TakeOnIt
Compare opinions of world leading experts and influencers.

JGWeissman's TakeOnIt

About Me

I graduated from UCI with degrees in physics and mathematics, and a minor in ICS. I am the Shield Fleet Captain of the UCI Sailing Association.

JGWeissman's Web Site

Contribution Stats

41 up votes minus down votes on comments.
2 questions, experts, and expert opinions added.
3 expert opinion suggestions made.

Contents

JGWeissman's Opinions

Can art be defined?      Agree      10 Jul 2010      1 Point
If we truly understood consciousness, we should be able to look at what makes people produce, recognize, and appreciate art, and understand what it is.

Does homosexuality threaten the stability of society?      Disagree      25 Apr 2010      0 Points
It is likely that there are closet homosexuals who attempt to lead a heterosexual lifestyle do to the pressure of society. However, if you remove that pressure, and enable every homosexual to come out of the closet, there will still be enough actual heterosexuals to have enough families to raise another generation.

Though really, the claim that homosexuals value family less is weak. Many homosexual couples work around their reproductive disadvantages, through adoption or artificial insemination, to have children.

Do Gödellian arguments refute a computational model of the mind?      Disagree      25 Apr 2010      1 Point
Gödel's incompleteness theorem shows that a sufficiently complex, consistent axiomatic system (that can describe the natural numbers) will have propositions that are true according to the axioms, but not provable by that system. These propositions are incredibly complicated, constructed out of a clever mapping of numbers and arithmetic operators to the language and rules of inference of the axiomatic system, to get a proposition about the existence of a number with certain properties, which corresponds to a reasonable way of cashing out the self reference in a statement like "This statement is not provable within the axiomatic system". Gödel also showed that an expanded axiomatic system can prove these statements (though it also has its own statements which are true but it cannot prove).

It is certainly possible for the human mind to have such statements, that are true but it can't prove.

Should atheists directly challenge religious beliefs?      Neutral      17 Apr 2010      1 Point
It seems to me that religion is more about group identification than crazy beliefs; the crazy beliefs are a symbol for the group, a flag to rally around. This makes it difficult for the religious to give up their crazy beliefs on rational grounds, especially for reasons presented by an outsider, because they have to also give up the group identification.

I believe it is more productive to promote social groups which allow for a more healthy epistemology, to allow people to meet their social needs without needing to signal allegiance to crazy beliefs. This allows the religious person who has doubts a line of retreat to abandon their religion, to have an alternative way of achieving the benefits their religion used to provide.

It will also help to teach general rationality, drawing examples from less mind killing topics. This helps people to recognize on their own how crazy their religious beliefs are, so they don't need to feel defensive like when an outsider criticizes their beliefs. See Raising the Sanity Waterline.

Atheists should challenge religious beliefs, but the most effective challenges are indirect.

Did the US Government play a part in the 9/11 attacks?      Disagree      27 Mar 2010      0 Points
The government had no conspiracy to cause the attack. Their response, however, was horribly incompetent. They should have been able to limit the damage to the loss of the hijacked planes, by shooting down the planes when the hijackers refused to communicate.

The government's use of the attack to justify attacking Iraq, which was not involved, was criminal.

Does government spending help mitigate a recession?      Disagree      27 Mar 2010      0 Points
Money is a tool for facilitating transfer of economic goods. It is not wealth itself, but a representation of wealth. Government spending, whether funded by taxation, inflation, or borrowing against future taxation or inflation, reduces the connection between money and wealth. The government spending effectively steals buying power from those who produced the wealth, and uses it to demand different economic goods that are actually worth less to the economy. Government spending destroys the connection between what people want and what the economy produces. It is a drain on the economy and will prolong recessions. Worry less about money and more about wealth.

Is the health risk of a psychoactive drug a legitimate reason to make it illegal?      Disagree      27 Mar 2010      1 Point
The purpose of government is not to prevent citizens from making ineffective choices. Let adult citizens weigh the costs and benifets of drugs according to their own values.

Should marijuana be decriminalized?      Agree      27 Mar 2010      0 Points
Yes, but really it should be legalized.

Should marijuana be legal?      Agree      27 Mar 2010      0 Points
All drugs should be legal. Marijuana should not be controversial at all. It is no worse than alcohol or tobacco, which are legal.

Just do me a favor and don't smoke it (or tobacco) upwind of me.

Should psychoactive drugs be legal?      Agree      27 Mar 2010      1 Point
Real crimes have victims. Taking drugs only affects the person who took the drug, so there is no victim, so there is no crime.

