Subject: Re: On nil qua false [was: Re: On conditionals]
From: Erik Naggum <>
Date: Wed, 28 Nov 2001 05:02:44 GMT
Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp
Message-ID: <>

* Andreas Bogk
| I do tend to break laws I consider immoral or meaningless.  Maybe this
| has to do with the fact that I was raised in a dictatorship.

  It probably explains why it remained a dictatorship for so long if that
  is what it did to its people's concept of obeying laws while _not_ trying
  to change them.  However, I have no sympathy for those who cannot get
  over their hardships when these hardships go away.  Barring actual mental
  illness, there is simply no excuse for a thinking person _not_ to change
  his mind when he world changes around him.  And in fact, Common Lisp is
  _not_ a dictatorship.  It is a voluntary standard, but if you purport to
  conform to it, you can conform to it and be an honest person, or you can
  fail to conform to it while you say you and be a manipulating liar.  It
  seems to me that suffering dictatorships tells people that it is _right_
  to manipulate and lie, because if you do not engage in these tactics, you
  suffer and die.  That frame of mind may take a lot of work to get out of,
  but it is worth it.

| For the purposes of this discussion, the summary is: I don't buy that
| metaphor, please use another one.

  Then I will consider you a criminal in our little society, one who is
  fighting "laws he consider immoral or meaningless" simply because he has
  failed to think things through.

| That way, you keep outsiders to be outsiders.

  Being an outsider is a personal, voluntary choice of attitude, it is not
  something that others can impose on you.

| Then consider yourself something like a secret conspiracy.

  Again, why do _you_ think in such terms?  _This_ is your core problem.

| Just delivering the results without sharing the insights is keeping out
| people.

  There is no such active purpose or intent.  You are not in an oppressive
  dictatorship, anymore.  Adjust accordingly.

| I reject the notion of the Lisp community being identical to the
| Common Lisp community, and I especially reject the notion of CL being
| used as a guide to define who's a criminal in the Lisp community.

  Of course you do.  You are a criminal in this community, and you want
  Dylan to be a Lisp.  This is no different from a Scheme freak who has
  made up his mind that Scheme is a Lisp, such that he can capitalize on
  the value of being a Lisp, but can still blame "Lisp" for shortcomings
  while keeping everything good to be associated with "Scheme".

| I feel I have a lot of common ground with many people here, basic things
| like believing that automatic memory management, dynamic typing, general
| function dispatch and interactive development are good ideas.

  Intelligent people tend to find people with whom they have common
  disagreements, not common agreements.  It is not what people think is
  right that unite smart people, it is what they think is wrong.  This is
  also what keeps reasonable societies and communities together.  Since you
  have experience with dictatorships, you may recognize that what makes a
  society a dictatorship is that its people are forced to agree on what is
  right, and that has _horrible_ results.

| If I find a feature that strikes me as odd, there could be different
| things going on:
| 1) It's indeed a bit odd, but people get used to it soon, so it won't
|    be a problem, but losing it wouldn't hurt either.

  Getting rid of it would hurt all those who are already used to it.

* Erik Naggum
> In time, you will see the wisdom that there are more than one right, that
> the idea that there is "one right" is wrong, but that this does not mean
> that one cannot determine that something will always be wrong no matter
> what is right.

| I fail to see how something can always be wrong, when something can't
| always be right.

  That is because you warped the statement into meaninglessness.  Please
  think about it some more.  Many people spend _years_ coming to grips with
  this inequality of the determinability of right and wrong and of making
  the mistake of believing that _a_ right answer is _the_ right answer.
  Wars have been fought over this, and many lives lost in bad cultures.

  E.g., you can determine that something cannot be right concurrently with
  something else (that is right) because they exclude eachother completely.
  This is eminently possible without knowing what is _actually_ right.
  Most of how we build (good) societies is based on this principle.

  Some people tend to think that because they find evidence of something,
  they can conclude that they have that something.  This is false.  It is
  only if you do not find evidence of _not_ being something that you can
  say that.  Until you have looked for and not found counter-evidence,
  _you_ have contributed the conclusion from evidence that could point in
  any direction.  Remember, from a single data point, you can extrapolate
  in any direction.  Counterinformation is more important than information
  in determining what you have really found, because it helps exclude that
  which _could_ be right, but actually are not.

  The past is not more important than the future, despite what your culture
  has taught you.  Your future observations, conclusions, and beliefs are
  more important to you than those in your past ever will be.  The world is
  changing so fast the balance between the past and the future has shifted.