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Comment Re:Oh wow. (Score 1) 642

I suppose if you insist on viewing the proposition as one of logical implication, then yes, it would be a fallacy, because the arguement would effectively become "any time anyone does a bad thing, it means they're going to do a badder thing next" and I doubt that accords with most people's experience of the world.

Yes, I do insist on viewing the slippery slope fallacy by its defining characteristics. Like I said, a slippery slope is not just a sequence of negative events. There has to be a(n alleged) chain of implication. Here's an example of an argument that is not a slippery slope argument:

"My father's X-ray showed a lump on the prostate. Then, he'll find it painful to urinate. Then, he'll die."

This is not a slippery slope argument, because the statements do not follow on from each other (e.g. the pain signals from urination will not cause him to die). Instead, these follow from a single cause: that he has prostate cancer. Here's an example of a slippery slope argument:

"My father's X-ray showed a lump on the prostate. Then, he has cancer. Then, the cancer will spread to his brain or lungs. Then, this will cause him to die."

It seems reasonable, but due to the slippery nature of probabilities, it's a lot less solid than the sum of its parts.

In the case of the Pastor's lament, we have a master causes, like the cancer in the first argument, e.g. the Treaty of Versailles. Everything the Pastor said happened because of Germany's wounded pride, not because Germany hated the communists. So, in fact, the "archetypal" slippery slope, is not typically considered as a slippery slope.

That said, I genuinely believe you're the only person using the term in that way.

I did a critical thinking course at university, and this is exactly how it was presented to me. It's also exactly how I had perceived it previously. I can also back it up with Wikipedia:

The argument takes on one of various semantical forms:

        * In the classical form, the arguer suggests that making a move in a particular direction starts something on a path down a "slippery slope". Having started down the metaphorical slope, it will continue to slide in the same direction (the arguer usually sees the direction as a negative direction, hence the "sliding downwards" metaphor).
        * Modern usage includes a logically valid form, in which a minor action causes a significant impact through a long chain of logical relationships. Note that establishing this chain of logical implication (or quantifying the relevant probabilities) makes this form logically valid. The slippery slope argument remains a fallacy if such a chain is not established.
        * Some claims lie in between the two. For example: "If we accept censorship on most disgusting material, the politicians may easily widen the area under censorship. This has happened often before too, with far-reaching consequences. Therefore, we should completely avoid the slippery slope of censorship." This claim is not a fallacy: some people think that there is enough evidence for the claim to be probably true, some not.

In all of these forms, notice that the "slope", or the chain of implication is always present.

But unless I didn't read far enough back up the thread, I don't think anyone is saying expanded censorship follows as a logical necessity of restricting Internet porn.

Perhaps, but really it's the argument I am attacking. People seem to find it very convincing, but I can't find any solid reason why it should be. I mean, the OP claimed that this story was a great example of a slippery slope related to censorship, but I see no reason to suggest that it was early censorship that caused this to happen, instead of common anti-pornography attitudes by people in the UK. That is, I doubt this is even a slippery slope.

It was an archetypal slippery slope. Start by disregarding the civil rights of one small and unpopular minority, and when you get away with that one, move on to larger and less unpopular one. Repeat until political aims are met.

That's more of a "boiling the frog" kind of argument. It is distinct from a slippery slope, because it requires something to be turning up the heat, whereas, in a slippery slope, the heat keeps rising unstoppably by itself.

In order to invoke that kind of argument in a sound way, you need to show that there is something turning up the heat. In this particular case, with the UK wanting to block internet pornography, we have, presumably, a puritan electorate. I would not expect them to push much further than blocking pornography, especially to the chilling extents that some people seem to believe it will be pushed to, given the chance.

I'm not saying that this isn't bad, that pornography should be banned, that people wouldn't miss it, or anything like that. I'm more demonstrating that these arguments against them should be taken with a grain of salt. If we were to, purely hypothetically, allow pornography to be blocked by default, I highly doubt it would intrude onto political speech, without some added unforeseen external factors. Pornography being opt in and the possibility of limited expansion of censorship is enough for me to oppose such a move wholeheartedly, without having to resort to hyperbole.

On the other hand you can't say "don't bother opposing Proposition X because people will oppose Proposition X and it all balances out". Because, of course, if everyone does as you suggest, then there will be no resistance to Proposition X and the measure will pass unopposed.

