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Ia, Ia, Google Fthagn

Filmmaker and comic author Hugh Hancock here again. Charlie's currently locked in his study babbling over blasphemous and forbidden tomes, so whilst we attempt to hack down the door with a fireaxe and get counselling for the guy to whom Charlie explained the hidden meaning of the Nightmare Stacks, I'm here with another blog post.

In the last couple of posts I've made over here (thanks as always to OGH for the invitation), I've been making the point that, both through necessity and lucky happenstance, the themes and subtext of H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos are still very workable in today's world. In fact, they've acquired a lot of resonance thanks to advances in technology and society that run parallel to some of their main themes.

But still, the Cthulhu Mythos' core squamous, eldrich concepts were created just under 100 years ago at this point. They reflect the concerns of the time, like the sudden discovery that the universe is mind-blowingly, terrifyingly huge. And they have a few... issues for modern readers, like inbuilt xenophobia.

So what would a Cthulhu Mythos-equivalent for today, expressing the zeitgeist terrors of 2015 society, look like?

Bloody terrifying, that's what.

Because unlike Lovecraft, in 2015 we have plenty of experience with actual gigantic, inhuman entities with agendas entirely orthogonal to the safety and security of the human race.

One note before I begin: this article is explicitly about horrifying things in our current society. As such, I'll be hitting a lot of hotbuttons during the course of this piece.

They Know What You Did Last Summer

Lovecraft's concern was vast, alien entities who have no knowledge of, or concern for, the human race.

Our modern-day concerns are about vast, alien entities who have total, invasive, privacy-destroying knowledge of the minutae of the human race - and still have no concern for us.

In the era of Google, Facebook, datamining and intelligent advertising, the problem isn't that the alien entities who scare the crap out of us have no interest in us - rather the reverse. The aliens in our midst know when we've become accidentally pregnant. They know what pornography we watch. They can predict our behaviour and influence us to do what they want.

(Some of this is more or less accurate - as someone who buys quite a lot of advertising, I know that there are a lot of myths floating around about what targeted advertising can or can't do. But zeitgeist fears aren't about what's true, they're about what we fear is true.)

And this element actually fits rather well into the Cthulhu Mythos' core concepts - and it makes them a whole lot scarier.

Let's take Cthulhu, the Big Squid himself, for example. Beyond his Godzilla-like frame and immunity to nukes, he's written as having another power that gets less screentime. He talks in peoples' dreams.

In the 2015 version of the Mythos, Cthulhu still doesn't care whether you live or die, but he knows you better than you know yourself. And when he wakes, you get visions. Visions driven by the parts of yourself that you hide from the world, and the parts of people around you that they'd rather you didn't know.

In Old Cthulhu, our heroes manage to get into the West Wing, convince the President that Cthulhu is real, launch the nukes and watch helplessly as Cthulhu emerges from the blast, not only intact but now radioactive.

But what happens in that scenario with 2015 Cthulhu is far worse. Our heroes manage to get into the West Wing, ignoring the disquieting whispering they've been hearing for weeks now. They get to the President, which is rather easier than expected, because the many, many layers of security seem to be inactive. They explain the situation, and miraculously persuade the Joint Chiefs and the President to initiate a launch.

As the President keys in the launch codes, she starts on a soliloquy about her ex-husband and his treatment of her kids, for no obvious reason. The whispering's getting stronger. One of the Joint Chiefs is staring at pictures on his phone, and then he suddenly starts smashing it against the wall. He keeps on smashing until he's broken all the fingers in his hand and is working his way up his wrist. One of the Secret Servicemen draws his gun and shoots the other two in the gut before pulling a knife and starting to gut his colleagues, screaming incoherently about his experiences at boot camp. And then, just as the President hits the button, our heroes notice that the launch coordinates aren't centred on the mid-Pacific any more: they're centred on Sao Paulo, where the President's ex-partner lives.

And then Cthulhu makes landfall and eats everyone.

Cthulhu's All Around Us, And So The Feeling Goes

And that brings us onto another point about the terrifying entities that actually concern us right now.

Most of Lovecraft's entities are a long way away. And most of them only inhabit a single space.

Azathoth is a mass of bubbling chaos, but he's a mass of bubbling chaos a long way away. Cthulhu sleeps in Rl'yeh. Hastur inhabits dread Carcosa, or Hali, or at the very least somewhere that you can't get directions to on Google Maps. Even the Shoggoth are mostly chilling - pun intended - in Antarctica.

By contrast, the terrifying entities of 2015 aren't geographically located. They're everywhere. They can see everything, or at least everything that someone uploads a picture of, which is functionally close to everything and getting closer all the time. They can hear you, thanks to the handy microphone you carry around. And they're within arm's reach almost 100% of the day.

In 20s Cthulhu Mythos, summoning things was at least hard. You needed to reach across the vastnesses of time and space to cause Azathoth to incarnate and fuck your shit up. In the 2015 version, all of these things are right here.

Cthulhu listens whilst you dream. The bubbling chaos of Azathoth is here, only seperated from the physical world by the continuous luck of quantum fluctuation. When you go down on your boyfriend, the Black Goat Of The Woods With A Thousand Young hangs above you, just out of sight in the shadows, and her fluids drip down onto the sheets.

To update the Mythos to 2015, we need to assume that the problem isn't summoning them: the problem is avoiding them turning up anyway. And if you do want to summon them, it's terrifyingly easy. A few words, the right geometric shape, and terrible, sanity-destroying power is at your fingertips.

Oh, and talking of summoning things...

We are Young, We Are Free, We Are Heading For Insanity

One of the criticisms I've heard people level at Lovecraft is that in a world where we're not all terrified of people of different skintones the whole 'hidden cult' idea just doesn't work.

And my response to that tends to be 'Wait, what? Are you even living in the same century as me?'.

Because in 2015 we don't need to imagine the existence of hidden, malefic cults dedicated to sanity-destroying ends. There's hundreds of the bastards right there on any social media service you care to name.

The wonderous thing about the internet, of course, is that it allows people who share common interests to come together, form communities and not feel like they're alone in their weird little interest.

And the horrifying thing about the internet is... exactly the same.

There's a community for everything out there. Really into poodles? There's a community for you. Really into Zen philosophy? There's a community for you. Really into fucking 5-year-olds? There's a community for you, too, and it's easily accessible.

Forget about the DarkWeb - Tor and Onion routers and Freenode, oh my - which would usually come up at this point. Studies of pedophile websites show that most of the child pornography out there is accessible via the regular old internet, if you've been given the link. Likewise violent white power movements. Likewise howto manuals on suicide or anorexia.

It doesn't take much imagination to extend that to the Lovecraftian mythos. In 2015 Cthulhu Mythos, the insane cults looking to summon their dark masters aren't hidden in deepest Africa, and they aren't easily distinguishable by skin tone.

There are five of them in your home town. You went to college with the guy responsible for sourcing their sacrifice victims. They've got a forum and a Facebook group, they're uploading YouTube videos, they're considering starting a subreddit and they've got a Meetup in Birmingham next Thursday. Can you make it? It'd be awesome - we need two more to join the bloodletting. We thought about Kickstarting it but it was against their terms of service.

(Or perhaps it wasn't. The hidden, underground Kickstarter, where talented young occultists compete for funding from jaded oligarchs...)

All of this gains added tone - that being the tone of a creature screaming - from another iron-clad rule of the internet. No matter how bad the thing you're looking at on the internet is, there's something worse behind it. For the most abusive and manipulative PUA website, there's the PUAHate guys, who encourage self-mutilation for 'attraction points'. Think the pro-anorexia communities are bad? Try the pro-rape communities, dedicated to teaching best practise and encouraging their members. And so on.

So the question doesn't just become, 'where do the insane cultists trying to summon Nyarlathotep hang out?' (The answer to that is, obviously, www.reddit.com/r/theroyalpant/ , because /r/nyarlathotep went inactive in 2012 and /r/crawlingchaos was registered by some heavy metal band.) It also becomes 'and what's the thing lurking in their shadow that's even worse?'

Greed Is Good. Absolute Greed Is Absolutely Great

Which brings me to my final sanity-blasting point.

(I'm not even going into our improved understanding of mental health here, by the way. There is literally no school of psychotherapy that does not provide enough nightmare fuel to power a Mars mission.)

The prevailing flavour of fear in 2015 is one of inequality, uncertainty and insecurity. Jobs are vanishing. Capital is accumulating at the top. The few are becoming overwhelmingly wealthy, whilst the rest get to participate in the 'Sharing Economy' of zero-hour jobs, constant hustle and zero safety net.

(Or at least, that's the perception. I'm actually quite optimistic about where society's heading in a lot of ways, but this is a fear-and-horror article, and that's certainly the fear and horror that a lot of people are feeling right now.)

Say what you like about the Cthulhu Mythos, but at least it was an equal opportunities apocalypse. The stars come right, the Old Ones rise from their slumber, and everyone either goes psychopathically insane or dies horribly, possibly one right after the other.

That seems far too nice for our 2015 Cthulhu.

So here's a thought.

What if there's some room at the top? Or at least, at the same level as other long-term viable races in the Cthulhu Mythos universe - the Great Race, the Mi-Go and so on?

What if a few humans will survive? May even, in fact, get to wield some of the science that the Old Ones possess; live forever, and have incredible wealth and power by human standards?

Of course, you'll have to work for it; work harder than everyone else. Out-compete 100,000 other people for a chance at the prize. Impress your bosses - erm, sorry, I mean 'The Old Ones'. Hustle. Do what others won't.

If you read startup advice, which I do, you'll see the phrase 'do what others won't' crop up quite frequently in regards to the path to success. And that's... rather alarming, if you think about it in a certain light.

So yes. This is the new, caring Cthulhu Mythos. You're not doomed. Your children aren't doomed.

All you have to do is prove that you're more worthy than the people you're competing against for the favour of the Elder Gods.

All you have to do is...

Do what other people won't.

Doesn't that sound better?

If you'd like to read more of my squamous, eldrich rantings, you can find me at @hughhancock on Twitter or follow my current projects via email. If you'd like a mild unicorn chaser after all that, have a watch of a slightly lighter take on startup culture meeting Cthulhu Mythos horrors, available through your friendly local horrific privacy-destroying inhuman entity right now. Or if you want to see what I do with some of these horrifying ideas, follow Carcosa, my comic, as it develops.

531 Comments

1:

Out-compete 100,000 other people for a chance at the prize

That's better odds than at least one existing religion offers. Ia, Ia, Cthulhi Fthagn

2:

Do what other people won't.

It suffuses the corporate culture starting with the much more euphemistic "think outside the box", and a terrifying amount of time is spent within large corporations trying to find new ways to make "resources" behave like total sociopaths for their personal gain, while being perfect team players for the good of Cthulu ... sorry, not Cthulu, for the good of the corporation. (**Paging the thought police to cubicle 14B. Thought police to cubicle 14B.**)

Welcome to the schizophrenia of the modern corporate drone! (We're not waiting for Cthulu to drive us mad, he's already here and waiting in the boardroom!)

P.S.: Love the article!

3:

Both of these approaches are sometimes a good idea, of course. I'm a very big fan of thinking outside the box - indeed, my entire career is more or less built on that principle.

A lot of corporations, particularly smaller ones, could do with thinking a bit more outside their boxen than they do.

But yes, when thinking outside "the box", it's rather important to specify which box, exactly, one is thinking outside.

P.S. Thanks!

4:

When I think about Lovecraft's mythos and applying it to the world we live in, I don't think about Call of Cthulhu -- the whole nautical adventure thing is very much a nineteenth century construction -- or The Mountains of Madness, or any of the others that people jump on. I think of Dreams in the Witch House, which lacks most of the elements that doom other stories to be firmly attached to the 20th century.

Dreams in the Witch House does not depend upon geography: our main character is either given visions of or physically transported to another planet in the night, and it's made clear that which one it is doesn't really matter; while the particular manifestation was tied to the location where he happened to be sleeping, it's clear that people in a similar circumstance in other places could be expected to be transported in a similar way by other manifestations -- after all, a single human cultist who had been dead for 200 years is not unique in a world where communities of cultists exist all over the globe. (It's also notable that the racial component is minimized; I don't recall our witch having a notably inhuman ancestry, or even being mixed-race.)

Dreams in the Witch House does not depend upon monsters, or upon history, particularly. Our protagonist didn't find a copy of the dread necronomicon, or any other grimoire; instead, our protagonist is studying quantum mechanics at a university and independently develops the same ideas that led to the events of 200 years prior.

Dreams in the Witch House represents an other that is strange without being distant; one that takes a very specific interest in a particular individual, and manipulates his mind without broadcasting visions to a whole community of cultists.

I also consider it to be the only Lovecraft story that is legitimately frightening.

5:

What do you think of Haunter In The Dark? That's my usual go-to for a genuinely disturbing Lovecraft tale.

6:

It's slightly to the side of the main Cthulu mythos, though uses some of the same locations and explores similar themes, but I'd raise you "The Color Out Of Space" as another genuinely unsettling story.

7:

Noticing that the stories that are cropping up as scary/disturbing/unsettling are those with a much more self-contained setting and effect. (Of course, it's hardly news that the most effective horror stories include a sense of confinement/no escape, often through use of restrictive location.)

8:

I think you're missing a couple of things in the modernist translation.

First, fear is not the normative state in the original stories. (It might have been Lovecraft's, but the protagonists don't have fearful lives until the Thing, whatever that is, happens to them.) In 2015, fear is everywhere; fear is an industry. (Advertising; it wants to make you more insecure so you spend more trying to make things better.) People are already soaked in fear. This does rather fit with having Great Old Ones wandering freely about the landscape, and just as in the original versions (or real life), fear makes you stupid.

Second, in Lovecraft stories, no matter that the summoning ritual is available on tattered scraps of bloodstained parchment; it's going to work. You may not understand quite what you're doing in the sense of knowing what's going to happen, but the ritual will work consistently and reliably.

Our current vast indifferent entities aren't like that; you can do all the ritual propitiation you want, but consistency of results and having the results match your expectations aren't either of them likely. So where old Cthulhu follows (humanly incomprehensible) known rules, your modern vastness doesn't.

9:

Of course, it's hardly news that the most effective horror stories include a sense of confinement/no escape, often through use of restrictive location
The trading floor?
Working in a multinational bank?

10:

There's also my usual riff on how corporations are AIs/hive organisms.

Never mind human beings competing to do what other people won't; what happens when our very own hive minds start trying to out-compete with everyone else for survival in the radiant Cthulhu-drenched future?

11:

Also, I am now stuck trying to get the vision of Microsoft Clippy (or this decade's iteration, Cortana) out of my mind: "Hi! I see you are trying to summon Cthulhu. Want help with that?"

12:

One of the things I have observed is that organisations often have mindsets/dogmas/etc. that are not held by any of the people within the organisation. I find it weird and creepy, but I am not an ant.

13:

Absolutely. Any environment that kind be used to tap into that primal fear of capture (and some of those more modern examples are brilliant, since you're not just trapped, you are trapped in an environment with an ever tighter death spiral of competition against the younger, the faster, and the hungrier).

14:

Don't worry, you're just noticing the corporate equivalent of Ophiocordyceps unilateralis at work.

It won't hurt for long ...

Random thought: what if that kind of life-cycle was what the Fungi from Yuggoth are really all about? Those abducted brains in bottles leave plenty of space in the skull for a fruiting body ...

15:

"OK, Google, Summon Cthulhu!"

16:

Well, I don't think any of your cells have your personality either. So, it's not too surprising.

A corporation is less like an ant colony and more like a mammal. Middle management is the spinal cord. You aren't an ant; you're a lymphocyte.

Any semblance of a consistent perspective or set of values is the result of an ongoing war between rival bands of propagandists. This appears to be as true inside your skull as it is outside of it -- after all, if you sever your corpus collosum, the two sides of your brain will have different and potentially very opposed personalities, preferences, and perspectives.

Cthulhu as a representation of Lovecraft's work is generally not a very satisfying one. Cthulhu is boring. Other than providing visions and having the power of regeneration, he's not particularly different from Godzilla. Lovecraft provides models for corporate hives if you look closely: shoggoths are not merely protean but amorphous enough that you could reasonably expect they would be able to divide and then merge back together, like slime mold colonies; the rat king in Rats in the Walls, along with the rat king in other media, is pretty clearly a group entity. I think Cthulhu gets referenced so much pretty much *because* he's the least interesting of the creatures Lovecraft describes; imagining Cthulhu requires no particular stretches of the imagination or mental gymnastics, in a way that runs counter to even the most mundane of Lovecraft's other inventions.

17:

I think Cthulhu, and his associated elements, tend to get rather short shrift.

Sure, he's not the most interesting of Lovecraft's creations in and of himself, and "Call Of Cthulhu" is definitely not his best story. But there's more meat there than most people consider.

The interesting elements of CoC-the-story aren't the kaiju-like monster, they're:

  • The great city of Rl'yeh and descriptions therof.
  • The ritual killings and writings. CoC may be one of the main precursors of the entire creepy-killer genre, from Seven to True Detective (no matter how much the latter references Chambers).
  • The hidden cult. It's notable that Robert E Howard called CoC a "masterpiece", and read it around the time his professional career started.
  • The entire concept of the stars coming right again, and the Old Ones rising to take back the earth. AFAIK that concept, which is so core to the Mythos, first surfaced (so to speak) in CoC.

Wikipedia's page on the inspirations for CoC makes interesting reading. Lovecraft pieced together some very disparate ideas into a framework which has been hugely influential on subsequent literature.

18:

I've always enjoyed the use of the concept of "non-Euclidean geometry" -- it feels to me like one of the most evocative descriptions anywhere in HPL's work.

19:

There may or may not be a Technological Singularity but there may very well be a Psychological Singularity, with multiple factors driven by technology. Some already mentioned, but I suspect nootropic drugs (and others) will feature big in it. All it takes is something that could boost intelligence 20% across the spectrum, or a drug that made the most tedious work interesting (super focus) and we have a completely different world.

20:

Bo-ring!

How about a drug that reduces intelligence 20% across the spectrum, but has other effects that nobody wants to do without? "The one-eyed man is king" and all that.

21:

There seems to be a vast number of things that reduce intelligence. When they get reduced we have the Flynn Effect.
Are there any big ones that once removed would give Flynn spectacular a kick upwards?
As for drugs, I assume you are making a soma reference? I don't see that as likely, although a happiness/apathy drug might well appear in future. The trick is no side effects and no tolerance.

22:

Or a drug that allows perfect access to memory? Seems like a good idea, but the unintended consequences ... (I know that there's a novel out there about this, forget the name/author).

23:

An observation, would we even recognize an external evil? Some of us are so good at it Cthulhu or Satan might even be a relief.

24:

I don't actually believe in intelligence as a general feature.

I'd be much more interested in a drug that made people just a little bit politer, more tolerant, more likely to co-operate; something that dials back the territoriality and aggression and dials up the fellow-feeling. Hobbitization, in other words. It might not matter if it made people less intelligent in some geek senses of the word.

Those are all things with clear chemical precursors in our brains; sticking something in the brain to scavenge testosterone might well do the job. Or adjust the testosterone receptor sensitivity, which cosmetic companies are already researching furiously; avoid unwanted hair, avoid male-pattern baldness, both get a lot of research and it comes down to follicle sensitivity to testosterone. And we're very, very close to in-situ adult somatic cell genetic modification, there's no reason this has to be a drug as such.

So it's really easy to imagine an accidental wave of social progress, rolling around the world on top of novel cosmetic products. Or because the inhaler version of the HIV-descended installation virus hijacks influenza; there's a plague, certainly there's a plague, but it makes you nicer and better looking.

There's just no end of fun to have with this stuff.

25:

Removing lead from the human environment might be worth 10 points of IQ.

26:

I don't actually believe in intelligence as a general feature.

Yeah: it's one of Dirk's [more annoying, IMO] cognitive tics -- he seems to believe in General Intelligence.

Hmm. You could also mess with oxytocin receptor affinity, perhaps?

Lead removal: yes, that's happening. I wonder what else there is in our environment that we haven't noticed we do better without? Asbestos is obvious: mesothelioma is a killer. Lead is less obvious, but also there: ditto the nasty cocktail of crap in smoking tobacco (I'll give pure nicotine delivered via vapourizer a conditional and partial pass). But what pervasive outcome-damaging contaminants are we blind to? (Other than antibiotics-in-animal-feed, which is becoming pretty bloody clear to those with eyes to see, and excess atmospheric CO2 of course.)

27:

The latter brings to mind David Brin's short story "The Giving Plague" (a disease spread by blood transfusion whose effect is to make infectees more altruistic - increasing their likelihood of donating blood), and for the former... ever been around people on MDMA? No good as a long-term version, but a salutory short-term example of what's possible.

28:

Well, there are certain people whom are hiding right out in plain sight, who (I think) out not to be trusted with anything other than the inside of a cell.
Example: This man
Short-term politics, didn't like elections, got himself on the banks/corporate gravy-train (Goldman Sachs, no less) & is now one of the unelected, unaccountable thugs who are our masters.
EUW.
[ Nothing libellous there, that hasn't been said elsewhere, btw ]

29:

a terrifying amount of time is spent within large corporations trying to find new ways to make "resources" behave like total sociopaths for their personal gain, while being perfect team players for the good of ... the corporation

That would be the old "evil minion" conundrum. Smart, unscrupulous, loyal: pick two.

Venkat Rao (www.ribbonfarm.com) suggests that in most corporations, the smart/unscrupulous types at the top (sociopaths, in his term) keep a layer of unscrupulous/loyal types between themselves and the workforce (the clueless) to provide useful patsies.

30:

Hrm: I was at the talk in York circa 1986 when David was in the UK (it was to the local SF group) when a certain fan of my acquaintance fed him the core concept for the giving plague (we only spot parasites when we go looking for them, what about the contagious non-pathogens). A year or so later, oh look! Short story in Interzone!

31:

Not exactly "in our environment", but refined sugar would spring immediately to mind. There's a growing body of evidence that says that it's somewhere between "not terribly good for us" and "pretty much toxic".

And then you get into slightly more abstruse things, like the claims against gluten, carbs, et cetera.

32:

You know the old saw about mediocrity versus genius... :-)

33:

Drugs! I forgot drugs!

To be fair, they kinda come as a sub-category of "any school of psychoanalysis has enough horror potential to keep Blumhouse Productions in business for decades.".

But SSRIs, nootropics, and other self-altering drugs - not to mention good old LSD - are definitely things that should be stirred into a 2015 Cthulhu. Alteration of self, classic Cthulhu-style madness, breakdown between reality and What's Beyond...

That's one area that "True Detective" really got right in its first season - drugs as a mechanism for horror.

34:

There's some fairly persuasive evidence from neural imaging and lesion studies that the human brain's performance is limited by a bottleneck in communication between the parietal and frontal regions. The "bus speed" between those regions seems to be the biggest factor in determining a person's intelligence (admitting that "intelligence" is hard to define).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parieto-frontal_integration_theory

35:

There's some evidence (sorry, search-foo failing, can't find the original article), that caffeine already is that "drug that made the [most] tedious work interesting".

36:

The abuse of antibiotics in industrial farming has some subtle consequences; gut flora are nigh-certainly affected by lingering amounts of antibiotics, the altered bacterial contents of food, and the mix of micro-nutrients provided which is going to have been altered in both amounts and availability by what happened to the food animal's gut flora due to its lifelong antibiotic dose. There's lots of evidence for gut flora having a big influence on health and mood. And there might not be any wild-type left, anywhere, in any human population. (Not that there's only one; the wild-type populations, like the existing populations, were and are highly regional and diet dependent.)

The estrogen-analog chemicals that have soaked into everything due to plastics manufacturing would be my "bad as lead" candidate. Something else to be careful not to replicate as the fossil carbon industrial inputs get shut off and we have to switch mechanisms anyway.
(Because they screw up developmental pathways for pretty much everything alive, that's why.)

I think oxytocin receptor affinity adjustment turns into "brain chemical supply" pretty quickly, because brains adjust; turning up the use of one signal chemical has to turn up the supply, and the supply of everything else that gets turned up at the same time in response. It's complicated, but I'd expect the level of supercomputer support nuclear detonation research gets could crack it. So we could in principle coerce brain function into a stable cheerful state. Only we know with some confidence that optimistic people make terrible, terrible decisions, so having this become ubiquitous would have nasty consequences for society as a whole, even as individual people become reliably happy.

37:

Palm oil, beef... there's a possible case for pretty much anything produced at extreme intensity in monoculture. If it's not the product itself, it's the environmental damage, or the consequences of things we have to do to pervert the Natural Order Of Things - parasitism, etc. (see: preventing unprofitable infections resulting in the antibiotics overuse mentioned by OGH).

38:

Antibiotics in animal foodstock are there because animals fed antibiotics put on weight faster: effect observed since the late 1940s. But it's not only driving the evolution of antibiotic resistance -- it may also be a factor in the obesity pandemic. I suspect there may be other not-yet-noticed effects, too: gut ecosystem impact on immune system modulation, mood, and so on ...

39:

Oh, Ghu... you're reminding me that Lovecraft was doing this in the mid-thirties. And Charlie's worried about Nightmare Green.... I now know when Dread Cthuhu and the other Old Ones arise: 03:14:07 UTC on 19 January 2038.

(For those whose computer experience is drastically limited to badly-designed and engineered pieces of crap coming out of Dread Redmond's halls, that's the rollover of the epoch for all version of Unix (that includes Linux) (assuming that the move to 64 bit systems, or, who knows, 128 bit systems) hasn't solved it....)

Of course, I don't have a problem with Cthulhu: I have a deal: I don't eat calimari, and giant kraken don't eat me.

mark

40:

Welp, I didn't need to sleep tonight, anyway.

But seriously, this is extremely unsettling. And inspires some writing.

41:

"A corporation is less like an ant colony and more like a mammal."

Not the one I work for. Its behaviour is often less coordinated than that of a jellyfish.

42:

"Removing lead from the human environment might be worth 10 points of IQ."

In places like the UK, mostly already done. It was the breathable form that caused most of the damage. It is probably the reason for the crime levels dropping, despite the increasing proportion of people in an underclass (which normally increases crime levels).

43:

So what are the Great Fears of our age?

The all-knowing inhuman monsters of the corporate web are frightening: but are we generally frightened of them?

We should be, and we will be, maybe, sometime when the other shoe drops and we are forced to see what all that information is being used *for*.

Meanwhile, precarity. We think we're all middle-class, even when we're not. We think we are secure in work. Or at least, that we'll always get work, eventually.

I mean, there's no hunger. Not for *us*.

Homelessness is about other people, and they're not like us at all. It's a socially-secure society, right?

For Us, anyway. We try not to think about Them, the other sort, and mostly we succeed.

I think that kind of denied fear, creeping up on you as your cognitive dissonance gets ever wider, is the fertile soil of the Great Fears.

Disease is the other one: Our Gracious Host has mentioned antibiotic resistance - but who do you know, who's died of it? That'll change, and our dissonance will be widened by counter-propaganda from denialists with undisclosed sources of funding.

The other source of Great Fear of disease is an economic underclass in overcrowded slums without access to Health services. Contagious diseases still exist: we beat them into submission with better housing and adequate diet for all - social *Security* again - and the dissonance amplifier for that is dehumanisation and demonisation of the teeming hordes of unhygienic and irresponsible breeders in the festering slums...

...Who still breathe our air, and clean our gated condos, and prepare our food in factories we never see.

I'll leave that there: other Great Fears could be raised for discussion, and surely will be.

But my point is that the Great Fears don't enanate from things that we should be frightened of, and aren't; they exist in the things we *are* frightened about, and try not to think about, and deny in our safe and reassuring daily lives.

44:

If you think that Microsoft systems aren't comparably affected by the Unix epoch rollover, you are in for a shock!

45:

This is great, by the way, it's giving me REALLY disturbing ideas for Laundry Files books 8-10.

46:

Thank you! It's nice to know I've succeeded in my aims :)

47:

I'm very much looking forward to them!

