Why "soft" science is more important than "hard" science now

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Re: Why "soft" science is more important than "hard" science

Postby BadgerJelly on July 6th, 2017, 4:59 am 

I think "soft" sciences are important because they present humans with something that cannot be measured very well, something that critical thought can guide but not give outright clinical answers.

The "hard" sciences tell us that dropping bombs on people will kill them. The "soft" sciences are the poor group left to deal with the humanity of the problem rather than the measurement of energy distribution and continuation of homeostatic biological systems (entropy in short).

Looking at this thread we see politics in action. Someone says one thing and others, necessarily, understand as they can. I think the responses show the importance of these so called "soft sciences".

Honestly I don't see anything as more important than anything else. I do thing politics and education do swing us more towards this or that way of thinking. We need specialists yet they fall short of the requirements of everyone. We are all more "specialized" in this or that area (and no doubt we assume we all have placed ourselves in a position of balance to lessen our bias - an illusion of the ego).

Those here who know the kind of thing I like to talk about can probably guess where I would be inclined to carry this discussion to so I won't bother.
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Re: Why "soft" science is more important than "hard" science

Postby thinker4life on July 6th, 2017, 8:11 am 

someguy1 » July 5th, 2017, 5:16 pm wrote:
thinker4life » July 5th, 2017, 3:44 pm wrote:
As the person posting the question I can validate that you were much more correct than someguy, thanks for giving me the benefit of the doubt.


Oh I understand your intentions perfectly. You are supposing some kind of ideal world. I'm simply noting the actual historical results of the kind of system you propose.

When you say, "Come up with a common definition of who is responsible enough to handle power ...," exactly how do you think a thing like that is decided in the real world? By "nice" people? Or by totalitarian thugs? Who will make such a decision? You come before some board of "nice" people and they say, Oh, this one is responsible and that one isn't.

You are naive enough to not understand that such decisions are inevitably political and must result in human rights abuses?


Then your vision is limited... You automatically look for the biggest negative example of any possible progressive idea, which is why I'm not sure if you're worth my time to continue to reply to. We already do have a system in place in the US that defines who is responsible enough to handle power, it is as you pointed out our political system, and it in no way resembles any of the authoritarian solutions you've portrayed... It works well most of the time, just not good enough. I want to refine it and make it better. What fault can you find with that, and do you realize that its you that's naive if you think everyone in the current US system has equal amounts of power, or that every attempt to regulate who has how much power turns bad?
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Re: Why "soft" science is more important than "hard" science

Postby Braininvat on July 6th, 2017, 9:43 am 

....which is why I'm not sure if you're worth my time to continue to reply to....


T4L, since this thread seems to be going in a philosophic direction, it is worth pointing out that, in philosophy, those who disagree with you most strongly are often of the greatest use in advancing your thinking on a subject. That said, I don't disagree with some of what you said, in regard to the checks on personal power. Do you think that we, in this country, have some problems with plutocrats having too much leverage with our governing bodies? Is there a soft science approach to this issue?
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Re: Why "soft" science is more important than "hard" science

Postby Serpent on July 6th, 2017, 10:55 am 

Thinker4life, since it's your imprecise introduction that led us down this paved rode, could you define your terms?
Soft science
responsibility
who's in charge (Who are "we")?
is there a "project" you can outline?
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Re: Why "soft" science is more important than "hard" science

Postby someguy1 on July 6th, 2017, 1:06 pm 

Serpent » July 6th, 2017, 8:55 am wrote:Thinker4life, since it's your imprecise introduction that led us down this paved rode, could you define your terms?
Soft science
responsibility
who's in charge (Who are "we")?
is there a "project" you can outline?


Serpent, you and I are on exactly the same page now. I admire OP's optimism and hopefulness that human nature could change so that we are all benevolent and wise.

What I would like to see is simply an argument or evidence for the proposition. That someday we could evolve to the point where we could separate society into the trusted and the distrusted, without that division happening along political or racial lines and then devolving into genocide.

Argument. Evidence.
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Re: Why "soft" science is more important than "hard" science

Postby thinker4life on July 6th, 2017, 6:18 pm 

Braininvat » July 6th, 2017, 8:43 am wrote:
....which is why I'm not sure if you're worth my time to continue to reply to....


T4L, since this thread seems to be going in a philosophic direction, it is worth pointing out that, in philosophy, those who disagree with you most strongly are often of the greatest use in advancing your thinking on a subject. That said, I don't disagree with some of what you said, in regard to the checks on personal power. Do you think that we, in this country, have some problems with plutocrats having too much leverage with our governing bodies? Is there a soft science approach to this issue?


