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Open Thread, 04/01/2016

Transhuman Debate 2.0

Will be happening tomorrow.

HOW DOES CONSCIOUSNESS ARISE? (1:00 – 1:30)
Andre Gomez Emilsson says neural signaling by classical means doesn’t seem sufficient for to achieve ‘global binding’ – due to signal travel time
Randal A. Koene says the brain (at least during times of conscious awareness) appears to be operating in a more discretized manner, where signal travel time is much smaller than the discrete intervals and therefore must be perceived as unitary and instantaneous even without non-classical causes.
——
SECOND AMENDMENT: ‘RIGHT TO BEAR ARMS’ (1:40 – 2:25)
Question: Should there be stricter gun laws, to improve public safety? Or should laws stay the same, because USA ‘freedom’ includes access to firearms?
Anti-Guns: Scott Jackisch, Robert Wasley
Pro-Guns: Anatoly Karlin, Mike Johnson
——
EUGENICS (2:40 – 3:40)
Questions: Do you want a future with Mandatory Pre-Natal Diagnoses, Designer Babies, One-or-Two Child Policies, and Parent Licenses that limit how many children you have? Should there be a transhumanist goal that all humans should have 140 IQ, plus great health and beauty? With Eugenics helping to achieve that? Or do you think the government should NEVER meddle in Reproduction?
Pro-Eugenics: Andre Gomez Emilsson, Hank Pellissier, Anya Petrova
Anti-Eugenics: Marc McAllister, Ted Peters, Brian Hanley

Unlike with the debate on open borders, which we won, I am far more skeptical of our chances on arguing for gun freedoms. I like shooting all sorts of guns. The Colt is one of the defining symbols of America. Since I am a great fan of (genuine) multiculturalism, in the sense of maintaining the integrity of many different national cultures, I also favor continued gun freedoms.

gun-karlin

That said, I think it’s hard to argue against the basic premise that gun freedoms lower the “activation energy” for people to murder each other (at any given level of civilization/social civility/average psychopathy). To be sure, there are plenty of other factors contributing to – the percentage of Blacks, or the level of hard alcohol consumption – but these are all independent from the guns issue, and not easy to resolve either. For example, even the most homogenous, genteel, and civilized US states such as Vermont and New Hampshire have homicide rates of around 1.0-1.2/100,000, which despite the much talked about immigrant crisis in Europe still make them higher than those of Germany, Italy, Spain, France, the UK, and Poland (0.8-1.0/100,000). Switzerland is at a mere 0.3/100,000. Although the NRA likes to hold up Switzerland as a sort of European gun lovers’ paradise, the actual reality of acquiring a firearm is far more time- and-energy intensive than almost anywhere in the US. Now it is possible that the Swiss are even more genetically pacified than the milquetoast New Englanders, but the other, in my opinion more plausible scenario, is that this difference is mainly due to guns being easier to access in the US.

But I won’t regard you with yet another longwinded essay on the pros and cons of gun control. These are a dime a dozen.

Instead, I’ll just gather a few points that perhaps haven’t been annunciated a great deal in these debates because they come from unusual perspectives:

Utilitarianism: The extra deaths from higher gun freedoms have to be balanced by the fact that shooting and owning guns is a popular pastime for many people. Not to mention the cultural intangibles. For every foreigner who snickers at the (cartoonish) picture of rampage shooters running amok on American streets there is another foreigner who sees guns as an symbol of American asperity and badassery.

Class War: The people amongst whom gun culture is most engrained are Southern Whites, who are the only major demographic group against whom it is acceptable to be racist. This is a view shared not just by the liberals, but their own establishment conservative “allies,” as the NRO’s Kevin Williamson recently demonstrated. Gun restrictions would be yet another slap to their face.

Transhumanism: Admittedly, guns are not going to be of much use against a malevolent superintelligence. We are also beginning to see some really nifty aiming devices and even smart bullets coming onto the market. I suspect it will soon become possible for dedicated rampage shooters to increase their kill counts by an order of magnitude or so. That’s an argument for gun control if there ever was one!

