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Valar Qringaomis

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Saturday, July 13, 2013

"Prominent Jews helped the Nazis counter foreign press reports of oppression"

PAW- September 11, 1996

"German Jews have not fared well in historical accounts of Nazi anti-Semitism. From a distance of half a century, there is reproach, disbelief, even scorn: How could they have been so blind? The decision to remain behind, even when the Nazis made life miserable for Jews soon after the 1933 rise to power, is usually explained by the German Jews’ simple, soothing mantra, "It cannot happen here,” or by the words of Nobel Prize-winning chemist Richard Willstätter: One does not leave ones mother, even when she behaves badly.”

But Dippel shows there were more complex motivations. For decades, centuries even, German Jews had sought to prove their loyalty, to show they were more German than the Germans. And indeed, they had picked up some stereotypically German qualities—quoting Dippel “rootedness, complacency, incredulity, smugness, naiveté, wishful thinking, even opportunism.” German Jews largely abandoned their own religion and traditions, seeking to blend into the larger society. Despite the fact that many Jewish families had been in Germany for centuries-the financier Max Warburg, one of Dippel's subjects, traced his German roots to the 1200s-it was only in the 20 years before the Nazis took over that Jews had finally felt accepted, serving with honor in the Kaiser's army.

So when the Nazis began trumpeting their anti-Semitism, many Jews refused to listen. The law would protect them, they thought. Average Germans would refuse to go along with Hitler's hate, they were certain. Jews who saw the Nazi demonization for what it was were dismissed as alarmists. Only one in 10 German Jews left the country in the first year of Nazi rule; the rest accepted the main Jewish organization's slogan, "Wait and See." Some nationalist and Zionist Jewish groups even praised the Nazis, if only for helping Jews return to their own traditions and identity when Nazi policies drew distinctions between them and Aryans. Prominent Jews helped the Nazis counter foreign press reports of oppression. Warburg's bank and other Jewish institutions helped Hitler by lending huge sums to the new government. "Wear the Yellow Badge with Pride!" a Jewish newspaper in Berlin told its readers.

The Nazis were eager for Jews to emigrate in those first years, but even dismissal from jobs and a gradual banishment from every aspect of public life could not break the Jews' bonds to German temperament, history, language, and culture. Rabbi Leo Baeck, the foremost religious leader of the community, vowed to be the last Jew in Germany, standing like the captain of a sinking ship, Dippel writes, "deaf to the nearing waves."

Years before the Nazis came to power, the German Jewish writer Jakob Wassermann wrote of his gentile countrymen, "It is futile to show them loyalty....It is futile to live for them and to die for them. They say: He is a Jew." But even after the attacks became physical, even after 319 new laws were passed against them in 1934, German Jewish leaders were preaching quiet faith and inner resolve. Three-fourths of the Jews who had lived in Germany at the dawn of the Nazi era in 1933 were still there at the end of 1937. Incredibly, in January 1938, Jews in Hamburg celebrated the opening of a new community center, complete with theater, restaurant, and lecture hall...

To the very end, however, they worried about fitting in [overseas[: Warburg, even in 1938, argued against a mass exodus from Germany, fretting that a large-scale movement of Jews, some of whom might not behave with the "uprightness" that Warburg valued, would stoke anti-Semitism worldwide. "He came across a little like a hotel manager insisting that his guests take off their pajamas and put on coats and ties before exiting a fire-engulfed lobby," Dippel writes."

--- Why didn't they go? Book review of "Bound upon a wheel of fire: why so many German Jews made the tragic decision to remain in Nazi Germany" in Princeton Alumni Weekly, Volume 97

Taboo trade-offs, forbidden base rates and heretical counterfactuals

The psychology of the unthinkable: Taboo trade-offs, forbidden base rates and heretical counterfactuals | Jennifer S. Lerner

"Research on social cognition ultimately rests on functionalist assumptions about what people are trying to accomplish when they judge events or make choices. The most influential of these as sumptions have been the intuitive scientist and the intuitive economist... Good intuitive scientists and economists look for the most useful cues in the environment for generating accurate predictions and making satisfying decisions and quickly abandon hypotheses that do not “pan out”. Rigidity is maladaptive within both frameworks.

In this article, we explore the empirical implications of an underexplored starting point for inquiry: the notion that, in many contexts, people are striving to achieve neither epistemic nor utilitarian goals, but rather, as prominent historical sociologists have argued (Bell, 1976), are struggling to protect sacred values from secular encroachments by increasingly powerful societal trends toward market capitalism (and the attendant pressure to render everything fungible) and scientific naturalism (and the attendant pressure to pursue inquiry wherever it logically leads). A sacred value can be defined as any value that a moral community implicitly or explicitly treats as possessing infinite or transcendental significance that precludes comparisons, trade-offs, or indeed any other mingling with bounded or secular values...

* - Sacred values are often ultimately religious in character, but they need not have divine sanction (hence our hybrid designation of the functionalist metaphor as moralist-theologian). Sacred values can range hoist fundamentalists' faith in God to the liberal-social democratic dogma of racial equality to the radical libertarian commitmnent to the autonomy of the individual. Although the theoretical framework proposed here dues not differentiate sacred values with or without divine mandate, many writers, from Samuel Johnson to Fyodor Dostoevsky to T. S. Eliot, have drawn sharp distinctions here and have even suggested that only sacred values anchored in faith in God can sustain genuine moral outrage and cleansing. To paraphrase Dostoevsky, if there were no God, no act, not even cannibalism, would be forbidden...

