RE: virus: Strange attractors and meta-religions (was God and

Wright, James 7929 (
Thu, 03 Apr 97 15:48:00 EST

Tony Hindle wrote:
<snip backquote>
> I don't agree that all kinds of self-delusion allow others to
>take advantage of one. However I eliminate the possibility that you are
>an idiot from my recollections of your postings including this one.<
OK, I'll bite: what kinds of self-delusion cannot be twisted to take
advantage of you?
I'll retain the possibility of my being an idiot, pending your response
to the question! (VBG!)
<Snip backquote on moral virtue>
> I said more morally virtuous than me by a long way. This I
>believe to be so. Based on the fact that when I compare my own morality
>with mine age 18, I see I have grown in moral virtue. I extrapolated
>this growth to estimate what your morality might be.<
Relative comparisons of moral virtue are dubious to me; the only moral
virtue that can directly affect me is mine, the same with you. If a
junkie offers you dope, your moral virtue will determine if you accept. I
hope that everyone grows in many ways; I too have grown greatly (nowadays
mostly about the beltline!) since I was 18.
> I assumed you were 79 yrs old.
Actually I'm about half that.
>This I now realise (because I've thought about it) was a fucking stupid
mistake on >my part. ( I will explain if you want but I will wait to be
asked because the >explanation reveals that I am a stupid fucking idiot
and I will lose all my
>philosophical street-cred.)<
Your reasons are your own, but I doubt they would embarrass you here; we
all make assumptions all the time. Mine are probably as wrong as
>>I do not lie.<<
> This is the liar's paradox. In fact it brings to mind an
>interesting question. Why (and to what extent) do we believe one another

>on such lists as this? The answer I think is that we "bootstrap a
>credibility factor" for each cyberperson we encounter by reading their
>analysis and comments. I would be lying if I said that I now know you
>are not a liar. This can never be known with all certainty. I have never
>had any reason to doubt the sincerity of anything you have written until
>your answers to the questions. However my working hypothesis is still
>that you are telling the truth and are a very moral person. (I'll say it
>again, morally virtuous beyond my comprehension.) <
Your "credibility factor" seems reasonable to me. I would also suggest
that emotional factors (whether or not we can agree) enter in, along with
verifiability and style of language and lots of others.
Someone else (Reed?) argued in another thread the "argument from
incredulity" - if *I* cannot imagine or comprehend a proposition, it must
be false (I think that was his position). This limits truth to the
imagination of the listener, which may be subjectively true.
My statement "I do not lie" is based on the classical definition of
1) The speaker says A.
2) A is not true.
3) The speaker KNOWS A is not true.
4) The speaker INTENDS the listener to believe A is true.
ALL FOUR of these elements must be present to lie. The first two are
self-evident, ruling out silence/misquotation and factual speech. The
third allows for ignorance; the speaker could be honestly mistaken about
whether A is true or not. The last rules out sarcasm and similar figures
of speech.
>> I have been known to employ all sorts of verbal tricks
>>including sarcasm, hyperbole, metaphor, irrelevancy and humor
>>(storytelling), but try always to remember to indicate such with
>>emoticons (:-)) or abbreviations (VBG!).
> I dont know all these cos I am still fairly new on the internet.
>If you have a handy resume of them I think it might help me speak the
>same language as all you folks.<
All right, without my dictionary at hand I will give it a try, and those
who find any mistakes are welcome to point them out:
1) Sarcasm - "Isn't that a lovely flat tire on your car?"
2) Hyperbole - "My feet are so big I don't need snowshoes!"
3) Metaphor - "My God is a rock in a weary land, shelter in a time of
4) Irrelevancy - "A predisposition for long periods of quiet
contemplation followed by periods of sudden action explain why the
Russians led the field for so long in both chess and axe murders." - From
_The Great Ponce-Kmitch Match_ in an old Playboy magazine.
5) Storytelling - Any lengthy joke that isn't factually true.
6) Emoticons - Punctuation intended to evoke facial expressions, usually
viewed sideways. Smiley face is :)
7) Abbreviations - VBG! is Very Big Grin.