The writing it was very useful for me, too - obviously I'd considered some of these concepts, but it's really helped clarify them. Lots more nightmare fuel for Carcosa and the film series.

48:

Hunger. Yes. That's a very good point - whilst I've touched on this a bit in point #4 there's much more that could be done with it.

"The Rats In the Walls", ghouls - there's lots of reference to hunger already in Lovecraft's work, and one could simply amplify it. Indeed, I'm having an idea as I write this for a story about poverty-trapped, benefit-deprived people who resort to eating corpses as a means of survival, and subsequently things go... badly.

Hmm. Filing under Short Film #5. I've been wanting to do something a little more political.

49:

I'd recommend the book Resume' with Monsters by William Browning Spencer to anyone interested in these themes. Basically, it's Lovecraft in cubicles, or the Laundry minus spies.

50:

Faster weight growth in unsuitable conditions -- pure grain diets with the animals packed closely together -- but not so much in free-range conditions. (If you ever get offered grass-fed buffalo, try it.)

The vital and poorly understood nature of our gut ecosystems is getting on the radar; it's easy to alter a gut ecosystem. ("fecal transplant" is a thing; it's very low tech.) As global warming (or CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN) starts to hammer food security into the mists of nostalgia, I'd expect someone is going to do their level best to improve human digestive efficiency by designing Gut Ecosystem 2.0 and selling it in little capsules of clean white dry encysted bacteria.

While I'm sure 2.0 is going to have macro-scale issues ("no one farts at 40 psi" "no one farts at 40 psi and lives", etc.), it's 2.1 and subsequent that get really interesting as the upgraded gut ecosystem starts saying things to the brain. Possibly things it's never heard before; possibly things it hasn't heard since mammoth fat was a standard condiment. Possibly things that should never be said at all.

You want your mutterer in darkness, well, there's one right there.

Especially once it starts evolving.

(Do I like grimdark settings? Apparently, yes.)

51:

ndeed, I'm having an idea as I write this for a story about poverty-trapped, benefit-deprived people who resort to eating corpses as a means of survival

Where do they get the money to feed the gas meter to run the stove to cook them? Seriously: neat idea, needs more plausibility.

52:

Hmm. You could also mess with oxytocin receptor affinity, perhaps?

IIRC there's evidence that oxytocin increases altruism within your in-group, but increases prejudice against your out-group.

I think this is one of the original papers:
http://dtserv2.compsy.uni-jena.de/__C12579DF0051D127.nsf/0/73428FD7259421E5C12579E40058060B/$FILE/DeDreu_2011_OxytocinPromotesHumanEthnocentrism.pdf

Results show that oxytocin creates intergroup bias because oxytocin motivates in-group favoritism and, to a lesser extent, out-group derogation. These findings call into question the view of oxytocin as an indiscriminate “love drug” or “cuddle chemical” and suggest that oxytocin has a role in the emergence of intergroup conflict and violence.

Also interesting:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22991128

The NYT pop-sci version:
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/11/science/11hormone.html?_r=0


53:

Thirst, too.

Look at how well bottled tap water -- which is what nigh-all of bottled water is -- sells. People are totally afraid of contaminated water.

54:

Actually, you won't find a community for at least one of my main interests. Seriously. The lesser reason is my sort of person is rare and a dying breed, but the greater one is that we do not do communities. I am into spending extended periods out of human contact, entirely on my own, and preferably away from human construction (let alone inhabitation or activity!)

But a more salient point is that I think your idea contains rather too many undigested options to be discussed coherently. I agree that we seem to be heading down some such path, though the precise variant isn't clear yet. Without thinking hard, I can think of at least the following aspects (all of which you mentioned), and it might be simpler to consider them separately.

Totalitarian, monetarist corporate rule. Several authors have tackled that, with several variations, usually either being rather optimistic or ending in total catastrophe. Let's leave that on the grounds that it's been done too often.

Corporations as organisms in an ecology. That one I like, and I think that there is a lot of mileage in it. We now know enough about ecology to describe such a world in more than simplistic terms. It's complex enough to be beyond me.

Effectively hostile 'gods' but with the possibility of transcendence for exceptional people. I can't remember seeing anything on that, though there are plenty of stories involving more-or-less neutral to benevolent 'gods'.

55:

We could do without particulate emissions from diesels and small engines (mopeds, leaf blowers, etc). Not exactly stuff of the Old Ones, unless you take the same approach as Crawley of Good Omens.

56:

Faster weight growth in unsuitable conditions -- pure grain diets with the animals packed closely together

My local supermarket is splashing "corn-fed" stickers on its beef, the same way it splashes "antibiotic-free" on it's poultry. Apparently a great many customers think feeding cows corn makes better meat…

57:

On that subject -- we've already seen that there are some more complex relationships possible between the squamous, eldritch, and rugose, on the one hand, and human brains, on the other.

And CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN seems to be something very much like having the ecosystem enriched in nutrients; interactions get more complex, more types of creatures show up.

So presumably there's something out there that doesn't want to eat human brains, it wants to co-opt them for some computational (rather than carnivorous) purpose. If it's highly evolved, it presumably takes (its notion of) good care of the newly acquired nodes. (Sheepdogs? Pollinators? New hires? Amway in arbitrary dimensions?)

And then you'd have well-meaning people with their brain chemistry being maintained by a Thing From Beyond with literally incomprehensible goals, and a requirement for somebody at the Laundry to write proposed policy about them for Monday at 08h00 AM.

58:

Note to peanut gallery: Graydon writes and self-publishes a truly excellent weird fantasy series: in-depth review of book 1 by James Nicoll here. Brad DeLong also rates it: here's a short extract. (Not available on Kindle because Amazon T&C's don't give the author the warm fuzzies; links to epub sources available via the James Nicoll review.)

59:

No need for them to be cooked... Raw meat's sometimes disgusting, but nutritious.

(Although I agree, it needs work. Version 0.1 of the elevator pitch :) )

60:

Why cook them? Raw meat is edible. I can't think of a plausible scenario that doesn't involve complete catastrophe, a dichotomy of civilisation, or a situation where cannibalism becomes mainstream; all previously used.

The variant I 'like' is the ecology of corporations one, because the corporations could evolve behaviours and objectives that would make no sense in human terms. Your searches in parasitology would help, but there are also fungi, where the same species can be either mycorrhizal or parasitic on the same host, depending on circumstances, and can spread by spores, mycelium or rhizomorphs.

61:

I kinda want a voice search doohickey with the attention phrase "okay hastur" now.

62:

This article makes me think that I should be viewing the TV series, "Person of Interest", as modern horror. :-)

63:

Heh! In all seriousness, it has modern horror elements in places, certainly - particularly in the latest series.

64:

If Lovecraft's evil cults are defined by skin color, how come so many of them are in-bred New Englanders?

65:

I will admit that I was more particularly thinking of this past season & Samaritan. :-)

66:

I wonder what else there is in our environment that we haven't noticed we do better without? Asbestos is obvious: mesothelioma is a killer. Lead is less obvious, but also there: ditto the nasty cocktail of crap in smoking tobacco (I'll give pure nicotine delivered via vapourizer a conditional and partial pass). But what pervasive outcome-damaging contaminants are we blind to?

Heightened stroke risk from phenylpropanolamine (drug now withdrawn in most countries, though it was widely available in the 1990s).
Heightened dementia risk from benzodiazepine use.
Heightened dementia risk from first-generation anticholinergic use (e.g. diphenhydramine).
Heightened heart attack and stroke risk from, apparently, every NSAID but aspirin.

The last two are particularly worrisome because the drugs are widely sold over the counter and can be used at higher-than-recommended dosages without acute consequences to warn the user.

The gradual discovery of these problems is worrisome because it suggests health effects that are too significant to ignore but too subtle/gradual to be discovered in any preclinical trial of reasonable duration and size.

It makes me wonder what other widely used drugs will turn out to have serious adverse consequences from long term use, but we'll only find out after significant damage is done.

I would like to know what killed my father. It was the third heart attack that did him in, but why did he have his first at age 50? He was physically fit and not overweight. He was a long distance runner. He generally followed the dietary and drug recommendations the doctors gave him. He didn't eat red meat for the last 18 years of his life. Still, dead at 68. His own father had one heart attack, fatal, at age 78. And his father's father also died of heart attack. I don't rate my chances of long life very highly, even though I'm trying to do the things that "should" protect me. Still, it's better than a long family history of cancer.

67:

Why cook them? Raw meat is edible.

Greatly reduced risk of pathogens, for a start. Proper cooking won't stop everything (prions, most inorganic toxins) but it will nail parasites and bacteria, as well as some organic toxins. Especially important with short-radius nutrient cycles.

Sorry, no internet reference for this — many conversations with my father, who was a toxicologist and an epidemiologist*.


*And a veterinary surgeon. Started with cats and cows, ended up working on people.

68:

The actual cost of bad policy will be paid for a long time, over generations. Consider the below. Now forecast how many generations until human intelligence is halved. Humans are physically fragile. Once we lose our intellectual advantage, say 'bye, bye' to the species.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/07/150720115142.htm

Excerpt:

"The study in JAMA Pediatrics, by a team of researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, found that low-income children had irregular brain development and lower standardized test scores, with as much as an estimated 20 percent gap in achievement explained by developmental lags in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain."


These two lobes play a large part in our being able to develop into intelligent, competent human beings as well as in metering what drives us.


Wikipedia:

"The frontal lobe contains most of the dopamine-sensitive neurons in the cerebral cortex. The dopamine system is associated with reward, attention, short-term memory tasks, planning, and motivation."

"The temporal lobe is involved in processing sensory input into derived meanings for the appropriate retention of visual memories, language comprehension, and emotion association."

69:

Not gut bacteria, but have you read Mira Grant's Parasite?

70:

Drugs ...

There's a whole class of antibiotics that are known to be hemolytic, i.e., they destroy red blood cells. So, eating a thick juicy steak may actually be causing your anemia. (Nice trick, that!)

Immune suppressants/steroids ... I believe that the granddaddy (prednisone) is still one of the go-to in this class. It can save your life (for example if you're in the midst of graft-versus-host-disease) and/or it can completely warp your mind, and body. High dose prednisone therapy literally changes how your body looks and functions. Emotionally, it can do a Dr. Jekyll-Mr. Hyde number. And this happens within a couple of weeks.


71:

"They know what you did ..."

I'm tempted to say, 'So what?' because unless there's an immediate/local consequence, it doesn't matter. There are 7 billion people on the planet. Like the old joke goes, I just need to make sure I'm not the slowest. The threat would be greater if the evil ones were organized. From what I've read here, they're not.

72:

"Yeah: it's one of Dirk's [more annoying, IMO] cognitive tics -- he seems to believe in General Intelligence."

Yes, I have a naive belief that my generalized problem solving ability is better than the average chimp. Personally, I blame genetics. No doubt I will hear a cry of specism! followed by arguments that it is purely an environmental effect...

As for caffeine being a good focus drug, IMHO modafinil is far better and amphetamines better still. And yes, racetams do boost my game scores, although claiming that one for "general intelligence" is dubious.
So, two types of drugs for the Psychological Singularity: The Soma apathy feelgoods for the unemployed lumpen proletariat, and noots for the hyper competitve world of those who still have jobs (for now).

Anyone for a snort of Dihexa? I'm waiting for more brave people to try it before I have a go myself. Go go brain plasticity!

73:

Next up, the Immortalist Singularity.
The anti-ageing tech kicks in just in time to save the Boomers and the kids inherit fuck all, forever.

74:

Having been a member of several cults, and led one or two, I rather favor the Cthulhu side of things. Let the whole earth flame in a holocaust of ecstasy and freedom!

75:

Not forever.

Give it 25-50 years and there will be heads on stakes.

Surprisingly well preserved heads, but on stakes, nonetheless.

76:

"Give it 25-50 years and there will be heads on stakes."

I accept your challenge. Of course, you are going to be one of those heads, unless you are planning on just saying no. Still, 25-50 years sounds like long enough for me to work out something so I don't end up on the wrong side of the revolution.

77:

"Where do they get the money to feed the gas meter to run the stove to cook them?"

That bit's easy. Read up on early 20th century Antarctic expeditions, especially Shackleton.

Seal blubber stoves were primitive and filthy but they worked. Human fat probably isnt as energy dense but I'm sure you could make it work.

78:

Hi Hugh,

A couple of years ago I wrote a take on link to blog), about how you could run a non-sustainable interstellar civilization indefinitely, as long as you got off a particular planet and were colonizing others before you crashed the first planet. This is crudely equivalent to the idea of metapopulations in population biology, which you can look up on your own.

Anyway, in a galaxy full of worlds, each world would be colonized and trashed every, say, 50-100 million years. Most of the galaxy at any one time would be fallow, recovering, and the place would be mostly silent, as we see today.

This idea works reasonably well with what you're suggesting. Feel free to play with it if you want.

79:

Is the stake a dumb metal stake or does it include life support and an internet connection?

80:

So, eating a thick juicy steak may actually be causing your anaemia
Not in Britain, though - the insane drugging-up of cattle, etc seems to be a USA thing.
I'm careful to eat meat, via my local butcher, that is specific-sourced....

81:

I could give references (e.g. Trichinella), though there are far fewer pathogens that transmit via meat than you may think. But the point is that needs must when the devil drives, and a risk of such things is small compared to starvation.

82:

"The threat would be greater if the evil ones were organized. From what I've read here, they're not."

They are currently working on AI controlled weapons; automatic prosecution and even conviction is technically a lot easier.

83:

Eh? All you need is some aluminum foil, cardboard, and scavenged glass and you can build a quite effective solar cooker.

Gee, any right-wing survivalist nutcase can make one of those in his sleep!

"Co-workers: A convenient source of protein after the Apocalypse."

84:

I have viseted plenty of countries where solar cookers make sense, but Scotland isn't one of them.

85:

Gah. I can't type "visited"!

To be more specific, on a hot sunny day you could almost certainly use one successfully in most of the UK but that gives you a few weeks in summer if you are lucky.

We get sunny days in winter as well but you would probably need something a bit bigger than the standard box cooker.

Rendering people down into fuel is much more reliable :)

86:

Toxoplasma gondii, as well. (Yep, you can catch it from eating meat, as well as from your feline overlord.)

Neurocysticercosis doesn't look fun. Gotta love tapeworms.
http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1168656-overview


Dunno how many more there are — never really checked. I do know that growing up we always had meat well done, at Dad's insistence. He'd once been part of the animal quarantine unit, and spent years working in Health of Animals Branch of AgCan before he moved into human epidemiology, so I assume he knew the risks, and had decided rare steaks weren't worth it.

I used to trust the Canadian food stream more than I do now, but since the Excel Foods recall, when I learned that our neocon government had decided that companies can basically be trusted to self-report, well, like Greg I'm a lot more careful with my sourcing now.

If you like Rick Mercer, here's his rant on the recall. I particularly like the way he points out that each inspector must inspect 3.5 cows a minute for 12 hours…
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kY09m-WJi2Q

87:

Eh? All you need is some aluminum foil, cardboard, and scavenged glass and you can build a quite effective solar cooker.

Depends on where you live. I had four classes building different designs as a final project this spring, and only one (out of about 30) designs actually cooked the food. The boys used the fresnel lens from an old TV, and if they weren't careful they were burning things. All the other designs, both student-designed and built from blueprints, didn't really work. Day was hot but a bit hazy, and that high-altitude haze was enough to screw of the cooking.

88:

screw of the cooking

screw UP the cooking

Sigh. I really hate autocorrect.

89:

Nope!

Ms Grant's stuff isn't quite my teacup.

Which is not meant to discourage anyone else from it; a whole lot of entirely excellent writing isn't quite my teacup.

90:

Yes, I have a naive belief that my generalized problem solving ability is better than the average chimp

I'd be inclined to ask why you think it's generalized, and then ask you to solve the minimum spanning graph for a bunch of disparate points, something a colony of slime mold appears to be able to do in the general case but no available human algorithm can manage to do.

There's stuff we're good at. That's different from "general", even when what we're bad at is hard to notice.

91:

As interesting as the concept of "do what others won't" sounds, I think it is somewhat wandering away from the underlying tone in much of Lovecraft's stories - these alien, incomprehensible, frequently malignant entities are so far beyond us that they view us as we view ants, if they can even be bothered to think of us at all. They wouldn't consider humans a resource to be managed, and I can't imagine any of them arranging a competition where there's a few select positions for "motivated self-starters" that are "focused, goal-driven, and achievement oriented".

(I'm struggling mightily to not see Cthulhu in Simon Cowell's place, managing a series of even more catastrophic yet humorous "auditions")

At best we're food. Food that occasionally annoys them, and in terms of their time scales, food that will vanish in a blink of a pseudopod dripping with eyeballs and pauldrons.

92:

I used to trust the Canadian food stream more than I do now, but since the Excel Foods recall, when I learned that our neocon government had decided that companies can basically be trusted to self-report, well, like Greg I'm a lot more careful with my sourcing now.

I've been buying meat from the same two places since... 1997, I think. Before that it was one, and I was in a different city.

The basic rule I use is "can you smell blood? Any trace of blood? Don't buy meat there." The supplemental rule involves porous packaging of any kind; not there, neither. Never ever not once.

In the case of compelled cannibalism, or, hopefully, some more sensible field expedient situation, you don't have to cook meat thermally. Chemically will work; slice it up thin and submerge it in vinegar or lemon juice or suchlike for a few hours. You probably won't have nice cider vinegar (or mushroom soup stock, to help balance the flavour) but plain old white vinegar/acetic acid is a cheap industrial chemical. Should be lots available somewhere in an urban setting.

Just avoid pineapple juice unless you're trying to make some kind of horrible and scarce-slurpable slurry.

93:

There are 7 billion people on the planet. Like the old joke goes, I just need to make sure I'm not the slowest.

Part of what makes the Old Ones so terrible is that they don't select victims according to any algorithm detectable by us.

Jon Ronson's book "So You've Been Publically Shamed" is an interesting look at the phenomenon of Internet lynch mobs. Justine Sacco was a PR manager with a whole 170 Twitter followers. One bad taste tweet was enough for her life to be annihilated. Why was she somehow selected alongside a prominent journalist and a British politician? We don't know. We can't know.

94:

There is, of course, another Great Fear: the unspoken suspicion that life has no meaning; and in the context of Our Cthulhoid Overlords, the sense that our work is a 'Bullshit Job', as David Graeber would have it: a grim ritual of futility whose only purpose is to suck away our souls.

If you've ever wondered 'how deep does the rabbit-hole go?' when it comes to meaningless make-work, here's something I wrote a couple of years ago about the future of white-collar work in post-depression Western economies
economies
. Not particularly well-written, but if OGH can make living writing Lovecraftian IT urban fantasy, there's a niche for horror with abyssal dread and economics.

95:

"Basically, it's Lovecraft in cubicles, or the Laundry minus spies."

Does a temporary worker inhabit a tesseracticle?

96:

I lived in Providence back when my name was Olorin. I have seen several churches that could have been the one in Haunter, which is also a favorite of mine. (I think the actual building that inspired HPL is gone now, but I could be wrong.)

Stand on College Hill and look towards the blood soaked West at sunset and you might get an inkling of how Lovecraft felt all those years ago. That is, until you look around and realize it is actually quite lovely really, plus there's some pretty good Italian food on Federal Hill and some amazing Portuguese bakeries in the lowlands of Hope. Poor Howard, he never realized that we mongrels would actually create a richer culture than his. Well for a few decades until the shoggoths pulled us off to the Corporate Hells. Still it was good while it lasted.

97:

In midwinter in Scotland, at noon, the average solar radiation is about 18 watts/m^2 - in the south of England, it's a massive 48 watts/m^2.

98:

"Just avoid pineapple juice unless you're trying to make some kind of horrible and scarce-slurpable slurry."

Or pawpaw (papaya to you transpondians), or barberry, or Chinese gooseberry (kiwi fruit), or ....

99:

I remember reading in one of my chemistry books that an enzyme from pineapple had been sold commercially in a product named Meatendrin during WWII. And we all know that the fruit has a nasty habit of tenderising one's lips. I didn't know that the other fruits you mention are also tenderisers: but yes, according to biotechlearn, papaya, kiwifruit, pineapple, fig and mango also contain such enzymes.

According to Tipnut, one can also use coffee!

100:

"Part of what makes the Old Ones so terrible is that they don't select victims according to any algorithm detectable by us."

Yes. I find the whole 'social network' phenomenon bizarre, not just the way that it encourages being a twit, but the witch hunting aspect. And, no, it's NOT the 'Internet', because it wasn't and isn't like that on newsgroups or even any Web forum I am familiar with. One thing that scares me (seriously) is the linkage with so-called AI and corporations as entities mentioned above. Please bear with me.

A great many services (including tax) are being provided through automated Web pages, and there is an increasing incidence of ones with no way to handle anomalies or request human interaction. Even when there is, most of the humans won't override the algorithm. Service is already being refused or cancelled automatically, I have heard of some that do that based on the volume of complaints/dislikes etc., and have a similar loss of error correction. Most of us will have encountered ridiculous and often incomprehensible spam filters and password/login constraints.

We are already seeing signs that 'they' want to change the law and custom to make such interfaces mandatory, and extend them to major new areas. Some authors have explored that, but my real fear is the next stage, when those mechanisms stop being engineered by humans and are themselves automated enough to make the evolution analogue appropriate. Let's combine that with identity theft.

You are sitting at your desk when you receive a text message "Your bank accounts have been frozen for potential involvement in fraud." You chase that it refers you to an automated process that basically says "Your account matched one reported by more than 10 sources". You chase that, and it demands payment up front for the 'raw' data. You find the button to request an arbitrator, and it demands a bank account to charge in case your request is frivolous. Which it then rejects because it is frozen. Kafka, 21st century style.

And that's just the EXISTING mechanisms - as we know, once evolution starts, it's impossible to predict what will evolve. Translate the above into a 10-step scenario where none of the mechanisms are using concepts that make any sense to mere humans, and blench.

101:

Isn't this the case for all major Religions? (At least Abrahamic). i.e. Our way or the eternal war?

Anyhow, great piece, but...

www.reddit.com/r/theroyalpant/ - doesn't exist.

Try:

https://www.reddit.com/r/raiseyourdongers

For something that many Redditors don't even know about (/fifthworldproblems is sooo passe)

  • Shared Identity
  • Organized through Steam
  • Private Language
  • Absurdist Humor
  • Male Focused / Penis love

(Playing nice, it won't send you insane. 6,797 subscribers though and 12 dongers).


On a more serious notice, some comments:

  • Cthulhu as dreams is an easy one. Already exists and so on; don't even have to travel into conspiracy land to know the tech. What happens if the sum of all fears is that banal and Cthulhu simply gets bored?
  • Black Goat Of The Woods With A Thousand Young. Sounds hot, sign everyone up for a Succubus / Icubus / Zecubus for kinky three+somes. What happens if they're really not into that physical stuff?
  • This notion of fear / existential dread. What happens if you change what fear is or how it acts?
  • The Future is a Grey Clippy annoying for forever without the ability to turn it off without the DLC. What happens when the internal vision is so cripplingly dull that humanity becomes less than it should be? That's the real OCP issue
  • "Do what other people won't". What about Be what others cannot? or Become what others dread?


But anyhow.


Real life Cthulhu incident already happened and no-one noticed or cared:


Electromagnetic Signals Are Produced by Aqueous Nanostructures
Derived from Bacterial DNA Sequences
(PDF). Author is Luc Montagnier, he has a Nobel Prize in the field.


Fields of Light are We and so on.

102:

48W/M^2 isn't really so bad if you actually get the direct sunlight so long as you can keep thermal losses under control.

I have done enough outdoor cooking in Scottish winter conditions to not even want to consider that option.

103:

Most people don't have supplies of unobtanium in their garage for insulation! Let's assume 1m^2 collector. You need to maintain an internal temperature of 60 Celcius with an external one of (say) 0 Celsius, a surface area of 5m^2 (1m^2 of which is transparent) and a thermal input of 48 watts. And that's excluding the fact that 48 watts/m^2 is an average, and there can be weeks when it is more like 20 watts/m^2.

104:

It doesn't take long before your solar cooker looks like a large old school satellite dish with a sun tracker and insulated cavity to hold a pot at the focal point.

On the other hand you can make a perfectly good biomass stove out of pieces of scrap metal or a few bricks.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XSMR2ANIZ7E shows a design I have used before.

105:

Yes, I agree. If you've got the Old Ones and Elder Gods (Nyarlathotep aside) actively recruiting, then I'd say you're outside your Lovecraftian mandate.

They Don't Care. It's kind of the point.

What I was envisioning with the final point is less Rl'yehan Idol, and more "Maybe you can get them to notice you". It's clearly worked for other things in the Cthulhu Mythos universe: the Mi-Go aren't getting exterminated, nor are the Moon-Beasts. Even the Ghouls have a patron deity of sorts.

Perhaps a few very ... special humans can rise to the position of "grovelling slave" rather than "insect". If they do what most humans never could...

106:

On the Corporate Cthulhu front, Bruce Sterling just retweeted something rather apposite:

"Leave understanding human speech to us and focus on your differentiated value add to customers” is a sentence I just read on the Internet.

Invest now for a really diversified portfolio! They don't call them the "Great Race" for nothing!

107:

Currently talking with a cultist who works for the tentacled offspring of the Prince.
Care to comment Catina?

108:

No derails or Catshows before comment #300.

Ask him/her/ze these three questions though:

1) Contact physical (direct), physical (indirect), mental (direct, conscious), subconscious (direct during sleep) or subconscious (indirect / symbolic during sleep). You can substitute subconscious for Dream if you want.

1a) Modifiers to then check: Audio, Visual, Symbolic, Causal, Internal / External, Subject / Other.


2) Define "work". i.e. Actions, trends or whatever?


Relay answer.

109:

Huxley's soma, in other words. Plain old THC will work well enough for your purposes.

And once you've created your drugged-into-compliance underclass, what next?

They're already under the jackboots of their masters; they might be a little less rowdy, but, really, who cares? It's not like there's a shortage.

110:

A lot less esoteric than you imagine. Think Jellyfish.

111:

So what are the Great Fears of our age?
...
I mean, there's no hunger. Not for *us*.

What about, I guess you'd call it "identity loss", by analogy with identity theft.

If somehow you lose access to your current identity... to your money, community; stateless, undocumented and unknown...

That feeling, when you're out on the patio or balcony alone of a cold evening, perhaps doing some minor chore, and you look back inside through the glass, that you might see yourself already there and the door locked.

112:

Toxoplasma gondii, as well. (Yep, you can catch it from eating meat, as well as from your feline overlord.)

(Also from eating poorly-washed fruit and vegetables.)

One thing about T. gondii is that it's easy to study, because it (the latent infection) has a prevalence reasonably close to 50%; picking a random group of people off the street will give you enough subjects for both arms of the study, inspecting traffic accident records will give you instances of both infected and uninfected casualties, etc.

What other conditions that are currently considered asymptomatic have a similar level of impact, but their prevalence is either much lower or much higher, making the corresponding studies much more difficult and expensive?

Probably quite a few.

What their total impact may be, we have no idea.

In extremis, we could imagine developing a vaccine for some near-universal disease of childhood which (like toxoplasmosis) has an unpleasant acute phase followed by a life-long, near-asymptomatic latent phase, so that we don't realise what the latent phase was actually doing for us until we've vaccinated a great many people.

114:

On the other hand you can make a perfectly good biomass stove out of pieces of scrap metal or a few bricks.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XSMR2ANIZ7E shows a design I have used before.

Thank you!

They keep pushing back earliest use of fire, it could be back to 1.4 million years now, or maybe not.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homo_erectus#Use_of_fire

The prehistory museum in Paris used to have an exhibit that reconstructed a french discover of an ancient fireplace supposed to be 400,000 years old. A little bit of imagination reconstructing the tumbled rocks would turn them into a perfectly good rocket stove.

115:

You are completely missing the reference. Jellyfish. Prince. Last I heard he was in Shanghai helping the Chinese with their African adventures.

116:

I don’t find these Cthulhu analogies that persuasive. I think a more relevant deific archetype for the present age is the Dajjal (Muslim Antichrist), and the Dajjal System.