The most emphatic ways to distance oneself from normative transgressions are by (a) expressing moral outrage—a composite psychological state that subsumes cognitive reactions (harsh character attributions to those who endorse the proscribed thoughts and even to those who do not endorse, but do tolerare, this way of thinking in others), affective reactions (anger and contempt for those who endorse the proscribed thoughts), and behavioral reactions (support for ostracizing and punishing deviant thinkers); and (b) engaging in moral cleansing that reaffirms core values and loyalties by acting in ways that shore up those aspects of the moral order that have been undercut by the transgression. Within this framework, rigidity, accompanied by righteous indignation and by blanket refusal even to contemplate certain thoughts, can be commendable—indeed, it is essential for resolutely reasserting the identification of self with the collective moral order (cf. Durkheim, 1925/1976). What looks irrationally obdurate within the intuitive scientist and economist research programs can often be plausibly construed as the principled defense of sacred values within the moralist—theologian research program (Tetlock, 1999)...

Fiske and Tetlock (1997) documented that, in most cultures, people are chronic “companmentalizers” who deem some trade-offs legitimate (goods and services routinely subject to market-pricing rules) but vehemently reject others—in particular, those that treat “sacred values” like honor, love, justice, and life as fungible.

This sharp resistance is rooted, in part, in the familiar incommensurability problem. Decision theorists have long stressed that people find interdimensional comparisons cognitively difficult and resort to noncompensatory choice heuristics such as elimination by-aspects to avoid them (Payne, Bettman, & )ohnson, 1992). The moralist—theologian framework, however, treats this explanation as incomplete. Apple—orange comparisons are difficult, but people often make them when they go to the supermarket. Moreover, people do not find it shameful to make trade-offs between money and consumption goods. The moralist—theologian framework traces opposition to reducing all values to a single utility metric to a deeper, more intractable form of incommensurability: constitutive incommensurability, a pivotal concept in modern moral philosophy (Raz, 1986) as well as in classic sociological theory...

Relying on error-prone heuristics is not the only pathway to base-rate neglect. In many contexts, accuracy is neither the only nor even the primary standard for evaluating quality of judgment. A classic example is the U.S. legal system in which procedural justice trumps judgmental accuracy whenever, as often occurs, diagnostic evidence is excluded from trial, indeed, in exactly this vein, prominent legal theonsts have proposed that base-rate evidence is fundamentally inconsistent with the legal ideal of individual justice and should be categorically excluded (Tribe, 1971).

Forbidden base rates refer to any statistical generalization that devoted Bayesians would not hesitate to enter into their probability calculations but that deeply offends a religious or political community. The primary obstacle to using the putatively relevant base rate is not cognitive, but moral. In a society committed to racial, ethnic, and gender egalitarianism, forbidden base rates include observations bearing on the dispropottionately high crime rates and low educational test scores of certain categories of human beings. Putting the accuracy and interpretation of such generalizations to the side, people who use these base rates in judging individuals are less likely to be applauded for their skills as good intuitive statisticians than they are to be condemned for their racial and gender insensitivity...

Particularly irksome are counterfactuals that apply normal laws of human nature and of physical causality to heroic founders of the movement. Consider the reaction of the Ayatollah Khomeini to Salmon Rushdie’s heretical counterfactual in Satanic Verses that invited readers to imagine that the Prophet Mohammed kept the company of prostitutes. For this transgression, the theocratic regime in Iran sentenced Rushilie to death (the ultimate expression of moral outrage).

Within the Christian faith in the modem era. such theological ferocity is rare, but it is not difficult to identify counterfactuals that strike the faithful as bizarre or repugnant... From a secular point of view, though, such counterfactuals are eminently reasonable. They introduce schematic chains of causal propositions—in Abelson’s (1981) terms, “scripts”—that virtually all of us apply reflexively in everyday life to a text that many of us deem divinely inspired...

Building on Durkheim’s (1925/1976) classic observations of how people respond to affronts to the collective conscience that disturb the normative equilibrium of society, the SVPM predicts that when observers believe that decision makers have entertained proscribed thoughts. they will respond with moral outrage, which has cognitive, affective, and behavioral components: lower thresholds for making harsh dispositional attributions to norm violators: anger, contempt, and even disgust toward violators; and enthusiastic support for both norm enforcement (punishing violators) and metanorm enforcement (punishing those who shirk the burdensome chore of punishing deviants; cf. Coleman. 1991). Pursuing the logic of constitutive incommensurability (to compare is to destroy), the model also postulates that the longer observers believe that decision makers contemplated compromising sacred values, even if they ultimately do the right thing and support sacred values, the more intense the outrage they direct at those decision makers...

In Experiment I, we explored the reactions of a broad spectrum of political activists to routine or secular—secular trade-offs (money for goods and services legally exchanged in the market economy of late 20th century America) and taboo or secular—sacred trade-offs (money for goods and services that cannot legally be bought or sold in late twentieth century America... Free-market libertarians should be most inclined to allow individuals to enter into whatever contractual understanding they wish—be it buying or selling lettuce or votes, newspapers or body organs, or future options for commodities or adoption rights for children. Their wrath will be reserved for those meddlesome souls who invent moral externalities (adverse effects on third parties) designed to justify constratnirtg consenting adults from making trade-offs and agreements that each contracting party agrees leaves him or her better off. By contrast, Marxists will be most offended. They will object not only to proposais to render sacred values fungible, but even to the exploitative character of many routine market transactions in Amcrican society. Finally, in the broad middle of American political spectrum, there should be consider... Liberals may object that market pricing of medical and legal services effectively assigns dollar values to life and justice, whereas conservatives may view such transactions with casual equanimity...