Brainvat I agree with you when people don't intentionally misconstrue your ideas, but I felt my ideas were being misconstrued and others observed the same thing, that's why I asked myself if this person is worth continuing dialogue with. I'm more than happy to discuss things with people who disagree with me and engage politely and productively, without intentionally twisting my words. I felt my words were being intentionally twisted. Its not worth my time to engage with someone who intentionally twists my words - I value my time more than that, and without good intentions on both sides, and a desire to seek truth over being right, progress isn't made in dialogue. Now I see the conversation is coming back to rational dialogue I'm happy to engage.

Yes, I think that plutocrats have too much leverage in our governing bodies. And yes I think there's a soft science approach to solve it. If I knew the precise solution to the questions I laid out, I wouldn't think the soft science investment was necessary... I know what we need to accomplish, but not yet how to accomplish it in detail... What I can say is that I think the majority of the population should have more transparency into the decisions that government makes, and that representatives should be held more accountable to the opinions of the populace. Right now I think both of those areas are lacking. Does this resonate with anyone else?

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Re: Why "soft" science is more important than "hard" science

Postby someguy1 on July 6th, 2017, 6:50 pm 

Still no argument. Still no evidence. Still no direct response to the points I raised.

Thinker4life I've invited your rational response several times.

Have you got one?

After all I could stipulate to your claim that I'm personally unworthy of your response; yet that would not affect in the least the validity of the issues I raised.

Readers might note that you are using your feelings about me to avoid making a substantive response to my ideas. Isn't that what the Antifa folks do? Shout down and shut down expressions of ideas they don't like?

Too much of that going around these days. Case in point, the OP.

thinker4life » July 6th, 2017, 4:18 pm wrote: Now I see the conversation is coming back to rational dialogue I'm happy to engage.


You can take my response as pertaining to what you wrote in your first paragraph. I'll take you at your word that you intend to engage in rational dialog in the future. But why repeat your ad hominem then say "Ok all better now?" If it's all better, then don't repeat the ad hominem. Isn't that fair?
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Re: Why "soft" science is more important than "hard" science

Postby thinker4life on July 6th, 2017, 7:14 pm 

Serpent » July 6th, 2017, 9:55 am wrote:Thinker4life, since it's your imprecise introduction that led us down this paved rode, could you define your terms?
Soft science
responsibility
who's in charge (Who are "we")?
is there a "project" you can outline?


By soft science I meant the study of psychology, human interactions, responsibility, ethics, morals, etc. -- By hard science I meant things like bombs, missiles, bio tech, things that accomplish things that create an increased destructive power in the hands of a smaller population.

By responsibility I meant people who have power should use it for good. I have a detailed explanation of what I consider "good" here:
https://goo.gl/kSajGC

We can debate the definition of good separately (there's another thread for that), but let's just assume that by responsibility I mean that the people with power use it for good, as per some commonly agreeable definition of good.

As for who is in charge, I'd argue those with the power to destroy are in charge, the bigger the power to destroy the more power they have. This is why we should be so careful about who we give power to, otherwise some day if hard sciences advance faster than soft sciences at the rate they are, a madman will have the power to destroy all human life, and because he's mad he will do it. This would be a sad outcome for such an intelligent species.

As Serpent has already pointed out, the paradigm I'm suggesting is already in place -- People with mental disorders and murders can't legally obtain guns.... Average citizens can get the recipe for a nuclear bomb (ever heard of the Anarchist's Cookbook?), but not the raw materials to actually produce one, so we keep WMD out of the hands of the common madman (this one we try to police around the world)... We have extensive controls in place now, I just think that our ability to vet who is responsible, to teach responsibility to our citizens and our leaders, is not keeping up with the rate of technological advancement from the hard sciences, where money is buying progress leaps and bounds.

As for the "plan" -- I don't think I have all the answers, I just wanted to pose the risk and discuss if we agreed that it's a serious risk and that directionally understanding who is responsible and who isn't and teaching people to be responsible or taking away power seems like the right direction to go... but since you're putting me on the spot and I'd like to think I do well under pressure, I will propose that I think we need to do the following:

1. Agree on what is "good" and "evil" - for both individuals and society (my definition above is my best attempt).
2. Have some way of evaluating whether people are doing "good" or "evil"
3. Have an education system that helps people do "good" (this includes not only soft skills training and emotional psychological training, but also training currently unemployable people so they can add value to society (helping society progress is part of my definition of good, as it was to one of the moderators in another forum).
4. Ensure through democratically powered means that people who do excessive amounts of "evil" do not end up in positions of power (destructive capability)

Let me know what you think of this, or feel free to propose an alternate plan if you agree with the problem but not the solution, or feel free to challenge whether the problem I'm posing is a real problem or not... I think it's pretty evident that it is but happy to debate any piece you all have issues with.

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Re: Why "soft" science is more important than "hard" science

Postby thinker4life on July 6th, 2017, 7:19 pm 

someguy1 » July 6th, 2017, 5:50 pm wrote:Still no argument. Still no evidence. Still no direct response to the points I raised.

Thinker4life I've invited your rational response several times.

Have you got one?