On the other hand, technology has massively magnified the power of the government versus the citizenry – a development that has upended the balance of power between them that the Second Amendment was meant to encapsulate. The liberal argument that technological developments mean that guns are no longer relevant to resisting state tyranny can thus be inverted; given the reality of this historic, it is perhaps more important than ever to avoid subverting the Constitutional amendment that best symbolizes this balance.

Another futurist argument against gun control is that with the rise of 3D printing, it might soon be possible for anyone to produce passable firearms anyway. This has in fact already happened. This is not yet a big issue, but if/when this technology becomes widespread and anyone can produce a gun in their garage, all gun regulations might become moot anyway.

I’ll also be moderate the eugenics debate. My position on eugenics is longstanding:

***

Interesting Links & Quick Takes

World

(1) Does Google basically work for the White House? Internet giant revealed to have offered to help overthrow Assad as Obama reveals broadband for Cuba at Daily Mail.

All that rhetoric about the Apple/FBI fight is complete nonsense. An entertainment spectacle for the masses. At the levels that actually matter, the big Silicon Valley tech companies are completely in bed with USG. The event described above happened in 2012, when the Clinton Clique was in control of US foreign policy and, as Wikileaks has revealed, looking for ways to justify an attack on Syria.

Will have a separate post on this later.

(2) @Eskaton on global warming, NRx, and Unz.com commentators:

USA

(1) An Establishment Conservative’s Guide To The Alt-Right by Breitbart’s Allum Bokhari and Milo Yiannopoulos. Can’t be bothered to read it myself but people are generally saying its a fair portrayal so I assume its a good “Alt Right 101″ for normies.

That said, note that Razib Khan has explicitly said he is not Alt Right, and it is a huge stretch to describe The Unz Review as an Alt Right website considering that Unz prints people like Chomsky and Tanya Golash-Boza.

trump-nomination-chances(2) Try to sugarcoat it as you will, but the prediction markets indicate that Trump’s abortion comments really were a big blunder. Possibly his biggest to date.

Russia/Ukraine

(1) ITAR TASS interviews Stephen Hawking on the future of space exploration, automization, his dream of going into space himself, and Russia:

After the Soviet Union’s collapse, you have not been to Russia. Would you like to visit this country again, for example, with your daughter Mrs. Lucy Hawking who studied Russian at Oxford University?

I enjoyed my previous visits to Russia and I would like to visit again.

Russia will celebrate the 55th anniversary of the first manned flight into space – the Cosmonautics Day or International Day of Human Space Flight. What were your feelings at that moment on April 12, 1961?

I was impressed that Russia was ahead of America in the space race.

It has been over 25 years since the Russian Federation took up the torch as a space power. Could you assess its current potential for space exploration?

The Americans rely on Russia for travel to and from the International Space Station. I think the future is in such international cooperation.

ORDER IT NOW

You backed an ambitious project The Breakthrough Initiatives last year. It is funded by the Russian businessman Yuri Milner and aims to search for extraterrestrial life. Almost immediately some sceptics described it as “a waste of money”. What is the likelihood that the project will be successful?

Within 100 years, I have no doubt, there will be humans living on Mars. I am a supporter of the Breakthrough Initiatives, founded by Yuri Milner, to search for extraterrestrial life. By analyzing data from radio telescopes and laser transmissions, they hope to find signs of intelligence, that Earth is not the only source of life in the universe. Such a discovery would revolutionize our view of the Cosmos.

Self-styled leader of the Russian opposition Garry Kasparov had a reply that was every bit as boorish as we have come to expect from him.

(2) After more than a decade of searching for Putin’s $40 billion no $70 billion no $200 billion Reuters has finally discovered his daughter and three other women might have gotten free apartments from one of Putin’s businessman buddies. Quite the step down in status for a “pharaoh” who “doesn’t need a piece of paper attesting to his wealth”! After this revelation the regime will surely fall any day now.

(3) Operation Beluga: A US-UK Plot to Discredit Putin and Destabilize the Russian Federation by William Dunkerley.