Of course. Like I said, it's about attacking arguments, not the cause. By all means, you can speak out. Just don't expect to convince me by painting as bleak picture as you can conceive of. I don't actually think the UK will actually block porn by default, so this is more of an exercise in critically evaluating arguments.

Comment Re:Oh wow. (Score 1) 642

Now you can argue that a slippery slope is not intended here. You might even be right, But based on experience, if the measure succeeds, there will be a lot of pressure to expand the scope the censorship.

The slippery slope argument that you're retroactively applying here begins with "coming for the communists", and as per the slippery slope formula, each step likely implies the next step, so eventually we conclude that "coming for the communists" implies "coming for me". That's the slippery slope formula. I would like to stress this point, in case it gets misconstrued as "bad shit happening all in a row for whatever reason".

So, the question is, can we legitimately argue that coming for communists likely implies that we will then come for trade unionists? Or that that would subsequently imply they would come for the Jews? I know of many people who hate trade unions, but have absolutely no problem with the Jews. In fact, far more than people than I know who have a problem with Jews! This tells me that the probability that a randomly chosen group will persecute the Jews, given that they persecute the trade unions, is probably relatively low. So, the fact that the Nazis persecuted both means that either it was a genuine coincidence, or far more likely, there were other factors at play here, namely they hated both for separate reasons. Either way, this is not a typical slippery slope involved here. You genuinely need more information to draw the conclusion from the hypotheses, and in this case, there really was more information. We can't expect this implicitly in general.

You say that there is pressure to expand the scope of censorship. That is sometimes true, but always there is pressure to reduce it, or at least not to increase it (especially since the fall of Nazism), so we usually end up with very little censorship. See, the way I see it, is that there are two major groups here: people who want no censorship, or extremely little censorship, and those who want a bit of limited censorship, for the sake of their children, or to not feel persecuted, etc, etc. Those in the latter category tend to push for more censorship, since most democracies have so little, but this does not imply that they will support censorship until it becomes extreme. They want to expand the scope of censorship, but only by a small amount.

Comment Re:Oh wow. (Score 1) 642

I didn't say otherwise. A fallacy does not imply that the conclusions are false, it just means that more information is needed, beyond the stated premises, to necessarily come to the conclusion. The premises and the conclusion may well be right, but at the same time, in other similar situations, the premises could be true, but the conclusions false.

In a formal fallacy, it's true that the conclusion could be correct most of the time (or even all of the time, for certain fallacies). However, this is not what we're referring to. It's an informal fallacy, meaning that the conclusion, given the premises are true, has a relatively low chance of being true.

The slippery slope argument has such a low chance of being true. In fact, it's quite low; there's been few situations where extreme censorship has been achieved. It shows, starkly, how fallacious the slippery slope argument truly is.

Comment Re:Oh wow. (Score 1) 642

Is there a better example of the slippery slope associated with any censorship?

Probably not. There aren't a lot of examples of a "successful" slippery slope because it is a fallacy; even given the premises of the argument are true, the conclusion is still unlikely. Even with this case, I would think that there are some fundamental attitude differences in the UK that make this kind of thing possible, not merely that the UK public slipped up once, let a little bit of censorship in, and have regretted it ever since.

Comment Re:Wikileaks isn't a leaks aleaks site anymore (Score 1) 919

No, you were defending his arguments. On Slashdot. Spazmonkey and I weren't on a street corner having it out with baseball bats. There was no opportunity for you to defend him.

Sorry; that is what I meant. I was defending his arguments. Now there is absolutely no confusion as to what I was doing. I'm still not sure what your point is.

Your arguments were not validated by facts

Actually, that's patently false. The only facts I was using in my argument are here for everyone to see: spazmonkey's argument and your response. Everything I said was supported completely by these facts.

You are attempting to change the topic of the discussion, making your ego the center piece of it.

Oh this is rich. It was, in fact, you who began insulting me. You changed the subject to me. If you noticed, I have been doing nothing but defend against such unsubstantiated bullshit, comment on your obvious mental and social deficiencies, and defend the argument of spazmonkey.

And, on the topic of dishonestly changing the topic of discussion, it was in fact you who was trying to change my argument into the one you wanted it to be. The blindness to blatant and repeated hypocrisy is yet another characterising attribute of certain idiots.

