said or wrote.) Facts "out there," such as a battle that may or may not be occurring in a certain place, or a result that may or may not have been measured in a laboratory, can only be described, pointed to, cited, or something like that. If you can't see the fact for yourself then you have to make an assessment about the credibility of the source. However, I would not assume anyone has the right to "force" that assessment upon others through the moderation system. (I put "force" in quotes because nobody is putting a gun to anyone's head, so it isn't literally "force" in the rights-infringing sense. Maybe I should rephrase that by simply saying that I strongly prefer to make my own assessments about credibility rather than having someone else make them for me, and if other people want to make their own assessments, then they will prefer a message board where moderators don't make such assessments for them.) Free speech -- which should be a normative value for any discussion board where controversies are regularly raised, but especially a discussion forum about Objectivism, which itself supports free speech -- requires that we allow people to make invalid arguments, on the basis that the invalidity, if it is not already apparent, will become so eventually. It also requires that each reader be able to decide for themselves which arguments are invalid, and to be able to change their minds about that decision later, if they wish. Free speech does not include things like harassment or spam because they render the board useless (for someone or for everyone), and it should also not include posts that can cause direct real-world harm (such as libel and "doxxing" and the like). However, excluding such things from "free speech" is an example of context-keeping, along the same lines as excluding extortion and theft from "economic activity." No, I have not had time to address them.
  11. That is incorrect. A fact is a fact regardless of whether it has "emerged" or not, regardless of whether it has become generally known or not. Our consciousness of the facts -- or our lack of consciousness of them -- doesn't determine what they actually are. (Thinking that it does is a primacy-of-consciousness viewpoint.)
  12. I think this is a bad trap for a bulletin board like this to fall into. It's too easy to disagree about whether the standards are being met. Further, there is always the case where evidence keeps coming in but people refuse to see or accept it. In all the political debates I've seen in the last few years, part of the debate is about what the facts actually are (and which sources can actually be trusted). Even people who have the same principles will get different conclusions if they start with different sets of facts. If there is a dispute about the facts, it can only be resolved by going and looking to see what the facts are -- and sadly that option is not available to many of us, so at best we might end up agreeing to disagree. Some of these "moderation standards" seem to make more sense in the context of something like a business meeting, where the purpose is to come up with actionable decisions within a limited time frame. It would be appropriate if, for example, we were a bunch of editors who, in spite of disagreeing with each other, were trying to bring out a monthly magazine, and we had to make a decision about what would go in the magazine and what would not, and we had to make the decision in time for everything to go to press so the issue could go out. (Although it is not required, a magazine might well have editors who disagree with each other about various topics, so that the magazine can cover "multiple sides" of an issue. People used to be interested in reading such magazines.) In that case you'd have a big meeting and you'd need a moderator who can prevent the various editors from arguing all day and encourage them to come up with a solution they can all accept, even if grudgingly. I suppose some people are wishing that they were attorneys arguing before a court of law, and they'd like to say, "Objection! Ad hominem!" and have a judge say "Sustained!" or "Overruled!" or "Case dismissed!" and maybe throw people in jail for contempt every once in a while. (They also seem to want things to become Settled Law, so that they can stop any further debate about them.) However, I would think that an internet discussion board would be more open-ended than that, by its very nature. I am thinking back to my comment that a message board should be more like a bar or speakeasy, and people shouldn't be thrown out unless they are making the place unusable. Somebody who goes on and on about a favorite topic, but keeps it in its own thread, isn't really hurting anybody else. Further, it would be a shame to shut someone up only to find out five or ten years later that they had been right all along...
