So Much for the Turing Test … and for Consequentialism

In a few sentences, and with his characteristic penetrating trenchance, Chastek demolishes the Turing Test, and for that matter all arguments from similarity of causal effects; I post here without apology his entire argument, on account of its brevity, precision, and devastation:

One principle of (strong/sci-fi) AI seems to be that what can replicate the effects of intelligence is intelligence, e.g. the Turing test, or the present claim by some philosophers that a Chinese room would be intelligence.

So imagine you rig up a track and trolley to accelerate at 9.8 m/s2. This perfectly replicates the effects of falling, and so is artificial falling. It deserves the name too: you could strap a helmet to the front of your train and drive at a wall 10 feet away, and it will tell you what the helmet would look like if dropped from 10 feet. But for all that the helmet at the front of your train is obviously being pushed and not falling – falling is something bodies do by themselves and being pushed isn’t. The difference is relevant to AI, for just as falling is to being pushed so thinking for oneself is to being a tool, instrument or machine. Both latter are acted on by others, and have the form by which they act in a transient way and not as a principal agent.

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Modernist Elite Belief is a Reliable Contraindicator

Apart from the obviously incontrovertible stuff like sunrise, whatever the Modern Elite believe is true is almost certainly in fact false. Whatever they think is good is almost certainly in fact bad. This has been true since about a decade after the dawn of the television age.

When this realization first struck me, my first interpretation was to treat it as generational: whatever the Boomers thought was true and good back in 1972 was actually false or bad or both. But then I realized that the Boomers were right about a few things, like organic food, fitness, diversity of seed stock, and traditional buildings and neighbourhoods. And Early Music.

It wasn’t the Boomers. It was the elites, whether of the Boomer generation, or earlier generations, or later. Whatever the elites have ever advocated via the Establishment Propaganda Machine: it’s all been fake. And none of the really absurd stuff they’ve been pushing at us would have been entertained for a moment by almost anyone prior to the television. People had back then too much contact with real reality – as opposed to the artificial stuff the elites broadcast.

The toxic brew seems to consist of modernism and electronic media: crank nominalist insouciance about stubborn truth through an electronic media economy that is desperate to attract eyeballs, and you get all sorts of crazy stuff pumped out of the screens. That suffices to generate fads and fashions at odds with reality: with health, and sanity, and life.

What does it Mean that Christians and Other People of Good Will must Hack the [Political] System? We must Vote Not in Order to Support the System, but as one Defensive Tactic Among Many.

In my previous post I said our side should hack the political system, not withdraw from politics as some on our side (many of whom are Christians) counsel.

The political system is hostile to us but still capable on occasion of producing outcomes beneficial to us. And the withdrawal of people of good will from politics only makes it easier for our Opponent to torment us. We must wisely apply political force where it is likely to do us good and not be misled by foolish idealism of either the anti- or pro-politics type.

The present counsel refers primarily to voting, although obviously voting does no good unless there is a candidate who is a person of good will, and governing does no good unless done by people of good will. But the vast majority of us will not hold office. We will only vote.

To “hack” the political system, then, is to view voting not as a civic duty, but as one means among many of defending ourselves. Politics as civic duty dates from the old days, when America functioned reasonably well regardless of who occupied governmental office. In those days the election of a bad party or politician was never a catastrophe, and it made sense to vote for a questionable candidate as long as his party was, in the long run, better for America than the other party.

But now all of official America is committed to destruction. To vote with the goal of supporting the existing order is to cooperate with destruction.

Instead, we must vote with the goal of protecting ourselves. And if no candidate is likely to protect us, don’t vote. That’s the way our Opponent votes, and he has been successful so far. Continue reading

Politics is an Emotional Subject that Mesmerizes Some and causes Others to Give Up in Disgust and Miss Opportunities to Do Good by Hacking the System

This is my third post on how Christians (and other persons of good will) should view politics. The other posts are here and here.

