Recently a beautiful exchange took place over at Scott Aaronson’s blog. The conversation between Scott, Moldbug, Jim and others has the length of a small book, so allow me to summarise below.
I am no reader of Scott’s blog and I do not know him too well. A glance at his wiki/infogalactic gives us some information. Scott is a theoretical computer scientist and judging from his blog post quality, a highly intelligent one. Lets say he has at least 20 IQ points on me, probably more.
So Scott is smart. Yet Scott got blown out of the water by Jim and Moldbug. What happened?
Aaronson wrote a post on Trump’s travel ban. Aaronson rightly considers himself part of the vanguard of enlightenment-based scientists, which means that he instinctively and quite predictably compares Trump’s America to Hitler’s Germany. Eloquently he defends his Iranian phd student and throws himself in the path of the bullet: if Trump is deporting anyone, let it be me! Who with a heart could oppose such bravery?
Well, Moldbug of course, who comments: “all Trump is doing is reiterating that we don’t live in the world of John Lennon’s _Imagine_.” Turns out we don’t live in a fairy tale world, there are bad guys in the world and a willingness to defend your nation state from them is quite sensible. Moldbug goes on to say that there seems to be a mismatch between Aaronson’s scientific view and worldview: “you seem to feel your John Lennon worldview is a sort of natural corollary of the scientific work you do. I’m pretty sure it isn’t. [..] It has nothing to do with science.”
In other words, Aaronson thinks his scientific mind informs his political mind, while in actuality his political mind informs his scientific mind. The cathedral of course encourages this mindset until it decides that Aaronson’s science is insufficiently progressive. Moldbug keeps his banter friendly in this regard, but Jim pulls no punches: “You [Scott Aaronson] are in a bubble, and outside the bubble there is a whole raft of indicators, for example the collapse of the family, that the ratchet of human progress is having bad consequences that will shortly lead to far worse consequences.” Jim like Moldbug points out that politics trumps science and that Scott’s political affiliation with leftists is a deal with the devil. It is not Trump Scott should fear, it is liberals he should fear. Jim continues: “we are afraid of liberals because we reasonably believe they are going to kill us all, starting with each other – just as the Khmer Rouge mostly killed Khmer Rouge, “all” includes you. […] There is ample and overwhelming evidence for our belief, in the physical attacks that are happening daily. It is Trump supporters that are in the position of Jews in early Nazi Germany, not Trump opponents. If we plan to give progressives helicopter rides to the pacific ocean, it is because we see an urgent need to defend ourselves.”
Naturally this is too much for Aaronson, who proceeds to ban Jim for helicopter ride talk and berates Moldbug and Jim for being cynical snobs. “These are people”, Aaronson says, “who so thoroughly reject the idea of human betterment that they’re eager to make their own lives miserable, just as long as the lives of the know-it-all intellectual snobs become miserable even faster.”
But the point has been made and the damage has been done, praise be upon the internet! Contentwise, Scott Aaronson has been equally if not more pwned than the once great Richard Dawkins. Turns out CRIMESTOP often overrides sensible thinking, as Scott’s CRIMESTOP filter stopped him from sensibly thinking through the issues.
Moldbug ends the discussion friendly as always: come over to the dark side, Scott Aaronson, we have cookies and a library! Personally I think Scott is too wrapped up in his own complex lies to ever taste the delicious dark side chocolate cookies. High IQ is of little help if you refuse to see what is in front of your eyes.