David Chapman Profile picture
Better ways of thinking, feeling, and acting—around problems of meaning and meaninglessness; self and society; ethics, purpose, and value.
KimSia Sim 🇸🇬💻📗 Profile picture A. S. Twitter author Profile picture giulio rospigliosi Profile picture Apoorv Singh Profile picture 7 added to My Authors
19 Oct
1️⃣ What we learn from Delphi silliness is that human moral judgements are made on the basis of the warm-fuzziness of individual words. (In its dataset, anyway.)

This probably explains 83.7% of culture war outrage.
2️⃣ Wait, is it true that human moral judgements are made on the basis of individual words?

No, of course not. But that’s the only way we can judge abstract decontextualized single-sentence statements. Those have nearly nothing to do with real-world ethics.
3️⃣ Delphi is an “AI” program that makes “moral judgements” about sentences you give it. I have just been informed that not everyone else’s timeline is full of examples of its giving stupid and/or offensive and/or hilarious answers: deepai.org/publication/de…
Read 7 tweets
14 Oct
No, this means that @sapinker, in his new book _Rationality_, is seriously misunderstanding (a) how to interpret survey results and (b) the nature and function of believing. news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/…
Taking survey results at face value is a technical error, which it seems a professional should be held accountable for (even though it's pervasive in academic psychology). Misunderstanding belief is an ontological error; professional standards do not require getting those right.
Pinker's book does not discuss the haunted house anomaly any further. He footnotes this 2005 Gallup press release for the data.

Taking this as evidence of a highlighted, shocking logical error should at minimum involve considerable further investigation.

Read 12 tweets
29 Sep
Still haunted and chewing on @juliagalef’s saying she removed most citations of psychological studies from her recent _Scout Mindset_ because details are quite likely false.

I cite academic psychology sometimes. I might like to cite this study:
@juliagalef The finding of the study I believe is true and important, based on observing myself and (it seems!) a hundred other people. And maybe it’s common sense knowledge as well! “You need to get out of your head and go outside and do something fun,” says Mom when you are a moody 15-yo.
@juliagalef (For the record Mom’s advice is confirmed here by “Self-Perpetuating Properties of Dysphoric Rumination,” Sonja Lyubomirsky and Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 1993, Vol. 65, No. 2, 339-34.)
Read 8 tweets
26 Sep
After making a huge fuss about how important it is to be rational, and how rationality proves everything is meaningless, and dissing Heidegger for using poetical language to advocate meaningfulness, Brassier’s _Nihil Unbound_ advocates this ULTRA RATIONAL proof of meaninglessness
Brassier’s lust for annihiliation is so powerful that, after a hundred pages of reductionist neurobollocks, he explains the sun’s explosion “is at once earlier than the birth of the first unicellular organism, and later than the extinction of the last multicellular animal.”
Somehow nihilism makes you want to sound extremely rational at the same time it destroys your ability to check the simplest inferences for logical validity.
Read 5 tweets
13 Sep
For the first time, listened to JBP lecturing on his Maps of Meaning work from before he became famous. I was impressed. And, I now see why people compare our stuff. Considerable overlap in approach as well as content.

Am I redundant, then? I don't know what he covers beyond the first lecture, but let's suppose as a thought experiment that everything I will say he already has. Is it worth going on and saying it anyway? People who know both have said yes... meaningness.com
Slightly different presentation styles may be understandable for different readers/listeners/students, so that variation is worthwhile. But I think our styles are pretty similar too! That's probably not what might make the alternative valuable.
Read 12 tweets
5 Sep
Reflecting on the regularity that for people who “have a personal philosophy” it’s usually a half-baked existentialism: realized this is almost tautological. Existentialism is the theory that “a personal philosophy” is something you can have.
Imo: don’t do this. Impersonal philosophy is quite bad enough. A personal philosophy is a conceptual prison, and existentialism is a catastrophe. There’s a reason its main proponents repudiated it 60 years ago.
Camus and Sartre both explained in their last major works that existentialism’s central claim, that we are free to choose our own values, is false. We have some wiggle room, but we are constrained (and also rely on) society, culture, biology, our engineered environment,…
Read 4 tweets
3 Sep
Pieces fitting together... I just realized that my recognizing my own (mild) psychopathic traits two weeks ago...
... provides the missing piece for this essay on "a genial criminal" I promised four years ago, but did not understand quite well enough to write up then... it will be the seventh installment of my shadow-eating series... buddhism-for-vampires.com/we-are-all-mon…
... and I promised another, final essay, "Between Zero and Two Wise Old Men," which I am not yet quite old enough to write. Another few years perhaps...
Read 5 tweets
27 Aug
I would guess that most Christians would agree that Jesus had a normal human body and a divine mind? Apparently this renders them heretics, with this error having been condemned by all theologians since 381.

