More Stats from okcupid

These people are awesome…I don’t think I’ve linked to their previous few posts on the blog before, although I have shared their results before on Google Reader and/or Twitter. This is the latest, the real stuff white people like, on Gizmodo. Obviously even though this is for a bunch of races this is all (or almost all) Americans of those races. The writers have commented on the results for white, black, Latinos and Asians (which does not include Indians), so I’ll leave that alone, but here are some random points I thought were interesting:

  • Indian women, for some reason, refer to their passports and couches a lot more often than anyone else.
  • Asians, Middle Eastern people and Indians all seem to think “I’m a simple guy/girl” is a major selling point. This I will confess to being mystified by. The statement is basically signaling that they’re low maintenance, right? Or have low expectations? Are none of these groups “in demand” or at least “at par” on the dating market? Crap. Thankfully, it comes up a lot less for Indian men than for Asian/Middle Eastern men, and it’s not even on the list for Indian/Middle Eastern women.
  • Indian men like cricket and Indian women like bhangra. Also most of the men are software engineers or traders. I guess that’s not really surprising, but it’s always interesting to see stereotypes borne out.
  • Middle Eastern women have “different cultures” as their single most favourite thing. I feel there’s a joke to be made somewhere here, but… 🙂 . They are also far more likely to describe themselves as petite. They also like Darjeeling I guess they’re referring to the tea – which doesn’t come up for any other group, not even the Indians.
  • Pacific Islanders seem like pretty cool people 🙂 .

But of course, the real reason I’m linking is just so I have some excuse to share this:

Sidenote: reading level

Since we were parsing all this text anyway, we thought it would be cool to do some basic reading-level analysis on what people had written about themselves. We used the Coleman-Liau Index, and when we partitioned the essays by the race of the writers, we found this:

The Real 'Stuff White People Like’

Before anyone gets too charged-up about this, we also ran reading level by religion and found this:

The Real 'Stuff White People Like’

Is there a Comic Sans version of the Bible? There really should be. We subdivided this chart further, by how serious each person was about their beliefs:

The Real 'Stuff White People Like’

It’s interesting to note that for each of the faith-based belief systems I’ve listed, the people who are the least serious about them write at the highest level. On the other hand, the people who are most serious about not having faith (i.e. the “very serious” agnostics and atheists) score higher than any religious groups.

Interesting, right? Although it must be said that a higher grade level is not necessarily a good thing. It isn’t on most blogs, for instance. However, assuming you want to signal intelligence, a higher grade level for your profile is probably desirable. So if nothing else this at least signifies that more religious people don’t want to signal intelligence as much, which is also interesting

Basically, The Matrix Question

Alonzo Fyfe on Desire Utilitarianism

Here is a little thought experiment that should completely refute any residual notion that people are basically selfish, while it illustrates the case that desire fulfillment is what human action aims towards.

You, and somebody you care a great deal about (e.g., your child) have been captured by an evil extra-terrestrial mad scientist who is interested in conducting all sorts of experiments on humans. It offers you the following two options:

Option 1: “I will take this other person to another ship and perform all sorts of medical experiments on him. We have become well versed in the art of vivisection, I assure you, and the process will be painful and unending. However, you will be made to believe that your child has been set free and allowed to live a safe and happy life.”

Option 2: “I will let your child free with enough gold to live a healthy and happy life. However, you will be made to believe that I have taken your child to another ship and that I am performing all sorts of medical experiments on him. You will be made to believe that we have become well versed in the art of vivisection, and that the process will be painful and unending.”

Of course, I will also cause you to forget about this choice.

Which option do you choose?

The view that says that everyone is only after their own happiness would have to argue that everybody would select option 1. This is, after all, the option that provides the agent with the most happiness. However, this is contrary to fact. Most people go with option 2 — they sacrifice their own happiness for the sake of the child.