Putin Derangement Syndrome. But maybe there is a method to the madness. According to former French intelligence officer Paul Barril, there is a largescale intelligence operation directed from Washington D.C. and London to undermine Russia and its leaders. Sounds farfetched? Sure. But then again, as we learn time and time again, conspiracies really do appear to be far more prevalent than we like to think (see the story on Google helping undermine Assad at the top). It is certainly noteworthy that the Western media hasn’t subjected any other foreign leader to a fraction of the bile it has hurled at Putin – not even at Assad. The only really comparable figure is Julian Assange, who was ironically another “traitor” to the Western cause (Putin was of course originally intended to be a loyal servant of Russia’s pro-Western oligarchs and its a safe bet the neocons saw his reclamation of Russia’s sovereignty as not only a betrayal but a personal humiliation). In light of Udo Ulfkotte’s revelations that that the CIA massages the stories that come out of the German MSM, and the power of governments to control media narratives across a whole swathe of European countries recently demonstrated by the Cologne Affair, these allegations are far more credible now than they might have been even a few years ago.

(4) There are huge exchanges of artillery in Donbass again, in a continuing development since mid-March 2016, with the Ukrainians firing heavy caliber shells of the sort banned under Minsk 2 and the NAF responding with counter-battery fire. The LDNR are very unhappy with the lack of Russian military support. The obvious reason for this is that two major Atlanticist events are coming up soon – the vote on the renewal of EU sanctions in late June (there is now a real chance that some Med country like Greece or Italy will veto them) and the NATO summit in Warsaw on July 8-9, when the details of future US military dispositions in Europe will be discussed. Presumably, Poroshenko wants to provoke Russia into doing something that would harden Western positions on those issues, regain their waning attention, and detract from his own plummeting domestic approval ratings (now lower than Yanukovych at his lowest). Putin is playing it safe and refusing to escalate. Tellingly, both the mainstream Russian and Western media have been silent on the uptick in violence. Unfortunately, for the longsuffering residents of Donbass it’s another story.

(5) Ukraine bans all Russian films made after 2013. I wonder if the svidomy realize this includes, say, Leviathan, perhaps the most prominent artistic “indictment” of Putinism made to date.

davidzon-basking-in-saaks-presence(6) Ukraine Today, Ukraine’s lame attempt at imitating RT, is shutting down broadcasting for lack of money. The next big thing on the Ukrainian English language news market is the Odessa Review, run by Vladislav Davidzon. You can see him basking beta-like in the glory of The Tie-Eater to the right.

Europe

(1) High ranking EU politician Frank Timmermans: “Diversity comes with challenges, but diversity is humanity’s destiny.

Science – Tech, Futurism

(1) Black-hole computing: Might nature’s bottomless pits actually be ultra-efficient quantum computers? That could explain why data never dies by Sabine Hossenfelder.

Culture – History, HBD

gachter-schulz-honesty-2016(1) Gachter, Simon & Schulz – 2016 – Intrinsic honesty and the prevalence of rule violations across societies, as covered by James Thompson.

Get people (well, psychology students) from different countries to throw dice. The higher the numbers they report, the higher their monetary reward. Calculate the amount of “cheating” from basic probability.

The pattern is, as usual, quite familiar.

(2) German special forces uber-kommando Otto Skorzeny went onto serve Mossad after the war at Haaretz.

He had two funerals, one in a chapel in Spain’s capital and the other to bury his cremated remains in the Skorzeny family plot in Vienna. Both services were attended by dozens of German military veterans and wives, who did not hesitate to give the one-armed Nazi salute and sing some of Hitler’s favorite songs. Fourteen of Skorzeny’s medals, many featuring a boldly black swastika, were prominently paraded in the funeral processions.

There was one man at the service in Madrid who was known to no one in the crowd, but out of habit he still made sure to hide his face as much as he could. That was Joe Raanan, who by then had become a successful businessman in Israel. The Mossad did not send Raanan to Skorzeny’s funeral; he decided to attend on his own, and at his own expense. This was a personal tribute from one Austrian-born warrior to another, and from an old spy handler to the best, but most loathsome, agent he ever ran.

What a beautiful reconciliation.