My theme is that those who call for a boycott of politics are mistaken. The political process can still sometimes do us good but we must have discernment because our Opponent has overall control of the System. Instead of being loyal to the political system (one of the marks of a Good Citizen, according to traditional American thought), we should hack the system. Since the System is generally run so as to do us harm, but our Opponent does not control all details, and since political processes often do us either harm or good, we must wisely use the System to our advantage when possible. Withdrawing entirely from politics, as some advocate, is misguided. It is unilateral surrender.

Our Opponent has overall control, but not total control. Therefore it is still possible on occasion to love your neighbor (in the Christian sense) through politics.

But many people cannot bring themselves to vote unless they believe there is a candidates who is unambiguously a good person or a party which unambiguously does good. (Our opponents, in contrast, define a politician as unambiguously good if he endorses Wokeism, regardless of his character.) Many of our people cannot vote for a candidate who would be a much better officeholder than his opponent but who has serious flaws. Casting such a vote is commonly called “supporting the lesser of two evils,” and is generally condemned by Christians as being “worldly.” Continue reading

Diversity, Inclusion and Equity: a Quick Primer on the Latest False Religion and How to Correct it.

The latest mainstream false religion is based on a few fundamental principles. They support the entire thing.

In truth there is just one Fundamental Principle: Destruction. The current mainstream is devoted to Destruction. Consider, as just one of many examples, the wokeling’s slogan “Change the World.” Changing a thing, especially a society, destroys it. It is replaced with something different.

Bruce Charlton has said essentially the same thing, identifying the fundamental principle as Evil.

But Destruction and Evil have a bad public image. Subsidiary principles are needed for public consumption. The fundamental principles that get all the publicity right now are Equity, Inclusion and Diversity, in that logical order. Continue reading

Superstition & Subscendence: An Essay in Honor of Tom Bertonneau

Bear with me here. I hardly know where I am going with this, although I feel I have caught the spoor of something Tom would find delightful – that he would join with me joyfully in this new hunt. I’m confused because all I have is that spoor, and my spirits are in a hurry and a muddle due to his too soon death. I miss my friend of many years – of too few! I am not yet sure how to do with the world that, henceforth, shall miss him.

Tom has been a valued colleague since we first encountered each other. We corresponded often – not often enough, alas – about our hopes and worries in respect to our work, much of it coordinate here. We sometimes asked each other for editorial advice upon that work. I could rely on Tom for sound counsel. I hardly know how I shall manage without his sagacity.

But I must. I bid you all help me in that project, in which we may hope we can all together proceed for many more years to come. That would be a fitting legacy of his penetrant honest cheerful mind.

I propose that this essay be an early installment in something like a festschrift for Tom. Let us all try to limn what it was that he taught us. Perhaps we might make a book out of it. Or maybe just something on the scale of an issue of Amazing Stories, circa 1935: the sort of thing that was an important source of grist for the mill of his wits. That would please him, perhaps above all things we might do to honor him.

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Standard Politics is Still Valuable for Christians and other Non-Woke People, but Discernment is Needed lest we Waste Time and Support our Opponent

[Update 10/23/2021  I realize that my use of the phrase “standard politics” here can be misleading, and it is very important for me be to clear because otherwise the reader may think I am saying the opposite of what I am actually saying.

In my previous post on this subject I pointed out that the word “politics” can have a wider meaning: Any activity that influences the order of society. Within this wider meaning, “standard” politics refers to what the word usually means: elections, legislation, etc.

But an endorsement of “standard politics” could fairly be interpreted as an endorsement of the entire political system including the sense of granting it full legitimacy. This I do not do. The overall political system is strongly against us and Christians and other non-Woke people  must hack the system, that is, use it warily and wisely to our advantage.

Mea culpa for possibly misleading the reader.]

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This article continues my opposition to the widespread right-wing belief that politics is a waste of time. This belief contains enough truth to be plausible, but it causes our side to miss important opportunities.

The theme of my previous post was that our opponent is tearing down good culture and replacing it with bad culture, therefore some of our people need to do the work of forming good culture. And anything having to do with the formation of culture may be called “doing politics.”

