21/10/2016

mandatory personal development module blues


"After these sessions, we often see people start to notice their Myers-Briggs type coming into play in everyday life, and being more analytic about the types of those around them. Really using it, really thinking about it."

(The birth of tragedy.)


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"So, what do you think of your test results?"
"I would prefer not to."
"Pardon?"
"I don't agree with it."
"Ah sure - people often find something a bit off with it, at first. Have you added in your epicycles?"
"Yes, but twenty more badly conceptualised variables don't really help matters. It's not the particular type that's the problem, but the typology. Two of the dichotomies are simply false; they do not trade-off in my mind, nor in the population's minds; they feign the use of a single interval scale without actually picking out a single real variable; and you force binary choices in the test in order to cover up the unimodal normal distribution that actually characterises each of the "dichotomies". You fail to distinguish how I feel about myself from how I think of myself from how I want to be from how I am. It is all symptom, no sign."
"O K... Why not just pick one for now, provisionally? We've got a lot of derived exercises to get through."
"Because they're not real. I don't mind boxes, but they must be real."
"Maybe the types have an effective kind of reality, because so many people take it seriously - for instance your HR manager."
"I try not to let social reality affect my beliefs about real reality."
"Borders aren't real, but you observe those."
"Yes: that's action, not belief. It is generally necessary to let social reality affect your actions. But Myers and Briggs won't shoot me if I ignore them."
"OK, but even granting you that the downside of refusing to accept it is minimal, what's the upside? "
"Honesty."
"You could have just told me 'I think I am very smart'."
"Honesty and class."

(Heavily stylized on both sides.)


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After two days I get desperate, conspiratorial. This can't be for real: there's no content here. But then, why is the org paying for it?

Maybe it's to make us grateful to return to our desks, reminded, as we are, of how good actual work is, by comparison. Or maybe it is to identify any ornery and noncompliant workers who made it through the HR net in the first instance, for a true dissenting soul could never make it through these four days without showing their shame. Or maybe it is because they simply do not know how to promote human flourishing but do not know they do not know.


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An enormous stroke of luck: that one can learn from people who know nothing. The world would be totally intolerable, organised any other way.
(The typical American film, naïve and silly, can – for all its silliness and even by means of it – be instructive... I have often learned a lesson from a silly American film.
– Wittgenstein)


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A three-player, known-length iterated Prisoner's dilemma is set up. No initial discussion. Payoffs are the standard unitless numbers. No objectives given. I swear I am not making up the roles the players settled into; a Homo economicus, an ineffective altruist and a noise generator walk into a bar:
A: "It's totally straightforward: for known-length PD against rational opponents, the only Nash equilibrium is 'always defect', because it only makes sense to defect in the final round, and the inference to prior rounds is timeless". Note he wasn't told his loss function, he wasn't told that negative scores were non-fatal (or that they allowed for "losing least"), and he certainly knew that his opponents would not be economically rational. But heedless, in the grip of theory: defected each time.

B: "Look, can we just stop and think for a second?" Opened with green, tried green after every negotiation round.

C: Random co-operation, based on his reading of body language. 7 defects out of 10.
All the scores ended negative, between one and ten rounds of points under par. Everyone was a bit mardy afterward. This was not the lesson they wanted us to learn.

(I would name my role in all this but now I'm blushing, look.)


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Fake negotiations ensue. Is your influence over me still influence if it's concerning something I don't care about at all?


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The facilitators have a marked prejudice against "closed" questions. (Also known as truth-apt questions, also known as efficient questions, also known as answerable questions, also known as well-defined questions.)


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I am called opinionated. But, then, what's the opposite of 'opinionated'?

Vague? Blank? Not there? (I am that I am.)


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Someone should write an inventory measuring specific recalcitrance to psychological inventories. You just ask as many obnoxiously oversimplified questions as possible, like "What's more important, logic or compassion?" and disregard all the answers: just measure how much their eyes roll.


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Everyone is compartmentalised. They claim to value hard neat reason when in a business game, but react very negatively to counterintuitive argument in any other context.

Why is this bad? Why not contain multitudes?

Because if you leave yourself naturally carved-up, you will be inconsistent. If you're inconsistent, you guarantee additional avoidable wrongness in your life. If you fail to minimise your wrongness, you will cause unnecessary harm at some stage. And that's a sin.



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Feedback sheet: "How much did you learn this week?"