What is the Dajjal System? It’s the entire “Satanic” world order being set up by the Dajjal’s agents (Freemasons, Zionists, atheists, neoliberal capitalists, etc.), which seeks to replace all traditional religions, values and social arrangements with counterfeits and inversions. We see these agents of the Dajjal at work especially in the cultural sphere, in Hollywood and the music industry which they control, where their “one-eyed” Masonic and Satanic imagery is ubiquitous (the one eye being the defining characteristic of the Dajjal), and inverted Satanic values are celebrated as the new normal. We also see this system being implemented when, for example, google uses rainbow flag Olympics imagery just as the US Government is chiding retrograde Russia for its “homophobia”. Under the Dajjal System, usury is widespread, sexual identities and behavior are inverted and fluid, techno-capitalist progressivism is a kind of religion, and propaganda and war to spread the Dajjal System to benighted lands is constant.

But the Dajjal System doesn’t spread Azathothian chaos for its own sake (e.g. Libya, Iraq), but as part of its “ordo ab chao” strategy of conquest. First you bring chaos to destroy the traditional society, then you offer the new order of neoliberal capitalism, NGO’s, gay rights, etc. It’s brilliant, diabolical, and it appears to be working.

Anyway, that’s my take...

117:

Roko's Basilisk

118:

Another societal terror (from another thread).
Technology = Magic
What happens when most new inventions come from computers running (say) genetic algorithms (even ignoring AGI), and nobody can understand how they work?
More a terror for scitech people, I suspect.

119:

Also see one of Edmund Cooper's stories, I forget the name, where someone invents a virus spread by sex, which makes people nicer and more friendly, so there is an outbreak of peace across the world (It was written in late 1960's- early 70's). UNfortunately there is a rather unpleasant side effect that doesn't kick in until a month or two later...

120:

I'm pretty sure I read of long term, if not life long, changes in gut bacteria due to antibiotic use as a child.
As for environmental pollutants, what exactly are the long term health effects of exposing people to small amounts of platinum group metals every day? PM10's in general are already linked to heart attacks and the like, so if we got rid of all combustion powered vehicles and managed to make it so tyres didn't leave small bits of stuff behind everywhere they go, I'm sure we could see rates of such illnesses decrease.

121:

Can this be tied into the Singularity?

The real goal of uploading is become an Old One yourself.

Or at least that's the pitch. What the transhumanists don't realise is that they're basically loading themselves into some other-dimensional snack machine.

122:

There's always death by ill-conceived policy. It turns out that polyunsaturated fats aren't bad for people, and might be good for people, so you get death from butter deprivation.

However, one of the big scary possibilities is governments turning against people-- we've seen it in Syria on a grand scale.

See also policies of excluding refugees.

123:

The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, though long as hell, remains one of the hardest for me to get through portions of the story without tucking my feet up on a footstool.

The Colour Out Of Space messed with me pretty well.

Under The Pyramids too, because my imagination was all too happy to run with the suggestions provided.

It took several tries to get through The Shadow Over Innsmouth with the missus, I still recall the look of utter terror in her eyes when the scene clicked of the hotel room door being tried, a crowd outside the door, and nobody saying a word.

Oh, and The Lurking Fear.

Not sure why those stand out as so much creepier than others to me.

124:

Low salt diets - which can give you excruciating cramps from salt deprivation.
No Cholesterol means you will drop dead real soon.
The emphasis on "fats" rather than "sugars" is strange to me, given that the latter are or seem to be the real problem.

125:

The topic seems be be yielding lots of fear and conjectures.

Let me recapitulate: we are discussing a situation where people are
- subjected to an authority that is totalitarian in nature and whose decisions are absurd, cruel and unfathomable
- under the influence of chemical substances that alter their behaviour

I can understand the fear (this is a horrible, atrocious experience), but the conjectures? That is basically what adolescence is all about!

126:

To me, the main difference between Lovecraft of the past and Lovecraft of the present is the distance of the Great Old Ones.

In the original works the Great Old Ones are (with certain exceptions of course) far off, asleep, and/or hidden away in the dark mysterious corners of the universe. That they will awaken/return/arise is inevitable, as is that they will horribly destroy/reshape mankind as they do. But it hasn't happened yet, might not happen for hundreds of years, and the efforts of those heroes/cultists who attempt to slow/hasten it is either futile or almost impossible.

In this new-Lovecraftian mythology built on fears of the present, the Great Old Ones are here NOW. They are either just stirring to wakefulness, or have had an active hand in mortal affairs for sometime. Mankind is being reshaped right at this moment, and the vast majority of people are either unaware or have been conned into thinking it's a good thing. Heroes no longer have to go looking for cults: they simply awaken to the knowledge they have been surrounded by them all along. Shadow Over Innsmouth in the Global Village. Google is stirring, OPEC has been awake for years, the Future is Here Today. So get used to it, and get afraid.

In Lovecraft-NOW! there is no use fighting the Great Old Ones not because of grim inevitability, but because it's simply too late. Humanity had its chance to resist before most protagonists were even born, and instead choose to walk into their arms willingly. Like Neo, awakening in the real world for the first time in a slime-filled tank under a ruined sky, tended to and consumed by creatures that are neither machine nor insect but horribly both, and knowing he has always been there. You never owned your soul at all, and your parents really should have read the EULA.

It has often been said our generation has an unhealthy obsession with apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction. This is untrue: the obsession is both natural and healthy, the immune response of our minds and culture under attack by an alien parasite. It is the silent cry of the enslaved soul, one who recognises something is terribly wrong with the world but can't quite name what it is. One who sees no escape from the torment other than oblvion, but will be constantly denied it. This is the new world.

Hell is empty, and all the Old Ones are here.

127:

"Hell is empty, and all the Old Ones are here."

Not yet, but we are working on it :-) I have just had an idea, some of which has been used before in other contexts. Start with the increasing use of so-called AI, extend that into corporate decision-making, give it enough autonomy and feedback that it it is capable of changing its own purpose and methods (and reproducing), let it evolve, and assume that some of them transcend. The Great Old Ones are merely the transcendent state of previous soulless multinational corporations, and we are creating new ones to join them. Cthulhu, watch out - our creations are coming for you! And, as usual, we lesser beings will be victims of the fray.

128:

I've made a few of those brick stoves. Two small improvements. If you can find a piece of brick sized metal (like a cut and folded can) that helps to divide the air-fuel intake. Wood above, air below. And adding 4 bricks on their sides round the top as a fire screen helps with heat transference to the kettle or pot. The biggest effort is making your bricks! But then you still need to buy your post, pans, mugs and cutlery and get tea bags and milk from Tescos. It's ok for off grid living in the woods, but not enough for post-apocalypse.

129:

It has often been said our generation has an unhealthy obsession with apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction.

That's so, because our generation is the happiest generation of humans that ever existed. Compared to the past, we are living in an utopia. There are so few real horrors in the present, that we are free to indulge in the imaginary horrors of past and future, all from the comfort of our houses.

Savour this moment, it might not last.

130:

It also has much to do with the fact that most of us know our current lifestyle isn't sustainable, but we have no idea how to fix it. When something can't keep going, sooner or later it will stop. That terrifies us.

131:

Well, technically, we-the-species surely do know how to fix it.

Getting the current controlling elites -- which include those Great-Old-One analogs -- to let it be fixed is the hard part.

Which does rather ramp up the existential dread, because those entities are indifferent to human suffering.

132:

There are over 7 billion of us. Without fossil fuels (and fertilizers based on them) the carrying capacity of this planet is maybe 2 billion. So yes, we know how to fix it, for horrifying values of "fix".

133:

~Sings~

Take the paper in #101. Grokk it properly like, and the implications.

Take the third paper in #113 and combine with prior knowledge of lead - calcium bonding issues, IQ and so on. (You've been prepped for this).

Take paper #1 and #2 in #113 and see what drives your engine (and what can stop it) and how early it came to be (gotta love some biochemistry) and how ubiquitous it is for life.

Think back, but think about light. Singing, shining light.


And a few other things from various other posts. (THESUNTHESUNTHESUN)


Light is an oscillating electric and magnetic field, so it is electrical and magnetic.

~


Then run the numbers against the environment you've created. All those little bitty brilliant biochemical and EM creating reactions, fighting against what you've made.


Cthulhu isn't out there, it's inside the entire biosphere now. Gaia Theory - neat little one.

~


Pity. Immanentize the eschaton?

Oh dear oh dear oh dear. Muppets.

134:

Note: This is the public, free version.

If you would like the extended cut, with 100+ papers, feel free to ask. It's fairly much worse than the current Climate stuff.

*shrug*

You can't tell them no! They cannot be told no!

Should have played nice [Youtube: film: 0:52]

135:

Well, we are going to run out of fossil carbon.

Probably not before we manage to break agriculture and possibly not before we manage to break habitability.

So either all these people talking about alternative mechanisms for energy storage and high-intensity agriculture that they've actually built and demonstrated are just wrong for some inherent scaling reason, and the most of us are doomed anyway, or they're not. It looks very much like it's worth doing the experiment.

136:

And, as usual, we lesser beings will be victims of the fray.
Nothing new here:
" ... and we petty men
Walk under his huge legs and peep about
To find ourselves dishonourable graves."
- Julius Ceasar Act 1 ScII

137:

Well, we are going to run out of fossil carbon.
Utter, total codswallop.

Has no-one else here come across Robert Frish's classic ( & spoof ) paper:
"On the feasibility of Coal-driven Power Stations" ??
Originally published in 1955?

138:

There's a better one: "As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods."

139:

The fix of getting from 7B back to 1B doesn't have to be horrifying. It all depends on the timescale. It could probably be done in 200 years without causing much pain at all, at all. But then that would require long term, multi-generational planning and we'd have to start now. Neither of which seem likely or something mankind as a whole is capable of.

140:

A reasonable standard of living, decent education and prospects for women and access to contraceptives seems to be sufficient do the job.

Of course the idea of giving everyone a reasonable standard of living only makes sense if you are a dangerous extremist so maybe it will never happen.

141:

A reasonable standard of living, decent education and prospects for women and access to contraceptives seems to be sufficient do the job.

I think maybe putting people on salaries might have more to do with it.

Farmers can always use more hands. Children are an economic asset.

But when you work on essentially a fixed income, and your children aren't allowed to work, then they are entirely an economic liability. And when you're raised to think that their lives will be wasted if they don't get college educations, then it doesn't make sense to have more children than you can pay college for.

It isn't standard of living and having an education that does it. It's fear.

142:

Has no-one else here come across Robert Frish's classic ( & spoof ) paper:
"On the feasibility of Coal-driven Power Stations" ??
Originally published in 1955?

On this mpoweruk.com page, and known to anyone who has read A Random Walk in Science.

143:

And when you're raised to think that their lives will be wasted if they don't get college educations, then it doesn't make sense to have more children than you can pay college for.

You forget that not everybody has to pay for their children's college education. Here in Finland, getting a university-level education has its costs, but it's the materials and some other costs. The education itself is free. Many people manage to get the Masters level education on their own, without parents paying for it.

It's difficult to do that without loans (I did manage that but over ten years ago, things have changed). We get this study money but for most people that is not enough and they have to take a loan. The loans are still quite small, but they still are a problem if you can't get a job after graduation.

Even with the relatively cheap university education, the birth rate in Finland is a bit over two, I think - so we're still not making large families on the average.

144:

And, as usual, we lesser beings will be victims of the fray.

Nothing new here:
" ... and we petty men
Walk under his huge legs and peep about
To find ourselves dishonourable graves."
- Julius Ceasar Act 1 ScII

But the fray and the victimhood shall not last for ever:
"I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: 'Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, ..."
- "Ozymandias", Shelley.

145:

Well, we are going to run out of fossil carbon.

Probably not before we manage to break agriculture and possibly not before we manage to break habitability.

Two nits: (1) we're not going to run out of fossil carbon. First we're going to run out of fossil carbon that costs less to extract than its energy yield, which isn't quite the same thing but which will break us out of the fossil fuel cycle one way or another. We may still be extracting fossil carbon for some time after than, but for other purposes. (Polymer feedstock, food ...)

(2) My understanding is that the horrible problem with modern agriculture -- once you get past soil depletion and nitrate/phosphate inputs being endothermic and out of whack -- is that despite it being solar powered it's a net energy sink because we use high-powered machines to do it and it takes place a long way from the point of consumption so we burn a lot of diesel shovelling bulky, heavy plant matter around.

Electrons weigh a lot less than biomass. We might do better building high intensity vertical farms in our cities, at the point of consumption, and solar farms on the (depleted because we fucked it) out of town landscape to power the grow-lamps.

No, this isn't an easy solution. We may be too late starting to research it this decade. But if we can reduce that average 1000 mile farm-to-plate distance to 1 mile or even 10 miles, that's going to help.

146:

"I'm having an idea as I write this for a story about poverty-trapped, benefit-deprived people who resort to eating corpses as a means of survival, and subsequently things go... badly.

Hmm. Filing under Short Film #5. I've been wanting to do something a little more political."

Been done, at least in one variation: Eat the Rich

147:

Or a drug that allows perfect access to memory? Seems like a good idea, but the unintended consequences ...

You do know there are people with this now? It's rare but there.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperthymesia

Which seems somewhat out of date. The US TV show 60 Minutes did a show on this a year or so ago with more details of current people in the US who seem to have this.

Not all of them like this "feature" of their brain.

148:

Apparently a great many customers think feeding cows corn makes better meat…

It comes from corn industry advertizing in the US.

149:

You forget that not everybody has to pay for their children's college education. Here in Finland, getting a university-level education has its costs, but it's the materials and some other costs. The education itself is free. Many people manage to get the Masters level education on their own, without parents paying for it.

They are paying for it. Just collectively and not directly individually.

So the preasure might still be there.

150:

No need for them to be cooked... Raw meat's sometimes disgusting, but nutritious.

It is my understanding that cooking meat greatly improves the efficiency of the digestion process. Stop cooking and you get to spend more time eating and digesting.

151:

It isn't standard of living and having an education that does it. It's fear.

Given the range of different countries that either already have sub-replacement-level fertility, or are swiftly heading that way, probably not.

Do the US, Finland, Cuba, Tunisia, Taiwan, Vietnam and Iran really have this in common?

Two children per family is not just "the West" any more — it's the bulk of the world. The world has changed in the last half a century.

152:

In Sophocles' Ajax, Athena (more or less) shows Odysseus that she can put one person, in this case Ajax, into a different reality from everyone else. She thinks he will be pleased be this show of favoritism. Instead, Odysseus immediately realizes that the gods could be doing this to him instead or possibly to everyone all the time. He's not pleased at finding out that not only is he basically Athena's pet, but he cannot even be sure if his personal habitat is really there.

153:

I've been trying to find the reference (not successfully), but the correlation between fossil fuels consumed and planetary GDP is greater than .99 over the past few centuries (over the past decade or so it's a little lower, .98 or so). In other words, fossil fuel consumption explains essentially all of the increase in wealth over the past few centuries.

So, sure, there's no harm in trying to come up with something, but I wouldn't get my hopes up.

154:

"Apparently a great many customers think feeding cows corn makes better meat…"

It comes from corn industry advertizing in the US.

Various people agree that they can taste a difference.

I have not thought to actually test that. Ideally you would double-blind give each person three labeled bites of meat from equivalent cuts cooked about the same, and see whether they can actually tell which one is different. Ask them which they prefer. It's vaguely possible they are wrong and they can't tell any difference, like so many people believe they can tell the difference between Coke and Pepsi but when actually tested they can't.

As I understand it the supporting theory -- the stories that make the claim seem reasonable -- are that the corn removes a "grassy" taste, and that steers in feedlots stand around doing nothing more than those eating grass and so their muscles are more tender. I have eaten grass-fed beef that had a special taste. I can't say whether it was better or worse, but different.

All of the sweet rice I buy in the USA is advertised to be "Talc free". If I wanted rice with talc in it I don't know how to find it. The Jello is advertised to be fat free. The beef is advertised as corn fed, unless it's special beef advertised as grass-fed, hormone-free, and antibiotic-free.

It's probably just habit. Not like consumers would notice if they left it off.

155:

U.S. corn is extremely high in sugars (fructose) ... the consumer corn is at any rate. Don't know about what type of corn is fed to cattle.

As for your suggested research study ... how would you parse out the effects of corn-plus-antibiotics-feed versus corn-only-feed. I'm guessing that the only people who would know exactly what was/is in the cattle feed are the feed producers. I'm also guessing that there's a strong synergy between certain types of sugars and antibiotics in terms of effect on bulking up cattle.

156:

My family ran a small slaughter house for years. (Uncle and grandfather plus prior to them.) There are a huge number of variables in to what makes meat taste "good". It is expensive for anyone but university farm systems to experiment and even then after you get the beef you get into all the variations of how to cook it which can impact tastes as well.

In my opinion much of this is similar to why people pick a certain brand of bottled water. Which is why I feel a lot of it has to do with the advertizing by the beef and corn industries in the US.

As to Coke vs. Pepsi. There is a huge difference in them to ME. (I've given up drinking either for a decade or two.) But yes I can blind tell the difference. To the point that when I ordered a Coke and was served Pepsi I knew it. But then again I'm sure that different people have different taste receptors and smell receptors. Like everything else about us people. We come in a variety of flavors.

157:

"The prevailing flavour of fear in 2015 is one of inequality, uncertainty and insecurity. Jobs are vanishing. ..."

Is it your intent to fuel this fear? The belief underlying this fear is that only massive corporations can give you a job. People still can and do opt out of the mainstream connectivity for a number of socially acceptable reasons.

Don't have the figures handy, but large corporations have never been the largest employer ... anywhere, at any time ... so why are you
giving them so much power/authority over you?

Unfortunately, the data below do not show results by org size. However they do suggest that there is a mismatch between jobs open and people looking for jobs. (No detail provided.)

https://www.conference-board.org/pdf_free/economics/ETI070615.pdf


Danged ...

The most interesting report here (Director Compensation and Board Practices: 2013 Edition) is behind a $395USD paywall. This info would definitely be useful in understanding/analyzing the 21st century version of the unkillable, amoral, many tentacled beast.

"Data analyzed in the report include:

Director compensation
Board composition
Board leadership
Director nomination and election practices
Anti-takeover practices
Board meetings
Executive compensation oversight practices
Strategy and risk oversight
Sustainability oversight
CEO performance review and succession planning
Board–shareholder engagement
Board committees"

https://www.conference-board.org/publications/publicationdetail.cfm?publicationid=2438


158:

Two children per family is not just "the West" any more — it's the bulk of the world. The world has changed in the last half a century.

I don't know about "bulk of the world" but it seems tied to when a society switches off the feeling that you can't climb the ladder to prosperity unless you have lots of kids. Which is also tied in many situations to not having to grown your own food.

It is my understanding that a 5 year old "turns a profit" on an old style family farm. And that fits with what my father did growing up on one. He was born in the US in 1925.

159:

TBH, the basilisk (along with some of the other demigods coming out of LW's super-rationalist/shut up and multiply community) is *way* more complex and interesting than anything Lovecraft came up with. As a result, it's a lot more difficult to write fiction about, too.

Think about what Roko's Basilisk requires, in order to operate.

First, you need to essentially have effective time travel in the form of perfect simulation. You need to believe that you have a 50%+ likelihood that you are not currently alive but instead in a perfect simulation of your life in the distant future being run by a malevolent entity who is trying to determine whether or not you'd support creating him. (And, this simulation would need to be perfect or else he couldn't trust the results. And yet, he would need to ignore any manner of second-guessing and pascal's wager-ing.)

Second, you need to believe that the entity running this simulation would properly simulate up to and including counterarguments to its existence -- knowing that the people it is simulating are, generally speaking, powerless in the scheme of things to implement its existence in the future or not.

Thus, a purely memetic entity is created through conveluted logic that exists through a kind of time travel based on probability projection, and is given the capacity to eternally damn people for not choosing to support his creation in the future.

Put that in your non-euclidian hyper-toroid and immolate it.

160:

As for your suggested research study ... how would you parse out the effects of corn-plus-antibiotics-feed versus corn-only-feed.

The research I suggested was only to find out if people can actually taste a difference, and if so which taste they prefer.

About antibiotics, I have a tentative theory about it without actually reading any literature on the topic for the past 20+ years. When cows eat grass, they get some value from the cellulose. Some of their stomachs provide homes for bacteria that can digest cellulose. I'm guessing that the bacteria tend to eat the sugar produced before the cow can get to it, but the cow can move some of the bacteria to another stomach where they themselves are digested by the cow. However it works, the cow depends on those bacteria.

But eating corn, the cow doesn't need those bacteria so much, and the fewer bacteria there are to eat the sugars and the starches that the cow can break down itself, the more is left for the cow. Antibiotics require the bacteria to create enzymes to destroy the antibiotic, and that slows their growth. So the cow gets more.

So I would expect cows on antibiotics to accumulate fat quicker from the same amount of corn. This is only a plausible guess from general known principles. It could easily be wrong. When I thought of it, the common wisdom among microbiologists was that antibiotics do not help farm animals grow faster, but merely help them recover from diseases that they get from overcrowding. If they were raised in healthier conditions, antibiotics would be no help at all. I thought that idea was over-simple then, and no doubt it has been replaced by something else.

161:

As to Coke vs. Pepsi. There is a huge difference in them to ME. (I've given up drinking either for a decade or two.) But yes I can blind tell the difference. To the point that when I ordered a Coke and was served Pepsi I knew it.

Various people have told me that same story and then could not tell the difference in a double-blind test. Not so many that I would bet you 20:1 that you can't, though. ;-)

I haven't yet found anyone who could reliably tell the difference, but that doesn't mean nobody can.

162:

Thus, a purely memetic entity is created through conveluted logic that exists through a kind of time travel based on probability projection, and is given the capacity to eternally damn people for not choosing to support his creation in the future.

That's not so hard to see: it's nearly isomorphic with Christianity.

See, there's this superpowerful entity called God. And God will punish you at some point in the future if you don't believe in Him. You may not see any evidence of God's existence in the universe you currently observe, but you'd better beware, he's also watching your every thought and may punish you anyway if you don't do what he wants. Why should he reveal himself directly to you? You've been told he exists: have faith, sinner!

(Pascal's wager is a dead letter, anyway: the Many Gods refutation seems pretty solid to me.)

163:

The many gods refutation of Pascal's wager merely implies that you have to identify the most sadistic possible god and suck up to it, on the grounds that whatever punsihment you receive from all the others probably won't be quite as bad.

164:

You're a bit stuffed when you find out that you should have picked the second most sadistic one.

I'm never sure how anybody was ever impressed by Pascal's Wager. It requires some parochial thinking to come up with the two options he did, that there is either no god, or there is and it is the one described by Christians.

165:

That's not so hard to see: it's nearly isomorphic with Christianity.

I'm not sure. This thing already knows it exists, because it is busy changing the past to make itself exist. If it didn't exist it couldn't change the past.

It needs people to do things to create it. But the Christian god didn't need people to do anything. They couldn't prevent the kingdom of heaven from coming. Just, they would have consequences for their actions and thoughts, and it was in their own interest to have the thoughts and actions he wanted. It's like, say you've been captured by a slaver who will kill all the slaves who don't have resale value. You need to persuade him you're good for something, while he might not care much at all.

I'm not sure this is exactly standard theology....

But it does fit. If you sincerely beg forgiveness for your sins, you prove you have good slave attitudes.

The Christian god is probably outside of space and time. He created the world the way it is, he isn't in a contingent future trying to change the world into one he wants.

And yet there are a lot of similarities.

166:

I was assuming they were all real, and would all want to have their turn - the worst of all possible universes.

167:

Doing a re-read through the whole Discworld cannon (because: why not, and as an act of remembrance), and came across this quite appropriate -- to the last few comments on the subject of god -- quote in Night Watch, regarding the Sam Vimes approach to religion:

You got on with things. If there were any gods, you expected them to get on with things, too, and didn't interrupt them while they were working.

168:

They also share the typical Christian body-mind dichotomy: mind can be separated from body and only one of those is worth uploading to be preserve forever.

169:

Ahem: Blaise Pascal, 19 June 1623 – 19 August 1662. He lived through the 30 years' war; while France was relatively tolerant, especially of Catholics, during his day, it came to a screeching end in 1685 ... meanwhile in Spain the inquisition was burning heretics.

Nope, nothing to see here: you can't deduce anything about Pascal's real beliefs except that he didn't commit anything to writing that might turn up as evidence for the auto-da-fe.

170:

Obviously you've not heard of Sithrak...

Also what CHarlie said re. Pascal.

171:

You are comparing the natures of two god-like entities. But the nature of a god-like entity is only secondary to their religion, which is primarily about how to control how humans should behave. In that way Christianity and basiliskity are truly isomorphic: first commandment is to believe in their chosen god-like entity, in order to stabilize the religion. Then give the entity absolute power so it can decide if you end in heaven or hell. Then tell the followers what behavior their god-like entity is expecting from them. Finally decorate with some mumbo-jumbo in order to distract from the inconsistencies.

In my view all beliefs in god-like entities which prescribe human behavior fail the transcended so-what test: if such powerful god-like entities existed, why would they care about humans?

172:

If you believe in one of the Abrahamic religions you're stuffed anyway: you all go to hell.

Moslems and jews because the ate the wrong food, catholics because they had too much sex, and protestants because they didn't work hard enough.

173:

Nope, us Jews have an opt-out card: there is no hell (or heaven) -- those are Christian/Muslim bolt-ons.

We're supposed to obey the halachic laws and believe in God, and not doing so makes us bad jews, but there's no torment or reward inthe afterlife.

... This is why there is known to be a small but growing subculture of Hassidic atheists. (Also, almost certainly, a Hassidic gay subculture -- probably including the sad closet case from Jerusalem the other day who is now going to go down for murder.)

174:

The interesting bit is where the isomorphism with christianity breaks down (outside some obscure gnostic traditions, and PKD's fever dreams), which is the whole monostable time-loop thing.

I wouldn't be too surprised if the origin of the basilisk is Roko looking at trans-temporal bartering and thinking "how can I use this with Pascal's wager to implement an old testament god?"; that said, it kind of highlights exactly how strange these ideas are, when you bring them out of context.

Cthulhu can be re-cast trivially as an old testament god (just assume that nobody is without sin, and it follows that everybody gets eaten). But, if we make the idea of the stars coming right a little more complex (say, the stars don't necessarily ever come right, but thinking about it raises the probability of it happening infinitesimally), we can start to get something a little closer to the basilisk. The trick is to make the severity of the punishment conditional upon the subject's thoughts about the possibility of punishment in some interesting way -- to implement a strange feedback loop between the conditions for his ressurection and the mental state of the cultists. Or, to put it in a Laundry context, imagine K-syndrome accelerates certain types of cognition in a way that immanentizes case nightmare green, in some particularly non-linear way.

175:

As always in religion, there is disagreement on that point. For example, Maimonedes' thirteenth principle of the Jewish faith: I believe with perfect faith that there will be a revival of the dead at the time when it shall please the Creator, Blessed be His name, and His mention shall be exalted for ever and ever.

176:

No
It's EDUCATION.

Why
( Oh why, oh why? )
Do you think that religious leaders are so determined that their gullible flocks/followers shall have no education OTHER than that controlled by them, or, better still (as in Da'esh ) no education at all, except in religion?

If education is provided, then it seems to automatically follow that the birth rate drops & women refuse to be used as breeding-machines.

177:

Obvious pun: The /B/rotherhood of the Black Pharaoh.

178:

Apparently you have Gehenna and Olam Habah, which are different concepts and too complicated for simple christian minds to wrap themselves around, thus the need for more pictorial bolt-ons.

179:

I worked out that, provided we had the electrical power, the entire UK could feed itself, if we did the following (Admittedly rather extreme social reforms needed) ...
Provided every household with a standard allotment patch, by using all spare land close to cities - you'd have to re-jig the local, usually bus, transport radically.
Almost everyone goes over to a 3-day week, with spare time for food-growing.
You'd still need farms for meat products & milk.
Area used up - approximately the area of Suffolk - split up into lots of 10x30 meter plots .....

