What is democracy, Popper? Ethics and logical fallacies
While Karl Popper wrote that fallibility makes the criticism that others can provide by discussing as equals useful for the acquisition of knowledge by means of falsification, giving science a common ground with ethics, it does not prove that any value that happens to be present in the mainstream ethics at one point in history (for example today) is linked to science. For example, Johannes Kepler's theft of the observation logs upon Tycho Brahe's death, "violating" the legal "right" Tycho's relatives had to the observation logs, did benefit science. Ethical values must be evaluated by their actual effects for science, not by taking a miscellaneous lump of contemporary ethics as one package and prejudicing anything that violates one of its parts as allegedly being linked to violating other parts that are not linked by logical implication. Any "right" to keep scientific discoveries hidden is directly counterproductive to science. This includes paywalls in peer review journals and many copyright laws today. And psychology is totalitarian and based on immunization to criticism.
- 1 Clinical trial laws
- 2 Knowability and fallibility
- 3 Is historical determinism or brain fatalism the problem?
- 4 What intelligence actually means
- 4.1 The poverty of social constructivism
- 4.2 Proving one's personhood
- 5 What is really an open society?
- 5.1 Disclaimer of words, not essentialism
- 5.2 Approximately open society or cancer growth of limits?
- 5.3 What does democracy really mean?
- 5.4 What does freedom of speech actually mean?
- 5.4.1 When slippery slope is (and is not) a logical fallacy
- 5.4.2 De facto state-like effects of assumption mobs
- 5.4.3 Double standards of free will
- 5.4.4 Feeling offended by a comparison is totalitarianism
- 5.5 Is protection of status quo different from utopism?
- 5.6 Censorship is not about economic system
- 6 Dangerous assumptions of people being dangerous
- 7 How to discriminate in the name of human rights
Clinical trial laws
There are also examples of ethics causing massive suffering and death. This includes clinical trial laws. There are, for instance, experimental new methods that can make individualized cancer treatment for each patient by analyzing clinically relevant molecules on the cancer cells themselves. See http://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms13404 Clinical trial laws, by demanding each new treatment to be separately tested, prevents these methods from being used, with the result that lots of people suffer and die.
Another example of this is Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs). While it is most often assumed that neglect of tropical diseases is due to "selfish" pharma companies not caring for diseases that mostly poor people get, that is likely only part of the cause. More likely, tropical diseases are neglected at least part due to ethics that bans economic compensation to test subjects. Poor people usually cannot afford losing part of their working days to go to clinical trials and/or risk decreasing their ability to work due to side effects of experimental drugs, and then get no economical compensation for it.
People who have tested experimental treatments on themselves without permission, even without pharma involvement, are welcome to add the results as observation/experiment result pages on this wiki and/or as pages this wiki links to.
One example of bullshit in medical research "ethics" and its lobby for restrictive laws is the claim that radical life extension (curing biological aging) would somehow be more expensive than treating each disease related to biological aging separately (as is done today) and creating bigger social divides that would allow rich people to live much longer than poor people. The truth is that all of the many medicines that old and sick people today have to eat costs lot of money in total. Having a single medicine against biological aging in general would reduce the costs, and therefore reduce inequality. Also, even if it was true that it would be more expensive, using that as an "argument" against radical life extension would be like using the fact that vaccines cost money that not everyone may be able to afford as an "argument" against vaccination. If cost is a problem, think of reducing costs and/or helping people without much money to get the help anyway. Do not stop the technology!
There are also examples of debate fallacies confusing valid criticism of dubious medicines with flawed general "criticism" of the research as such. One example is that criticism of "female Viagra", the effectiveness of which is indeed dubious, have been hijacked by a self-dubbed "feminist" but actually gender binary lobby that claims male and female sexuality to be "fundamentally different" (isn't that transphobic too?). Did they not even consider that the drug may be ineffective simply because almost all medicine research is done on men? See also Debunkal: Evolutionary gender binary "theory". This point does not in any way contradict the fact that poorly researched medicine being promoted for money is a problem. Just stop confusing criticism of individual drugs with biological defeatism! And NEVER confuse criticism of gender binary with promotion of a specific drug! The latter confusion is antiscientific immunization to criticism.
Arbitrary definition of GMO
The politicized definition of GMO (genetically modified organism) is an example of nonsensical laws that are maintained by assuming "agendas". Scientifically, it is absurd that specific alterations of select genes get classified as "GMO" while general mutagenic effects of radiation or chemicals get classified as "natural" (an argument from nature fallacy). Knowing what the mutations are does not increase the risk of harmful effects. While it is possible that specific mutations that are known can still have unintended effects, random and unknown mutations can also have many different effects. The act of intentionally changing a gene does not make it more "dangerous" than the same mutation occurring randomly. In fact, knowing what the genetic change is reduces the risk.
Why does the "anti-GMO" lobby not talk about the fact that companies today sell food that have been exposed to mutagens and filled with mutations that we do not even know? Where is the talk about politicians giving it a dangerous free pass?
Of course patenting genes does constitute a problem in the access of food, but that is a socioeconomic problem that should not be used against the technology of genetic engineering as such.
Premature talk about brain reanimation technology
While the technology to replace every cell in a dead human brain with another brain cell that takes over its connections and functions have not even been invented (though the principle could probably be applied on much smaller brains such as those of some flatworms and box jellyfish today) that have not stopped ethics committees from complaining about possible future brain resurrection with vastly superior technology (which would have to be automated due to the vast number of neurons and connections in a human brain). The talk about "resurrecting brain dead people" that is up today is actually about replacing small chunks of the brain near its base, at the connection between the brain and the spinal cord (again, much smaller than a whole human brain).
Apart from the technological prematurity, the ethics is flawed in itself too. For example, they talk about dead people being unable to consent to experiments as a problem as if that was different from rescuing unconscious people or small children (or animals, for that matter). And just as strict demands for consent can accept rescue of unconscious people who wrote that they want to be rescued (and in what ways) in the case of consciousness even if such rescuing is otherwise considered wrong by that moral system, so would it be possible for someone to write in his or her will that he or she wants to be given brain reanimation treatment after death (and specify demands for what technological level must be reached first).
Knowability and fallibility
Two severely ill human patients with currently incurable diseases, with physically indistinguishable ailments and identical nonverbal pain expressions, can value their situations so differently one wants euthanasia while the other wants to live. This means that similarity in physical ailments and nonverbal pain expression between humans and nonhuman animals cannot be used to assess when it is "ethical" to put an animal to death. It also demonstrates the moral relevance of the ability to correct what others fallibly assumes about one's welfare. Everyone is fallible, so the assumption that individuals either have or lack the ability to know what others feel leads to unfalsifiable immunization to criticism and a demonization of critical thought that preserves whatever claims including falsehoods that were put into it in the first place. This is not about judging individuals, it is about realizing that sentience without sapience leads to a severe risk of suffering from things others do "for one's own good" and not being able to tell what is wrong.
Knowing that something is wrong is never enough to know what to do about it. It has nothing to do with debates on whether or not that or that being can feel suffering. It is about the knowability of what causes the suffering and how to avoid it. Even if there was a 100% certainty that a being could feel suffering, that would in itself give no information about what causes said being to suffer. The importance of individual variation that undercuts species-based generalizations is accentuated by the fact that organisms that rely on natural selection to purge genetic defects can only have a limited amount of functional DNA (that is why the existence of junk DNA was predicted well before it was discovered). Therefore there is not anywhere near enough hereditary information to code for the massive numbers of specialized "psychological mechanisms" that the "individuals of the same species feel good and bad for very similar things" lithania assumes. This also places most of the relevant individual variation in aspects of the brain that cannot be predicted by DNA analysis. It does not contradict that genes may have some effects, for example the discovery that the same genes that increase the frequency of "depression" in some environments decrease the frequency of it in other environments. Since receptors for hormones are coded by genes and since a mix of hormones is inferior in information content to a neural network with precise synapses, hormone analysis at any stage cannot predict any large fraction of the relevant differences either.
If "mental illness" was caused by flaws in brain development with insufficient genetic coding, that would mean so much risk of so many errors we would all be severely mentally ill with many heavy diagnoses. So this genetic disc space limit cannot be used as an argument for a developmental view of mental illness. Rather, it is important not to pathologize the fact that individuals differ vastly in what makes them feel good, bad or extremely bad.
However, do not confuse the limits to the amount of functional DNA with some straw man claim of brains being completely decoupled from genetics. A reductio ad absurdum is not the same thing as a straw man. There are no problems with evolutionary models that predict some mutations for more brain cells, some mutations for more synapses, some mutations for more efficient nerve signal transfer in the synapses, some mutations for more efficient long-distance connections in the brain and so on, a small number of mutations for each general enhancement of the whole brain's function. It is when attempts are made to squeeze massive modularity into the limited amount of functional DNA the math breaks down. It is like trying to run the latest version of Adobe Extreme Graphics on an ENIAC computer from the 1950s.
Is historical determinism or brain fatalism the problem?
It is sometimes claimed that "historical determinism", which in this case is defined as the view that history inevitably works towards a specific final state (which in fact is properly referred to as historical fatalism, as determinism means cause and effect that only happens to lead to particular results while it is fatalism that it is the final result that is fixed and that the steps between are irrelevant) leads to people seeing themselves as "irresponsible parts of a greater plan". However, while Communism was truly history fatalist in the sense that it believed that the end result would be a communist society ruled by the working class no matter how the steps there unfolded, Nazism believed that there was a risk that the Aryan race could die out (by admixture) but also a chance that it could survive and prevail and that history could therefore unfold in different ways in the future. This makes historical fatalism, erroneously referred to as historical determinism, a differing variable between totalitarian ideologies of mass murder and not a trait shared by them all.
After all, if the claim that "determinism" (in a definition that really means fatalism) is supposed to passivize people, why would it not passivize engagement for a "greater cause" to exactly the same extent as it would passivize individual conscience? If fatalism is to make people believe that the results will be the same no matter what they do, it would make committing mass murder for a cause that would win anyway exactly as meaningless as sparing lives. And if cause and effect determinism is conflated into the definition, suddenly lots of philosophies that are unrelated to any idea of a final goal of history gets confused into it. Cause and effect determinism allows for small details in the causality chain to have greater effects further into the future, making the apparently "insignificant" details shape the future in ways that make predictions of a "final state" effectively impossible.
Along with the difference between macrodeterminism of the Universe and macrofatalism of history, there is a similar distinction between the notion that the brain follows deterministic cause and effect laws and brain microfatalism. Microfatalism of mind is the idea that the brain is already made up and that thoughts justify themselves. Microfatalism of the brain is shared by the Communist idea that ideologies are justifications of class interest, the Nazi idea that thoughts are justifications for racial interest, and "modern psychology" and its idea that rational arguments are rationalizations of irrational interests. They all share the same denial of the possibility of rational argumentation, the same pathologization of arguments that target their real or alleged conclusions instead of the cause and effect path and its validity. The materialist notion of cause and effect applying to the brain like everything else does not preclude the possibility that the causal chain may include rational arguments shaping the outcomes of thoughts and actions, but fatalism of the brain does preclude that. It is that denial of rational argumentation at the level of the individual that causes totalitarianism.
What intelligence actually means
The importance of the ability to correct what others assume means that the traditional thought experiment of including "retardation" in a list of what you may face in a randomized status experiment against inequality is flawed. The difference between choosing how you want to be treated versus being treated based on what others assume about your welfare is not equivalent to differences in wealth, power or forms of health that does not impact your ability to correct what others do "for your own good" but actually is horrible for you. Asking "what IQ score is the limit?" or anything on those lines is to misunderstand what intelligence actually mean. IQ tests are merely collections of questions and their scores are based on correspondence between your answers and a list of answers. In IQ tests, the ability to do general criticism that makes science and corrections of what others assume about your welfare possible is at most a small increment among many others. So a non-sapient can score higher than a sapient on an IQ test. Those tests simply do not measure true intelligence.
Even when communication fulfills the formal criteria of being verbal communication, that is no guarantee for sapience. It may still be incapable of general correction of assumptions; it may still ultimately depend on external implicit assumptions as opposed to being a universal corrector. Formalization was, after all, invented as a way to allow computers to calculate things that they were not able to understand the content of. One candidate for this threshold of sapience is the ability to distinguish a reductio ad absurdum from a straw man. Controversies on this idea, e.g. whether or not it is the general preciseness of distinctions that is the brain's limiting factor, are to be kept at the level of hypotheses that can be falsified, that can be objectively true or objectively false. That allows criticism.
Immunization to criticism and definitions of personhood
To say anything on the lines of "the definition of full personhood with the right of self-determination is arbitrary, but we have to draw the line somewhere" is dangerous immunization to criticism. It gives the power of the gun's barrel carte blanche to draw a line wherever it pleases.
I remember reading "The greatest show on Earth" by Richard Dawkins for the first time when I was 17 years old. His claim that there was no threshold at which our ancestors became objectively people but that paleontologists had to draw the line somewhere when classifying the fossils, with his analogous claim that there was no threshold at which an individual becomes objectively adult but that it was "legally necessary" to draw the line somewhere and that the exact line did not matter, really did hurt me. I was under the horrible tyranny of legal guardianship that was said to be "for my own good", I was being hurt by the legal treatment that was based on my "right" to "be a child" (i.e. being ruled over by my parents like a dog being ruled over by its owner and having no right of self-determination) and I thought that such a line does matter for real individuals!
The view that humanness is fundamentally gradual and that a line must be legally constructed have been common in many totalitarian regimes for a long time. In the West, the Nazis created the Nuremberg laws precisely because they knew that "racial" characteristics varied gradually and that they had to draw a line to avoid a situation where they were without citizens due to the lack of absolute purity. Marxism is another example. While Marxism applies a form of emergent thresholds to transitions between types of societies, neither the original version by Marx and Engels nor any of the spinoffs used by totalitarian regimes ever claimed a sharp line or emergent threshold between pre-human primate and primitive society human. On the contrary, Lenin and Stalin used the gradualism in the Marxist view of humanness to justify racism against many indigenous peoples and other ethnic minorities. They built a "need" to draw lines into their bureaucratic machinery. There are many parallels between Western postmodernism with its Nazi roots and East European postmodernism with its Marxist roots, including that they both claim that there is no objective definition of intelligent life and that meaningful communication between humans and alien civilizations is impossible. Psychology is totalitarianism, criticism is not totalitarianism.
No valid distinction between some arbitrary limits and total arbitrariness
It is often quoted that Karl Popper said that "some element of arbitrariness" does not equal total arbitrariness. However, he never explained how such a distinction could actually work. Wherever there is social pressure to maintain "just so" ethics and deny that science can disprove it, there is always vast arbitrariness. For one example, many people including many with biologist titles claim that it would be possible to cross a human with a chimpanzee even without genetic engineering (the fact that the furthest separation of primates that have interbred is a common ancestor 2 million years ago while humans and chimpanzees split 6 million years ago contradicts the claim as such, but not its relevance for the internal contradiction of a world view), but at the same time they claim that it would be "unethical" despite claiming the ability to interbreed as a sign of "common humanness". Another example is that many people who believe that the brain is not "fully developed" until age 25 still support "adult at 18" laws. With such vastness of arbitrariness, it takes no real difference in "reasoning" from the arbitrariness of mainstreamism to support, say, either white supremacism or black supremacism (or other equivalents such as East Asian supremacism) with the exact same "the limit must be drawn somewhere" that immunizes-to-criticism classification of fossil chains of ancestry into arbitrarily-demarcated "species".
If you are claiming that there are ways to determine whether or not a limit have been drawn in an acceptable way (or rejecting legal positivism), you are effectively admitting that there is an outside standard beyond the lines governments have drawn in the sand. And with the existence of such an independent standard, there is no reason why it would be impossible to apply it directly in individual cases and skip the government and skip socially constructed laws altogether. Different cars drive at different speeds on every road in the world and that does not make all traffic break down, so traffic rules do not disprove this principle. Many insects and birds also walk and fly without colliding and they have no traffic police (and often different species with no shared "instinctive rules" walk and fly past each other with no collisions too).
It is not only claims of the past, the present and the future existing "at the same time" that are incompatible with the claim that drawing an arbitrary line that place you in a different species than your parents is somehow different than placing a fossil ancestor in a different species than its parents "because you have to draw a line somewhere". Within models that say that the past no longer exists and that the future does not exist yet, too, there is no valid distinction between near past and distant past, or between near future and distant future for that matter. Without an objective definition of personhood, you have no grounds for distinguishing what John Wilkins Booth did to Abraham Lincoln from what a "prehuman" ancestor that killed another "proto-human" ancestor 2 generations after our last common ancestor with the chimpanzees did. The physical theory that the past no longer exists, that time is objective and is not an illusion, makes no distinctions on how distant the past was!
And for the record, the claim that time does not exist also totally undermines any distinction between distinctions placed in the past and distinctions that are placed in the present. It does not allow the present to have any special status in history.
The objective testability of brain emergent thresholds
The concept of a threshold at which an individual becomes objectively sapient, both in individual development and as to whether or not the individual has the genetic basis for ever becoming sapient (the latter changing over the course of evolution) should not be confused with any kind of saltationism or sudden change of underlying factors. It refers to an emergent phenomenon, the threshold at which general criticism of assumptions actually becomes possible. To confuse that with a sudden genetic macromutation or a massive brain growth overnight is like confusing the concept of a non-arbitrary threshold for hydrogen fusion with a creation of energy from nothing that suddenly increases the temperature in stars and allowing fusion to start. Inherent lack of the ability to generally correct assumptions is objectively detectable and in a qualitatively different category than exherent denial of the right of self-determination.
In contrast to all of these arbitrarinesses, which are immunized to criticism, the concept of an emergent objective threshold of sapience allows criticism of every claim about where it is. For example, if the hypothesis that the preciseness of the brain's distinctions is the limiting factor were to fail, so would the claim that it is the ability to *distinguish* a reductio ad absurdum from a straw man that is the threshold of sapience. However, such a possible disproval should lead to the search for other falsifiable thresholds of what it takes to do general criticism, not to absolute gradualism which only leads to immunized to criticism and thus totalitarian claims that "the threshold must be drawn somewhere".
Proving one's personhood
It have sometimes been falsely claimed that openness in the question of who is a person would "justify dehumanization". Within the context of the notion that speech can silence speech and close the market of ideas, which in itself is not flawed, the former claim commits the fallacy of assuming that one had to decide beforehand whether or not another individual is "worthy" of discussion and only later discuss. True openness means that the ability to discuss stands out on its own. A truncated nepotism that defines "personhood" based on an arbitrary DNA percent number has nothing to do with an open society based on respect for ideas and their discussion which relies on brains being capable of discussion. An intelligent extraterrestrial with a different nucleic acid instead of DNA that reproduce through asexual symbiogenesis and need to drink sulfuric acid to survive can be an equal member in an open society. A genetically modified organism based on human DNA that had its functional gene activity regulators for the brain replaced with those from a chimpanzee but with so little "nonhuman" DNA its genome falls within the phylogenetic species concept of "fully human" cannot be an equal member of an open society. In fact, to consider the absence of rational argumentation as a sign of subhumanity is an efficient protection against irrational oppression. A stupid hater that was considered subhuman would probably not get enough followers to oppress an entire country or the whole world.
Current de facto dehumanization under a humane veneer
To a priori declare an individual that is or may be capable of discussion "incapable" of doing so is functional denial of personhood even if you nominally say that said individual is a person. If you claim that the arguments that an individual come up with are "symptoms" of a defective or immature brain and that the content of the arguments do not matter, you are turning your categorization of "personhood" into an empty phrase. It excludes the individual from any participation in an open society. Many psychiatric diagnoses are based on the assumption that anyone who express a certain view do so due to a defect in the brain, which is a totalitarian practice. Assuming a particular "cause" of a conclusion without listening to the arguments is always a fallacy. Most of the individuals who are officially classified as "mentally disabled" or as "mentally ill" are probably objectively persons but de facto dehumanized by arbitrary societal constructs. Being given "rights" that include being forced to treatments "for one's own good" but no right to self-determination can be well-intentioned de facto torture that is worse for the individual than no rights at all.
When it comes to individuals that are generally incapable of distinguishing a reductio ad absurdum from a straw man, things get different. Then it is about individuals that are not objectively persons, their inability to de facto participate in an open society as equals being due to objective inherent limitations and not to exherent social or legal constructs. Since IQ tests are flawed it is possible that some of those officially classified as "retarded" are full persons. It is also possible that some that pass as average or above average on IQ tests are really subhuman (given society's stigmatization of critical thought, such subhumans may well be classified as "highly socially competent").
What is really an open society?
Disclaimer of words, not essentialism
Please see are essentialism and historicism misdefined? before you assume this section to be "essentialistic" merely due to its choice of words.
Approximately open society or cancer growth of limits?
It was sometimes claimed even by the older Karl Popper that open societies were an approximation of an ideal, that there were different degrees of approximations of the open society. However, if there is as much as one taboo against questioning something, the familiar pattern of statisticians alleging links between different unrelated viewpoints which becomes self-fulfilling prophecies, what was originally one single "exception" to free thinking grows into a cluster of bans. Each new ban can then form a new cluster of other bans around itself, and so on.
Taboos against questioning things thus grow uncontrollably. It is similar to cancer cells dividing uncontrollably; it only takes one original cell that gains the capacity for uncontrollable division and is "immunized" to the immune system or undetected by it, and it will grow into a line of cells and metastasize.
What does democracy really mean?
Is it true that open society as in open to criticism corresponds to classic political definitions of democracy? What does democracy actually mean? Or is there a democracy illusion? Take, as an example, the problem with lumping into parties. A few parties with package deals does not represent all or even a significant fraction of all possible solutions (the delusion of democracy). Their lumpings are also due to historically contingent definitions, not following from underlying premises with their conclusions. Claiming that to be a "free choice", to repeat the democracy delusion, is like referring to the Christian dogma of a "choice" between good/heaven and evil/hell as "free will". Since big brains and advanced trains of thought would be overkill and ecologically unbalanced for such a limited scope of options without the possibility of outside the box choices, you could as well be arguing that flatworms can choose like humans. This is an important problematization of what democracy actually means.
You only have to look at the "arguments" against Artificial Intelligence rights that are sometimes posted on forums where transhumanism is discussed to see that the "one person, one vote" approach easily leads to denial of freedom. It is sometimes claimed that a conscious computer program that can be copied should not have rights "because mass-copying it could take over a majority of votes". The truth is that when a sapient "copy" is made, the result is a new critically thinking individual. Imagine that Earth was invaded by sterile aliens with indefinite lifespans who took Earth psychology's claims about genetic hardwiring and brain plasticity being mainly confined to developmental stages before independent critical thought (see this debunkal of that claim) face value, and argue that humans were "replicated" and should not have the right to vote? This has nothing to do with the technology of radical life extension as such: a culture with such technology (with or without sterility) may have different values than that, and it is also possible that some intelligent aliens have "naturally" indefinite lifespans (as some animals on Earth) and became sterile due to some effects of space travel on their alien biology (which does not mean that the same environment would make humans sterile). Or a more down to Earth example, someone claiming that identical twins raised in the same environment should not both have the right to vote? These are important question about what democracy really means, or the democracy myth.
Can democracy lead to mass murder and xenophobia?
Rule by the majority allows the majority to impose laws that may be horrible to minorities. That may cause minorities to think it is "necessary" to reduce the numbers of the majority to a minority, by killings. It is also possible that the majority may believe it necessary to kill people of an increasing minority that may become a majority, or to keep people (including refugees) out if they are coming from another country. In these ways, it is possible that democracy's majority rule may lead to anything from letting people die by keeoping out refugees to direct mass murder.
Polarization between parties suppress discussion
Is the presence of multiple legal political parties the same thing as freedom? What if the parties lump some ideas with other, unrelated ideas that only happened to be lumped due to coincidences in party political debates and falsely assume that criticism of one of them implies criticism of the others too? To assume that person X who criticize one idea should go to another party that also criticize that particular idea, but also have other ideas that person X also criticize, effectively suppresses freedom for other, perhaps more consistent combinations of ideas. That makes polarized multi-party states exactly as unfree as one-party states. Democracy is an illusion, and the illusion of democracy stands in the way of true openness.
Psychologists act as part of an oppressive self-fulfilling prophecy when they observe expressions of opinions that are actually forced onto people by such "follow us or follow them" cultures and falsely assume that it is in "human nature". A statistical correlation between expressed opinions do not prove a "psychological mechanism" linking them, it can easily be explained by a bad society pushing people with one view into groups with other unrelated views and forcing them to express those views too without actually believing in them. This means that democracy is a myth. One example is a man who really think the underrepresentation of women in science and technology is due to distribution of research grants being informed by pseudoscientific assumptions of who is capable, at the same time as he is afraid that a miscarriage of justice may frame him for a rape that he did not commit. Being socially ostracized in other context for his latter fear may force him into "men's rights movement" groups that in turn force him to keep quiet about his view that women have the same neurobiological capacity as men for science and technology. There are also many other examples. Psychologists spewing the doctrine that it is "ethical" to assume their pseudoscientific "facts" on "psychological links" only maintain such pressure and the groups that they counterproductively push people into. It is time to debunk the myth of democracy.
What does freedom of speech actually mean?
One question raised by the claim that some countries are "open" societies is: what does freedom of speech really mean? One problem about what free speech really means is the fact that even without directly banning criticism of, say, a law or a psychological assumption about "human nature" that is used as an argument for a law, such criticism can still be indirectly censored by classifying people who criticize it as "suspect" and framing them for breaking it, even in cases in which they did not actually break the law due to courts being more likely to convict people whom they falsely consider more "capable" of committing crimes. It may easily act as a self-fulfilling prophecy of conviction statistics. That is very similar to dictatorships covering their political trials by officially making them trials about "ordinary" crimes. Part of this is also when courts accept psychological assumptions about critical thinkers being alleged criminals as "legitimate" grounds for putative self-defense.
To make things worse for what free speech actually means, there is at least one country that is officially considered "democratic" in which such criticism can be considered illegal encouraging of crime in itself, and that country is Australia. Censorship in that country is already hard to distinguish from that in countries such as China. And that is only today. Opinions fueled by psychologists publishing populistic "scientific" articles are rallying for passing such laws in many countries (I know first hand about the existence of such opinions in Sweden). In particular, this applies to psychological claims about brains being wired to look for confirmation of their opinions. Such claims lead to denial of objective critical thought, which in turn leads to the same kind of assumptions about motifs that fueled, say, Marxist censorship of critical thought.
The question of what freedom of speech actually means is therefore a relevant one. If you are not allowed to criticize the claim that brains are wired to believe in free will, what happens to science? What freedom of speech really means has direct relevance to science. What if you are one day no longer allowed to question string theory, or quantum loop gravity?
When slippery slope is (and is not) a logical fallacy
To categorically say that "slippery slope is always a logical fallacy" is a false generalization fallacy. It is possible to distinguish cases in which it is a logical fallacy from cases in which it is valid. The limit goes at immunization to criticism. If it is possible to criticize a view without being dismissed in a way that ignores the content of the criticism, slippery slope is a fallacy. If it is somehow impossible to criticize something without being handwaved away in a way that ignores the content of the criticism, the view is immunized to criticism.
This is especially true if some form of pathologization and/or demonization in general and punishment in particular is involved. In that case, as long as a society and/or debate climate that maintains the immunization to criticism persists, it takes nothing more than random chance extensions to create a march towards more and more censorship. To maintain a status quo forever is, in the absence of reversibility, as impossible as maintaining zero mortality forever in a population with indefinite lifespans (some individuals would die in accidents if nothing else). So much for any claims on the lines of "the ship has already sailed for this debate, try to stop the ship from sailing in future debates".
The fact that it takes reversibility to prevent an inevitable march to a fixed final state is enough to show that immunization to criticism is the exception to the rule that slippery slope is a fallacy. The process does, however, become even faster if de facto advocates of immunization to criticism drive extensions on their own. Whether or not they are consciously aware of the fact that they are practicing immunization to criticism is irrelevant. What matters is consequences, not intention. As if demanding critical thinkers to spend all their time criticizing the latest fad of immunization to criticism was not bad enough, the phenomenon can easily demonize and pathologize such "slow down" criticism too.
De facto state-like effects of assumption mobs
It is sometimes claimed that freedom of expression only means protection from the government, along with straw man fallacies that confuse realization of the oppressive effects of other entities with an alleged view of a right to demand any media to spread any view. The truth is that hate mobs are functionally very close to de facto states, both being based on repression of dissent and allegations of "motifs" behind criticism. Any assumption of "motifs" behind a rational argument, no matter what the particular issue is, constitutes a totalitarian ideology with potential of oppression. Whether that oppression takes place by putting people in jails (whether for the criticism itself or by courts treating people who express certain criticism as being "more likely" to commit certain crimes as indirect discrimination) or by mobs attacking people does not matter. It is time to create a consistent protection against all allegations about motivations for criticism, not claiming one such assuming oppressor (the state) to be "necessary" to protect from another such assuming oppressor (mobs).
This has plain nothing to do with "substantive rights" to have any platform spread any view. It does, however, mean that no platform has the right to spread assumptions about other platforms having "agendas" behind the criticisms that are expressed on them. This protection applies to absolute anti-assumption platforms that never assume that there is a particular agenda behind a particular view no matter what (such as this wiki) as well as to any people who express any criticism. Even if a criticism is flawed or false, that does not mean that you are allowed to assume agendas behind it. You have the right to criticize a criticism for its flaws, but never to assume motifs behind support for it.
The effect of mobs makes "popular" assumptions on motivations equally unacceptable as government policies of assumptions. Forcing people who express assumptions about "agendas" behind other views to shut up about their assumptions is not suppression of the freedom of expression, it is a fight for the freedom of expression that is comparable to overthrowing a totalitarian state. This guidance of how to defend freedom of expression shows the similarity between totalitarian states and mobs that make people fear assumptions of alleged "motifs" for their criticism. Want to know how to defend free speech? Force those who assume an "agenda" behind rejection of assumptions to shut up no matter what, so that more people dare speak up against assumptions of motivations! This is an informal equivalent of overthrowing a regime by destroying its forcible drafting system of soldiers that could enforce more drafting. Only it overthrows a mob instead of a government. Of course such a dramatic change of discourse will end assumptions that are used to "justify" many government policies as well.
It is important to notice that all assumptions of motivation must end, no matter what the person who expressed the assumption has experienced. Allegations of agendas are all so horribly destructive in their consequences, they must all be categorically ended. No matter how horrible experiences a person have been through, the person is still never allowed to express assumptions of an "agenda" that "appear" to support what traumatized said individual behind any consistent or rational argument of any kind. Assumptions lead to oppression which lead to more horrible experiences, and the cycle must be broken! The sooner, the better.
Even without a physical dictator, assumptions of alleged motivations can act as a virtual dictator. Categories such as virtual Secretary General, or virtual Führer, or virtual chairman or virtual Great Chairman, are here used in a similar sense to virtual regulator. Just as a virtual regulator is an interconnected system that regulates its parts without being a central regulatory device that regulates other devices, so is a virtual dictator a phenomenon in society that is suppressing criticism in a similar manner to a physical dictator without actually being an individual person.
A virtual dictatorship thus does not refer to a person being "almost" a dictator. Instead, virtual dictatorships take effect when the threat of being pathologized or demonized for criticism of a view forces people to remain silent about their criticism of it. The virtual dictator is not a person, but a system of assumptions. A multi party state can be a virtual dictatorship even if its election system fulfills all formal criteria of democracy. Since virtual dictatorships are based on silencing criticism by scare, they can be overthrown even though they may outwardly appear as "inner attitudes" of the people it scares to act as if it was.
Postmodernism and "modern psychology" are virtual dictatorships, marked as such by their "what is your agenda?" gripe instead of the "may the best argument win" gripe that marks open societies.
Double standards of free will
There are double standards about free will discussions. For example, there are many forums on the Internet where people who believe that free will exists debate people who believe that free will does not exist, and they do not hate each other. However, when someone says that it is not necessary to believe in free will or have a sense of free will to form a functioning society, citing that ants do so with tiny brains and no "illusion" of free will, then that person gets cyberbullied. What nonsense is that, saying that free will does exist is okay, saying that free will is an illusion also gets a free pass, but saying that belief in free will is unnecessary is felony thoughtcrime?
Feeling offended by a comparison is totalitarianism
Arbitrary distinctions between types of oppression that are classified as "acceptable" and other types that are classified as "unacceptable" can immunize themselves to criticism by silencing comparisons between the two arbitrary classes of oppression. That effectively stops criticism of the so-called "acceptable" oppression, which is totalitarian. Since you cannot know a priori whether a moral value is oppression, it is necessary to be able to openly criticize any value for there to be any hope of rising above absolute arbitrariness. Any practices on the lines of claiming that comparisons between one and the other "hurts victims" of the one that is classified as "unacceptable" or that it "defends" the one that is officially classified as "unacceptable" therefore constitutes totalitarianism. It has no place in an open society.
Falsely marketing arbitrary distinctions as "better than nothing"
The practice of demonizing comparisons become especially bad when it is marketed as a "first step" or as "better than nothing". This is an especially widespread problem in the case of "it is not all or none" platitudes. To first say that classification of one type of oppression as "unacceptable" is "better than accepting it" and expecting people who also want to stop another type of oppression, only to later denigrate comparisons between the two types of oppression, is false advertising.
Is protection of status quo different from utopism?
It have sometimes been claimed that specifically utopism is dangerous, that attempts to create paradise on Earth create hell on Earth, and that attempts to defend the status quo are different from Utopian attempts in their risks. However, it is just as possible to demonize people who are alleged to cause "the destruction of civilization" or "unspeakable cruelty" as it is to demonize people alleged to "prevent paradise on Earth". The mere act of saying that "what I am protecting is not perfect, it is simply much less bad than anything else" does not change the fact that you are depicting others as very dangerous. The semantic difference between "better" and "less bad" is no more relevant than the semantic difference between "half full" and "half empty".
Much of the historical persecution that have been attributed to utopism were actually due to putative defense against alleged threats to the status quo. Very few of the victims of Medieval inquisitions and their Renaissance counterparts were actually tortured and killed in an attempt to save them for Paradise. Actually, most were killed out of fear that God would punish all of humanity if "sinners" were not punished by other humans. Many Native American civilizations did not believe that there was such a thing as a perfect Paradise, they practiced human sacrifice out of fear that divine punishment would otherwise take them from an imperfect status quo to something much worse. By the time of Stalin, very few communists in the Soviet Union still believed that a perfect society would ever exist, though fear of an allegedly even worse society in the form of ultra-capitalism still drove severe persecution of dissidents. Neither the Swedish institute for racial biology nor the Nazis believed that the "Aryans" were perfect, they merely believed them to be less bad than other races. And today, freedom of expression is undone in the name of "defending democracy".
Sterilization and Holocaust eugenists were non-utopian
In the 1800s and early 1900s there was not one eugenics movement, but at least two eugenics movements that were very different from each other. One school of thought called positive eugenics or spread good genes eugenics advocated that people with better genes should spread them. They thought that when mixed, the good genes would eventually take over. They were not afraid of miscegenation or degeneration. They thought that there were separable traits. And then there was another movement, negative eugenics or stop bad genes eugenics.
Unlike the positive eugenicists, the negative eugenicists thought that heredity was very complex. They thought that massive numbers of hereditary factors had to interplay (often in a suitable environment too) to have any chance of generating good characteristics. Their fundamental view of heredity was thus very similar to what is today called the omnigenic model or the omnigenic hypothesis, which is popular today even though there is evidence against it. After all, if you claim that pretty much everything is linked to pretty much everything else, there is no ground left for statements such as "skin color has nothing to do with intelligence" which are built firmly on the notion that there are separable characteristics. The negative eugenists, precisely because they thought that "genetics" was so complex no radical improvement was possible, were very afraid of degeneration which according to their view of an immense number of necessary but not sufficient conditions was practically irreversible.
The Swedish institute for racial biology sterilized families who were alleged to have some "admixture" very far back in their families, they claimed that a fraction of a percent Gypsy ancestry was devastating to morality and social feeling even though it was not that bad for general intelligence. They did not believe that they could create a better race than anything found at the time, they thought that the allegedly superior Nordics had developed their characteristics over a very long time and that the pure Nordics had to be protected from admixture. The Nazis in Germany did not think their breeding program could create anything better than "pure" Aryans of the time either, their attempt to make allegedly pure Aryans procreate more in SS and Lebensborn was all about the claim that they were less bad than other people who were considered to be racially mixed and "degenerated". It was about fear of degeneration, not a belief that something "perfect" could be created.
This shows that transhumanism has nothing to do with the eugenism that caused sterilizations and the Holocaust. Instead, it is the claim that genetics is too complex to be radically improved that have similarities to dangerous eugenics.
Censorship is not about economic system
While Marxism was and is a totalitarian ideology, it does not mean that it was its anti-capitalism that caused its opposition to open discussions. Open discussion means that everything, including any economic system, is open to criticism. The cause of the totalitarianism of Marxism is therefore to be sought not in the fact that it opposed capitalism, but in the structure of its "argumentation" (or, in the scientific sense, in its lack thereof). Marxism claims that thoughts and ideas are justifications for economical interest. Such claims lead to assumptions about motivations behind argumentation that focus on the end conclusions of the arguments and not on the arguments themselves. That immunizes it all to criticism. The assumption of agendas also lead to demonization of the individuals who express criticism, that is, censorship.
When it is claimed that someone who criticize the assumption that a person has an agenda is driven by a motivation to defend that alleged agenda, by taking for granted that the first person does have that agenda, all possibilities to separate truth from groundless charges go out the window. Then it is possible for anyone with a "suitable" social status to make up allegations that anyone who is not too powerful or have too powerful friends has any agenda. The fear of being accused of defending that alleged agenda will then silence any criticism of the assumption. And then completely baseless assumptions of agendas pass as "truth". One example of this, but far from the only example, is that many people who were in fact socialists were labelled as "defending capitalism" merely because they opposed Lenin's and Stalin's regimes. The Gulag was full of such people.
There are also examples of similar assumptions of economic "agendas" in the other direction, assumptions of socialist motifs or communist motifs. An example of it: the Red Scare in the United States at McCarthy's time. McCarthy claimed that lots of people were "communists" even if they were not, and he often directed those assumptions at people for saying that someone who he claimed to be a communist was not a communist. That led people not to dare question McCarthy's claims that other people were communists, which in turn allowed Mc Carthy to claim that non-communists were communists without being questioned. The decoupling of the economical system versus censorship is also exemplified by the fact that China is as censored as ever though it is economically liberalized now.
It is likely that the current rise of all sorts of totalitarian ideologies have something to do with the popularity of postmodernism and cognitive bias psychology. Similar to the equivalence between Stalinism and McCarthyism in the assumptions of agendas under the ideological differences in specific questions, there are also such underlying similarities between social constructivism (including but not restricted to gender feminism), evolutionary psychology type denial of rationality (especially the types that involve social intelligence and/or sexual selection, but not in variability selection which is much more open and does not deny rationality at all), statistical poll psychology (which is subject to self-fulfilling prophecies) and even in Spiritualism (Spiritists often cite claims about "human nature" written by evolutionary psychologists and simply reverse the claims of who is "biased"), despite their differences in specific issues. Denying rationality and assuming that arguments are afterconstructs to justify the conclusions lead to infalsifiable allegations of agendas, which can then be used to support any persecution of critics.
Dangerous assumptions of people being dangerous
Persecution without historical discrimination
Some people claim that severe persecution, up to and including complete extermination of entire populations, is a result of historical privilege structures. That it is an act of historically privileged people exterminating historically discriminated and/or enslaved people. That model, however, cannot explain why Lenin's and Stalin's purges in large part targeted people with upper class ancestors. Those people certainly were not historical victims of structural discrimination, rather the opposite! Since the persecution to death largely took place well after the fortunes had been taken away from the people who were killed, it cannot have been direct economic functions. If we look at the expressed reasons for killing the people, the reasons stated by those who ordered the killings, we see that it was about an alleged "risk" of the people they killed taking back power. That is, putative necessity of killing people for being allegedly dangerous. A putative need to kill some people to protect others (in this case "protection" from capitalism).
This is not assumptions of motifs, to assume motifs is to claim that there "must be" or is "likely to be" motivations that are not expressed by those doing the acts. This, on the contrary, is to go by the motifs that were explicitly expressed by those who ordered the mass killings. The allegations of a necessity to kill those people can be criticized either for being unnecessary, for being too horrible in themselves to be worth it, for having other destructive consequences, for concentrating power to a new party elite, and for many other things. These criticisms may well be valid. However, such valid criticisms have nothing to do with assuming other motifs. There is no contradiction between pointing out that it was not necessary to do something, and to buy that those who did it believed it to be necessary. Alleged necessity is not the same thing as actual necessity. People can have false beliefs about necessities.
The Bolsheviks, however, did assume motifs for any criticism. They assumed that all criticism was driven by capitalist interest. That acted as immunization to criticism, which in one form or another is what drives all totalitarianism. Their assumptions reached well beyond those who explicitly worked to defend their economic interest. It targeted people who were not capitalists themselves but considered capitalism to be acceptable. It also targeted people who were socialists but opposed Lenin's and Stalin's regimes. That is the pattern of assuming a specific motivation behind all criticism of a view!
Persecution combined with, but not driven by, historical discrimination
Even in cases when historical discrimination is present against people who fell victims of mass murder, it does not prove that the mass murder was a consequence of structural discrimination. It is still possible that the mass murder was driven by alleged necessities that were decoupled from structural racism. For example, the Holocaust decision to exterminate all Jews took place in Germany and was "exported" to occupied countries. While there was some systematic discrimination against Jews in Germany, just like in other countries in Western Europe, it was relatively mild compared to the much more severe Antisemitism in Eastern Europe that frequently included pogroms even long before the Nazi rise to power. Structural racism cannot explain why the decision was taken in a Western European country (Germany) instead of an Eastern European country.