After all I could stipulate to your claim that I'm personally unworthy of your response; yet that would not affect in the least the validity of the issues I raised.

Readers might note that you are using your feelings about me to avoid making a substantive response to my ideas. Isn't that what the Antifa folks do? Shout down and shut down expressions of ideas they don't like?

Too much of that going around these days. Case in point, the OP.

thinker4life » July 6th, 2017, 4:18 pm wrote: Now I see the conversation is coming back to rational dialogue I'm happy to engage.


You can take my response as pertaining to what you wrote in your first paragraph. I'll take you at your word that you intend to engage in rational dialog in the future. But why repeat your ad hominem then say "Ok all better now?" If it's all better, then don't repeat the ad hominem. Isn't that fair?


I'm not sure what evidence or proof you're looking for, I'm posing the hypothesis that the pace of destructive technology is outpacing the speed of our ability to responsibly govern who has responsibility/power... If you disagree with that I can give specific examples, but I'm unclear on what you're disagreeing with... Perhaps you can clarify.

My first paragraph was responding to brainvat, I apologize if you took it as any personal slight towards you it wasn't intended to be such, simply to explain my past behavior not to say that the problem persists... Let's move past the misrepresentation of my ideas and have a rational discussion, ok?

Quite honestly if you made any factual points they completely escaped me, perhaps you can point them out so that I can address them specifically. I'm certainly not intending to avoid any valid point, I just didn't see any valid point you made. I clarified my intent when you misunderstood my initial post, I thought that addressed your question adequately, but if you feel something is left unanswered please do share what, rather than just saying I haven't addressed some ambiguous point you made some time back in a thread that's hard to look back on due to the nature of the forum. Try quoting your points and I will address them point by point.

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Re: Why "soft" science is more important than "hard" science

Postby Serpent on July 7th, 2017, 12:33 am 

thinker4life » July 6th, 2017, 6:14 pm wrote:By soft science I meant the study of psychology, human interactions, responsibility, ethics, morals, etc. --

Specifically, then: psychology, sociology, philosophy. OK

By hard science I meant things like bombs, missiles, bio tech, things that accomplish things that create an increased destructive power in the hands of a smaller population.

Physics, chemistry, biology. Only, we have to note that these sciences are also responsible for advancements in medicine, communications, transport, agriculture and the cleanup procedures for their earlier mistakes.

By responsibility I meant people who have power should use it for good.

Of course they should. Some of them think they do, even when it turns out otherwise; many of them say they do, even when they don't mean it. It's hard to make them conform any single definition of good.
What you or I consider good are far off the point, since we can't impose our standards on the ruling elite.

As for who is in charge, I'd argue those with the power to destroy are in charge, the bigger the power to destroy the more power they have.

Obviously. You propose to change this situation. How?
This is why we should be so careful about who we give power to,

That horse bolted in 4000BC.
otherwise some day if hard sciences advance faster than soft sciences at the rate they are, a madman will have the power to destroy all human life, and because he's mad he will do it.

I estimate c. 12/08/2017
This would be a sad outcome for such an intelligent species.

Meh. They had a choice. The beavers, penguins and okapi didn't.

I just think that our ability to vet who is responsible, to teach responsibility to our citizens and our leaders, is not keeping up with the rate of technological advancement from the hard sciences, where money is buying progress leaps and bounds.

That's it. There's your conceptual kernel. Education. Teach what to whom? What should the curriculum consist of? Do the changes have to be made world-wide all at the same time - say, co-ordinated through the UN? Or are some countries ahead and some behind, so that a remedial program must be put in place? What about the kids who are too undernourished to stay awake in class?
Where do we introduce the reforms in education and how how do we sell it to rich countries; how do we fund it in poor ones?

... directionally understanding who is responsible and who isn't

I don't understand "directionally". As for who is responsible and who isn't, you need a universal standard, a set of criteria, and method of testing. A pretty tall order, though not, I think, beyond the reach of modern psychology. How would you go about assembling the committee to design such a test?

and teaching people to be responsible

You can teach skills and knowledge, not sanity or character.
or taking away power

Again, pretty vague. From whom? On what grounds? By what protocol?

1. Agree on what is "good" and "evil" - for both individuals and society (my definition above is my best attempt).
2. Have some way of evaluating whether people are doing "good" or "evil"
3. Have an education system that helps people do "good" ...[ *] ...
4. Ensure through democratically powered means that people who do excessive amounts of "evil" do not end up in positions of power (destructive capability)

What if you can't get enough of them to agree?
Big problem is: an awful lot of people, very possibly a majority, believe they have the answers already and just want to convince, browbeat or coerce everyone else to accept their "good". Yeah, even if they have to torture random boys bought in the suqs of Baghdad.
Bigger problem is: Even though most ordinary, decent people all around the world know how we would would like to live: free of oppressors, we do not have the power to depose all the oppressors - never mind teach them, how to stop oppressing.
Biggest problem is: There is no "we". There is no organizing or coalescing force to make concerted action possible - even if "we" all understood all the same words and concepts.