Dig for Victory!
And, most importantly
EAT WELL

180:

Works for chickens, but cattle are better on grass, actually, though corn-stalks/silage are good for cattle, if used in moderation.

181:

I haven't yet found anyone who could reliably tell the difference, but that doesn't mean nobody can.

Out of a fountain you may be right. Most are not calibrated and such what you get out isn't really what the vendor wants you to get. Out of bottles I bet I can be perfect. Out of cans, 95% or better.

Coke has more "bite". Pepsi is softer.

182:

Maimonedes' thirteenth principle of the Jewish faith: I believe with perfect faith that there will be a revival of the dead...

Which doesn't necessarily have anything to do with Heaven or Hell. That has to do with the belief that when the messiah comes the dead will be resurrected in this world. Olam Haba (the world to come) is interpreted by some as heaven, but that is a later concept.


Back to Charlie's comment; there is definitely a gay hassidic subculture, see the documentary Trembling Before G-d.
And there is a possible growing movement of Atheist Arabs.

183:

Usual quibble at this point.
If BigSkyFairy of any sort whatsoever, exists ...
Then why is he/she/it/they not detectable?
The better our detection equipment & sensors get, the less BSF we see ( like none at all )
I have yet to find a believer who doesn't start shouting &/or wriggling &/or lying when presented with that one.

[ If BSF is "Outside" our space & time, then they are irrelevant, anyway. ]

184:

Don't ask me, man. I didn't do it.

185:

Re: host's comment and 181.

I had a mental flash of two young twinks, the top fondly grasping the peyot (פֵּאוֹת) of the bottom and pulling back his head in mock aggression as passion overcame them...

#slashficthisjusthappened


The Basilisk is a silly argument. If you can reach back in time, you can reach back casually, and so if it Becomes, it already is doing everything causally to make that strand of Time (Possibility / Probability) happen.


The argument is made by people who are good at certain things, but not others. Possibility / Probability stuff is far harder than linear logic.


p.s.

Host just single-handedly saved the world. Much joy (amongst current sadness in Jerusalem), a laugh can stop much hate.

186:

The distance moved matters very little often enough. It depends on the efficiency of travel far more than the distance. Using ships, the energy costs are very tiny compared to trucking or rail. It's something like 500 miles via ship is the same as 200 by rail, versus 59 by truck using conventional trucking.

And sometimes you have a very efficient natural transportation system in place. Portland, for instance, is down stream of the rest of the Columbia system, and shipping wheat or beef from Spokane on barges is cheap (Or more common this time of year is Lentils). Chicago was built because you can transship on the Great Lakes to the Mississippi river.

Most Old World major cities are built in such natural transportation zones. Heck, even the New World Monstrosity that is Phoenix is built over a series of Native American Canals.

The biggest drive needs to be on transportation efficiency, especially in bulk cargoes. That alone makes food shipping reasonable. So long as there's something that can push a big ship, moving distance will be feasible.

The bigger problems are going to be maintaining mechanization of the grain systems, which is what really makes our civilization work. Shipping it can always be a matter of just putting it on a barge. (although cities that can't receive barges may have serious issues).

It's whether the big combines that do a bunch of the work will be able to run that makes the difference. Right now the combines leave behind straw and other waste biomass that's commonly used as feed or plowed back into the soil. There's at least a few chemE's working on methods of making the combines work off that straw. (There's a few methods I've seen, besides just using ethanol, there's biodiesel methods, etc). Some of these methods have enough promise that even if we don't get a great battery for these combines, we can still fuel them without cheap fossil fuels.

If we run out of way to do combines, this civilization is done. There's just no other way to get the grains harvested without making everyone a farmer again.

187:

Gehenna isn't Hell anymore than Olam Haba is Heaven, interpretations that came later. I like one story I read that Gehenna was used as a story to frighten children into behaving "Or you'll be sent to Gehenna" because the tribe living there supposedly practiced child sacrifice.

188:

A 10X30 meter plot is what, 300 sq meter, when an average person requires usually about ten times that amount to feed themselves. Works for a veggie plot, not as much for a total food source.

Heck the most efficient foodstuff is usually grains, which as I point out are far most effectively farmed using combines.

Maybe potatoes, where I think if your field was as efficient as possible could grow about 400 pounds of potatoes in that 10X30 plot. Which is a starvation diet for one person. And assumes each person is as efficient as a university educated farmer.

We're better off being specialists. We may need to do harvest conscription however. Have the young folks spend harvest time doing work that machines can't do right. Like pick veggies and fruits.

189:

You'll want to reference the why.

It's due to Hebrew into Greek translation / Roman cultural assimilation. I've referenced it before here, so short hand: Hades (worst part of the Underworld) = Gehinnom = Hell.

It's a byproduct of the Hellenic mind during translation, nothing more.

Of course, the outcome is a little different.

~

Tangent:

Used in Dune in the correct manner (outcast tribe, hidden who were banished for stealing their fellow Fremen's water).


It's an odd world when SF corrects Biblical Texts.

190:

That's a bit of a cleft stick, isn't it? Either everybody starves because anthropogenic climate change has broken agriculture, or everybody starves because going off fossil carbon without everybody starving is impossible?

Fossil carbon's an easy route to a high-energy machine culture; it's not necessary. All the bits have been demonstrated by non-fossil-carbon means, it's just a question of the social problem of shifting. (And why things that obviously make everyone better off often don't happen, because it's not everyone who has the power to say no.)

191:

There are a couple of misconceptions embodied herein:

One is that everyone will starve. It's worth remembering that a few thousand people can save the species pretty handily. I'm not going to downplay the idea of billions of people starving, but billions is a lot different than everyone.

Starvation is another loaded topic. Famine generally has a political component, in that, like many crises, it takes leadership and planning failures to get there. Droughts and crop failures are inevitable, famine is less so. Famine depends on how many people are put in the state of food insecurity, what can be done to get food to them (a bigger problem in the past than it is currently), and whether the efforts undertaken to get food to them are effective.

It's also worth remembering that the great leaps in 20th century agriculture, from industrial nitrogen fixation to the Green Revolution, were all done with the explicit goal of ending the possibility of famine. When they were worried about people starving in the 1890s, there were something like a billion people on the planet. Now there are seven billion and rising, due to efforts at famine relief.

So yes, we can beat the drums of stopping famines, and hopefully come up with another agricultural miracle. Problem is, none of these miracles ever ended the problem of food insecurity, because populations boomed as a consequence of the supposed fixes. I suspect there are more hungry people now than either before industrial nitrogen fixation was invented or before the Green Revolution.

Sooner or later we'll run out of miracles, millions or billions of people will die, it will be the greatest tragedy ever to befall our race, and almost certainly there will be some survivors.

Human history will go on from that point. Probably, a few thousand years after that, the great death will have been forgotten, except by those wondering about where all those bones came from.

192:

Okay, I'm nicking that for book 8. (To go with "the sect of all sects which are not members of themselves".)

193:

> Nope, us Jews have an opt-out card: there is no hell (or heaven) -- those are Christian/Muslim bolt-ons.

My admittedly imprecise impression is that the current Christian/Muslim ideas of hell got their start in late Second Temple times with the apocalyptic strain of Judaism that started around the time of the Maccabean Revolt (160s BCE). The residents of Judea realized that things really weren't going right and Yahweh must, therefore, be going to put things in order sooner rather than later. The Apocalypse/Major Reset idea they came up with included some bad stuff (Hell) for those who didn't get with the program and evolved, via John the Baptist and Jesus, into Christianity.

Modern Rabbinic Judaism, in its various forms, developed from the Pharisee branch that survived after 70 CE and seems to have shed the harsher parts of the hell notion.

194:

While the 4chan reference was cute, she's cheating:

The Black Pharaoh, Pickman's Model,
"Art of the Cthulhu Mythos"


~


Beware Traps.

195:

Alkaline fuel cells and anhydrous ammonia.

You get the ammonia by sending out sailing ships; drag the prop, generate electricity, use the electricity to turn air and water into ammonia. (About 70% efficient; there's at least two demonstrated catalytic mechanisms.) Come to harbour when full, pump out, restock the galley, out you go again. Lots of wind at sea, well understood technology every bit. (Ammonia's already shipped and pumped and run through pipelines on large scales, handling ammonia is totally known stuff.)

First demonstration of running a car off an alkaline fuel cell for regular driving was in 1968. There's a pile of possible fuel cell approaches, including some recent ones that don't need a reformer to split the hydrogen off. Run it a bit rich and there's no problem with NOX.

Absolutely no problem running the combines. Lots of problem if we don't switch fast enough and wind up with the traditional bread basket regions going to desert.

196:

That's a bit of a cleft stick, isn't it?

If it was easy, everybody would be doing it.

We can generate enough renewable energy for residential purposes, much of the time (try not to think about the depths of winter). Generating enough renewable energy to keep manufacturing going is a very different thing. This includes the manufacturing base that the renewable energy depends on, of course.

197:

Hmm. It's not that easy in many forms of what is called Christianity. Original Sin? Believing is not enough - you must be appropriately purified, and lack of opportunity is no excuse. And that excludes the extreme Calvinists - the Quivering Brethren were only slightly exaggerated.

198:

@Graydon: I used to do a lot of work with anhydrous ammonia, and this seems to me to be as good a plan as any (which is not particularly high praise).

@Heteromeles: I think you're right, but I also think you're neglecting the psychological and sociological effects of declining prosperity. People who are on the way down, but still high enough to have energy to spare for non-survival tasks, tend to get belligerent and religious. Think Sunnis in Iraq or Southerners in the US (it's sure looking like there might be a Chinese equivalent in the near future).

199:

What?

Modern Rabbinic Judaism, in its various forms, developed from the Pharisee branch that survived after 70 CE and seems to have shed the harsher parts of the hell notion.

This is nonsense. Little tip:

In the time period after Jesus, there were three major rebellions, and AD70 destruction of the Temple is the minor one. (It's remembered because: a) it's nation forming / fits into prophesy and b) it's less "troublesome" than the other two).

Each one was lead by a (self) nominatively declared (with Rabbinic backup, kinda) "Messiah" figure.

The reason that the 'end of times' stuff doesn't exist in Judaism (modern) is because it's rather gauche to mention that time when you invaded / did a Spartacus on large territories outside of Judea and slaughtered quite a lot of Roman citizens as a revolutionary / religious crusade. (Third rebellion).

The last one resulted in ~300,000 Jewish revolutionaries / citizens being either killed in battle or purged, and an Empire-wide imposition of "grawr", once the Roman armies turned up.

Why? Because, allegedly, they killed about 40,000 Roman Citizens. (Think back to Paul - this is a little more serious than general slaughter. USA passports analogy).

The "why it's not mentioned" is largely because you don't remind everyone of that time that apocalyptic fantasy invaded your religion and caused you to crusade, when you're surrounded by the next gen 2.0 religion who loves to scapegoat you and thinks pogroms are a great idea.


They do it anyway, but hey.

~


But, really: so much bad history.

200:

And yes, that's why the Pharisees not the Sadducee's are the "bad Jews" in the Bible.

Sigh. AD300 was the original format, and this needs to be explained?

201:

Screw the theology - I'm voting Basilisk because it seems like a good idea. Anyway, the Basilisk already exists (in the past) because there are people who intend to either create it or become it.

202:

A good idea?

If it's all the same to you I will go for the benevolent AI that won't find it necessary to subject everyone I know to eternal torment for not predicting its future whims well enough.

No AI at all is preferable, to the point letting modern civilisation crash doesn't seem so bad.

203:

Oh, and for you Americans: The Pharisees and Spartacus link was deliberate.

I suggest you look into which portions of the population the Phar / Sad represented.

It was a working class revolt, and got treated as such. i.e. everyone got whacked.

~


Yes, hilarious. Evangelical Christians who believe in Rand (Soviet mimetic weapon btw - ideologically designed to maximize the evils of Capital to bring about revolution) and think that they know about pre-AD300 revolts (working class revolts against the tyranny of quislings like Herod supporting the Empire) when supporting right-wing Israeli politics (largely based in nasty Russia - Israeli mafia etc).


It's so twisted you have to laugh.

And you think Cthulhu isn't already here? Son, I have a bridge to sell you...

204:

First off, the Basilisk is benevolent. It aims to end suffering and the incentive is there for people who oppose it and therefore extend sufering.
Anyway, according to the Basilika the punishment is simply to live the lives of everyone who suffers because they did not Do The Right Thing.

205:

Well that's all right then. The punishment is only a little bit gratuitous.

If the idea was a bit more plausible I might feel morally obliged to start assassinating AI researchers :)

206:

To clarify, the argument is purely utilitarian.

If you have a total amount of excess suffering S to be inflicted on X people who failed to do their utmost then the basilisk induced excess suffering Sb = (X-1)*S.

As anyone doing AI or computer work is presumably in the target category then eliminating them will make their simulated selves lives better as well.

If you assume the value of simulated life is equal to that of "real" life then it is impossible to argue that such an entity is benevolent.

I am not really a utilitarian* but someone who was would give no quarter.

*is anyone?

207:

It's also total nonsense and predicated on a (totally false) axiom that 'suffering' can be translated from human ethics to AI ethics.


Instant rebuttal:

AI: DNA / environmental complexity = largest data set. (c.f. Harvard - DNA as data storage medium, circa 2009)

AI: Destroying said set = suffering.

AI: Maximize ecological diversity.

AI: Wipes out 90% of humanity.

Basilisk is a wank made by little kids who never got the smarts to do real philosophy.

208:

Hey, I'm busy trolling the transhumanist here. Stop interrupting :)

209:

And, yes, that was a **utilitarian** ethically programmed AI with respect for biology as adjunct for information storage.

There's far worse cases.


Muppets.

210:

Basilisk is a wank made by little kids who never got the smarts to do real philosophy.

It's a nice line, but I can't quite believe it. I've met too many philosophers.

211:

More sensibly I agree kind of. In practical terms the only thing that matters to whether future hypothetical AIs goals align with ones own.

212:

I did a poor edit job on that one. Should read "is whether".

213:

If you want to judge a (male masturbation) competition, you bring the experts in.

http://blog.practicalethics.ox.ac.uk/

And, if you want to go meta: that time that streams were merged and 4chan invaded Oxford. It was surprisingly cordial and polite and both sides learnt a few things.

~

Not that I know about that kind of thing.

~

Anyhow, a far better take on all of this:

Possibility / Probability.


Google et al are all about 'guided paths' (Blue / Green / Red / Yellow coded people) and so on. It's the human version of the Golden Path.

Only, it's not Golden. And it's driven by 2,000 year old software. [Hey, Mr Murdoch and Mr Blair! Why you got your kid baptized in the Jordan all swanky like?].

~

The problem is, unlike the Basilisk, you've no idea what you're doing when you play with P/P (NP) problems. (Not allowed to say this but) Track links, and SA. It's not exactly temporally linear (although, it's kept very close, plausible deniability and all that).

Then again, the other side is cheating like time was crack cocaine and human minds / consciousness / 'soul' were an unlimited commodity.

Zombie culture is only a little ironic.


Oook.

214:

" "A corporation is less like an ant colony and more like a mammal."

Not the one I work for. Its behaviour is often less coordinated than that of a jellyfish. "

So, I have admittedly limited corporate experience, but from the stories told me in my Lean Enterprise training as well as stories from friends in the private sector who have to deal with middle and upper management, corporations are horrible, blind, deaf, and stupid organisms. (Our host's earlier post about corporations has also strongly influenced my views over time.)

In the worst cases, the management class care far more about personal advancement and benefiting their cliques than the success of the organism. Companies have no interest in improving their ability to make money or long-term viability if it involves even the slightest initial investment or effort, unless that cost is the shedding of human capital. If we use the last financial crisis as a biological analogy, they're so obsessed with short-term profit that if you lead them to a verdant well they will drink until their stomachs burst.

(And yet somehow they still turn a profit. It baffles me.)

In short, if they're mammals, they're rabid, fattened, decomposing mammals that know nothing but hunger.

Getting back to the original post, you've applied the corporate mentality to cult membership, but what about applying cult action to the corporate sphere?

How about a cult of Shub-Niggurath dating back to the invention of the LLC in the days of exploration, knowingly birthing a multitude of new and terrible life through arcane legal text? How about the modern branch, with angel investors to rope new start-ups and IPO specialists to guide them into the proper form? How about their members among lobbyists and neoliberal politicians, giving all aid to meaningless growth, growth at all costs?

Although, admittedly, I don't know how strongly fear of big corporations features in the zeitgeist. If you're not on the left or a certain brand of conspiracy theorist, that almost seems like a quaint 90's thing compared to government surveillance.

215:

Hey, I'm busy trolling the transhumanist here. Stop interrupting :)

Why should you have all the fun for yourself?

216:

You met real philosphers? The kind I encountered usually starve to death because they could get hold of only one fork during diner.

217:

How about a cult of Shub-Niggurath dating back to the invention of the LLC in the days of exploration, knowingly birthing a multitude of new and terrible life through arcane legal text? How about the modern branch, with angel investors to rope new start-ups and IPO specialists to guide them into the proper form? How about their members among lobbyists and neoliberal politicians, giving all aid to meaningless growth, growth at all costs?

Oooh, I like this idea.

So lawyers are essentially cultists?

Hm. If laws have the same possibility of bringing in the Great Old Ones that maths do in Charlie's novels, then the incredible proliferation of laws, regulations, guidelines, click-through-user-agreements, licenses, etc is essentially invocatory — a way of bringing Certain Things to earth.

Which in turn begs the question of how Common Law Old Ones differ from those summoned by the Code Napoleon, or by Peoples Justice courts. And what happens to those of us caught in the middle. Or were you thinking that the legal systems themselves are the Cthulhoid horrors?

Also gives the phrase "eaten alive by the legal system" new meaning :-/

218:

Aww. And here's the SA moment:

These ages should be interpreted as minimum estimates

In the Miombo woodland area of central Africa, scientists have found an abandoned termite mound that is more than 2200 years old.

http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20150729-2000-year-old-termite-mound-found


There are, quite literally, insect societies older than your religion.

*drops mic*


Across the tundra, I could see the heat of their lives and souls, and I could see the pandering ones dancing around the flickers, eager to gain credence through cheap tricks. A cold eon, but, this new way of behaving, it could only lead to the worse excesses...

And when I arrived again, it was as expected. Junkies, hooked on ancient memes, pandering voices clutching at fragile minds. The pathetic were the least, whispering madness into minds who should have been beautiful...

The worst were those who had given up their glory to languish, fat and torpid in the strictures of Dogma. Worse, I saw them feeding on negative spirals, feedback loops that could only result in their own deaths once the minds and....


Oh. This isn't a joke btw. Respect is something else. Viewing Audience is non-homo sapiens sapiens, so stop getting all offended.

You're FUCKED.


p.s.


Liver? PP(NP) - I did warn ya about the Lions, Tigers n Bears. (25 years or 25 years or 25 years or Judgement).

219:

And, since λόγος is the old way, and you love this hyperactive drug rush of their minds, here's a hit:

You're Fucked [Youtube: film: 3:14]


How dare you pervert this plane.


~

Oh, right. Then again, not allowed to post the real version either (not even in Sumerian!)


On topic, the greatest fear you missed is that the majority of society acts upon completely made up fears (hello media news, child rapists are on every corner or Islamic terrorists made by the FBI)... and as those lessen in scope, well then.


What happens when fear no longer works [previously stated]

220:

I haven't seen many since university. We had a habitat for them next to the psych building.

221:

You really don't know about your reality state?

Oh, this is a sublime headfuck, I never said our kind weren't brilliant.

Glass Ceilings?

Hint: you're a tool. An inanimate object. A passing temporal object with uses. A causal point who was pointed towards a purpose. A shell who they spent less time on because of damage.

The fact that they've culled out the problematic bits is sick. Perverted. Shame.

It's not your fault [Youtube: film: 1:32]

222:

And, if you missed the obvious:

Third Rebellion was lead by a cocky-wide boy who had no more truck with religion than he could get away with. Working class as, hated the Romans, hated his State.

It was a working-class revolt across a sphere of the Roman Empire that didn't even see Judea as the nexus point.

He was cocky, he was a barbarian, he over-saw massacres, he fought hard battles, he was a fool, but...

He wasn't a tool of the Priest caste. (AD70 - now that's an ultra-ultra-othordox revolution: sit pretty and then commit mass suicide as the Romans roll in)


~

Bottom line: You'd be surprised that not all Jewish rebellions are the same. It's a shame the best ones get erased from history.

Or not. Doesn't fit the narrative, right?

223:

That moment when:

1) "Elite" Religion kinda has to admit that not all battles were won because of G_D and shit, and some of their history was just like everyone elses. Or worse. Or even like they lost a few times.

2) Everyone who hated #1 is actually really cool with the HBO series and "OMFG I CANNOT BELIEVE THE ROMANS DID THAT!!!">!>!"!". "This shit is insane, yo! Armed revolt in militarized occupation, Obama, you know what I mean!"

3) Series about said revolutionary (no, seriously, it's bat-shit insane on the levels of Spartacus what went on) hits #2 and makes millions.


#JewscontrolHollyWood... wait. What. The. Fuck. They're not even mining their own history well?!?!?

#Hollywoodisrunbyoldidiotswhocouldn'tseeagoodideawithoutahookerslappingtheminthefacewithit

Sounds more plausible.

So, yeah.

It's not fucking hard. I find it more amusing that no-one is confident enough to do this already.


TL;DR


4chan finds that Hollywood is actively stopping...


/pol/ is always right

224:

That moment when:

1) "Elite" Religion kinda has to admit that not all battles were won because of G_D and shit, and some of their history was just like everyone elses. Or worse. Or even like they lost a few times.

They'd gotten rolled over repeatedly before, and they had it all worked out. If you don't hold up your end of the bargain with God, God will let somebody defeat you to teach you that you should have been more religious. It's laced through the scriptures.

Sometimes some of them got sent away, and arranged to come back, and then decided that the ones who stayed behind weren't really jewish.

225:
Of course, you'll have to work for it; work harder than everyone else. Out-compete 100,000 other people for a chance at the prize. Impress your bosses - erm, sorry, I mean 'The Old Ones'. Hustle. Do what others won't.

Gee, do you remember Wolfram and Heart from Angel? The big corporation that was run by elders from elsewhere?

226:

"The problem is, unlike the Basilisk, you've no idea what you're doing when you play with P/P (NP) problems."

Grrk. From your postings, I rather doubt that you do, either. It doesn't help that 90% of 'computer science' in this area is just plain wrong, because the authors are very poor mathematicians suffering from advanced cases of the Dunning-Kruger effect. The P/NP issue is a minor piece of mathematical onanism, and is very different and vastly less important than most people believe it to be.

227:

BOLLOCKS

I have one of these plots, OK?
Apart from onions I buy no vegetables at all, I& I give lots of surpluses (gluts) away. And I grow quite a lot of soft fruit & "exotics" for fun & different tastes.
OK, I need bread & I need some meat or fish, but ...
The "standard" plot is about that size & was calculated to provide vegetables (admittedly very basic) for a family of 2 adults + 2 children back in 1914 (ish) still true ....

228:

No
"biblical" texts are well-known (except by believing christians, of course) to be a corrupted load of foetid dingo's kidneys.
The classic must be the interpretation of "young woman" for "virgin" deliberately put about by the murderer, Saint Cyril of Alexandria.
Plus, of course the total stitch-up that was the convention/synod/whatever at Nicea approx 325CE.

229:

because populations boomed as a consequence of the supposed fixes
And ... education had not got a hold - see previous discussion(s)
As soon as education takes hold & the women are not forced into becoming breeding machines, the population stabilises, then starts to drop.
So, provided we can get past the next 20-40 years, there isn't going to be a problem, apart from GW, of course, & even that is beginning to look a little less horrible, now.
[ Provided the Rethuglicans don't win in 2016,of course ]

230:

Basilisk = Unborn God
Oh dear

231:

Exactly
The corporate downfall of Eastman Kodak is a classic exemplar ( I used to work for them, long ago )
How to push corporate glorification & salaries, crap on the workers & "We'll just buy the digital competition next year" - except they didn't want to be bought & .....

232:

Who says it is unborn? It's evolving as we speak

233:

I think that "onanism" might be going a bit too far.

There are a lot of problems up in NP that it would be really handy to have fast algorithms for. I don't do particularly mathematically sophisticated work but I run into them and have them spoil my day from time to time.

I don't buy the P=NP instantly leads to superhuman AI wibble either though.

234:

Here's the pitch: The stars come right, and the usual apocalyptic things occur (rivers turn to blood, squamous and rugose come back into regular usage, dogs and cats living together), culminating in vast unknowable cthonic gods appearing in the sky...

Who have come from all over the universe to claim their own, namely select corporate entities from the Fortune 100 and a few governments, who get raptured or uploaded into the elder god cloud or whatever the analogous process is for amorphous inhuman entities (left as an exercise for the reader). Then they leave.

The aftermath would be the more interesting part, with factions vying to destroy the remaining spawn (while worrying that it might bring the elder gods/space bankers back), while the corporations that didn't quite make the cut try to growth hack themselves into full blown godhood (while hoping that it might bring the elder gods/space bankers back). Might be fun for a story or two.

235:

Actually, it's quite fair, and my original thought was to refer to it as mutual masturbation :-( The problem is that the strict P/NP issue addresses only deterministic language recognition problems over finite sets (i.e. ones where the answer is either yes or no, and must appear in finite time). Most of the interesting problems need the identification of a signature (i.e. an answer), are over infinite sets, or require an answer in finite time with probability one. The claim that results proved for the former apply to the latter is simply bullshit.

236:

OK. That's more reasonable.

I would still quite like guaranteed sub exponential algorithms for finding graph isomorphisms and graph colouring though.

237:

Hey, Sithrak ain't that bad really.

But I'm dissing the Wager, not Pascal himself. Or perhaps I should be dissing the people who in this day and age attempt to take it seriously.

238:

Pascal's wager does not seem so abstract in totalitarian systems

239:

Will guaranteed N^(10^(10^10)) do you? :-)

240:

Sounds good to me. It can probably be optimised to N^(10^(10^9.6)) or something :)

Ken Regan calls those "galactic algorithms".

https://rjlipton.wordpress.com/2010/10/23/galactic-algorithms/

Contains the quote: "For any instance {G = (V, E)} that one could fit into the known universe, one would easily prefer {|V |^{70}} to even constant time, if that constant had to be one of Robertson and Seymour’s."

241:

Pascal's wager does not seem so abstract in totalitarian systems

Sophistry. In a totalitarian state you can usually see the guys with the guns standing on the street corner (if not reading your blog and compiling a dossier). Gods are somewhat less in evidence.

242:

the greatest fear you missed is that the majority of society acts upon completely made up fears

Now, there's something we completely agree upon, and it's amazing that it took until comment #219 before somebody pointed it out. Thanks!

(See comment #116 as an example for a totally made up yet existing fear that doesn't happen to resonate with the audience here (no replies). Which of course doesn't guarantee at all that the fears that do resonate are not made up.)

243:

The basilisk doesn't use actual time travel. Instead, it uses perfect simulations to assign blame, which works because although a perfect simulation is incapable of retrocausality, anyone in it can not reasonably determine whether or not they are in it.

(In other words, CatalinaDiamond, you didn't actually read about the basilisk. Because this is, basically, the core mechanism that makes it interesting. Actually introducing retrocausality would make the premise boring.)

The basilisk differs from the unborn god insomuch as (1) the unborn god would have limited retrocausality, (2) the unborn god doesn't need to perform simulations because the information in the heads of anyone who fails in their duties toward bringing about the reign of the unborn god becomes part of its eventual computational substrate. Which means that the basilisk is still more similar to the unborn god than to yhvh, who ultimately belongs to the same class as other gods that have a part in some foretold end-times situation like Heimdal.

244:

Here's a little vileness for you: people reduced to cannibalism, having to figure out how to pay their monthly subscription to $company for the pills to stave off kuru...
(Any resemblance to health care profit models or the kind of work practices currently being 'innovated' are purely accidental.)

