Book 3 - Page 177

No, but I am a Dungeon Master

Book 3 - Page 177
Comic - Book 3 - Page 177
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Oh -- completely forgot the whole Atheist / afterlife issue.

Basically:

"There exists at least one god"
"There exists exactly one god"
"There exist exactly zero gods"

All three of these are equally religious, regardless of which label you put on them.

"The true nature of God can never be understood by finite-minded humans, no matter how long we live", is also. See "Me" (Dr. Who reference, if you did not catch it.)

"The true nature of God is not known today. Tomorrow?", is not. That is the sort of statement that says "We will learn more, and might learn an answer". After all, we live inside the equations of a non-rotating, no-net-charge black hole -- what does it look like inside such a hole when it feeds, and where does dark energy come from / why does it seem to correspond to space itself? Maybe there's a connection, and the dark energy is caused by stuff outside our black-hole equation-fitting universe? Maybe it's a signal? I'll just listen to Ligo Radio and see what song the universe is playing for now.

EDIT: And, even if there are no ghosts, that says nothing about "The" afterlife. At best, it says something about one concept about what an afterlife might be. And nothing at all about other concepts of an afterlife.
JadedDragoon wrote:
As a STRONG supporter of critical thinking... I would still be cautious of something like this. Having not read it myself I can't speak to the content of HPMOR, specifically, but the very fact that the author felt a need to publish such a thing suggests an agenda. And agendas are inherently treacherous things in the context of objective reason.

I understand where you're coming from... but, so did the author. One of the things the story is famous for, as much as the author buffed Harry's intellect, he buffed everyone else. NOBODY is allowed to hold the idiot ball in this story.

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And, thanks to the Dunning-Kruger effect, it's not uncommon for people who believe strongly in a particular skillset's value to actually have a very poor understanding of it. All the people online who treat science as infallible, for example.

That's addressed in the story as well. Indeed, the strength of the scientific method comes from the awareness of science's fallibility.
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Or atheists who champion the scientific method and critical thinking but then state with certainty there are no gods despite a complete absence of empirical evidence one way or the other, for another.

Addressed respectfully. The story never says, one way or the other.
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Just saying it pays to be wary of such things. It's why I've held off reading HPMOR for so long. I fear being disappointed by it. Silly, I know. But I've never claimed I wasn't a silly little man.

I cannot recommend it enough. It has a crash course in various rationalist concepts, but setting that aside, it's JUST SO DAMN ENTERTAINING.

Aquillion wrote:


My biggest issue with a lot of those "science / reason fanboy" works is that as a practical matter, gaining a really deep understanding of any specific field requires years of study - all the meaningful knowledge in our world has been expanded and explored by generations of scientists and scholars and rational thinkers. Declaring yourself a rationalist isn't meaningful in a scholarly context because it's been the base assumption for hundreds of years that anyone in academia will operate through reason.

The author is an AI theorist.
He has spent years studying rationality, and algorithms simulating it.

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Worse, though, is the subtle insinuation that this devotion to reason or science is unique to them; and that they can therefore just use reasoning from first principles to undermine or replace generations of equally-rational minds, as smart or smarter than them. (This is particularly obvious whenever people like that approach sociology and similar "soft" sciences, although it comes up everywhere.) This in turn means that the "cult of pure reason" can actually turn people towards crankery as they reject established scholarship that they don't understand, simply because they don't understand it and lack the extensive required study necessary to understand it.

I understand where you're coming from... but I don't think you've read this story. That was addressed in it. (The part where Harry thinks because he's a rationalist, he can find ways to break the rules of magic because he thinks about it differently, then fails.)
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In that respect, my problem with HPMOR is that it's sort of a masturbatory exercise for people who think like that - it posits a setting where nearly everyone who studied the magical world before was an idiot and can easily be out-thought by a single teenager.

Well, no.
For one thing, the whole story takes place in his first year, making him 12. Not a teenager.

For another, Harry is out thought MANY times.
Indeed, in Quirrel's battle class, he lost his first battle because he didn't realize Hermione would rely on others for help with battle tactics.
He's been outthought by Quirrel many times, Dumbledore many times, McGonagal a few times, Hermione many times, Draco a few times, and my god, don't try keeping count of the number of times he's screwed himself over.
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But it's also dangerous, because science and reason are not simply about deriving knowledge from first principles; they're about being able to study and learn from the thinkers who came before you

Also addressed.
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I think that it's telling that HPMOR took a story set at one of the most famous fictional centers of higher learning and turned it into a story about how most of the knowledge we've inherited is silly and dumb and can easily be overturned by a single clever teenager.

It didn't. And he didn't.
Indeed, at the very end, when he was considering that very act, breaking the statute of secrecy, and sharing magic with the rest of humanity, an unbreakable vow he'd been forced to take prevented him from doing that, as there was a risk that magic, in the hands of clever people, could be used to destroy the world.
Imagine what would happen if someone, for curiosity's sake, transfigured a cubic centimeter of air into antimatter.

No, the value of wisdom, not only knowledge, is well established in this story. I suggest giving it a read.
Keybounce wrote:
Oh -- completely forgot the whole Atheist / afterlife issue.

Basically:

"There exists at least one god"
"There exists exactly one god"
"There exist exactly zero gods"

All three of these are equally religious, regardless of which label you put on them.


If you are saying a claim to certain knowledge is religious, then that seems a reasonable view.

