Re: Ad hominem? I think not.

From: Joe Dees (
Date: Tue Nov 20 2001 - 18:40:45 MST

('binary' encoding is not supported, stored as-is) >Date: Tue, 20 Nov 2001 18:27:03 -0500
> "Eliezer S. Yudkowsky" <> Re: Ad hominem? I think not.Reply-To:
>John Clark wrote:
>> Eliezer S. Yudkowsky <> Wrote:
>> > My personal opinion at this point, for whatever it's worth, is that John
>> > Clark has lost the current argument between himself and Samantha, having
>> > resorted to ad homonym arguments without provocation.
>> Ok Eliezer, it's time to put your money where your mouth is. I want
>> to see you say with a straight face that
>[thirty lines of strawman arguments]
>> So Eliezer pick one of the above statement, I don't care which one, and
>> defend it. I dare you!
>Some non-strawman arguments - which I may not defend myself, but which I
>offer up in the interest of showing those points that you might have dared
>me to defend if you were being a little more rational about all this - are
>1) The US intervention in Afghanistan is doing more harm than good.
Pose that one to the Afghan women; they can be reached at
>2) A superior strategy for the US would have been to turn the other
>cheek, thus gaining moral superiority and showing the world that we don't
>always bomb people we don't like.
We tried that; Bin Ladin's attacks accelerated in frequency and deadliness.
>3) The number of dead Afghan civilians has vastly exceeded the number of
>dead American civilians, and this puts the US in the wrong.
Up to this point, empirically false, according to all but the most self-servingly biased estimates.
>4) What happened to the US was directly caused by the US carrying out an
>inconsistent and immoral strategy in foreign relations over the past fifty
Our last three interventions, in Somalia, Bosnia and Kosovo, ASSISTED, or were designed to assist, Muslims, and the last two, against christian oppressors. Prior to that, the gulf War intervention was at the pleading imploration of Muslim countries in the region, most notably Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Several Muslim nations contributed troops to the effort, which turns out to be the main beef Osama has with us (he wanted to oppose saddam himself, with prayers and 3000 mujaheddin.
>5) The US is currently in the grip of a fever of destructive hatred and
>this hatred is both morally wrong and strategically counterproductive,
>regardless of all other moral issues involved.
We are in pursuit of justice, vengeance, and self-preservation, and the paths to all three dovetail. We took quite a while to set up out action, both militarily and diplomatically; clearly not the hallmark of the psychotically enraged.
>6) Bin Laden may not have had just cause to blow up the World Trade
>Center, but a lot of Middle East citizens have reason to be pretty annoyed
>at the US - perhaps more reason to be annoyed at the US than the US has
>reason to be annoyed at Bin Laden.
The first half is reasonable; the second half is from another planet in an irrational nonparallel universe. if we had nuked the Kaa'ba, it would be a fair comparison.
>7) It would be wrong to impose US culture on Afghanistan as retaliation
>for the World Trade Center Attack. (I do *not* believe this; see below.)
To impose freedom, democracy, civil rights and egalitarianism upon a people who had a flourishing modern culture crushed by twenty-three years of war and religious fascism (and I include communism in this - just another religion) cannot be existentially wrong.
>8) Technology, science, and the Internet are mere artifacts of Western
>culture which don't belong to the ancient Afghan traditions - rather than
>being the products of intelligence itself and therefore the universal
>heritage of every human on the planet, regardless of what the Taliban
>believes about the "Westernness" of technology, as the result of temporary
>differentials in technological advancement that happen to be correlated
>with different cultures. (I believe the latter.)
As do I. It is a terrible consequence of fanatical cultural relativists that they are thus compelled to argue in favor of traditional barbarities, including clitorectomy, vaginal infibulation, slavery, brutal religious penalties for diversity-darers, and even (in other cultures) cannibalism and incest.
>Regardless of whether they are *right* or *wrong*, the above propositions
>are not *idiotic*, and your use of the term "idiot" is therefore purely ad
>hominem. Samantha attacked your ideas; she didn't attack you. You should
>have launched a counterattack on her ideas, not attacked her personally.
>My own beliefs center mostly around the belief that "cultures" exist
>mostly in the imaginations of Western academia. I'm sorry if the Afghans
>have a rich cultural tradition that is hundreds of years old; their
>government harbored a terrorist organization trying to get nuclear
>weapons, and that takes precedence. So, yes, I think Samantha Atkins and
>Amara Graps are wrong. But I don't think they're stupid and I AM TIRED OF
>than this.
>> This is not a case of disagreeing with a colleague, this crap is brain dead dumb, on a pare
>> with flying saucers, perpetual motion machines and the lost city of Atlantis.
>> Forget about
>> the Singularity, if the bilge Samantha Atkins spews out were
>> to be adopted you and I and
>> everybody we know would be dead in less than a decade.
>I most strongly doubt it.
>> Of course it's possible that you're right and I have lost this argument, if so it's because I'm
>> a poor debater not because I'm wrong.
>If the world really is at stake, then you are obliged to be a good debater
>*in addition to* being correct. But then that's a side issue; I think
>you're wrong.
>-- -- -- -- --
>Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
>Research Fellow, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence

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