quadrungle

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quadrungle wrote

I find it troubling the way people get lumped together in all regards. The overall excellent article mentions

“the whole Sam Harris, Bill Maher wing” of atheism

Well, I find Harris and Maher a good bit different. Harris is a well-intentioned, sometimes misguided, culturally-biased intellectual thinker and author. Maher is a half-funny simplistic nincompoop in the direction of http://revisionisthistory.com/episodes/10-the-satire-paradox (that's Malcolm Gladwell's — yes, another imperfect thinker but actually decent often — podcast about how light satire is actually used to diffuse revolution and change and is worse than nothing, actually reinforces the problems and empowers the unjust structures in society).

Harris is far more redeemable and I've heard him say explicitly that he wasn't interested in joining some Atheist movement. He's critical of religious ideas, but is less bigoted than Maher or someone like Dawkins.

It's kind of like Trump criticism versus things like Glenn Greenwald criticizing the groupthink of anti-Russia stuff on the Clinton/DNC echo-chamber. Greenwald gets accused of supporting Trump and Trump folks just because he criticizes the bullshit from the mainstream approach to Trump-criticism.

In a similar way, people lump critics of religion together and notice how actual anti-Muslim bigots are attracted to those critiques. But just like Greenwald might write an article that Trump folks like, that doesn't make him an apologist for Trump. Similarly, Harris isn't an apologist for white supremacy in the slightest even though he says things at times that white supremacists happen to like.

The article does do some quote-mining and cherry-picking. I looked at Harris' profiling argument. He really isn't coming from a racist or bigoted angle. It's like when he suggested Apple was wrong to reject back-doors to encryption: Harris was just stating an ignorant opinion about practical reality. He was flat out wrong about the encryption question, but just because he didn't understand it, not because he dismisses the ideas of privacy and civil liberties. I think his profiling stance is similar. He's right or wrong, but it's coming from a sense of trying to understand the actual safety issues rather than from bigotry (I mean, there's some underlying bias/bigotry in the way he leans, I'll admit that, but it's not like some others who are really bigoted).

To be clear, I think the article you linked is basically right, I just think it's unfortunate that we struggle to tease apart the complex mass of issues going on.

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quadrungle wrote (edited )

I guess don't tend to feel respectful toward saying that someone is a piece of shit if you don't actually have much knowledge or opinion and are just repeating hearsay. I mean, there's lots of shitty people out there, but I'm not going to go around asserting that status for anyone in particular unless I feel I actually have enough understanding to make that conclusion. In general, I think we need orders of magnitude more assumptions-of-good-faith in our discourse and less tolerance for parroting groupthink. So, with that in mind, I'm not assuming you disagree with that until I hear otherwise. We all may just say specious quick things here and there. I don't live up to ideals of healthy discourse all the time myself.

What "stuff you posted about them today" are you referring to?

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quadrungle wrote (edited )

I think tossing people by group and association in dungheaps is intellectual laziness. Sam doesn't even emphasize identifying as an atheist, he's just critical of fundamentalist religion.

Sam is definitely of the science-lens focus of everything, but I'm not convinced that's necessarily bad, it's just often done badly.

Incidentally, the not-caring-about-intentions is explicitly a different opinion. Sam thinks intentions matter deeply, and it's an explicit point of difference and contention between him and various other people. So on that point, you're not just carelessly prejudging, you've got a clear intellectual difference.

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quadrungle wrote (edited )

I was curious about the justification for the simple assertion above, specifically.

I have some critiques of Sam, but he seems to me to have more issues where he sometimes lacks understanding rather than situations where he's actually supportive of any of those things you just mentioned.

Sam seems to downplay colonialism only because he's trying to emphasize his concerns about religion, but he doesn't seem to otherwise in any way support colonialism. He seems not at all misogynist. The Islam issue is more complex, but Sam's clearly focused on the religion and is not like many people who have racism tied into it. I don't know about warmongering, but Sam seems naively willing to accept the claims of good intentions from capitalists and such when not really justified (I saw Sam saying, effectively, that he'll accept the word of people like Bill Clinton or George W. Bush when they say they are motivated by aiming to help people and stop injustice etc., and in that area Sam seems more like a stooge, but he's not actively parroting the warmonger lines).

Meta-addendum: How can one tell the difference between some reactionary who is crafty enough to couch their language versus a good-intentioned person inadvertently using the same language? E.g. white-nationalists who criticize "globalism" to hide their racism versus others who also criticize "globalism" for other reasons unaware that the term can be a dog-whistle for the nationalists… I actually don't know. But since both cases definitely exist, I feel the need to give benefit-of-the-doubt and assume people to be the latter (well-intentioned and unaware of the significance of their language) until I see evidence otherwise.