We have no actual experiments to point to that involve locking people in a cell and asking them to make this choice. So, maybe, they would all choose Option 1. But, most people at least report that they would not, and no reason can be provided to doubt them. The selfishness theory needs to at least explain why so few people think (incorrectly) that they would choose Option 2.

The widespread choice of Option 2 is easily explained if we hold that desires are dispositions to make or keep the proposition that is the object of the desire true. The parent with a desire that their child is healthy and happy is disposed to make or keep the proposition “my child is healthy and happy” true. Option 2 is the option in this case that makes or keeps the proposition true. It is desire fulfillment that we are after in life, not pleasure, nor happiness.

Interesting, right? I have no commentary to offer, except to say that if the experiment is to prove that “humans are basically unselfish”, as he claims, then it is most definitely incomplete.

Since I Can’t Write My Professional Ethics exam anyway…

A friend of mine asked for my opinion on this article, and since I ended up writing so much, I felt I ought to share. Essentially, it is a Christian response to the “How can there be a God if there is so much evil in the world!?” question. My own opinion is that the question is rather irrelevant to whether there is a God or not-if there isn’t, it doesn’t matter, and if there is, I can find explanations that are not constrained by the specific attributes of the christian God.

The “problem of evil” has a lot of problems of its own. It’s a favorite of atheists and other people who argue against the God of Christianity, and it generally runs something like “if God is all good, and all powerful, then why is there suffering (or evil; or, why do bad things happen to good people)?” The implication, of course, is that God is either not all good, or not all powerful — either of which would destroy the Christian God’s exclusive claim to deity.

Is it really a favourite of atheists? I’ve heard more apologetics trying to do their thing with this question than I’ve heard atheists seriously offering it up as a proof of their beliefs. But moving on…

There are quite a few interesting things about this idea. First, of course, is the obvious assumption on the part of our atheist, that suffering is evil and therefore wrong. Usually it’s a good idea to start by taking this apart. What is wrong with suffering? What is evil as opposed to good? This separates the men from the boys right away, because the atheist has to realize that he is mounting an internal critique of Christianity.

Er. Not really. Good and evil maybe predominantly christian concepts, but are neither uniquely nor originally (I think; not sure, though) christian concepts, and can in any case be phrased more appropriately in terms of a more comprehensive moral framework. Why not consider a simple “do no harm” utilitarianism? Events caused by unconscious or non-volitional(is there a better word?) systems (like natural disasters) are arguably outside the realm of good and evil. I don’t believe even most christians would argue otherwise.

An external critique on this basis is hard to justify, because in a naturalistic world of survival of the fittest and the pretensions of meat machines to higher function, “good” and “evil” are either meaningless, or to be defined in terms of what is best for (a) me, or (b) my offspring.

Or c) everyone. Which brings us back to utilitarianism*.

And nobody can deny that suffering and “evil” are powerful applications of nature to cull the weak and encourage the ongoing life and multiplication of the strong. Let’s not fight straw men, though; some atheists believe that they have a workable system of ethics without religion. Whether they actually do isn’t part of the scope of this post.

See above.

So, our atheist is trying to mount an internal critique of Christianity.

Why, if he admits that some atheists (believe they) have a workable non-religious system of ethics, is he going back to this “internal critique”? Why would one confine oneself to a single, not necessarily coherent, unproven set of postulates when the answers may quite possibly lie beyond them?
What happened to “let’s not fight straw men”???

Perhaps we should rephrase the problem for him: if God is good by His own (revealed) standards, and all powerful, then why is there evil in the world? If God really loved His creation, then would He allow crack-addicted babies to be born, or six million Jews to be brutally murdered in a space of a few short years, or people to go to eternal conscious torment? The obvious answer to the atheist is usually that He cannot be good and allow those things, and therefore Christianity is either a religion of horrors serving a God Who delights in misery, or an inconsistent system of beliefs.

Actually, I don’t think I know any atheists who say the former. Seems like something fundamentalists from another religion could try, though.

