- global warming (pdf)
- any plausible economic measures taken against global warming
I doubt such questions need an unambiguous answer. Is my upper neck part of my head? Is a tree part of planet Earth? Is Gibraltar part of Great Britain? Meh.
In a way, the hippies are right: you can see the universe as one big mind. But it’s made of billions of unconnected pieces. The world has a case of Massively Parallel Multiple Personality Disorder.
This is more than just a joke. If two minds each experiencing one thing are really the same as one mind experiencing two independent things, this could serve as a useful constraint on answers to various vexing conundrums in philosophical ethics and decision theory.
…argues this paper by Brendon Brewer.
Brian Wang has some interesting posts up about civil defense, i.e. making people and buildings more disaster-proof. For really big but not existential risks, refuges might help. But what I’m most interested in is how to preserve our “civilization” or “wisdom”. By that I don’t necessarily mean art or even science, but those ideas and institutions that would prevent a post-apocalyptic society from sliding into the sort of dystopia you see in fiction, and that would allow us to rebound gracefully to a good long-term outcome. A “Handbook for Apocalypse Survivors” would be nice, but what would you put in it?
Or, what to do if you’re Neo and you don’t know where you are.
(To those of you upset by “speculative” thinking, or by me talking about numbers in words: please stop reading here for the sake of your stomach.)
According to Feeling Rational, emotions and rationality are compatible — what matters is that you deal with evidence in the right way, not how you feel while doing so; and since you’re human, with certain goals/desires/values, it’s only proper to react emotionally to your beliefs about the world, whether they’re true or false.
This is true and important. But it shouldn’t cause us to discount what is also true and important: the affect heuristic is a great source of bias, emotional arousal seems to make people reason shallowly and unreliably more often than it makes them reason deeply and reliably, and when emotions flare up, it’s hard for disagreements to stay fun and informative.
I might go so far as to say that the golden rule of online discourse is, “if you’re not in a neutral or reflective mood, shut up”.
(PS: “Rationality” in these discussions means something like: “whatever mental habits tend to lead to true beliefs”. In some other contexts it means: “relying on calm verbal reasoning”. Beware confusion.)
An article on transhumanism appeared in a major Dutch newspaper last November. Here’s a readable machine-translated version. The author, Cees Dekker, is well-known as a legitimate scientist, but notorious as an Intelligent Design advocate. Having IDers disagree with you is like hitting the public relations jackpot. Unfortunately, Grooviness does not permit me to encourage the fallacy of reversed stupidity (or rather, reversed folly).
In Brave New World poverty and war are absent, and yet this world is a dystopia, because the most fundamental is missing: humanity, family, belief in God, courage, creativity, art, science – all that has disappeared.
The question is: do we want a Brave New World?
I will now have to go and ponder this fascinating line of argument.