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    Registered User jaxqen's Avatar
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    Why do smart people disagree?

    Noam Chomsky vs Thomas Sowell comes to mind when it comes to politics/social stuff/basic economy.
    Both are authorities, one in the left camp, the other in the right camp, both are highly intelligent and yet, both have opposite opinions.

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    If two people on different continents are claiming to see the same electron at the same time is one of them wrong?

    Same thing between me and you...the same electron that's floating around my nutsack is also in your mouth.
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    Originally Posted by jaxqen View Post
    Noam Chomsky vs Thomas Sowell comes to mind when it comes to politics/social stuff/basic economy.
    Both are authorities, one in the left camp, the other in the right camp, both are highly intelligent and yet, both have opposite opinions.
    Your choices and opinions are shaped by all your life experiences. Even the most intelligent people, who have different backgrounds (family/home/school/work/social experiences) may be looking at the same topic differently. Your history shape the way you percieve things.
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    The most interesting questions revolve around predicting what will happen if something is changed - and predictions of the future of complex systems is way beyond any person - smart or not. But we have to form hypotheses and then test them with evidence - there are plenty of ways to form such opinions. You shouldn't be afraid of being wrong or penalise others for being wrong because that just shows you are guilty of oversimplifying the process of making progress with knowledge.

    Even after the fact, attributing causation is an imprecise activity. There is always uncertainty caused by the sheer number of variables. We can only say we have evidence that this particular setup of an experiment with these factors held constant had this outcome with this confidence interval.
    Last edited by SuffolkPunch; 05-25-2022 at 01:23 AM.
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    I'm surprised that you mention Sowell, OP. Didn't think he was particularly influential outside of conservative intellectual circles in the US.

    Completely agree with Suffolk, but will add that I think it has more to do with the ego gratification of "being right" (or rather being perceived to be right) than it does with a sincere desire to arrive at the truth of something, else I think there'd be a lot more ecumenism. "Smart" (what a multi-faceted description) people are usually arrogant and some of the most intelligent people I know, amusingly, almost pathologically cannot be wrong, and will twist terms out of parlance or deny the patently obvious just to avoid this.
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    I disagree. Smart people will agree. Those people will form a majority and then call the other "smart" people that disagreed dumbazzes.
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    Originally Posted by EliKoehn View Post
    "Smart" (what a multi-faceted description) people are usually arrogant and some of the most intelligent people I know, amusingly, almost pathologically cannot be wrong, and will twist terms out of parlance or deny the patently obvious just to avoid this.
    Not all smart people are like this, but I suspect the "smart" and arrogant ones are way more vocal and therefore much easier to notice.

    Some of the most intelligent people I've met are very humble.

    Concerning why smart people disagree, I think people tend to overestimate how freely we form our opinions. For instance, twin studies show a sizeable heritable component to one's political views.
    Last edited by EiFit91; 05-25-2022 at 09:52 AM.
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    When it comes to political things I think it revolves to some degree around the fact that there are multiple different social/law structures that can accomplish similar goals. Meaning, there is no one way to construct a society. Even if there was one "ideal" way for a set of conditions, at least in the US different states and different counties/cities within states have many different underlying variables (ie, weather, population density, access to grocery stores, etc). Easy to have disagreement when you aren't talking about the exact same things.

    When it comes to more fundamental questions of life/physics/etc, such as "Does free will exist?" or "Is the universe all a computer simulation", these topics are inherently difficult to prove or disprove and you can make legitimate arguments either way that match the current evidence we have, so it's not surprising there is disagreement there.

    And then you have published research, where ideally and in theory, anyone who publishes on a specific topic should be somewhat of an expert or at least "smart" regarding that topic, yet published literature contradicts other published literature all the time. When this is due to new/refined experiments or larger datasets that allow greater statistical power, that is great. However, we know a lot of it is due to poor methodology, shady statistics, obvious biases, etc. That stems in part from a "publish or perish" culture of academia, as well as the fact that people tend to find it easier to publish "new" things then replication of "old" studies. This creates disagreements.

    All that aside, a lot of it will come down to one's own experience. Remember the blue/black or white/gold dress? If two people observe the same entity differently then that can lead to disagreements. The dress is a striking example, but people interpret things they encounter all the time in light of past experiences, and as so much of the human experience is "subjective" in some manner this is going to also lead to many differing views.

    However, underlying biology will certainly play a role, and I have not looked into all of the various known brain differences between people on different sides of the political spectrum but I suspect there are some significant disparities.
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    I once crunched data to assess the effectiveness of regular, routine HIV screening on men between the ages of 19 and 69. The hypothesis is that early detection of infection leads to fewer downstream infections through immediate treatment and changes in behavior. The assessment found that there were fewer downstream infections but that the cost of the screening program costed more than the lifetime treatment costs of those downstream infections. The human reaction is that fewer infections is good. The dollar and cents reaction is that the program is too costly.