Bahnsen points out that the syllogism need not end like this. He recommends that we actually try to grasp this internally, like so: God is good. God is all powerful. There is evil in the world. Therefore God has a morally sufficient reason for the existence of evil. This is consistent with the Scriptures, and logical.

This might be rephrased without too much exaggeration: There’s a reason, but we’re not going to tell you until you’re old enough to know. If then. Hey, maybe never! (Do christian scriptures, in general, place the same emphasis on “enlightenment” as Buddhist or Hindu scriptures? Some emphasis is given, I think, so “maybe never” is probably unfair. This comment could be appreciated more if the reader understands that I’m trying to neutralize the sermon with an equal amount of snark.)

However, the atheist has a problem with that, because he does not see how there can be a morally sufficient reason for crack babies, holocausts, or hell. And generally speaking, the Bible does not provide direct answers for such things, beyond the glory of God (doubly repugnant to somebody who is already disinclined to glorify Him). So, the atheist judges God’s standard of goodness, and finds it wanting…

And at this point, the atheist’s attempt at an internal critique fails, because he had to step outside the critique to come to his conclusion (that God is not good).

Again. What is with this insistence on an “internal critique”? If a flat-earther came and demanded an “internal critique” of his arguments, how many would oblige?

How can I say this?

Consider: the internal critique begins with the premise that God is good. Everything that God does is good; one might say that good is defined by the character and action of God. Under the circumstances, the God of the Bible is in fact the only One capable of judging the goodness of a thing, but nobody is good except for Him. And anything He does, and anything He chooses, is good. When the atheist decides that something God has ordained or allowed is not good, he is effectively taking God’s place as the judge of what is good, and setting himself above God. The atheist is on the bench, and God is in the dock once again. That is usually where the atheist chooses to be, but we must point out that there can be no internal critique anymore, because internally, the system of Christian theology presupposes that God is good, and the atheist must declare that, no, he will be the judge of what is good, effectively switching places with God, and breaking any hope of consistency.

While some of us are still troubled and hoping for some sort of consistency (with christian doctrine, that is; consistency with the observable world is considered an absolute criterion), I think it should be clear from even a cursory examination of any New Atheist book that most atheists want nothing to do with it, so offering it as some sort of reward isn’t really going to accomplish much. The attempt to frighten the blasphemers with that last bit of rhetorical flourish-“effectively switching places with God”- is subject to the same argument. (Although more likely to succeed; fear is usually more effective.)

To put it simply, the atheist is not comparing himself to the Christian God if he thinks that he can judge God. The Christian God, and the revelation that He has delivered, exclude any possibility of that fact.

I would imagine that the atheist, by definition, is (if (s)he considers at all) considering the existence of some supernatural being with as-yet-unidentified attributes, not some “precisely imprecisely” drawn out picture of a “Christian God”.

Once the atheist is outside the paradigm of Christian ethics again, he has the same problem we outlined above; he must defend his concept of good and evil without God. Inside the paradigm, the atheist finds himself begging the question of God’s transcendental goodness.

A dilemma indeed, until one bothers to consider seriously everything philosophers have written for centuries about a non-theistic system of ethics. “Defending the concept of good and evil without God” is really not that hard! Such a moral framework might consider “good and evil” in a more clinical fashion than most believers, but it should still prove comprehensive. I think.

Truly, though, we have a point of contact with the atheist at this stage. He can’t get away from the idea that there is such a thing as good and evil. Now it is only a matter of proclaiming to him the truth of the God Whose ethical system he is borrowing in ignorance.

I wonder if the author would concede that it could possibly work the other way around?

Do check out the comments on the page, specifically this link, which has arguments that most of us will already have seen about altruism and morality in a non-theistic sense.

* I should probably explain that I prefer my utilitarianism garnished with some virtue ethics, and maybe a little deontology on the side, too. I haven’t worked out if this is merely because of an instinctive prejudice that pure utilitarianism/consequentialism is “meaninglessly” hedonistic, or what implications that has. There are refinements galore to all these theories which make them more acceptable to me than in their standard forms, but most are outside the scope of this post.