Again, its not about your ego...
[Digging yourself deeper]
...your kinky fantasies about babysitting others are best left private, in my humble opinion.

Nice. I like the punchline.

All of which you cunningly failed to present. Repeatedly.

Actually, I did. I quoted you in a passage where you clearly had failed to read/comprehend my argument. My argument is one of the most fundamental and important facts that needs to be considered before countering it. If you can't succeed at that, then there's really very little hope for you.

Ok. Now, there you got me. Since all one can see on a discussion board is what is written, I have rarely the unparalleled privilege of sparring on Slashdot with adversaries who insist on ensuring that no relationship whatsoever exists between what they write and what they assert! Whatever it says about you, this somewhat unorthodox strategy sure makes for a difficult task to address your assertions, I give you that!

Everything that I assert is written for anyone to see, and anyone with intelligence to understand. Everything. I am extremely precise with my words, to protect against semantics, and to ensure that vast majority of people who contradict me either make the one-time mistake of misreading me, or are simply idiots who can't seem to comprehend the subtleties in what I've written. I have been known many times in the past to defend arguments that I fundamentally disagree with. Not because I necessarily feel that they have some merit, but because no argument, no matter how bad, warrants the use of bad arguments to refute it. If it's going to be refuted, it needs to be done properly, preferably with an argument that is unassailable.

Why? If a bad argument B is allowed to counter a bad argument A, even if a good counterargument C exists, then supporters of argument A tend to focus B, and quietly ignore C. Worse still, when someone challenges them with C, they use a strawman argument to transform it into B, and argue from there that the other person is wrong. I have seen it many times, including many times here on slashdot.

I don't know what you're going to infer about me from this atypically candid rant, but rest assured, I don't care. Not one bit. Sometimes, when I come here to continue a long discussion, I feel a little bit nervous. Not for you, however. You insult me, you attack my arguments, but I simply don't have the respect for you necessary for me to care. After all, you've made so many stabs in the dark, and all of them have missed completely! How damaging could you actually be?

So yeah, I'm guessing that's pretty much the end of the discussion. I'll check back here, out of duty, to see if you've posted anything else woefully incorrect, but if it's comprised entirely out of insults (recent trends suggest that it might), I probably won't bother replying. To quote an earlier post of mine:

Have a nice life, idiot. Remember, you can't learn anything in life by assuming implicitly that you're right all the time.

Comment Re:viva le WIKILEAKS (Score 1) 366

What evidence do you have to support this?

You might have misunderstood me (I suppose I wasn't entirely clear on the subject). By "system", I don't necessarily mean that a law needs to be passed, or money needs to be specifically invested. I just mean that we need some kind of plan of how exactly we're supposed to provide ourselves with culture. It may be just as simple as "scrap copyright and be done with it". However, I also stipulated that such a plan must be proven, that is, it needs to have been implemented long enough for us to see without a reasonable doubt that it could replace copyright. So, "scrap copyright and be done with it" needs to be implemented (i.e. we need artists to choose to release via this method, i.e. by choosing to totally reject their copyrights, and not have to fall back on copyright in order to support themselves).

As for evidence why we need a proven system, I guess I don't have any. It's a pretty fundamental tenet of modern philosophy to require some kind of evidence for assertions. So, if you assert that we are guaranteed to have a rich culture if we scrap copyright, or if we weaken copyright to the point of uselessness, then I would expect, at least, some kind of evidence, if not a working prototype model.

No, I'm just not as prone to fallacies as you are.

Ha! This from the person who presented us this little strawman gem?

If everyone was like this kid, and copyright couldn't touch us, then our culture would die a slow and painful death.

That explains why there wasn't any "culture" at all until a few hundred years ago, right?

And I should point out, you haven't actually pointed out any fallacy I've committed. It's a fairly clear fact that, without any significant number of people willing to provide us with culture, we're simply not going to get culture. It's not going to magically appear because you made some some unfounded accusation of committing a fallacy.

I suggest you read the history section on Wikipedia's Copyright page.

I skimmed it. I could find no explicit or implicit statements that said copyright was never intended to stop non-commercial sharing. Hence, my point that you and the OP were talking out of your respective revisionist asses.