Does Cap and Trade beat carbon tax for reducing emissions?      Mostly Agree      27 Mar 2010      0 Points
The principal of figuring out how much pollution the earth can handle, and issuing tradeable licenses to pollute up to that amount, is sound. This beats a carbon tax, which imposes the same linear cost of pollution past the point the earth can no longer absorb it, while a market system will raise the price asymptotically as the resource of allowable pollution becomes scarce, so that a balance must be found. I have issues, however, with the government arbitrarily deciding who gets the licenses initially. I would prefer to split them amongst the earth's entire human population, allow those who pollute less end up being compensated by those who pollute more, and therefor have to buy the licenses.

Do ghosts exist?      Disagree      27 Mar 2010      1 Point
A person's identity is embodied physically in the organization of their brain. When the brain is destroyed (and the organization is not copied elsewhere) the person ceases to exist. There is no ghost left over.

Is free trade generally beneficial for a country?      Mostly Agree      27 Mar 2010      2 Points
Removing barriers to Pareto improvements is generally a good thing, though one should acknowledge the issues that giving people more opportunities to make unwise decisions is not really helping them (though it is dangerous to presume you are more wise than them about what decisions they should make), of transition costs in adjusting to changing relative advantages, and that uneven "free trade", where capital faces fewer legal barriers to changing countries than labor, can create an imbalance of power.

Should religious institutions be separated from government?      Agree      27 Mar 2010      1 Point
Governments should have limited powers and purposes, and promoting silly beliefs is not among them.

Are our enemies innately evil?      Mostly Disagree      27 Mar 2010      1 Point
I consider three classes of enemies. The most extreme agrees with us about what is good and what is evil, but deliberately does what is evil. I don't believe enemies of this type actually exist, and I only include the type for conceptual completeness.

Then there are those who disagree with us about what is good and what is evil, and do what they consider good and we consider evil. At this time when other agents we deal with are all human, I think that there may be some enemies of this type, but they are rare. These I would consider innately evil, though they would disagree with me.

And finally, there are those, I believe the most common, who, at some level of abstraction, are our mirror images. They want for themselves the same good things we want for ourselves, and these wants are in conflict. These are not innately evil, and it is a tragedy when this type of conflict is resolved through coercion rather than compromise that reflects our shared values of providing the good things for all of us.

Does God exist?      Disagree      27 Mar 2010      1 Point
Humans invented God to play a role in story they told to feel like they understood things that confused them. At this time in human development, we should notice that science is providing actual answers to the things that used to confuse us, constantly pushing back our ignorance in ways the stories about God could never have achieved, and never turning up any evidence for the actual existence of God. It is past time to discard this obsolete belief.

Are gun control laws a serious breach of civil liberties?      Agree      27 Mar 2010      1 Point
While some people have noble motives for promoting gun control laws, their actual effects are increased dependence on unreliable government protection, and granting the government a monopoly on the use of force, which it abuses. Gun rights are part of the general right to be as strong as criminals, and to be strong enough to act as a check on government abuse of power.

Is optimism rational?      Disagree      27 Mar 2010      0 Points
That which can be done as a reaction to false beliefs, which turns out to be a good thing to do, can be done as a reaction to true beliefs, because it is a good thing to do.

Is affirmative action fair?      Disagree      27 Mar 2010      2 Points
Affirmative Action is reversed racism, which is just another form of racism. I understand the desire to help those who are disadvantaged, but then the eligibility for this help should take into account actual disadvantages, which screen off from consideration past racism that may have been the cause of the disadvantage.

Is the world explainable without God?      Agree      08 Mar 2010      1 Point
The world had better be explainable without God, because introducing God adds a lot of questions, and, due to a lack of description of God's behavior, fails to produce any answers better than pushing back the question to "Why did God do that?".

Must God exist to explain how the universe began?      Disagree      08 Mar 2010      3 Points
What principle is it that requires that the universe, but not God, be caused by something else? Saying God created the universe explains nothing, it just pushes the question back one step.

Is truthfulness a characteristic of a politician who is good for the people?      Agree      07 Mar 2010      1 Point
Accurate transparency is a prerequisite for accountability.

Are successful entrepreneurs big risk takers?      Neutral      06 Mar 2010      1 Point
Success requires good risk management. This involves an ability to accurately assess how likely a risk is to pay off, and to consider the costs and the potential payoff. Systematically successful entrepreneurs Shut Up and Multiply.

