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Sam Harris: I can't believe Trump is president! 87% Posted Jun 2018

Sam Harris: I can't believe Trump is president!

Comment: 56 days ago

I checked my reference to "historical text". The only match I could find was me writing: "I bet you analyse historical texts, so there are no authors alive who can verify the accuracy of your analysis." In context it was a jibe at your sloppiness. You did not mention "historical text". I misremembered the context, so I apologise for that. 

"As I said, forget who you think I am or what you think I do." Why? That would be ignoring context. My response changes when I realise I'm talking to you. We all respond differently to different people. I wish you'd use a name.

"No, the context here is not important, in that it doesn't help your case." Context is ALWAYS important. Here it doesn't help YOUR case. The context is not "Harris is smarter than half the population". It's "Holy Cow....Sam is smarter than half the people on America. That's amazing." Why did you change the wording from something light-hearted to something more formal and matter of fact. Was it to help your case?

You said you love to learn. Then learn this: Don't change context to help your case. That's being dishonest. Context is the setting, or the stage on which something is happening. The wider context is the setting of that stage, and the wider context is within an even wider context ... and so on. In this case, we don't question the wider context because we both accept it. If BoreMe only posted peer-reviewed studies, then it would be reasonable for you to claim that I was thinking mathematically. But we both accept that BoreMe doesn't post peer-reviewed studies. So for you to claim that I was thinking mathematically, you had to twist GR's comment. Let's face it, "Holy Cow..." and maths are not usually found in the same sentence. "...half the people on America." lacks the relative precision of "half the population." 'Harris' instead of Sam makes it more formal. Ignoring "That's amazing" removes the hint of sarcasm. I just realised, you expertly twisted every part of GR's comment to change the tone of the context to support your point. That's bad practice.

I think twisting, ignoring or misunderstanding context is at the root of most disagreements. This is because context "dictates" the meaning of what's within. When you're dreaming, everything feels real because you are within the dream. The stage (dream) dictates your reality in the dream. When you wake up, you understand that the dream is actually within another stage, our everyday reality. So that dictates the meaning of everything within the dream.

For somebody who believes in god, their faith is their widest context. God dictates the meaning of everything in their lives. I see a wider context, that god /religion/faith is within the context of human biology (belief in the supernatural is/was a successful survival strategy), which is within evolution, which is within the laws of nature, which is within ... maybe AI will find out and explain to us in a form that we can understand. That is cat and stockmarket territory.

Elon Musk: Having kids is a social duty 63% Posted Jun 2018

Elon Musk: Having kids is a social duty

Comment: 63 days ago

"Do you think that everything you teach to a baby qualifies as 'indoctrination'? Do you indoctrinate a baby in how to hold their eating utensils perhaps?" No. Indoctrination is about manipulating what people believe. Holding a fork is not a belief.

Yes, there does seem to be a biological/evolutionary disposition in favour of the supernatural. Society has changed much faster than evolution can keep up with. Survival traits that worked in the Stone Age don't necessarily work in the 21st century. Unlike other animals, we can understand our predicament, and change it.

"Indoctrination can be dangerous and I feel it should be reduced as much as humanly possible." Yes of course, but we should be honest here - you can't not manipulate a child's belief system until the age of 5, or maybe 7 - "Give me a child until he is 7 and I will show you the man. Aristotle". Surely it's better to "indoctrinate" with humanist values rather than with religious or no values at all?

"What does surprise me though, is that rather than seeking to reduce indoctrination, you think it should actually be encouraged in certain situations." I never said indoctrination should be encouraged, I said it necessarily happens - babies brains are incapable of critical thinking, they are sponges. Indoctrinating a child with religious beliefs locks that child into that religion for the rest of his/her life. It doesn't always succeed, and success rates vary between religions, but that is the intention - hence "go forth and multiply". I maintain that this is the underlying reason why religions still exist today. Let people discover religion from their teens onward, and within a few generations we would rid ourselves of this Stone Age practice.

Sam Harris: I can't believe Trump is president! 87% Posted Jun 2018

Sam Harris: I can't believe Trump is president!

Comment: 63 days ago

You told me you analyse historical text for a living. I didn't make it up. I remember thinking it was fortunate that it was historical text you analysed, because the authors are dead and so could not challenge you.

