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Tags censorship , free speech

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Old 12th April 2019, 08:02 AM   #361
Roboramma
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Sure, those are both good points: we are biased toward the morality of our culture, and there are examples of negative progress.
Nevertheless I would say places like Iran are exceptions to the general trend, and while we may be biased, equality really is a good thing.

Steven Pinker documents some of this progress in considerable detail in his book Enlightenment Now.
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Old 12th April 2019, 08:12 AM   #362
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Originally Posted by Cavemonster View Post
I don't want to say there are no such trends, but there is significant bias that lends to their appearance.

I remember as a kid growing up in the 80s looking back to the ridiculous fashions of the 60s and 70s and thinking "People eventually see dumb fads for what they are, thank god we wear reasonable clothes now". Most adults grow out of that and come to the realization that all fashion is arbitrary, but we preserve a similar sort of blinders for issues around morality.

If you live in the present, as we all do, then statistically, you're likely to agree with popular ideas of the time and disagree with ideas of the past which are different. Since ideas change in increments, this will always look like progress.

And even if the arc of time does bend towards truth and goodness, there are certainly sidesteps and backslides. How dire do that have to be that we can't shrug our shoulders and say "we're basically headed in the right direction" 50 years ago, Iran was a lot closer to the western world in terms of gender equality and freedom of expression. Now young women can get pulled into a van and beaten for wearing lipstick. And it doesn't look like that's changing soon. So that's a backslide that's lasted a lifetime and doesn't seem to be going away. I'm not saying that censorship specifically would have avoided the supremacy of those bad ideas, but it's at least an example of bad ideas bending against the supposed forward march towards truth and justice in a way that has lasted half a century and will continue.
Bad ideas persist in Iran because both government and people believe in shutting down debate and only allowing the correct ideas that are viewed as non harmful to society.

In other words, they are methodological kin to the pro censorship brigade here.
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Old 12th April 2019, 08:43 AM   #363
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Originally Posted by Giz View Post
Bad ideas persist in Iran because both government and people believe in shutting down debate and only allowing the correct ideas that are viewed as non harmful to society.

In other words, they are methodological kin to the pro censorship brigade here.
Broad similarities only mean so much. Authoritarian governments often seize power using guns. So did the Americans in the revolutionary war. But they're not morally equivalent.

The pro censorship brigade here is also in line with the majority of developed nations.
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Old 12th April 2019, 08:49 AM   #364
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Originally Posted by Roboramma View Post
Sure, those are both good points: we are biased toward the morality of our culture, and there are examples of negative progress.
Nevertheless I would say places like Iran are exceptions to the general trend, and while we may be biased, equality really is a good thing.

Steven Pinker documents some of this progress in considerable detail in his book Enlightenment Now.
I think "equality" can be a slippery word, like "freedom" most governments, philosophies and movements that have ever existed would tell you they're in favor of some ideal that is generally a good thing. The problem is how they happen to define those ideals and which other ideals may be sacrificed along the way.

Harrison Bergeron might be an example of how equality may not always be a good thing by all uses of the word. General critics of Marxist inspired governments could add to that critique.

And the danger of the philosophy " History bends toward the right and the good, so we don't need any special tools to fight dangerous ideas" is that history hasn't done so as a force of nature. Those arcs towards justice are written in blood. We only bend towards the good and the true with great labor and sacrifice. So discounting particular tools in that struggle starts to look like a non sequitur.
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Old 12th April 2019, 08:58 AM   #365
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Originally Posted by Cavemonster View Post
I think "equality" can be a slippery word, like "freedom" most governments, philosophies and movements that have ever existed would tell you they're in favor of some ideal that is generally a good thing. The problem is how they happen to define those ideals and which other ideals may be sacrificed along the way.
I thought it was pretty clear that I was referring to the criticism that we may be biased toward the values of our society. While that may be true the advances made during the civil rights era really were good. I donít think you are disagreeing with that, so the above seems like a non-sequitur.

Quote:
And the danger of the philosophy " History bends toward the right and the good, so we don't need any special tools to fight dangerous ideas" is that history hasn't done so as a force of nature. Those arcs towards justice are written in blood. We only bend towards the good and the true with great labor and sacrifice. So discounting particular tools in that struggle starts to look like a non sequitur.
I certainly agree that we need special tools to fight dangerous ideas. Free speech is one of those tools, and one that has a demonstrable history of success. I agree that itís not the exclusive tool, however. Having a society with robust institutions and rule of law to prevent speech being met with violence, for instance, is an important contributor.
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Old 12th April 2019, 09:00 AM   #366
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Originally Posted by Cavemonster View Post
We only bend towards the good and the true with great labor and sacrifice. So discounting particular tools in that struggle starts to look like a non sequitur.
I disagree.

we bend towards the good and true when it is less effort not to; when there is little risk to help and a lot of potential reward in doing so.
Luckily, there is a ratcheting-up effect, when people expect to treat and be treated in a certain way.
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Old 12th April 2019, 10:55 AM   #367
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Originally Posted by Archie Gemmill Goal View Post
And yet all of the evidence points to this simply being wrong. Had you been raised in an environment where Jews were othered, dehumanised, villified and blamed for everything wrong in society then yes, you very much could be.

