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5 months Ago

The “great ideas” hype machine

Published by marco on

I recently read the following citation in the review Yuval Noah Harari: ‘Homo sapiens as we know them will disappear in a century or so’ by Andrew Anthony (The Guardian):

“It’s one of those books that can’t help but make you feel smarter for having read it. Barack Obama and Bill Gates have undergone that experience, as have many others in the Davos crowd and Silicon Valley. The irony, perhaps, is that one of the book’s warnings is that we are in danger of becoming an elite-dominated global society.”

Ugh. This in no way makes... [More]

6 months Ago

Identity Politics: Is Jordan Peterson saying anything interesting?

Published by marco on

I read the article ‘We’re teaching university students lies’ – An interview with Dr Jordan Peterson by Jason Tucker & Jason VandenBeukel (C2C Journal) with interest. I’d never heard of Jordan Peterson. He was eminently quotable and I highlighted the following passages.

“Part of the reason I got embroiled in this [gender identity] controversy was because of what I know about how things went wrong in the Soviet Union. Many of the doctrines that underlie the legislation that I’ve been objecting to share structural similarities with the Marxist... [More]

8 months Ago

Obey

Published by marco on

 Capitalism is the mechanism by which we attempt to regulate human interaction without ethics. We’ve discovered that, while many people will act ethically, there are those who do not. So we offer these monsters incentives. We try to build an economic system in which we harness their power for evil to our greater good.

But I think the leash is in the wrong hand. We’ve built a system that works fantastically for the small percentage of people who cannot be swayed by ethical arguments while at the... [More]

3 years Ago

How to think about thinking about theories of thought

Published by marco on

I read some interesting articles on theories of thought and information recently. The first was an interview/lecture, Formulating Science in Terms of Possible and Impossible Tasks by Chiara Marletto (Edge.org). I can’t claim to understand even half of what she’s talking about, but understanding is tantalizing enough that I feel it might be worth something. I’ve included some citations from the transcript below.

“Yet it also has a radically different perspective on things because, as I said, in the prevailing conception, the... [More]”

4 years Ago

Deliberate vs. Accidental Terrorism

Published by marco on

It matters quite a lot whether an act of destruction was deliberate.

If someone takes credit for such an act, the act is denounced and it is immediately decided that we must do everything in our power to prevent its repetition.

When the perpetrators are known but deny responsibility, we enter a gray zone, which can be whitewashed by clout and connections and money.

When planes are flown into towers, killing about 3000 people, it is terrorism. When chemicals are spilled on Bhopal, killing... [More]

5 years Ago

We need philophers, thinkers

Published by marco on

A public service announcement, brought you by “The Big Think” through Slavoj Žižek. Transcript follows the video.

We Need Thinking by Slavoj Žižek (YouTube)

“More than ever, we need philosophy today. Even the most speculative—in the sense of reflecting on itself—science … has to rely on a set of automatic presuppositions. Like a scientist simply presupposes in his or her very approach to nature, a set of implications of how the nature functions, what’s the causality in nature, and so on and so on. And philosophy teaches us... [More]”

Drawbacks to Objectivism as public policy

Published by marco on

The interview Obama and the Road Ahead by Douglas Brinkley (Rolling Stone) is generally softball and sycophantic. It wouldn’t be worth of noting except that it included a supposed broadside by Barack Obama against Ayn Rand. As usual, those with their panties in a bunch cited it completely out of context. This is a shame, because the broader point is more interesting. It’s not like Obama just slammed Ayn Rand for the hell of it; he actual gave a relatively good justification for why it’s a bad idea to put pure objectivists in... [More]

6 years Ago

In Žižek’s Defense

Published by marco on

Lord knows that Slavoj Žižek doesn’t need me to come to his rescue, but I wanted to point out that the article Slavoj Zizek and Harum Scarum by Hamid Dabashi (Al Jazeera) uses comments that Žižek made about “capitalism with Asian values” as a springboard from which to launch an entirely-too-long and under-researched article against Orientalism. A noble cause, no doubt, but using Žižek’s name as a modern-day proponent of Orientalism is laughable. The man is many things, but an Orientalist he is not. He often... [More]

7 years Ago

Why do you think you’re getting smarter?

Published by marco on

Reading this article, This Is Your Brain. Aging. by Sharon Begley (Newsweek), reminded me of some notes I scribbled down and never posted, because I was actually doing something else at the time.


Does our capacity for learning grow or shrink as we age? Some things seem easier to grasp with distance: E.g. in school certain concepts just needed to be learned, but didn’t necessarily fit in with anything else—with age, these concepts are more evidently revolutionary. The light is a wave/particle experiment, for example.... [More]

8 years Ago

Fry & Hitch vs. the Church

Published by marco on

The Catholic Church is a force for good in the world (Intelligence^2) is a debate between Archbishop Onaiyekan and Ann Widdecombe (for the Church) and Christoper Hitchens and Stephen Fry (against the Church). The link has all of the videos linked in from YouTube[1] and it’s worth watching all of it, especially since the audience gets to vote twice: once at the beginning and once at the end.[2]

It is interesting not because those supporting the Church actually argued well, but because those against the church did.... [More]

Identifying with the Inanimate

Published by marco on

 Spirit (XKCD) anthropomorphizes the Mars lander that was meant to operate for 90 days and has now been in operation instead for 2274 Mars days. Because it has been unable to unstick itself from an impediment since May of 2009, it has been deemed a “stationary research station”. The winds and sand will eventually corrode its solar panels to such a degree that it will lose contact with NASA.

The cartoon evokes a feeling of pity for the robot because we are convinced that it thinks and feels—like us.... [More]

Who to Believe?

Published by marco on

The first decade of the twenty-first century brought with it much that is bad—global economic crash, increased American colonialism, increasingly harsh climate—but what is less-often mentioned is a feature primarily of American society that was quite aggravated throughout: Anti-intellectualism. Anyone who knows anything or bothers to educate themselves before opening up their big yap is often dismissed as a tool, a nerd, a bore. Instead, ample room was made in many a debate for anyone who... [More]

A little bit of knowledge

Published by marco on

To egregiously paraphrase the Pascal quote cited later:

“A little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing.”

There is all too much substantiating evidence for this adage these days, especially if one spends too much time wallowing in what is often designated the MSM or [M]ain[S]tream [M]edia. Learning a little about something and beating everyone over the head with it is nothing new. Nor is the phenomenon wherein those who know the least make the most noise. It is very likely that things have... [More]

Objective Reality

Published by marco on

“Three baseball umpires are having lunch together. The first umpire says ‘Well, a lot of them are balls, and a lot of them are strikes, but I always calls ‘em as I sees ‘em.’

“The second umpire says ‘Hmph. I calls ‘em as they are.’

“The third umpire slowly looks at his two colleagues and declares ‘They ain’t nothin’ until I calls ‘em.’”

Discussions of Law in 20th Century America

Published by marco on

Modern discussions of law are very frequently mired down in discussions of minutiae of what is legal vs. what is moral. Very quickly, the discussion has narrowed further to niggling over minor quirks of American jurisprudence and precedence law.

For example, it seems that the relatively narrow topic of torture has become an almost impossibly unwieldy and unknowable problem for this modern age’s great thinkers, where hours and hours and hours are spent determining at what point a particular... [More]