Archive for Censorship

How many complaints does it take to ban Neil Gaiman?

Posted in Doom, Favorite Words, Fiction, Politics and Society with tags , on October, 2013 by melendwyr

Just one, according to Leah Schnelbach at Tor.com.

The text of Neverwhere had been accepted as part of the reading list for nine years… and, as a result of a single complaint from a single individual who never even met with the teachers involved, it was removed.

Leaving aside the issue of whether the scene in question is sufficiently objectionable to justify removal:  if they were willing to remove it after a single complaint, why did they approve it in the first place?  Did they find it offensive but decided it wouldn’t matter until someone complained?  That’s disturbing in one way.  Did they not find it offensive but were willing to remove it at the slightest hint of parental discomfort?  That’s disturbing in another.

What’s truly tragic is that everyone else, even the student body, seems to have enjoyed the book.  It’s been many years since my horrific journey through the American educational system, but as I recall dimly through the mists of time, enjoying the act of reading was uncommon, and enjoying reading assignments was even rarer.  Removing something that the students liked is a serious loss, both to the kids and to the people whose responsibility it is to educate them.

And why?  A few F-bombs and some light petting.

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Irreducible Stupidity

Posted in Doom, GIGO with tags , , , , , , , on August, 2009 by melendwyr

By now, there’s a good chance you’ve already heard about the McWhorter-Behe diavlog on Bloggingheads.tv, and its removal for unknown reasons.

So I have very little to say about that.

I would like to point out this post over at BH’s thread regarding the video removal, written by someone with the handle “IRQ Conflict”:

As for entropy. When is the last time you saw an organism gain information and order rather than lose it with time?

Gee, he’s got us there. [takes bite of sandwich] [swallows] I don’t recall any biological organism ever increasing in order and energy in any way… [takes bite] bwff I suppos thair mai bee [swallows] – sorry, shouldn’t type with my mouth full – but I suppose there may be some way in which living creatures might be able to increase their energy. [takes sip of beverage] I wonder what that might be?

I am reminded of the infamous Internet exchange in which a Creationist ridiculed the laws of thermodynamics by noting that they imply that there’s some large source of negentropy pumping energy and order into Earth… thus suggesting that, in his colossal arrogance, he did not permit himself to recall the existence of the Sun.

Recognizing the Obvious

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on February, 2009 by melendwyr

Well, it’s not an issue of Firefox interacting poorly with a CATCHPA, as has happened to me before.

LessWrong refuses to register either of the handles Eliezer knows me by. Any handles he’s not familiar with are immediately registered.

I always thought the story of The Emperor’s New Clothes ended unrealistically. In reality, the child would be committed to an asylum and drugged until he wouldn’t know a hawk from a handsaw no matter what direction the wind came from.

We know what the Emperor had to fear – what’s Eliezer so frightened of?

Archival of Dissent

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on February, 2009 by melendwyr

A poster named Faré, with whom I was previously unfamiliar, has made a series of interesting posts on Overcoming Bias.

To prevent their loss in case of deletion, I reproduce them below. Note: I have not explicitly been given permission to do so by Faré; the messages appear, with the exception of an introduced link, exactly as they appeared, and have not been altered in any way. I hope this will not be offensive; if it is, I will remove the content from this site.

I wonder how long it will be before Eliezer bans and deletes this poster’s thoughts?

Meanwhile, the Arabs and the Jews, communicating through the exclusive channel of the Great Khalif O. bin Laden negotiating through Internet Sex with Tzipi Livni, arrived at this compromise whereby the Jews would all worship Mohammed on Fridays, at which times they will explode a few of their children in buses, whereas the Arabs would ratiocinate psychotically around their scriptures on Saturdays, and spawn at least one Nobel prize winner in Medecine and Physics every five years.

Of course, meeting two new species on the same day is the crew of the Impossible having its leg pulled by some superior entity, namely Eliezer. But Eliezer is not above and outside *our* world, and we don’t have to let ourselves intimidated by his scripture.

Why and how would communication possibly happen through only one channel? Since when is the unit of decision-making a race, species, nation, etc., rather than an individual? Is this Market-driven spaceship under totalitarian control where no one is allowed to communicate, and the whole crew too brain-damaged to work-around the interdiction? I wonder how the Soviet Union made it to the Interstellar Age. Where has your alleged individualism gone?

