Archive for July, 2015

“You with photographs, pictures of trickery”

Something for your Wednesday night malaise.

Eliezer Yudkowsky on Sophistry and the Contagion of Lies

What sounds like an arbitrary truth to one mind—one that could easily be replaced by a plausible lie—might be nailed down by a dozen linkages to the eyes of greater knowledge. To a creationist, the idea that life was shaped by “intelligent design” instead of “natural selection” might sound like a sports team to cheer for. To a biologist, plausibly arguing that an organism was intelligently designed would require lying about almost every facet of the organism. To plausibly argue that “humans” were intelligently designed, you’d have to lie about the design of the human retina, the architecture of the human brain, the proteins bound together by weak van der Waals forces instead of strong covalent bonds…

Or you could just lie about evolutionary theory, which is the path taken by most creationists. Instead of lying about the connected nodes in the network, they lie about the general laws governing the links.

And then to cover that up, they lie about the rules of science—like what it means to call something a “theory”, or what it means for a scientist to say that they are not absolutely certain.

So they pass from lying about specific facts, to lying about general laws, to lying about the rules of reasoning. To lie about whether humans evolved, you must lie about evolution; and then you have to lie about the rules of science that constrain our understanding of evolution.


I don’t put much truck with Rationalists in the traditional philosophical sense, and there is quite a bit of that variety of wankery on Less Wrong. But there are also some damned fine writers and thinkers there, too. And it’s always good to be reminded that ideas have consequences, even (perhaps especially) bad ones.

Back in the World

Back from a month abroad and finally getting caught up. While I tidy up around here, enjoy the stylings of the masterful Go Yama.

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Magic Blue Smoke

House Rules:

1.) Carry out your own dead.
2.) No opium smoking in the elevators.
3.) In Competitions, during gunfire or while bombs are falling, players may take cover without penalty for ceasing play.
4.) A player whose stroke is affected by the simultaneous explosion of a bomb may play another ball from the same place.
4a.) Penalty one stroke.
5.) Pilsner should be in Roman type, and begin with a capital.
6.) Keep Calm and Kill It with Fire.
7.) Spammers will be fed to the Crabipede.