Why are some trade-offs regarded as so routme that people are baffled that anyone should even bother to ask about them whereas other trade-offs are so controversial that people react with scorn to the mere posing of the question? It explains little just to invoke ‘culture and socia1ization’... Outrage dissipates only within the rarefied ideological subculture of the libertarian movement whose members share a commitment to free choice within competitive markets. It is worth stressing, though. thai libertarians are capable of outrage. Free-response data suggested that their wrath was largely reserved, however for moral busy bodies who are forever inventing injuries to third parties that justify new regulatory restraints...

In Experiment 3. we examined Observers’ reactions to decision makers who used base rates that either did or did not turn out to be correlated with the racial composition of neighborhoods. The hypotheses included: (a) the symbolic antiracism hypothesis, that people would regard actuarial risk as a legitimate rationale for price discrimination in setting insurance premiums only when the correlation between actuarial risk and racial mix of neighborhoods is not mentioned. When the correlation is highlighted, people—especially liberals—will vehemently reject race-tainted base rates and invoke multiple grounds for rejecting them (a variant of the defensive-overkill hypothesis); (b) the covert-racism hypothesis, that conservatives would deviate from this trend and seize on the base rates as justification for charging steep premiums to a long standing target of prejudice in American society: Blacks...

To examine the impact of the ‘White-tainted” base rate, an ANOVA contrasted that condition against the "Black-tainted” condition. As predicted by the symbolic antiracism hypothesis, liberals exposed to the Black-tainted as opposed to the White-tainted base rate were more likely to agree that the executive should sell insurance for the same price across zones, F(1,37) = 5.88, p < .05. In addition, liberals exposed to the Black-tainted base rate were less likely to agree that the executive should charge higher premiums in the high-risk zones, F(l,37) = 7.42, p = .01. To test the blatant—racism hypothesis (that conservatives would support more egalitarian pricing when the high-risk zones turn out to be populated by whites) the same contrasts were performed, but they revealed no effects on any dependent measure.

[Ed: Translation: liberals are okay with discriminating against white people, but not black people, on the basis of base-rates. In other words, liberals are racist, but conservatives are not. This is a lot more revealing than the Implicit Association Test (IAT)]

... For many respondents. the use of base rates raised disturbing moral issues rather than tricky statistical issues. Permissible base rates in a race-neutral context were morally foreclosed in a race-contaminated context. These effects were driven largely by the insistence of liberals that base rates became ‘off limits’ once the linkage with race was revealed. Their overriding concern was to ensure thai a group that had historically suffered from discriminatory practices (and arguably may still be so suffering) would not, once again, be victimized. The opposite effect, using base rates to justify harsh reactions to Blacks, did not materialize at all in Experiment 3, even among the most conservative, and materialized only among a small minority of conservatives in Experiment 4. This “dog-that-did-not-bark” is contrary to the prediction of theories of racial policy reasoning that depict many, even most, Americans as covert or symbolic racists who are quick to seize on pretexts for denying opportunities to Blacks (cf. Sniderman & Piazza, 1993). Indeed, the pattern is more consistent with a view of liberals as “symbolic antiracists” (who change their views about the acceptability of inequality as soon as it implicates historically oppressed groups) than it is of conservatives as symbolic racists (who are always looking for justifications for thwarting the aspirations of oppressed groups)."

Friday, July 12, 2013

Old Spice

Links - 12th July 2013

Trying to Learn a Foreign Language? Avoid Reminders of Home - "reminders of one's homeland can hinder the ability to speak a new language. The findings could help explain why cultural immersion is the most effective way to learn a foreign tongue and why immigrants who settle within an ethnic enclave acculturate more slowly than those who surround themselves with friends from their new country."

Fares: Maybe buses should be free | The Economist - "a group of engineers at New York's Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) calculated the amount of time wasted as passengers waited to board and pay fares on a single run of the Bx12 Limited bus route in the Bronx. The answer was 16 minutes and 16 seconds, or over a quarter of the entire run. A proof-of-payment system would save much of that. Since that study, MTA has moved to proof-of-payment systems on several lines, including the Bx12 Limited. Waiting times have fallen and average speeds have improved. But making the buses free could work even better. It's not as crazy as it sounds. Fares bring in a lot of money, but they cost money to collect—6% of the MTA's budget, according to a 2007 report in New York magazine. Fare boxes and turnstiles have to be maintained; buses idle while waiting for passengers to pay up, wasting fuel; and everyone loses time. Proof-of-payment systems don't solve the problem of fare-collection costs as they require inspectors and other staff to handle enforcement, paperwork and payment processing. Making buses and subways free, on the other hand, would increase passenger numbers, opening up space on the streets for essential traffic and saving time by reducing road congestion."

