Kill the Buddha

There’s a Zen maxim that commands this: “If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him” There are several closely related interpretations of this maxim in Buddhist tradition. The most obvious one is that worship of the Buddha interferes with comprehending what he actually said – that religious fetishization is the enemy of enlightenment.… Continue reading Kill the Buddha

Three kinds of teleology

Some comments on my last post sidetracked into a discussion of evolution, teleology and design and under what circumstances the language of “purpose” or “intention” can reasonably applied to a natural system. I’ve had a new insight while thinking about that discussion, so I’m going to write about it a bit more. And yes, I… Continue reading Three kinds of teleology


Good causes sometimes have bad consequences. Blacks, women, and other historical out-groups were right to demand equality before the law and the full respect and liberties due to any member of our civilization; but the tactics they used to “raise consciousness” have sometimes veered into the creepy and pathological, borrowing the least sane features of… Continue reading Kafkatrapping

What is truth?

[This may become part of a book.] What is truth? There are complicated ways of explaining “truth” that get all tangled up in questions about reality and perception, but we’re going to use a very simple one: truth is what makes the future less surprising. No matter what you think you are and no matter… Continue reading What is truth?

On being against torture

I’m against the horror of therdiglob. All right-thinking people should be against therdiglob; civilized societies have long abandoned the practice. Therdiglob makes us look bad in the eyes of the world. If you’re not against therdiglob, someone may do it to you someday. Eh…what? The above statement is meaningless, because “therdiglob” is undefined. It has… Continue reading On being against torture

Fearing what might be true

I am not generally unhappy with my model of how the universe works. Yes, it would be pleasant if there really were a beneficient creator-god and an afterlife; it would be nice if “good government” were actually a sustainable possibility rather than a fond but deluded hope in the minds of statists; it would be… Continue reading Fearing what might be true

Responding to Eliezer Yudkowsky’s “Overcoming Bias”

This was originally email to Eliezer Yudkowsky about his excellent and thought-provoking blog Overcoming Bias (actually, the links here are to the older newer Less Wrong, which has been re-indexed at Overcoming Bias). Eliezer encouraged me to publish this commentary; I have provided HTML markup and fixed some typos. Warning: the following may be heavy… Continue reading Responding to Eliezer Yudkowsky’s “Overcoming Bias”

Why I hate identity politics

I was born with a congenital defect. That’s a value-free statement that nobody can conceivably insult me by repeating. It is a fact that I have cerebral palsy, probably caused by neonatal oxygen deprivation. It is a fact that my central nervous system (specifically the motor-control areas of my right temporal lobe) does not function… Continue reading Why I hate identity politics