Is the many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics correct?      Agree      06 Mar 2010      4 Points
I recall studying physics as an undergrad. I had learned how to set up a quantum mechanics problem involving 2 particles, and it is not much of stretch, at least conceptually, to see how to expand this approach to handle n particles. So I considered what happens when I use an instrument to measure some property of a particle in superposition. Well, the device is made of particles, (more than I can keep track of, but this doesn't bother the universe at all), so those particles go into to superposition representing have measured the different values of the property of the measured particles. And then I look at the readout on this device, and I, being made out of particles as well, will go into superpositions of having observed all these different measurement results. Each configuration of me has one of the experiences that collapse theory would predict, even though I never applied the poorly defined concept of a collapse to my analysis. So take Occam's Razor, and cut out that unnecessary complexity. Later, I learned that this result is called Many Worlds.

Is a technological singularity likely?      Agree      06 Mar 2010      0 Points
Technology is advancing rapidly, and contributing to the increase in its advancement. Unless we destroy ourselves first, this feedback will lead to a singularity.

Is cryonics worthwhile?      Agree      06 Mar 2010      0 Points
The upside is huge, and paying for it with life insurance is cheap.

Alcor has a conservatively invested patient care fund, that can pay for revivals. It is even set up to fund research for revival technology when it has sufficient growth. Further, cryonics patients can arrange for trusts to fund their care and revival.

And there will be a chain, starting with people still metabolically active, who will care personally about the people most recently preserved and arrange for their revival, and those will care personally about people preserved recently before them, and so on.

There are so many ways this could happen, before even considering the general goodwill of people towards each other.

"Well, we don't know how to repair this damage, therefor no one ever will."

Really? This is just reaching for excuses not to associate with something counterintuitive.

We are talking about preservation while future technologies are being developed. It is crazy to refer to damage as irreversible because we don't know how to reverse it now.

Is living forever or having a greatly extended lifespan desirable?      Agree      06 Mar 2010      0 Points
Of course living forever is desirable. The alternative is to cease existence.

Is cryonic restoration technically feasible in the future?      Agree      06 Mar 2010      0 Points
There are so many ways this could work: uploading, cloning a new body, repair by nanotech. Knowing that science and technology keep advancing, it seems absurd not to bet and advances in at least of these areas, when the alternative is to just give up.

Is there life after death?      Disagree      06 Mar 2010      1 Point
Expanding successful theories describing the universe to include an afterlife requires adding complexity that is not supported by any evidence.

Is information-theoretic death the most real interpretation of death?      Agree      06 Mar 2010      1 Point
If the information defining a person is still around, that person can in principle be rebuilt.

Could a computer ever be conscious?      Agree      06 Mar 2010      1 Point
Computers structured like human brains could be conscious in the same way humans are conscious, and I would be greatly surprised if that were the only way.

Is the unconscious philosophical zombie possible?      Disagree      06 Mar 2010      1 Point
The possibility of physical zombies requires that consciousness does not affect physical systems, yet physical systems accurately describe consciousness when we talk about it. Where did that improbability come from?

Is the Earth approximately 6000 years old? (as opposed to 4.5 billion)      Disagree      06 Mar 2010      1 Point
There is no reason to even be considering this hypothesis. No credible evidence has suggested it.

Did complex life evolve through the process of natural selection?      Agree      06 Mar 2010      1 Point
Creation by ontologically basic mental things is not a simple explanation. Occam's razor, correctly applied, compares the complexities of the assumptions of a theory, not their consequences. The problem with the "God did it" explanation is that you have to add the complexity of mentioning God to the complexity of describing everything God is supposed to have done. Now, if you had a short description of God that could predict all the things God does, so those actions did not count against the complexity of the theory, you have a shot. However, I have yet to see such a description that is not rejected by the evidence.

Does evolution violate the second law of thermodynamics?      Disagree      06 Mar 2010      1 Point
The order of evolution comes from replicating systems using energy from outside the system to organize disordered materials in the environment into copies of the replicating systems.

Should flag burning be legal?      Agree      06 Mar 2010      0 Points
If your country was great before someone burned its flag, it will remain great afterwards. Get over it.

Is censorship acceptable?      Disagree      06 Mar 2010      0 Points
No human authority can be trusted with the power of censorship.

Is free will an illusion?      Disagree      06 Mar 2010      4 Points
Free will is the ability to systematically act in accordance with one's desires. This is enabled, not threatened, by determinism.