Objective Reality, Rationalism and the Nature of Belief

I was in the middle of an utterly normal conversation with a friend when it suddenly veered off into a discussion of whether beliefs are a matter of choice. I said, obviously not, and she said, “of course they are!”. And then we quickly got into a tangential discussion which ended with her comparing me to Hitler*. So for the elucidation of anyone who cares to read it, here is my take.

The first question we need to settle is whether there is such a thing as objective reality. This is apparently not a very obvious question, but most of (modern, as in post-Kant) Western philosophy agrees that there is. Quite a lot of Eastern Philosophy doesn’t, I think, but we are sidestepping this question for a moment until more authoritative sources can contribute. Kant himself was cited as an objection, but his point was simply that the “true” reality was unknowable, not that it doesn’t exist in the first place. We will assume that there is such a thing, which I think is a comfortable assumption to make, because this is the assumption that all of modern science depends on. (No references to quantum physics or Fritjof Capra or anyone else will be accepted without substantiation; and I do think that is fair.) There can be no logic without an objective reality, or mathematics(again, any references to Riemann geometry or anything similar must elaborate). For a somewhat quirky “proof”, see here.

Belief is the psychological state in which an individual holds a proposition or premise to be true, according to wikipedia. When you believe something, you are essentially holding a concept in your head that you “believe” corresponds to The Way Things Are (or Should Be, or Will Be, or Might Be, or Were-we are not particularly concerned about that.) This means that to a rational mind something you believe must be either true or false. “Truth” might be unknowable, as Kant says, or it might just be unknown at present, in which case one can hold no beliefs about what one doesn’t know. This doesn’t mean that one can just believe anything. (It is possible to designate a “current best candidate” to a certain “degree of belief”, as one does in Bayesianism. One then performs “Bayesian updating’ taking into account the strength of new evidence and the prior degree of belief. This is essentially what the true rationalist/Bayesian always does, although it is invariably astoundingly difficult to explain to any “true believers” 🙂 )I can believe something to be true that isn’t, “actually”, but if I realize that it isn’t then I have an unavoidable obligation to change my belief.

This, of course, is only in an ideal situation. People do find it quite easy, in real life, to hold contradictory ideas in their minds. People find it easy to forcibly believe various pieces of dogma that they are “required” to believe, according to their church, their parents, their advisors or the state. I just finished reading 1984 yesterday, and was treated to some fascinating descriptions and explanations of doublethink. I have read, if only in a very amateur capacity, about cognitive dissonance.I know that people can be made to think that 2+2=5. So I fully understand that people are capable of voluntarily believing in things, although to see whether they believe it at all levels of consciousness is a question for psychologists-despite the horrifying, frightening ending of the book, I would like to think that there is some subconscious set of core beliefs that one simply cannot alter. My point is that it is not rational to do so.

(“Why rationality?”, you might ask. I would reply, “What else?” For more eloquent arguments-although I can’t see why, because someone who doesn’t believe in rationality will, by definition, not be swayed by any arguments other than appeals to brute instincts of pleasure and pain-you can check out any number of websites. Overcoming Bias and Less Wrong are comprehensive if tedious places to start, although the first is no longer updated, at least about this. Or just check any number of competent atheist websites.)

Not surprisingly, one of the areas where this question must be dealt with is atheism, or the voluntary “conversion” to atheism(I specifically mention voluntary as a means of excluding those cases where you are simply substituting another piece of dogma, such as communism). This post explains the concept of involutarism and voluntarism in the question of believing in God. It is written by an atheist, and at the end the author confesses that he tends very strongly towards involuntarism.

According to Terence Penelhum, there are two general schools of thought when it comes to how beliefs originate: voluntarist and involuntarist. The voluntarists take the position that belief is a matter of will: we have control over what we believe much in the way we have control over our actions.

