So there is a long-standing inclination on the left to morally condemn Israel for its treatment of Palestinians. In response many jews allege this reflects anti-semetic prejudice which in turn is criticized by more moderate elements who argue that criticism of Israel should be seen as legitimate, e.g., this piece. …


As a former google employee I was deeply saddened, but unsurprised, to learn that Google had released new rules discouraging political debates within the company. I always felt this was one of the things which made the company great and helped make the world better. This action represents a key step undermining an important that helped keep the company from being evil. However, the blame doesn’t lie with executives or most google employees but with the broader political climate and a small number of extremists.

The fundamental problem Google faced (as our country does) is that productive dialog of this…


I don’t know what I think of Boghossian’s hoax. I’m fully convinced the criticisms of these subjects as fundamentally lacking any truth-relevant standards is completely valid. However, I haven’t actually read the papers in question and some of the rebuttals have claimed that the papers made observational claims and peer review isn’t meant to challenge those kind of claims (but is meant to reject nonsense). However, how you feel about the underlying hoax doesn’t really matter here. There is no question that the hoax was undertaken as a rhetorical tactic to demonstrate the intellectual weakness of a particular academic inquiry…


So I was initially aghast at the opinion granting the government a stay in Trump v. Sierra (the emergency funding for the wall case). How could the court have done something so obviously wrong. But then I went and read the briefs and came out with a different view. What’s interesting is that I think all the arguments denying standing here provide support the view that the House does have standing at the Judge McFadden’s decision to the contrary was incorrect and should be overturned on appeal.

First, the court’s stay wasn’t based on whether or not the expenditure was…


With the recent flurry of posts in the rationalist community about which decision theory ( e.g. CDT, EDT, UDT etc..) it’s time to revisit the theme of this blog: rejecting rationality realism. In this case that means pointing out that there isn’t actually a well-defined fact of the matter about which decision theory is better. Of course, nothing stops us from arguing with each other about the best decision theory but those disagreements are more like debates about what’s the best programming language than disagreements about the chemical structure of Benzene.

Any attempt to compare decision theories must first address…


We are at the point, or very near it, that our technology could virtually eliminate unsolved violent crime. For instance, suppose we all constantly captured audio with all our smart devices and uploaded it to the cloud. Our devices could update the uploaded buffer when we log into our devices later and fail to report an emergency1. Unlike biological memory this could be reliably used in court and captured even by murder victims.

Why don’t we use this kind of tech to take a bite out of crime? Well, for the moment it still might strain our bandwidth and storage…


Even after reading the counterarguments it seems clear that part of the mathematical community suppressed a mathematical [article] (https://arxiv.org/pdf/1703.04184.pdf) because it was ideologically inconvenient. As detailed in the quillette piece a paper accepted for publication (and actually published online) at the Mathematical Intelligencer was yanked from publication because some mathematicians felt it’s mathematical modeling of the greater male variability hypothesis might be discouraging to prospective female mathematicians and/or be picked up by conservative media.

Obviously (if the account is close to accurate) this is a horrific violation of academic norms. If there is anything that academic freedom means it’s that…


So I think that a right to have an abortion isn’t just a good idea but a vital component of maintaining a modern, egalitarian and free society. It’s important enough to our way of life and makes so much difference in outcomes that it should be enshrined in our constitution with other fundamental principles like free speech or freedom of religion.

Problem is that it wasn’t. Certainly not explicitly. Since I believe that it’s an appropriate function of the US supreme court to expound new legal theories, rights and remedies (as part of the great tradition of common law as…


This nytimes article made salient a certain harmful dynamic that often occurs in liberal circles.

There is some class of behavior like domestic abuse or sexual assault which has a relatively clear cut and highly salient definition, e.g., domestic abuse (unmodified) is physical violence by an intimate partner or family member and sexual assault is sexual touching despite a clear lack of consent.

Then people (correctly!!) observe that some related behavior which doesn’t quite fall under the existing definition can be just as bad and harmful and start using the existing word to describe that behavior. For instance, in the…


Listening to the Last Week Tonight on Gene Editing (it’s pretty good) and seeing this debate about paying organ donors I’m compelled to call out the practice of simply asserting that something is ethically fraught or troublesome.

Both with respect to not compensating organ donors (something which could save huge numbers of lives) and with (mostly prospective) limits on eliminating genetic disease or even barring improvement I think we let people who are simply uncomfortable with change off the hook by constantly repeating the supposed truism that the issue is ethically fraught or there are serious ethical concerns. …

Peter Gerdes

Mathematical Logician, Rationalist Analytic Philosopher, Internet Curmudgeon. Visit my blog: http://rejectingrationality.org or my homepage http://invariant.org

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