Author Topic: Cynicism  (Read 1352 times)

Mesozoic Mister Nigel

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Cynicism
« on: February 08, 2017, 04:30:06 pm »
I have been thinking quite a bit about cynicism recently, and essentially, the opinion I have formed on it is this:

Cynical contributions are generally designed to shut down creative discussion and problem-solving unless they are accompanied by an informed analysis supporting the cynical conclusion, which is a high-effort, high-skill endeavor and is therefore a high-value contribution. I will call such high-value contributions, which typically come from experts in the given topic, "complex cynicism", which differs from the vastly more commonplace simple cynicism.

Simple cynicism is appealing, especially to the undereducated, because it is low-effort and imparts the illusion of worldly cleverness. However, for precisely these reasons, cynical contributions are almost always low-value.

Most cynicism is, in effect, just noise.
Im guessing it was January 2007, a meeting in Bethesda, we got a bag of bees and just started smashing them on the desk, Charles Wick said. It was very complicated.


Ziegejunge

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Re: Cynicism
« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2017, 07:30:51 pm »
I like this quite a lot.

If (simple) cynicism is generally designed to shut down creative discussion and problem-solving, what is complex cynicism generally designed to do, from your perspective? I'm going to presume something along the lines of "refining and/or optimizing the creative discussion and problem-solving" -- at least ideally. Something like that, or did you have something else in mind?

Mesozoic Mister Nigel

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Re: Cynicism
« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2017, 08:03:11 pm »
I like this quite a lot.

If (simple) cynicism is generally designed to shut down creative discussion and problem-solving, what is complex cynicism generally designed to do, from your perspective? I'm going to presume something along the lines of "refining and/or optimizing the creative discussion and problem-solving" -- at least ideally. Something like that, or did you have something else in mind?

Thanks!

It does seem to me that complex cynicism is usually aimed at refining the way a problem is defined and attacked; it serves to reality-check simplistic fixes, and to explore the convolutions of a complex problem, particularly one we don't have sufficient knowledge yet to solve. Many of Cain's political analyses, for instance, would fit into this category, or my views on strong AI.
Im guessing it was January 2007, a meeting in Bethesda, we got a bag of bees and just started smashing them on the desk, Charles Wick said. It was very complicated.


Ziegejunge

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Re: Cynicism
« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2017, 07:15:31 pm »
That makes sense. I appreciate the elaboration and totally agree with the citation of many of Cain's political analyses as an examples of complex cynicism -- quality stuff there! Overall I feel less exposed to your own views on strong AI, but I feel like I can suss out a few basic themes from the current thread on personalized search engine results, wherein I would agree that your cynicism is indeed complex (and more than likely warranted!)

Mesozoic Mister Nigel

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Re: Cynicism
« Reply #4 on: February 10, 2017, 05:10:01 pm »
Im guessing it was January 2007, a meeting in Bethesda, we got a bag of bees and just started smashing them on the desk, Charles Wick said. It was very complicated.


Ziegejunge

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Re: Cynicism
« Reply #5 on: February 10, 2017, 10:02:05 pm »
I appreciate the link! Thanks! Rather than derail this thread further for now, I am going to quietly contemplate the potential of strong AI, not as a replacement for the human brain, but as a complement to it.

(And even then, I agree wholeheartedly that complex cynicism ought to play a role in said contemplation... aaaaaand now I'm thinking about Kurzweil and his ineffable optimism with regard to AI. It might be fun to see a "Kurzweil companion book" written from a complex-cynical POV...)

Bathtub Jim

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Re: Cynicism
« Reply #6 on: February 11, 2017, 02:01:47 am »
It basically boils down to a version of this: https://medium.com/@kalera/why-brains-arent-computers-47614c158139#.6aq2c9wx2

Hey! You wrote that, I remember you from the DS group on facebook.

