Jul 14, 2023Liked by Yassine Meskhout

Ehrlich means honest in German and this makes it even funnier.

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Yassine: "Some humans possess the unfortunate egotistical and dishonorable habit of refusing to admit error."

Amen to that. Reminds me of running across the tale of the fellow who championed lobotomies -- and until his dying day:

OS: "When physician Walter Freeman died in 1972, he still believed that lobotomies were the best treatment for mental illness. A pioneer in the method, he was a deeply confident and charismatic man who eagerly spread the technique in America, long after the rise of alternative treatments that were less destructive. Listen as journalist Megan McArdle and EconTalk's Russ Roberts discuss what McArdle calls the 'Oedipus Trap': mistakes that no one can live with, even if they were innocently made, and how admitting such mistakes to ourselves is nearly impossible. They also discuss the complexity of the credo, 'follow the science.' "


But thanks for an interesting tale there of how "we" have a tendency to believe the most untenable claptrap. And thanks for the link to your essay on Murphy and to Yudkowsky's sites therein -- enough in the latter to keep me going for several months, at least. But what's notable about Murphy, what both Ehrlich & Freeman apparently share, is their articles of faith, Murphy's that it's "unethical to pay for sex". And nothing that anyone can say is likely to disabuse her of that belief. Apropos of which, ran across a quote that was apparently originated by Jonathan Swift some three hundred years ago:

JS: "Reasoning will never make a Man correct an ill Opinion, which by Reasoning he never acquired."



Problem there is that virtually all of us have these "unexamined assumptions" that we take as gospel truth, and damned be those who try to disabuse us of those notions, who try to "reason" us out of them. Interesting elaboration on that theme -- or maybe more an illustration of it -- is afforded by a recent essay by Lorenzo Warby on the Substack of lawyer Helen Dale [HD]:

HD: "This article can be adumbrated thusly: Marxism isn’t a religion, despite sailing close to the definitional wind. Post-enlightenment progressivism ('Wokery'), however, is definitely a religion."


There may well be some significant similarities between "Wokery" and conventional religions, but the article, from a quick skim, seems to be playing the "four legs good, two legs bad" card. There seems to be a studious unwillingness to even consider how so many in the "Anti-Wokery" camp are just as narrow-minded and dogmatic, just as "religious", just as committed to various articles of faith.

Something of a case in point of that -- and one close to my heart, so to speak ... -- being the rather dogmatic insistence that "sex is immutable!!11!!" -- even among humans, that every one of us has to have a sex. And damned be anyone who gainsays it -- as Kathleen Stock once put it:

KS: "No. Because IMO 'female' is a cluster concept. Dictionaries aren't set up to accommodate cluster concepts. If you don't like that answer, here is a different view .... Neither view implies menopausal females aren't females, as you seem to think. That's mad."


Just the facts ma'am, just the facts.

Interesting, and quite relevant dichotomy between faith and reason, particularly these days when so many "pots", on both sides, are saying the "kettles" on the other side are blacker than the ace of spades. Moot exactly what the salient difference there is, but kinda think that Norbert Wiener -- one of the progenitors of cybernetics -- got to the heart of it with this passage from his "Human Use of Human Beings":

Wiener: "I have said that science is impossible without faith. By this I do not mean that the faith on which science depends is religious in nature or involves the acceptance of any of the dogmas of the ordinary religious creeds, yet without faith that nature is subject to law there can be no science. No amount of demonstration can ever prove that nature is subject to law." [pg. 193]


"faith" is sort of an essential element of even science. But it at least recognizes that its "articles of faith" are contingent, are provisional, are subject to review and continual testing. A world of difference from "Wokery", "Anti-Wokery", and much of conventional religion.

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I got into a little tiff with Meghan Murphy once about this stuff. She is so convinced she’s right that she won’t even entertain the idea that maybe things are a tad more complicated than she makes them out.

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