  13. I would like to welcome you to the forum, but beware. Ayn Rand says, "A political battle is merely a skirmish fought with muskets; a philosophical battle is a nuclear war." And, boy, are you in for it. Did you know the best book about Objectivism (in my opinion) didn't come out until 1991? I myself didn't discover it until 1998. It is Leonard Peikoff's Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand (OPAR). It gathers up the essentials of her philosophy into a single book -- and it might be the reason that some of what you are saying in your essays doesn't jive with the Objectivism I know. I think OPAR's coverage of epistemology, though correct, was somewhat weak, but that's because the big breakthrough didn't come until later, when Peikoff collaborated with David Harriman to produce Induction in Physics and Philosophy. Peikoff delivered this as a lecture course and Harriman wrote the book. It provides a solution to what philosophers call the "problem of induction" along with several examples from the history of science. As you are a scientist, it might be of interest to you. You say that Ayn Rand rejects evolution, but that is not my impression. She did say she wasn't a student of evolution, but I think she was pleading ignorance rather than rejecting it. Another Objectivist philosopher, Harry Binswanger, has written a book about epistemology called How We Know which works out an understanding of the senses and how they grasp reality, and his work is explicitly compatible with evolution. (Rand did reject the notion that "survival of the fittest" requires humans to kill each other like animals, which is the way some other philosophers interpreted Darwin's discoveries.) I have never regarded Objectivism as a "guide for my life." It isn't specific enough for that. Rather, I regard it as a set of tools for figuring out reality, staying consistent with it, and avoiding certain dangerous errors. (Whether I myself am successful in using those tools correctly is beside the point of this post: they are the best tools, as far as I can tell.) I don't think Objectivism needs to be "improved," but people's understanding of it does, and that includes clearing up a lot of misconceptions about it -- to the extent this is possible...
  14. Not at all: just because I made a mistake about the facts, doesn't mean the (unmistaken) facts aren't there. The task here is to determine the facts "out there," not the extent of my particular knowledge...
  15. I don't think this changes much of anything. It would be as if the US were split up by splitting states along their existing borders as opposed to negotiating new ones. Of course, the real situation is different from my hypothetical here; we don't have the problem of different states speaking different languages or having different cultures. (Or maybe we do have two different cultures and maybe that's why some counties are wanting to leave Oregon and join Idaho. I think if the Federal government didn't exist, and Oregon started killing people in those counties, Idaho might have reason to intervene militarily...) Or Texas could have lost a (cold) war... Maybe they only "abandoned their citizens" because they didn't want to intervene militarily and hoped that some sort of peace treaty would protect their rights? ...
  16. The article itself addresses this if you read a little further. You may disagree with it, but it does at least make the case. The situation seems to be that the borders negotiated for Ukraine were extended around some Russian areas, and then Ukraine made a concerted effort to wipe out those Russians, and now tries to claim that, since everything is within their own borders, there is no provocation. Even to this day the Russians in the area are second-class citizens under Ukrainian law. Suppose as part of some international treaty negotiation, Mexico managed to extend its borders around parts of Texas, and then declared that Texans in those areas were second-class citizens, and then started killing off Texans who objected, by the tens of thousands. Would that not be a provocation? (I don't mean to drag in the history that already exists between Mexico and Texas. But if anyone can find reasons to get upset about the history between Mexico and Texas and the U.S., then it only proves my point, in that both Russia and Russian people in the Ukraine might have been upset about what happened to them, too...) (An emotion is not justification by itself, of course, but if you look at the reasons behind that emotion, then those reasons may be justification. Unfortunately, I don't know a whole lot about the situation in Ukraine, but that's why I found this article interesting, because it at least addressed the question.)