"You mean to ask 'How many true things did I learn from the material you intentionally presented this week?', but it suits me to write down my answer to a different one, 'How many words with nominal meanings did I hear, and how much did this experience inadvertently produce in me a very strong sense of self via acute alienation and a demonstration of my critical ability?', because I am a softie.

(Was very pleased with myself for finding a humane way of expressing ultimate displeasure, and in their own terms: "This is not my learning style.")


notable nonjargon jargon


Technical books often use seemingly nontechnical, apparently normative terms: you're marching through your dense and spidery notation, and suddenly you tread in a gob of ordinary language. Some of the most important concepts in the formal sciences are of this sort, in fact:


  • well-behaved. "not weird; having all properties suitable for the present study; not in violation of any of the assumptions we just made". One of the big offenders, used everywhere and never defined truly, only by context. Usually "well-behaved compared to an unrestricted superset we don't want to handle right now".


  • well-defined. "unambiguous; blessed with just one interpretation". One of the core differences between the formal sciences and other enquiry. Terminology in other fields is nowhere near as clear as this (not even ones which seem highly formalised, like Spinoza's Ethics or Wittgenstein's Tractatus or half of Spencer-Brown's Laws of Form *).

    Why is well-definedness helpful? One reason is that there are no researcher degrees of freedom, which is to say that the results of well-defined enquiery are fully reproducible, definitely not bullshit (conditional on no errors getting through).

    The temptation is to call work in those fields not even wrong; for, if your rules are ambiguous, they cannot specify mathematical functions, and thus can never use the awesome machineries of truth known as Analysis and Computation. (They can, however, provide never-ending controversies - ink for the ink mill, authors for the author mill.)

    (see also well-formed in logic, meaning "syntax compliant"; and well-specified in American math and theoretical computer science: "sufficiently precise to be implemented in a general programming language").


  • embarrassingly. Roughly: "surprisingly easily". Writing distributed code is a neat and torturous art, often involving heavy functional analysis. But some operations - like counting elements, or matrix multiplication - are completely trivial to break into unordered subtasks, thus embarrassing the compsci PhD who is tasked with it. Very close to "distributive".


  • almost always : "P=1, except in the case of infinite sample spaces". Now, this looks like probabilists suddenly turning all hand-wavy and saying "IT'S BASICALLY DEFINITE, shut up shut up shut up". But it is actually used for infinite sets, where you can have theoretically possible events with probability tending to 0 (but not strictly 0). (see also "almost all - "every member except for this finite set of members" - and almost everywhere)


  • eventually. "after some finite time or iterations; sufficiently large". (Yes: in between sheaves of equations you will see people saying "almost surely eventually correct".)


  • With high probability: This one actually is "basically definite".


  • probably approximately correct. In the evaluation of machine learning functions: "neither under- nor over-fitted, as right as can be, with high probability".


  • arbitrarily. "how ever". No matter how large the number you pick.


  • by abstract nonsense. "using category-theoretic arguments which I take all of you to be familiar with"


* Half of philosophy is the attempt to make large, old, awful concepts well-defined in this high sense (as they put it: "to give necessary and sufficient truth-conditions for"). Now, it has been truly and sadly noted that mathematics is the subfield of philosophy that humans are good at - the only one we can successfully define in. But it's an unfair fight: mathematicians get to invent all the clean concepts they need, and ignore anything that doesn't fit; philosophers are duty-bound to encompass incoherent, foolish, and artefactual nuances of legacy ones. They are to be admired all the more for persisting in the face of total generational failure (and also teasing).


15/10/2016

Strangers Drowning (2015) by Larissa MacFarquhar


"Optikaa" (c) Zaky Arifin (2015)

I don’t know whether there are any moral saints. But if there are, I am glad that neither I nor those about whom I care most are among them... The moral virtues, present... to an extreme degree, are apt to crowd out the non-moral virtues, as well as many of the interests and personal characteristics that we generally think contribute to a healthy, well-rounded, richly developed character... there seems to be a limit to how much morality we can stand.

– Susan Wolf


...the moral narcissist’s extreme humility masked a dreadful pride. Ordinary people could accept that they had faults; the moral narcissist could not. To [André] Green this moral straining was sinister, for the moral narcissist would do anything to preserve his purity, even when doing so carried a terrible price... new qualifiers appeared: there was "pseudo-altruism", a defensive cloak for sadomasochism; and there was "psychotic altruism", bizarre care-taking behaviour based in delusion... the analyst surmised that the masking of their own hostility and greed from themselves might be one of altruism's functions for people of this type.