Religions get weirder and weirder when you look at details.
Judging from replies, I may be empirically wrong about this… OTOH, people who read my tweets probably have a more detailed and accurate understanding of theology than most Christians.
I found out about this because Apollinarism was recently resurrected by William Lane Craig, an apologist who DISMANTLES Atheist after Atheist: mademanministries.com/2021/07/willia…
Read 6 tweets
19 Aug
Crackpot theory du jour: Shantideva's ethical theory was influenced by Christianity. Shantideva is counted as the most important Buddhist ethicist by many Buddhist lineages. I find his stuff nauseating: a holier-than-thou, self-obsessed slave morality.

Is it historically possible for Christianity to have influenced mainstream Indian Buddhism during Shantideva's time (the 700s)?

Yes: Christianity was well-established in India at the time, especially along the west coast. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian…
Is there internal evidence of influence? Shantideva's work is considered a major breakpoint in Buddhist ethics, as the first to attempt coherent philosophical arguments for it. Christianity was doing that for a long time; not previously found in Buddhism. vividness.live/traditional-bu…
Read 4 tweets
15 Aug
@vgr Reading about sociopathy today. It’s a spectrum and a syndrome—a loose collection of traits—not binary.

I was always sure I’m not a sociopath—as far from it as one could be. Today I’m recognizing some tendencies in myself… cool experience in shadow-eating 👻
@vgr A stage 4 ethics, which by definition prioritizes principles and procedures over emotions and personal relationships, always appears sociopathic to those at stage 3. You probably can’t transition to stage 4 without developing your own psychopathy a bit.

Read 6 tweets
9 Aug
🏴‍☠️ Post-rational nihilism (Kegan stage 4.5): the only academic study I know of.

Strongly recommended for postrats, and for rationalists who wonder what that’s all about.
∮ Rationalists’ stubbornness in the face of evidence that rationalism doesn’t work is based in a well-founded fear that letting go of it could cause catastrophic personal disintegration.

That is short-term wise, but retards more sophisticated integration by parts longer-term…
I have speculated about whether the stage 4 (systematic) to 5 (meta-systematic) transition has awful, what makes it more or less awful for different people, and what we could do to help: metarationality.com/stem-fluidity-…
Read 12 tweets
7 Aug
Earliest use of “nihilism” was in attacks on Kant’s Idealism: his denial that knowledge of external reality is possible. I didn’t know this! pdcnet.org/gfpj/content/g… Image
Subjectivism does always collapse toward nihilism. Current cognitivist stories about how we only have access to representations of reality, not reality itself. And Buddhist and Hindu stories about how everything apparent is illusory.

It’s a seemingly bizarre and paranoid error…
“We can’t really know anything because we are trapped in our heads and permanently separated from the world” makes sense if you had believed the eternalist fantasy of perfect certainty, understanding, and control; realized it was wrong; and inverted it.

Read 4 tweets
5 Aug
0️⃣ A century ago, relativity was experienced as a catastrophic blow to rationalism. A few decades of work by the best philosophers of the era managed to retcon it as a triumph of rationalism instead.

But this entailed two drastic revisions in the plot…

1️⃣ Science used to discover eternal, absolute, certain truths, like Newtonian mechanics… which turned out not to be—oops!—not true.

To preserve rationalism, science got retconned as discovering increasingly accurate approximations to truth we have no access to & may never know.
2️⃣ Rationality used to prove that everything in the world makes sense and we can figure everything out rationally, because God likes us.