[*] employment and employability are a totally subject too fraught and culture-weighted to include here.
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Re: Why "soft" science is more important than "hard" science

Postby Sivad on July 7th, 2017, 4:03 pm 

someguy1 » July 5th, 2017, 4:45 pm wrote:
I took OP's exact phrase: "Help society identify people who are not responsible enough to handle power
..."

I thought of some examples. African-Americans weren't thought to be "responsible enough to handle power" in the American south before the Civil War.


Just because we have irrationally discriminated in the past doesn't mean all discrimination is inherently bad or dangerous. Instead of discriminating by arbitrary factors of race, religion, wealth, gender, we could discriminate by competence. That's the idea behind epistocracy - more competent individuals are given more weight within the democratic system. We already practice a form of this in disenfranchising people under a certain age, and I think a good case can be made for extending the practice. We wouldn't necessarily need to fully disenfranchise people, we could just weight votes according to competency or only allow the more competent to vote in upper house elections, there's a lot of ways to sensibly structure it. The biggest problems are figuring out who determines competency as well as how it's to be determined. Another big problem is not all people are given equal opportunity to develop competency so before we instituted any such system we would would have to make education and healthcare much more accessible and we would have to drastically improve the living standard for poor and working class people so they have the time and the energy to develop into fully competent citizens.

I pretty much loathe libertarianism, I think it's both stupid and dishonest, but this libertarian lays out a decent case for epistrocracy -
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZkUVRH5TDE
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Re: Why "soft" science is more important than "hard" science

Postby someguy1 on July 7th, 2017, 4:54 pm 

thinker4life » July 4th, 2017, 2:25 pm wrote:

Isolate and take power/influence away from those who can’t be helped by society’s best efforts



Ok lets just start here. Name some specific mechanisms you have in mind here.

As a baseline, we do incarcerate people who have been convicted in a court of law of serious crimes. And convicted felons are denied the vote. That is a behavioral standard. It's a lot different than "people with dark skin must sit in the back of the bus." It's "People who have been convicted of a crime can't walk the streets."

You are proposing something much more ambitious. You say we should

1) Identify people who "can't be helped"; and

2) Take power and influence away from them.

To me, this screams totalitarian abuse. And I have history on my side. But then again I don't have your sunny disposition. So just give me some specific examples of what you mean by writing the phrase I quoted.

Would there be a government panel that certain people would be summoned to appear before? Perhaps I publish an article containing content the government doesn't like. Would I appear before the panel to determine whether or not I can be "helped?" And what happens to me -- be SPECIFIC -- if I can't be "helped?"

I have Mao's cultural revolution, the genocide of the American Indians, the Armenians, the Jews, the enslavement of African-Americans on my side.

What is your argument, what is your evidence, what are the details of the plan.

I don't have to agree with you. But I would like to see you write something that makes me think, Ok, maybe OP is not a fuzzy-headed do-gooder implicitly supporting the worst kinds of human rights abuses without realizing it. A "useful idiot" as the Party used to say.

Just give me some specifics.

1. How would we try to "help" people?

2. How would we determine who can't be helped?

3. What social and political privileges (voting, freedom, property, life?) would we deprive them of if they can't be helped?

ps -- A useful idiot is "... a person perceived as a propagandist for a cause the goals of which they are not fully aware of, and who is used cynically by the leaders of the cause."
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Re: Why "soft" science is more important than "hard" science

Postby someguy1 on July 9th, 2017, 12:01 am 

I ran across this on-point article. In China they are rolling out a system to assign everyone a social reputation score. Like your credit score but based on your traffic tickets and reputation and who knows what else. Then you would be treated differently based on your score.

To me, this is the biggest possible reason to keep the US strong and to make sure that we NEVER end up ruled by the Chinese government.

To the OP, this must seem like utopia. Social science merged with big data so that we each have a social trust score. Then society will punish the antisocial in a million ways, from which line you stand on at the supermarket to where you are allowed to live to what kinds of jobs you're allowed to have.

This seems to be a fine-grained, big-data driven implementation of what the OP wants. People with good social values rise to the top by virtue not of race or politics, but simply on the basis of being the best citizens. And it's perfectly fair, based on objective criteria encoded in the algorithms.

What could possibly go wrong? Of course algorithms themselves are political. Who decides what's good? Perhaps the government computers favor docility in the populace.

OP, I ask you for your opinion of this development. Is this something you would welcome as a reasonably faithful implementation of your somewhat vague idea? Or is it something you would fight with every fiber of your being?

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-34592186

ps -- Alibaba, the huge Chinese online shopping platform, ranks you on the nature of your purchases.

"Someone who plays video games for 10 hours a day, for example, would be considered an idle person, and someone who frequently buys diapers would be considered as probably a parent, who on balance is more likely to have a sense of responsibility," Li Yingyun, Sesame's technology director told Caixin, a Chinese magazine, in February."