  17. Well, this is interesting: https://www.zerohedge.com/geopolitical/whitney-setting-record-straight-stuff-you-should-know-about-ukraine
  18. Over the past decade or so it has become much more acceptable to "punish" people because of their opinions -- because they expressed them, or just because they have them. It has been pointed out that there is a big difference between the government carrying out this "punishment," such as by throwing people in prison, and private individuals (or groups) carrying it out, such as by denying service at a bar or a bank. In the latter case, property owners are merely exercising their right to their own property, and their right to choose who they associate with, and if somebody were to force them to serve people they don't want to, even if this force is only forcing them to do what is in their actual best interest anyway, then, as Leonard Peikoff puts it, the act of forcing it on them makes it wrong. However, in some cases the motivation behind using your own personal property to do something, and using the government to do it, can be the same, and in the case of "punishing" opinions, the motivation is wrong in both cases, even though initiating force is the only thing that should properly be illegal. It is proper to address the motivation and expose its incorrectness even if it is not (yet) infringing anyone's rights. By doing so, it may be possible to talk people out of acting on it. One can say that, for example, nihilism ought to be legal if you don't infringe anyone's rights, but one can also say that it is still wrong. My point is: the motivation for punishing people's opinions contradicts the motivation for having free speech, which means, a person can't consistently support both. When you see more and more people "punishing" opinions, and supporting the punishment of opinions, you can know that the days are numbered for free speech, even if the government itself has not yet begun to act against it. The motivation for free speech is confidence in reason (and reality). We can afford to allow people to state falsehoods because we have confidence that reason will expose the falsehoods as such. Free speech also ensures that it's possible for people to speak the truth even when it's controversial, so that the truth can also be exposed. This confidence is what allows a store owner to let people he disagrees with walk into his store and buy stuff. He knows that their opinion, even if wrong, is not a threat to him; he knows that reality and reason will prevail in time; he can count on the police to be on his side if they initiate force, so he can just smile and sell them their goods. When people have abandoned reason, when they believe they are the exclusive owners of truths that cannot be reached by means of reason (or "reason alone"), when they decide that "unbridled" reason is a threat to their point of view, when they find that reason (and ultimately reality itself) can be "misleading," they do not feel that confidence, and they seek to suppress contrary opinions. If they cannot do it through the government, then they can do it through their own private property, but if they don't see the problem doing it with their own property, they will not see the problem with using the government to do it. So, in that sense, saying "it isn't really censorship if they're using their own private property" is true, but it's not addressing the root of the problem. The real problem is that people have abandoned reason -- and without reason, the distinction between merely using their own property and using government force to go beyond it will be abandoned, too. It's only a matter of time. (Actually it has already been abandoned. The separation between usage of private property [i.e., economics] and government powers [i.e., state] has never been formally recognized and has been on the way out for decades; however, it cannot be upheld unless reason itself is upheld.) The notion that "free speech is dangerous," that "free speech corrupts people" and so forth, is coming from both political parties. Because of its widespread popularity, even if you do not see it affecting government policy now, it is going to affect government policy sooner or later, unless it can be exposed as the mistake that it is. Exposing the mistake -- and defending free speech as such -- requires a defense of reason.
  19. If people won't listen to Leonard Peikoff (or Ayn Rand), why would they listen to an AI? Further, people should be able to work through proving Objectivism on their own. Relying on an AI to do it would be second-handed. AIs can be helpful by suggesting answers to questions (e.g., from beginners) that humans don't have time to deal with, but such answers, just like answers from humans, would have to be checked, and could not be accepted on faith. If AIs reason like humans, then they become capable of the same sorts of errors as humans. If they reason differently from humans, then one can expect them to become capable of entirely new sorts of errors. It's possible to have a Kantian or Marxist AI, and it could even be possible for an AI to develop some new malignant philosophy which would be false but difficult to refute. (Maybe another AI could help with that refutation...)