You may also want to consider the number of countries which have things like "Fair Use" allowances, allow downloading and similar non-commercial infringement, or simply turn a blind eye to anything that isn't commercial infringement. Some USA-specific evidence is that until very recently, only commercialised infringement has been a criminal offence, and pursuing perpetrators outside of organised commercial infringement operations practically unheard of.

If Copyright really were about *every* copyright infringement, and not primarily about commercialised infringement, then "Fair Use", "Fair Dealing", time-shifting and "personal" infringement in things like mix tapes would never have been allowed in the first place.

That is another strawman, supported on a false dichotomy. I never claimed that every copyright infringement should be punished, just that it's stupid to "draw the line" at commercial infringement. Are you sure you should be accusing people of being "prone to fallacies"?

I have no problem with fair use. It's an integral part of copyright. It, however, the exceptions necessarily need to be in certain limited circumstances. As I said before, there's nobody out there who actually wants to infringe on a copyright with a commercial dealer. Anyone who wants to infringe a copyright can do it from the privacy and convenience of their own internet connection. If we allow non-commercial sharing, then that's not the exception, that's the rule. It completely defeats the purpose of both fair use and copyright to allow such all-encompassing exceptions.

These are all functions of technology, not Copyright.

Oh? You have some evidence that these weren't also functions of copyright?

While you reply, let me point out that this is the time you were pining for. If you're going to use it as an example of something to strive for, please at least make it comparable, if not better, than the situation we are currently in.

Back then, when artists could only obtain money from the first person they sold their works to, they worked on commission. I suppose it could be that they had no way of copying their works easily. Alternatively, and much more reasonably, it could primarily have been the fact that exactly one person was paying them, and that they were paying them so much, in part, for exclusive ownership. If an artist, even in this day and age, had an option to work and distribute to everyone full time for (next to) nothing, or create exclusively for some rich kid for hundreds of thousands per year, well, let's just say they must be very rich in order to choose 1.

For the common man, life sucked until only a few hundred years ago. You are conflating the massive average increase in leisure time over the last hundred-odd years (ie: the ability to actually experience culture), along with huge technological improvements (ie: making culture easier to access) with an increase of culture itself.

Well, it's difficult to talk about this time (to which you were the first one to refer, I might add!) while separating the stuff caused by general life suckage, and the stuff caused by a lack of copyright. And you're probably right; some of the stuff I've talked about could be attributed to life sucking. But, I have legitimate concerns. They are reasonably well argued, and make rational sense. Perhaps there are factors I am not considering, but perhaps I'm dead on. So, could we please stop trying to use this time period as a model for how we should be? Life sucked then, for whatever reason. It's foolishness in its most distilled form to attempt to emulate such a time. Any argument against copyright needs to be grounded in arguments that are relevant to modern times. It's far from sufficient to say "we did OK back then", especially when it's not true!

If anything, culture has been _shrinking_, particularly for the last few decades, as the increasing focus on making money squeezes out things that can't be "guaranteed" as profitable. In this context, it's easy to see strict Copyright laws as harmful.

There are three things crucially wrong with this argument:

1) You're conflating problems with publishers with copyrights.
2) Even then, it's the choice of the artist whether to sign up with a publisher, and that will heavily be influenced by what people want to buy. If they wish to buy the more profitable works, then the system does everything we need it to do: cater for most of the people most of the time. It's not really society's problem if you can't find anything you want.
3) Most importantly, you're begging the question here. You are assuming, implicitly, that the artists working with copyright, under publishers, would still be working if there were no copyright, or if copyright was weakened. Enticing such people to work as artists is the entire point of copyright. To say that copyright is harmful, you are heavily relying on the conjecture that it's already pointless, thus making a circular argument.

On any given night I can go to one of a dozen nearby bars and hear a different band. Or I can turn the radio on.

Again, you might be misunderstanding me. I mean "free" as in libre, as in the artist has rejected copyright (or at the very least, allowed non-commercial sharing). I have listened to a fair amount myself, but I was not impressed. A large majority of the torrents I tried had no seeds, and out of the several I managed to download in full, only one I actually listened to more than once before deleting. If you can subside off it, then more power to you. However, please don't impose it on the rest of us.

The implication that, if non-commercial infringement continues, that movies, music, tv shows, etc, will cease to exist, is completely unsupported by any evidence whatsoever.