(3) Fred Reed is on a roll:

(4) Where microaggressions really come from: A sociological account by Jonathan Haidt. In his interpretation, SJWs might be truly novel from a sociological perspective: Where once cultures moved from a culture of honor, where insults are personally avenged, to a culture of dignity, in which the high class thing to do was to rise above verbal insults and seek redress for physical wrongs from the courts, we might now be moving to a culture of victimization, in which victimhood itself – real and perceived – becomes the highest virtue, while aggressors are to be punished both by society, by social media, and even by the courts. Although I consider myself as a mostly “dignity” person, I really do understand and even empathize with the “honor” position. But I can genuinely say that “victim” culture is truly alien to me. I cannot even begin to imagine how it must work at the psychological level, even if I sort of understand it in the abstract. To me it feels like a sci-fi civilization created by another species.

Life & Misc

(1) April Fool’s? It’s hard to beat Heartiste’s from 2013.

 
• Category: Miscellaneous • Tags: Open Thread 
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  1. Was Moldbug really begotten by Yudkowsky’s cult, as claimed in that Breitbart piece? Surely not.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Pseudonymic Handle
    AFAIK Moldbug and Yudkowsky have nothing in common.
    , @Anatoly Karlin
    Yes I doubt it. As Yarvin says he created his ideology in a garage.

    I wouldn't call Less Wrong or its offshoots a cult though.
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  2. “to see some really nifty aiming devices ”

    Link in that section leads to a post from Sailer’s about the Vagina monologues…unless there’s some joke I’m not getting, this seems like a mistake.

    [AK: Weird. I had never even read this post let alone linked to it. Here is the link I meant to put there: http://tracking-point.com/. Thanks for pointing it out. Normally this would be a mistake, and perhaps it was through some strange mechanism, but the website is acting a bit glitchy of late…]

    Read More
  3. @5371
    Was Moldbug really begotten by Yudkowsky's cult, as claimed in that Breitbart piece? Surely not.

    AFAIK Moldbug and Yudkowsky have nothing in common.

    Read More
  4. @5371
    Was Moldbug really begotten by Yudkowsky's cult, as claimed in that Breitbart piece? Surely not.

    Yes I doubt it. As Yarvin says he created his ideology in a garage.

    I wouldn’t call Less Wrong or its offshoots a cult though.

    Read More
    • Replies: @JohnnyWalker123
    I was curious if you're planning to publish a paper on grip strength and ethnicity.
  5. @Anatoly Karlin
    Yes I doubt it. As Yarvin says he created his ideology in a garage.

    I wouldn't call Less Wrong or its offshoots a cult though.

    I was curious if you’re planning to publish a paper on grip strength and ethnicity.

    Read More
  6. No one yet has invented a 3D printer that makes live bullets – the hard part is the propellant. Guns are just delivery devices.

    Read More
  7. “there is now a real chance that some Med country like Greece or Italy will threaten to veto them in a lame effort to extract economic concessions from Germany, fold under the slightest pressure, vote as instructed and get nothing” – Fixed it for you

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  8. The “culture of victimhood” thing – isn’t it the same thing that the various English pro-Russia sites that sprang up after the Ukraine crisis try to do? (and perhaps that your own Russophile site did earlier) You know, try to get the mainstream Russian point of view across to the Westerners, change public opinion. “Building a case for action by documenting, exaggerating, or even falsifying offenses” (with much more documenting than falsifying, hopefully)

    Isn’t that, in fact, the very root motivation of a lot of blogging? Or of any advocacy movement? So I don’t think it’s quite as alien as you make it out to be.

    Heck, even Putin’s strategy of trying to deal with problems through international law (that huge project to document Ukrainian war crimes, for example) seems to be a form of it.

    Also, Trump seems to represent the “honor culture” (constantly guarding his reputation, retaliating furiously against anyone who attacks him), while Trump’s many enemies are mostly from the “victimhood culture”. It’s an epic battle…

    I would also add that “public shaming” is a major element of this. At the more extreme ends, the “victimhood” bit isn’t even necessary (witness the various public shamings of random socially awkward internet people on the likes of 4chan, as documented on Encyclopedia Dramatica). The main thing becomes the pleasure in being part of a mob that punishes individuals who are unpopular (among the mob), and the joy at seeing those individuals being unable to resist the onslaught.