    The "correct" answer depended on which perspective you're proceeding from.

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    My pronouns are bro/brah Tommy W.'s Avatar
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    "Smart" is a relative term. Someone can SOUND smart however that doesn't make them so. I have a family member with a Masters that uses big words and expounds eloquently on ways of the world and sounds smart but is dumber than a bag of hammers.
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    Originally Posted by EliKoehn View Post
    I'm surprised that you mention Sowell, OP. Didn't think he was particularly influential outside of conservative intellectual circles in the US.

    Completely agree with Suffolk, but will add that I think it has more to do with the ego gratification of "being right" (or rather being perceived to be right) than it does with a sincere desire to arrive at the truth of something, else I think there'd be a lot more ecumenism. "Smart" (what a multi-faceted description) people are usually arrogant and some of the most intelligent people I know, amusingly, almost pathologically cannot be wrong, and will twist terms out of parlance or deny the patently obvious just to avoid this.
    He isn't influential here, except a handfull of but I know about him, since I'm somewhat interested in this stuff.
    Unlike Chomsky, I haven't read any of his books, I've only seen some interviews.


    " the ego gratification of "being right"" - that's what I think too
    There are some who shifted from left to right and viceversa, but it's difficult to know if they did it because they realized they were being wrong and because they had some financial advantage from this.

    Originally Posted by Tommy W. View Post
    "Smart" is a relative term. Someone can SOUND smart however that doesn't make them so. I have a family member with a Masters that uses big words and expounds eloquently on ways of the world and sounds smart but is dumber than a bag of hammers.
    smart = people who are considered the best in their fields
    Maybe I shouldn't have used the term "smart"
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    Originally Posted by jaxqen View Post
    He isn't influential here, except a handfull of but I know about him, since I'm somewhat interested in this stuff.
    Unlike Chomsky, I haven't read any of his books, I've only seen some interviews.


    " the ego gratification of "being right"" - that's what I think too
    There are some who shifted from left to right and viceversa, but it's difficult to know if they did it because they realized they were being wrong and because they had some financial advantage from this.



    smart = people who are considered the best in their fields
    Maybe I shouldn't have used the term "smart"
    I read Thomas Sowell as a teenager and he was an early intellectual influence on me, though now in hindsight I've come to disagree with and see some contradictory irony in some aspects of his nearly evangelical "panacea" libertarianism, but find that his arguments are clear and often saliently about things conveniently assumed under grandiose ideological labels in such debates (whose right functionality is otherwise implicitly taken as given).

    One good example of this would be the dissonance between his evident sympathy for the old-fashioned and traditional nature of society which was normative earlier in modern history on the one hand, and on the other his zealous championing of the very systematic process which did the most to undo it. I find that amusing. He often laments the erosion not only of traditional values, but also the dignity of life under more demanding conditions, and then insists on an economic policy which literally thrives on their demise! A militantly conservative apostle of libertarianism is a strange combo I wouldn't expect to be at the fore...

    You would think that "libertarian" (inasmuch as that means sympathetic to anarchism) social conservatives like Sowell would be luddites and against modernism in general, but instead they hail its ascent of conveniences as proof of their superior ideology, while bemoaning the necessarily concomitant displacement of the old society they claim to revere in its wake.

    Secondly, one could make the same point about the inconsistent rift between their strong national patriotism and their sympathy towards the elevation of large, multinational firms which short of being militarized (which has happened before and easily could again) differ little from political nations anyway, begging the question of what constitutes the essential difference between their beloved country and the oligarchy of Fortune 500 companies that effectively constitute it, replete with their own internal leadership, culture, anthems and flags of their own.