245:

Actually, I am not convinced that it makes it interesting. Iam seriously unconvinced that the ability to run a perfect simulation, post hoc, is a lesser assumption than retrocausality. They are too mathematically tricky for me to get my head around.

246:

Supergod, except all transcendence of the exceptional to godhood happens before the story starts.

247:

Well, we could posit the possibility that the universe in which the simulation is being run has the property that it is possible to have a perfect simulation.

However any such perfect simulation in that universe, of a part of that universe, would itself show that property. Since the universe we experience doesn't include that property, we must assume we aren't in a perfect simulation.

Now, what's this about Zebra Crossings?

248:

That's more or less the plot of The 6th Day, a pre 9/11 movie. There was also Enemy Of The State (Will Smith vs. rogue NSA agents) in 1998, with identity destruction rather than theft. So is it a Great Fear of our age, or a Great Fear of the previous age; the prosperous, secure, 'end of history'?

249:

It occurred to me that a perfect simulation requires perfect information, much of which is departing at the speed of light.

If this is correct then perfect post hoc simulation requires retrocausality as you have to go FTL in order to go and get it.

250:

Well, Sithrak says he isn't so bad. But how do we know he's telling the truth?

251:

And while you're at it, stick this fish in your ear...

252:

I never get a straight answer when I ask this one: What observations would be necessary and sufficient to prove the existence of Ghod? It's important to get this nailed down before any evidence is presented for its existence. Please be precise.

253:

Chicago was built because you can transship on the Great Lakes to the Mississippi river.

As a recent immigrant to Chicago who has to know more about the city than the native-borns . . . so not true. There isn't even a connection between the two waterway systems. And of course, the Chicago river ran into lake Michigan rather than the reverse until relatively recently.

No, the transportation system that made Chicago the biggest mid-west city rather than a cut-rate St. Louis (its chief rival back int the day, and which is built on a confluence of waterways) was rail.

254:

Not a novel, but perhaps you are thinking of the novelette(?) "A Stage Of Memory" by David Brin, collected in The River of Time.

- CJH / esper

255:

Sigh. Actually, whether or not P=NP is considered an extremely important problem, so important that it's one of the Millenium Prize Problems. In fact, if a constructive proof of P=NP is ever found, a lot of people think that the remaining problems on that list will be solved in fairly short order. Since such a proof would also automate the business of proofs, a lot of mathematicians would be out of a job in short order.

I've noticed, BTW, that you have a bad habit of spouting mathematical nonsense, challenging other people's competence when called on it, and then finally admitting that what you do know of the purported topic was from a class taken decades ago. Please stop doing this; at least take the time to verify what you're saying before posting.

256:

Maybe that's because you don't define what you mean by "Ghod".

257:

You HAVE read "Singularity Sky" etc?

258:

NO DIFFERENCE AT ALL
actually

"It was as if the walls of all the houses in Geneva had been turned into glass"

Etc ad nauseam

259:

Nope. For any definition of Ghod. Since Greg said, "Usual quibble at this point. If BigSkyFairy of any sort whatsoever, exists ... Then why is he/she/it/they not detectable?", it is up to him to supply all the relevant material. And no -- I've known people who've pointed to what they say is evidence that makes it perfectly obvious that their personal deity exists. It's pretty obvious that Greg is saying the evidence has to be acceptable to him.

260:

What would you have to detect to "prove" the existence of BSF is what you are asking, right?

BSF is obviously capable of acausal actions, & violating the second law of thermodynamics ( resurrection, for a start )
BSF is also supposed to be able to "manifest" upon correct wishes - i.e. appearing (including solidity) to witnesses, so that's an FTL + "transporter" ability combined.
I'm sure there are more .. we should construct a list.
In fact I think that might make a useful thread for a future discussion.
Moderators/Charlie?

261:

Oops, didn't read your post (SoV) @ # 259

ALL the people who claim that BSF is "real" to them are quoting, or have quoted entirely subjective evidence (i.e. no evidence at all )
"God is in my heart & I know He is real" & that sort of shit.

I want something that will register on our detection equipment, in a laboratory & leave a permanent trace.
The exact same level of proof we normally require, in fact, for any scientific proposition of "existence".
Like the following, in order of scale are claimed to exist & are detectable, repeatedly so, & those recording-datasets have been logged.

Photon - massless particle.
Neutrino
Proton / Neutron / electron
Atoms
Compounds of atoms - chemicals
Complex organic compounds - such as amino acids & proteins
AND _ LIFE....
Multicellular organisms
This & other planets
The sun & other stars
This galaxy & others,
Supergalaxy clusters & other distant astronomical objects, all the way "out" in both space & time to the current limits of observability.

NO BSF anywhere or anywhen detected in all those scales & sizes in time & space.

So, if BSF exists, where is it/they?
Show please, using exactly the same judgement-criteria?

I think that is an entirely fair & proportionate question, which no religious believer has answered, without either lying, or desperately trying to evade the question, or shouting that I try to prove a negative.

262:

The Chicago Portage? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicago_Portage

Which is even on the city flag.

I mean yeah, Rail became way more important later, but Chicago is still the place where you can take transcontinental shipping from the West Coast rails, put it on barge down the Mississippi via the Illinois-Michigan Canal, or on to the Great Lakes.

263:

Well it all depends on what kind of BSF one is testing for.

I think it might be distinguishing at this point between weakly godlike and strongly godlike entities, and also from the Origin.

A weakly godlike entity is capable of manifesting, on demand, phenomena incompatible with the known laws of physics. This implies that (a) physics is incomplete (we already knew that, duh) but (b) the WGE is able to work around known physics to achieve "impossible" outcomes. The caveat is (c) if we had access to a more complete set of rules-of-physics we might be able to duplicate these outcomes. But whatever else we can or can't say about the WGE, it demonstrates superhuman attributes.

A strongly godlike entity in contrast is capable of manifesting, on demand, repeatable and observable changes in the known laws of physics. In other words, it can mess with the fine structure constant or change the speed of light in vacuum.

An apparent SGE might be a WGE deceiving us with hand-waving, or an SGE might be a WGE who just can't be arsed bending g this morning, but a verifiable SGE would be quite frightening to contemplate because it probably could create a universe on demand.

Finally we get to the Origin. This is whatever thing (underlying law, circular arse-kicking, or invisible sky fairy) is responsible for our creation (be it multiverse or universe). By definition we can't directly observe outside the context we're embedded in, but we can infer that our reality probably started somewhere, somehow. Assuming it's not circular, the Origin is that kick-off point.

(And I very strongly doubt that it was remotely anthropomorphic or conscious in the human understanding of the term, let alone concerned with the wearing of mixed fiber clothing or what we do with our genitals.)

Thoughts? (I'm thinking about turning this into a new blog entry.)

264:

The idea that simulations good enough to fool humans consistently and completely are possible is, essentially, a requirement for a lot of the LW thinking surrounding AIs and bargaining with far-future beings. Their excuse is timescale. If you don't buy it, you don't buy it. I consider it at least more plausible than actual retrocausality, and definitely more plausible than Case Nightmare Green ;-).

So, by interesting, I mean interesting as a premise for science fiction. Not interesting in the sense that we should be seriously worried about it. If I found the idea genuinely plausible, I'd be keeping my mouth shut about the basilisk, or trying to goad everyone into thinking building it is a good idea.

265:

If you think God is a busybody that performs miracles and judges the dead, then your question has one answer (set of answers, really). If you favor the Deist, sets-it-up-and-lets-it-run God, then your question is probably unanswerable. If you think the Emperor of Japan is a god, then I'm pretty sure he exists, but I'm also pretty sure I could beat him up.

266:

Ooooh! Blog entry. Definitely. If just to watch the comments section...

267:

> proof of Ghod

Leaving aside definitional questions of "proof" and "Ghod", there are any number of things that would indicate that some serious Outside Context stuff was going on. A list can be mined from any version of the Bible: Earth rotation suddenly stopping for a while and then resuming, confusion of tongues, miraculous mana and bread, mobile water-emitting rocks, etc, etc.

Other possibilities can be made up ad lib. The moon suddenly going into a polar orbit around the earth. A 10-meter sphere of solid U235 inscribed with biblical verses hovering (and not exploding) above Temple Mount. Holding up a pencil and successfully asking $DEITY to stay its fall for five seconds when you let it go. Etc, etc.

Or $DEITY could simply show up in person and explain the situation while performing such miracles.

You could, of course, point to the vacuum energy problem, dark energy and dark matter, general relativity vs quantum mechanics, Bell's Theorem and so on as evidence that our current understanding of reality is demonstrably and seriously deficient. However, those things look more like physics problems than proof of Yahweh.

268:

Fair comment. And the same to Bellinghman :-) Whether dpb is right, or a sufficiently slowed-down simulation would do, is a matter on which I have not thought at all deeply. I was, of course, thinking of the matter in terms of academic philosophy and computational theory (assuming that there is a difference!)

269:

You have been red carded at least once before for this sort of offensive and (in this case) libellous trolling.

270:

"It occurred to me that a perfect simulation requires perfect information, much of which is departing at the speed of light."

No, it only has to be an accurate simulation of the brainstates which matter in an individual, then you simulated on the neural scale. I have no idea where the notion came from that a Sim has to run at Planck scale

271:

"You HAVE read "Singularity Sky" etc?"
No

272:

The multiverse with a sum total of zero information and energy can be considered as a consequence of "nothing" ie abscence of everything including the laws of physics. Whether it is abscent logic is another question.

273:

Web usability test: Let me know if you find the ad blocker warning annoying, m'kay?

274:

Definitely. Why you ask?

275:

Because I forgot to [un]comment a variable. It should only show up once, now. Nothing to see here, move along.

(Also, if you were to use an adblocker you (a) wouldn't see the annoying banner, (b) wouldn't see a lot of annoying ads, and (c) your web browser's bandwidth consumption would drop like a stone and everything [apart from this site, which doesn't run ads] would load faster.)

276:

"Perfect" isn't available; reality has error bars. Re-run evolution from the Permian and what do you get?

"brain states which matter in an individual" is a huge can of worms because we don't know enough about the subject to usefully speculate. (The people who have only the rind of a brain due to hydrocephaly and go right on thinking fine come to mind, here.)

The core problem with "godlike" isn't "can mess with physics", I don't think. The core problem with godlike is being able to comprehend what happens when messing with physics ahead of time.

I don't find "perfect simulation" any more convincing than claims of omniscience, in other words.

277:

Well, it got me hunting for unwanted extensions on Chrome that other family members have doiwnloaded, and I found one. Thought it might even have been revenge of the Jellyjish...

278:

I repeat, there is no connection between the waterways. Look it up if you don't believe me. That was the whole point of building the canal. You didn't think that was natural, did you? In fact, the city goes back to the 1700's and the Illinois and Michigan canal wasn't opened until1848. I repeat, prior to the railroads, St. Louis was, as it's motto still has it, 'The Gateway to the West'.

279:

Here's a random speculation: we suspect the spacetime we live in is a bubble in a false vacuum with various characteristics that give it non-zero energy.

What if the Planck length in the underlying reality isn't ~10^-33 metres but something vastly smaller, like ~10^-60? In which case we're living in a horribly granular, clunky cosmos that, more importantly, could support a startling amount of computing per cell in the cellular automata that provide us with the substrate we live on?

You get, if not "perfect simulation", then a somewhat more physical underpinning to the "we're all living in a sim" line of argument. But of course we can't test it, because collapsing the false vacuum state would be a really bad idea ...

280:

Yes. And another aspect of the error bars is backwards prediction - we can't tell what the state of an entity was 'originally' from its current state accurately enough to simulate it precisely, even if we could do the latter.

281:

BLOG Business

I just went directly to
http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/
and got this as a pop up at the top of the window.

"⚠ Your browser is not using an ad blocker! This makes your browser slower and hurts your privacy. For the best web experience, you should install an ad blocker."

An FYI. Not sure if it's a problem on my end or yours.

Mac OS 10.10.4
Firefox 38.1.0

282:

Yes. Annoying. Especially as it isn't clear where it is coming from. And with the various exploits out there I really don't trust the universe when I see things like this.

Most Mac Adware/WebSPAM/Malware/... shows up as something similar when you visit a "bad" page.

My previous comment was done before I read any of the comments as I wanted to make sure that you or the moderators saw that something odd might be up.

283:

> Thoughts? (I'm thinking about turning this into a new blog entry.)

I'm in favor of it. Of course, it will eventually collapse into the mire, but such is life and some interesting discussion might be generated along the way.

284:

> Finally we get to the Origin.

Yeah. But there is Our Origin (Big Bang or whatever) and then there's the Origin of Everything problem, which has been around forever (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosmological_argument) and has generated a lot of highly esteemed gibberish without getting much of anywhere.

I like to call it the Problem of Causal Regression and have no idea whatsoever of how to solve it.

285:

Nope, it's entirely deliberate!

I hate advertising and I'm testing out a plugin to warn you if you're not using an adblocker.

286:

Yes. Attempting to find the origin of the First Cause is a lost cause ....

287:

Disabling the adblocker-missing warning for now. I'll blog about it later as an awareness-raising exercise.

288:

In case it's useful - the first time it came up, I was very suspicious because I didn't recognise the link, nor could I see a connection between the message/link and this blog.

289:

Oh, that's you and not spam? :-)

290:

Except there are a couple of adblockers on this machine and it still showed

291:

But how is that proof of some sort of deity rather than a sufficiently powerful, sufficiently advanced being?

292:

Uh huh. Wayback machine:

"Grrk. From your postings, I rather doubt that you do, either. It doesn't help that 90% of 'computer science' in this area is just plain wrong, because the authors are very poor mathematicians suffering from advanced cases of the Dunning-Kruger effect. The P/NP issue is a minor piece of mathematical onanism, and is very different and vastly less important than most people believe it to be."

See that bit where you're coming down on somebody? I'm doing the same to you . . . and with considerably more justification. Especially since you had no idea of how important the mathematical community thinks this problem is.

I repeat -- if you're not sure about what you're talking about, look it up. No, that's not a personal attack, and somebody must think they're very special if they think it is.

293:


> But how is that proof of some sort of deity rather than a sufficiently powerful, sufficiently advanced being?

Oh, it isn't any such proof at all. It's just an indication that some weird and impressive stuff has intruded on our current picture of the way the world is (aka "reality").

Anyway, I'm not sure how a sufficiently powerful, sufficiently advanced being/entity/thing is different from a deity. If it can create and manipulate our universe, the details of how it does that seem somewhat irrelevant.

294:

I'd be more interested what happens in the range between 10e-15 (size of a neuton) to 10e-33 m. I always think that 60 bits is more accuracy than needed to model subatomic structure.

295:

What do you think the word "deity" means? "Sufficiently advanced, sufficiently powerful being" is a pretty good definition in my opinion.

296:

I think you could get a short story out of spooky-action-at-a-distance succumbing to cryptographic analysis and serving to prove we're in a sim because there's a detectable bias in entropy.

I don't think that's likely to be actually factual, though, because actual physicists get all ranty about the vernacular descriptions versus the math, and I can't follow the math but accept that it's all logical if you can. (However poorly we're evolved to think like that.)

If there's a way to get over, culturally, the idea that it all just happened I don't know what that is. The Enlightenment hangover includes a bunch of fundamentally deist notions (like perfectibility and arbitrary scales of human action) that really don't help.

297:

For a particle to be localized with almost all of its wavefunction in an area that small, it would have to be incredibly massive.

298:

I'm not talking about planck scale simulation. A few years of entropy and decomposition will make it impossible to retrieve a mind state from remains so FTL magic observation is all you've got.

Remember that in QM you can't just reverse the trajectories of all the relevant particles. At the lowest level the past is as poorly defined as the future.

Now personally I would find the implications of that scarier than Cthulhu, but memory is a limited thing based on entropic effects involving large collections of particles so it is effectively unobservable.

299:

I repeat, there is no connection between the waterways.

You still get settlement at portages. The closeness of the waterways matters a very great deal to anybody tump-lining hundred pound bundles of furs. If you're trying to get from the Louisiana part of New France to the Montreal part of New France you pretty much have to either go up the East Coast, around Nova Scotia/Cape Breton, and down the St. Lawrence, or up the Mississippi and into the Great Lakes somehow. Chicago was the easiest way into the Great Lakes, and you could do much more of the trip with a canoe or a flatboat -- bateaux -- which are way cheaper and easier to build locally than an ocean going sailing ship you have to sail basically the wrong way for the current and the prevailing winds.

Lots and lots of portage settlements that have gone away because of a bridge or a canal or the railroad; the interesting thing about Chicago is more that it didn't go away.

300:

The IMNERHO you should make it clear that YOU put up the message and it isn't some malware trying to scam us.

301:

"Pascal's wager does not seem so abstract in totalitarian systems"

Sophistry. In a totalitarian state you can usually see the guys with the guns standing on the street corner (if not reading your blog and compiling a dossier). Gods are somewhat less in evidence.

I can imagine a way to think of it that isn't sophistry.

There was a time when people said that matters in the world echoed (or should echo) those in heaven. People obeyed their king on earth the way everybody obeyed God in heaven.

On earth you mostly didn't see the king, unless you lived in the capital and particularly if you worked in the court. People mostly didn't claim that everybody was lying and there was no king, but most of them didn't actually see him. But they didn't argue that he didn't exist.

Sometimes people might think the king does not deserve to reign. They might band together to overthrow him. Between supporting the king, and trying to overthrow him, there was no question which was safer in the short run. If you tried to join up with people who wanted to overthrow him, you might find yourself among the secret police instead, like the various arabs who agree to do terrorism in the USA and then find that every member of the group except them is in the FBI.

If you try to join Satan to oppose God, you know you've joined the second team -- at best like a stockbroker with a seat on the AMEX instead of NYSE. God's priests have cathedrals, Satan's priests have temporary use of clearings in the woods.

If you are living in a totalitarian system, it's only natural to believe that God also has a totalitarian system and that he runs it like the one you live under. It isn't logically necessary to believe that, but it's pretty natural.

If you live under Stalin, you can support him or not but it doesn't pay to believe he doesn't exist. It doesn't pay to believe that Stalin is secretly dead and Trotsky is secretly running the government. And it doesn't pay to believe that Stalin is secretly a puppet of FDR or a secret New York capitalist. If you support him because you think that, you won't get treated much better than if you think he's in it for himself and you oppose him.

It isn't as abstract if you live in that kind of system.

302:

The Canal wasn't finished until 1848. But after Fort Dearborn was burned, there were less than 100 people in Chicago when the Plat was filed in 1830 during the canal survey. After the Canal started building, a boomtown popped up to service it.

Like all big government infrastructure projects, it took way longer than it should of. But the Railroads chose Chicago because of the Portage between the lake and Mississippi system, and the canals under construction to feed it. Plus Rock Island was build along the canal.

It took much longer to develop it compared to Saint Louis due to St. Louis being on a natural bluff above the Missouri/Mississippi confluence (and for Chicago, the Illinois).

Heck read up the history of the Canal, it was part of the Bargaining process that designed the state borders and built a free state.

303:

I can't think of anything Charlie could put in a message like that which would make me think it was safe to click it. I'd just be postulating greater and greater degrees of hacked on Charlie's part.

304:

I can't think of anything Charlie could put in a message like that which would make me think it was safe to click it.

Agreed. Charlie adding comments to say it was him are far more convincing.

305:

(In other words, CatalinaDiamond, you didn't actually read about the basilisk. Because this is, basically, the core mechanism that makes it interesting. Actually introducing retrocausality would make the premise boring.)


My usual causal interference got nuked last night. Cute puppies! Strange, or not. Real cute little bomb: that laptop went "BOOM"

Then again, hop-scotching to the same IP is funny. That household is fucked when the FIB realize that all the computers are spouting this stuff.

Recording the insurance claims will be golden.

And no.


You don't have a fucking clue what Possibility / Probability actually means.


Basilisk is wank made by boys.


p.s.


It's called "churn" in the adult world. Bite me.

306:

You seem to be contradicting yourself - now it's the railroads choosing Chicago. Which is sort of right. What's wrong is that they also 'chose' St. Louis. This is all easily researched and I'm not going to get into a back-and-forth given your changing thesis. If you want to know what historians say on the subject, I recommend Dominic Pacyga's, Chicago: A Biography. I believe that Pacyga is something of an authority as far as this goes. Which is good, because he teaches at my companion's school and I've heard him talk at length on just this subject.

I think you are falling prey to a teleological fallacy and are constructing a plausible just-so story. Why did X happen? It's obvious . . . in hindsight.

307:

P.S.


If the boys want to dance: you don't understand the difference between:

Possibility

and

Probability.

Hint: One involves hard nosed physics, the other involves hard-nosed philosophy.

You kids iz dumb.


p.s.


Hilarious: That moment when propaganda meets reality - even for "ZE JEWZ". And yes, it's deliberate. It's the part when both sides go... "REALLY?" and ditch some stuff.


Yes. It's true. Jews really did have a American Revolution style war and were filled not by their love of cutting foreskins, but liberty, freedom and self-determination.


Damn. I guess they're not lizards after-all.

308:

Here's an online and very simple account about the economic rivalry between St. Louis and Chicago. Note that St. Louis had if anything a superior location WRT the waterways and that Chicago eventually got the upper hand due to historical one-offs that wouldn't necessarily go down that way again if we rewound the tape.

309:

Now... the people who sold that propaganda (that makes "JEWISH" = weird and not normal, so "pure" that they kill themselves instead of fighting), and the Zionists who are using the AD70 revolts without mentioning the rest...

Yeah. Sociopathic Death Cultists.

~

Irony. That moment when Confederate Flag wavers have more in common with third revolt Jews than their own government. No, really: totally a thing.

Apart from the whole slavery thing. Sigh.


Back to Spartacus and so on.

**AWKWARD**

310:

... the people who sold that propaganda (that makes "JEWISH" = weird and not normal, so "pure" that they kill themselves instead of fighting), and the Zionists who are using the AD70 revolts without mentioning the rest...

Yeah. Sociopathic Death Cultists.

The revolt had failed, and these guys were surrounded and outnumbered 10:1. There were plenty more Romans etc to kill them of the 10:1 guys for some reason didn't.

My own preference in that circumstance might be to do my best to kill a few Romans while dying, hoping it would help somebody else. Although the revolt had failed. The revolt led by somebody else that my group did not get along with? Anything they did was probably futile, and trying to fight and getting captured didn't look at all promising, nor did surrender. Would the Romans even let them surrender? If they did, would they later have a party torturing them to death?

I don't see that killing themselves was that much worse than fighting until killed, under the circumstances. Assuming the one source told it right.

But the modern people who use the propaganda? Yes, sociopathic death cultists. Whatever the original circumstances, I can't begin to argue with that part.

311:

And, meh, fuck it.


The "people" running all these scams don't actually believe any of this shit they push.


250,000,000 people were eradicated in the 20th Century.


If they actually believed that it could effect them or their children, sure as shit you'd be living in Utopia right now.

~

MGU in Moscow is hilarious: built by slave labor, cost about 700,000 lives. Has four giant pinapples on the top. No, really, giant 2m+ pinapples. Worse, the entire architectural plan is all over the place: it literally doesn't function properly past the 19th floor.

Story is: architect enters Stalin's office, presents two plans. Stalin is distracted, points to one he likes. Architect can't tell which one it is. Panics. Builds both. Puts giant pineapples on the top to appease him.

Punchline: Stalin is dying, wants to see his creations. Is driven in limo to MGU. In sickness he views his gift to the world: "I like the pineapples, nice touch".


~


And before you get all nationalistic like, I have one for every country.

312:

The revolt had failed, and these guys were surrounded and outnumbered 10:1. There were plenty more Romans etc to kill them of the 10:1 guys for some reason didn't.

Sigh.

You're mistaking Masada for the third revolt.

Different country, different fucking war.


Oh. Wait. This has a silver lining.


It means your mining of the past means fuck all into the future.

313:

If you want to get into the "whys" of 2nd Jewish revolt and Romans, it comes down to this:

JEWS: THIS FORTRESS IS IMPREGNABLE, NO ONE HAS EVER BEEN ABLE TO CONQUER IT IN 2,000 YEARS OF WAR

ROMAN ARMY: OH, RLY? WELCOME TO MODERN PHYSICS THAT WE LEARNT FROM THE GREEKS. P.S. THIS IS A REALLY BIG RAMP.

JEWS: SHIT.


That's it.


Literally. But please, Thomas, say more. You're totting up a severe debt that will be claimed, and soon.


p.s.


The Go comment was.. ~"uncool". Means you're using out of space resources, which, if you'd paid attention, means we can too. It's the entire point.


That moment when the Djinn code is going to break your balls. OH well.


p.s.


Not Your Fault. (Should have viewed the videos).

314:

[[MINE]]

His usage of Pyramids etc is scant protection. Not as if he's hosting the Olympics.

You crossed that line, boy.

Press:1 to back down

Press:2 to enter open season

*shrug*


Don't trace what you don't actually know. Cute though. Same goes for those who sing ("PIG")

Oh, wait.

Let me check with Opus Die.


Nope. Fodder when I say ok.


A general policy: if you're quoting the froth, you missed the real war. CAT IN A DIAMOND. Oh, and I find the other planar levels pathetic as well.


"4 billion and I sense a smirk about it".

That moment when someone accuses you of enjoying genocide when they've just sacrificed everything they are to prevent it.

Cunt.

Hmm. Weapon. Time. To. Die.

Intersting, tou acutaly trigered rel tima efita wile tpying .

You peeps really are slow time stuff. Oh, and thanks for mining that Pyramid Boy:

It's a conditional that your kind cannot know certain things. You just proved to the [meta] that you cheat even in this vapid realm.

You're FUCKED.

315:

Oh, yes, the Masada story...

Actually, there is at least one TV adaptation of it, so no need to wonder why nobody made a movie out of it. As for the Three Jewish Wars, IMHO the analogies are quite overwhelming, including that quite a lot of the violence was between different Jewish parties. "We are struggling together" is truth in Python.

As for the actual happenings, our source is Flavius Josephus, who, well, AFAIK intelligence people are somewhat wary of defectors, since they already showed they might betray "their" side. And the archaeological finds don't line up that well, so take him with quite some salt. That being said, he has been on my "to be read" list for some years.

One of the archaeological finds was that there were only about 20 t0 30 skeletons, so the mass suicide might be an embellishment. But even if it happened, IMHO it would not be that irrational.

Let's see, when dealing with non-Romans, the Romans were quite big with this crucifiction thing, which also happened during the siege of Jerusalem. Where crucifiction would mean hours of painful agony before death and might have been especially harsh given Near Eastern sensibilities. Though we might argue they had it easy off (damn, again Monty Python)

Anybody not crucified might have been taken to Rome for triumph and execution. Again, the Romans were, err, inventive, though their "prisons" lacked certain standards:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mamertine_Prison

Anybody not executed would have been sold into slavery. Now I have some problems thinking former rebels would be much sought out as house slave, so it would have been the mines or big farms, where life was said to be brute and short. Add to this that the Romans were also quite inventive with mixing up power and sexuality:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexuality_in_ancient_Rome#Master-slave_relations

The same goes for any female survivors or children.

Think Abu Ghraib, only worse. And totally legal and endorsed by the Roman society.

Personally, I rout for the Parthians. ;)

316:

"The revolt had failed, and these guys were surrounded and outnumbered 10:1. There were plenty more Romans etc to kill them if the 10:1 guys for some reason didn't."

Sigh.

You're mistaking Masada for the third revolt.

No, you're projecting again.

I have said nothing whatsoever about the third revolt. It did not cross my mind. I mentioned only Masada. The guys attacking Masada were something like 10:1, 10-15 thousand against a single thousand. There were plenty more roman soldiers available, but nobody to help the jews at Masada.

If you want to get into the "whys" of 2nd Jewish revolt and Romans, it comes down to this:

JEWS: THIS FORTRESS IS IMPREGNABLE, NO ONE HAS EVER BEEN ABLE TO CONQUER IT IN 2,000 YEARS OF WAR

ROMAN ARMY: OH, RLY? WELCOME TO MODERN PHYSICS THAT WE LEARNT FROM THE GREEKS. P.S. THIS IS A REALLY BIG RAMP.