P.S. EDIT: I only way later even realized that it was notable that you mentioned ddg for searching. Initially, that was so unremarkable to me. But then I remembered how that's not the norm. DDG isn't perfect but geeze, yeah, I don't remember the last time I Googled anything (years ago).

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quadrungle wrote

I'd agree that Sam frames it as taboo and that Sam takes a clear anti-taboo stance intellectually. In that same sense, Sam opposes laws against Holocaust Denial. But that doesn't mean he's supportive in the slightest of any Holocaust Denial.

Sam has clearly screwed up on many occasions in failing to adequately present the historical context for intellectual topics. I know Sam himself is aware of Rapoport's Rules (per Dan Dennett) that emphasize expressing others' views so well that the others say "yes, I couldn't have said it better". Sam knows conceptually about that idea, but he's done a bad job of it in many cases.

Still, I don't think Sam promotes, supports, or anything like that for "scientific racism". I think he's just failing to take all the necessary steps to avoid that interpretation from others when he wades into controversial subjects.

A good example is that he seems to be truly concerned about humanizing everyone and opposing the injustice of civilian deaths in military conflicts. But for whatever reason, Sam keeps using the term "collatoral damage" and then pissing off others because of that, and he doesn't express a real understanding of why others object to that term. Sam wants to keep using the term and just make it clear that he agrees completely with the awfulness of the reality it refers to. Why stick to the term? My guess is that Sam just lacks a certain level of patience and sympathy with the significance of the power of political language. Sam wants to talk about ideas and science and such and even politics, but just naively wishes the historic connotations and implications of language wouldn't get in the way (but of course they always will, so we'd better just deal with the language issues).

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quadrungle wrote

Well, that clip in the video you sent is Sam introducing the topic of what's up with Murray etc. in telling the listener about the podcast they are about to listen to. And he doesn't say in that quote that "average black's IQ is less than a white's IQ".

What he says in that quote is that IQ does indicate something about intelligence and that average IQ varies across races. He didn't even say which way it varies, just that it varies. You seem to have put words in his mouth that weren't quite there.

I guess I'm being charitable in my interpretation. I hear Sam saying that things like intelligence are inherently going to vary at least slightly across populations but failing to emphasize all the reasons to doubt our understanding of that variance.

I mean, it seems almost guaranteed that we'll find some statistical variance for most measures across different populations. The question is whether and why and how to think about it. Maybe it's artifacts of our measurement systems, a la the Streetlight Effect https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Streetlight_effect

But seriously, Sam is obviously interested in the philosophical and political questions around how to treat someone like Murray and how to navigate the conversation and tensions between him and his detractors etc. and there's no evidence at all that Sam is himself interested at all in race science in itself.

Obviously, if Sam is going about trying to understand the protests against Murray and hear Murray's perspective, then Sam is making efforts to articulate what Murray is saying. But I don't think you'll find any compelling history of Sam himself being interested in race science otherwise.

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quadrungle wrote

This is all very misguided and mistaken on all sides.

Charles Murray appears to actually not be anywhere near as focused or interested in race-science as his critics suppose, but Sam is too willing to downplay the critics while not himself knowing enough to really conclude.

In short: this looks like a good case-study for communication breakdown, groupthink, problems with internet communication etc. etc. Somehow, the best super-talented facilitator would figure out how to get everyone to actually understand each other and understand the facts here.

What's obvious to me: Sam Harris finds zero allure in race science. He got wrapped up in questions of how to negotiate politically-sensitive topics in a meta-philosophical sense and also failed to do the best at negotiating them in this case himself. I'm not sure about Murray, but he seems intellectually honest whether or not he is wrong about things.

I think we need to figure out how to manage that fuzzy area between (A) don't give the crazy ideas any platform or even any time and acknowledgement and (B) engage with controversial ideas given good-faith from all conversation participants and work to bring ideas together, build consensus, do consciousness-raising.

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quadrungle wrote

No no, frugality is for everyone, but like most other topics, it's just easier for the rich.

The basic fact of life: it's more expensive to be poor than to be rich. People just need to get that. But it still makes sense to be frugal where you can, it's just hella harder when you have less buffer to play with and less buffer of mental energy and flexible time etc. that gives people the opportunities to be more frugal.

Reply to comment by /u/libre_dev in OSI vs GNU by /u/libre_dev

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quadrungle wrote

It's NOT (at least shouldn't be) "Free and Libre Open Source Software", it's "Free/Libre, Open Source Software".

And FLO is better because it drops the stuff that's so software specific and works as an adjective.

