nothing is mere

Category Archives: politics

Trump and the world order

_________________________________________________________________________ My co-worker Eliezer Yudkowsky recently made the case on social media that Trump’s candidacy raises national security concerns qualitatively more serious than the sort you see in a normal US presidential race: Every election, the Chicken Littles of both parties make a big deal out of how this year’s election opponent is the Worst Ever …

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Library of Scott Alexandria

I’ve said before that my favorite blog — and the one that’s shifted my views in the most varied and consequential ways — is Scott Alexander’s Slate Star Codex. Scott has written a lot of good stuff, and it can be hard to know where to begin; so I’ve listed below what I think are …

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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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America’s anthem

AceTerrier has a disastrously interesting blog, Don’t Stay Up Too Late, on 20th-century pop music. Here’s his conclusion to an article on the evolution and context of 1940s American music: “It is the national anthem, and it lies in waiting for the America that will someday sing it with one voice. Arthur only sleeps; he …

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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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