nothing is mere

Category Archives: communication

Politics is hard mode

Eliezer  Yudkowsky has written a delightful series of posts (originally on the economics blog Overcoming Bias) about why partisan debates are so frequently hostile and unproductive. Particularly incisive is A Fable of Science and Politics. One of the broader points Eliezer makes is that, while political issues are important, political discussion isn’t the best place to train one’s …

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In defense of actually doing stuff

Most good people are kind in an ordinary way, when the intensity of human suffering in the world today calls for heroic kindness. I’ve seen ordinary kindness criticized as “pretending to try”. We go through the motions of humanism, but without significantly inconveniencing ourselves, without straying from our established habits, without violating societal expectations. It’s not that …

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Listen and judge: An interview with Marwa Berro

I recently participated in a meeting of ex-Muslims in Washington, D.C., attended by Richard Dawkins, Ron Lindsay, and a number of other leaders of the secular movement. One of the most eloquent and passionate speakers there — rivaling Dawkins — was Marwa Berro, a writer, activist, and philosopher who blogs at Between A Veil And A Dark …

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The AI knows, but doesn’t care

This is the first half of a LessWrong post. For background material, see A Non-Technical Introduction to AI Risk and Truly Part of You. I summon a superintelligence, calling out: ‘I wish for my values to be fulfilled!’ The results fall short of pleasant. Gnashing my teeth in a heap of ashes, I wail: Is …

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Fact-checking the Craig/Rosenberg debate

This 2/18 post first appeared on the IU Secular Alliance and Philosophical Society blogs. On February 1, Christian apologist William Lane Craig and philosopher of science Alex Rosenberg debated the relationship between theology and ethics, cosmology, metaphysics, and a range of other topics at Purdue University. And, good golly, they covered a lot. In the interest …

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When dialogues become duels

Why did the recent blow-up between Sam Harris and Glenn Greenwald happen? Why was my subsequent discussion with Murtaza Hussain so unproductive? More, why are squanderous squabbles like this so common? Even among intelligent, educated people with similar moral sensibilities? To a first approximation, the answer is simple: Hussain wrote a sloppy, under-researched hit piece. …

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Harris’ heresies: The Hussain-Bensinger dialogue, part two

This is the continuation of Robby Bensinger and Murtaza Hussain’s discussion of Sam Harris and Islam. Click here for part one. 3. Science and Politics In response to another of Robby’s points, the United States is not propping up a “benign dictatorship” in North Korea but is certainly doing so in Jordan, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia …

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Harris’ heresies: A dialogue between Hussain and Bensinger

In April, Murtaza Hussain sparked a divisive controversy with an Al Jazeera editorial attacking antireligious activist Sam Harris. Columnist Glenn Greenwald promoted the article, and when Harris objected that Hussain had seriously misrepresented him, Greenwald followed up with his own attack on Harris. After reading Hussain’s article, I largely sided with Harris, accusing Hussain of intellectual misconduct …

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Is “Islamophobia” real?

This is a shorter version of an April 8 Secular Alliance at Indiana University blog post. My previous post on the Sam Harris / Glenn Greenwald clusterfuffle was mostly procedural. I restricted myself to assessing the authenticity of Murtaza Hussain’s citations, barely touching on the deeper issues of substance he and Greenwald raised. But now that we’re on the topic, this …

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Three challenges for Atheism+

This is an excerpt of a Secular Alliance at Indiana University blog post. From the beginning, when atheos meant ‘impious’ or ‘profane’, atheism has been about more than just whether you happen to believe in gods. Both the godly and the not-so-godly seem drawn to viewing atheism as something of much deeper import. Hence few are surprised when …

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