OP, is this what you had in mind?
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Re: Why "soft" science is more important than "hard" science

Postby Braininvat on July 9th, 2017, 9:27 am 

T4L, the above post is what I meant when I mentioned adversary positions sharpening your own.

I think SG's questions are reasonable, and always need to be asked when we consider the tradeoffs between liberty and progressive initiatives.
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Re: Why "soft" science is more important than "hard" science

Postby Serpent on July 9th, 2017, 11:22 am 

What about something in the middle?

I don't hear a lot of outrage against licensing people to drive cars - after all, cars are dangerous! You have to be over the age of legal liability, physically and mentally equipped to recognize traffic signals and read signs, know how to operate a motor vehicle, learn the rules of the road, be able to pass an exam, and pay road tax an insurance. Nobody seems to think these rules are totalitarian or oppressive.

To operate a machine gun, there are some terms an conditions - in the US, not so stringent as for a 200cc Suzuki, but some.
To operate a country, you don't need to know how it works and what the controls are for, don't need to learn the laws or pay any taxes. Does this make sense?
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Re: Why "soft" science is more important than "hard" science

Postby thinker4life on July 9th, 2017, 12:35 pm 

someguy1 » July 7th, 2017, 3:54 pm wrote:
thinker4life » July 4th, 2017, 2:25 pm wrote:

Isolate and take power/influence away from those who can’t be helped by society’s best efforts



Ok lets just start here. Name some specific mechanisms you have in mind here.

As a baseline, we do incarcerate people who have been convicted in a court of law of serious crimes. And convicted felons are denied the vote. That is a behavioral standard. It's a lot different than "people with dark skin must sit in the back of the bus." It's "People who have been convicted of a crime can't walk the streets."

You are proposing something much more ambitious. You say we should

1) Identify people who "can't be helped"; and

2) Take power and influence away from them.

To me, this screams totalitarian abuse. And I have history on my side. But then again I don't have your sunny disposition. So just give me some specific examples of what you mean by writing the phrase I quoted.

Would there be a government panel that certain people would be summoned to appear before? Perhaps I publish an article containing content the government doesn't like. Would I appear before the panel to determine whether or not I can be "helped?" And what happens to me -- be SPECIFIC -- if I can't be "helped?"

I have Mao's cultural revolution, the genocide of the American Indians, the Armenians, the Jews, the enslavement of African-Americans on my side.

What is your argument, what is your evidence, what are the details of the plan.

I don't have to agree with you. But I would like to see you write something that makes me think, Ok, maybe OP is not a fuzzy-headed do-gooder implicitly supporting the worst kinds of human rights abuses without realizing it. A "useful idiot" as the Party used to say.

Just give me some specifics.

1. How would we try to "help" people?

2. How would we determine who can't be helped?

3. What social and political privileges (voting, freedom, property, life?) would we deprive them of if they can't be helped?

ps -- A useful idiot is "... a person perceived as a propagandist for a cause the goals of which they are not fully aware of, and who is used cynically by the leaders of the cause."


So you consider gun licenses and driving licenses totalitarian abuse? I'm sorry, but you're putting up straw man arguments I didn't make and shooting down your own arguments. You're not reading what I say and responding to it. Try focusing on what I posted, instead of making up your own world (and Brainvat, while I agree different perspectives are valuable, someguy1 is not showing his value of a different perspective, he's positioning what are normal societal controls as totalitarian... I'm not proposing anything different than the controls we have today, just suggesting they be more comprehensive. Try reading what I wrote here and responding it rather than making up your own argument, putting words in my mouth, and shooting down your own argument:

As for the "plan" -- I don't think I have all the answers, I just wanted to pose the risk and discuss if we agreed that it's a serious risk and that directionally understanding who is responsible and who isn't and teaching people to be responsible or taking away power seems like the right direction to go... but since you're putting me on the spot and I'd like to think I do well under pressure, I will propose that I think we need to do the following:

1. Agree on what is "good" and "evil" - for both individuals and society (my definition above is my best attempt).
2. Have some way of evaluating whether people are doing "good" or "evil"
3. Have an education system that helps people do "good" (this includes not only soft skills training and emotional psychological training, but also training currently unemployable people so they can add value to society (helping society progress is part of my definition of good, as it was to one of the moderators in another forum).
4. Ensure through democratically powered means that people who do excessive amounts of "evil" do not end up in positions of power (destructive capability)

Let me know what you think of this, or feel free to propose an alternate plan if you agree with the problem but not the solution, or feel free to challenge whether the problem I'm posing is a real problem or not... I think it's pretty evident that it is but happy to debate any piece you all have issues with.

