Paul Graham, venture capitalist, agrees with ROGS– how neocon religion-stained concepts of “heresy” and lashon hara have overtaken our society–and the internet

The guy who started Y combinator, and seed funded Reddit, Dropbox, and Airbnb is on board with my claims that ultra-right orthodoxy has infiltrated every dialectic space online, and turned the internet into a heresy hunting cesspool.

He also created the “Hierarchy of Disagreement” pyramid that was internet famous back in the day too:

This format hasn’t changed much, as fundies and others online explicitly seek to silence people with bad arguments, and now, the X-tian “cancel culture” too.

Read “Heresy” by Paul Graham:

One of the most surprising things I’ve witnessed in my lifetime is the rebirth of the concept of heresy.

In his excellent life of Newton, Richard Westfall writes about the moment when he was elected a fellow of Trinity College:Supported comfortably, Newton was free to devote himself wholly to whatever he chose. To remain on, he had only to avoid the three unforgivable sins: crime, heresy, and marriage.

The first time I read that, in the 1990s, it sounded amusingly medieval. How strange, to have to avoid committing heresy. But when I reread it 20 years later it sounded like a description of contemporary employment.

There are an ever-increasing number of opinions you can be fired for. Those doing the firing don’t use the word “heresy” to describe them, but structurally they’re equivalent. Structurally there are two distinctive things about heresy: (1) that it takes priority over the question of truth or falsity, and (2) that it outweighs everything else the speaker has done.

For example, when someone calls a statement “x-ist,” they’re also implicitly saying that this is the end of the discussion. They do not, having said this, go on to consider whether the statement is true or not. Using such labels is the conversational equivalent of signalling an exception. That’s one of the reasons they’re used: to end a discussion.

If you find yourself talking to someone who uses these labels a lot, it might be worthwhile to ask them explicitly if they believe any babies are being thrown out with the bathwater. Can a statement be x-ist, for whatever value of x, and also true? If the answer is yes, then they’re admitting to banning the truth. That’s obvious enough that I’d guess most would answer no. But if they answer no, it’s easy to show that they’re mistaken, and that in practice such labels are applied to statements regardless of their truth or falsity.

The clearest evidence of this is that whether a statement is considered x-ist often depends on who said it. Truth doesn’t work that way. The same statement can’t be true when one person says it, but x-ist, and therefore false, when another person does.

The other distinctive thing about heresies, compared to ordinary opinions, is that the public expression of them outweighs everything else the speaker has done. In ordinary matters, like knowledge of history, or taste in music, you’re judged by the average of your opinions. A heresy is qualitatively different. It’s like dropping a chunk of uranium onto the scale.

Back in the day (and still, in some places) the punishment for heresy was death. You could have led a life of exemplary goodness, but if you publicly doubted, say, the divinity of Christ, you were going to burn. Nowadays, in civilized countries, heretics only get fired in the metaphorical sense, by losing their jobs. But the structure of the situation is the same: the heresy outweighs everything else. You could have spent the last ten years saving children’s lives, but if you express certain opinions, you’re automatically fired.

follow the link! Connect the dots–internet founders agree that there is a witch-hunt afoot for those who use “bad words” online

A Manual on Psychiatry for Dissenters

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