So how would you make a movie full time and support yourself, if everyone simply freely downloaded a copy of the first copy you sold? Would you tour your movie? Would you sell merchandise for your movie? Or would you ask for the full worth of the movie up front (a la a commissioned work)? That's the evidence: common sense, based on basic free market economics.

(I also noticed that you never touched on my main point, that nobody wants commercial illegitimate copies of works. I wanted to mention it, because it is a very strong argument, and it renders the position of wanting no copyright and wanting only copyright for commercial infringement essentially equivalent.)

Comment Re:Wikileaks isn't a leaks aleaks site anymore (Score 1) 919

Right. I couldn't help but notice that you failed to address the point of this entire pleasant discussion, i.e. that Wikileaks did not hide the older files because of some "anti American" biases - as the post you defended insinuated

Wrong again. All I was doing was defending spazmonkey. I wasn't actually trying to comment on Wikileak's situation, merely saying that if spazmonkey's concerns were legitimate, then they couldn't be dismissed in the way that you dismissed them.

I should also say that you need to get a clue sometime soon, because every comment I read of yours is making me lose faith that you'll ever actually comprehend what's going on around you. I'm not here to babysit for you; at some point you're going to have to listen to the people talking to you.

And then you accuse me of an "inability to process factual information", which "has you laughing".

And you then deliver me even more evidence.

If I am right or wrong is decided by the facts, like in this case, in which they validated my assertion completely. And in which case you assumed implicitly that you were right all the time...

Ha! Like you even know what I'm asserting! Your inability to process what I'm saying makes you completely unqualified to talk about my assertions, much less my assumptions. Rest assured, if you accuse me of implicitly assuming that I am right all the time, the chances are overwhelmingly in favour of you either honestly misreading me, dishonestly misrepresenting me, or you're just a plain idiot. I think we all know which category you fall into.

In fact, I'm not even sure you're aware of what you are asserting! Certainly, you've provided evidence for one of your assertions (they're not facts until the files are actually up). You've provided exactly zero evidence in your litany of other assertions (and how could you when they're all completely false?), most of which are designed to try to put words in my mouth.

But then again, it is one of defining characteristic of idiots to see their own major flaws in everyone else. There is even a term for it: "Psychological projection" of which the "straw man argument" is but a sub-species.

No, it's not a "defining characteristic" of idiots. It's a feature of certain idiots. There are plenty of other ways to be an idiot, for example, some people's idiocy manifests itself as an inability to understand other people, even when they are speaking on very simple topics. Other idiots find that they can't help but run their mouths off, when a mildly intelligent person would know when to back off. In your case, it appears to be an unfortunate case of "all of the above".

I should also mention that the strawman argument is not typically a form of psychological projection. The person does not project their own opinions onto the other person, rather simply an easier to counter opinion. For example, if you were able to, hypothetically, provide evidence for some assertion, and someone was arguing with you on a different topic, you may decide to pretend that they were arguing against your assertion, particularly if arguing against their actual point was too hard. That would be a quintessential strawman.

Seriously, save any little bits of self-respect you may have. Actually read my posts before you reply again, if you decide to reply again. Don't assume that simply because I am arguing with you, that I am contradicting you on the topic of Wikileaks. I know that idiocy can be debilitating, but if you can collect some willpower together, you at least might prevent yourself from running your mouth off even further.

Comment Re:viva le WIKILEAKS (Score 1) 366

If copyright worked like the free market, then copyright holders would have to bear some of the consequences of infinite supply, rather than just reaping the benefits.

When I say "work like the free market", I mean to allow demand to reflect supply. That is:

a) Consumers buy only what they want
b) What consumers want, they get

In order to ensure b), which is of vital importance, we need copyright, or at least some other proven system (of which I have looked and found none yet).

It's also interesting that you say "copyright holders ... [reap] all the benefits", when it's actually us who reap the extra culture. Did you forget about that pivotal detail, or simply turn a blind eye?

No, copyright was supposed to protect against large scale, commercialised infringement.

Again, citation needed. It is my understanding that the people who proposed copyright saw from early on that creating a loophole for non-profit infringement would eventually render copyright completely useless. After all, what's the point of copyright if anyone can just download their own copy for free, legally? For that matter, who would ever buy an illegitimate copy, when they could legally get an equally legitimate free copy? Seriously, who?