    Finally (and this one actually annoys me, while the other two are more amusing than anything else), their diatribe about government itself being cursed and ruining everything that it touches (with the free market alternatively being some kind of failproof miracle which exudes prosperity and blessing everywhere it goes) conveniently almost never seems to be applied to the very similar inefficient functionality of large corporate firms! They parade the environment of perfect competition as an apologetic for the market as a pure alternative to "government," without leading the analysis to the questions which logically follow: of market consolidation, constructed barriers to entry, nepotism, parasitic, ineradicable people who confer no productivity but are nevertheless shielded by tenure in various forms, the "golden parachutes" necessary to fire them, the impunity with which these can operate under captive markets, etc. So, much of their valid criticisms of government literally apply to the pseudo-states they unfoundedly suppose to be some kind of social opposite. Let's also not forget how much of the "success" of government is measured by the lack of catastrophe and is therefore relatively inconspicuous, quite unlike the foibles specific agencies which provide the raw material for their talking points. (I'm glad that eating canned food no longer realistically can kill me, for instance, and that was not at the behest of the private sector.) Much of their criticism of government is valid, but their proffered alternative is guilty of the same to an extent they refuse to admit.
    Last edited by EliKoehn; 10-31-2022 at 02:45 PM.
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    Originally Posted by Tommy W. View Post
    dumber than a bag of hammers.
    Around here we say "Windier than a sack full of farts."
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    My pronouns are bro/brah Tommy W.'s Avatar
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    Originally Posted by paulinkansas View Post
    Around here we say "Windier than a sack full of farts."
    Lol, well I'm in the Construction bidness
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    Originally Posted by EliKoehn View Post
    I read Thomas Sowell as a teenager and he was an early intellectual influence on me, though now in hindsight I've come to disagree with and see some contradictory irony in some aspects of his nearly evangelical "panacea" libertarianism, but find that his arguments are clear and often saliently about things conveniently assumed under grandiose ideological labels in such debates (whose right functionality is otherwise implicitly taken as given).

    One good example of this would be the dissonance between his evident sympathy for the old-fashioned and traditional nature of society which was normative earlier in modern history on the one hand, and on the other his zealous championing of the very systematic process which did the most to undo it. I find that amusing. He often laments the erosion not only of traditional values, but also the dignity of life under more demanding conditions, and then insists on an economic policy which literally thrives on their demise! A militantly conservative apostle of libertarianism is a strange combo I wouldn't expect to be at the fore...

    You would think that "libertarian" (inasmuch as that means sympathetic to anarchism) social conservatives like Sowell would be luddites and against modernism in general, but instead they hail its ascent of conveniences as proof of their superior ideology, while bemoaning the necessarily concomitant displacement of the old society they claim to revere in its wake.

    Secondly, one could make the same point about the inconsistent rift between their strong national patriotism and their sympathy towards the elevation of large, multinational firms which short of being militarized (which has happened before and easily could again) differ little from political nations anyway, begging the question of what constitutes the essential difference between their beloved country and the oligarchy of Fortune 500 companies that effectively constitute it, replete with their own internal leadership, culture, anthems and flags of their own.

    Finally (and this one actually annoys me, while the other two are more amusing than anything else), their diatribe about government itself being cursed and ruining everything that it touches (with the free market alternatively being some kind of failproof miracle which exudes prosperity and blessing everywhere it goes) conveniently almost never seems to be applied to the very similar inefficient functionality of large corporate firms! They parade the environment of perfect competition as an apologetic for the market as a pure alternative to "government," without leading the analysis to the questions which logically follow: of market consolidation, constructed barriers to entry, nepotism, parasitic, ineradicable people who confer no productivity but are nevertheless shielded by tenure in various forms, the "golden parachutes" necessary to fire them, the impunity with which these can operate under captive markets, etc. So, much of their valid criticisms of government literally apply to the pseudo-states they unfoundedly suppose to be some kind of social opposite. Let's also not forget how much of the "success" of government is measured by the lack of catastrophe and is therefore relatively inconspicuous, quite unlike the foibles specific agencies which provide the raw material for their talking points. (I'm glad that eating canned food no longer realistically can kill me, for instance, and that was not at the behest of the private sector.) Much of their criticism of government is valid, but their proffered alternative is guilty of the same to an extent they refuse to admit.
    Dude, difficult to read you, but:
    - it's funny how many people that consider freedom > equality are against abortion and cannabis.
    - parasitic, ineradicable people {with wealth and power} appear because they inherited stuff from the ones who actually worked. It's a cycle. Every empire had a growth, a top and a fall. The hard working ones created the empire, the empire reached at its top and then people get less inventive, lazier etc and the next big empire comes and destroys the present empire. You guys will probably get dethroned by China. No offense, USA! You gave me Cartoon Network when I was a child. Seinfeld, Frasier, 3rd rock from the sun + music.


    Another example of smart people disagreeing would be Rawls vs Nozick, when it comes to political philosophy.



    I assume you used "diatribe" instead of "attack" so I can learn a new word, right? :P
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    I wouldn't even consider Sowell an intellectual. He's more of a political pundit that knows exactly what buttons to press to sensationalize his base of readers.
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    Originally Posted by jaxqen View Post
    Dude, difficult to read you, but:
    - it's funny how many people that consider freedom > equality are against abortion and cannabis.
    - parasitic, ineradicable people {with wealth and power} appear because they inherited stuff from the ones who actually worked. It's a cycle. Every empire had a growth, a top and a fall. The hard working ones created the empire, the empire reached at its top and then people get less inventive, lazier etc and the next big empire comes and destroys the present empire. You guys will probably get dethroned by China. No offense, USA! You gave me Cartoon Network when I was a child. Seinfeld, Frasier, 3rd rock from the sun + music.