    It might seem strange to you that they’re proud of being victims, but in fact that’s not it – they’re proud of being part of a mob that can destroy someone that they don’t like, using any techniques no matter how shameless. This is why the Islamist rebels in Libya and Syria had no qualms about playing helpless for the Western cameras to gather sympathy and get weapons sent to them. This, for them, IS being “self-sufficient”, in that they self-sufficiently manipulated others to give them what they want.

    The university students are no different. Do you think those Emory students really “felt in pain” at seeing “Trump” written in chalk on their campus? http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-03-24/emory-students-scared-pain-after-safe-space-violated-word-trump-written-chalk
    I doubt it. I think they felt proud of themselves for being able to control the system to do what they wanted, though. The “system” is to them as his sword was to a samurai.

    In traditional “honor” cultures too, the aggrieved party first MAKES him/herself a victim (by making a big deal about something, rather than just ignoring it) before exacting revenge. The main difference is HOW the revenge is carried out, individually or in a mob (although… don’t honor cultures also sometimes gather the entire clan to exact vengeance?).

    Read More
    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin

    Isn’t that, in fact, the very root motivation of a lot of blogging? Or of any advocacy movement? So I don’t think it’s quite as alien as you make it out to be.
     
    I would say these things are much closer to dignity culture. In fact, my approach at Da Russophile was if anything quite lawyerly - correcting myths, misconceptions, and exaggerations about Russia, and identifying double standards as regards its coverage (what critics might call "whataboutism").

    This is far closer to dignity culture than victimization culture.

    I mean was I making out Russia to be morally superior on the basis of Western lies and hostility against it? I don't think any partial observer could argue that I was, since I have always been open about Russia's failings (where they are real). My only "activism" was to not accept the Western media's self-appointed role as judge, jury and executioner without reservation.

    This is why the Islamist rebels in Libya and Syria had no qualms about playing helpless for the Western cameras to gather sympathy and get weapons sent to them. This, for them, IS being “self-sufficient”, in that they self-sufficiently manipulated others to give them what they want.
     
    This works on WEIRDos who understand victimization culture but as regards most other observers I would say like water off a duck's back. I will also venture that the Islamists who do it as people who come from and/or have adopted a honor culture actually feel soiled in doing this, but do it anyway because they have realized that it is an effective method of "hacking" into Westerners. In contrast, SJWs wear victimization like a badge of honor. While those Emory students will have no qualms about telling each other to check their privilege, I have difficulty imagining jihadists doing the same amongst themselves.
  9. @Eee
    The "culture of victimhood" thing - isn't it the same thing that the various English pro-Russia sites that sprang up after the Ukraine crisis try to do? (and perhaps that your own Russophile site did earlier) You know, try to get the mainstream Russian point of view across to the Westerners, change public opinion. "Building a case for action by documenting, exaggerating, or even falsifying offenses" (with much more documenting than falsifying, hopefully)

    Isn't that, in fact, the very root motivation of a lot of blogging? Or of any advocacy movement? So I don't think it's quite as alien as you make it out to be.

    Heck, even Putin's strategy of trying to deal with problems through international law (that huge project to document Ukrainian war crimes, for example) seems to be a form of it.

    Also, Trump seems to represent the "honor culture" (constantly guarding his reputation, retaliating furiously against anyone who attacks him), while Trump's many enemies are mostly from the "victimhood culture". It's an epic battle...

    I would also add that "public shaming" is a major element of this. At the more extreme ends, the "victimhood" bit isn't even necessary (witness the various public shamings of random socially awkward internet people on the likes of 4chan, as documented on Encyclopedia Dramatica). The main thing becomes the pleasure in being part of a mob that punishes individuals who are unpopular (among the mob), and the joy at seeing those individuals being unable to resist the onslaught.