I notice this a lot with people, they severely overestimate their own abilities to not be influenced by their environment and the messages they receive on a daily basis and then wrongly assume that others should be able to do it too.
Totally agree, as horrifying as it is to consider but most of us in certain circumstances and certain environments are likely to act in an evil way.
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Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either -- but right through every human heart -- and through all human hearts. This line shifts. Inside us, it oscillates with the years. And even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained. And even in the best of all hearts, there remains ... an unuprooted small corner of evil.........
― Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago 1918Ė1956
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Old 12th April 2019, 11:08 AM   #368
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Originally Posted by Giz View Post
You are conflating the struggle against two linked but distinct things:
- german tanks rolling over Europe
- nazism as a philosophy
It definitely took a war to stop the enemy tanks.
The two things you mention are not separate they are part and parcel of Nazism. It took a world war with millions dying and millions more suffering to stop Nazism.
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Old 12th April 2019, 11:49 AM   #369
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Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
I disagree.

we bend towards the good and true when it is less effort not to; when there is little risk to help and a lot of potential reward in doing so.
Luckily, there is a ratcheting-up effect, when people expect to treat and be treated in a certain way.

There are millions of people who have died to bring us the freedoms we currently enjoy, and hundreds of thousands more currently dying to try and achieve some of those freedoms in nations around the world, who would strongly disagree with you.

Throughout history, those who stood up for freedom were in the minority, and they were met with violent repression. You need look no farther than the Civil Rights movement in the US to see that; but you can look to places like Myanmar, Turkey, and so on right now.

As for a "racheting up effort", that can ratchet down just as quickly, if not moreso. Again, Myanmar, Turkey, Russia, much of Africa and Central America, all of those show just how easily hard-won freedoms can be lost the moment a "strong man" appealing to popular prejudice and promising easy answers to complex questions asserts power.

Look at how quickly and easily civil rights were curtailed by the Nazis when they took power, and how little the German public resisted, buying to the scapegoating and simplistic ideology because it was more appealing than being responsible for their own circumstances.
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Old 13th April 2019, 08:07 AM   #370
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Originally Posted by Roboramma View Post
Are you arguing that the trend (say over the last century) has not been toward a more accurate view of the world?
I am arguing that it has been in some areas and not necessarily in others and that you cannot simply assume that facts will always beat bad ideas. Nor that historical trends will necessarily continue.

What I am arguing is that rather than good beating evil or right beating wrong what is closer to the truth is that actually it is those with resources and power who beat those with less of it. In some cases, perhaps even in MOST cases, it has been beneficial that there has been a coincidence of 'right' and what has been useful for those with resources and power. But that may not always be the case.

Bad ideas persist in the light of evidence against them when those who would propagate those ideas have resources sufficient to maintain them. Hence Mormonism, Catholicism and other religions continue to exist. Hence nowadays there is still 'debate' over Global Warming. Hence Brexit. Hence Trump. Hence Nazis, Fascists and all other kinds of idiocy.
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Old 13th April 2019, 08:11 AM   #371
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Originally Posted by Giz View Post
Bad ideas persist in Iran because both government and people believe in shutting down debate and only allowing the correct ideas that are viewed as non harmful to society.
No they persist because those with the bad ideas have the resources and power right now. And they also persist because they were allowed to propagate in a freer society prior to now.
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Old 13th April 2019, 08:21 AM   #372
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Originally Posted by Archie Gemmill Goal View Post
I am arguing that it has been in some areas and not necessarily in others and that you cannot simply assume that facts will always beat bad ideas. Nor that historical trends will necessarily continue.
I certainly agree with that. Yet there is a reason that those trends have at least so far had the direction that they did.

Quote:
What I am arguing is that rather than good beating evil or right beating wrong what is closer to the truth is that actually it is those with resources and power who beat those with less of it. In some cases, perhaps even in MOST cases, it has been beneficial that there has been a coincidence of 'right' and what has been useful for those with resources and power. But that may not always be the case.
itís not a coincidence that true ideas have an advantage over false ones. That doesnít mean that they will always win, because other factors are important, as you point out.

Quote:
Bad ideas persist in the light of evidence against them when those who would propagate those ideas have resources sufficient to maintain them. Hence Mormonism, Catholicism and other religions continue to exist. Hence nowadays there is still 'debate' over Global Warming. Hence Brexit. Hence Trump. Hence Nazis, Fascists and all other kinds of idiocy.
Except for the most recent of those (Trump and Brexit) each of those has softened over time because the sharp corners of its falsehood have been eroded by the obviousness contradiction with reality. This process certainly isnít perfect, but it does exist.
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