I’ve had it with those dark rumours about our culture rigorously suppressing opinions

You folks prob­a­bly know how some posters around here, speci­fi­cally Vladimir_M, of­ten make state­ments to the effect of:

“There’s an opinion on such-and-such topic that’s so against the meme­plex of Western cul­ture, we can’t even dis­cuss it in open-minded, pseudony­mous fo­rums like Less Wrong as so­ciety would in­stantly slam the lid on it with ei­ther moral panic or ridicule and give the speaker a black mark.

Mean­while the thought pat­terns in­stil­led in us by our up­bring­ing would lead us to quickly lose all in­ter­est in the cen­sored opinion”

Go­ing by their defi­ni­tion, us bliss­fully ig­no­rant masses can’t even know what ex­actly those opinions might be, as they would look like ba­sic hu­man de­cency, the un­der­pin­nings of our ethics or some other such sa­cred cow to us. I might have a few guesses, though, all of them as hor­rible and sick­en­ing as my imag­i­na­tion could pro­duce with­out over­shoot­ing and land­ing in the realm of comic-book evil:

- Dic­ta­to­rial rule in­volv­ing ac­tive ter­ror and bru­tal sup­pres­sion of de­viants hav­ing great util­ity for a so­ciety in the long term, by pro­vid­ing se­cu­rity against some great risk or what­ever.

- A need for ev­ery so­ciety to “cull the weak” ev­ery once in a while, e.g. ex­ter­mi­nat­ing the ~0.5% of its mem­bers that rank as weak­est against some scale.

- Strict hi­er­ar­chy in ev­ery­day life based on facts from the an­sec­tral en­vi­ron­ment (men dom­i­nat­ing women, fathers hav­ing the right of life and death over their chil­dren, etc) - Men­cius ar­gued in fa­vor of such ruth­less prac­tices, e.g. sel­l­ing chil­dren into slav­ery, in his post on “Prono­mi­anism” and “Antino­mi­anism”, stat­ing that all con­tracts be­tween hu­mans should rather be strict than moral or fair, to make the sys­tem sta­ble and pre­dictable; he’s quite ob­sessed with sta­bil­ity and con­for­mity.

- Some pub­lic good be­ing cre­ated when the higher classes wilfully op­press and hu­mil­i­ate the lower ones in a cer­e­mo­nial manner

- The blood­shed and lawless­ness of pe­ri­odic large-scale war as a vi­tal “pres­sure valve” for re­leas­ing pent-up un­ac­cept­able emo­tional states and in­stinc­tive drives

- Plain ol’ un­fair dis­crim­i­na­tion of some group in many cruel, life-ru­in­ing ways, like­wise as a pres­sure valve

+: some Lud­dite crap about drop­ping to a near-sub­sis­tence level in ev­ery as­pect of civ­i­liza­tion and mak­ing life a daily strug­gle for survival

Of course my method­ol­ogy for com­ing up with such guesses was flawed and prim­i­tive: I sim­ply imag­ined some of the things that sound the ugliest to me yet have been prac­ticed by un­pleas­ant cul­tures be­fore in some form. Now, of course, most of us take the ab­sense of these to be ut­terly cru­cial to our ter­mi­nal val­ues. Nev­er­the­less, I hope I have demon­strated to who­ever might re­ally have some­thing along these lines (if not nec­es­sar­ily that shock­ing) on their minds that I’m open to meta-dis­cus­sion, and very in­ter­ested how we might en­gage each other on find­ing safe yet pro­duc­tive av­enues of con­tact.

Let’s do the im­pos­si­ble and think the un­think­able! I must know what those se­crets are, no mat­ter how much sleep and com­fort I might lose.

P.S. Yeah, Will, I re­al­ize that I’m act­ing roughly in ac­cor­dance with that one trick you men­tioned way back.

P.P.S. Sup Bakkot. U mad? U jelly?


Fuck this Earth, and fuck hu­man biol­ogy. I’m not very dis­tressed about any­thing I saw ITT, but there’s still a lot of un­pleas­ant po­ten­tial things that can only be re­solved in one way:

I hereby pledge to get a real god­damn plas­tic card, not this Visa Elec­tron bul­lshit the uni­ver­sity sad­dled us with, and donate at least $100 to SIAI un­til the end of the year. This ac­tion will re­duce the prob­a­bil­ity of me and mine hav­ing to live with the con­se­quences of most such hid­den hor­rors. Dixi.

Some­times it’s so pleas­ant to be im­pul­sive.

Amus­ing ob­ser­va­tion: even when the com­ments more or less match my wild sug­ges­tions above, I’m still un­nerved by them. An awful idea feels harm­less if you keep tel­ling your­self that it’s just a pri­vate delu­sion, but the mo­ment you know that some­one else shares it, mat­ters be­gin to look much more grave.