PZ Meyers

@consciousness razor
“I don’t think we need to be in any hurry to hand over even more power to them… you should probably think a little harder about the costs you’re actually willing to pay for that.”

Free speech and the open exchange of ideas is built on a cultural substrate. You are right to be skeptical of the assumption that there is some immutable proviso that uniquely determines it. What is the extent to which free speech is useful and to whom? In what sense, for whom will it exist?
An apt analogy is the absolute Monarch of the Commonwealth. Any other agency claiming complete authority is illegitimate – since our acknowledged seat of complete political authority has ostentatiously little hold on our daily affiars. You could change circumstances so the law could persist while effective depotism reigned. This is uncannily like what has happened to tolerance.

I found these essays quite interesting in the context: https://web.archive.org/web/20170808013732/http://quillette.com/2017/08/07/google-memo-four-scientists-respond/

J.S. Mill: “…unmeasured vituperation employed on the side of the prevailing opinion, really does deter people from professing contrary opinions, and from listening to those who profess them.”

J. Haidt: “If you think that moral reasoning is something we do to figure out the truth, you’ll be constantly frustrated by how foolish, biased, and illogical people become when they disagree with you.”

The human brain is rather limited in respect to the activity in which it evolves. Illusory completeness and coherence is a persistent feature of our experience. Our culture, our brains, our culture is filled with reminders that we forget what we knew. In effect, the operations we call consciousness extent into artefacts of prior events. Incongruity among representations is never fully reconciled.

From Google’s VP of Diversity, Integrity & Governance [Pretty telling job title], “whether one can speak freely of these things at Google”
( like many of you, I found that it advanced incorrect assumptions about gender… it’s not a viewpoint that I or this company endorses, promotes or encourages)”

I presume gender something to do with reproduction. And as we have ever reason to expect some neutral evolution and conflict is absolutely ruthless. And efforts to be honest met with outsized readiness to sieze upon one sees as defects. (Does romance anything to do with gender anymore? I honestly don’t know what the eternal doctrine is this week.)

It’s a psychologically predictable outcome that hostilities suprise us with the force of their own inertia once locked into the encounter. It’s like hurtling along in a car, one happy little family, until the driver belatedly discovers their trajectory is not the only one on the road. By then there’s no avoiding the purges and counter-purges.

Look at it from my eyes. A stupid person. I try to be nice, give the consideration people deserve, but I can’t be expected to understand every nicety. The best intentions occasionally stumble into a deadly ambush. Little misunderstandings https://soundcloud.com/rahma-ben-abdesslem/nina-simone-dont-let-me-be and faux pas have many times been the beginning of a bit of a romance. (Apparently the Lyrics were written by Horace Ott while he and wife-to-be had a falling out.)

Various purported objectives act in tension, even stark intractable opposition within even the “agency” operating in a single man. (The malevolent metonym strikes again!) Which ones benign and which malignant?

“Extraordinary popular delusions and the madness of crowds”. As our minds acquire resourcefulness, why would we fail to expect the resourcefulness of delusion? Haven’t you observed it around you? If you have removed it, you’re fooled. You just caught it leading you around by the nose.

When I was younger (is that ageism, I’m sorry, I just can’t keep up) I had observed the propagation of confusion in groups of students, which confusion annealed into decision. The effective memory of the principles guiding the crowd’s agitation appeared we not only unconscious in acting independently of notice, but also as being very transiatory, unreliably anticipated and unreliably remembered. The principle that was agreed as the animating force of it’s authority varied, but the pattern stereotyped.

So I will not expect that everything I say is relatable in the same way among different people. And you know what, we make those allowances in the context in our daily life. Much of it is handled by convention, by shared habits or turns of phrase.

As people discuss the esoteric secret, all I have really gleaned is that it is a basic human right for others to behave “correctly”. I am damned whoever specifies that requirement. Our Hell includes other people, and it is such who’d bring hell to me..

Opinions we agree with, find insightful lend a measure of social cachet. We are also more readily to make allowances when tied otherwise by bonds of affection. This is a lovely little process that can be inverted diabolically. The rate of exchange between reputation and candor is a multiuse instrument. What to one might be unobjectable error, to another seem a mean spirited defence of wickedness and bigotry.

I find it easier easier to get along than to go along to get along – because there are more degrees of freedom. In the latter case, it is for the most part not a decision on epistemological merits.

Parameters of correctness is patterned on their explanatory adequacy, (I see you scholars citing learned papers, far above my head and) it’s hard to overlook transparently mean spirit of controversy. The rules have been changed too fast to predend it’s aherence to pre-set principle. It is social reflex, it has happened before and it will happen again.

The standard of evidence is rather labile, however rigorous the scholarship. (it’s purported source or validation). In these conditions, by objective oriented calculation overcome impediments by forgoing certain calculations. The smug outrage, the name calling, the predictable lines of contention formed precisely because they are predictable not because they accurately delineate what is at stake.

Citizens and subjects of google recoil in fabricated horror at the indecency of a person who complains of intolerance (Awesome, a day off). The extent hypocrisy is loathsome I attribute to it’s noble designs. Hypocrisy is a badge of nobility.

  • Nobility, that brings us to authority.

Authority can do many things for us. It offers many things. It can provide reference points, reminders, stores of information and guidance for our priorities. Reference authority may serve the part by over-stating it’s role. It becomes a force of agency, acting in the capacity of the stork given to frogs who wished for a king.

Bigotry and reliance on an authority or convention is necessary and useful. Fear’s usefulness as an indicator can be rendered ancillary for a time, but the authority of fear is indubitable.

The usefulness of being open to ideas is associated with proclivity to malignancy. Will google degenerate into a pitiless mire of sexism due to patriarchal misgendering? No, here the resistance is far worse than the disease.

James Damore’s critics are really widely attributing character traits which bear little resemblance to the man or his memo.

Apparently your opinions indicate who you’d rather see fired. That he was so frank helped make this more obvious. That’s a great merit of free speech, no matter who subsequently gets voted off the island.


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