You know how important context is. There's nothing I told you about context that you didn't already know. You're a smart guy, probably better informed than me on most of the topics we talk about. 

But I wish you were more honest. Just look your weasling around the question of context in this thread. First you said: "The context has nothing to do with it here". Obviously it has, and you know that because you go on to talk about context further on. The weasling has begun. You wrote: "The context is 'Harris is smarter than half the population'", which is just wrong. That is content, not context. And you know you're bullshitting because you don't even try to defend yourself. The weasling continues: "In a conversational thread, the context of any comment is dictated largely by the comment to which it replies, so although there is a wider context (including the video itself), you are responding to a written comment and thus the TEXT leads to the CONtext." Text leads to context? What does that mean? Why have you ignored the wider context? Are you now being selective within the context? Are you confused or just weasling? I was so clear about what context meant, now we're both confused. Thanks a lot buddy!

"Here the context suggests your use of 'average' was not "technically correct"' No. The context suggests that my use of 'average' was not technical. 

Let me spell it out. Get Real's comment was not technical. So it is reasonable to assume the 'average' in my reply was also not technical, aligning with the dictionary's definition of average as an adjective (mediocre) rather than as a noun (median). And there was no confusion - you wrote: "I understand what you say you meant, and if you had said "You don't have to be particularly smart..."

So it was not a misuse of the word 'average' - it was legitimate and I think, quite clever. "You only have to be above average..." is more positive and motivating than "You don't have to be particularly smart..." which is negative and demotivating. And there's the hint of pseudo maths that gives the phrase more weight than it deserves. Quite clever don't you think?

Elon Musk: Having kids is a social duty 63% Posted Jun 2018

Elon Musk: Having kids is a social duty

Comment: 69 days ago

Yes, let's have less indoctrination. But in reality, no indoctrination is impossible. Babies in their first few years are not capable of critical thinking, so they are necessarily indoctrinated.

Elon Musk: Having kids is a social duty 63% Posted Jun 2018

Elon Musk: Having kids is a social duty

Comment: 69 days ago

I'm saying all babies have to be indoctrinated with something. Baby minds can't remain blank for their first few years. I would prefer babies to be indoctrinated with humanist rather than religious beliefs. Humanism is a neutral default position. After all, one thing we all have in common is that we are human. And from humanism, it's an easy step to take up a religion of your choice if you so desire sometime in the future. 

If only people could be introduced to religions in their teens when they can actually understand the implications.

Elon Musk: Having kids is a social duty 63% Posted Jun 2018

Elon Musk: Having kids is a social duty

Comment: 69 days ago

"I think I sense a Walter-definition coming...." Not a definition, more an observation. Parents teach their children what they believe. Of course they do, it's how we've evolved. 

But this is problematic because some (all?) religions instill a "go forth and multiply" policy into their followers. So the birth rate is weighted in favour of these religions. 

I think this is the core reason why in the 21st century, with the level of understanding of reality based on science that we have, there are still 2.4 billion Christians, 1.8 billion Muslims ... etc. Religions don't grow by making sense, they grow by making babies.

Elon Musk: Having kids is a social duty 63% Posted Jun 2018

Elon Musk: Having kids is a social duty

Comment: 70 days ago

All babies are indoctrinated, at least until when they start thinking critically, which is usually around 5 years old.

You could prevent indoctrination by isolating a baby for its first few years. Would you prefer that?

Elon Musk: Having kids is a social duty 63% Posted Jun 2018

Elon Musk: Having kids is a social duty

Comment: 70 days ago

We need more babies indoctrinated with humanist values, and fewer babies indoctrinated with religious values.

Sam Harris: I can't believe Trump is president! 87% Posted Jun 2018

Sam Harris: I can't believe Trump is president!

Comment: 70 days ago

"Harris is smarter than half the population" is not the context. It is a bunch of words that without context mean very little. Is Harris a clever hamster who escaped his cage undetected? Probably not, but without the context you're just guessing.

The context is the setting that gives you the clues to figure out the meaning. In this case, the context is a reply to a comment by Get Real on a post about Sam Harris on an informal blog on the internet. GR begins his comment with "Holy Cow..." which is a clue to the register. Dropping Mr Harris' surname is also a relevant clue. When you take context into account, you'll see that my use of "average" is according to my laptop dictionary's fourth definition of "average" as an adjective: mediocre; not very good: a very average director making very average movies. Or "you don't have to be particularly smart (you can be mediocre) to be smarter than half (most) people."