Kind regards,
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Re: Why "soft" science is more important than "hard" science

Postby thinker4life on July 9th, 2017, 12:36 pm 

how do I delete this post, it quoted the wrong thing based on the link I pushed.
Last edited by thinker4life on July 9th, 2017, 12:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Why "soft" science is more important than "hard" science

Postby thinker4life on July 9th, 2017, 12:37 pm 

Braininvat » July 9th, 2017, 8:27 am wrote:T4L, the above post is what I meant when I mentioned adversary positions sharpening your own.

I think SG's questions are reasonable, and always need to be asked when we consider the tradeoffs between liberty and progressive initiatives.


So brainvat, you think calling drivers licenses and gun licenses tantamount to totalitarianism is expanding the view and moving the conversation foward? Really?
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Re: Why "soft" science is more important than "hard" science

Postby thinker4life on July 9th, 2017, 12:42 pm 

someguy1 » July 8th, 2017, 11:01 pm wrote:I ran across this on-point article. In China they are rolling out a system to assign everyone a social reputation score. Like your credit score but based on your traffic tickets and reputation and who knows what else. Then you would be treated differently based on your score.

To me, this is the biggest possible reason to keep the US strong and to make sure that we NEVER end up ruled by the Chinese government.

To the OP, this must seem like utopia. Social science merged with big data so that we each have a social trust score. Then society will punish the antisocial in a million ways, from which line you stand on at the supermarket to where you are allowed to live to what kinds of jobs you're allowed to have.

This seems to be a fine-grained, big-data driven implementation of what the OP wants. People with good social values rise to the top by virtue not of race or politics, but simply on the basis of being the best citizens. And it's perfectly fair, based on objective criteria encoded in the algorithms.

What could possibly go wrong? Of course algorithms themselves are political. Who decides what's good? Perhaps the government computers favor docility in the populace.

OP, I ask you for your opinion of this development. Is this something you would welcome as a reasonably faithful implementation of your somewhat vague idea? Or is it something you would fight with every fiber of your being?

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-34592186

ps -- Alibaba, the huge Chinese online shopping platform, ranks you on the nature of your purchases.

"Someone who plays video games for 10 hours a day, for example, would be considered an idle person, and someone who frequently buys diapers would be considered as probably a parent, who on balance is more likely to have a sense of responsibility," Li Yingyun, Sesame's technology director told Caixin, a Chinese magazine, in February."

OP, is this what you had in mind?


Again, it feels like you didn't read or understand my post. You're again misinterpreting my opinions and creating your own strawman argument pretending its mine and shooting it down. Conversation is where two people listen to each other and respond adding value to the conversation, here's some advice on how you could do that which was shared with me and I found very helpful:

How to argue more effectively
https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/03/2 ... criticism/

How to compose a successful critical commentary:

Arthur Martine counseled in his magnificent 1866 guide to the art of conversation, “let your aim be to come at truth, not to conquer your opponent. So you never shall be at a loss in losing the argument, and gaining a new discovery.”

1. You should attempt to re-express your target’s position so clearly, vividly, and fairly that your target says, “Thanks, I wish I’d thought of putting it that way."
2. You should list any points of agreement (especially if they are not matters of general or widespread agreement).
3. You should mention anything you have learned from your target.
4. Only then are you permitted to say so much as a word of rebuttal or criticism.

Source: https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/03/2 ... criticism/
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Re: Why "soft" science is more important than "hard" science

Postby thinker4life on July 9th, 2017, 12:45 pm 

Serpent » July 9th, 2017, 10:22 am wrote:What about something in the middle?

I don't hear a lot of outrage against licensing people to drive cars - after all, cars are dangerous! You have to be over the age of legal liability, physically and mentally equipped to recognize traffic signals and read signs, know how to operate a motor vehicle, learn the rules of the road, be able to pass an exam, and pay road tax an insurance. Nobody seems to think these rules are totalitarian or oppressive.

To operate a machine gun, there are some terms an conditions - in the US, not so stringent as for a 200cc Suzuki, but some.
To operate a country, you don't need to know how it works and what the controls are for, don't need to learn the laws or pay any taxes. Does this make sense?


Serpent appears to be the only one actually listening, maybe if you read both my posts and his carefully you can respond to the thread of the conversation. He's again on point regarding the intentions of my post. Perhaps if the way I'm saying it doesn't resonate with you you can make more sense of the way he conveys the same message. Perhaps you're too focused on proving me wrong and less focused on finding the actual truth or some common ground... if that's your aim let me know and I'll just stop replying to you.
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Re: Why "soft" science is more important than "hard" science

Postby someguy1 on July 9th, 2017, 2:41 pm 

thinker4life » July 9th, 2017, 10:36 am wrote:how do I delete this post, it quoted the wrong thing based on the link I pushed.


Why bother? You can't answer a simple question and you can't defend your own thesis against the actual evidence of history.

The Chinese example. Is that

a) a reasonable implementation of your original vague idea? or

b) a totalitarian nightmare that shows the flaw in your original vague idea?