Is life a deterministic consequence of physical laws?      Agree      06 Mar 2010      1 Point
This is a wrong question. I suspect that the underlying question is about in which ways our theories about the laws of physics can be wrong.

Do we have an immaterial soul?      Disagree      06 Mar 2010      1 Point
To the extent that a person can be said to have soul, it is implemented by neurons and other physical structures.

The existence of ontologically basic mental things is a complex hypothesis with no supporting evidence.

Is truth relative?      Disagree      06 Mar 2010      1 Point
There can be many different maps, even different maps that are the best different agents could do with the different evidence available to them, but there is just one territory.

Comparisons with Experts and Influencers

The similarity between JGWeissman and each expert and influencer is calculated by looking at how the same questions were answered. These figures are used to calculate conforming, nonconforming, and projected opinions. The accuracy of the analysis depends on JGWeissman's coverage, which grows with the number of their opinions entered into TakeOnIt.

Agree
Eliezer Yudkowsky
Artificial Intelligence Researcher
96% agreement / 14 opinions

Ayn Rand
Philosopher, Novelist
86% agreement / 9 opinions

Richard Dawkins
Evolutionary Biologist, Writer, Atheism Activist
89% agreement / 7 opinions

Daniel Dennett
Philosophy Professor
92% agreement / 7 opinions

Milton Friedman
Iconic Economist of 20th Century
95% agreement / 5 opinions

Susan Blackmore
Psychology Lecturer, Former Parapsychologist
100% agreement / 5 opinions

Mostly Agree
Robin Hanson
Economics Professor
72% agreement / 10 opinions

Paul Z. Myers
Biology Professor
70% agreement / 5 opinions

Bertrand Russell
Iconic Philosopher of 20th Century
75% agreement / 4 opinions

Ron Paul
U.S. Politician, Libertarian
68% agreement / 4 opinions

American Civil Liberties Union
(ACLU) Lobbyist
75% agreement / 4 opinions

The Economist
Politics and Business Magazine
66% agreement / 3 opinions

In-Between
Barack Obama
United States President
46% agreement / 14 opinions

John McCain
U.S. Senator, Republican
54% agreement / 6 opinions

Steven Pinker
Psychology Professor
50% agreement / 5 opinions

Albert Einstein
Physicist, Icon of the 20th Century
56% agreement / 4 opinions

Bryan Caplan
Economics Professor
43% agreement / 4 opinions

Conservapedia
Christian Encyclopedia
43% agreement / 4 opinions

Mostly Disagree
George W. Bush
United States President 2001-2009
31% agreement / 4 opinions

Osama Bin Laden
Former Leader of Al Qaeda
31% agreement / 4 opinions

Kevin Rudd
Australian Prime Minister, 2007-2010
25% agreement / 4 opinions

Hillary Clinton
US Secretary of State 2009-, Democrat
37% agreement / 2 opinions

Jeff Hawkins
Neuroscientist, Inventor of Palm Pilot
37% agreement / 2 opinions

Todd Moody
Philosophy Professor
25% agreement / 1 opinions

Disagree
The Catholic Church
Largest Christian Church
13% agreement / 9 opinions

Deepak Chopra
Inventor of Quantum Healing
0% agreement / 5 opinions

Robert Todd Carroll
Philosophy Professor
0% agreement / 3 opinions

Ann Coulter
Political Commentator
0% agreement / 3 opinions

Albert Mohler
President, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
8% agreement / 3 opinions

William Dembski
Intelligent Design Theorist
0% agreement / 3 opinions

Conforming Opinions

JGWeissman's conforming opinions are opinions that align with the group of experts and influencers JGWeissman typically agrees with.

Coverage Answer Question
High Disagree Does God exist?
High Disagree Is there life after death?
High Agree Should psychoactive drugs be legal?
High Agree Did complex life evolve through the process of natural selection?
High Disagree Do we have an immaterial soul?
High Disagree Does government spending help mitigate a recession?
High Disagree Is truth relative?
High Disagree Must God exist to explain how the universe began?
High Disagree Does evolution violate the second law of thermodynamics?
High Agree Should marijuana be legal?
Medium Agree Should religious institutions be separated from government?
Medium Disagree Is censorship acceptable?
Medium Agree Is cryonics worthwhile?
Medium Disagree Is the unconscious philosophical zombie possible?
Medium Agree Is living forever or having a greatly extended lifespan desirable?
Medium Agree Is life a deterministic consequence of physical laws?
Medium Disagree Is the health risk of a psychoactive drug a legitimate reason to make it illegal?
Medium Agree Is the many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics correct?
Medium Disagree Do ghosts exist?
Medium Agree Is information-theoretic death the most real interpretation of death?
Low Disagree Did the US Government play a part in the 9/11 attacks?
Low Agree Should marijuana be decriminalized?
Low Agree Could a computer ever be conscious?
Low Agree Is cryonic restoration technically feasible in the future?
Low Disagree Is the Earth approximately 6000 years old? (as opposed to 4.5 billion)
Low Disagree Do Gödellian arguments refute a computational model of the mind?
Low Agree Is the world explainable without God?