"In this context "above average" means "not stupid"" - no, no it doesn't. That was what you meant, but that's not what the word means. This is the sort of problem you get into when you retrospectively redefine words to suit your point." You're mixing up context and content. Context is the setting, content is the words. Combine the two and you get the meaning. How am I retrospectively redefining words when you said  that "not stupid" was what I meant in the first place? The problem is that YOU are choosing to ignore the context to suit your point. Btw, it's not the first time you've done that, and it's unforgivable for someone who analyses historical text for a living.

Sam Harris: I can't believe Trump is president! 87% Posted Jun 2018

Sam Harris: I can't believe Trump is president!

Comment: 74 days ago

Context is ALWAYS important. Without context, you can't know the implication of the text. Perfect example is your very own phrase "insects make honeycomb". Without context, the implication could indeed be that insects, as a group, make honeycomb. But it could also be how it's the little annoying things that make life special. I gave this example before but you chose to totally ignore it.

In the case of "You only have to be above average to be smarter than half the people", to understand the context you have to read the comment it is responding to. I spelled it out for you. Light-hearted and with poetic licence. I even spelled out what I was implying - Americans are stupid. And you agreed. Actually I had more in mind that the masses are stupid, not specifically Americans. It's just the original comment was specific to Americans. So you understood the context yet chose to ignore it. You said "The context has nothing to do with it here; you just misused a term." No. The context has everything to do with it, that's why you are trying to claim it doesn't. Remember lesson 1, context is ALWAYS king.

"There is no context in which 'average' technically means more than half." Maths is not my strong point, but doesn't it depend on your definition of half? If by half you mean the halfway point, ie. 5 is the halfway point between 0 and 10, then the average can be higher than the halfway point. Take a data set - 0,6,10. The median is 6, which is higher than 5.

Sure you suggested some light-hearted alternatives. But I'm not you. Your words didn't come to my head. "You hardly need to be a brain surgeon to be smarter than half the population" is fine, but in my biased opinion, not as good. I prefer "You only have to be above average to be smarter than half the people" because the implication is different. "Average" in casualspeak means 'most' and it is usually used negatively. If I describe you as an average person, in my culture it means you are like most people and that's a negative thing. So in this context "above average" means "not stupid". I'm saying, you only have to be not stupid to be smarter than most people, which is different from - you hardly need (the knowledge) of a brain surgeon to be smarter than half the population. Your phrase implies education is involved, mine implies it's how you act. It also flows better IMHO.

Let's never stop learning together.

Sam Harris: I can't believe Trump is president! 87% Posted Jun 2018

Sam Harris: I can't believe Trump is president!

Comment: 76 days ago

Did you miss your first text analysis class - the one on how context is king? "You only have to be above average to be smarter than half the people" is technically correct, but more importantly, it is appropriate language for the context. 

As I already explained, it's a light-hearted response to a light-hearted comment. The implication is that Americans are stupid, or Sam Harris is not so smart - take your pick. The use of 'average' and 'half' is not mathematical. To describe someone as average, is usually a negative term. And 'half' doesn't mean 50%, it means most. I was quite proud of that comment, one of my better one-liners.

Compare that with "Insects make honeycomb". Without context, the implication is that all or most insects make honeycomb, which is plainly wrong. But what if it was the hook in a song that was about how little annoying things are what make life special.

Sam Harris: I can't believe Trump is president! 87% Posted Jun 2018

Sam Harris: I can't believe Trump is president!

Comment: 76 days ago

There is no problem with using 'above average' and 'half the people' in the same sentence as I did, because both phrases are used at similar levels of approximation.

Sam Harris: I can't believe Trump is president! 87% Posted Jun 2018

Sam Harris: I can't believe Trump is president!

Comment: 76 days ago

I did not use a basic mathematical term incorrectly. Median is a type of average.

Sam Harris: I can't believe Trump is president! 87% Posted Jun 2018

Sam Harris: I can't believe Trump is president!

Comment: 77 days ago

I wrote a light-hearted response to a light-hearted comment. Had I written "You only have to be above the median to be smarter than half the people", I think you'll agree something's not quite right. "...above average..." is a well-known and popular phrase in common use since time began. "...above the median..." requires a bit of thought, too much for the levity of my comment. Hence the poetic license. There's a time to be accurate, but this isn't it.

