Welcome to the Playpen, our space for ferrety banter and whimsical snippets of things that aren't quite long enough for articles (although they might be) but that caught your eye anyway.
Public vilification: it's exhausting! Who knew?
Still, a lot of people there do seem more interested in talking about how good they are at changing their minds based on evidence than in actually doing anything useful with that ability, and particularly how superior this makes them to everyone else. Not all of them, but enough that it gets annoying.
Wait a second, so he's 'extremely (perhaps pathologically) capable of sticking to his opinions' and yet also has '[changed] his mind dozens of times'? Does that seem consistent to you?
To interpret those claims charitably, I think he's claiming that he will (and does) change his mind given good reason, but not because of 'social opprobrium'. Though the 'even' does muddle that interpretation a bit. And although those statements can be made consistent, they're pretty unlikely to be true.
I'm not sure what strain of transhumanist he is, but a lot of them are enthusiastic propoents of the ideas presented on the blog Less Wrong (link to Rational Wiki, not direct to LW), which makes a big deal about changing your mind in response to new evidence (according to Bayes's Theorem, which they completely fetishize) but also not in response to social pressure. I think both of those are pretty good principles to aim for (but the rest of Less Wrong ends up somewhere between hilarious and creepy, and there are better, less cultish places to read about epistemology) but holding up your ability to do those things in an argument is definitely Doing It Wrong.
1) I say things that may or may not make me appear to be an a-hole.
He's not an asshole, he just appears to be one. Seems legit!
I have been socially shunned for my opinions, and I've survived. The fact that I'm an nerdy INTJ who's extremely (perhaps pathologically) capable of sticking to his opinions even in the face of social opprobrium that has allowed me to explore lots of ideas, argue about them out loud, and change my mind dozens of times, so the causality implied by the previous sentence is backwards: it's not that I'm tough that has allowed me to survive the shunning, it's that I knew up front that I could survive the shunning that allowed me to explore ideas and embrace fairly crazy ideas like voluntaryism, transhumanism, modified Newtonian dynamics and Catholicism.
OK, I've no beef with Catholics (I have plenty of reservations about the Church as an institution but that puts me in the company of a lot of awesome Catholics these days), though I struggle to see how someone would reconcile Catholicism with some transhumanist goals.
As for the others, woooow, crank science plus transhumanism plus voluntaryism? This guy's packing in nonsense beliefs like he's got a clown car for a brain. I'm not surprised he's very used to being shunned for his beliefs but those three beliefs rammed together don't make him a thought criminal, they make him a total cartoon.
I love that he wheels out the whole "marketplace of ideas" thing too. You know what happens in marketplaces when you back the wrong horse? You lose your investment, and if your investment was heavy enough (you backed a particular idea loudly and clearly enough) you might end up in deep shit. Why should the marketplace of ideas be any different?
Oh my word. This guy literally knows NOTHING about 20th century history, does he? I mean there are things living under things that live under rocks that know more about the US and the Cold War than Clark.
I'm a *wreck* right now; i slept all day and evening, pretty much. I'm not ashamed of what i said, but holy crap i am not doing well.
I found it off-putting initially, but read it largely as Marian attempting to leaven with somewhat bitter tongue-in-cheek humour her frustration at the contemporary view of women and the expectations/limitations placed on them -- expectations which led to many (most?) women acting as they were expected to, namely passive and "sweet-tempered and charming" and "flighty" and "inattentive" and so on. I did read it as Marian having internalised Victorian misogyny to an extent as well, but on the whole I read it as her disagreeing with the contemporary view of women, but perhaps being unable to express this in language other than that of men looking down on women.
I think it's definitely a "your mileage may vary" thing, and a less charitable reading than mine is certainly supported by the text! And with all the books out there to choose from, there's no reason to keep on reading something that you find disgusting. :-)
I actually picked up The God of Small Things about ten years ago: it was someone else's copy, so I didn't get very far into it - somewhere not far past the Orangedrink Lemondrink Man. At least, that's the only scene I remember clearly, though I do remember thinking the book was beautifully written. It's one I've been meaning to pick up ever since, actually, but since I also remember it being incredibly sad, I've never quite managed to.
But I will say that the podcast has pushed it back up near the top of my to-read list. In fact, Ferretbrain podcasts have been a major factor in my recent reading habits, having been responsible for my picking up or re-reading The Woman in White, Cotillion, Gaudy Night, The Maltese Falcon, Wolf Hall, Vampire Academy (and sequels), Glass Houses (and the next in the series), and Lirael & Abhorsen (the last two because of a side discussion in one of the podcasts about awesome librarian characters in fiction).
In fact, thinking about it, it seems I get the majority of my book recommendations from Ferretbrain...
Yeah, The Woman in White is ace. Did you, out of interest, check out GOST?
It also led to my finally picking up The Woman in White (joint winner of the first series) and enjoying it immensely. I actually ended up reading along with the relevant bits of each episode so as to prevent being spoiled for either plot (the plot of a 150-year-old text, I know...) and/or discussion, and it was extremely entertaining, so thanks, Past!Ferretbrainers!
I may have something going up at the weekend.
I should have a new article going up in a couple of days.
Dan, Kyra and Arthur are all tied up with offline stuff at the moment. Most of us are also doing at least one non-FB project to divide our attention. And of course, Alasdair has recently stepped back from articling.
Personally, I only write GOGathons these day, which means a gap between articles at least as long as it takes me to finish as much of the game as I can handle, i.e. anything from five minutes to, I'm starting to suspect, the rest of the year: as you may have spotted I'm playing The Witcher now. At the moment I'm trying to read through my epic book pile, which doesn't exactly lend itself to considered reviewing, but if anyone's desperately keen to see a load of one-paragraph reviews then hey, let me know and I'll think about mashing some together into a post. The RPG-related stuff I occasionally posted now goes on my blog instead. Any spare articling time I have tends to go on non-English stuff.
I recommend submitting something :)