– Larissa MacFarquhar


...we cannot and should not become impartial, [Bernard Williams] argued, because doing so would mean abandoning what gives human life meaning. Without selfish partiality—to people you are deeply attached to, your wife and your children, your friends, to work that you love and that is particularly yours, to beauty, to place — we are nothing. We are creatures of intimacy and kinship and loyalty, not blind servants of the world.

– Larissa MacFarquhar



Twelve profiles of recent radical altruists, and the backlash they receive from the rest of us. (^) Besides, MacFarquhar has some deep reflections on the good life and human nature to work through. So: There are people who shape their lives around the need of the world – in particular around strangers who are constantly, in some sense, drowning. This category of person does more than just work a caring job and be dead nice to those around them: instead, their entire lives are dominated by the attempt to do the most good.

The profiled altruists are:
  • A fairly fearless nurse who organised the Fast for Life and trained generations of Nicaraguan nurses, continuing for thirty years despite specific threats to her life by Contras.
  • A pseudonymous animal rights activist who has rescued or won improved conditions for millions of chickens.
  • Two early effective altruists, Julia and Jeff, who live frugally and donate more than half of their salaries to the most effective NGOs in the world. They plausibly save 100 lives a year, far more than a doctor or firefighter (even before considering replaceability).
  • A real Christian, who opened her church to the homeless (over the hostility of her flock) and donated a kidney anonymously.
  • A charismatic, outcaste social worker and jungle statesman, who created a self-sustaining leper ashram, 5000-strong, out of nothing. Also his equally hardcore descendents.
  • A Buddhist monk who created the largest suicide counselling site in Japan, stressing himself into heart disease.
  • The omni-parents of Vermont, who adopted 24 of the least cute and easy children on the lists.
  • A taciturn altruistic kidney donor.
  • A burned-out idealist.
(I've compiled data on their nature here.*)

MacFarquhar appears suspicious about these people, whose lives are taken over by their morals. She calls them "do-gooders" while admitting the term is dismissive.** Even the most humble and quiet do-gooder is, she thinks, making an extremely arrogant claim: that the moral intuitions of the whole species - i.e. family favouritism, supererogation, the right to ignore the suffering of strangers - are totally wrong. She leaves no-one unsuspected.
an extreme morality as Singer's or Godwin's can seem not just oppressively demanding but actually evil, because it violates your duty to yourself. To require a person to think of himself as a tool for the general good could be seen as equivalent of kidnapping a person off the street and harvesting his organs to save three or four lives... even to ask this of yourself seems wrong, even perverted. Impartial, universal love seems the antithesis of what we value about deep human attachment.

I see these lives as victory laps: the victory of broad reason over narrow animality. MacFarquhar is more nuanced, less willing to dismiss particularism, nepotism and speciesism – which are together known as common sense. (Though I have only a mild case of the radicals: for instance, I am mostly immune to misery about the state of the world, and I help my loved ones without much guilt. I'm giving 10% now and 50% eventually, but I am such a bookish scruff that the absence of luxuries does not really cramp my life at all.)

One part of Williams' humanist case against radical altruism has dissolved in the last decade: the idea that single-minded ethical focus must erode your connection to your community. Well, the effective altruists are growing in number and maturity; they offer a deep, global community of at least partially serious people to support and be supported by: and all with the stamp of moral consistency.

MacFarquhar doesn't much like utilitarianism, but she is too moved and impressed with her subjects to take the standard, safe, quietist line (which her reviewers have tended to). Throughout, she presents contradictory philosophical propositions, and makes it difficult to know which she believes; she constantly uses indirect speech and deictic discussion, blurring her voice with the debate at hand. This is, I think, an impressive rhetorical strategy – an "esoteric" one. The book is addressed to common sense readers, but also to our uncertainty and faint guilt; it's dedicated to her parents, but explicitly constructed to bring us closer to the altruists:
I took out all the physical descriptions because if you’re looking at someone’s physical appearance, you’re on the outside. Similarly quotations, which seem as though they should be the most intimate form, because they come directly from the person’s mouth. Again, in fact, the only way you hear someone speaking is if you’re outside them. So if you translate quotation into interior thought, which simply means taking away the quotation marks and saying ‘he thought’ rather than ‘he said’ – that’s a more intimate way of encountering someone. ***
So Strangers Drowning covertly brings us closer to radical altruism. Her task is not to establish their ethical premises, nor to win over new obsessives: instead, she simply shows us their sincerity and incredible effects on the world – and, better, shows the lack of evidence and interpretive charity behind their opponents' aspersions. (This goes for the Freudians, the Objectivists, and the anti "codependency" crowd.) It humanises the threatening side of ultimate goodness. She mostly avoids editorialising about the radicals. But one of her clear conclusions is that these people are not deficient, instead having something most people lack:
What do-gooders lack is not happiness but innocence. They lack that happy blindness that allows most people, most of the time, to shut their minds to what is unbearable. Do-gooders have forced themselves to know, and keep on knowing, that everything they do affects other people, and that sometimes (though not always) their joy is purchased with other people's joy. And, remembering that, they open themselves to a sense of unlimited, crushing responsibility...