That explains why there wasn't any "culture" at all until a few hundred years ago, right?

(I don't see why everyone jumps immediately to this strawman. It's not like it's ever convincing.)

Yes, it explains why there was no culture until a few hundred years ago. It explains why the vast majority of culture, spread extremely thinly to today's standards, was accessible only to the incredibly wealthy. It explains why careers in music were restricted to playing only very locally, and no recording at all. It explains why things like books and movies were not even feasible.

For the common man, culture sucked until only a few hundred years ago. You know how much (often crappy) free legitimate music there is floating out there? Well, divide that into a tiny fraction, and that's the kind of culture you're gunning for. I have absolutely no fucking clue how anyone with half a brain would pine for the "good old days" before copyright, unless they were multimillionaires pining for the days when they could lord their culture over the common peasant.

Self-entitled pricks such as yourself have lost sight of just how fortunate you truly are.

Comment Re:viva le WIKILEAKS (Score 1) 366

It was only intended to ensure that IF ANYONE made a coin or two from his work, then he should get part of it.

Citation needed. The common wisdom is that the purpose was to ensure that if the work is popular, then the artist is rewarded appropriately (you know, like every other product sold, so that the free market can actually work). This includes the kid down the street downloading for nothing else apart from his own profit. If everyone was like this kid, and copyright couldn't touch us, then our culture would die a slow and painful death. Thankfully, the people who suggested copyright had some foresight, and didn't restrict it only to for profit sharing.

Comment Re:Bored, busy, or hipster (Score 1) 385

I don't miss TV at all ... [it] Dumbs you down

Err, no it doesn't. Take it from someone who as actually experienced TV from time to time. It only "dumbs" you down if you actually use it to substitute most of your intellectual activity, and even then, I would say it's not the TV dumbing you down, rather the lack of mental activity. In fact, I have found that a bit of mental downtime actually helps clarify my thoughts. There was a study on this posted here a while back, IIRC. Or perhaps my TV-addled brain is making shit up again. ;-)

Comment Re:Who profits? (Score 1) 87

Except for the fact that you don't have that right.

Says who? I assume it's some group of people, or if not, some set of rules invented by some group of people. What makes a liberty a right, if not the people who grant the power to enforce such rights?

The idea of suppressing other people simply because you don't like it is born out of the same irrationality as preventing people from other religions from worshiping.

So why should we suppress people who wish to suppress others? Especially if those people are in the majority?

I mean, consider religious intolerance, as an example. Imagine if a majority of people were truly intolerant to, say, Catholics. Not just that they didn't like them, that it truly hurt the majority of people to be around them, to be around them, to intersect with their culture in any conceivable way. Sure, you could tell me the analogy of the sheep and two wolves, and that anyone could be the next sheep, but let's assume this majority realises the risks involved, and would much prefer to simply persecute all Catholics instead. Who are we to tell them that they cannot? It just feels like we are imposing our moral values on people who may not be anything like us.

I don't know, maybe I'm making much ado about nothing. The US constitution has mechanisms for changing itself based on the needs of the American people. It's difficult to change, as it should be, but when we talk about democracies being better with limited government, it doesn't feel to different to saying "democracies are better without blasphemy", or something similar.

It is an irrationality to think that you should have the power over other people

Actually, I beg to differ here. It is a rationality that is unorthodox, especially in the US (or even most of the west). It's not irrational unless the belief has no cogent or consistent thought process behind it. Just like your rationale comes from a position based on fundamental truths, e.g. "murder is bad", certain other rationales will come from different fundamental truths, e.g. "God exists" and "God will punish you for the sins you allow others to commit".

Comment Re:Super (Score 1) 754

Conspiracy theories and slippery slope arguments actually become quite reasonable with the precedents we've been setting recently.

No they don't, and to suggest otherwise demonstrates downright ignorance of the slippery slope fallacy. The only way to temper the slippery slope fallacy (i.e. make it a reasonably strong argument) is to either make each step practically certain to imply the next step (which will never happen with conspiracy theories) or to significantly shorten the length of the slippery slope. Neither of these things have happened here.

And yes, you got me, I've never actually driven my car into the interior of an airport building.

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