Theists often seem to be voluntarists and Christians in particular commonly argue the voluntarist position. Some of history’s most prolific theologians like Thomas Aquinas and Soren Kierkegaard have written that believing — or at least believing religious dogma — is a free act of will. This isn’t surprising, because only if we bear some responsibility for our beliefs can disbelief be considered a sin punishable by sending nonbelievers to hell. Nonbelievers encounter this perspective when evangelists exhort others to “just believe” and to “choose Jesus,” reminding us that our atheism is a sin and a path to damnation.

Involuntarists, on the other hand, argue that we cannot really choose to just believe anything. According to them, a belief is not an action and thus cannot be attained by command. For example, everyone realizes that even after a person has concluded beyond any doubt what they must do, that doesn’t mean that they will automatically do it. Beyond their conclusion is the fact that extra steps must be taken to actually make the action happen.

This post, on the other hand, is written by a Christian, at a site that seeks to answer rationalist skeptics of Christianity (and religion in general, I assume). It , naturally enough, chooses the side of voluntarism. Aside from saying that “The Bible Teaches We Can Choose Our Beliefs”, it attacks the idea that a belief cannot be changed by exertion of will:

As an example, for many years, people held to the belief that those of African descent were somehow less human than other people on the planet and could be bought and sold as property. It was only after a dedicated minority of people such as William Wilberforce began to insist through discourse and argument that beliefs began to change. Even today, I know of many people who had some type of belief or conviction that they were taught but now no longer hold since they thought through the arguments. So, I would see this as proof that a specifically held belief can be changed by the exchange of ideas and some hard thinking on the topic.

Of course, this argument completely misses the point. “Thinking through the arguments”, as he puts it, implies that one is either acquiring additional evidence or better interpreting existing evidence. It is completely rational to change one’s beliefs when one no longer has evidence for them, or has evidence against them. When we say that belief is involuntary, what we mean is that we cannot “choose” to believe something against the evidence. If they hadn’t changed their views, that would be evidence of voluntarism.

In conclusion: I can see no way in which one can rationally argue that belief is a matter of choice. This isn’t as overarching a concept as one might think, however. As I was surprised at having to explain, it does not in any way affect my libertarianism. I do not suggest that some one or some group of people go around correcting all wrong beliefs. All beliefs might have value, or they might not-in an area where we do not have conclusive proof, anything can go. However, this does not mean that one abandons rationality, it just means that one adopts a more sophisticated but equally obvious method of reasoning, such as Bayesianism.

*My theory was wrong, at least according to another site that I visited just now. It was a thought experiment more than anything else, anyway. I was talking out of my ass, as less polite people would call it.

PS: This is certainly one of the best Christian sites that I have seen, I must say, because it accepts a rationalist worldview and concedes the obvious, and then makes Christianity consistent by claiming the facts of the Resurrection:

This same concept holds true in all our beliefs about God and the world. Beliefs make truth claims that can be examined to see if they are internally consistent and externally consistent. An internally inconsistent belief is one where its own claims contradict each other. Logical positivism is a good example of this. Logical Positivists held a principle called the verification principle which said that for a non analytical statement to be meaningful, it must be empirically verifiable.2 Of course, the statement “for a non-analytical statement to be meaningful, it must be empirically verifiable” is neither analytic nor able to be proven empirically3, so it becomes internally inconsistent.

A belief is externally inconsistent if any of its claims contradict what we know to be true. Baha’i beliefs hold that “God has revealed Himself to humanity through a series of divine Messengers, each of Whom has founded a great religion.”4 However, if the fundamental tenants of each of these “great religions” contradicts each other, then their claim that cannot be true.