In this post I continue to build my case by making a point about “standard” politics, i.e., politics in the ordinary sense of the word (voting, supporting candidates, trying to influence government officials.) Standard politics can sometimes be useful for our side, and we inflict unnecessary harm on ourselves if we always stay away from it. I do not try to specify exactly how our side can engage in standard politics; I only make the case that it is sometimes good for us. Continue reading

Why the Belief that Christians Must Not Involve Themselves in “Politics” is Wrong: The Woke are Building Anti-Christian Culture, and only Christians can Defend or Build Pro-Christian Culture

Many Christians, especially Evangelical Protestants, believe Christians should avoid “politics.” The quotes are there because the underlying concept is ill-defined. There is just a prejudice that Christians ought not to waste time on it.

The traditional Evangelical argument is this: When people become Christians they will naturally support a proper social order, so we should only do what we do best: evangelize. The presence of enough individuals having right beliefs will naturally lead to a proper social order. Politics is ruled by politicians, a slippery and deceitful lot. Better to stay entirely away from them and their craft.

This belief is mistaken. Here is why:

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The Woke are destroying traditional American culture. By “culture” I mean everything that gives order to how we live. All the customs, traditions, habits, rules, laws and so on that govern the ways that we relate to each other. “Culture” also means all the ideas and beliefs that allow us to understand the world and that indirectly give rise to our social arrangements.

In short, culture is the way we live.

The Woke are destroying our culture. They are changing it from the traditional Christian-friendly American culture to a new anti-Christian culture.

Since mankind cannot live without culture, the Woke have no choice but to establish a new culture. The only way to destroy a culture is to replace it with a new one. Our culture is being remade and will continue to be remade.

So if Christians don’t remake a Christian-friendly culture then non-Christians will remake a Christian-hostile culture. There is no third option. Continue reading

Pray for Lydia McGrew

Philosopher and Biblical scholar Lydia McGrew, our longstanding friend and dauntless shieldmate in the culture wars since the VFR days, has just revealed over at What’s Wrong With the World that since a week after her Pfizer covid vaccination in April, she has been afflicted with a devastating but mysterious – and, not yet diagnosed – malady that causes her daily intense and more or less constant pain. It has interfered with sleep, eating, work, sitting, walking: everything. It acts like inflammation of nerves, but that has not yet been ascertained. Since she began documenting her symptoms, Lydia has learned of many hundreds of other such cases. Perhaps thousands.

Before she got the shot, she was, so far as she knew, perfectly healthy.

Lydia is hanging in there, and she is one tough gal, but I have to say that this sounds pretty bad. Lydia wrote me last evening to ask for my prayers. I agreed, of course, and asked if I could post this appeal. She said yes.

Please join me, therefore, in an earnest prayer for the health of Lydia McGrew. Or several hundred of them.

If you do not know of Lydia’s terrific work for our side in the present war, it would do you good to check it out. You won’t be able to read it all. She’s far more prolific than all of us here put together, and she’s been at it for longer. But it’s all worth reading. With Lawrence Auster, Jim Kalb, Bruce Charlton, and Zippy Catholic, Lydia has from early days in my own career as an online apologist and culture warrior been an important and beneficent influence upon me, and if you read her stuff I think it will be the same for you. I’m going to tag this post as an Apologetical Weapon, because that’s what Lydia is.

May God bless and keep his faithful servant, Lydia McGrew. May he bring her into all knowledge, restore her to health, and give her peace and rest in him, if not yet, then soon, and at last, and forever. Amen, amen.

On the Intention of the Poet

Does he want to injure, or heal? Is he base, or noble? Would he transgress and so ruin his patrimony, or elaborate and so glorify it?

It is in practice pretty easy to tell, no? It is not after all so hard to parse this, or therefore to decide which side deserves your lot. Go then; decide. Which poet shall you heed?

There is in the final analysis nothing else that is in your power. Everything else, from the morning coffee to the changing of the diaper to the valor of the battlefield is a faint echo – a mighty, magnificent, immensely important echo – of this basic decision.

Is it about you, you worm? Or is it about something more? If it is about something more, then: is it about the Ultimate, or is it about something damnably less?

Let’s on with it then, brothers. Into the fray. Deus vult!