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Topics - Mesozoic Mister Nigel

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I'll go unblock you.

I can't promise you can keep my interest, but I will, for as long as it takes me to not forget this is here, respond to your embarrassing obsession.

What did you want to say to me?

The first time someone told me I had a "Type A" personality, I was offended.

I had always associated the so-called type A personality with the sorts of people I held in the lowest regard; stockbrokers, CEOs, bankers, high-power sales. Mercenaries, in my mind, out to make a buck at the expense of the naive and the optimistic.

Over time, though, and after pursuing an education that included deep analysis of the origins of personality and temperament, I came to understand what "Type A" is shorthand for, and I realize now that the person who called me that is completely correct. I understand and acknowledge that I am one of those high-energy, ambitious, nonstop control freaks. I also understand why, and what the consequences are for those of us who fall into this unfortunate bin.

Type A people are driven, to start with. Where other people deal with anxiety by withdrawing and feeling drained or powerless, we deal with it by PUSHING AS HARD AS WE CAN against whatever makes us anxious. We are convinced that if we flinch or look away, That Thing will win, so we engage our natural propensity toward hypervigilance and NEVER LOOK AWAY. We are convinced that if we stare hard enough, we can win.


Relax? Are you shitting me? That's how they get us, we know that! If we relax everything will fall apart. If we look away, we will lose and That Badness will win. OK, yeah, I know that I will die younger and more horribly than I need to, but if I can stay on top of everything, then the people I care about will be safe, and isn't that the point? Isn't that why I do all of this?

If we falter in our vigilance, SOMEONE WE LOVE WILL DIE. I have proof. I know this firsthand. I failed in my vigilance, I let my control slip, and I lost my son. I failed. I looked away. And the consequences were everything I ever feared, they were what I became this way to prevent in the first place.

So you go on and relax, you kick back and have your blanket-fort days. Indulge yourself by doing nothing, take care of your heart and your beloved, fragile spirit. We will be watching. We will always be vigilant. We will kill ourselves with the sheer will to protect you, because we love you, and we know the consequences of failing in our duty.

« on: June 03, 2017, 06:56:22 pm »
PEEVE OF THE MOMENT: When people try to justify using the word "female" instead of "woman" by claiming that scientists use it this way. No we fucking don't. "Female" is an adjective, so the only time it can be used in substitution for a noun is when the noun has been immediately prior defined as having two or more modifiers, ie. "male and female snakes were hibernated for 12 weeks. After hibernation, females showed a higher rate of...". The same is true for other adjectives, such as pink and king in the context of salmon. Do you think a paper that spoke of "pinks" without ever defining WHAT THEY ARE would pass peer review? Well here's a hint: it wouldn't. Likewise with "females". The reviewers would not recommend it for publication because it doesn't define its model organism. So just stop trying to justify using "females" to refer to women using your ignorance as an argument, for fuck sake.

Aneristic Illusions / Pretty good article on identity politics
« on: March 21, 2017, 07:36:03 pm »
Seems like a lot of people are hard at work lately, bandying around phrases like "identity politics" and "virtue signaling" as if these are bad things that should be done away with. Every wondered what these phrases mean?

I'll tell you what they mean. They mean "I'm a straight white male and your minority complaining makes me uncomfortable, SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP".

Think for Yourself, Schmuck! / 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.

Aneristic Illusions / Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
« on: January 29, 2017, 09:16:29 pm »
Yes. Yes, they are.

This article highlights one of the many problems with Google search ranking, and the way the site uses preferential ranking to show you results it thinks you will "like" based on what sites you spend the most time on -- it reinforces whatever the user already believes, exacerbating confirmation bias. This is why, when debating people about certain topics, it often appears as if they literally exist in a different world with different facts. Google is helping to polarize public opinion on controversial topics.

I think that search engine customization is, potentially, going to continue to widen social gaps and badly needs to be regulated. If you think about it, it means that the primary gateway to information for all Americans is being selectively censored - soft censoring via result ranking, but censored nonetheless - per individual. The censorship is naturally going to fall along socioeconomic lines. That means, literally, that the information Google presents a poor black user will be qualitatively different from the information Google presents a wealthy white user.

Search results are customized based on past searches and the time spent on web pages. Therefore, customized search results are tailored to an individual's previous exposure to websites. The filtering is not purposely based on race or class, but the natural net effect is the same as if it were. Essentially, someone who reads about alternative medicine will get more alternative medicine websites, and when they search a topic, those websites will be prioritized in their search results. Over time, the cumulative effect will be that they are less likely to be exposed to consensus science and medicine, and may even be functionally unable to find articles that offer science-based views because their results are so heavily weighted toward woo. A black person is more likely to gravitate toward articles, and therefore sites, that support their perspective. Likewise with a white person, as exemplified by Dylann Roof in the linked article. The net result is that individual customization of search results reinforces and even creates polarization around ideas and values.  In my opinion, this is profoundly unethical, harmful, and a threat to social stability.

Aneristic Illusions / When scientists troll
« on: December 31, 2016, 03:28:44 am »
An acquaintance of an acquaintance submitted this to one of those bullshit predatory journals, and they published it.