Jesus held to the concept of a single God, while other faiths like Hinduism hold to multiple gods and yet others like Buddhism don’t believe in a personal God at all. All these views of God are in competition with each other – it is impossible for all of them to be true. Further, Jesus taught that God had a son, whom He called “His only begotten son”, while Muhammad taught that God does not beget nor is He begotten”. Again, these teachings stand in direct opposition to each other, therefore, Baha’ism is externally inconsistent. It makes claims that don’t match the reality of the world.

The concept of consistency is a good way to begin to judge the truthfulness of any belief system, including the one in which a person is raised. If a belief is internally inconsistent, you don’t need to be exposed to any other beliefs to recognize the problems with the inconsistent belief. As an example, look at the way our understanding of medicine and the human body have changed. We no longer believe in blood-letting and such things – and even if we don’t know what the diagnosis is, we wouldn’t resort to treating a patient using those concepts.

Christianity is unique in its challenge to its adherents to test its claims and see if they are true. Paul says that the entire faith if the Christian rests on the historical fact of the resurrection. If that’s not true, then we are liars and we should be rejected. To this end, God has given us our reasoning faculties so that we don’t simply follow whatever we’re taught. To do so doesn’t show maturity and wisdom as a person.

It so happens that they conveniently ignore some of the other parts of christianity, as laid out in the Bible and the guidelines of the church, which call for blind faith. But that is an entirely different issue, and one which I have no interest in going into right now.

A Conversation on Evolution, Altruism and the Greater Good

It started off as a simple and purely scientific question about the accuracy of a comment I made on an earlier post, but quickly developed into something far more interesting. This was the prompt:

  1. […]One of the problems I have with evolution is that it champions the survival of the fittest in nature. How does this tie in with society? Comment by James | July 30, 2008
  2. Society, almost by definition, is not meant to emulate nature. It is meant to better it, by providing a framework for mutually beneficial cooperation and some scope for “humanitarian impulses”. Evolutionary Stable Strategies are strategies that each individual should pursue to maximize their value while minimizing losses. Frequently, you will find that in a society of perfectly cooperating individuals(one which uses some form of the “honor system”), one can use strategies that leave you open for exploitation (and are therefore not ESSs) but result in far greater gains. Of course, since we’re not all perfectly cooperating, you still get burnt if you do this too often.We use the principles of evolution in social sciences only where we admit that the competitive impulse is greater than the cooperative impulse i.e. the desire to make a quick buck is greater than the desire not to hurt other people, such as in typical stock market behaviour. )
    To truly observe the working of evolution we have to look at a species in a state of nature. No one, by the way, is arguing that you should revert to this state. Pretty much all evolutionary biologists(and I’m not one, so forgive the inexactness of my answer) appreciate the comforts that society enables. They just argue that this is the way our original, ancestral instincts would have us behave. And enough people do follow them, as should be increasingly obvious every time you see the news.

    Does this help? I’m really not an expert, so if you’re curious there is a wealth of good literature that would explain this far better than I can. Comment by ramblingperfectionist | July 30, 2008 <!– @ 11:39 am –>

  3. And on the whole eugenics issue, which is probably what you meant in the first place, I can only say that
    a) I don’t know the details, but I’m pretty sure it’s been considered bad science for a while now, and not just because of the moral implications; and even if it wasn’t,
    b) Science is a tool. It advocates no positions. It doesn’t call for absolute obedience. It presents information with which to make choices, which you must combine with information from other sources (empathy towards fellow human beings, for instance. Or, as in Hitler’s case, disgust at (an) entire race(s)) to make “human” decisions. Don’t blame physicists for the atom bomb. Blame those who chose to drop it. Or, for that matter, fund it. Maybe not the best example, but you get my point, I’m sure.