    Another example of smart people disagreeing would be Rawls vs Nozick, when it comes to political philosophy.



    I assume you used "diatribe" instead of "attack" so I can learn a new word, right? :P
    Is diatribe an uncommon word? I at least hear it pretty casually around here, though English is not a second language for me and it's primarily spoken in the US, of course.

    Yeah, good points regarding the rhetoric about personal freedom. I am personally against both of those things you mention but still see the inconsistency of holding that position. It's interesting to consider how few of the references to liberty and freedom are legally binding. Most notions of "a free country," and "personal liberty" are found in political speeches attempting to woo an electorate, or are off-hand quotes from statesmen in debates about political philosophy, not actually the law of the land. We obviously do have protected civil liberties which are the exception rather than the rule in most places one could live, but they're not as broad as people make out, and the Constitution has a scary amount of ambiguity with respect to their being discardable or crowded out by ever-expanding executive power, and this often voluntarily delegated to it by what is supposed to check it, out of laziness or apathy.

    The general pattern you sketch about empires I think has a kernel of truth but is wrong to assume their final demise, or that this is necessarily even a one-time thing, for the same country. For instance, while every great empire has had its zenith which it never ascended to again, the same ones often had oscillating positions of predominance, up and down. The British Empire was at its absolute relative height in the 1880s and the de facto harbinger of geopolitics, but when it was finally eclipsed by the German Empire and the United States in the decades which followed, it wasn't "shattered" or destroyed, remained a great power for a long time, and even never really ceased to be a prominent nation even up to the present day, and one could argue for a previous golden age in the 18th century as well. Likewise for numerous other examples of other nations. Instances where one literally destroyed and salted the earth on the ashes of its rival like Rome and Carthage are quite rare. Furthermore, it's misguided to see this as a binary, polar thing, where there's only one "empire" of the world at any given time.

    I actually think that China is a paper tiger. It has a lot of domestic problems and instability which seldom get mentioned, but would rip open and prevent it from some kind of world domination that everyone fears, I would argue. It's important to remember that they're still in the "pretending to be communist" phase, and maintaining that facade will become increasingly difficult as their newfound high standard of living continues to sink into the mores of its collective will.

    Never heard of Nozick, actually. I'm learning in the exchange as well.

    Originally Posted by tadpole25 View Post
    I wouldn't even consider Sowell an intellectual. He's more of a political pundit that knows exactly what buttons to press to sensationalize his base of readers.
    I get what you're saying, but he is still a professional economist and understands that field at the highest level. Just because he belongs to a school of thought which is not in vogue and tends to be polemic about hotbutton issues doesn't mean that he's not a "real" intellectual.
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    Originally Posted by EliKoehn View Post
    Is diatribe an uncommon word? I at least hear it pretty casually around here, though English is not a second language for me and it's primarily spoken in the US, of course.

    Yeah, good points regarding the rhetoric about personal freedom. I am personally against both of those things you mention but still see the inconsistency of holding that position. It's interesting to consider how few of the references to liberty and freedom are legally binding. Most notions of "a free country," and "personal liberty" are found in political speeches attempting to woo an electorate, or are off-hand quotes from statesmen in debates about political philosophy, not actually the law of the land. We obviously do have protected civil liberties which are the exception rather than the rule in most places one could live, but they're not as broad as people make out, and the Constitution has a scary amount of ambiguity with respect to their being discardable or crowded out by ever-expanding executive power, and this often voluntarily delegated to it by what is supposed to check it, out of laziness or apathy.

    The general pattern you sketch about empires I think has a kernel of truth but is wrong to assume their final demise, or that this is necessarily even a one-time thing, for the same country. For instance, while every great empire has had its zenith which it never ascended to again, the same ones often had oscillating positions of predominance, up and down. The British Empire was at its absolute relative height in the 1880s and the de facto harbinger of geopolitics, but when it was finally eclipsed by the German Empire and the United States in the decades which followed, it wasn't "shattered" or destroyed, remained a great power for a long time, and even never really ceased to be a prominent nation even up to the present day, and one could argue for a previous golden age in the 18th century as well. Likewise for numerous other examples of other nations. Instances where one literally destroyed and salted the earth on the ashes of its rival like Rome and Carthage are quite rare. Furthermore, it's misguided to see this as a binary, polar thing, where there's only one "empire" of the world at any given time.

    I actually think that China is a paper tiger. It has a lot of domestic problems and instability which seldom get mentioned, but would rip open and prevent it from some kind of world domination that everyone fears, I would argue. It's important to remember that they're still in the "pretending to be communist" phase, and maintaining that facade will become increasingly difficult as their newfound high standard of living continues to sink into the mores of its collective will.

