Sunday, May 14, 2017

Are you a Benvillian or a Marpian?

Imagine 5,000 years ago when the whole world was just a bunch of tribes.
Some tribes interacted with other tribes, and some tribes didn’t try to work with other tribes. The tribes that worked together did better and made more progress than compared to the tribes that didn’t work together.
Some tribes did worse than that. They considered all other tribes as enemies. They didn’t just not want to work with other tribes. They wanted to work against them.

Imagine a tribe of this first kind called Benville. Benville’s traditions are as follows:
  • it’s good to work together because that creates wealth. this applies to Benvillians dealing with each other, and it also applies to Benvillians dealing with people from other tribes.
  • it’s bad to work against each other because that destroys wealth. this applies to Benvillians dealing with each other, and also to Benvillians dealing with people from other tribes.
  • it’s a crime to use force to stop people from working together
  • it’s good to have critical discussions about anything and everything, including Benville’s traditions. this is why Benvillian traditions improve over time — because the flaws in the traditions get fixed with critical discussion.
  • it’s good to accept people from other tribes as Benvillians. You don’t need to be born a Benvillian in order to be a Benvillian. You just adopt the major traditions stated above and bam you’re a Benvillian.

Imagine another tribe called Marp that has the following traditions:
  • it’s a crime to tell the truth about Marp, if telling the truth would lead to Marp's reputation getting worse. Marpians don’t want a reduced reputation because they fear losing people to other tribes. The punishment for this crime is 50 beatings.
  • it’s a crime to criticize Marpian traditions. The punishment for this crime is death. Marpians don’t want the risk of some Marpians running around disobeying Marpian traditions. That would be bad for Marp in lots of ways including lowering it’s reputation.
  • it’s a crime to leave Marp to become part of another tribe. The punishment for this crime is death. Marpians don’t want outsiders to know their secrets. So if you leave, Marpians will kill you so that the other tribes don’t learn their secrets.

Imagine a Benvillian named Paul and a Marpian named Manny meeting each other in a forest with no one else around. They talk to each other about their tribes for weeks and weeks. Manny likes the Benvillian traditions and decides that it’s better for him to live in Benville than to go back to Marp. So he resettles in Benville.
Later a Marpian finds out that Manny left Marp, went to Benville, adopted Benvillian traditions, and renounced Marpian traditions. In Marpian tradition, this means Manny committed the crime of leaving Marp for another tribe. So now Manny has a bounty on his head. According to Marpian tradition, Manny must be killed so that Manny doesn’t tell Marp’s secrets to Benville and other tribes.

Now imagine a Benvillian named Amy who decides that she will reject Benvillian traditions and accept Marpian traditions instead. What does the Benville leader do? Nothing. Benvillian tradition doesn’t consider this a crime. Benville doesn’t mind losing people to other tribes if those people don’t want to live as Benvillians.
So if you leave the Benville tribe, like if you say “I’m no longer a Benvillian,” nothing happens to you. But if you leave the Marp tribe, you are supposed to be killed.
If you criticize Benvillian traditions, nothing bad happens and instead what happens is that Benvillian traditions improve as the flaws in them get fixed. But if you criticize Marpian traditions, bad things happen, you get killed. And this prevents flaws in their traditions from getting fixed. 
So Benvillian traditions evolve over time, getting better and better and better without limit. And Marpian traditions don’t get better over time. Actually they get worse. Marpians don’t like losing people to other tribes. So what happens is that future Marp leaders invent new ways to force Marpians to stay Marpians.

Now fast forward a few thousands years. Benville has made tons and tons and tons of progress. Marp has made little to no progress. And Marpian traditions have changed to be way more controlling than compared to thousands of years ago.
Here are examples of new Benvillian traditions:
  • new ideas about how to find the truth 
  • new ideas about how to live good
  • new ideas about how to operate a government in ways that are consistent with major Benvillian traditions.

Here are examples of new Marpian traditions:
  • new ideas about how to pressure people to avoid thinking critically about Marpian traditions. For example, a Marpian leader invented an idea that if you think critically about Marpian tradition, then you will burn in a fire for eternity while your flesh keeps getting remade so that you can keep getting burned.
  • new ideas about how to get non-Marpians to adopt Marpian tradition. For example, a Marpian leader invented the idea of using Benvillian communication technology to spread Marpian traditions layered with lies in order to make it more likely for people of other tribes to be tricked and adopt Marpian traditions.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Saving ideas

People often try to save ideas.

Like when a person has an idea that he’s not fully satisfied with, thinks is wrong, has some benefits but some flaws too.

For example, say you’re married with kids and the idea you’re trying to save is to stay married. You see pros with staying married but you also see some cons with it.

Trying to save an idea that you see pros and cons with is ok as long as you’re using good methods. Using bad methods is what makes things go badly and causes suffering.

Here’s a bad way to try to save an idea.

Convince yourself that the pros of the idea outweigh the cons. This is no good. It means sticking with what you already know to be wrong. It means settling. Sacrificing yourself. Notice that this isn’t about creating new options that could work to meet your standards. Instead it’s about trying to fool yourself into picking an existing option that you already know to be a bad one.

Using the married with kids example from above, it could be that the person cares about staying married because he thinks it’s best for his children. So he thinks that a pro of staying married is that his children get to have a better life than compared to what it would be if they divorced. This actually doesn’t work. He’d be a bad role model for his kids, teaching them that life is about sacrifice for the “benefit” of others.

Here’s a good way to try to save an idea.

Try to create a new idea from the flawed one with some changes. Focus the changes on parts that are flawed. Aim for creating an idea that isn’t already criticized by criticisms you already know of.

Still using the married with kids example from above, the person could try to save the pro from the old idea (good life for his children) while changing some other parts. For example, instead of staying married, they could get divorced while trying to continuously improve their parenting relations so that they are better parents to their children. In this way, the parents have decreased their interactions, limiting them to just things about the kids. So they would have removed a huge source of fights while also shifting their time and effort into helping their kids.