Keybounce wrote:

EDIT: And, even if there are no ghosts, that says nothing about "The" afterlife. At best, it says something about one concept about what an afterlife might be. And nothing at all about other concepts of an afterlife.


Yes it would be possible to have ghosts and a real meaningful afterlife that is completely unknowable whilst alive.
On the subject of atheism and science, can we at least agree that a lack of well-documented miracles in our modern age of camera phones is strong evidence that any gods are either strictly noninterventionist, or extremely subtle, and thus safe to ignore for most purposes?
strange7person wrote:
On the subject of atheism and science, can we at least agree that a lack of well-documented miracles in our modern age of camera phones is strong evidence that any gods are either strictly noninterventionist, or extremely subtle, and thus safe to ignore for most purposes?



That would appear to me a very cautious and fair summary of the situation. In other words this is MORE defensible than positions I would be happy to take. However please bear in mind many people would find even this indefensible. I have a friend who seems to believe that if scientists were truly objective they would be publishing scientific papers on the truth of evangelical christianity. I've done my face-palming already thank you.
strange7person wrote:
On the subject of atheism and science, can we at least agree that a lack of well-documented miracles in our modern age of camera phones is strong evidence that any gods are either strictly noninterventionist, or extremely subtle, and thus safe to ignore for most purposes?


Can you expand on how subtlety in and of itself leads to being safe to ignore? Given that in other fantastic types of stories that subtle powers tend to be the strongest and most abusable (see things like mind control, reality warping, omniscience etc), I don't think that your statement alone can go from extremely subtle to safe to ignore.

If you're going to make something like that argument, you might find something along the lines of "not worth investigating until our means of detection of subtle things grow" to be a better line of argument to follow.
wih wrote:
strange7person wrote:
On the subject of atheism and science, can we at least agree that a lack of well-documented miracles in our modern age of camera phones is strong evidence that any gods are either strictly noninterventionist, or extremely subtle, and thus safe to ignore for most purposes?


Can you expand on how subtlety in and of itself leads to being safe to ignore? Given that in other fantastic types of stories that subtle powers tend to be the strongest and most abusable (see things like mind control, reality warping, omniscience etc), I don't think that your statement alone can go from extremely subtle to safe to ignore.

If you're going to make something like that argument, you might find something along the lines of "not worth investigating until our means of detection of subtle things grow" to be a better line of argument to follow.

Given the presence of some perfect conspiracy which rules global events with arbitrary precision, they apparently don't want to be seen, so regardless of their larger agenda it's presumably safer to cooperate with that rather than go out of your way to investigate and thereby piss them off.
strange7person wrote:
Given the presence of some perfect conspiracy which rules global events with arbitrary precision, they apparently don't want to be seen, so regardless of their larger agenda it's presumably safer to cooperate with that rather than go out of your way to investigate and thereby piss them off.

http://www.smbc-comics.com/comic/politics

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Shai hulud wrote:
strange7person wrote:
Given the presence of some perfect conspiracy which rules global events with arbitrary precision, they apparently don't want to be seen, so regardless of their larger agenda it's presumably safer to cooperate with that rather than go out of your way to investigate and thereby piss them off.

http://www.smbc-comics.com/comic/politics

I don't think the "we're all slaves to the illuminati" hypothesis is particularly probable, but even if it were true... what exactly are we supposed to do about it? Is there any reason to believe that unmasking and/or murdering the secret masters of the world would lead directly to a higher standard of living, or any other desirable outcome? More specifically, any reason to believe that such benefits would exceed the costs, compared to more mundane strategies, about which more is known? Presumably, in their capacity as secret rulers, there's a lot of necessary administrative and maintenance work they're taking care of, so would that work continue, or be neglected? Deferred maintenance of mundane infrastructure has catastrophic effects sooner or later, esoteric infrastructure might be the same or worse. Whatever systemic influence the illuminati have, it's already taken into account by empirically-derived predictive models, because if it weren't, anomalies in the results of those models would have revealed them. More planes crash around the Bermuda Triangle... ordinary tropical storms, or Atlantis's anti-air turrets? To an actuary, that makes no difference. Just steer away from trouble spots whenever it's cost effective to do so, based on the observed risks, and costs in fuel or time.
wih wrote:
strange7person wrote:
On the subject of atheism and science, can we at least agree that a lack of well-documented miracles in our modern age of camera phones is strong evidence that any gods are either strictly noninterventionist, or extremely subtle, and thus safe to ignore for most purposes?


Can you expand on how subtlety in and of itself leads to being safe to ignore? Given that in other fantastic types of stories that subtle powers tend to be the strongest and most abusable (see things like mind control, reality warping, omniscience etc), I don't think that your statement alone can go from extremely subtle to safe to ignore.

If you're going to make something like that argument, you might find something along the lines of "not worth investigating until our means of detection of subtle things grow" to be a better line of argument to follow.


It's more that you can't act on something that you have no information about and that the magical things in question are interacting in such weak and trivial ways that they are of no practical concern to humanity.

Ghosts often get handwaved by people saying, "Well you're just not sensitive enough." Or, "You're close-minded."
Yes, those might technically be true. But it's a really asinine thing to say. You're using an ad hoc hypothesis to keep ghosts from being falsified and then implying that the other person is at fault for disbelieving you.

And on that subject, "There are no ghosts" is a lot simpler to say than, "Ghosts are at least strictly non-interventionist and subtle given what we know about documented reality." And I'm annoyed at being told that this is a religious view. I wish this bit of projection by the religious would go die in a fire already.