You probably didn’t read the most telling part of Orwell’s “1984″—the appendix

Scientific faith: Belief in science increases in the face of stress and existential anxiety
People are not entirely wrong when they describe Science as a Religion

Russian-Chinese marriages: Love or convenience? - ""I like Russian women for their openness, for not being shy to show their feelings. Chinese women, even after 40 years of marriage, often remain very closed and are not particularly sincere"... Despite active cooperation between the two countries and their geographic proximity, there has not been a significant increase in the number of Russian-Chinese marriages... Usually, in these families the husband is Chinese, while the wife is Russian. This is partly due to demographic factors: in Russia, like in the most of the world, there are more women than men, whereas in China the situation is the opposite and men greatly outnumber women. But this is not all. There are several other reasons that are believed to prompt Chinese men to look for their other half among Russian women. First, it is considered prestigious; second, the "one family – one child" policy does not apply to mixed marriages; and third, it gives them an opportunity to get Russian citizenship... "As for Chinese men's good qualities, they are great at fixing things around the house, they care about their family, they treat their wives with respect and as their equals"... Russian girls are more understanding, are very good at housework, support their men, do not look only for rich guys and are ready to overcome difficulties together... "Women in China are too pragmatic, true love does not exist for them, money is more important to them. They put up so many demands before a wedding: a place to live, a car, etc." "I am not sure if I would want a Russian woman for a wife. Chinese women, albeit they are more capricious, are often better brought-up and do not have bad habits," says Yang Shibo (杨世博), who has spent a year studying in Russia and is now back in China. "When I was staying in Barnaul, I liked one Russian girl but I did not risk starting a relationship with her. I thought that my wife should be Chinese. But now that I am back here, I sometimes think of going back and trying my luck with that Russian girl after all," he adds. While Chinese men, who think that Chinese women are mercenary and spoilt, are looking for wives among Russian girls, women in China have developed a new fad too: they are looking for husbands among foreigners. Very often it is just a "means" to go abroad or improve their financial situation"

35 Years Of Failed Economic Forecasts In One Chart
"As Nate Silver has pointed out, the worst thing about the bad predictions isn't that they were awful; it's that the economists in question were so confident in them... Why do people listen to economists anymore? Scott Armstrong, an expert on forecasting at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, has developed a "seer-sucker" theory: "No matter how much evidence exists that seers do not exist, suckers will pay for the existence of seers." Even if experts fail repeatedly in their predictions, most people prefer to have seers, prophets, and gurus tell them something – anything at all – about the future"

The Town with a Subculture of Secret Tiny Doors - "In Ann Arbor, Michigan, a series of what is known as ‘fairy doors’, began popping up around the area in 2005, built into buildings, shops and restaurants and quickly acquired a cult following"

Swallowing Semen - "Some studies suggest that absorption of semen via the vaginal mucus membrane lining its inner walls has positive effects like reducing depression and also reduces the risk of breast cancer. Some women are infertile or lose pregnancies due to miscarriages due to their inherent presence of antibodies that destroy the proteins or antigens present in her sexual partners semen. Having oral sex and swallowing the semen of the partner may help make the pregnancy safer and more successful as the woman is swallowing her partner's antigens."

Matan Shelomi's answer to Do silverfish eat human sperm? - Quora - "...
Why does this question exist? Why?"

Sword Girls - "Sword Girls is an online collectible card game featuring stunning anime artwork and strategic game play. Sword Girls offers an engaging experience whether it’s your first card game or you’re a seasoned veteran. The game offers hundreds of unique and alluring cards to collect."

Contraceptive Use in the United States - "About one in 10 women at risk of unintended pregnancy are currently not using any contraceptive method. The proportion is highest among 15–19-year-olds (19%) and lowest among women aged 40–44 (8%).
Eighty-four percent of black women who are at risk of unintended pregnancy currently use a contraceptive method, compared with 91% of their Hispanic and white peers, and 92% of Asian women...
Ninety-two percent of at-risk women living at 300% or more of the federal poverty line are currently using contraceptives, compared with 88% among those living at 0–149% of poverty...
Only 2% of at-risk Catholic women rely on natural family planning; the proportion is the same even among those women who attend church once a month or more.
More than four in 10 at-risk Evangelicals (41%) rely on male or female sterilization, the greatest proportion among religious groups"

Comics of Ice and Fire - "Luwin Paying The Iron Price"

LOL: Write it. Text it. But never, ever say it. - "lol is so flexible that it no longer means anything literal, and instead has become a functional, grammatical part of casual written speech... there’s the literalist objection to lol, rofl, et al. These terms, opponents say, are almost always dishonest—if people were really laughing out loud at the rate that they’re typing lol, the Earth would be an unlivably mirthful place. This is a weird one. In casual conversation we use loads of expressions that we don’t mean literally—“it cost me an arm and a leg,” “he’s off his rocker,” “hold the phone”... The other day I heard someone say the word sadface in conversation, and I must confess that I threw up a little in my mouth. Lol!"