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quadrungle wrote

Well, I mean, I could imagine inadvertently rallying people to those ideas, but if I somehow did that, I'd then be shocked to witness it and react with a "holy shit! Don't talk like that, is that what you thought I meant‽" and so on…

Like, he has a legitimate complaint about the idea of slippery-slope worries about legislating speech. but to then hear his wannabe-sidekick try to argue that laws against housing discrimination only [should] apply to government housing‽ I could see making the original legal argument, but if you see others associated with you getting everything all wrong…

Hanlon's Razor though… maybe Peterson is shitty at handling these things more than actually believing the real reactionary nonsense… I don't know

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quadrungle wrote

I hate that I have to consciously do some weird routing around your amazon link to avoid things on the internet connecting my IP with liking his book or something (this goes for tons of everything these days, total tangent…)

Anyway, I guess you're right. He's veering on self-help guru. (Obviously, I don't read his stuff or I would have known about this direction). And in your other link, there you go: 3rd-party media using that very language. So, I guess I was wrong, nevermind. Just I thought of "self-help guru" as generally some pop-culture out-of-the-academy type people, and Peterson gave me more of the professor-in-the-ivory-tower sort of impression…

Anyway, the tidbits I got from him what's that he was just this intellectual, I dunno, was going to say masturbator. He's smart in a certain way. He's good at identifying and critiquing some bad intellectual arguments from some people, but his own conclusions are based on just some weird philosophical foundations. He's a weird mix of "not even wrong" and "sorta, almost, partly right" in some ways.

I don't know how much he has hate, but it's one of those cases where hateful people love what he has to say.

Let me put it this way: I read the article you linked, and I'm convinced that there's just a lot of communication failure going on. Peterson sounds more like a classical liberal in some ways than right-wing. He certainly doesn't know how to speak effectively to people who disagree with him in a way that would actually achieve some understanding. In that second video linked in the article, the guys standing near him who were supporting Peterson were horribly, cringily awful. The worst part is his failure to rebuke that stuff, but I don't want to jump to saying that if you don't rebuke something it equals endorsement. I'm pretty protective of ideas of greyness, spectra, etc. and refusing to take black-and-white partisan views.

Overall it seems tragic that Peterson is getting so much attention. He's obviously failing at having an overall positive impact on discourse.

Reply to comment by /u/libre_dev in OSI vs GNU by /u/libre_dev

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quadrungle wrote

There's still a TON of those "open source" people, just as you describe.

It's just that when you use different language to refer to the same thing, you'll find people adapting. So, people who come to software already interested in ethics and freedom and see lots of references to "open source" continue holding their ethical views while talking about "open source". So, it gets muddy.

The OSI is still more of the reformist, in-the-system, don't-push-the-politics as an org. But they're more like (really, don't take this analogy too strictly) the Democratic Socialists of America where (A) yes, they don't all hold the real hard-core positions but they aren't actually trying to undermine them it's (B) more of a strategic question of reform versus revolution etc.

Given that lots of people remain uncertain, you find more and more people who don't take a partisan position but have sympathies all around.

The truth is, as bad as "open source" is as a term, it was a political error for RMS and the FSF to reject it instead of co-opting it. Instead of trying fruitlessly to push-back and say, "no, it's not Open Source", they should have been saying, "yeah, and we also call it Free Software because Open Source is about freedom!" etc. It was wrong to let the original OSI set the language on their terms. And we should keep that in mind going forward.

It's better to tell the "open source" people that THEIR language and values are about freedom and inject that into the discussion rather than leave the divide as is.

We want people going forward to approach places where they see "open source" with a reaction of, "hey, WTF, you said you were Open Source but you're doing X, Y, Z in ways that violate the freedoms and ideals!" Don't let them have their anti-ethics term.

Reply to OSI vs GNU by /u/libre_dev

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quadrungle wrote (edited )

This is so obviously blind partisanship. There's a long history here that has real problems, but TODAY most of the OSI board and everyone involved are sincere, supportive FSF members. In fact, one of the OSI board members is an FSF employee. The original anti-ethics OSI folks are long gone.

The OSI today is more pro-freedom and FSF leaning than most of the "open source" big players today like GitHub or the anti-copyleft develop-focused JavaScript communities etc.

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quadrungle wrote

Peterson is a Psychology professor with some odd views about the nature of belief and the value of myths and some such… but he's not a self-help anything, i.e. he's neither career-wise nor thought of by anyone (even those who like him) as a self-help guru. He he may express views on how one should live, but that's not making him a self-help guru. RMS states opinions on how to live, e.g. reject proprietary software, and that doesn't make him a self-help guru.

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quadrungle wrote (edited )

I want to say this is all straw-man arguments, but there's a lot of real people guilty of just what this criticizes. However, it's cherry-picking the worst examples. It's failing to do steel-manning or follow Rapoport's Rules (describing the opposing position in ways the opponents would actually agree with).

I certainly hope that people will work to not just be the flip-side of the coin and just do the same bad arguing in reverse.

lots of 'It's OK to be White' action going on there

That claim is an uncharitable interpretation that, while it isn't baseless, is itself not at all steel-manning. Let's steel-man the opposing arguments and end up with a stronger take-down instead of crappier push-back that will just reinforce the criticism.