less wrong

The Course of Their Lives – JSOnline
A fascinating series of articles on the experiences of medical students dissecting a body during their training, interspersed with the reflections of someone leaving her body to the medical school. Via Mefi.
(tags: body anatomy death medical-school dissection medicine)
What Can We Learn About Human Psychology from Christian Apologetics? – Less Wrong
Chris Hallquist tries to work out what’s going on with apologetics. It’s Less Wrong, so *do* read the comments.
(tags: religion christianity less-wrong psychology apologetics chris-hallquist)
DanceSport DJ Ice
This chap has made ballroom remixes of various popular tunes. Epic (or something).
(tags: music dancing remix ballroom)
Joe Pass & Ella Fitzgerald – Duets in Hannover 1975 – YouTube
Great stuff. Via Mefi. Ella’s on about half an hour in.
(tags: singing jazz duet joe-pass ella-fitzgerald video)
Solitude and Leadership – William Deresiewicz
William Deresiewicz on the necessity for those who would lead to find time alone to concentrate their thoughts.
(tags: army leadership solitude william-deresiewicz)

There was apparently another Draw Mohammed Day yesterday: Hermant at Friendly Atheist covers it (that link may obviously contain links to pictures of Mo).

My previous LJ entry on Muslims vs Student Atheist Societies provoked some discussion about whether criticism of Islam is necessarily motivated by racism, and whether white atheists ought to be involved in such criticism. During that, cartesiandaemon linked to Yvain’s utilitarian argument against Mo pics which appeared on Less Wrong. Yvain argued against Draw Mo Day on the basis of harm minimisation (Less Wrong orthodoxy is consequentalist so people there are likely to be responsive to such arguments).

Vladimir M won the Less Wrong thread with the response that “In a world where people make decisions according to this principle, one has the incentive to self-modify into a utility monster who feels enormous suffering at any actions of other people one dislikes for whatever reason”. He also made the observation (due to Thomas Schelling) that “in conflict situations, it is often a rational strategy to pre-commit to act irrationally (i.e. without regards to cost and benefit) unless the opponent yields. The idea in this case is that I’ll self-modify to care about X far more than I initially do, and thus pre-commit to lash out if anyone does it”. He adds “such behavior is usually not consciously manipulative and calculated. On the contrary — someone flipping out and creating drama for a seemingly trivial reason is likely to be under God-honest severe distress, feeling genuine pain of offense and injustice.”. Yvain then behaved excellently by formally withdrawing his argument.

Muslims may be harmed by seeing Mo pictures. However, Vladimir M’s point applies. So, what to do?

There are things called “trigger warnings” which are popular in some parts of the Internet. Medically, a trigger is something which can set off PTSD symptoms. These trigger warnings are usually appear on links to, and the beginning of, pages about rape or domestic violence, where victims may suffer from PTSD on reading the text.

[Latterly, the term has been broadened to encompass not just PTSD flashbacks, but that uncomfortable feeling you get when reading something which advances a view different from your own (for instance, the trigger warnings for misogyny and Islamophobia on this post mean “comments disagreeing with feminists/Muslims”), and has also become a way of signalling that one is down with the identity politics posse (this is well known enough for it to be parodied: see Is this Feminist?, for example). However, I think that few people would disagree with the idea that some Muslims’ distress at seeing such pictures is more towards the PTSD end of things than the “people disagree with me”/signalling end.]

It feels like a Schelling point in this conflict might be to agree that pictures of Mo should appear behind trigger warnings. These might be specific warnings; or a general warning that by continuing to read a site, one may encounter such pictures, or links to them. In the case of the atheist Facebook group, Jesus and Mo cartoons should not be used for public events (since the cartoons may then appear on the feeds of people who are not members of the group) but would be OK for events which are private to the group, assuming that the group is covered by a general warning. Obviously, all Draw Mo Day pictures should appear behind such warnings.

The Problem of Induction

Nice summary of Hume on induction.
(tags: philosophy hume induction knowledge epistemology science)

OK Go, The Muppets – Muppet Show Theme Song – YouTube

OK Go and the Muppets!
(tags: okgo muppets video music)

Mr. Deity and the Philosopher – YouTube

"Well, if I did order genocide, I'd have a pretty good reason, or at least, an apologist could make one up." Nice. The begging bit at the end is funny too.
(tags: euthypro-dilemma philosophy funny mr-deity religion)

A Sketch of an Anti-Realist Metaethics – Less Wrong

Nice explanation of the map/territory distinction, and seems to accord pretty closely with my own views on morality.
(tags: hume philosophy metaethics ethics morality less-wrong lesswrong)

Over on Less Wrong, an interesting post on ordinary skills that readers happent to lack has developed into an interesting sub-thread about guys asking women out at dancing. I’ve contributed a bit. As I’m male, though, I may be completely wrong, so if any dancing women want to comment, I’m sure it’d be appreciated.

PS: Read Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality. It’s great!