Why and how is compromise is even possible between two species, much less desirable? In the encounter of several species, the most efficient one will soon hoard all resources and leave the least efficient ones but as defanged zoo animals, at which point little do their opinions and decisions matter. No compromise. The only question is, who’s on top. Dear Tigers, will you reform yourself? Can we negotiate? Let your Great Leader meet ours and discuss man to animal around a meal.

And of course, in your fantasy, the rationalist from way back when (EY) effectively wields the ultimate power on the ship, yet is not corrupted by power. What a wonderful saint! Makes you wonder what kind of wimps the rest of mankind has degenerated into to submit to THAT wimpy overlord. Where has gone your understanding of Evolutionary Forces?

Wanna see incredibly intelligent people wasting time on absurd meaningless questions? Come here to Overcoming Bias! A stupid person will believe in any old junk, but it takes someone very intelligent to specifically believe in such elaborate nonsense.

And while I’m at it — confusing pleasure and happiness is particularly dumb. Entities that would do that would be wiped from existence in a handful of generations, and not super-powerful. Habituation is how we keep functioning at the margin, where the effort is needed. The whole idea of a moral duty to minimize other people’s pain is ridiculous, yet taken for granted in this whole story. Eliezer, you obviously are still under the influence of the judeo-christian superstitions you learned as a child.

If you’re looking for an abstract value to maximize, well, it’s time to shut up and eat your food. http://sifter.org/~simon/journal/20090103.h.html

Pain and pleasure are *signals* that we are on the wrong or right path. There’s a point in making it a better signal. But the following propositions are wholly absurd:
* to eliminate pain itself (i.e. no more signal)
* to bias the system to have either more or less pain in the average (i.e. bias the signal so it carries less than 1 bit of information per bit of code).
* to forcefully arrange for others to never possibly have pain in their own name (i.e. disconnecting them from reality, denying their moral agency — and/or obey their every whims until reality strikes back despite your shielding).
* to feel responsible for other people’s pain (i.e. deny the fact that they are their own moral agents).

As for promising a world of equal happiness for all, shameless self-quote:
“Life is the worst of all social inequalities. To suppress inequalities, one must either resurrect all the dead people (and give life to all the potential living people), or exterminate all the actually living. Egalitarians, since they cannot further their goal by the former method, inevitably come to further it by the latter method.”

A rational individual has no reason to care for the suffering of alien entities, or even other human entities, except inasmuch as it affects his own survival, enjoyment, control of resources.

25% suicide rate? Over something completely abstract that they haven’t felt yet?

You didn’t tell us about humans having been overcome by some weird Death Cult.

But, now it makes sense why they would give power to the Confessor.

Obviously, in this fantasy of would-be-immortal 21st century abstract thinker, your immortal 21st century abstract thinkers are worshipped as gods. And unhappily, they were told too much about Masada and other Kool-Aid when they were young.

There comes your judeo-christian upbringing again, in addition to the intellectual masturbation.

Eliezer — get a life! The worst thing that ever happened to your intelligence was to be disconnected from reality by too early success.

Transparency

Posted in Doom with tags , , on January, 2009 by melendwyr

There is a comment, held in suspension, for the post “The Other Shoe”.

I reference the principle of Lex Talionis. I am not obligated to respect the speech of those who do not respect my own.

The Other Shoe

Posted in Doom with tags , , , on January, 2009 by melendwyr

From this comment thread at OB:

[bored now. comment deleted.]

Comments under that name are no longer permitted. The transition is now complete.

For the record, O Moderately Beloved Readers: has Eliezer yet demonstrated that recursive self-improvement is possible, let alone likely? Has he shown that ‘Friendly AI’ is coherent, let alone desirable? Has he shown that the only alternative to FAI is a nightmare or a null? Has he made any objective progress towards his claimed goals? Has he been able to objectively demonstrate the validity of his assertions about rationality?

You’ll have to ask those questions yourselves, now.

[edited to add] Eliezer’s replacement text is probably a reference to Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Specifically, when Willow is consumed by rage and despair after the shooting of her lover, she tracks down the people responsible. After capturing one, she toys with him for a time, then says “Bored now”, and kills him by magically ripping off his skin.

Another Message from Eliezer Yudkowsky

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on November, 2008 by melendwyr

—–Inline Attachment Follows—–

Comments which raise issues that I’ve repeatedly dealt with earlier,
as though they were your own amazing original questions, will be
deleted.


Eliezer Yudkowsky
Research Fellow, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence