RE: virus: Prisoners my Derrida!

Deron Stewart (
Thu, 18 Mar 1999 11:22:56 -0800

I inadvertently sent this message originally with RTF. Here it is again in plain text...

btw, here's the URL for _The Prisoner's Dilemma_:

-----Original Message-----


There was another way that you could have responded to this if you wanted. Something like:

"Reed, I didn't follow the Bertrand Russell or RAND corporation references. Could you flesh out these statements so I can better understand what you're trying to say before I respond."

Just a thought.

I highly recommend William Poundstone's _The Prisoner's Dilemma_ to find out more about these things. A book everyone here should be familiar with.

Russell and Von Neumann -- two of the best, most logical minds of this century -- both thought that the United States should preemptively drop hydrogen bombs on the Soviet Union before they could develop the bomb themselves (this was in the 1950's).

They justified this based on game theory, specifically by modelling the situation as a "non-iterated Prisoner's Dilemma" (where the rational solution is to "defect", i.e. be the first to drop nuclear weapons).

(Kind of a "TIT THE HELL OUT OF YOU BEFORE YOU HAVE A CHANCE TO TAT ME" strategy, popularized by the defector's creed: "Do unto others before they can do unto you".)



btw, do you agree with this statement?

"Reason is is an incomplete way of thinking which might lead you down the wrong path sometimes."

Seriously, what do you think of that statement?

-----Original Message-----

From: []
Sent:	Thursday, March 18, 1999 7:15 AM
Subject:	RE: virus: Prisoners my Derrida!

Reed said:
>>The difference is that it is much easier to uncloak fear and hatred
>>in reason than that which is cloaked in faith.

>Based on what evidence do you wave this dead fish before my delicate
>nose? The straw man of fundamentalism? Deuteronomy? You stink
>of rhetoric, not logic. Did the RAND corporation ever admit their
>error? Did Bertrand Russel ever say "hey, theory is
>an incomplete model which might lead you down the wrong path...

I defy you to find any western religious leader who ever said something like "Our faith is an incomplete model which might lead you down the wrong path". Their faith stops them from saying so. Reason, however, in fact ENCOURAGES people to find flaws in theories, so that they can be reformulated or even refuted. That's what science is about. Russel would feel no need to say what you wanted him to say above.. it's too blindingly obvious to need stating explicitly. ALL scientific theories are incomplete and subject to change, per definition!

>plus calling the whole thing a 'prisoner's dillema' might bias people
>in a way that pure reason wouldn't..."

Bertrand Russel? The RAND corporation (whatever that is)? Who's putting up straw men now? Incidentally, my next sentence was "Reason allows its arguments to be examined and refuted (which is easy if there truly is nothing but fear and hatred behind the arguments).", to which you chose to respond.. nothing. Easy way out?

I also said, and say again (in the hope of getting a reply instead of an accusation of sophistry):

The inquisition gained its power from the fear of (faith in) God. They said "we do the work of God", not "what we do is reasonable and logical". They could possibly have said "what we do is reasonable and logical, given that God exists and truly wants us to do these things (which we claim despite the complete absence of proof thereof, because we have faith in it)". Not that I think they bothered.

>Fear cloaks itself in reason, faith, in goodness and light. Fear cloaks
>itself in whatever is valued becuase fear cannot stand the light of
>pure attention.

Would you PLEASE respond to what I said? I'll rephrase it once more, in the hope of attractiong your attention:

Whatever hides behind faith can't be revealed by the one holding that faith. Faith is not something that is reevaluated in the face of new evidence.

I quoted Deuteronomy just to get an example of something that would be extremely hard to cloak in reason, but quite possible to hide behind the immovable mountain of unquestionable faith..

-Andreas Engström
(Great Randomness)