And this is the conversation:

Nikhil:
do me a favour?
Srivats:
?
Nikhil:
go to my blog, the “sort of like indexed” post, and see if my last 2 comments make sense from a biological/evolutionary point of view
Srivats:
put link
new comp
Nikhil:

Srivats:
the second does, the first doesn’t
Nikhil:
thats what i thought, but I’m a little sleepy. explain?
Srivats:
simple… survival of the fittest is the ultimate truth.. I don’t live in society because i have to for the betterment of my species.. i care two hoots for the species.. i only live in society for the betterment of my own life.. the moment this objective seems to be impossible, society can go to hell, for all i care
Nikhil:
true. but meanwhile society provides these benefits by sort of working around it, right? I specifically meant my little example of using not quite ESSs to survive in society
Srivats:
that may be… but if u don’t take ‘undue’ advantage of society, ur an evolutionary fool
Nikhil:
by imposing externalities such as law and prison
lol. but my point is that most people are
and that that’s probably a good thing
Srivats:
no it isnt
i would for once love to see a society in which everyone tries to screw everyone else
that is how evolution works
with no competition, no evolution
Nikhil:
u don’t see the possibility of some middle ground between future idiocracies and cutthroat competition?
Srivats:
no
Nikhil:
🙂 k. i will choose to disagree, if only coz im in a good mood
Srivats:
uh huh
a world which doesn’t move forward, moves backward
same applies for a species
Nikhil:
true. but u can always sacrifice the PACE for carrying more people along
Srivats:
if we dont evolve, we ‘devolve’… the word is frowned upon by biologists, but may be appropriate here
why? how do other people concern me, except insofar they serve as tools for my betterment?
Nikhil:
THAT certainly is a matter of opinion.
u don’t have to go to some new age yogic extent of “we are all connected” to believe in some form of altruistic instinct
Srivats:
not if u live in a evolutionary faithful situation
altruism is crap
Nikhil:
i think i made the point that we were trying not to
Srivats:
it doesn’t exist, as simple as that
anyway, the point I’m trying to make is that there is NO truly unselfish act
ever..
Nikhil:
point I’m trying to make is that u dont have to be entirely selfless to want to help other people
Srivats:
sometimes payback may be subtle, delayed, even… but when we perform an action, we always expect payback
if u want to survive in society as it exists today, you are expected to
and i notice ‘entirely selfless’… implying you are expected to be at least a lil selfless
my point is no compromise, AT ALL
Nikhil:
which is perfectly fine. but would you deny that some people might make choices that limit their gain to avoid someone else’s far greater loss? or to provide far greater gain to someone else.
Srivats:
that is the evolutionarily sound strategy
superficially,maybe
Nikhil:
ok, the perfectly fine was for the “truly unselfish part” bit, not the no compromise bit 🙂
and I’m saying u can BETTER an ESS
Srivats:
my parents do that all the time, it superficially looks unselfish… but do u realise that they are only bettering the chances of their genes being propagated
its not a conscious act, mind
but its there, nonetheless
Nikhil:
what about my grandmother giving money to educate the maid’s son?
Srivats:
loyalty
from the maid
is what is expected.. ergo, she doesn’t have to do work, increases lifespan
Nikhil:
so that’s not entirely unselfish. like i said. but i doubt loyalty from the maid is enough to compensate, at least in her mind. or from a rational point of view
Srivats:
many other compensations, from the benefactee, from society in general may be expected… i don’t say that i can rationalise all actions… i only say whether i can or not, the rationale exists
just because i can’t see it, doesnt mean its not true
Nikhil:
just because you can’t see the altruistic impulse doesn’t mean it’s not there
Srivats:
altruism is not logical, what i said is
there is a world of difference
in the end, pure cold logic prevails
at least in my mind
Nikhil:
but not necessarily elsewhere. and you don’t have to bring in mysticism to explain it, either. simple uncertainty is enough.
but maybe that’s besides the point.

And it ended there, partly because I didn’t know how to continue any further but mostly because the connection got cut. Does anybody have any comments? Specifically, any reasons/motivations for being altruistic that do not depend on religion? I don’t need watertight arguments, just coherent ones. Hopefully, something that depends on some form of logic. Emotional appeals are acceptable only if they are undeniably moving. And I don’t think that will be very easy.