>> If you think I am lying, point
>>it out and see if I forgot to document it as a verbal trick, or make me

>>see where my position is mistaken.
> Ok. Remember my working hypothesis is still that you are telling
>the truth but the particular answer I find amazing is this:
<Snip 1st backquote>
> And you answered:
<Snip second backquote>
>I follow this but still believe it makes you virtuous beyond my
Comprehension is a personal thing; so are attitudes about delusion,
personally-inflicted or otherwise. I have had generally good luck dealing
with reality, and so far have little trouble with it, even when it does
not conform to my preferences.
>> I do not pretend
>>selfless altruism; although someday my practice may reach that
>>attainment, it is not now included.
>>Pride is unnecessary.<<
> Now you are reminding me a little of Data or more closely Kryten
>from red dwarf.<
There is some reason that although Man is apparently the only mammal
currently demonstrating reason, that few people associate reason with
humanity. Perhaps this is one of the memes (Man is a reasonable animal,
especially when he wishes to be) that CofV should propagate. Then again,
I've had adequate rest, food and other comforts, so reason is coming
easily to me (for the moment!)
Who is Kryten the red dwarf?
>> Many numbers of people have done as much or more
>>previously. Volunteers for experimental medical treatments risk death

>>anyway to improve the chances of others; Galileo risked execution to
>>express his understandings of the universe, and many others died; there

>>are numerous examples. If you have children, would you not risk death
>>preserve them from harm?
> Yes of course, but you are saying you would do much more.
No, actually less. My being deluded is really a small matter if the rest
of humanity would not be. Besides, some list members would probably
consider me deluded already, so it would actually be no change! (VBG!)
>>If you are capable of self-deceit,<<
> I dont know if I am but I want to be. If I do acquire this
>talent I will only use it for self-improvement and never for anything I
>consider immoral.<
It's not a talent I would desire; I have difficulty following how
deluding oneself would constitute self-improvement.
>> I fail to detect how deceiving yourself about the morality of a given
act is >>prevented. After the first use, any more use would seem to be a
given (having >>deceived yourself that the actual use of such a button,
even just once, was >>justified).
> I could only ever press the button if it was morally justified
>I don't think it is morally justified to deceive oneself about
This has gone extremely recursive, and implies that personal morality
would be exempt from the effects of the deception button. I think I
missed that caveat in the definition of the deception button (or pill).
<Snip rationalization backquote>
>>Making a rational analysis in this case is extremely difficult; you
>>appear to have ruled out from initial conditions the possibility of
>>disarming / incapacitating the the potential murderer instead of
>>them outright.
> Yes of course. Rational analysis in this focused thought
>experiment is easy, you can act so that one guy dies or two guys die.
If you cannot disarm or incapacitate the murderer, can you remove or
conceal the potential victims? Create a barrier between them? Divert or
distract the potential murderer with a great danger from another
One of the few things I actually liked from the Thomas Covenant novels
was the warrior code: (paraphrased here) "It is better to hold than hurt,
to hurt than cripple, to cripple than kill. The greatest warrior is he
who never needs to kill."
If you insist there is no alternative to someone dying, then PERHAPS one
death is better than two; no deaths is a better alternative yet.
>>By the way, both for internal discipline and future welfare I am paying

>>to send my two children to Karate lessons.
> When I first read this I thought "Fucking hell this guy is 79
yrs old and has >young children what a hero"<
Or no self-restraint! (VBG!)
<Snip spiralling self-deceit discussion>
>>It does to me. I see no real need for self-deceit; citing Yoda from The

>>Empire Strikes Back, "Do or do not. There is no TRY."<<
>I don't believe this, I don't believe I ever will. I want to though.<
It should be demonstrable logically; if you do succeed, it was because
you could succeed. If you did not succeed, some element of success was
missing (ability, motive, method, whatever). Whether or not you try
influences final success only by allowing a starting condition to be met;
belief is only rigorously necessary to begin, not to succeed, at least to
my understanding. What do you propose?
>> I am not generally disturbed by success or failure of a given effort;
either it >>succeeds or does not, and if not, then I am free to try
again, with different >>methods and the knowledge of what did not work
the first time.<<
> If I fail too often I give up.<
>Tony Hindle.
>recovering from rolling rotf laughing at my own stupidity
>(I do this often it is a cleansing experience)<
I shall take that as a recommendation, and try it myself!