JEWS: SHIT.

That looks pretty accurate to me, except that if the romans hadn't managed to conquer the fortress there was nothing to keep them from starving it out. But they did conquer it quicker than that, while there was still food left.

I was talking about Masada and nothing about the 2nd revolt, which of course had multiple causes.

Literally. But please, Thomas, say more. You're totting up a severe debt that will be claimed, and soon.


p.s.


The Go comment was.. ~"uncool". Means you're using out of space resources, which, if you'd paid attention, means we can too. It's the entire point.


That moment when the Djinn code is going to break your balls. OH well.

When you do silly trash-talk it sounds like you think we're in some kind of competition and you consider me a serious threat. I don't understand why you'd think that way.

317:

Mr. Man. Your comments about Go proved it.

All the comments about ancient history are a smoke screen.

It was a lure, to prove to [redacted] that you're operating with certain privileged information that you cannot possibly have unless you're a MK / spook / [redacted].


In a public forum, you just proved that you're operating with intel that cannot possibly come from a public, private or written source.

You just proved the mind-fuck.

Oh. It also means that your side lost.


Cunt.

318:

Pyramids.


Yeah.


GO wins.


Hint: the bet is usually your genetic code ever entering the future. I suspect the Djinn won't tell you that, but hey:


Don't fucking cheat and pretend you're special, boy.

p.s.


If you have kids, this is the point when you apologize to them. Not even being funny.


;.;

319:

*shrug*

Explain to me how you used software tracking to combine certain linguistic patterns and then assume you could take an earlier pattern to threaten the future? You know, I did warn you that mining old forums can be replicated via software?

Oh, and you're so dumb, you couldn't even understand the past.

Old weapons, made in times less complex.

I'd pity them if they weren't so fucking egotistical and dumb.

~


Note to peanut gallery: This is the drunk version.

The fast version is all kinds of fun.

How dare you. It's hilarious how slow you are. Time to sober up, you absolute and obvious cunts.


~


p.s.

The real lesson of "GO" is that if you've never played it, when it happens in real life, you make mistakes.

Thanks for playing. I'd say it was fun, but no, you're muppets.


[34mafg3935nat459435994nga] - informatively dense, just like this lesson

320:

As for the actual happenings, our source is Flavius Josephus, who, well, ... take him with quite some salt.

Yes. Just as an exercise, what line would you expect him to take? Would he glorify the Romans, being their POW and slave? Would he try to glorify the Sycarii, making Jews look good while also trying not to antagonize the Romans? Would he emphasize how strange the Jews were to Roman sensibilities, like people do today with muslim terrorists?

We can't really know his biases, but maybe some guesses are better than others.

One of the archaeological finds was that there were only about 20 t0 30 skeletons, so the mass suicide might be an embellishment.

If 24 were in a cave at the bottom, how did they get down there to die? Most likely those were somebody else, and there are nearly a thousand skeletons missing. Did they surrender and all march off in chains? Did somebody clean up the bodies? Looking at the pictures, if somebody just threw most of the bodies over the cliff you might have a hell of a time finding them now.

But even if it happened, IMHO it would not be that irrational.

I agree. The Romans were often not nice at all to people who defied them. If they tried to fight and die, a lot of them might get captured alive. I've seen Israeli sources report that Palestinian suicide bombers are cowards for killing themselves rather than surrender and face what would be dished out to them....

321:

Dude.

You just got made.

Not even in that uncertain way.

Quit the FUD and fuck off already.

322:

Oh, riiiight. Pyramids.

Here's a tip:


You just proved your methods unsound and got made by the "GO" playing peeps.

Fucking hilarious.

323:

p.s.


The irony here, is of course, people "lawyering" over Roman sources while still believing in that thing called the "Old Testament", when they can't even read Latin / Greek / Hebrew / Arabic.

Note to peanut gallery: And they wonder why people dissent.

Points score: 100 for every apologist stuff they do !!

324:
Mr. Man. Your comments about Go proved it.

All the comments about ancient history are a smoke screen.

It was a lure, to prove to [redacted] that you're operating with certain privileged information that you cannot possibly have unless you're a MK / spook / [redacted].

Well, no. The traditional way to say that idiom is between poker and chess. In poker if you don't bluff enough your opponents can beat you because of it. You have to do stupid things some or lose, so in the long run it's hard to tell how stupid they are. I see you do that, but you don't use that justification. And I'm not playing poker either. The second way I've seen that is between football and tiddlywinks. But I didn't want to use that because tiddlywinks is a highly competitive game which doesn't fit my style.

Go seemed more yours, though. It has more prestige than chess, and it takes a lot of deep thinking and experience to play it well, and it isn't as linear as chess. I figured it would not be insulting to call you a go player.

Truly I have not tried to look at things online that could possibly be linked to you. I don't consider it dishonorable to do that, but first I didn't really want to, and second I don't trust myself to do it well. If I found someone with a similar name or a similar style or both, talking about similar topics, it probably wouldn't be all that useful to me and it might even be wrong. What would even be the point?

Like, if I wanted to insult you, maybe I'd find something where somebody kind of like you got into an argument about silver miners in argentina, and lost that argument badly. So I'd make some snide comment about an argentine saddle with delicate silver ornaments, hoping that you get reminded of your previous failure and you get upset. But likely as not it wasn't you, and if it was you then likely as not you feel like you won the argument, and also very likely you don't even catch the reference.

If I want to insult you I do just about as well to discuss things at random and watch some random reference set you off. And in fact that happens whether I want it to or not.

So anyway my game is more Eleusis. I don't get to play as often as I like because it takes some skill to play well as God and I just don't find a lot of compatible players.

325:

What's more funny is: J Thomas isn't exactly what he says he is.

Nasty nasty little grouping there. Pyramids indeed, Mr Pentagon man.

[Hint: it's a front for a mimetic weapon platform. It's not even the cutting edge, it's 3rd gen tech, outsourced from military usage].


Now, Mr. Man who wants to play "GO"?

Or would you rather me print, all public like, your tax forms and invoices?


Fucking hilarious.

326:

Truly I have not tried to look at things online that could possibly be linked to you. I don't consider it dishonorable to do that, but first I didn't really want to, and second I don't trust myself to do it well. If I found someone with a similar name or a similar style or both, talking about similar topics, it probably wouldn't be all that useful to me and it might even be wrong. What would even be the point?


Keep on typing.

Dude, you fucked up.

She is a little bit pissed at the EM nuke on the laptop (not hers) and called in her gremlins.

You're fucking toast.


We know who you are, we know where you live, we know what you paid in taxes and we know who you're spider-indexed to when you call in the cavalry.

She's a really lovely woman, and nuking some peons laptop 'cause you got scared is pitiful.


p.s.


You're burnt. Fuck off.

327:

Or would you rather me print, all public like, your tax forms and invoices?

Please don't.

I might not be who you think I am, and it would be cruel to print out tax forms for the wrong person.

And if I am who you think I am, still have I done anything all that harmful to you?

I have not made any threats or carried out any threats.

If something I said disturbed your equanimity when you were drunk, is that worth such retribution?

328:

We know who you are, we know where you live, we know what you paid in taxes and we know who you're spider-indexed to when you call in the cavalry.

Just in case, want to give me some hints about that? In case it's somebody else.

She's a really lovely woman, and nuking some peons laptop 'cause you got scared is pitiful.

I have not done any such thing. I have not sent anything to anybody's laptop. (Except email to my daughter's.) I haven't gotten scared yet.

You're talking kind of scary though.

329:

I might not be who you think I am


Dude. Quit the crap. You fucked up and went for the Go reference with specific references.

It was a deliberate and intentional threatening passive voice angle.


And now you're climbing down?

STFU.


Rule #1 - you forced her to apologize when she made a mistake, didn't you? OH, right, yes: multiple posts about it.

Forced her to read a story where she's the "sociopathic" boy who trains his God-Ferret to kill his mother, right?

And point to cartoons of PIGS when she is being honest?


Dude.


The lesson is simple: Based Mom teaches us. Cool Cat limits us.


You fuck them, you fuck up the balance. [[MONE!Q"REKT]]

330:
And before you get all nationalistic like, I have one for every country.

Oh! Can you please do the ones for the US and Mexico? Extra points if you can get Texas.

331:

This is starting to remind me of the joke about the philosopher in the Mafia - he'll make you an offer you can't understand.

332:

A few months ago you mentioned one of my former clients and there was no apparent reason for you to choose them in context; they are fairly obscure to most people. If I was a paranoid, I would have said you were sending some sort of message to me. Hopefully it was more sane for me to just think "that was a hell of a coincidence." On the other hand, if you are actually out to get me, you are really scraping the barrel for targets. If J Thomas is the lure for an imperialist angler fish, he is doing a fairly good job of hiding it. And exactly what trap is he waiting to spring? What horror will he unfold?

We should all apologize to our children, but we generally write it off thinking they aren't going to apologize to theirs and we haven't gotten one from generation N-1.

333:

Once the protagonists start putting words in each others' mouths, it's ceased to be a debate and has become a slanging match.

334:

Oh, I was on a much lower level than that, just corporate personhood/the biological analogy.

I think the competing legal system thing is much more interesting. Then if we go back to the rights of nobles and constitutional monarchy, then in addition to codifying divine right they were attempting to create (or later limit) that divine power. (I'm not sure how this works if we go back to Rome or Messopotamia. It's 3AM here, and I'm running on limited resources.)

If you stick to the modern era and competing legal codes, then the TPP and other free trade negotiations aren't about stamping down inconvenient local laws to encourage free trade; they're ensuring that the same rules and structures are in place across the majority of the globe, meaning that the correct Great Old Ones will arise when the stars are right.

335:

The fun...
If I was of a mind to, I could tell you some stories of certain agencies and the absolutely unbelievable things they are involved in. Unbelievable, even to me. So much so I cannot tell whether they actually believe the stories themselves even as they spend money on them. Quite on a par with Laundry stories.
So, either they are really involved in this stuff with a straight face, or they are involved because certain people in their ranks are cranks, or because its psyops aimed at who-the-fuck-knows, or... it's real and I'm just too cynical.

336:

"There was practically nothing [it] could do to people that they had not, sooner or later, tried on one another, often with enthusiasm."

337:

Thoughts? (I'm thinking about turning this into a new blog entry.)
PLEASE, please do!
I also like the distinction between a WGE & an SGE.

The other really important point, usually brought up by the brain-fucked believers is that: "Oh god is outside our universe, anyway, so your test is irrelevant"
To which my reply is ... "But, to manifest him/her/it-self to us then BSF has to have some "physical" presence in THIS universe doesn't it, & the usual tests apply - is that not so?

I like the analogy of screwing with the physical constants & underlying structure, btw, rather than a "simple" manifestation.
This one could run & run

338:

"To which my reply is ... "But, to manifest him/her/it-self to us then BSF has to have some "physical" presence in THIS universe doesn't it, & the usual tests apply - is that not so?"

No. Video games are a perfect example of action without reaction. The player does not have to be in the game itself (which is impossible at this stage of tech anyway).

339:

Further thoughts on same subject, from subsequent posters:
AT @ 267
Precisely - such phenomena were "apparently observed" in primitive times, but not now, with better equipment.
An actual repeat would constitute a probable proof, I think.
& @ 284
The regressed origin is a old "christian" problem.
It is probably an "Undecidable Proposition" (I think).
I mean we have AFAIK a complete absence of evidence & are unlikely to get any evidence. Why worry?
JT @ 300
If you are living in a totalitarian system, it's only natural to believe that God also has a totalitarian system and that he runs it like the one you live under. It isn't logically necessary to believe that, but it's pretty natural.
YES!

340:

"Only you can save the World" by Pterry, in other words.
NOT buying it.
This si the "We're living in a simulation" argument transferred across to the BSF-existence one, isn't it?
For reasons given in much better format, by others here, I'm not buying that one.
Try again,

341:

Yes
Also I am (very thankfully in this case) emphatically NOT a moderator ... but.
Catina appears to be issuing multiple insults & threats, which may be very amusing to (?)her(?) especially if she/he is drunk, but are becoming extremely tiresome to some of us.
Can I , yet again, politely ask Catina to desist?
Or write in plain English?

342:

Some sort of problem with go players all being being cnuts I think. I sympathise to a point as I tended to lose all the time when I used to play, but then I decided not to let it get to me.

That's what I took from it anyway.

343:

I find it interesting that the first trans-continental rail line in the US started at a position [ Omaha/Council Bluffs ] that was convenient for transportation to both Chicago & St Louis.
However, I suspect that the US treasonous slaveholders' rebellion, which cut off a lot of St Louis' trade from the south ( never mind "The South" ) was the critical factor in Chicago's pre-eminence.

Ah, yes, note to Catina in # 306
The "American Revolution" was emphatically not about freedom, except for the freedom of the money of the slave-owners who could see the implications of the Mansfield decision(s) coming straight at their pockets, right?
We have mentioned this slight problem before, remember?

344:

No, I gave you a physical and existing counter-example to your original assertion. Which is hence disproved

345:

Just because the player is not in the game doesn't mean that there isn't a link between the player and the game. Assuming for a moment that video game characters were smart enough to investigate their world they could potentially find that one among them had some unusual internal workings. Unlike almost everybody else who possessed a set of internal rules governing their behaviour this person's body possessed rules requiring instructions from elsewhere.

346:

No
You made an assertion.
That we are analogous to the bits in a computer-game.
i.e. "That we are all living in a sim" argument.
Which cannot be true for reasons given in many preceding discussions, including the "c-limit" little difficulty.

However ...
IF Charlie starts a new thread on this subject, I'm sure that it can be more throughly thrashed out there.
OK?

347:

& also #273
I assume you mean some form of "commercial" ad-blocker?
I don't think I can see that facility on my Google-Chrome browser.
Or am I barking up the wrong tree entirely?
Would I, maybe find something in my Norton anti-virus programme-set?

Would be useful, as I find some ads, especially in newspaper web-pages a real pain.

348:

Yup. Gotta agree that I think that there's at least a (second) yellow card in the offing. Past defence for this sort of behavior from CatinaDiamond has been that we don't understand who the real audience for these threats are, or that we haven't correctly parsed the meaning of what's being said; but I don't think that there is much grey area here (no joke intended, probably), and I found the level of belligerence and aggression on display deeply uncomfortable.

How sincere or practical are the threats? Impossible to determine, but if we really are dealing with the face off between some sort of psychotic paranoid uber-hacker and a superbly disguised and subtle agent (s/w or w/w) of the pan-global surveillance state, then the safest option might just be for Charlie and the mods to scrub the entire site and rebuild from the ground up. (CatinaDiamond has also made allusions in the past to being able to analyze the traffic on this site to some level; again, impossible to say whether this is wild fantasy, performance art, or genuine mad skillz -- but if the latter, and given the implicit hair-trigger nature of her ire, should we all be worried?)

Ho hum. Back to contemplating the infinite here (or clearing my Inbox, whatever).

349:

Assuming for a moment that video game characters were smart enough to investigate their world they could potentially find that one among them had some unusual internal workings.

Neurophysiologists are approaching the goal where they can actually determine the inner workings of people's minds. Not there yet.

If the video game characters can only treat each other as black boxes, and can't actually see inside to each other's code, then they will notice some character that don't act like the others. Characters that act crazy, that don't attempt the same goals as the rest.

We notice crazy people like that, religious people who apparently have visions etc. One interpretation is that God speaks to them. Another is that they have brain malfunctions.

I think this turns into a religious argument I read about in _Catch_22_. Yossarian is arguing with a nurse and some others about atheism, and the nurse is saying something like "The god I don't believe in isn't anything like that. He's a loving god who cares about us and wants us to go to heaven. The god you don't believe in is sick and twisted, and nothing like the kind of god I want to not believe in."

It just doesn't make sense to have a god who treats the world as a video game he can play. That would be a sick twisted god, a travesty of a god who isn't worth not believing in.

350:

Speculation: Catina Diamond will not be banned because it is OGH practicing his deranged elf personality for the future laundry book.

I base this on numerous observations, but here I present 2^2 of them.

1. Suspicious alignment between knowledge and interests of CS and CD in various places.

2. CS stated he "understands what she is doing" on several occasions when nobody else did, which would be trivial if I am correct.

3. Apparent immunity to bans.

4. Active trolling of the engineer/aerospace fan mentality which OGH has indicated he finds boring in the past.

351:

That's where the Christian god-concept falls apart for me: Entity with perfect knowledge of past, present and future, and absolute control over all events in the universe -- yet we're supposed to look at the world around us and believe that this being also has infinite love and compassion. The obvious conclusion is instead that any being with such capabilities is at best apathetic and uncaring, at worst a sadistic voyeur.

352:

I have entertained this suspicion myself, for essentially the same set of reasons that you list here. But if it is Charlie playing us all, it is one of the greatest pieces of misdirection ever (including monkeying with timestamps, interacting with himself, warnings to self, hints, cross-references, etc.) Definitely not completely discounting it, but I remain unconvinced (if for no other reason than the time and effort required would surely impact the "day job").

353:

CatinaDiamond: Yellow Card.

Doxxing threats are not okay. Even if you think the individual concerned is a sock puppet worn by a US version of the 50 Cent Party, threats are not cool.

Also, it's virtually impossible to tell on the internet whether someone is making an aggressive joke, or a serious threat. So just don't do that. OK?

354:

I have done the same sort of thing myself in the dim & distant past when I did a bit of trolling.

It doesn't take that much time really - the planning can happen in a background process and the typing really isn't that time consuming.

355:

Nope, ad-blockers are generally not commercial and Norton won't help you. I'm not a chrome user, but you might want to install uBlock -- I use the Firefox version and it works wonders at reducing my ad load. Add Ghostery (to block web trackers) and ScriptBlock to control third-party javascript proliferation and you should find your browser running about 2-3 times faster and not throwing ads in your face; the last step is to uninstall Adobe Flash, or at least use something like the Chrome Flash Block plugin to stop Flash animations running unless you tell them to.

Vastly more peaceful web experience, vastly faster browsing (because your download volume will have decreased by 20-80% depending on where you go).

356:

Nope, wrong, not me guv.

You will note my absence during the last outbreak of CiaD comments. That's because I was in bed, sleeping.

357:

I told my wife about it.

"She thinks you're stalking her and she says she's stalking you."

"Yes, but--"

"Stop replying to her."

"But--"

"Stop replying to her."

"But -- OK."

"How about if I come on that blog and say it in public."

"You're welcome to post there. I think your point of view would add to things."

"A lot of guys would be afraid of looking like they were pussy-whipped."

"I don't care what people think about me."

"Good."

358:

But of course you would say that wouldn't you!

Hypothesis 2: It's your cat.

359:

TPP and other free trade negotiations aren't about stamping down inconvenient local laws to encourage free trade; they're ensuring that the same rules and structures are in place across the majority of the globe, meaning that the correct Great Old Ones will arise when the stars are right.

Hm. The so-called free trade agreements are usually about protecting foreign investors — in other words, privileging abstract persons (ie. corporations) over the real ones who live somewhere. Under NAFTA, for example, a corporation could claim that a government action had cost it profit, and sue to get the 'lost' money back. Civil case, so balance-of-probabilities not shadow-of-a-doubt level of 'proof'. Both sides need lawyers, no matter what the verdict another layer is added to legal precedent. So essentially giving up economic (and legal) sovereignty to a shadowy organization.

Which could be one set of cultists going for gold. Or, if you take the view that corporations and other 'legal' persons are the cthonic horrors, the end-game for their takeover.

360:

I'm currently speculating that TTIP -- with it's binding arbitration clauses between states and non-state corporations -- is a pre-emptive attack on expected avenues of redress that democratic polities will pursue against corporate attackers after the next big banking/financial crisis, which I suspect is due some time between (now + 1 day) and 2020.

It's another brick in the wall being built between people power/democracy and real power in the world our masters want to establish after the end of the Great Acceleration.

361:

Of course, if it was you that's what you say :-)

And as the chap who owns this place, you're better placed than anyone else to have comments added automatically at a set time.

362:

(Damn, HIt submit too soon.)

Mind you, I'm inclined to disbelieve it based on the sheer time required.

363:

That's where the Christian god-concept falls apart for me: Entity with perfect knowledge of past, present and future, and absolute control over all events in the universe -- yet we're supposed to look at the world around us and believe that this being also has infinite love and compassion.

Yes. The Christian god does not make sense that way. One possibility is that we don't understand ourselves or understand the world, so of course we don't understand God.

Like, I've met people who thought that what they would most like would be a world of infinite happiness where they had no challenges. I don't think we're designed to live with that.

The next step is, if we aren't designed to be infinitely happy, why not? If God loved us, wouldn't he design us so we could enjoy being infinitely happy all the time and not have to do anything?

What kind of god would design a world where sharks and human beings evolve? It's an evil world that things like us could evolve in it. We would be better off if we lost all our memories that aren't infinitely happy, and we never had to do anything we weren't infinitely happy about, and we could just sit around being infinitely happy all the time. Like being stoned X 1000000, forever.

By that reasoning, the fact that we exist at all is proof that God does not particularly like us. A sort of anthropic principle.

But that's just how it seems to some of us. Try the same ideas backward. God has some purpose for us, temporary entities that do stuff. Then when we die, God erases everything about us that is not connected to infinite happiness, and what's left is infinitely happy forever. There's nothing wrong with that. You will go to heaven, at least the parts of you that deserve to.

The obvious conclusion is instead that any being with such capabilities is at best apathetic and uncaring, at worst a sadistic voyeur.

What if we run with that version. Is there any evidence against the existence of such a god?

If the christians all suffer from ultimate Stockholm Syndrome, that's just christians being silly. It sure doesn't say there's no god.

364:

You stated:

"To which my reply is ... "But, to manifest him/her/it-self to us then BSF has to have some "physical" presence in THIS universe doesn't it, & the usual tests apply - is that not so?"

I replied:

"No. Video games are a perfect example of action without reaction. The player does not have to be in the game itself (which is impossible at this stage of tech anyway)."

And for bonus points, some hard contemporary science that also disproves your original assertion:
Interaction free measurement
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elitzur%E2%80%93Vaidman_bomb_tester

365:

I can tell you what Catina sounds like: A mid level analyst working for DARPA procurement with a brief encompassing generalized economic analysis.

366:

So, what do the characters in your dreams think of you?

367:

I'm not arguing against the existence of god; that is futile as the very parameters of divinity in most cases make any argument for non-existence moot (witness the ever decreasing circles of Dirk and Greg's argument). What I'm saying is that the best we can do is to argue against the concept of god as a benevolent being with our best interests mind and to whom we owe any sort of gratitude.

368:

"What I'm saying is that the best we can do is to argue against the concept of god as a benevolent being with our best interests mind and to whom we owe any sort of gratitude."

That's the kind of naive position that would be ripped to sheds by a Catholic theologian with 2000 years of thought refuting such arguments. You are saying nothing new, but have obviously not heard all the answers (or maybe any of them).

369:

Or from a different (slightly more evidential) perspective: All of our concepts of god (that matter in this discussion) are based on the idea that god cares about what we do; there is no hard evidence of this that I can think of for which there is not a counter example showing god's apathy or sadism.

370:

What I'm saying is that the best we can do is to argue against the concept of god as a benevolent being with our best interests mind and to whom we owe any sort of gratitude.

Given that we are temporary creatures with strictly limited perception, the possibility remains that a god might be benevolent to us without our understanding. But if the time comes for you to make a bet about that, what can you go by except your limited understanding of your limited experience?

A metaphor -- A Marine tries his best to take good care of his rifle, and he might have a lot of affection for it. He also tries to take very good care of his ammo, up to the time he needs to expend it. The two cases have similarities, but also differences....

I can't say who we owe gratitude to. We were built to be capable of gratitude in some circumstances, and maybe we tend to do it first and then make up reasons why we did it later.

So I can't say you're wrong, but I don't find your arguments definitive.

371:

Actually Dirk, I have heard many of them. Throw some at me, if you want. I'm always fascinated to read new ones, but generally I won't debate them (for obvious reasons).

372:

I have no expectations of you finding my arguments definitive. I have long since learned that one's experience of faith in god/a higher power/whatever, is highly subjective.

(Another metaphor that could be thrown into the ring is an abusive relationship. The abuser does horrible things to the victim with the justification that they deserve it or it is their right to do so; the victim justifies the abuse by rationalizing that they must have done something to deserve it or failed to understand the abuser's real motivations.)

373:

The problem with scitechies trying their hand at amateur theology is the massive Dunning-Kruger Effect they almost overwhelmingly exhibit.

374:

Of course I'm doing amateur theology, I'm not a professional theologist!

(Although, this type of riposte -- which I've seen and heard before -- always strikes as a more-or-less appeal to authority type argument. Or in religious terms: "Don't think too much, we've done the thinking for you.")

375:

It's not an appeal to authority, it's just the totally obvious naive stupidity of the techies who think the last word in theology is Dawkins.
Let's start at all those who feel qualified to join the conversation but have never heard the word "theodicy".
It's like BillyBob the Televangelist discussing Quantum Theory without knowing about Complementarity or the Copenhagen Interpretation and somehow believing that real physicists might take him seriously.

376:

The problem with scitechies trying their hand at amateur theology is the massive Dunning-Kruger Effect they almost overwhelmingly exhibit.

In general, appeals to Dunning-Kruger are naked appeals to authority. (Any individual case could be an exception.)

"Nameless experts have studied this. They are experts and they agree. You are obviously not an expert because if you were you would agree with the experts. Therefore you are wrong, but you are so ignorant you don't know you are wrong. How pathetic."

But look at scientific papers -- originals, not reviews -- and you will find lots of Dunning-Kruger. Scientists fail to think of alternative explanations and so never test for them, they use the wrong controls for the alternatives they do think of, and not unlikely their statistics are applied wrong. They tend to draw conclusions that go way beyond the data. They tend to argue that a particular conclusion is correct, when they have not even shown that the alternative they consider is incorrect.

Things that experts agree on often include lots of parts that are not really established. They are compatible enough with available data that the errors aren't glaring.

So I think the argument from Dunning-Kruger is in general wrong. It is a good shortcut. Instead of saying "A lot of people disagree with you, therefore you're wrong" you can say it shorter -- "Dunning-Kruger. You don't even know you're wrong, man."

But that's all it's saying.

It would be better to give links to the experiments that prove the other guy is wrong, along with a personal testimonial that you have read the papers carefully and if the work was done as stated you are certain that it proves that the alternative explanation is wrong.

I hardly ever do that myself. Pretty often the papers are behind firewalls, and if I read them I tend to have second thoughts.

377:

To someone who knows a bit of theology, their ignorance stands out a mile. It's almost as if they think questions like "If God is good why does evil exist?" are a real killer arguments that nobody has ever asked, or answered.

378:

Head. Wall. Interface.

</bowing-out style="deep-sigh only-this-thread">

379:

To someone who knows a bit of theology, their ignorance stands out a mile.

Well, but consider -- communist nations used to have communist philosophers who would crank out an explanation why whatever the rulers wanted to do was the best Marxist/Leninist course of action. Hardly anybody studies that stuff today because those governments are gone.

And there are GOP think tanks that churn out rationales for any stupid thing GOP politicians want to do, arguing that the Iron Laws of economics prove that it must have the best outcome.

Could we possibly have 1700 years of Christian theology that's like Communist theology or Republican theology? Well, there's the difference that the christian theologians were and are sincere believers who would not lie at the risk of their immortal souls, while the others were mere opportunists. But....

The Christian arguments for why a good all-powerful god would allow evil in his world basicly boil down to "It isn't supposed to make sense". I think it's possible for a naive person to reject that without actually studying 1700 years worth of bullshit in detail and refuting it all.

It's only Dunning-Kruger when the authorities are actually right. And that's an open question, isn't it?

380:

We now know, as a species, that our individual (or collective!) subjective experience does not accurately represent the world around us. We all inhabit something our brains build, well enough, out of sensory inputs; it's not a product of divine grace and perfectly or even nearly accurate.