10 Charts About Sex « OkTrends - "Curvy women pass skinny ones in self-confidence at age 29 and never look back. They also consistently have the highest sex drive among the groups"

The Most Controversial Math Problems

Are Human Mating Preferences with Respect to Height Reflected in Actual Pairings? - "men were taller than their partners in 92.5% of the couples, significantly more often than the expected 89.8% when mating was random with respect to height"
This was a weaker preference for taller men than I'd expected - it seems women in the UK are more open-minded than in Singapore (and Hong Kong, and Malaysia)

The Ethics of Not Hiring Smokers - "Many health care organizations, such as the Cleveland Clinic and Baylor Health Care System, and some large non–health care employers, including Scotts Miracle-Gro, Union Pacific Railroad, and Alaska Airlines, now have a policy of not hiring smokers — a practice opposed by 65% of Americans... it results in a failure to care for people, places an additional burden on already-disadvantaged populations, and preempts interventions that more effectively promote smoking cessation... it seems paradoxical for health care organizations that exist to care for the sick to refuse to employ smokers. Many patients are treated for illnesses to which their behavior has contributed, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart failure, diabetes, and infections spread through unprotected sex or other voluntary activities... The broader claim that it is fair to exclude smokers because they are responsible for raising health care costs is too simplistic. It ignores the fact that smoking is addictive and therefore not completely voluntary... all other diseases — and many healthful behaviors — also result in additional health care costs. People with cancer burden their fellow workers through higher health care costs and absenteeism. People who engage in risky sports may have accidents or experience trauma routinely and burden coworkers with additional costs. Having babies increases premiums for fellow employees who have none"

Thailand Trip #1 - Bangkok - La preuve par moi - "Je vais vous la faire courte, l’image parle d’elle-même, mais le PPS consiste à mater des putes danser (se tortiller) sur un podium et qui lance une balle de ping-pong de leur vagin dans un bol. Avec des variantes infinies : Elles sortent des mètres de rubans, des orchidées, des demies bananes, des fléchettes qui crèvent des ballons, des lames de rasoirs (Yeurk !), fument des clopes… Il y a même un show avec une pauvre meuf camée jusqu’à l’os qui se fait f***k dans tous les sens. J’ai été traumatisée et j’ai fais des cauchemars durant 2 nuits."
Son PPS me semble tellement plus passionnant que le mien

Le secret de l'homme. - La preuve par moi - "Faut qu’vous sachiez une DONNEE INDISPENSABLE sur les mecs. Je sais pas si personne ne vous l’a dit ou bien si vous avez décidé de totalement occulter cette info, mais je m’y colle. LES MECS NE SONT PAS MEDIUMS... C’est comme si t’allais chez le médecin :
- Vous avez mal où ?
- BAH DEVINEZ !!...
L’autre situation super commune est le moment où tu commences à vraiment bien kiffer ton plan cul. Ca fait plusieurs jours /semaines / mois (rayez la mention inutile) que vous baisez et tu commences à vraiment bien l’aimer et envisager autre chose. Et t’es là, t’attends, t’attends… Tu crois que tu baises Madame Irma et que son 3ème oeil va s’ouvrir pour lire ton esprit impénétrable ? Bah non. Désolée mais non... Remballe ta boule de cristal et remplace la par des boules de Geisha... P.S : Le 2ème secret, c’est qu’ils pensent avec leur bite."

Vivian Balakrishnan's finest hour in Parliament

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Why people are obsessed with "trolls" and "trolling"

Trolling: Why are some people obsessed with trolls of both the real and imagined variety? - Quora

For this answer I will keep to the definition of trolling as trying to provoke a reaction rather than being sincere. Since the word "obsessed" is used, this implies accusing people of being trolls even if they are not.

When you disagree with somebody, there could be several reasons for the disagreement:

- you are wrong and don't know it
- the other person is wrong and doesn't know it
- both of you are wrong and don't know it
- it is an issue about which intelligent, informed people disagree
- the other person is disagreeing for the sake of disagreeing

(We assume you are not wrong and know it and are disagreeing for the sake of disagreeing, i.e. you are not a troll)

Some people are unable or unwilling to entertain the idea that they are not correct (not the same as the idea that they are wrong - if it is an issue about which intelligent, informed people disagree, neither side may be wrong). This is not always unreasonable - I am pretty sure anyone defending the Holocaust (or claiming it didn't happen) has an indefensible position.

So you are left with the other party being unknowingly wrong or being knowingly wrong but continuing to argue.

We often assume that the other side is well informed and intelligent (either because the person appears to be so or we are charitable in our evaluations of others). So when you have explained our side of the argument and the other person still disagrees, you can no longer think that the other person is unknowingly wrong - he must be disagreeing for the sake of disagreeing.

Ergo, you have a troll who is just trying to provoke you.

(for simplicity I am not considering cases where people disagree about premises or think the other side is just being stubborn, but the general idea explaining why people are obsessed with trolling remains the same)

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

New blog picture - 7th July 2013

 photo zeng-guoyuan_zpsd39aa967.jpg
There will never be a last.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Wut. On self-contradiction

Me: Here are 6 ugly facts about Singaporeans' incomes | Singapore Business Review

"1. Real growth in average monthly household income per member increased for all residents in 2012; poor households suffered a decline in incomes.
2. Cost of living has increased, eroding the purchasing power of savings.
3. Inequality has increased.
4. Indebtedness has increased.
5. Poor retirement adequacy.
6. Other marginalised groups are at risk of impoverishment"