    It might seem strange to you that they're proud of being victims, but in fact that's not it - they're proud of being part of a mob that can destroy someone that they don't like, using any techniques no matter how shameless. This is why the Islamist rebels in Libya and Syria had no qualms about playing helpless for the Western cameras to gather sympathy and get weapons sent to them. This, for them, IS being "self-sufficient", in that they self-sufficiently manipulated others to give them what they want.

    The university students are no different. Do you think those Emory students really "felt in pain" at seeing "Trump" written in chalk on their campus? http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-03-24/emory-students-scared-pain-after-safe-space-violated-word-trump-written-chalk
    I doubt it. I think they felt proud of themselves for being able to control the system to do what they wanted, though. The "system" is to them as his sword was to a samurai.

    In traditional "honor" cultures too, the aggrieved party first MAKES him/herself a victim (by making a big deal about something, rather than just ignoring it) before exacting revenge. The main difference is HOW the revenge is carried out, individually or in a mob (although... don't honor cultures also sometimes gather the entire clan to exact vengeance?).

    Isn’t that, in fact, the very root motivation of a lot of blogging? Or of any advocacy movement? So I don’t think it’s quite as alien as you make it out to be.

    I would say these things are much closer to dignity culture. In fact, my approach at Da Russophile was if anything quite lawyerly – correcting myths, misconceptions, and exaggerations about Russia, and identifying double standards as regards its coverage (what critics might call “whataboutism”).

    This is far closer to dignity culture than victimization culture.

    I mean was I making out Russia to be morally superior on the basis of Western lies and hostility against it? I don’t think any partial observer could argue that I was, since I have always been open about Russia’s failings (where they are real). My only “activism” was to not accept the Western media’s self-appointed role as judge, jury and executioner without reservation.

    This is why the Islamist rebels in Libya and Syria had no qualms about playing helpless for the Western cameras to gather sympathy and get weapons sent to them. This, for them, IS being “self-sufficient”, in that they self-sufficiently manipulated others to give them what they want.

    This works on WEIRDos who understand victimization culture but as regards most other observers I would say like water off a duck’s back. I will also venture that the Islamists who do it as people who come from and/or have adopted a honor culture actually feel soiled in doing this, but do it anyway because they have realized that it is an effective method of “hacking” into Westerners. In contrast, SJWs wear victimization like a badge of honor. While those Emory students will have no qualms about telling each other to check their privilege, I have difficulty imagining jihadists doing the same amongst themselves.

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  10. Mishiko propably chose that Davidzon guy because he’s the only one that can make him look alpha male! LOL! Davidzon is a nasty piece of work, BTW. You should see his Twitter account, neocon agitprop 101.

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  11. “I don’t think any partial observer could argue that I was, since I have always been open about Russia’s failings (where they are real).”

    You’re right… that was why I qualified my statement with “perhaps”. But some of the other sites (Russia Insider, Fortruss, Saker) have, to varying degrees, more often mixed “cataloguing double standards” with “telling stories of victims/garnering sympathy/making the opponent look bad”.

    I would add that perhaps one of the major reasons that Russia has such a terrible track record at improving its public perception among the Western public is an inability or unwillingness to understand and cater to the “victimhood culture”.

    Within Russian-language news, there used to be daily stories about the horrors of the Ukrainian war, with on-the-ground interviews of the bombed villagers – heart-wrenching stuff. But there didn’t seem to be a concerted effort to mount an international sympathy campaign using all of that material.

    -

    “While those Emory students will have no qualms about telling each other to check their privilege, I have difficulty imagining jihadists doing the same amongst themselves.”

    Oh, I don’t know, don’t the jihadis hold themselves to the fire when it concerns religion? There’s just a different “holy text” for the two groups… though it’s probably true for both of them that they’re more likely to hold OUTSIDERS to the fire than their own friends.

    I guess the jihadis feel just as dirty posing as victims for Western cameras as Emory students would if they had to denounce religious sacrilege for Middle Eastern viewers in order to win support.

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  12. A bit off-topic, I spotted these videos from a user nicknamed “Black Pigeon Speaks” on Youtube about microagressions and migrants.

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