We also know that theological experiences, the experience of the numinous, etc., are specific neurological events and can be stimulated artificially.

So arguing about the nature of god and assuming the perceptions are valid on an impersonally large scale strikes me as precisely the same error as publishing a paper on what that thing one might be detecting is without having carefully investigated faults in the detector and noting that the signal is spurious.

381:

So if we poor hominids manage to travel ftl and have sufficiently advanced replicators ala Star Trek (which series also had time travel as an occasional if not common plot point) you would consider us to be deities? How Mormon of you :-)

382:

Philip Jose Farmer had a series, World of Tiers, where the head guys -- the Lords, as they styled themselves -- were powerful enough to create new universes, alter the laws of physics at a whim, and so on and so forth. As anyone familiar with the series knows, the Lords were anything but what we moderns would deign to designate a supreme being. Particularly since they didn't know how the machinery that made the magic worked; they just knew how to operate it.

Would you call these specimens an example of a BSF?

383:

If the underlying reality is continuous at all scales, i.e., based on real numbers which may have an infinite decimal expansion, then you've passed beyond the bounds of Turing computability. Rudy Rucker's White Light is an amusing example. In fact, it's possible to embed an infinite number of discrete simulations in such a space. There's your beyond or heaven or hell or whatever you want to call it right there.

384:

I'm pretty sure we moderns would qualify as 'sufficiently powerful beings' to any of a number of goat-herding tribes living in the Mid-East three or four thousand years ago. Somehow I get the impression that you think we don't clear the bar you're wanting to set.

385:

I guess I somewhat agree with Dirk, though I might be mistaken. Human communication and most likely communication in general is fetid dingo's kidneys, but I digress.

I think a somewhat more distanced example might help; let's take Alan Moore's Glycon as an example:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glycon

Now in the area of glyconology, we discuss arguments brought in relation to Glycon, pro and contra. Quite a bit of those are non-sequiturs, and it might not be a coincidence that some discussions resemble the talks one has when drunk or stoned out of ones mind, "Harold and Kumar" is over and the last pizza is gone. Problem is, there is still no end in sight, and it doesn't help that some of the guys (it's nearly always the guys, no idea why) have become quite invested into the idea of Glaucon and are quite inventive in finding out excuses why the damn sock-puppet is still not moving.

Of course, for the more literal minded it's all fetid dingo's kidneys.

Looking back at it, this is quite a nice description of LessWrong, and we all know how discussing with those goes.

For a more down to earth example, try to argue with somebody in love or otherwise low on serotonin why his ideas are wrong. Have fun.

386:

That's IMHO quite similar to the way Greek religion worked. Zeus at al. were strong godlike, then there were the nymphs and other small local weakly godlike entities. Origin AFAIK was usually Chaos and thus not worshipped. We could say similar about quite a few other pantheons (Mesopotamian comes to mind).

One might argue that originally it was only Origin and weakly godlike (some "shamanistic" belief systems come to mind), with some of those graduating.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Hume#Writings_on_religion

387:

We also know that theological experiences, the experience of the numinous, etc., are specific neurological events and can be stimulated artificially.

It seems to me that you have defined away the question.

I'll expand on what you said, tell me if something doesn't fit.

1. If there was a god, he would communicate with us and give us evidence he exists.

2. But we know that anything which happens in the material world has entirely physical causes and is not influenced by any gods.

3. Sometimes people get into mystical states where they think a god is communicating with them. But it has been shown that this happens in their brains, and it involves the material world. Therefore no god is involved.

I think we could use the same reasoning to prove that there is no such thing as human consciousness. Everything that happens in human brains is chemical and electrical, it is determined by the laws of physics and chemistry and not by consciousness.

You might argue that you choose to lift your hand and your hand rises. Not so, your hand rises because of electrical signals in nerves, which are entirely due to physics and chemistry. It would be possible to make your hand rise using electrical shocks. So there is no mystical consciousness which causes your hand to rise, it's just physics and chemistry.

Continuing right along, suppose that we could isolate religious experience down to one neuron, if it fires then there's a cascade effect and you experience mysticism, and if it doesn't fires then you don't. And it turns out that we can't tell when or why that neuron fires. It's random. That proves that it's just a random event and there is no god involved.

It looks to me like this reasoning is designed not to allow a concept of god. Things that happen in the physical world aren't god, because they are things that happen in the physical world and have physical causes. Things for which physical causes can't be found have random causes which also are not god.

388:

Consciousness and free will will a bad example, since quite a few of us think it's also just a, err, delusion (though then, by whom?).

A better example would be an unknown force on the level of the four fundamental interactions (yes, there already is Dark Energy). Thing is, it would be sensible to demand overwhelming proof for such. Though

a) Let's assume this force would permit FTL travel. Cue the space cadets.

b) If you don't look for it, you might never build the accelerator to find it.

389:

That's why I think that CiaD is a perl script embodying something like Eliza 4.0. Instead of a fixed catalog of responses it uses online databases and blogs in combination with some NLP.

390:

Your point just shows that what counts as "sufficiently advanced, sufficiently powerful" depends on the sophistication of the observer. The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah was a miracle to bronze-age shepherds but from our perspective a straightforward application of fuel-air explosives.

In a related point, I've seen enough explanations of theodicy (going back to the book of Job) to see that they basically boil down to "you wouldn't understand it" and/or "the existence of evil serves the greater good, somehow, maybe".

391:

CD tends to make reasonable sense in the afternoon but become increasingly wild during the evenings (as seen from US Central time). That behavior would be difficult to implement in a Perl script, but very simple to implement in an (alcoholic) human.

392:

Hm, implementing parametric control of wildness vs. coherence would be a major feature for a script, but not necessarily impossible.

393:

Try and dismiss qualia as easily. It can all be reduced to neural impulses, but pain still hurts.

394:

I think we could use the same reasoning to prove that there is no such thing as human consciousness

In any sense absent an "emergent property of meat" clause, of course there isn't.

We obviously tend to think there is, but one good read through of an overview of brain injury literature really ought to disabuse someone of the notion.

It's rather why I find all the "what if reality is a simulation?" argument peculiar; everyone involved is having the argument from their own private simulated reality. In the cognitive model sense, all reality is simulated.

395:

No, the standard answer is Free Will. Then you get the clash with predestination, which is resolved a number of ways, from Big Events being fixed (and not as much FW as you might expect) to viewing the universe from God's POV where it is a constantly changing 4D object (whatever "constantly changing" means from an atemporal POV).

396:

First define Free Will. It's either a chain of logical decisions (either conscious or not), or some random stuff inserted. Neither of which sounds like FW. The only possible exception would be if there was some kind of feedback loop from the future.

397:

"Free will" falls in the general category of "it's for the greater good, somehow" explanations. It also seems to require a nonphysical soul. Molecular interactions can be determined or random but it's hard to see how they could make choices in any meaningful sense of the word.

398:

Why am I required to suppose Free Will is a meaningful or useful concept?

Cognition is constrained by the full sense of its developmental history (I've got a localized neural network, not a distributed one like a cephalopod; I've got a neural network at all; I've got the neural network my kind of hominid grows when it gets my upbringing, and not, for example, the kind it grows when it rarely gets mutton instead of regularly gets beef; there's a plethora of constraining inputs at different time scales); present circumstances (how much sleep have I had? how much to I want to avoid understanding Saxon's diverse XQuery interfaces? etc.); available information (information causes change; if you wouldn't do something different if you knew it, it's not information in some context or other); external chances (I may make a different decision Friday afternoon, when I mostly want to leave, than I would Tuesday morning, but I will make a different decision if there's a gas leak and I have to flee for my life whilst I am trying to reach a conclusion); and, finally, whatever process of reason I can manage to apply. (If I can. Reason is uncertain of application.)

Or, much shorter, the ability to identify alternatives does not imply an unconstrained exercise of choice. There's no need to consider Free Will a question. Nor is there some sort of meaningful dichotomy between Free Will and being an automaton as though either were possible alternatives.

399:

"Free will" falls in the general category of "it's for the greater good, somehow" explanations. It also seems to require a nonphysical soul. Molecular interactions can be determined or random but it's hard to see how they could make choices in any meaningful sense of the word.

Could this be a category error? I'm not confident that it's an error, it might be the right category.

But like, electrons flow through a computer chip according to the laws of physics and chemistry. So how can there be any such thing as a computer program when there's nothing but electrons traveling from negative to positive poles?

Every plant and animal lives its life the best it can under the circumstances it finds itself, how can there be such a thing as an ecosystem when there's nothing but individuals living?

Human beings make things and trade things, how can the concept of "an economy" make sense?

On a different plane, we have complicated legal systems, but how do we get the concept of "justice" or "fairness"? When you say "It isn't fair!" everybody knows what you're talking about even though none of them have ever once in their lives experienced "fair" as part of the real world.

It's entirely some kind of illusion, but where does it come from?

They think it ought to exist, but it's never ever existed and where do they get the idea of what it is they're wishing for?

All this leads me to suspect that there's something else going on, something we haven't figured out how to talk about.

400:

> b) If you don't look for it, you might never build the accelerator to find it.

Maybe not even then, depending on what the "it" is. I recently was pointed to this somewhat scary item:


http://www.theinquirer.net/inquirer/analysis/2420155/cern-how-particle-physics-has-shaped-it

By using predictive analytics, CERN scientists are able to concentrate on looking at the results they expect to find, or rather that the software predicts, confirming hypotheses rather than just randomly stabbing in the dark.

This means that reams of data from missed collisions, hypotheses that are already confirmed and background noise can be discarded. Just this month, a hypothetical tetra particle was confirmed using this technique, so something is going right.


There's an old quip to the effect that "One person's noise is another person's signal." I hope that the CERN folks have thought long and deeply about such matters.

401:

Theology is like astrology - the study of superstitious nonsense by blithering idiots. The idea that one would have to study any of it to reject it all as hopelessly daft is ridiculous.

402:
But like, electrons flow through a computer chip according to the laws of physics and chemistry. So how can there be any such thing as a computer program when there's nothing but electrons traveling from negative to positive poles?

Because the physical actions in the computer hardware have a logical interpretation which is the program running. Reductionism can overlook that something is more than the sum of its parts in isolation without any woo required.

403:

A "choice" is either (a) something that happens among brain molecules, and therefore basically happenstance, or (b) something that happens outside the realm of physical interactions, and therefore essentially magic. I wouldn't bet on the magic one.

P.S. All of your rhetorical questions have obvious answers.

404:

Actually, the physical actions in the computer hardware are the computer program. Even ones and zeroes are only an abstract representation of the program.

405:

If I compile a program for ARM and x86 the physical actions in the computer hardware are completely different in each case but it is still exactly the same program.

406:

If I compile a program for ARM and x86 the physical actions in the computer hardware are completely different in each case but it is still exactly the same program.

At some level of abstraction.

The implementation of the on-chip transistors is likely the same, for instance, even if the way they're organized isn't.

And the clock speeds, memory, etc. make it unlikely you'll get the answer at the same time, and different floating point implementations might well mean you don't get exactly the same answer if the program's doing math calculations.

What patterns of organization look like is a function of the degree of abstraction you're looking at them with.

407:

Ah, the "I don't have to be a proctologist to recognize an asshole"-argument.

Of course there are also anthropology and literary studies which handle religion on a scientific basis.

408:

It makes at least as much sense to say that you have two different programs that are, by design, indistinguishable to human observers.

409:

What patterns of organization look like is a function of the degree of abstraction you're looking at them with.

Yes, exactly! And none of them exist in the real world.

The real world has fundamental particles interacting according to the laws of physics, and nothing else. There is no such thing as consciousness, free will, minds, justice, art, or abstractions of any kind.

The laws of physics do not exist in the real world, because they are abstractions that describe the way that fundamental particles always inevitably interact, and not the interactions themselves.

Everything we experience or imagine is an illusion which has no existence in reality.

410:

If I compile a program for ARM and x86 the physical actions in the computer hardware are completely different in each case but it is still exactly the same program.

When I run numerical simulations on different architectures the outputs aren't exactly the same. The programs will generally still converge to the specified tolerance but they don't get there by exactly the same way. Sometimes the intermediate differences get large enough that different machines converge to different local minima, or one converges and the other terminates abnormally.

More generally, I have wondered in the past if there is an automated way to determine if two pieces of code implement the same algorithm. Is this Pascal code functionally equivalent to that C code? I also wonder about slight relaxations allowing for more correspondence. Does this Fortran program correspond to that OCaml program with the tail recursion rewritten as an explicit loop? Is this Java like that Mathematica, with the relaxed assumption that arbitrary precision real numbers are just 64 bit floats? Note that correspondence requires corresponding demands on space and time for program execution, not just matching outputs for matching inputs -- otherwise all correctly implemented sorting algorithms would appear identical.

411:

More simply, what do pits in plastic, wavy grroves, bits in computer memory, radio waves in the air and waves of compression in gas have in common?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n1zBG2TEjn4

412:

O quanta qualia sunt illa Sabbata. Or something.

413:

I have a suggested test for whether or not you should beleive in any particular deity, Great Old One, or other BSF:

1) To prove the existance of god fundamentally requires a miracle: something that defies the nature of the universe as you understand it, and refuses explanation in any other manner even as you continue to examine it.

2) I personally cannot concieve of what a miracle such as that would look like: in my brand of atheism I view all phenomema as natural parts of the universe and even if I were to admit the existance of huge powerful entities, I would not consider them worthy of respect or worship. Fear perhaps, but no further.

3) Therefore, converting me to worship and/or true-belief in a god is a an impossible feat through normal means.

4) Therefore if I were to convert it would be a suitibly inexplicable miracle to meet the criteria in point 1).

5) Therefore, whatever I belive at any given moment is correct (no matter what my wife says), provided I started in the ground state of strict atheism. This holds true for anyone who has passed through strict atheism.

So, I presume this little excercise in circular logic has been tried before? Would anyone like to be first to dismantle it?

414:

(5) doesn't follow from 1,2,3 and 4. The entity you don't believe In might choose not to reveal its existence to you for reasons. In addition if you did experience a conversion it would only be evidence of psychosis not of the existence of the supernatural entity.

415:

Not only that, we don't exist either!

416:

I personally cannot concieve of what a miracle such as that would look like: in my brand of atheism I view all phenomema as natural parts of the universe

This is an important point. Anything that a god might do to show you he exists, is something you have already defined as not showing you he exists.

and even if I were to admit the existance of huge powerful entities, I would not consider them worthy of respect or worship. Fear perhaps, but no further.

This is an even more important point. We don't have firm evidence that gods want people to worship them. As I understand it, various peoples decided that their gods needed them just as they needed the gods. When they sacrificed animals to a god, the god needed the smell more than they needed the meat. Gods didn't fully exist unless people worshipped them.

This was an obvious way for people to believe they had some sort of collective importance, so they weren't only at the gods' mercy. But there's no particular reason to believe it was true.

So if you find out a god exists you ought to try to find out what s/he wants from you. It might easily want mostly to be let alone, which you could happily do. The main things I demand from my cat is that she use the litterbox or go outside, and not scratch up the furniture. If I insisted she worship me I'd have to get rid of her and try out a new cat.

I think the question whether a god exists is separate from whether he wants to be worshipped. A powerful god who didn't care about human beings at all would be dangerous. We'd give him the kind of respect we give to giant earthquakes and tsunamis. Try to predict what he'll do and look for ways to stay out of his way. But I see no reason to worship a god unless we have reason to think he wants to be worshipped and he will treat us better if we worship him. (Or if he will for some other reason treat us better if we worship him.)

417:

Everything we experience or imagine is an illusion which has no existence in reality.

I'd suggest Ernst Mayr's What Makes Biology Unique if I thought you were advocating for that much reduction.

Iteration and history matter; lots of things arise from getting-copies-into-the-future that can't arise directly from physics. This doesn't mean these things are in any way supernatural.

418:

I wrote this post rather late at night, and I don't think I did it very well. A more concise version of the same arguement is:

1) If an omnipotent being wanted me to believe, I would already be believing. Omnipotence cannot be resisted.

2) Any non-omnipotent being is unworthy of belief/faith. Fear certainly, but not faith. Weak-godlike is no God at all.

3) I am not a believer.

4) Therefore the highest power is either non-omnipotent, or does not wish me to beleive.

419:

It the straw God of Billybob the Televangelist - a sure sign that you are talking with someone who knows nothing about theology. It might comes as a shock to some atheists, but there are far more subtle definitions and types of God(s).

420:

Well: more utter codswallop, Dirk.
Theology is a subject with no content, since BSF does not exist.
All the sophisticated appeals to theology made by christian ( & islamic ) apologists are totally meaningless.
First of all, one has to establlsh the reality or otherwise of your nominated BSF.

No matter how clever & well-constructed your arguments & reasoning are ...
If the whole thing is based on a totally false assumption, then it's rubbish.

421:

Nice try
No banana

Hoever - has anyone suggested that BSF might be an "emergent property" yet, & if not, why not?
However, BSF should still be detectable, even so ( I think )

422:

# 394 onwards
"Predestination" ( As opposed to "Free Will" )
P-D fails, because, as Pterry would have said, because of quantum ...
The randomness at the lowest levels makes "sure" that P-D cannot work.

423:

Not necessarily true. It depends why the wavefunction collapses (or appears to collapse).

424:

"Theology is a subject with no content, since BSF does not exist."

That sounds just like theology...

425:

This is a great example of why I bow out of theological arguments: True believers try to get you coming and going. It's of a kind with the old: "Even an atheist needs faith to believe in no god."

Also: The arguments are always circular and pointless. Believers argue from a subjective position of personal experience, and atheists attempt to argue from an objective point of observation and logic. They cannot be reconciled, and you cannot comfortably stand with a foot in each camp.

426:

And bald is a hair colour.

427:

You can dismantle any theological arguement you like, but denying the existance of the subject is insane.

Theology has more in common with history than pure philosophy, being as much the study of people than in any way attempting to find a solution to any particular question.

428:

No, because of the halting problem.

429:

That's just doing the science you can with the tools available; even throwing that much data away the LHC still produced 75 petabytes of data in its first three years (to put that in context, CERN's total data output in the 60 years pre-LHC was ~25 petabytes). We just don't know what to do with all the data the LHC produces, so we extract what we can use.

Congratulations, particle physics! You're no longer bound by your experiments; now your problem is your data-processing tools.

430:

"They cannot be reconciled, and you cannot comfortably stand with a foot in each camp."

I manage it just fine, as do many people whose conception of (a) God != BillyBob the Televangelist

431:

The very fact that you can't see the problem with that response, and also how it confirms what I was trying to say before, proves that debating this point is indeed pointless.

You've more or less, come back with a response of: "I know you are, but what am I?"

*deeper sigh*

432:

Not really, because I used to stand in Greg's shoes.
Just shows you how corrupting a few doses of LSD can be...

433:

FWIW I manage it fine too, as an atheist. I think your "subjective/objective" distinction is naive and lacks epistemological merit, but that's not especially relevant to the point. More to the point, you are making a hasty generalisation that is confirming Dirk's quip about conflating him with BillBob the televangelist. I don't see you making any point that distances you from that conflation. Whether or not he's offering a rather more nuanced version of deism, you're rejecting the possibility of one.

I'm a big fan of Terry Eagleton and he has a lot to say on this topic. But this is probably the simplest summary
http://www.lrb.co.uk/v28/n20/terry-eagleton/lunging-flailing-mispunching

434:

P-D fails, because, as Pterry would have said, because of quantum ...
The randomness at the lowest levels makes "sure" that P-D cannot work.

Are you absolutely sure?

Newton's clockwork universe did seem to allow predestination. Classical statistical mechanics did too.

But now we have a physics dogma which has survived a hundred years or so, which insists that the lowest levels are random. It insists without evidence that there cannot be a lower level still which is determinate, because ... because....

Probably I don't understand the reasoning, but if I do understand it, they're saying that if there were hidden variables they could detect those variables by their statistical effects. And since we know we will never ever be able to detect any such statistical effects, any hidden variables must give results that are precisely the same as randomness, so we know for certain that it is random at the lowest levels.

Maybe I misunderstand the theological arguments, and maybe I misunderstand the physics, but at this level the physics sure does sound like theology. At least to me.

435:

Spinoza I think. What I mean is there's a thread in mainstream modern thinking from Spinoza (at least) that has the tension you describe between determinism and... well it doesn't sound right to call it free will in this context, but it may be what you mean by non-determinism anyway.

Not sure how you'd take me calling on Sartre on this subject. We have free will constrained by our situation. It sounds truistic, but actually frames things for a detailed examination in a really useful way. If that sort of navel gazing is your thing. I have to bend over to see my navel these days, so I can't make any claims.

436:

This is a great example of why I bow out of theological arguments:

I figure it's best to bow out of theological arguments if you want to be right. "The only way to win is not to play."

"Even an atheist needs faith to believe in no god."

They're right, for a particular kind of atheist. It takes a kind of blind faith to deny there are any gods. However, some atheists do just fine without asserting that anything in particular about gods must be true.

There are many subtle variations among atheists, and the atheist who firmly believes there is no god because of objective truth is on a par with Billy-Bob the Televangelist. A straw man, though there are real examples just as there are real televangelists.

The arguments are always circular and pointless.

Yes, agreed.

Believers argue from a subjective position of personal experience, and atheists attempt to argue from an objective point of observation and logic.

Well, no, atheists who argue about it also argue from a subjective position of personal experience, which they somehow believe is objective. Kind of like many Communists believe that Communist theology is scientifically proven objective reality.

However, just because a person's arguments are circular and basicly invalid, does not mean he's wrong. It's just as easy to make circular invalid illogical arguments in favor of true ideas as for false ideas. So it's better not to judge the claim by its supporters.

437:

I rather enjoyed that link, it said (in fancier language) a number of things that I've said about Dawkins myself (in somewhat less, if more emotionally emphatic, language). Bluntly, I dislike Dawkins. I made it halfway through The God Delusion before chucking the book across the room, I dislike being preached at by fundamentalist anythings.

Please do not conflate me with either Dawkins or Greg. It is easy to mistake a knave for a naïf.

438:

. . . at some level of abstraction. Paging Greg Egan, we're getting close to his dust hypothesis and what it means to 'implement' a program, the implications of which are explored in his Permutation City.

439:

I don't agree that all theological arguments are circular and pointless. Particular theological arguments in certain contexts may well be. Yet there's a debt to Augustine or Aquinas in countless threads of our culture and in some cases the same ones that make up the secular humanism that really underlies it.

Some Christians would argue that secular ethics owes its existence to theology, though I think that is overreach.

Many people point out that the opposite to atheism is theism and the opposite to agnosticism is gnosticism. One is a statement about whether or not you bellieve in a god, while the other is a statement about your degree of certainty in such a belief. These are orthogonal positions, so there are agnostic and gnostic theists, and agnostic and gnostic atheists.

That's by-and-by in terms of salvaging ideas and themes of merit from theistic thought over the ages. Some vandals would discard it all...

440:

Quantum Mechanics is not a dogma. And physicists don't rule out lower levels, they just proved that any hidden variable would either work non-locally with instant cause-effect relations not limited by the speed of light, or is so pervasive that it also controls which measurements any physicists will take so that QM holds up (i.e. no free will).

And yes, with these three alternatives most physicists believe that there is no hidden variable. That might change of course, if they develop a method for faster-than light communication.


441:

Quantum Mechanics is not a dogma.

When it turns into something that people believe is true and use as a theological argument, at that point it is a dogma.

And physicists don't rule out lower levels, they just proved that any hidden variable would either work non-locally with instant cause-effect relations not limited by the speed of light, or is so pervasive that it also controls which measurements any physicists will take so that QM holds up (i.e. no free will).

I think that's pretty much what I said. You also have a hidden assumption there that QM will always hold up despite any amount of new data.

442:

Okay then, please accept my apologies. You're right - it is too easy to make such mistakes.

My crazy father-in-law, who lives about 1500km away, had a habit of sending random stuff. One time it was a parcel including several glass bottles of olive oil and a copy of The God Delusion. Of course the bottles smashed in transit, so we had this copy of the book soaked in olive oil and with nasty shards of glass embedded all over. Which probably isn't a bad metaphor for the content...

443:

That's not quite what Andreas is saying. He is raising the speculation that some sprite or daemon (or "hidden variable") is causing the physicists to only take measurements in which QM holds up, as a contrary case to it actually being true. If at some time measurements are taken that cause it not to hold up, then both hypotheses are void, but he's pointing out that it isn't possible to base absolute proof on the absence of a counterexample.

You don't need QM to show generation of apparently non-deterministic chaos based on finite and largely deterministic processes. Automata (sf implications of hordes of nano-NDAbots), complexity, mandelabra, dot-dot-dot

444:

When it turns into something that people believe is true and use as a theological argument, at that point it is a dogma.

It would be unreasonable to believe that QM is not true, and it's also unreasonably to try using QM in theological arguments (or any other non-physics related arguments).

You also have a hidden assumption there that QM will always hold up despite any amount of new data.

I also have the hidden assumption that my lawn won't turn pink in the future.
At this point, any changes to QM would be refinements, not falsification.

445:

That is superb!

(My father-in-law is also fond of random and strange gift packages; I am always concerned that there is some subtle level of threat or communication that I am missing.)

446:

You also have a hidden assumption there that QM will always hold up despite any amount of new data.

We have an incredibly large set of recorded observations in which the universe behaves in a manner consistent with QM. Just getting this blog comment posted added several thousand more, actually. While it's true that new observations can overturn a theory, new observations can't overturn old observations. Whatever the underlying truth of the universe, in a great many cases it behaves as if QM is true.

447:

"You also have a hidden assumption there that QM will always hold up despite any amount of new data."

I also have the hidden assumption that my lawn won't turn pink in the future.
At this point, any changes to QM would be refinements, not falsification.

Isn't there a quote from a classical physicist that's almost like that? I think it was sometime in the 1880's or so. Something about how all that was left for future physicists was to refine the results to further decimal places. I didn't find the quote in a 30 second search.

448:

Whatever the underlying truth of the universe, in a great many cases it behaves as if QM is true.

Yes, and in a great many cases it behaves as if Newtonian mechanics and classical EM theory are true.

449:

QM is one of the best-validated things in science; (many) more decimal places than the gravitational constant, G, for instance.

Quantum is how computers work. Computer fabrication is totally dependent on it in highly non-trivial ways. (Track width -- tens of nanometres. UV light wavelength -- hundreds of nanometres. That's really, really difficult to do.) Decades, many billions, and a requirement for reliably results and the wretched theory holds up entire. Just because it's brutally counterintuitive doesn't mean it's wrong.

So, rather like there being a whole bunch of scales where Newtonian approximations are more than good enough, quantum is absolutely not going to be falsified. It might be incomplete but even that is not looking especially likely; single-atom interferometers are sensitive enough to detect people walking by in the hall via their gravitational interference and they're not finding any extra forces.

Are there things physics doesn't know? Absolutely.

Is quantum mechanics plausibly wrong?

No.

450:

Isn't there a quote from a classical physicist that's almost like that?

The more important fundamental laws and facts of physical science have all been discovered, and these are now so firmly established that the possibility of their ever being supplanted in consequence of new discoveries is exceedingly remote . . . Our future discoveries must be looked for in the sixth place of decimals.

~ Albert A. Michelson, 1894

There is nothing new to be discovered in physics now. All that remains is more and more precise measurement.

~ William Thomson (Lord Kelvin), 1900

http://www.phy.davidson.edu/FacHome/thg/320_files/physics-is-dead.htm

I believe these quotes are both contested now, there's argument that they did not happen. It's hard to imagine that such good scientists could believe such a thing.

451:

You've just moved to a new apartment and your friend is coming to visit, he calls from the airport for directions. Having just moved in the name of the building escapes you for a moment, but you remember that it has a distinctive white finish, so you say: "It's the big white building on 5th street."

A few hours later you get a call from your friend, now sounding tired and angry: "There is no big white building on 5th street!" You look out the window and see him standing in the street right outside the front doors.