Or something else? Just respond to the article. It's a true thing happening in China as we speak. Everybody gets a social score that affects everything in their lives. Is that or is that not an implementation of your idea?

thinker4life » July 9th, 2017, 10:45 am wrote:if that's your aim let me know and I'll just stop replying to you.



You haven't replied to me yet.
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Re: Why "soft" science is more important than "hard" science

Postby Braininvat on July 9th, 2017, 3:26 pm 

thinker4life » July 9th, 2017, 9:37 am wrote:
Braininvat » July 9th, 2017, 8:27 am wrote:T4L, the above post is what I meant when I mentioned adversary positions sharpening your own.

I think SG's questions are reasonable, and always need to be asked when we consider the tradeoffs between liberty and progressive initiatives.


So brainvat, you think calling drivers licenses and gun licenses tantamount to totalitarianism is expanding the view and moving the conversation foward? Really?


I'm not sure what you view as normal discourse at a MB, but I see a serious problem here, with what you posted..

1. The equating of driver's licenses with totalitarianism was not contained in any of SG's postings. So you are asking me to form an opinion on something that SG did not actually write.

2. You complain that SG is not fairly representing your position, then you promptly misrepresent his position and, indeed, weaponize your ludicrous interpretation ("driver''s licenses are totalitarian") of SG in order to get me to condemn it.

I think a couple deep breaths are called for here.
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Re: Why "soft" science is more important than "hard" science

Postby BioWizard on July 9th, 2017, 3:38 pm 

May I suggest a small pivot to hopefully reduce the level of talking-past-each-otherness that is going on at the moment? How about we try to answer this question:

Why is it OK that competence is a prerequisite for certain activities (e.g. driving a car, performing open heart surgery, running a company) but not others (e.g. running a country)?

I'm not advocating either position at this point. I just want to see a better argument developed by BOTH sides. Saying that "it turned out bad before" isn't that convincing to me. Implementing democracy in some countries has failed horribly. So should we revoke it here too?

So, the question restated:

Is holding power over a country fundamentally different from other activities that require a practice license? Why or why not?
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Re: Why "soft" science is more important than "hard" science

Postby someguy1 on July 9th, 2017, 4:16 pm 

BioWizard » July 9th, 2017, 1:38 pm wrote:Is holding power over a country fundamentally different from other activities that require a practice license? Why or why not?


The Constitution says that the president must be 35 or older and a natural born citizen. That's all.

Why is that? It's because in a democracy, the voters are sovereign. Many politicians have been elected from jail or after being convicted of crimes. A classic local case was a few years ago in San Francisco, when the newly-elected Sheriff pleaded guilty to spousal abuse. He was legally not allowed to carry a gun, yet he was the head of the Sheriff's department. He could not legally be removed from office even after pleading guilty to a crime. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ross_Mirkarimi

The general principle is that the people decide who their leaders will be. The voters know what the candidate was convicted of and they make their choice.

You can't establish a fitness test for political office. A sitting office holder could be on trial for murder and they would still not lose office unless a recall vote is successful. And history shows that fitness tests are invariably used for political or racial reasons. Jews in Nazi Germany for example.

That's the answer to your question, although it may not seem satisfying. But once you drill down and start to figure out exactly what rules you would make to determine someone's character, you run into many problems. The Chinese example is classic. Here we have a purely "objective" means of social control that to me seems like a dystopian nightmare. Who decides what factors make a citizen undesirable? The history of "undesirables" should make anyone pause and consider the risks of their good intentions.

What government commission decides who's naughty and who's nice? And how does that not inevitably turn to a means of abuse and social control?

Freedom is messy, but it beats slavery. You know the old saying. Mussolini made the trains run on time. There's more to life than totalitarian order.
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Re: Why "soft" science is more important than "hard" science

Postby BioWizard on July 9th, 2017, 4:31 pm 

Thanks some1guy, this is helpful.

someguy1 » 09 Jul 2017 03:16 pm wrote:The general principle is that the people decide who their leaders will be.


So if the people themselves decide, under full autonomy, that they want their leaders to demonstrate competence at some agreed upon task(s), would that be acceptable to you? I don't know how or why that would ever happen, and I'm not saying that it should. I just want to know, in principle, if you have additional reasons that you'd like to explain for why you would be opposed to this.
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Re: Why "soft" science is more important than "hard" science

Postby BioWizard on July 9th, 2017, 4:36 pm 

someguy1 » 09 Jul 2017 03:16 pm wrote:What government commission decides who's naughty and who's nice? And how does that not inevitably turn to a means of abuse and social control?


If we are to accept that we are fundamentally incapable of deciding naughty and nice, how can we justify what we do to people we incarcerate?

Almost everything can be abused. In my own mind, that is never by itself the question.
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Re: Why "soft" science is more important than "hard" science

Postby someguy1 on July 9th, 2017, 4:43 pm 

BioWizard » July 9th, 2017, 2:36 pm wrote:
someguy1 » 09 Jul 2017 03:16 pm wrote:What government commission decides who's naughty and who's nice? And how does that not inevitably turn to a means of abuse and social control?