A: The reality is that there is a list of questionable information with regard to data provided from all sources. The limitations of the data published are not stated, not to expect on it being exhaustive. The relationship of information creates understanding which is really what is needed for people to make choices. Yet given the limited time for these endeavors many people are incapable to having studied the epistemology of data collection, question their reasoning for being there, its usefulness and the reason to whom it was written for and the expected reaction. It is therefore redundant, useless and worthless discussion and it is because of this, the intelligent Proletariat ( from the proliteraii )is thus reacting to their sub conscious identification to policy from previous misgivings given the lack of information and its directive in the management of resources fort he country. Scholars who leisurely do little work and are for the most stuck in schools ( from scholarii ) lead leisurely lives , and in many aspect continue to do so having little practical experience.It is thus for that reason, especially those fostered by the state from their unknown bearing be especially pliant lest their privilege be removed as they are incapable of surviving in the realities of open market competition. There is neither advantage or disadvantage in solving social issues but maintaining their status quo as they are not required to maintain their private enterprise or environment to foster improvement . For such individuals ( Scholarii )to attempt to do anything for public service comes at great risk to their standards of living and even if the system were to collapse they are no worse from where they begin. It is thus that has led to such problems and diversions in direction and implementation of an economy and state which was once focused on the improvement of every individual , diverging the very social fabric. It is my hope that such divergence will be resolved in a conscientious manner and not merely whitewashed forgetting the many peoples who are made irrelevant by a segment of people who in the name of civil service are irrelevant.

The writer may choose to add while after 2012 even though the ; still allows a logical and grammatically consistent sentence as a valid substitute.

Me: So in conclusion we cannot know anything and we cannot trust anyone, including the government. The report used government statistics, incidentally.

A: If government does not know government how does anyone know. Business does not know government , nor do the people. If you ask Government in all its part on its grand strategy they are most likely to tell you it is a secret, because it is sure proof that it is a secret to them. Afterall it is only in times of war, or a great national mishap that the usage of resources can come to a consensus. Of course this view in not merely my own but from rather intelligent speculation having a lack of confirmation. Either that or administrations are possessing a strategy which is unsupportable because of a lack of resource, or merely having a strategy to being perceived to having a strategy. The needs are many, the objectives unclear and the cost and resources doubtful. It is for this reason there is little need to cast doubt on such institutions as the doubt is naturally plentiful if given timely scrutiny.

Me: So in your book the only type of entity that can be right is a government?

A: Noone is right, especially a government because it is incapable of knowing what is right, even more a government elected by the people since if the people are incapable of knowing what is right. But to go further, perhaps we should consider knowing what is true, what is accurate , what is efficient and effective. Yet in such matters, perhaps even government does not know what peoples want or seek for; or even the very will of the people. So given so, how can it be that the only type of entity that can be right be a government. Perhaps it is as likely that the last type of entity to know what is right is a government.

Me: So as I said earlier "in conclusion we cannot know anything and we cannot trust anyone"

A: That would be insanity, you should at least trust yourself.

Me: "Whatever I have accepted until now as most true has come to me through my senses. But occasionally I have found that they have deceived me, and it is unwise to trust completely those who have deceived us even once...

Often in my dreams I am convinced of just such familiar events – that I am sitting by the fire in my dressing-gown – when in fact I am lying undressed in bed! Yet right now my eyes are certainly wide open when I look at this piece of paper; I shake my head and it isn’t asleep; when I rub one hand against the other, I do it deliberately and know what I am doing. This wouldn’t all happen with such clarity to someone asleep.

Indeed! As if I didn’t remember other occasions when I have been tricked by exactly similar thoughts while asleep! As I think about this more carefully, I realize that there is never any reliable way of distinguishing being awake from being asleep.

This discovery makes me feel dizzy, which itself reinforces the notion that I may be asleep! Suppose then that I am dreaming – it isn’t true that I, with my eyes open, am moving my head and stretching out my hands. Suppose, indeed that I don’t even have hands or any body at all. "

- Meditations on First Philosophy / Rene Descartes

In other words, we cannot trust ourselves

A: Choice of delusion and the level of acceptance of being deluded from an imperfect and flawed model from individual world view. Welcome to reality, reality from choice and by choice.

Me: I think you just contradicted yourself

A: You implied you are mad, I cannot be contradicted by someone who quotes Descartes and implied madness on himself. And since I do not subscribe to your reality I cannot have contradicted myself. However, you are free to your irrationality and your irrational view, even if you think that you are right when you are wrong.

B: The one thing I always tell my students is to avoid the 'there is no absolute truth' fallacy, as that would mean asserting an absolute truth. :D

On disagreeing with people (and also many "trolls")

"He pointed out that we human beings have a tendency to regard those who disagree with us in one of two ways. We assume that, if we have deep convictions and explain them clearly and a person still does not accept them, then that person is either unable to understand the truth or else unwilling to accept the truth. In other words, those who disagree with us are either ignorant or evil. Naturally, this entitles us to respond to them by either dismissing them as stupid or attacking them as willful betrayers of the truth. Hodgson insisted, however, that very intelligent, very honest people, sincerely disagree about things. He said that it is a part of growing up that we come to recognize that those who disagree with us may be as intelligent and as honest as we are trying to be."

--- God in the Theology of Leonard Hodgson / Fisher Humphreys, quoted in Theology in the Service of the Church: Essays Presented to Fisher H. Humphreys / Timothy George, Eric Farrel Mason (ed.)