  20. Schools can have a great deal of power over young children who do not understand what is being done to them, and there are teachers who subject some of their students to horrible psychological abuse, without the knowledge or consent of the parents. I saw it firsthand when I was a kid in school, even back in the 1980s. I can easily imagine teachers talking kids into gender identities that they don't really want, possibly getting other kids to bully targets into it. There have even been cases where teachers can allow (or perhaps require) kids to get hormone therapy without the knowledge of the parents -- and this gender-change stuff ends up sterilizing the kids. So, all this can be used as a forced sterilization program. It certainly has Nazi overtones. It's entirely proper for the government to put a stop to that rather than allowing it to continue (or encouraging it). However, there are a lot of people who take religion seriously, who believe in enacting "God's perfect Kingdom" into law. I have a lot of experience with family members who believe that kind of religion. It is not merely a bogeyman invented by the Left. It is very real. They don't want "democracy," they want an absolute monarchy or dictatorship, where all the laws are based on their religion. God, they say, takes precedence over the Constitution, so no matter what the Constitution says, there can never be a "right" to question or disobey God. They also have a lot of superstition about how reading the wrong books or watching the wrong movies will give the Devil power over you and so forth, and they would be more than happy to ban The Fountainhead and The God Delusion and Catch-22 and 1984 and lots of other books that have ideas they don't like, and they will argue that all such books are the same as the ones that talk little kids into having sex, and should be banned on the same grounds: they are against God (even if not always directly). Of course most of the reason kids are vulnerable in the first place is that Christianity, being a falsehood itself, cannot teach kids how to distinguish truth from falsehood, and therefore leaves them without any guidance in such matters except to accept the authorities they grew up with. I oppose giving the government powers which will be used to enforce religion at the expense of reason and individual rights. These overreaches cannot be dismissed as innocent mistakes; they must be opposed. Such opposition does not mean giving the Left whatever they want. It means depriving the government of the power to push any ideology on children by initiating force, whether it's Marxism or Christianity.
  21. It looks like, over the past few decades, we have been moving in the opposite direction and polarizing more and more. Also, the argument of "Do you have kids? Because if you don't, you aren't arguing from a love of your kids the way I am arguing from the love of mine" is ultimately an emotionalist argument, not just an ad hominem. Such arguments are favored by people of faith but are not acceptable as motivations for government policy.
  22. That's like saying you have no right to object to state-sanctioned murder, unless you're the one being murdered. If rights are being infringed, the solution is not to infringe rights "in the other direction." It's to stop the infringement. Giving the State the power to make lists of "approved" books -- and to enforce that list with the threat of felony charges -- is a very bad idea. (If the list is allowed to stand, the Left may themselves take control of it someday... and what then?)
  23. If you want to protect kids, you want to protect them from the initiation of force, threats, and fraud, same as for an adult. (It also makes sense to protect kids from dangers they may not be able to understand; this is why you don't allow a baby to play with razor blades. In some cases, it makes sense to protect adults in this way, too, such as by requiring hard hats on a construction site, although adults can usually understand that, but I digress...) All the Marxist indoctrination and the sexual grooming and so forth depends on force or fraud or both, and the reason it is infesting the schools is precisely because the schools provide the ability to do both to children (and, to some extent, parents). A separation of state and education is the correct solution, and it would also entail separating education from the legal use of force. However, the main reason we don't already have a separation of state and education is religion, because religious people have always believed that morality (and culture) cannot be reached by means of reason (or "reason alone"), but has to be imposed by initiating force -- especially upon children. "Spare the rod, spoil the child." So it is natural to them to impose education by force as well. The problem for them is, the Constitution doesn't allow it to be specified which religion(s) may be used, so the power of force that was given to public schools can be used for any religion, anything not based on reality, anything that has to be imposed by initiating force or fraud, such as Marxism, or sexual exploitation of the naïve. Religionists respond to this problem by attacking the First Amendment, rather than attacking force and fraud, which they know they need for themselves. So their argument amounts to saying, "Instead of allowing schools to infringe rights, we should let parents do it!" I disagree. The solution is not to hand the instruments of force back to religionists, even if they happen to be in the majority. I don't think the solution is to say that religious parents, rather than schools, should have the power to initiate force -- which they will do, not only against their own children, but against anybody who might "influence" their children such as by providing a 15-year-old with access to a stack of books that includes The Fountainhead. Nobody should have the power to initiate force like that.
  24. Sounds like you're trying to set up an ad hominem. This isn't about me.
  25. The religious book-banners are coming out in force: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=34489884 (which links to) https://popular.info/p/florida-teachers-told-to-remove-books This might make it a felony for a teacher to participate in the ARI's books for teachers program.
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