The
need of the world was like death, [Julia] thought — everyone knew about it, but the thought was so annihilating that they had to push it out of consciousness or it would crush them. She understood, and yet did not understand, why other people didn't give more than they did. How did they allow themselves such permission? How could they not help?
while also noting that, in general
If there is a struggle between morality and life, life will win... Not always, not in every case, but life will win in the end. Sometimes a person will die for a cause; sometimes a person will give up for duty's sake the things that are to him most precious. But most of the time, the urge to live, to give to your family, to seek beauty, to act spontaneously... or to do any number of things other than helping people, is too strong to be overridden... It may be true that not everyone should be a do-gooder. But it is also true that these strange, hopeful, tough, idealistic, demanding, life-threatening, and relentless people, by their extravagant example, help keep those life-sustaining qualities alive.
An amazing book, anyway: charged, critical, structurally ingenious, and filled with humanity – or, with this other, better thing.

4*/5.


"Sedia hujan sebelum payung" (c) Zaky Arifin (2015)

Note the absent quotation marks around MacFarquhar's report of the psychoanalysts' and Williams' positions. I talk about what I think she's up to here.

The chapter on the blitheness and cruelty of psychoanalysts enraged me - all the more because MacFarquhar leaves their unscientific bullshit unchallenged, instead letting it mock and degrade itself. (One hopes.) So much glibness and spite:
ANNA FREUD:


Altruists are bossy, because the urge that is usually behind the fulfillment of one's own wishes is now placed behind the fulfillment of the wishes of another person. The wishes have to be fulfilled in a certain way, in the way the altruist would like to fulfill them for himself or herself. After all, the bossiness of do-gooders is proverbial...

(My, what rigorous science.) So, here's yet another way I am fortunate to live when I do: these people have by now been mostly sidelined in polite discourse. The harm they are able to do is much reduced, and I need not spend my whole life convincing people that they are just making things up.


* Philosophy - e.g. Peter Singer, Will MacAskill, Toby Ord, Mark Lee, Geoff Anders, Stephanie Wykstra - looms large here, in this little corner of the race; larger than organised religion. Since all of the philosophers are from Analytic departments, this gives the lie to the generalised standard criticism of academic philosophy (: that they are fatally detached from the concerns of society, dehumanised, etc).


** "Do-gooder" is still much better than Susan Wolf's term, "moral saint", because, as MacFarquhar notes, to call someone a saint is to nullify the challenge of their difficult actions: saints are not just 'people who do really good things'; they are (thought to be) a different sort of being. Any movement (like EA) which seeks to make radical altruism mainstream has to resist this demarcation and get people to see such a life as, first, good; then, possible for them; and then reasonable - the sort of thing that people would do if they thought about it more.


*** MacFarquhar's account of Stephanie is misleading: she makes it seem like she has opted for ordinary amoral innocence, where the real Stephanie has taken on an incredibly high-impact job, activism for oversight of pharmaceutical clinical trial data.



Highlighted passages from MacFarquhar's Strangers Drowning


Some people try to help one person at a time, and other people try to change the whole world. There's a seductive intimacy in the first kind of work, but it can also be messy and unpredictable. People may resent help that is so intimate, and if it goes badly, the blunder is personal. Even when the help succeeds, the victories are small and don't really change anything. The second kind of work is more ambitious, and also cleaner, more abstract. But success is distant and unlikely, so it’s helpful to have a taste for noble failure, and for the camaraderie of the angry few...

[Dorothy]: "They were people you did not want to be around. They were so sharp. Everything was a matter of life and death: we've got to do this action because the world depends on it."