Sam Harris: I can't believe Trump is president! 87% Posted Jun 2018

Sam Harris: I can't believe Trump is president!

Comment: 77 days ago

My point was actually: you don't have to be very smart to be smarter than half of America - ie. Americans are stupid. It was a response to the comment before.

Mean, median, mode and midpoint are all averages. Feel free to choose whichever one you think I meant.

The urgent need to tackle climate change NOW! 92% Posted May 2018

The urgent need to tackle climate change NOW!

Comment: 77 days ago

Yes I agree, the smart money is to act whether climate change is a glitch or not. Even if it's a glitch, we actually gain economically (green industrial revolution), and in public health (cleaner air for breathing). What's not to like?

Also, we live on a finite planet, so we WILL run out of fossil fuels some time in the future. We will have to power our world from renewables at some point, so why not make a concerted effort now? It's a no-brainer.

And Elon Musk made a really good point - as fossil fuels become more scarce and expensive to source, the price will rise - and if renewables can't replace the fossil fuels cheaply, the global economy will crash or stagnated.

Sam Harris: I can't believe Trump is president! 87% Posted Jun 2018

Sam Harris: I can't believe Trump is president!

Comment: 78 days ago

Median is a different way of measuring the average. Anyway, I claim fair use under poetic licence.

Sam Harris: I can't believe Trump is president! 87% Posted Jun 2018

Sam Harris: I can't believe Trump is president!

Comment: 78 days ago

You only have to be above average to be smarter than half the people. 

Top 10 climate change myths 96% Posted Apr 2018

Top 10 climate change myths

Comment: 89 days ago

It's obvious you still don't understand my point about AGW hoaxes. Your plausible hoax is not plausible. 

I'll try a different approach. If AGW is a truly a hoax, then in reality human activity is NOT affecting the climate - something else is. But 97% of peer-reviewed climate research says AGW is true. So what is the truth behind that research? Is it fraudulent - are 97% of climate scientists in on the hoax manipulating their studies to falsely claim that AGW is true? That is obviously not a plausible scenario. 

So are 97% of climate scientists hoodwinked by a few scientists sponsored by the Chinese? If that's the case, then the data they all used to reach the conclusion that AGW is true, must have been manipulated in such a way that all research came to the same conclusion - that AGW is true. And no one noticed something odd was going on. That scenario is not plausible either.

Or maybe 97% of climate scientists are so incompetent that they have wrongly interpreted the data, coincidentally all coming to the same conclusion - that AGW is true. Again, not a plausible scenario.

Whatever the hoax, there has to be a plausible explanation as to how come 97% of peer reviewed climate research says AGW is true when it isn't. And there isn't one, not unless this is a simulation or a dream.

"Plausible = possibly true or believable". Plausible does not = believable. Anything is believable, not everything is plausible. I can believe the world is run by lizards, but that is not plausible - because a lizard's brain isn't smart enough to run the world.

Top 10 climate change myths 96% Posted Apr 2018

Top 10 climate change myths

Comment: 98 days ago

You wrote this about AGW hoaxes: "... It really isnt hard to see the possibilities even if we dont believe them." It  sounds like you haven't understood my point. The consensus among climate scientists is around 99%. So for AGW to be a hoax, it would require these scientists to be either hoodwinked, or in on the hoax. Neither scenario is plausible. I challenge you to conjure up a plausible hoax that does NOT require the vast majority of climate scientists to be either hoodwinked or hoaxers. Because if it does, it is not plausible.

My "babyish assumptions" about you came from what you wrote about yourself: "Na, I'm gonna be dead before it's a real issue. Until then I will do what everyone does, do what I can to earn money." Sorry, next time I'll just make up some shit.

Because I think McPherson's prediction is plausible, and I have given you reasons why, it doesn't mean I think it's likely. Would you feel better if McPherson said human extinction within 20 years? Then you could earn money for a few more years before panicking. Or maybe you think climate change could never result in human extinction? 15,000 scientists signed a letter warning humanity that we are on the brink of crossing the point of no return. How many scientists do you need before climate change is, in your words, "a real issue". 30,000? 50,000?

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