    Never heard of Nozick, actually. I'm learning in the exchange as well.
    1. I don't know! Paul, when was the last time you used "diatribe"? Any raccoon diatribes lately?

    2. Why are you against them, if I may ask?
    Well, most notions are used in public speeches to woo an electorate. Freedom, equality, civil rights...


    3. Regarding the empires, I was talking about the most powerful one at the moment, the one which helds the reserve currency.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reserve_currency
    From the Roman Empire to the new capitalist empires that held the reserve currency.
    The Dutch were the first ones when it comes to capitalism, Amsterdam being their financial center. They used the Netherlands Indies gulden, which was also used by the other countries; they had many colonies, they created the Dutch East India Company, where people could buy stocks.
    Then the British, with London and the pound, they had the British East India Company or something similar.
    Right now it is USA, with New York and the dollar.
    I wouldn't count Germany, for example. Short period and they didn't hold the reserve currency.
    Before these, you had the Spanish and the Portuguese Empires, but they didn't have a reserve currency.
    Next, it might be China.

    4. China invested a lot in education and they have over 1.4 million patents.
    Also, they bought many resources and lands in different countries, especially Africa.
    Sure, they have domestic problems, but so does the US, who also lacks strong leaders. The last elections were held between Trump, Biden and Hillary, all of them with many flaws... my two cents.
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    Pretending to be communist, but they built their fortune on private antrepreneurs.
    Antrepreneurs chosen by the Communist Party, of course, but The Chinese used the capitalist method to obtain their goals.
    I don't know how can they maintain that facade in the future, though. It is a weird mix there.
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    Originally Posted by jaxqen View Post
    1. I don't know! Paul, when was the last time you used "diatribe"? Any raccoon diatribes lately?

    2. Why are you against them, if I may ask?
    Well, most notions are used in public speeches to woo an electorate. Freedom, equality, civil rights...


    3. Regarding the empires, I was talking about the most powerful one at the moment, the one which helds the reserve currency.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reserve_currency
    From the Roman Empire to the new capitalist empires that held the reserve currency.
    The Dutch were the first ones when it comes to capitalism, Amsterdam being their financial center. They used the Netherlands Indies gulden, which was also used by the other countries; they had many colonies, they created the Dutch East India Company, where people could buy stocks.
    Then the British, with London and the pound, they had the British East India Company or something similar.
    Right now it is USA, with New York and the dollar.
    I wouldn't count Germany, for example. Short period and they didn't hold the reserve currency.
    Before these, you had the Spanish and the Portuguese Empires, but they didn't have a reserve currency.
    Next, it might be China.

    4. China invested a lot in education and they have over 1.4 million patents.
    Also, they bought many resources and lands in different countries, especially Africa.
    Sure, they have domestic problems, but so does the US, who also lacks strong leaders. The last elections were held between Trump, Biden and Hillary, all of them with many flaws... my two cents.
    UNPOPULAR OPINION: I do not understand why you need a minimum age to be president, senator, representative... but there isn't a maximum age. Cognitive capacity declines with age. A lot! Having people that are 75 years old running a country seems weird to me.

    Pretending to be communist, but they built their fortune on private antrepreneurs.
    Antrepreneurs chosen by the Communist Party, of course, but The Chinese used the capitalist method to obtain their goals.
    I don't know how can they maintain that facade in the future, though. It is a weird mix there.
    1.) Well, by official metrics I live in one of the least educated states in the US and I do hear it frequently by regular people in daily life. Nb4 this gets commuted into a sex joke with pictures of animals pooping or something.

    2.)

    - Abortion is an institution used to mitigate the consequences of casual sex, which is the real object its proponents are contending for. It's euphemized to the moon and back with all of these ancillary labels about its ostensible purpose, but at the end of the day we all know that it's the great most of the time the free enablement of killing a child to safeguard a selfish lifestyle. In the fringe cases where it is a medical emergency or the child is a result of rape (but that's dicey, because anyone can claim that any sex they had wasn't desired at the time, in hindsight), I'm not against it as an extreme option. It's interesting to me that this is only a universalized and widespread institution in the English-speaking world. Almost everywhere else, legal and institutionalized abortion, if it is allowed at all, requires extensive counseling and is not on demand (Germany, for instance) as it is in the US, UK, Australia, Canada, NZ. Our culture really is the exception rather than the norm, even among liberal countries who otherwise place a higher premium on safeguarding individual civil rights at large. It really is peculiar that this is considered normal at all by so many people in the anglosphere. Perhaps I've got that wrong, however, and you could chime in with your perspective from Eastern Europe?