Monday, July 08, 2013

How Junk Food Can End Obesity

How Junk Food Can End Obesity

"Late last year, in a small health-food eatery called Cafe Sprouts in Oberlin, Ohio, I had what may well have been the most wholesome beverage of my life. The friendly server patiently guided me to an apple-blueberry-kale-carrot smoothie-juice combination, which she spent the next several minutes preparing, mostly by shepherding farm-fresh produce into machinery. The result was tasty, but at 300 calories (by my rough calculation) in a 16-ounce cup, it was more than my diet could regularly absorb without consequences, nor was I about to make a habit of $9 shakes, healthy or not.

Inspired by the experience nonetheless, I tried again two months later at L.A.’s Real Food Daily, a popular vegan restaurant near Hollywood. I was initially wary of a low-calorie juice made almost entirely from green vegetables, but the server assured me it was a popular treat. I like to brag that I can eat anything, and I scarf down all sorts of raw vegetables like candy, but I could stomach only about a third of this oddly foamy, bitter concoction. It smelled like lawn clippings and tasted like liquid celery. It goes for $7.95, and I waited 10 minutes for it.

I finally hit the sweet spot just a few weeks later, in Chicago, with a delicious blueberry-pomegranate smoothie that rang in at a relatively modest 220 calories. It cost $3 and took only seconds to make. Best of all, I’ll be able to get this concoction just about anywhere. Thanks, McDonald’s!

If only the McDonald’s smoothie weren’t, unlike the first two, so fattening and unhealthy. Or at least that’s what the most-prominent voices in our food culture today would have you believe...

In virtually every realm of human existence, we turn to technology to help us solve our problems. But even in Silicon Valley, when it comes to food and obesity, technology—or at least food-processing technology—is widely treated as if it is the problem. The solution, from this viewpoint, necessarily involves turning our back on it.

If the most-influential voices in our food culture today get their way, we will achieve a genuine food revolution. Too bad it would be one tailored to the dubious health fantasies of a small, elite minority. And too bad it would largely exclude the obese masses, who would continue to sicken and die early. Despite the best efforts of a small army of wholesome-food heroes, there is no reasonable scenario under which these foods could become cheap and plentiful enough to serve as the core diet for most of the obese population—even in the unlikely case that your typical junk-food eater would be willing and able to break lifelong habits to embrace kale and yellow beets. And many of the dishes glorified by the wholesome-food movement are, in any case, as caloric and obesogenic as anything served in a Burger King.

Through its growing sway over health-conscious consumers and policy makers, the wholesome-food movement is impeding the progress of the one segment of the food world that is actually positioned to take effective, near-term steps to reverse the obesity trend: the processed-food industry. Popular food producers, fast-food chains among them, are already applying various tricks and technologies to create less caloric and more satiating versions of their junky fare that nonetheless retain much of the appeal of the originals, and could be induced to go much further. In fact, these roundly demonized companies could do far more for the public’s health in five years than the wholesome-food movement is likely to accomplish in the next 50. But will the wholesome-food advocates let them?...

Because they are energy-intense foods, fat and sugar and other problem carbs trip the pleasure and reward meters placed in our brains by evolution over the millions of years during which starvation was an ever-present threat... Processed food is not an essential part of this story: recent examinations of ancient human remains in Egypt, Peru, and elsewhere have repeatedly revealed hardened arteries, suggesting that pre-industrial diets, at least of the affluent, may not have been the epitome of healthy eating that the Pollanites make them out to be...

In Pandora’s Lunchbox, Melanie Warner assiduously catalogs every concern that could possibly be raised about the health threats of food processing, leveling accusations so vague, weakly supported, tired, or insignificant that only someone already convinced of the guilt of processed food could find them troubling. While ripping the covers off the breakfast-cereal conspiracy, for example, Warner reveals that much of the nutritional value claimed by these products comes not from natural ingredients but from added vitamins that are chemically synthesized, which must be bad for us because, well, they’re chemically synthesized. It’s the tautology at the heart of the movement: processed foods are unhealthy because they aren’t natural, full stop.

In many respects, the wholesome-food movement veers awfully close to religion. To repeat: there is no hard evidence to back any health-risk claims about processed food—evidence, say, of the caliber of several studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that have traced food poisoning to raw milk, a product championed by some circles of the wholesome-food movement...

The most obvious problem with the “let them eat kale” philosophy of affluent wholesome-food advocates involves the price and availability of wholesome food... Yet these hurdles can be waved away, if one only has the proper mind-set. Bittman argued two years ago in The Times that there’s no excuse for anyone, food-desert-bound or not, to eat fast food rather than wholesome food, because even if it’s not perfectly fresh and locally grown, lower-end wholesome food—when purchased judiciously at the supermarket and cooked at home—can be cheaper than fast food. Sure, there’s the matter of all the time, effort, schedule coordination, and ability it takes to shop, cook, serve, and clean up. But anyone who whines about that extra work, Bittman chided, just doesn’t want to give up their excessive TV watching. (An “important benefit of paying more for better-quality food is that you’re apt to eat less of it,” Pollan helpfully noted in his 2008 book, In Defense of Food.) It’s remarkable how easy it is to remake the disadvantaged in one’s own image...

I went into several of these mom-and-pop shops and saw pretty much the same thing in every one: A prominent display of extremely fatty-looking beef and pork, most of it fresh, though gigantic strips of fried pork skin often got pride of place. A lot of canned and boxed foods. Up front, shelves of candy and heavily processed snacks. A large set of display cases filled mostly with highly sugared beverages. And a small refrigerator case somewhere in the back sparsely populated with not-especially-fresh-looking fruits and vegetables. The bodega industry, too, seems to have plotted to addict communities to fat, sugar, and salt—unless, that is, they’re simply providing the foods that people like...