In 1967, a long-term study of living, unrelated kidney donors was initiated, with the aim of helping transplant centers form policies on these confounding individuals. The study subjected the donors to free-associative interviews, dream analyses, and Rorschach and Thematic Apperception tests. Published in 1971, it found evidence, in the donors, of: primitive masochism, reaction formation against early sadism, homosexual conflict, pregnancy symbolism, and penis envy. But it noted that, in this, the donors were no different from the rest of mankind, and that, after the operation, each donor reported a deep feeling of increased self-esteem — a feeling “that he had done something wholesome and natural with no indication of regret.” There were no reports of post-operative depression or physical ailments.

This study, however, didn’t change anything. Forty years ago, even donors who were family members were regarded warily...



Aaron and Jen moved in together, and then the trouble started. For one thing, Aaron was messy. Not just untidy — dirty. Laundry would pile up in his room, dishes in the sink. He would make huge batches of food to save money — pounds and pounds of lentil soup or hummus — and leave crusted pans and bowls all over the kitchen. When she complained, he told her that time spent washing dishes could be time spent working for animal rights, which were more important. She couldn't think of a good counterargument to that — in fact, she thought he was right, from a moral point of view... she had always thought of herself as an extremely ethical person, and now she felt like the selfish one, the bourgeois one. Dishes? When animals were being tortured and people were starving?
Dishes?

... One of the hardest parts of the breakup for Jen was that she now had to admit she wasn't the ethical person she'd thought she was. She was choosing her own happiness over the survival of other creatures. She could not justify it, she thought it was the wrong thing to do, but she couldn't help herself... She rebelled. She and Aaron had been rigorously vegan for years — and now
Jen ate cheese. She went to Paris and gorged herself on cheese. She went shopping for clothes that were new. She smoked pot and loved it. She revised her views on Israel. She worked as a dominatrix for foot fetishists. She stopped recycling.



Chapter title, from Kant's crowning rant:
DUTY! THOU SUBLIME AND MIGHTY NAME THAT EMBRACES NOTHING CHARMING OR INSINUATING, BUT REQUIRES SUBMISSION



I reacted rather passionately to Wolf's... passionate piece of... passion here:
The philosopher Susan Wolf has written that a morally perfect person would be an unappealing, alien creature, driven not by the loves and delights of ordinary people but by an unnatural devotion to duty... “Morality itself,” she writes, “does not seem to be a suitable object of passion.”...

Wolf argues that if the ideal of the saintly do‑gooder is not one we truly aspire to — if we feel that, in their strangeness or self‑suppression, such people are missing some crucial human quality; if we believe, in other words, that the moral ideal is not a human ideal — then we should revise our ideas about the place of morality in life. Morality should not be the highest human court — the one whose ruling overrides all others.



How did one drowning child become thousands of children and the prospect of a lifetime spent frantically racing from one rescue to the next? How did the price of morality rise with such startling speed, and so staggeringly high? It did so by blurring the difference between what to most people appear to be completely different moral situations: charity and rescue. Rescue — helping a person right in front of you, such as a child drowning in a shallow pond — seems to most people to be a duty, as long as it isn't dangerous. Charity — in the sense of helping an unseen person far away — does not.

To most people, the distance between themselves and another person — physical as well as emotional — is a deep moral fact: it makes a profound difference to their sense of duty... Singer knew that to most people these differences were significant, but he set out to show that they shouldn't be. How could a person who would consider it unforgiveable to allow a child to drown in front of him be content to let an equally helpless child die, just because he was farther away? It made no sense.

... Singer's conclusions strike many people as so extreme as to be almost crazy. Nowadays, a moral theory according to which nearly everyone appears immoral to the point of depravity seems ridiculous. In the past, however, it's worth remembering, [this] idea... seemed perfectly normal.



Gandhi believed that the seeker after goodness is obliged to forswear close friendships and exclusive loves, because loyalty may tempt him to wrongdoing, and detracts from an impartial love of all mankind. Reviewing Gandhi’s memoir, George Orwell found this belief repellent. He wrote:
The essence of being human is that one does not seek perfection, that one is sometimes willing to commit sins for the sake of loyalty, that one does not push asceticism to the point where it makes friendly intercourse impossible, and that one is prepared in the end to be defeated and broken up by life, which is the inevitable price of fastening one’s love upon other human individuals... It is too readily assumed... that the ordinary man only rejects [saintliness] because it is too difficult: in other words, that the average human being is a failed saint. It is doubtful whether this is true. Many people genuinely do not wish to be saints, and it is probable that some who achieve or aspire to sainthood have never felt much temptation to be human beings.
At the same time, Orwell deeply admired Gandhi. Without him, the world would have been worse; and Gandhi could not have accomplished what he did without being the sort of saintly do‑gooder that Orwell found so difficult to like.