    - I don't think the issue with marijuana is as severely wrong or problematic, but I am mildly against it as the ubiquitous recreational drug that it has become. I think the massive proliferation that has happened over the past five or so years will end up harming our population and stunting its potential. In a milder form, it will probably be not unlike the opium craze in China in the 19th century in this regard. Now, it's not like it's the only thing representing this phenomenon... alcohol is a great example of something which has long been socially normative (even integrated within respectable culture), which nevertheless results in demonstrable social harm and has literally destroyed many people's lives, done to themselves or inflicted on others, even if a majority don't end up with any measurable consequence from it, and not all alcoholics are unfunctional. So, to the credit of the weed people, it's hypocritical for someone who drinks to levy the same argument against marijuana while being indifferent or sympathetic towards liquor stores and gas stations making it just as available everywhere as dispensaries do. I drink (pretty heavily sometimes), and while I'm surprisingly functional, that's still not something I'm proud to admit but is relevant to this question. So while I can't make a hard take against it unhypocritically, my thing is: if one is wrong, two is worse.

    In the early 2010s when it started to get really common and people pushed for "medical" marijuana, we all knew that that was a BS excuse to make it available recreationally, and the names of many of these dispensaries hilariously expose that fact. "Here, come to 'Baked TF out of your Mind' to get your 'medical' marijuana." To continue the comparison with alcohol, while the short-term dangers of intoxication are less than with booze, I think the long-term damage of the mind is something underestimated and underrepresented, and will end up being a bigger problem than people think. Of course, I fully expect that any kind of hypothesized causal relationship between THC and mental destabilization will be dismissed with white-knuckle resistance, especially once it becomes a fully taxable commercial crop which will unquestionably fund "studies" promoting its use (as well as attorneys for any challenging dissenters...).

    As far as it's a legal or political issue, I'm not in favor of outlawing it, because as Ben Franklin said, politics is the art of the possible, and trying to outlaw it at this point goes beyond the pale of that, nor is it a hill I would choose to die on, were I a politician or activist. Mostly it just makes me sad that it seems everyone has to be high all the time. I can't even drive around town or stand in a parking lot half the time (literally about that) without smelling it in the air; people I see or talk always mentioning that they're smoking a joint or are high. It's just disheartening. Is that all we have to live for? Is life so meaningless or bereft of enthusiasm that we have to be "medicated" at all hours of the day just to exist in it?

    So, I don't think it's the end of the world, but I do think it's a bigger deal than people make out, and will likely end up damaging the fiber of our society quite a bit more than is taken seriously.
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    3.) You're assuming all of this in the context of modern market economies with a formal banking system which uses liquid capital notes to represent their assets. There is no "reserve currency" outside of that, and such an international banking system only began to informally exist in the 15th century in Europe with the Fuggars, and wasn't a solid and formal institution until quite a bit later. That's an interesting argument you make about holding "the reserve currency" but it only applies to modern history, while international political influence by any particular state long predates that.

    4.) Yeah, China is state-capitalist and fascist. They're the closest analogue to the Third Reich than any other modern country in that regard, though they ironically define themselves in opposition to fascism. That's why I think many political labels are kind of stupid, especially when they attempt to define themselves negatively by what they are not, rather than any specific policies they emphasize which nothing else does: a cult of personality, esteem for militarism, supreme executive authority and revokable private enterprise are all hallmarks of fascism, though in the wake of Glasnost, every self-styled communist state shifted towards this while maintaining that they are somehow polar opposite of the fascists who are at least candid about such things without having to maintain some ridiculously stupid ruse about the dissolution of the state in a world revolution which ironically has never made it contract an inch.

    Good points about China, though. To continue the parallel with Nazi Germany, they got shafted hard in the 19th century with many systematic exploits and were always a great civilization before this. The ire which can be galvanized for retribution and to restore lost pride is a powerful political force which the CCP is doubtless aware of, and this was exactly the danger that the Versailles settlement ignited with Germany. China has fortified its position considerably; if it came to blows between us and them, I think we would win but it would be a caustic fight. I don't think they would initiate something like that, though. I think they're deliberately playing a long game and anticipate our social decay to continue to worsen, and then they can do similarly to Robert Clive and the East India Company with the Subcontinent, rather than wage hot war which poses much greater expenses and risk.
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    @Eli

    Abortion

    You asked about my perspective as an Eastern European.
    Living in a ex-communist country, abortion was punished heavily during that period.
    The party wanted more and more young communists.
    So, women had to find other solutions: they did them at home, using traditional methods that put their lives in danger. Others, they did it by paying doctors who were risking their jobs and their freedom. Or by some acquaintance who had some medical background. Everything was done in poor, unsanitary conditions because it was illegal. They were risking their lives and their freedom to do that, that desperate they were.
    And it wasn't casual sex. Married women, who already had children but they didn't want to have more... during those days condoms were hard to find and anyway most men wouldn't accept them.
    So, basically I am pro-abortion. Sure, I don't see it as a good thing, it's always better to use contraceptive methods and to educate people about it. But I am against punishing it, because history showed us it didn't work. And some people don't want to be parents and they will probably make crappy parents if forced to have a child and would semi-destroy that child.
    ---------------------------