The Nazi ideology, however, contained allegations about Jews being "dangerous" to everything from animals and children to culture and civilization as such. The Nazis said that they killed Jews out of "necessity" (a false belief in necessity, of course, but nonetheless they believed that it was necessary). The "necessity" rhetorics was full of talk about "protecting" that and that. Animal protection, child protection, protection of the nation, protection of civilization... and so on. The Nazis also practiced immunization to criticism by alleging motifs opposed to what they claimed to "protect" behind all criticism.
Nazi persecution was also distributed in ways that did not agree with a linear scale of degrees of racism. For example, people in Eastern Europe who were alleged by the Nazis to be "racially Germanic" after skull measurements were more likely to be killed (out of "necessity" to prevent the enemy from using "more useful" people) than were ordinary Slavs. This is an example that shows that people who are "privileged" in one regard can be persecuted in another regard. This shows that the idea of a linear discrimination structure is nonsense.
Modern protection-oriented threats of persecution
While the large psychiatric institutions that used to keep many people locked in for long times have been terminated, there is now a dangerous growing movement that wants to reinstate it. That movement follows the familiar pattern of claiming that some people "must" be locked in because they are "dangerous". The self-fulfilling prophecies in statistics remain. Besides the direct reinstitutionalization movement, forcible medication is increasing massively. These psychiatric drugs have gone through very shoddy tests in which the "control" group was moved from treatment to placebo without their knowledge, i.e. with a sudden withdrawal group instead of a true placebo group. This allows pharma to mistake the harmful effects of sudden withdrawal for "evidence" of positive effects of the drugs. Much of forcible medication uses arguments on the lines of "we must treat them to prevent them from harming themselves and others".
In the United States, there have been a massive increase of the prison system. About three percent of the population is in prison. That system has the potential to become a mass deportation in which the managers eventually see a need to kill prisoners to solve the problem of getting more incoming prisoners than they have room for. Especially if more and more very long sentences are added (which is likely in a society dominated by "some people are too dangerous to be free" ideologies), which increases the stuffing of the prisons. Even if the incarceration is left to prisons and not to psychiatric institutions, psychological assumptions about people who express certain opinions being alleged to be "likely to commit crimes" due to "cognitive biases" that are assumed behind critical thought can easily lead to critical thinkers being falsely convicted for crimes that psychologists consider them "likely to commit" on "scientific" (actually pseudoscientific) "cognitive bias" grounds. This leads to de facto totalitarianism that silences criticism of the prison system with fear of being framed by psychologists and judges who trust psychologists. And since crime statistics cannot distinguish correct convictions from false ones, this becomes self-fulfilling prophecies that allow psychologists to find "evidence" for their nonsense in statistics of crime.
There is also the potential, in the case of de facto collapse of the state, that psychological assumptions may drive mobs to kill people whom they consider "evil" and/or "dangerous". In that case, the mobs may take on a role very similar to that of de facto governments.
The greater picture
Systematic coercion relies, in one way or another, on forcing some individuals to exert force onto other individuals. The force that is used to force some individuals to force others can take many forms: direct threat of physical force or incarceration, religious threats of afterlife punishment, psychological assumptions that demonize criticism of the coercive system, and other forms. Regardless of what form, all such systems require that the representatives of the system are both privileged in some ways (to have something to lose, as well as to be allowed to do things that preserve the organized coercion) and under discriminatory suspicion that can turn into persecution in other ways (as their privileges give them greater opportunities to convert critical thought into action). To assume a linear scale of privileged versus discriminated is therefore ignorant of how systemic coercion works. Non-linear mosaics in which the same groups are privileged in some ways and persecuted in others are inherent in the system.
If an individual has absolute power (individual dictatorship), that individual is both absolutely privileged and exempt from prosecution and persecution (which often overlap). However, due to the mechanisms of coercion by threats mentioned above, that cannot be transferred to group privileges. Which does not stop collective totalitarianism from immunizing itself to criticism even without an individual dictator.
The dangers of territorial statism
There are many psychologists today, among them Steven Pinker, claiming that territorial states are necessary for any civilized life and that life without the state would be brutal and primitive. Many of these psychologists also divide people by classifications of "empathy" and talk about a very specific set of social feelings being necessary to create states. Historically, that is exactly the kind of claims that led Hitler to create racial conspiracy theories about people whom he considered "incapable of creating states" being driven by an urge to take over states built by others, ruling them temporarily and eventually unintentionally destroying them.
The psychologists of today usually claim that race does not exist and say that they are not racist because they say so, but persecution of critical thinkers for infalsifiable assumptions about "psychopathic motivations" forces people to keep quiet about their criticism in a fashion comparable to Stalin's purges (under their differences, both Stalin and Hitler assumed motivations behind criticism of them). Assumptions about the relatives of people classified as "evil" (no matter if the word "evil" is used explicitly, or if it said that "evil does not exist" but then the fine text only replace it with other words and does not functionally change the picture) can also expand across populations into something functionally similar to racism, even if the word "race" is replaced with terms such as "hereditary predisposition". The historical example that the Holocaust was not stopped by Hans Günther's acknowledgement that the differences within races were greater than those between races as he believed that there was a critical threshold of ratios between "good" and "evil" people needed to maintain civilization shows that it is possible that something like that can happen. A semantic difference does not matter. The risk of being not only personally pathologized for critical thought but also having one's relatives demonized also act as part of totalitarian oppression that scares people to remain silent.
Killing people in the name of democracy
It is possible that the assumption that democracy represent the people's will may lead to the conclusion that people who voted for "evil" laws are evil themselves, leading to genocide in the name of democracy and human rights.
How to discriminate in the name of human rights
It is often said that following lists that ban specific types of discrimination is about "universal" human rights. That claim ignores the fact that new grounds for discrimination can always be made up, so only banning a listed set of discriminations while allowing discrimination for other arbitrary grounds is not "universal human rights", it is selective group rights. It is time to generally stop discrimination on irrelevant grounds for its irrelevance as such, not merely for being on a list!
Criticism is necessary to find out what is irrelevant. Since DNA percentage is just a number, the category of "human rights" may be critically replaced with sapient rights that are relevant due to the ability to correct assumptions on one's welfare. This, however, does not change the fact that specific lists of discrimination grounds are incompatible with the concept of "human universal rights" too. If I am wrong, that does not make you right. We can both be wrong.