Also, yes, complex cynicism has great value. Reality checking things can be very helpful if done in a constructive way that encourages solutions around the problem. However, while you do note that simple cynicism has low value, I think that it does still have value. Detailed critiques take time and effort, both of which are often in short supply for our own projects, let alone for the projects of others. Simple cynicism, whether a trite comment, asserting a logical fallacy, or even an insult, can point the arrow in the direction of a positive change. Often these simple criticisms should be ignored and banished from thought, but sometimes a few words can sting or leave a lasting impression that lingers with you next time you pick up the project or rehash the idea that garnered the cynical comment.
So, to sum up my cynicism: as with most things, it depends.
Opossums have opposable thumbs

Mesozoic Mister Nigel

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Re: Cynicism
« Reply #7 on: February 11, 2017, 03:01:41 pm »
I think that it's rare for simple cynicism to have any value whatsoever, for the simple reason that it's not for the benefit of the discussion, but for the benefit of the would-be cynic's ego. I think it most often emerges when a topic is over someone's head, which feels threatening to them, so they bolster themselves by making a dismissive cynical statement that allows them to leave their sense of intellectual competence intact without actually seeking a deeper understanding of the subject.
« Last Edit: February 11, 2017, 03:03:36 pm by Mesozoic Mister Nigel »
Im guessing it was January 2007, a meeting in Bethesda, we got a bag of bees and just started smashing them on the desk, Charles Wick said. It was very complicated.


Goddess Eris

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Re: Cynicism
« Reply #8 on: February 11, 2017, 11:48:42 pm »
I'm gonna say something really cynical now

Goddess Eris

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Re: Cynicism
« Reply #9 on: February 11, 2017, 11:49:11 pm »
Just a minute

Goddess Eris

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Re: Cynicism
« Reply #10 on: February 11, 2017, 11:50:55 pm »
Screw it, wouldn't have been funny anyway

Don Coyote

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Re: Cynicism
« Reply #11 on: February 12, 2017, 03:07:11 am »
I think that it's rare for simple cynicism to have any value whatsoever, for the simple reason that it's not for the benefit of the discussion, but for the benefit of the would-be cynic's ego. I think it most often emerges when a topic is over someone's head, which feels threatening to them, so they bolster themselves by making a dismissive cynical statement that allows them to leave their sense of intellectual competence intact without actually seeking a deeper understanding of the subject.

"Whatever, the sun will engulf the earth in 5 billion years so everything is pointless" (do we need a emote of that libertarian saying this? yes?)

Mesozoic Mister Nigel

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Re: Cynicism
« Reply #12 on: February 12, 2017, 11:49:18 pm »
I think that it's rare for simple cynicism to have any value whatsoever, for the simple reason that it's not for the benefit of the discussion, but for the benefit of the would-be cynic's ego. I think it most often emerges when a topic is over someone's head, which feels threatening to them, so they bolster themselves by making a dismissive cynical statement that allows them to leave their sense of intellectual competence intact without actually seeking a deeper understanding of the subject.

"Whatever, the sun will engulf the earth in 5 billion years so everything is pointless" (do we need a emote of that libertarian saying this? yes?)

YES.

Yes, we do!
Im guessing it was January 2007, a meeting in Bethesda, we got a bag of bees and just started smashing them on the desk, Charles Wick said. It was very complicated.


Mesozoic Mister Nigel

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Re: Cynicism
« Reply #13 on: February 12, 2017, 11:49:42 pm »
Screw it, wouldn't have been funny anyway

 :lulz: Well-played.
Im guessing it was January 2007, a meeting in Bethesda, we got a bag of bees and just started smashing them on the desk, Charles Wick said. It was very complicated.


LMNO

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Re: Cynicism
« Reply #14 on: February 13, 2017, 02:01:31 pm »
I think that it's rare for simple cynicism to have any value whatsoever, for the simple reason that it's not for the benefit of the discussion, but for the benefit of the would-be cynic's ego. I think it most often emerges when a topic is over someone's head, which feels threatening to them, so they bolster themselves by making a dismissive cynical statement that allows them to leave their sense of intellectual competence intact without actually seeking a deeper understanding of the subject.

"Whatever, the sun will engulf the earth in 5 billion years so everything is pointless" (do we need a emote of that libertarian saying this? yes?)

YES.

Yes, we do!

Gary Johnson actually did say this, here (54:15 mark).