    Cannabis

    I am pro because, again, it is difficult, if not impossible, to prohibit it. Same with alcohol, you guys tried it in USA. The result, from what I know, was that people bought moonshine, that was more dangerous for their lives than legal booze. People were risking their freedom to get more booze. Both short and long term together, I would say alcohol is more dangerous than cannabis, though. And it is legal. Maybe I'm biased because here people tend to drink more than smoke cannabis. Usually, cannabis is reserved for the younger people, and many of them have jobs. And there are hard drinkers, who cannot usually maintain a job or do it very poorly. I'm talking about the ones who drink daily and not only in the evening. I know a functional alcoholic, but he only drinks beer and only in the evening, after work.
    You can ban both of them or forbid both of them... my two cents. Both can screw people up if consumed too much.

    I used cannabis very, very rarely, it's not something that I would use daily or weekly. And I can see your point about everybody wanting to be high.
    "Is life so meaningless or bereft of enthusiasm?" Apparently, yeah! Many people do jobs that they hate, they have families that they get bored with, they have all kinds of problems and it seems that drugs help a lot to escape from reality. And by drugs I mean alcohol, weed or being heavily dependant on video games or porn, for example.
    I don't get it, though! I drank more in college, but mostly because everybody drank, I never felt the need to do it. But I never felt that alcohol makes me forget my problems. Or cannabis. I can understand video games, although I've never been dependant; it creates a whole new reality for you that you can control better than your real life. Also, games can improve some abilities, especially strategy games, so maybe adding them in this list was not the best idea.
    -----------------------------

    Economy

    Well, I didn't count the older empires because, back then, the fight for domination was done mainly by war. Sure, the Dutch, British and Americans were involves in wars too, but tehnological development is a much stronger factor these days.
    I agree with the political label opinion.
    China is more fascist than communist, if we look at the theoretical definitions. Some people hold the power, with the help of the state, they have huge wealth, while the others obey.
    But same happened during communism in all countries. Some had the power and the others obeyed. It wasn't anything equal, because it is impossible to create an equal society when it comes to millions of people. Some had success with a more communist approach, but only in small communities - see "Intentional communities" or some kibbutz in Israel.

    I also think USA would win right now. Its army it more powerful.
    I was thinking long term when I said China will dethrone US.
    And I was talking mainly about technological development.
    But, like you said, it can be a paper tiger. We will see. They can crumble easily or they can adapt while going forward.
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    @Jaxqen,

    That is relevant and worth mentioning for context that it's not just casual sex which produces unwanted pregnancies. I would say though that that still doesn't warrant killing the child, and those who claim to be indifferent about this and have done so often testify to enormous lifelong guilt in spite of whatever they say about it conceptually. In a stable marital household environment, I don't think that an accidental pregnancy is a big enough problem, or one that would result in some kind of true desperation. If I got a girl pregnant, even if I wasn't married, I would feel a moral obligation of responsibility to support her in raising it and providing for their needs and would not just run off or advise killing it alternatively. I don't think one can be in favor of abortion without putting a serious hole in their value of the sanctity of life, and will consequently be more or less disturbed by it to that extent after the fact.

    That said, a lot of the time it still literally is the product of casual sex. I would define that not only as unmarried sex but of sex outside of a committed monogamous relationship with a mutual intention to be permanent. In my opinion, fornication (which you asked about in the other thread but I've not gotten to replying to yet) is what falls outside of this, not a civil institution defined by the state. The reason for that is that marriage itself in the eyes of the state already lies outside of the moral parameters by which the allegation is levied in the first place. Homosexual marriage and no-fault divorce are now legally enshrined facets of the civil institution in the United States, but anathema not only the Abrahamic faiths, but also every major religion in the world as far as I'm aware (if you know if a notable exception which isn't some outlier remote tribe, let me know), so why then would I refer to the status of legal marriage to discern whether sex in the former constitutes a violation of what God approves? I know this isn't even an issue to nonreligious people, but you wanted to know what I thought about it. So, I don't think having sex with a serious significant other when there's a clear intention for permanence is wrong; outside of that, yes I do.