If we are to accept that we are fundamentally incapable of deciding naughty and nice, how can we justify what we do to people we incarcerate?

Almost everything can be abused. In my own mind, that is never by itself the question.


Isn't there a difference between someone receiving due process in a court of law, versus simply being barred from civic rights (voting, holding office, ...) on the word of some government commission?

I really wish the advocates of these ideas would be specific. What are the penalties being proposed? Denial of the vote? Denial of eligibility for holding office? Not allowed in the 8-items-or-less checkout line? And on whose say-so? Due process in court is one thing. I haven't heard any specific proposals.

Another common source of abuse is in rural counties where the bad guys gain political control and accuse some local politician they don't like of crimes. That's why the electoral process is separate from the criminal justice system.
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Re: Why "soft" science is more important than "hard" science

Postby Serpent on July 9th, 2017, 4:46 pm 

It's perfectly possible - indeed, extremely common - to make a hash of any and all forms of government. One way of screwing it up has been to leave the choice of leader to Fate and genetics (hereditary monarchy). Another way is to make no rules and let everyone do as they please (anarchy). Another is to put all the power in the hands of a few "special" people - whether the specialness is of wealth, or a god's stamp on their backside or birth into a caste of natural rulers. The most modern is to let "the people" (on the basis of whatever information the current governing body and its organs of communication give to them) decide which of a very few eligible candidates is loudest and most appealing in an arbitrarily chosen year.

An uniformed, misinformed and disinformed population can be the most fertile medium for cultivating dictatorship. (But let's not reach directly to the obvious historical examples. As i recall, Mussolini wasn't chosen by a committee for passing a fitness-for-supreme-office test.)

Which of you still harbours the illusion that America's consumer/citizen database is inferior to China's?
Which of you believes that your personal shopping, research, entertainment, communication, income, marital, health and personal information is not available to every financial institution, collection agency, insurance company and major employer in the country, as well as an upwardly-mobile number of law enforcement and security organizations?
The fact that there are so many beneficiaries doesn't mean your data are safer than they would be in the central Chinese collection system; it means there are potentially a thousand times as many leaks, thefts and abuses.

Stop considering imaginary worlds and defunct worlds. Think about the present reality.
Does the constitution really cover every possible contingency? Obviously, many generations of legislators didn't think so, or they wouldn't have added so many amendments. Is it totally out of the question to make any more - perhaps regarding the record, performance and competency of office-holders?
After all, Americans have no trouble setting standard tests for new citizens before giving them the precious vote. Birth on American-held soil doesn't guarantee sound judgment or responsible citizenship.

PS - wait a minute! The criminal justice system isn't separate from the electoral system.
Indeed, the justice system, from (I keep hearing dog-catcher is an elected office, but that can't be true; you need specific skills to catch a dog.) all the way up to the Supreme Court is entirely political.
Last edited by Serpent on July 9th, 2017, 5:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Why "soft" science is more important than "hard" science

Postby BioWizard on July 9th, 2017, 5:04 pm 

someguy1 » 09 Jul 2017 03:43 pm wrote:Isn't there a difference between someone receiving due process in a court of law, versus simply being barred from civic rights (voting, holding office, ...) on the word of some government commission?


There are already mechanisms in place that take away the right to vote from some (ex. convicted felons within 2 years of release). What I'm trying to understand is how it would be more acceptable for such individuals to go on to be president than it would be for them to vote.

I really wish the advocates of these ideas would be specific. What are the penalties being proposed? Denial of the vote? Denial of eligibility for holding office? Not allowed in the 8-items-or-less checkout line? And on whose say-so? Due process in court is one thing. I haven't heard any specific proposals.


I think these are all great questions. As were the questions you've asked before.

someguy1 wrote:That's why the electoral process is separate from the criminal justice system.


The potential for abuse (at least short term) is likely inherent to every system. Though isn't this an example of something you can (attempt to) do to deal with the possibility of abuse in a constructed system, vs say trashing the system altogether?
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Re: Why "soft" science is more important than "hard" science

Postby thinker4life on July 9th, 2017, 6:21 pm 

BioWizard » July 9th, 2017, 3:31 pm wrote:Thanks some1guy, this is helpful.

someguy1 » 09 Jul 2017 03:16 pm wrote:The general principle is that the people decide who their leaders will be.


So if the people themselves decide, under full autonomy, that they want their leaders to demonstrate competence at some agreed upon task(s), would that be acceptable to you? I don't know how or why that would ever happen, and I'm not saying that it should. I just want to know, in principle, if you have additional reasons that you'd like to explain for why you would be opposed to this.


Just want to give Kudos to Bio-wizard for bringing a fresh perspective and trying to focus on the intended focus of the thread.
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