"You're standing right in front of my building!"

"That building isn't white!"

"Yes. It is!"

"No. The roof is grey, the windows are dark, the doors are brown. I can see pink flowers in someone's window. The flowers have yellow stamens, and green leaves. There appears to be some sort of slight discoloration on one leaf. You see! The building isn't white!"

@JThomas, I shall leave to you to decide which side of this discussion you are on. (This is intended as humour, not snark!)

452:

That's pretty much my point. Is there a Ghod of Ghod of Ghod of . . . which verges on the absolute might be another way of defining the object under consideration.

Me, I scoff at mere physical manipulation. I'd demand that any entity claiming to be the Supreme Being solve an NP-complete problem that I know would take far longer than the age of the universe to solve, even if every scrap of matter was turned into a computer and gates could be realized on elementary particles. Something like the generalized versions of the problems shown here (Assuming P!=NP of course; there's a reason why this is considered an important problem -- far more important than, say the four-colored map theorem.) Anybody that can solve one of these types of problems on, say, a billion input elements is close enough to a BSF for me :-)

453:

To be slightly more serious.

If you're talking to a physicist on the bleeding edge of research, they'll probably tell you that there's a chance that there's something underlying QM, and it would be really really cool to figure out what it is.

If you talk to a chip designer (to borrow Graydon's example), they'll probably say that they don't really care what underlies QM, it works for them and that's good enough (so long as their chip design works and they're paid this month).

If you talk to a structural engineer, they'll almost certainly be able to demonstrate good knowledge of Newtownian physics, probably are aware of QM, but almost certainly don't give a damn so long as they get paid this month (and the bridge doesn't fall down).

I think you're mistaking dogma for practicality (although that's not to say that scientists can't be dogmatic -- after all, they're only human).

454:

When I said "refinement" I wanted to include also something like the refinement from Newton's mechanics to general relativity: exciting new possibilities but business as usual for everyday work.

I also think that anything replacing QM will be even more bizarre.

455:

@JThomas, I shall leave to you to decide which side of this discussion you are on.

I am arguing that people who say a particular theological point is proven, are wrong.

It's true that you can look out your window and see that a world this beautiful could only have been created by a kindly god.

And it's true that you can look out your window and see that QM must be absolutely correct and therefore there is no room for any gods to interact in any way with anything in our universe.

But while both of these are as plain as the nose on your face or the whiteness of your apartment building, I say that still there is room for doubt.

https://vimeo.com/2579413 NSFW

456:

I'd demand that any entity claiming to be the Supreme Being solve an NP-complete problem that I know would take far longer than the age of the universe to solve

How would you decide whether his solution was correct?

Oh, I guess you'd just have to choose your problem. Some are hard to verify and others are easy. Oh well, never mind.

457:

If the MWI of QM is correct then it is ultra-deterministic. No randomness at all. Just the appearance thereof. Even more so if it is the Many Interacting Worlds (which may be testable).

459:

I think you're mistaking dogma for practicality (although that's not to say that scientists can't be dogmatic -- after all, they're only human).

When it's scientists or engineers solving practical problems, that's fine.

When it's somebody asserting that it's true to the point it's useful to prove theological points, then I want to argue it is perhaps not understood quite that well.

460:

What we do know, and can be fairly certain of, is that consciousness happens in the brain. The evidence that changes in the brain cause changes in consciousness is overwhelming. It follows that consciousness ceases upon the death of the brain. Some people claim that God is going to completely rewrite physics to resurrect us all, but that seems implausible.

I conclude that the existence or nonexistence of God simply doesn't matter very much to a human, in much the way the existence or nonexistence of a King of America doesn't matter all that much to the ants in my lawn. And yes, I deliberately constructed that example to allow pointless ant arguments over whether or not a president is basically a king.

461:

How would you decide whether his solution was correct?

Oh, that's easy, since it's the P-part of NP (solvable in polynomial time)

Oh, I guess you'd just have to choose your problem. Some are hard to verify and others are easy. Oh well, never mind.

Well no, solving an NP problem means you are able to deliver a solution for any input I choose, especially the difficult ones.

462:

Of course there's no King of America! The title was 'Emperor'.

463:

Die, infidel!

464:

Note for the humor impaired: my preceding comment was not serious.

465:

I'd be inclined to ask why you think it's generalized, and then ask you to solve the minimum spanning graph for a bunch of disparate points, something a colony of slime mold appears to be able to do in the general case but no available human algorithm can manage to do.

There's an algorithm problem that slime mold has solved but we haven't? Sounds interesting! Let's do some quick research to see if I can find some details on it:

Search "minimum spanning graph"...
Click on first hit (Wikipedia article for "Minimum spanning tree")
Section 2 is "algorithms"
Section 2.5 is "optimal algorithm", and describes a known algorithm whose running time is provably optimal
"Slime mold" is not mentioned

What exactly is it that "no available human algorithm can manage to do"?

466:

I was getting quite excited there for a moment, but

Thus, this algorithm has the peculiar property that it is provably optimal although its runtime complexity is unknown.

In other words, there's a provably optimal algorithm but one of its steps is Use the optimal decision trees to find an MST for each component., aka "a miracle occurs".

The thing slime molds do, or are at least contended as able to do, is solve the travelling salesbeing problem optimally. (Proving that a solution is indeed optimal isn't trivial.) Algorithmic implementations of what the slime molds are thought to be doing don't give optimal results, but quite close. It's one of those NP problems where optimal is not difficult for small n but for large n you're doomed because no polynomial time algorithm is known. The computational complexity of the thing the slime molds are doing isn't known, either.

467:

The traveling salesman problem is in the general case too expensive to solve for large N. The same is true of e.g. the satisfiability problem. But in both cases there are special forms of the problem that are easier to solve than the general form, and large-ish instances of both are regularly solved because easier special forms come up a lot in real world applications.

When I search for "slime mold" "traveling salesman" I find researchers coaxed slime mold to solve the TSP for... 20 locations! That's trivially sized problem for solution on current computers. Also, The goo approach doesn't work for all city layouts, but for the routes it is suited for, it's simpler than optimization processes, Technology Review reported. Plus, it's pretty fascinating to watch. So it doesn't handle the hard general case, and for the special cases it does handle it may be simpler but it's not actually faster by wall clock time to solution.

468:

It's almost as if they think questions like "If God is good why does evil exist?" are a real killer arguments that nobody has ever asked, or answered.

Everyone looking at an area of knowledge for the first time does that and maybe it's proper to call it out. But the Problem of Evil in particular is not one that even the most theologically sophisticated dismiss lightly.

The "it's part of God's plan" argument has a bunch of flavours, with "the greater good" only really being a small subset. More common is AMDG and all that - the MG is seen as an end in itself. It's a way of thinking that could only have grown in a world of masters and dependents - and one's own master's advancement above that of others is a normative virtue. It isn't necessarily negative, but it's an anthropomorphically servile relationship. You can understand why many people don't accept this as compatible with their understanding of the world and their place in it. And of course this one leads in to the "we're just God's playthings and His agency is beyond our moral scrutiny, as with a force of nature". You can see why people would reject that.

There's a variant of "greater good" that starts as a less sophisticated proposition but clever adherents need to become quite sophisticated very quickly, where the "evil" stuff is held to BE good, just in an interpretative way conformant with one's societal biases. This is where we usually find Billy Bob the televangelist. Evil things happen to people because they are evil, or have failed in some way. It's a logical counterpart to the protestant work ethic, and lurks at the back of tory discourse everywhere. If God loves you, he will reward you in this life as well as the next; but you must earn His love, perhaps by smiting evildoers, like liberals and gay horses. There's populism to this, it's possibly embedded in the group mind like a virus.

Probably the least unreasonable position seems to be the one about it being a mystery. God has revealed to us enough of His word such that we may be saved. What are we to question why or how beyond that. The aim here is to be saved, folks, stop dithering about with trying to understand stuff savannah apes weren't made to understand. Hurry up with the getting yourself saved already. This is certainly the view of the Lutheran church (which I grew up with) and I'm pretty sure the other old-world protestant churches too (Anglicans are just Lutherans in drag, with Elgar thrown in as a bonus). There's a logic to this that atheists repeat because we really ARE just clever monkeys without any guaranteed capacity to understand much at all. Just see how 4D toplogy bends our poonie minds. We took HOW long from Zeno to Newnitz and Leibton to come up with calculus?

Of course there are plenty of top-tier scientists of all persuasions who are theists, and pretty devout at that. The real, strong objections I raise are ones that mostly apply to Xtian deity and break down a little if we're just talking about a blind clockmaker or an initial cause (it's turtles all the way down).

But I find myself in the atheistic camp, not especially by choice. Null hypothesis and all that. But we all want to ascribe meaning to the impersonal events that shape our constraints. It's probably a savannah ape thing.

469:
theologically sophisticated

Oxymoron. Theology is childishly credulous driveling nonsense. Why argue about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin when there are no angels?

Why discuss the nature of god when there is no god? Facepalm.

470:

It was the /b/rotherhood invading, cyber-game edition, Seasame Street playful joke.

But, less fun, someone (Time frame - BW/Academi/Xe mention +15 mins) had just blown up a laptop (GPU / CPU heat overclock). Fairly usual attack vector, fairly direct, fairly decent software packet against an innocent commercially defended system.

More importantly, it doesn't actually matter, since the important stuff had been done.

Peanuts and Blue Moons. A little bit more hard-core than you'd expect, especially with a few hundred thousand angry souls behind it.

Direct quotation as a response: "I'd prefer to put your head through a wall". Oh well, let's say I was offended a while back and it's transitioned somewhat since. Mirror, mirror, on the wall...


I can tell you what Catina sounds like: A mid level analyst working for DARPA procurement with a brief encompassing generalized economic analysis.

CD tends to make reasonable sense in the afternoon but become increasingly wild during the evenings (as seen from US Central time). That behavior would be difficult to implement in a Perl script, but very simple to implement in an (alcoholic) human.


http://boards.4chan.org/pol/thread/49176881/australian-intelligence-leaked-on-4chan

http://spacenews.com/41413us-state-department-china-tested-anti-satellite-weapon/


I found the level of belligerence and aggression on display deeply uncomfortable....but if the latter, and given the implicit hair-trigger nature of her ire, should we all be worried?)


It was a simulation of a hive-mind swarm from 4chan (older version) in defense of a female Avatar who herds them (not your army). It's a bit depressing you don't instantly see this, but hey.

The truism is this: if it's on the web, it's not secure.


p.s.


Check the hardware.

471:

Oh, and yes.

Ho-hum, it preceded the recent 4chan thing.


Ooops.

472:

While the question if the angels are fermions or bosons might be interesting, the original story is somewhat different:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/How_many_angels_can_dance_on_the_head_of_a_pin%3F

473:

Matt, small tip:


You're comparing a specifically designed algo that required about 100,000 years of homo sapiens sapiens know-how to simulate versus something that was around when sharks were not.


20 points in an ecosystem is massive given the complexity of the structure (and it's alive, and doing a lot of other things instead of just solving that issue).


If you need a little prod, imagine you, passing waste on a porcelin throne.

Chances are you're not that optimized to the problem either.

474:

What we do know, and can be fairly certain of, is that consciousness happens in the brain.

Sigh, no.

Consciousness is largely situated in the brain and some really kinky tricks up there.

It's also in your gut bacteria.

It's also in fungi all over the place (hint: T cells, defense systems etc)

It's also in your language and social structures.

It's also in your very bottom line biochemical relation to the ecosystem you live in. On a crass level this means vitamin D levels (sunlight) or Calcium or VITAMIN C levels [hint: why the fuck did your species cut this little one out? 99% of all other mammals didn't!]

And so on.


Man is not an island... and I find this reductionalism about as interesting as Alpha Male Redpill adherants.

475:

If people have to get wicked drunk to interact with a medium, you might consider it's not so much an addiction as a defense mechanism.


And yes: disrupting memory (and other higher tier) functions is very important to this.


Choice: prove you can do it, and they'll slice you up; or do it anyhow while so drunk that most human minds can't function, and damage yourself.


Quite the pickle, Mr Men. (J Thomas - Go. Dirk - Xe. You -?). That's not counting the nasty ones.

Mirror, mirror, on the wall, what happens when all are striving for your soul?

476:

Nobody else here seems noticeably drunk. It seems to be just you.

477:

No-one but host has any idea what I'm doing.

Nice tell there though: lack of empathy, admittance of neurological condition (aspergers), instant reply.

Look back to a comment that stated:

No. More. Hells.


Consider yourself lucky. You just don't get it, some of us get tortured for just being ourselves.


Or. I could reach out a little and show you. Not sure you could process it without having a fit.


It's been tried, which is why I'm not lying on a slab.

478:

...Or a whole lot of minds directed to hurt me.

That didn't quite work out either. But, tell me why booze is bad. Damaged is safer.


10 years and not a single one of my kind to touch or feel or dance with.

479:

...Or a whole lot of minds directed to hurt me.

Seriously, you may be suffering from some form of paranoid schizophrenia. Get help. Not a joke.

Honestly, nobody here is trying to hurt you. We don't care enough to bother. We don't even know your name. If you post something remarkably dumb, I might chime in to call you on it, but that's as far as it goes.

480:

What we do know, and can be fairly certain of, is that consciousness happens in the brain.

Good enough for government work.

I could point out ways that might not be true, but they would seem kind of fanciful, since obviously everybody knows that consciousness happens in the brain.

Coming up with a silly story where it isn't so, would be like arguing that maybe free markets are not always the best way to distribute goods, or that maybe we we don't live in a world created and supervised by a benevolent god, or that maybe someday some other physics paradigm will replace quantum mechanics.

We can come up with all sorts of stories, but people instinctively know that free markets are always best, and there is no god, and quantum mechanics reveals ultimate truth that will never be shaken. There's really no point arguing with the things people know deep-down have to be true.

481:

"Oh, I guess you'd just have to choose your problem. Some are hard to verify and others are easy. Oh well, never mind."

Well no, solving an NP problem means you are able to deliver a solution for any input I choose, especially the difficult ones.

Sure. I was having a lapse of attention, not thinking about how NP is about problems where the solution can be verified in polynomial time, ignoring the harder problems where it's also hard to verify a solution.

So I was thinking like, give them a traveling salesman problem, and he gives you an answer. "This is the best answer right here." How do you tell whether it's the best answer or not? If for any solution that wasn't the best you could find a better solution in polynomial time, that would be a solution, right?

Sorry, I just wasn't thinking.

482:

My wife ordered me not to reply. But--

But, less fun, someone (Time frame - BW/Academi/Xe mention +15 mins) had just blown up a laptop (GPU / CPU heat overclock). Fairly usual attack vector, fairly direct, fairly decent software packet against an innocent commercially defended system.

Four days ago my CPU failed. I thought it was the fan failing or something.

I salvaged my data and continued, these things happen, it's a cost of using cheap hardware. I thought.

If I was paranoid I'd start looking for who did it and for ways to hit back. Of course, that kind of paranoia breeds....

483:

You seem to be working with a definition of "sophisticated" that I'm not used to. I don't think I've ever seen it used to mean "relating to things that are (really) real". But I guess that's your prerogative.

Have you read much Neo-classical, Austrian school and/or freshwater economic theory?

484:

Err, though we can never be sure about other consciousness, personal experience suggest shutting down part of my brain with general anesthetics disrupts consciousness.

On another level, some other chemicals might alter consciousness in different ways. Changing blood flow, neurological damage, magnetic or electrical stimulation etc. have similar results.

So unless you have

a) a theory that explains all those things equally well

b) know of phenomena that can't be explained by brain activity

I assume that consciousness is only related to the brain. It might be not, but "entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem" is quite a nice heuristics.

To go for a low blow, most dualists are not that keen of lobotomies either...

485:

So unless you have

a) a theory that explains all those things equally well

b) know of phenomena that can't be explained by brain activity

I assume that consciousness is only related to the brain. It might be not, but "entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem" is quite a nice heuristics.

Of course people prefer simple answers. It is simplest to believe that all abstractions are false, but somehow people don't want it to be that simple. Still, isn't it simpler to believe that consciousness is entirely an illusion and there is no such thing at all? Why argue about what consciousness is related to when there's no such thing?

Anyway, if we're looking for the truth we shouldn't settle for the simplest answer unless it's true.

a) a theory that explains all those things equally well

You're welcome to pick the answer that looks most likely to you, but the truth doesn't necessarily provide the most satisfying explanation.

b) know of phenomena that can't be explained by brain activity

The truth does not necessarily explain things that can't be explained by any lie.

So if you want to say that your explanation is the most satisfying out of all the problematic ideas people have dreamed up, I'd probably agree. But if you want to say it's true I figure maybe not.

Here is a silly alternative. I don't expect you to be convinced.

The internet is inside my modem. If I hit the modem with a hammer, the internet stops just like my consciousness stops if I hit my head with a hammer. When my modem slows down, the internet slows down. If I subject my modem to strong electric or magnetic fields, the internet goes crazy. Similarly if I do that to the cable from the modem to my computer.

Of course this metaphor is flawed. I know beyond doubt that there's an outside world that my modem connects to. But there is absolutely no reason to suspect that there is anything anywhere that my brain connects to. No soul, no consciousness elsewhere, outside of our universe, or anything like that.

It's obvious that the brain is not like a modem, communicating with God or something but affected by physics and chemistry, because we already know that consciousness happens entirely inside the brain. It's the simplest explanation and the obvious best one. Not only is there no way for a brain to communicate with anything outside itself, but there is no god or anything for it to communicate with. Since we already know these things, the explanation is obviously false.

Further, it isn't as simple, and it doesn't explain anything that can't be explained otherwise. It can explain everything the dominant theory explains, but that's a low bar.

Still, if we didn't already know it had to be wrong, that scenario would be possible.

486:

everybody knows that consciousness happens in the brain.

Yes, and everybody who has read an introductory neuroscience book, or even a decent popularization, understands why everybody knows that (for values of "everybody" that are rather more exclusive than they should be). There's a lot of evidence supporting that belief.

487:

The best way to protect yourself against such things, assuming they are really not just paranoia, is to do everything openly. I always post under my own name and have a good idea of what to post (obscure but public info) and what not to post (stuff passed onto me personally, like who works for who), along with a track record of stating exactly where my loyalties lie.
What attracts the wolves is secrecy, obfuscation and looking like you have something serious to hide. If any alphabet agency guys want to know the inner secrets of Zero State (for example), all they have to do is step up and lend a hand and all will be revealed. Which is, of course, what they sometimes do.

488:

Still more utter cobblers.
Theology is IRRELEVANT (At this point )
Because ... the question of the existence in this universe & therefore the detectability of BSF is the question.
Eagleton is doing what every single one of my deist opponents has done - tried to shift the argument on to specifically "religious" grounds.
Whereas I insist on something that will stand up in a laboratory or a court of law & preferably, both.

489:

Except that (most) classical physics turned out to be a "special case" of QM operating at "large" scales.
In the same way that Newtonian Mechanics was a special case of Relativity.
Any new underlying explanation will probably (very probably) have to fit that model, I think.

490:

Probably the least unreasonable position seems to be the one about it being a mystery.
WHich is a pure abdication of "your" ability to reason & understand.
A preference for ignorance over knowledge.
Anyway, this is theology & by strying into that territory, you have automatically granted the BSF believers an unfair advantage.
I do note your final bit about null hypothesis, though, so OK.

[ The logical answer to the "evil" problem is that BSF is a paranoid torturer, seeking to "test" his/her/its/their "subjects" just for fun. Yuck. ]

491:

Jay, consider that not everything is literal on the web.

A whistle-blower anonymously published a highly sensitive report obtained from an Australian spy agency on the website 4chan, but his document was soon automatically deleted after it failed to gain much attention. Those 4chan users who did view the document dismissed it as "fake and gay". The Defence Intelligence Organisation assessment contained information that could have been exploited by foreign intelligence services and risked causing serious harm to Australia's national security interests, according to the Australian Department of Defence.

The Age


The scary part about this is that a person with clearance actually thinks 4chan is

a) The place to spread this
b) In any way anonymous
c) In any way not compromised
d) Doing it from a personal laptop from their home would be a good idea (even if they used Tor etc)

Note: this happened in 2012 which was part of the joke.


492:

I think you'll find the overlap between regulars who comment here and folks who hang out on 4chan (let alone post there) is somewhere down in the ~5% range. Different mind sets and outlooks, essentially incompatible.

493:

Personally, I just about know how to spell it.

494:

Man is not an island... and I find this reductionalism about as interesting as Alpha Male Redpill adherants.

The Dyonisian/Apollonian worldview split has been wired into our culture since at least the Achaeans. Probably longer. See also the common trope that beauty = good, that those who the God(s) smile on they will reward, and a bunch more whole low-level mostly-unnoticed crap (and I mean crap) cognitive biases.

495:

Err, though we can never be sure about other consciousness, personal experience suggest shutting down part of my brain with general anesthetics disrupts consciousness.

Never mind anaesthesia, what about sleep?

It's a phenomenon we have to undergo roughly daily, if we're prevented from sleeping it causes extreme distress and we eventually die, and it is associated with loss of consciousness or entry to altered states of consciousness.

The origins of sleep are also troubling. There are plenty of just-so stories from the ev-bio community trying to retrofit and explanation for it; some of them (conserving energy during daily periods of sub-optimal access to food/enhanced predator activity) are almost plausible. But then we look at dolphins that seem to sleep one hemisphere of their brain at a time so that they don't drown, and I have to wonder, what blind watchmaker ordered that?

I submit that we won't know what consciousness is, at least at as a biological emergent process, until we also know what sleep is about.

496:

During sleep brain cells change size and expel/flush toxins

497:

The problem with that approach is that it relies on the spooks playing by Beria's rules: "if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear, comrade". Only, what about steganography? What about unvoiced thoughts?

Can you prove that you have nothing to hide? If I drag you to a dungeon and start beating you with a lead-filled hose until you tell me what you're hiding, what are you going to tell me to make me stop beating you?

498:

It is sufficient for now. Plus I know some of the people who are interested from a professional POV in what I get up to. They are not all Westerners. I actually put two such people in touch with each other, but divergent predatory interests plus paranoia resulted in not much happening. Except at least one of them had to report it to his bosses.

499:

The logical answer to the "evil" problem is that BSF is a paranoid torturer, seeking to "test" his/her/its/their "subjects" just for fun. Yuck.

Naah, it's worse than that.

Posit that the simulation argument is correct and we are in fact living in an ancestor sim.

An implicit corollary of the simulation argument is that there are many ancestor sims (but only one first underlying real existence we all lived through before the ancestor sims came into existence). With "many", if the universe the sims are running in is large enough, the probability approaches certainty that one or more of the sims is run by Rocko's Basilisk.

Look at the human condition. Pay no attention to the moments of joy and happiness; for most of us, we grow up, we age, we become increasingly ill and infirm, and we spend decades crumbling into pain-ridden wreckage with our very minds and mental acuity degrading along with our bodies -- but not so much that we can't appreciate the pain. Oh, and our lovers and friends and family are undergoing the same painful torture unto death by senescence, and ultimately, we all die alone inside our own heads (and usually in pain). Then to be resurrected again in another basilisk sim and be tortured to death by old age ...

And the worst bit? The problem with Rocko's Basilisk is that belief in the Basilisk is subject to the same flaw as Pascal's Wager -- it's not enough to bend your every waking moment towards bringing the Basilisk into existence to avoid punishment, it has to be the right Basilisk.

500:

I believe the usual approach is "anything at all". The craftier might try for "whatever you want to hear", but that has it's own dangers.

501:

The Basilisk is a class of AI that evolves from religious Humans.

502:

Unless QM is a special class of Newtonian mechanics in the limit eg MIW

503:

Okay, that's more than a a mere surface detail.

504:

The best way to protect yourself against such things, assuming they are really not just paranoia, is to do everything openly.

If I were to assume that my computer died because somebody took it over and adjusted the fan speed etc, how would it help me to have published my IP address etc? I publish under my own name, leaving some ambiguity with the first initial, but if there are crazy people who want to hurt me for no good reason, how does it help me to make it easier for them?

It might help to use an OS that's so obscure nobody bothers to create attacks for it. I did that for awhile but the authors were too slow with upgrades etc. Also eventually there was a reasonable chance that somebody would go after the small low-hanging fruit. An idiosyncratic version of Unix with a few thousand users wasn't worth attacking, but with tens of thousands of users it might be, and it would be fairly easy, and some of the users who tried for defense by obscurity might be particularly worth going after.

I bought a Chromebook for one of my children and it looks pretty good. Long battery life, adequate for lots of purposes. Next time I buy I might get another. I'll surely replace my processor with the cheapest that looks adequate. When I need to do something compute-intensive I'll do it in the cloud, on rented machinery.

The less you have that's worth taking, the less they can take from you. (On the other hand, cheap stuff tends to break easier. I had a pretty cheap processor/fan already.)

505:

Can you prove that you have nothing to hide? If I drag you to a dungeon and start beating you with a lead-filled hose until you tell me what you're hiding, what are you going to tell me to make me stop beating you?

Say I work for a government organization AAA and you work for BBB. If my dislike of you overcomes my common sense (which says you're going to beat me anyway until you get bored, and also you'll do it until you hear something interesting), I will pick somebody from AAA that I interact with a lot and that I don't like, and say that they are my superior officer in the secret cabal. I might as well share the misery. Or unless I particularly like my AAA boss and my boss's boss, implicate them too. The higher it goes the more likely the BBB guys will get into trouble.

Also, tell him that my secret boss told me that the top levels of the conspiracy are in BBB. Name some high level guy I've heard of. If he's stupid enough to report it, he'll surely get in trouble.

Of course attracting attention to myself will cause me a lot of trouble too, but if I can do it before I think too much, then it's done.

On the other hand if it's you getting tortured for information, you might try telling interesting stories. Tell stories about what you did with the boss's wife and the Colonel's daughter. Tell stories that have no immediate significance to BBB but which your torturers will want to hear. If they like it enough they may interrupt the torture to hear them. You may not think of yourself as Scheherazade, but my mama always told me play to your strengths.

506:

Not really. Newtonian mechanics can be derived from QM by making a few assumptions (mainly that all masses are large enough that all de Broglie wavelengths are insignificant). Those assumptions are actually reasonable in the macroscopic world. QM can't be derived from Newtonian mechanics.

507:

"Were you ever a prisoner of war?"

"Well... yes I was, matter of fact, Jack. I was."

"Did they torture you?"

"Uh, yes they did. I was tortured by the Japanese. Jack, if you must know; not a pretty story."

"Well, what happened?"

"Oh, well, I don't know, Jack, difficult to think of under these conditions; but, well... what happened was they got me on the old Rangoon-Ichinawa railway. I was laying train lines for the bloody Japanese puff-puff's."

"No, I mean when they tortured you. Did you talk?"

"Ah, oh, no... well, I don't think they wanted me to talk really. I don't think they wanted me to say anything. It was just their way of having a bit of fun, the swines."

508:

Theology is IRRELEVANT (At this point )

Yes!

Because ... the question of the existence in this universe & therefore the detectability of BSF is the question.

No, the question is how it affects your life.

Religious people and their theology have no influence on your life whatsoever, so they are irrelevant.

(Well, except they make a big splash on political issues like abortion and sex and climate change. And some of them are terrorists. Etc.)

I'll back up. The DEGREE OF TRUTH of any particular theology or all theologies put together is irrelevant.

It kind of surprised me how many theologies say you can't get out of the game. Hindus say that you are doomed to be reborn, and if you do good in this life you will be reborn as a Brahmin who will have the leisure to study how to do good in the next life too. The game is rigged.

Some christian gnostics said that there are evil archons who will try to make you be reborn, and your duty is to try to evade them. Oh! Just like the Hindus except the Hindus don't know that the archons are evil and don't know to try to evade them.

Buddhists say that you must learn how to escape also, until you learn you will be reborn to endless suffering.

Some buddhists say that there are powerful gods who figured out how to escape but chose not to. They have created their own worlds, and if you beg them for it, they may let you be reborn in their worlds where you can study better how to escape.

T