Showing posts from December, 2016

Consciousness Thought Experiments

Here are two thought experiments to make you think about consciousness. A scientist offers you $1000 to participate in an experiment. You will walk into a room, be strapped to a chair, and be given a drug that causes extreme pain. The scientist tells you the pain will be something like having your shins bashed with a baseball bat. The pain will last for 5 minutes. After that, the effects of the drug will wear off. There will be no permanent effects. Then he will give you a second drug that erases your memory of the last 6 minutes — enough to cover precisely the amount of time you spent in the chair. The second drug also has no harmful permanent effects. It just erases your recent memory. After giving you the second drug, the scientist will unstrap you from the chair and pay you $1000. From the perspective of your future self, it will be as if you just walked into the room, sat down in a chair, and then got out of the chair and were paid $1000. Your future self will not have any memor

Pathological Altruism

The immigration and multiculturalism policies of Western societies are often described as “pathological altruism”. The implication of the phrase is that you can have too much of a good thing: that altruism is generally good, but it becomes pathological when it goes too far. Exactly when altruism becomes pathological is not specified, but the current policies are going too far. I reject this view. Altruism is always pathological. People are not altruistic at all, so individual altruism cannot explain these policies. The challenge is not to explain why people are too altruistic. The challenge is to explain how selfish individual behavior causes altruistic collective behavior. Pathological altruism is a type of collective irrationality. It is the result of a social delusion and a tragedy of the commons. Social delusions are caused by social feedback. To some extent, people select their beliefs to agree with the beliefs of others. This causes people to synchronize their views.