There aren't many do-gooders in fiction, which is odd, because many fiction writers, like do-gooders, are driven by moral rage. But most such writers would rather show the thing that enrages them than show a character trying to fix it. You could say that do-gooders are rare in life, so their rarity in realistic fiction is not surprising -- though they are rarer in novels than in real life... it's as if there is something about do-gooders that is repellent to fiction...

When these elements are brought together — the
[novel's] embracing of messiness and imperfection, the dislike of preaching, the prizing of the complex and distrust of the abstract, the injunction to love real people close to you rather than an ideal of people in general — what novels amount to is an implicit exhortation to accept the human condition. You should love humans as they are, not as they should or could be. You should embrace human nature, with all its suffering and sin, and accept that it will always be thus... To fail to do these things is to become the sort of do-gooder who doesn't love the world as it, or the imperfect humans in it...



Ivan Illich being, as ever, brilliantly quotable and quite irresponsible:
If you insist on working with the poor, if this is your vocation, then at least work among the poor who can tell you to go to hell. It is incredibly unfair for you to impose yourselves on a village where you are so linguistically deaf and dumb that you don't even understand what you are doing, or what people think of you. And it is profoundly damaging to yourselves when you define something that you want to do as "good," a "sacrifice" and "help." I am here to suggest that you voluntarily renounce exercising the power which being an American gives you. I am here to entreat you to freely, consciously and humbly give up the legal right you have to impose your benevolence on Mexico. I am here to challenge you to recognize your inability, your powerlessness and your incapacity to do the "good" which you intended to do. I am here to entreat you to use your money, your status and your education to travel in Latin America. Come to look, come to climb our mountains, to enjoy our flowers. Come to study. But do not come to help.



Anyone could do what she did if they wanted to, she thought. Nick Carraway in
The Great Gatsby said, “Reserving judgment is a matter of infinite hope,” but the opposite is also true. To judge is to believe that a person is capable of doing better. It's to know that people can change their behavior, even quite radically in response to what is expected of them.






10/10/2016

notable words of all seasons


  • to curry (equestrian v.): to groom, firmly brush all over. (Don't freak out if someone tells you they're off to curry a horse.) See also "to decompose into univariate functions" and "shout at". People really like this word.

  • GLEE (adj.): "Gay, Lesbian, and Everyone Else". I like this; the current bien-pensant name has grown to "LGBTQIA"; not pronounceable, nor even anagrammable. But GLEE probably can't catch on, since people will see abstraction as erasure, and also won't like it tacitly including majority people.

  • septentrional (poncey adj.): Northern. Used in the clumsy retroactive Latin for the US, "Civitatibus Foederatis Americae septentrionalis".

  • boodles (adj.): Butternut squash noodles.

  • avi (n.): Profile picture ("avatar"). Annoying; optimised for tweeting, not speaking.

  • OC (adj.): Original character; in fanfiction, a new protagonist added to the existing cast. Pejorative?

  • procursive (adj.): forward-running. Used of a bizarre type of epilepsy which forces the sufferer to bolt.

  • forwent (v.): past participle of foregone. Ew.

  • to withgo (v.): to forgo. Confusing old Anglisc.

  • Cliché verre (adj.): "glass print": a drawing copied photographically.

  • del-con (Oz n): delusional conservative. Refers specifically to someone with irrational antipathy towards Turnbull and his Liberals.

  • missing mood (n.): Ideologically induced pitiliness. A telltale of a view being dodgy: if the viewholder has no pity for the victims of the view. Bryan Caplan's heuristic for evaluating a viewpoint ("You can learn a lot by comparing the mood reasonable proponents would hold to the mood actual proponents do hold.")

  • alien baptism (Christian n.): A baptism said to have been done wrong, i.e. in a manner "alien to God". The Google results for the term are now swamped by Francis saying he'd bring extra-terrestrials into the Catholic Church if they showed up it's all good stuff don't you know.

  • Kelleyite (Christian n.): A sect of Arkansas Baptists. Do open communion and accept non-Kelleyite alien baptisms as valid.

  • tolerationist (n.): Religious person who believes that differing views should not be persecuted. Tolerationism was a reformation within 'the' Reformation, beginning around 1650, but still not fully done.

  • andragogy (n.): Adult education. "Man leading".