Apple Talk / Space dogs
« on: November 25, 2016, 09:38:25 pm »
If human beings do manage to develop practical interstellar travel, it occurred to me that the ethical considerations of colonizing other planets are not completely dissimilar to those of colonizing other continents. I think that most of us will probably agree that invading and colonizing a planet already inhabited by intelligent life would be unethical. However, I don't see a ton of conversation space generally given to the ethics of colonizing a planet where there is life, but none that we recognize as "intelligent". This raises multiple questions, including how we define "intelligence", where we draw the line for ownership purposes, and also, even in the definite absence of intelligent life, is it ethical to colonize a pristine, unexploited ecosystem?

Further, why do we seem to assume that we have some sort of natural RIGHT to colonize other planets?

Apple Talk / Ranking recent trolls on a standardised scale of DK to Shandor
« on: November 23, 2016, 05:13:07 pm »
I would have to say that Ron Paul is about half a DK, and Unfunny Elvis is about two Prelate Diogenes Shandors, making him 1/5th of a DK.

Apple Talk / Awesome art
« on: November 23, 2016, 04:24:00 pm »
This installation is badass and makes no sense.

Aneristic Illusions / General Trump hilarity free-for-all thread
« on: November 22, 2016, 04:26:22 pm »
This is good, but the best part has to be Alec Baldwin's response.

Techmology and Scientism / Somehow, not the future I saw coming.
« on: November 02, 2016, 03:50:55 am »

Spinach is no longer just a superfood: By embedding leaves with carbon nanotubes, MIT engineers have transformed spinach plants into sensors that can detect explosives and wirelessly relay that information to a handheld device similar to a smartphone.

This is one of the first demonstrations of engineering electronic systems into plants, an approach that the researchers call "plant nanobionics."

"The goal of plant nanobionics is to introduce nanoparticles into the plant to give it non-native functions," says Michael Strano, the Carbon P. Dubbs Professor of Chemical Engineering at MIT and the leader of the research team.

In this case, the plants were designed to detect chemical compounds known as nitroaromatics, which are often used in landmines and other explosives. When one of these chemicals is present in the groundwater sampled naturally by the plant, carbon nanotubes embedded in the plant leaves emit a fluorescent signal that can be read with an infrared camera. The camera can be attached to a small computer similar to a smartphone, which then sends an email to the user.

Techmology and Scientism / Self-declared "empaths" and narcissism
« on: October 30, 2016, 03:34:51 pm »
Years ago, I stumbled across an article I've never been able to find again, about research in which people who declare themselves "empaths" tend to score low on the ability to correctly asses other people's emotional states and high on measures for self-interest; in other words, they tend to be less empathetic and more narcissistic than people who do not consider themselves "empaths", or able to read and feel other people's emotions. This jives well with my own observation that self-declared "empaths" are almost always malignant narcissists who seek attention and recognition. Unfortunately, it has taken me forever to find that article since, as the internet is so flooded by self-aggrandizing little articles and blog posts by "empaths" talking about what a terrible drain narcissists are on them.

However, in my searches I found this:

The tl;dr is that, unsurprisingly, most research shows that narcissists typically score low in empathy, but there is one exception; they tend to score high in empathy when it is linked to self-interest; if they are in an exploitative mindset or overall score high in the exploitative dimension of narcissism, they also tend to excel at correctly reading other people's emotional states.

To my delight, in the references of this paper I found the older one I was looking for:

Along with the Konrath paper, it definitely lends support for the idea that people who consider themselves "empaths" are more likely to be malignant, exploitative narcissists who tune in to other people's emotions when they might be able to take advantage of them, but are otherwise very disconnected from other people's emotional realities.

Aneristic Illusions / Ignorance, oppression, and gaslighting
« on: September 06, 2016, 03:34:57 pm »
I've been thinking a lot lately about willful ignorance as it relates to gaslighting and oppression. One incredibly common tactic that I have seen over and over and over again is the "I just don't understand, teach me" tactic, which makes sense when you are literally the only available expert, but no sense in the context of a thread in which it has already been explained and hashed out countless times, or there are information and articles readily available in a simple web search.

In these cases, particularly, the person requesting information is using it as a stalling or diversion tactic. They aren't interested in learning; they are interested in eating up your time and nitpicking your attempts at explanation until you give up. In many cases, it's also a power play; by maintaining ignorance and asking you to "teach" them, they are not only making you serve them, they are also making you responsible for whether they learn, and how much. It is a form of passive-aggressive bullying, it is manipulative, it is abusive, and in my opinion the only constructive response is to walk away from people who use this tactic.

This article really breaks it down well, in my opinion:

And this classic piece from the generally unimpressive Huff Po is quality:

If you don't know what gaslighting is, it's an abusive manipulation tactic:

Of course, there is also genuine, simple ignorance; the inability to know where to start. It's easy to tell the difference between simple ignorance and willful ignorance. With simple ignorance, if you point the person in the right general direction, they'll take the hint and run with it. These are the people who, when told to look something up or to just read the damn thread, just do. If they are sincerely interested in learning and are pointed toward learning tools, they use them. With willful ignorance, if you point them toward learning tools they protest that they just don't have time, that you're being rude, and continue arguing while simultaneously playing innocent and claiming that they just don't understand and why won't you just teach them.

If you use this tactic, whether you think you are deliberately gaslighting or not, you may want to reconsider whether it's really something you want in your debate repertoire. Being deliberately clueless is no way to win respect, or anything else.

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