Nonconforming Opinions

JGWeissman's nonconforming opinions are opinions that contradict the group of experts and influencers JGWeissman typically agrees with.

Coverage Group Answer Contributor Answer Question
High Agree Mostly Agree Is free trade generally beneficial for a country?
High Agree Neutral Should atheists directly challenge religious beliefs?
High Mostly Disagree Disagree Is free will an illusion?
Medium Disagree Mostly Disagree Are our enemies innately evil?
Medium Mostly Disagree Disagree Is optimism rational?
Medium Mostly Agree Agree Is a technological singularity likely?
Medium Mostly Agree Agree Are gun control laws a serious breach of civil liberties?
Low Mostly Disagree Mostly Agree Does Cap and Trade beat carbon tax for reducing emissions?

Projected Opinions

JGWeissman's projected opinions are opinions JGWeissman is expected to have if their opinions align with the experts and influencers that they typically agree with.

Coverage Answer Question
High Mostly Disagree Can we handle the truth?
High Mostly Agree Should abortion be legal?
High Mostly Agree Is global warming caused primarily by humans?
High Disagree Does astrology work (is personality correlated with the positions of celestial bodies at birth)?
High Neutral Can science prove or disprove the existence of God?
Medium Mostly Disagree Are the core truths of science and religion complementary?
Medium Mostly Agree Does life have a meaning?
Medium Mostly Agree Is substantially reducing CO2 emissions worthwhile?
Medium Mostly Agree Is capitalism good?
Medium Disagree Does minimum wage help the poor?
Medium Agree Is self-deception a fault?
Medium Disagree Is God just?
Medium Mostly Agree Should Julian Assange be considered a criminal for Wikileaks?
Medium Mostly Disagree Does religion encourage good behavior?
Medium Neutral Is "ought" derived from "is"?
Medium Mostly Disagree Has feminism gone too far?
Medium Mostly Disagree Is abortion morally acceptable?
Medium Disagree Should gay and straight couples have the same legal benefits?
Medium Disagree Does drug prohibition reduce drug usage?
Medium Neutral Is the IPCC objective?
Medium Mostly Agree Is the death penalty acceptable?
Medium Mostly Agree Is morality objective?
Medium Mostly Agree Should women have the right to vote?
Low Mostly Disagree Is intelligent extraterrestrial life common in our galaxy?
Low Mostly Agree Should paternity testing be mandatory?
Low Disagree Does homeopathy work?
Low Disagree Does everything happen for a reason?
Low Disagree Have aliens from outer space visited Earth?
Low Disagree Is the war on drugs good policy?
Low Agree Can reductionist methods help explain consciousness?
Low Disagree Is quantum mechanics needed to explain consciousness?
Low Mostly Agree Should the federal government ban gay marriage?
Low Disagree Is marijuana a gateway drug?
Low Mostly Disagree Is hypocrisy acceptable?
Low Agree Will solar be the biggest energy source of the future?
Low Neutral Should Intelligent Design be taught in science class?
Low Neutral Should the US close Guantanamo Bay?
Low Neutral Does homosexuality have a significant genetic component?
Low Neutral Must we know the cause of climate change before we try to affect it?
Low Mostly Agree Is God on our side in war?
Low Neutral Are pickup artist strategies effective?
Low Neutral Are pickup artist strategies misogynistic?
Low Mostly Disagree Are pickup artist strategies morally acceptable?
Low Neutral Should pickup artist strategies be considered good education?
Low Neutral Do pickup artists underestimate the diversity of women's personalities?
Low Neutral Are recent climatic changes consistent with the AGW hypothesis?
Low Neutral Is it plausible that we're living in a simulation?
Low Disagree Is the theory of evolution falsified by fossil evidence?
Low Disagree Do miracles happen?
Low Disagree Are psychic powers real?
Low Mostly Disagree Will the WikiLeaks cable leaks do more harm than good?