Relativity made no sense, so science got retconned as giving glimpses into the transcendent Science Realm that surpasseth all understanding.
Read 5 tweets
31 Jul
Catatonia is the accomplishment of nihilism. It’s so dramatic that I assumed it was extremely rare, but (TIL) it’s quite common in severe depression. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/P…
I’ve only encountered one person (a girlfriend, actually) with serious catatonia (“waxy flexibility”). It’s deeply uncanny the first time you see it.
But reading the diagnostic criteria, I realized that at times when I was quite depressed, I exhibited milder versions of many of these symptoms. In fact, I exhibit some of them, to some extent, even when feeling good & normal. (Some are autistic symptoms too… they’re comorbid.)
Read 4 tweets
29 Jul
Historians will see the administrative bullshitization of every aspect of life as the defining feature of our era. (“How could they have slid into accepting that almost all of almost everyone’s time was wasted on pointless, unpleasant tasks?”)
Another manifestation of “administrative externalities” as a catastrophic loss of human life:
More on the harm of “administrative externalities,” from me: metarationality.com/post-apocalypt…
Read 8 tweets
25 Jul
@St_Rev Just about to launch a long rant about this! :)
@St_Rev I was going to do a second whole rant about how the natural numbers are bad actually, contrary to “God made,” because you can multiply them, and you get division that way, and if you have division you get primes, and if you get primes you get number theory, and that is AWFUL,
@St_Rev whereas the reals are wonderful, people are scared because they encapsulate actual Lovecraftian infinities with tentacles, but you get continuity with them, so you can do calculus, and calculus is great, calculus is actually the foundation of THE WHOLE MODERN WORLD,
Read 5 tweets
25 Jul
∑ Fascinating indeed! This is how MOST research works, but I didn’t appreciate quite how true it is in math (or at least current number theory). Lots of tasty morsels in this thread; h/t @DRMacIver

🧪 Science also USED to be like this and isn’t any more: “Mathematicians’ intuition about what's true is mysteriously really good, so publishing false results is quite rare.”

🧪 A few decades ago, most published science was more-or-less true, even though there were often glaring gaps or outright mistakes in experiment. [My informal observation; I don’t have numbers on this.]

Now most published science is more-or-less false, even when done “right.”
Read 14 tweets
20 Jul
It’s so weird reading twentieth century philosophers. They were genuinely panicked about the loss of epistemological foundations. Not as an academic intellectual thing, but as “oh my god what am I personally going to do!”

It’s impossible to fully recover that feeling now.
I just barely grew up in modernity, as it was collapsing around me, and I can sort of remember feeling that panic myself in my 20s, but the shape of it is barely discernible through the fog of time.
I mean, seriously. This is from 1988, at least a decade after modernity was over. It’s practically the TVTropes definition of Wangst. Image
Read 4 tweets
20 Jul
Literature review. Nearly all the books supposedly about nihilism come out of English departments, and boy are they tediously identical.
Nihilism books that come out of the philosophy department are rare, and they are never actually about nihilism.

They are always “Philosophy: The Grimdark Reboot! Darker, Edgier, With More Death And Also Death!”

You know they’ve Jumped The Shark before you get past the title…
TVTropes reliably trounces philosophy if you want explanations of meaning. tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.…
Read 4 tweets
18 Jul
🧘⚠️ Catastrophic effects of meditation: a compelling, terrifying first-person account, with reflective analysis.

h/t @eigenhector, @paulbaumgart danlawton.substack.com/p/when-buddhis…
Meditation and science are two of the things I value most. It’s hard to know when too much “this can be extremely bad” publicity becomes counter-productive. Both can be extremely good.
It’s seems we’re close to the point where every reasonably clueful lay person understands science is in trouble. Then tweeting more of that will be counter-productive.

We’re still a long way from every reasonably clueful lay person understanding that meditation can kill you.
Read 13 tweets
25 Jun
I'm never quite cynical *enough*. The only part of the report I didn't anticipate was their putting machine learning in there. In retrospect: of course they did, how could they have passed up that opportunity?
The UFO report certainly tried to be as vague as possible, in order to allow people to continue believing what they like.

My reading was “Yeah, we haven’t got anything, but if you give us LOTS more money, it’s imaginable that we’ll find something.”

Read 4 tweets