Weekly Link Roundup #13

After four straight days of running my NaNoWriMo experiment to write “50,000 words in a series of blog essays for the month of November, attempting to write a blog post every day”, it’s time to take a break for a weekly link roundup. Or, more precisely, a weekly link roundup that still adds to my word count.

For those keeping score, with this post I’ve published 5 out of 30 (16.6%) blog posts and 8323 out of 50000 (16.6%) words, 10594 words if you count the words I’ve written in comments.


For a break down of this weeks happenings on this blog, I’ve written five essays: “The NaNoWriMo 2011 Experiment” starting off this 50000 word extravegenza; a three part essay further elaborating on the use and history of definitions Part IIPart III; and lastly a continution of my series on morality explaining how ought statements work The Meaning of Ought, Part I”.

There also has been some interesting discussion on a variety of posts over the past two weeks: in “Does Christianity Contradict Evidence?” we continued a discussion about whether Christianity can be considered reasonable; in “Knowledge, A Priori and Absolute” we discussed more about the smuggling of connotations and the proper use of logic; and in “Why Not to Take Pascal’s Wager” we discussed Mormon theology and the merits of a much reduced version of the Wager.


Now for a roundup of the actual links. As always:

(1) the links are also ordered so that the ones I like most are at the top, for those who don’t have time for all the links… but for those who do have time, I think all of them are worthwhile.

(2) The Link Roundup category has about 100 more links if you need the extra distraction.

(3) I don’t necessarily agree with everything said by these links, I just post what I find to be interesting and well-written.


  • Diseased Thinking – Dissolving Questions About Disease: “If we can determine whether a person should get sympathy, and whether they should be allowed to seek medical treatment, independently of the central node ‘disease’ or of the criteria that feed into it, we will have successfully unasked the question are these marginal conditions real diseases” and cleared up the confusion.’”
  • Money – The Unit of Caring: “To a first approximation, money is the unit of caring up to a positive scalar factor – the unit of relative caring. Some people are frugal and spend less money on everything; but if you would, in fact, spend $5 on a burrito, then whatever you will not spend $5 on, you care about less than you care about the burrito.”
  • Motivated Stopping and Motivated Continuation: “I suggest that an analogous bias in psychologically realistic search is motivated stopping and motivated continuation: when we have a hidden motive for choosing the “best” current option, we have a hidden motive to stop, and choose, and reject consideration of any more options. When we have a hidden motive to reject the current best option, we have a hidden motive to suspend judgment pending additional evidence, to generate more options – to find something, anything, to do instead of coming to a conclusion.”
  • Why I Refuse to Debate William Lane Craig: “This Christian ‘philosopher’ is an apologist for genocide. I would rather leave an empty chair than share a platform with him”
  • One More Reason Religion Is So Messed Up – Respected Theologian Defends Genocide and Infanticide: “A respected, mainstream theologian is seriously arguing that as long as God gives the thumbs-up, it’s okay to kill pretty much anybody.”
  • Wait, I thought they believed in an absolute morality?: “Therefore, if I station myself outside a church door with an AK-47 and murder all the happy saved Christians exiting the service, I am doing the Lord’s work. Well, gosh, Willie, not only do I get to be a mass-murderer for fun, I can be self-righteous about it, too! It’s too bad I’m one of those atheists who doesn’t believe in a Happy Fun Land for the dead, so I can’t honestly do that in good conscience.”
  • Worshipping the Holy Hair Dryer: “Listening to household appliances just isn’t a trustworthy or reliable way of making ethical decisions, and that’s still true even if some people sometimes use this method to come up with good choices, because it can produce evil just as easily as good. If the commands you hear from your hair dryer can’t be overridden or disproved by evidence, then if those beliefs are producing bad results for people, you have no way of knowing it; you have no means of self-correction.”
  • Terminal Values and Instrumental Values: “I rarely notice people losing track of plans they devised themselves. People usually don’t drive to the supermarket if they know the chocolate is gone. But I’ve also noticed that when people begin explicitly talking about goal systems instead of just wanting things, mentioning “goals” instead of using them, they oft become confused.”
  • Not For the Sake of Happiness Alone: “It is an undeniable fact that we tend to do things that make us happy, but this doesn’t mean we should regard the happiness as the only reason for so acting. First, this would make it difficult to explain how we could care about anyone else’s happiness – how we could treat people as ends in themselves, rather than instrumental means of obtaining a warm glow of satisfaction.”
  • Economics and Morality: “Mark Thoma directs me to Eric Schoeneberg, who argues that the right is winning economic debates because people believe, wrongly, that there’s something inherently moral about free-market outcomes. [...] I’m going to think about that; but right now, let me describe how I see the US income distribution in terms of justice or the lack thereof.”
  • Why Believe in Keynesian Models: “A correspondent asks a good question: what evidence makes me believe that Keynesian economics is broadly right, given the relative absence of experience with large fiscal stimulus programs? I’d answer that question with several points.”
  • Better Disagreement: “Now that most communication is remote rather than face-to-face, people are comfortable disagreeing more often. How, then, can we disagree well? If the goal is intellectual progress, those who disagree should aim not for name-calling but for honest counterargument.”
  • The Moneyball of Campaign Advertising, Part I and Part 2: “So what do we know about campaign advertising? There is a better answer to this question. Just as Mr. Beane turned to math geeks, we can turn to a different species of geek: political scientists. Here are the lessons of their research about when campaign advertising does and does not matter.”
  • A Rationalist’s Account of Objectification: “Here’s my confusion about objectification. Depending on what you mean by “objectification,” it seems to be either something that (1) is very often perfectly acceptable, or that (2) means something very narrow and is usually not being exemplified when there is an accusation of it being exemplified.”
  • Rhetoric For the Good: “My other hope is that a few other writers decide they would like to be the Voltaire of rationality and/or existential risk reduction. May this post be useful to them. It’s a list of recommendations on writing style pulled from many sources, in no particular order.”
  • A Proposal To Remove Date Format Ambiguity: “Instead of wondering whether 5-6-2012 takes places in May or June, how about this: 5.6.2012 [for] day.month.year[,] 6-5.2012 [for] month-day.year[, and] 2012-6-5 [for] year-month-day”
  • Random Reincorcement: “I read somewhere that rats become more obsessed with tasks that offer random rewards than tasks that offer rewards every time. In other words, if a rat touches a button with his nose and gets a pellet every time, he’ll like the task, but if he only gets a reward now and then, he’ll be addicted to it. It’s counterintuitive.”


I now blog at EverydayUtilitarian.com. I hope you'll join me at my new blog! This page has been left as an archive.

On 5 Nov 2011 in All, Link Roundup. No Comments.

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