People aren’t going to change their ingrained, neurobiologically supercharged junk-eating habits just because someone dangles vegetables in front of them, farm-fresh or otherwise. Mark Bittman sees signs of victory in “the stories parents tell me of their kids booing as they drive by McDonald’s,” but it’s not hard to imagine which parents, which kids, and which neighborhoods those stories might involve. One study found that subsidizing the purchase of vegetables encouraged shoppers to buy more vegetables, but also more junk food with the money they saved; on balance, their diets did not improve...

Trim, affluent Americans of course have a right to view dietary questions from their own perspective—that is, in terms of what they need to eat in order to add perhaps a few months onto the already healthy courses of their lives. The pernicious sleight of hand is in willfully confusing what might benefit them—small, elite minority that they are—with what would help most of society. The conversations they have among themselves in The Times, in best-selling books, and at Real Food Daily may not register with the working-class obese. But these conversations unquestionably distort the views of those who are in a position to influence what society does about the obesity problem...

McDonald’s has quietly been making healthy changes for years, shrinking portion sizes, reducing some fats, trimming average salt content by more than 10 percent in the past couple of years alone, and adding fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, and oatmeal to its menu...

“If you can reduce fat and calories by only a small amount in a Big Mac, it still won’t be a health food, but it wouldn’t be as bad, and that could have a huge impact on us.” Ard, who has been working for more than a decade with the obese poor, has little patience with the wholesome-food movement’s call to eliminate fast food in favor of farm-fresh goods. “It’s really naive,” he says. “Fast food became popular because it’s tasty and convenient and cheap. It makes a lot more sense to look for small, beneficial changes in that food than it does to hold out for big changes in what people eat that have no realistic chance of happening”...

Research suggests that calorie counts in a meal can be trimmed by as much as 30 percent without eaters noticing—by, for example, reducing portion sizes and swapping in ingredients that contain more fiber and water. Over time, that could be much more than enough to literally tip the scales for many obese people. “The difference between losing weight and not losing weight,” says Robert Kushner, the obesity scientist and clinical director at Northwestern, “is a few hundred calories a day”...

Introduced in 1991, the McLean Deluxe was perhaps the boldest single effort the food industry has ever undertaken to shift the masses to healthier eating... The McLean Deluxe was a sharp lesson to the industry, even if in some ways it merely confirmed what generations of parents have well known: if you want to turn off otherwise eager eaters to a dish, tell them it’s good for them. Recent studies suggest that calorie counts placed on menus have a negligible effect on food choices, and that the less-health-conscious might even use the information to steer clear of low-calorie fare—perhaps assuming that it tastes worse and is less satisfying, and that it’s worse value for their money. The result is a sense in the food industry that if it is going to sell healthier versions of its foods to the general public—and not just to that minority already sold on healthier eating—it is going to have to do it in a relatively sneaky way, emphasizing the taste appeal and not the health benefits. “People expect something to taste worse if they believe it’s healthy,” says Charles Spence, an Oxford University neuroscientist who specializes in how the brain perceives food. “And that expectation affects how it tastes to them, so it actually does taste worse”...

If the food industry is to quietly sell healthier products to its mainstream, mostly non-health-conscious customers, it must find ways to deliver the eating experience that fat and problem carbs provide in foods that have fewer of those ingredients. There is no way to do that with farm-fresh produce and wholesome meat, other than reducing portion size. But processing technology gives the food industry a potent tool for trimming unwanted ingredients while preserving the sensations they deliver...

Pollan has popularized contempt for “nutritionism,” the idea behind packing healthier ingredients into processed foods. In his view, the quest to add healthier ingredients to food isn’t a potential solution, it’s part of the problem. Food is healthy not when it contains healthy ingredients, he argues, but when it can be traced simply and directly to (preferably local) farms...

In this way, wholesome-food advocates have managed to pre-damn the very steps we need the food industry to take, placing the industry in a no-win situation: If it maintains the status quo, then we need to stay away because its food is loaded with fat and sugar. But if it tries to moderate these ingredients, then it is deceiving us with nutritionism. Pollan explicitly counsels avoiding foods containing more than five ingredients, or any hard-to-pronounce or unfamiliar ingredients. This rule eliminates almost anything the industry could do to produce healthier foods that retain mass appeal—most of us wouldn’t get past xanthan gum—and that’s perfectly in keeping with his intention.

By placing wholesome eating directly at odds with healthier processed foods, the Pollanites threaten to derail the reformation of fast food just as it’s starting to gain traction. At McDonald’s, “Chef Dan”—that is, Dan Coudreaut, the executive chef and director of culinary innovation—told me of the dilemma the movement has caused him as he has tried to make the menu healthier. “Some want us to have healthier food, but others want us to have minimally processed ingredients, which can mean more fat,” he explained. “It’s becoming a balancing act for us.” That the chef with arguably the most influence in the world over the diet of the obese would even consider adding fat to his menu to placate wholesome foodies is a pretty good sign that something has gone terribly wrong with our approach to the obesity crisis...

Denmark did manage to enact a fatty-food tax, but it was deemed a failure when consumers went next door into Germany and Sweden to stock up on their beloved treats"
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