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10 January 2015 @ 08:05 am
Ideas one at a time  
I don't completely agree with anybody. I have been greatly influenced by people like Robert A. Heinlein and Kurt Vonnegut who are RIGHT RIGHT RIGHT except when they are WRONG WRONG WRONG. Amanda Marcotte is one of those. I enjoy her blog (and frequently link to it) when she is savaging worthy targets such as Fox News and GamerGate. But sometimes not so much.

Scott Aaronson opened a can of worms by saying that, as a nerd, he feels more picked on than the supposedly oppressed groups. Laurie Penny wrote an excellent answer to that. Arthur Chu has just done an even better one. Amanda Marcotte finds that sort of thing much too merciful and did a fisking mainly demonstrating that if you find a weak, miserable member of a privileged group and hit him repeatedly in the goolies, you can think of yourself as "punching up."

Her latest post says that the atheists are being too nice. She's been acting all along as if atheism is proven scientific fact, so theists should be mocked as mercilessly as those who deny evolution or global warming.

I caught myself thinking like that, on another issue. It seems obvious to me that any reasoned denial of human exceptionalism refutes itself. We humans can do logical arguments, write poems, solve equations, control our own fertility, and do all sorts of other things the other animals can't, and if that isn't exceptional, what is? I have yielded to the temptation to take those who claim to be no smarter than the animals at their word.

I try to practice Miller's Rule: In order to understand what another person is saying, you must assume that it is true and try to figure out what it could be true of. I recommend it to one and all. Amanda Marcotte might consider that intelligent people might accept areas in which the materialistic methods of science do not provide the answers, such as God and the soul. (I myself find it impossible to believe that the Universe is run by anything that meaningfully resembles a person, but I don't find such a belief nonsensical.) And I should remind myself that the distinction between entities with and without language, literature, and science is not as important to everyone as it is to me.
Kalimac: puzzlekalimac on January 12th, 2015 03:38 pm (UTC)
So many people practice the opposite of Miller's Rule. That is, they castigate something for being wrong without even considering that there might be another sense in which it is true. My favorite example is the people who say that the Declaration of Independence's "all men are created equal" is obviously false because of differences in human talents and abilities. Kurt Vonnegut is one of the people who were wrong wrong wrong about that one.

I like the Arthur Chu article because it points out that Aaronson's problems were in his head, not in external reality. That would explain why, though I observed the same facts about the world that Aaronson did, it never bothered me. The inside of my head is a different place than the inside of his head.