    Also, marriage is a huge liability for the man specifically because of no-fault divorce. Many women are predatory and will pull the trigger to leave and take half and inflict alimony whenever it suits them, or threaten this as a bargaining chip. Even when they don't have any bad intentions going in, they are still given the incentive with no speed bumps or drawbacks for them (not even really a social stigma anymore), whether or not they're actually trying to gold dig or just get tired of it eventually and want a subsidy on the transition to find someone else. I debate whether or not I will ever get married for this reason. If I do, it almost certainly won't be to an American. I've seen it happen too many times not to connect the dots about how this is. The dilemma is that I do want to have a family, and not in the too distant future, but the way the current arrangement works here, it's a legitimate gamble that it won't end up severed with a financial shackle on your ankle in the aftermath or that this will be an implicit ultimatum token in spite of anything you do. Not sure I find that worth it.

    Also, on that note, while I am against abortion, I am also against the mentality that families should intentionally have enormous numbers of kids. Our toll on the environment is concerning, and the wasteful consumerism of modern society is amplified greatly in proportion to population. That made sense in earlier eras and economic systems where an abundance of labor was vital to a community's survival or a nation's prosperity, but now, people are mostly liabilities in a strict economic and environmental sense.

    Regarding alcohol, you might be right. I mean there's really no arguing how detrimental it is to society on the whole, even if it is benign to the majority. Not only all the people killed by drunk drivers, all of the torn families from dysfunctional drunks, the violent crimes committed under the influence, etc., but even just the opportunity cost of people sitting around and drinking instead of doing something useful or improving themselves, amount to a lot. Of course, the latter has many other representatives, and I would say that social media and the internet in general contribute more to that singularly (though are often combined with alcohol anyway). Marijuana just seems to make people stupid, honestly, in a long-term sense. Even in sobriety, I've witnessed formerly sharp people become dull after they started using it heavily for a while, and perhaps more tellingly, I tend to notice that heavy and long-term marijuana users get random panic attacks. I'm not a neuroscientist and this is all anecdotal, but it does seem to be a strong pattern. Long term drinkers do suffer from health complications, but when they're sober I don't see the same kind of mental destabilization, though I won't deny that it's bad for you across the board. Anyway, I think we mostly agree here, since I'm not in favor of illegalizing either of them, but think their heavy use is neither good nor the end of the world, most of the time, but best mitigated either way. One thing we probably do disagree on is my suspicion that the normalized weed use of the past decade will result in widespread cognitive decline which hasn't fully shown up yet. While many people seem to have just tried it, or truly use it very rarely, it's really startling to me how heavily people use it around here, and I wonder if Oklahoma is an outlier, because we have more dispensaries than gas stations probably. Like, taking 100mg edibles daily while at work, driving, or doing anything, and casual about it. That kind of thing is probably not going to be without consequence...

    On communism, it's ironic too, that its ideological origin is rooted in the notion of proletarian industrial workers seizing the means of production so that capital exploitation would end, and then it was implemented in agrarian societies of largely self-sufficient subsistence communities, many of whom were then industrialized into exploited proletarian workers lol, while market socialism which emerged in the mature societies that Marx contended were the necessary prerequisites ironically ended up basically fulfilling the prediction without any revolution being necessary, behind the Iron Curtain of what was supposed to separate it ideologically from this very result. As a historical phenomenon, I find communism interesting, though mostly the psychology of its mass-appeal, and that it is perhaps the most disingenuous and hypocritical ideology in all of human history. It is a religion in which a more-often-than-not genocidal absolute despot who is supposed to represent the culmination of secular utopia and the absence of central authority is propagandized to be worshipped as a god. And many people who are sympathetic to communism exude the same kind of emotion as a religious person does to the object of their faith. The fact that it was so widespread and taken seriously in spite of obvious farce is interesting.
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    @Eli

    Abortion

    Casual or not, I don't see why it should matter, legally speaking.
    This "sanctity of life" sounds funny to me. People get born, they grow, they go to work, watch television in a phlegmatic way, they stuff their bellies with food, they drink, they smoke, they complain, they gather stuff they don't need... and most of them do it without asking themselves some reflective questions during their lives. But yeah... the sanctity of life...


    Marriage
    I've heard this speech many times from American men.
    I don't get some things... assuming he owns some goods before they marry, does she get half of them anyway, after the divorce? Even if they don't have children or only if she takes care of the children?
    Or only the goods they buy together, since the marriage starts?
    Also, why not an American? How many of them are like that?
    It doesn't seem something country specific, more like Western type mentality, where finances play a bigger role.

    Drugs
    We'll wait and see... I am quite curious to see the outcome in 20-30 years, actually. I know heavy cannabis smokers who say it helps them a lot with creativity and focusing (mostly IT guys), while alcohol is mostly used after work, in the evening.
    For me both alcohol and cannabis make me sleepy and lazy. Just one time in Amsterdam it was something that gave me energy... but not the working type energy.

    Communism
    I think it can work for very small communities, if the people truly want that.
    Not that much for current societies.
    I like to learn from the mistakes of the people who take my advice.
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