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The Pervert's Guide to Computer Programming Languages (2017) [video] (youtube.com)
214 points by commons-tragedy 9 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 123 comments

This was fascinating. I'd condense the overall sentiment to, "Pleasure is desireable and pain is inevitable. When and where do you get pleasure and avoid pain?" Also, these definitions are different than the common definitions. Here's a rough digest:

Psychopaths: I don't care about rules, types, or beauty, just get it done (JS)

Obsessives: a little monotony now avoids a lot of pain later (go, java)

Masochists: Look at how disciplined I am! (C)

Sadists: Look at how impotent everyone else is! (perl, regex)

Hysterics: Look at how beautiful this code is! (python)

Fetishists: Have you tried more X? (objects, abstractions, types) (smalltalk, erlang)

Melancholy: Oh, I miss the days when I could write an entire application in 200 lines of Lisp...

This post is almost better than the talk. I found the talk fascinating but this post gave me a clearer concrete understanding of the implications.

It’s a great digest, I wouldn’t watch the talk but now I’m certainly more interested.

Added talk to the watch later list.

From the video...

Psychopath Languages: Javascript, PHP, VBA, and SQL

Masochist Languages: C, Assembly, Ada, Brainfuck, and Factor

Sadist Languages: Perl, Clojure, Erlang, and Regex

Fetishistic Languages: Erlang, Smalltalk, Elixir, and Factor

Obsessional Languages: Java, C++, Haskell, Scala, Go

Hysterical Languages: Python, Ruby, C#, Prolog, Elixir, and Matlib

Depression Languages: COBOL

Melancholy Languages: Lisp, Scheme, Smalltalk

Having watched the video, read this post, and written serious amounts of non-trivial code in Javascript, PHP, SQL, C, Assembly, Perl, Regex, Java, C++, Python, C#, Ruby, and Scheme...

I don't disagree.

The "melancholy" hit especially hard.

> The "melancholy" hit especially hard.

Romanticism of Lisp: how awesome it could have been if I were writing this on a modern Lisp machine.

I use Emacs in no small part because of elisp... Oh dear.

I think romantically of MACRO-32 and the VAX silicon it ran on. (I have a CVAX2 chip pressed into a luggage tag somewhere around here...)

I disagree on the Javascript count, specifically modern, statically typed Javascript.

I might choose another language for perf characteristics that JS cannot match, but otherwise Javascript is a truly expressive lang right now.

Do you mean TypeScript / Flow / Dart or did some version of ECMAScript I am unaware of introduce a type system?

As someone who has primarily worked with Perl, JavaScript, SQL during their career, and who has a penchant for regular expressions, I'm a sadistic psychopath.


I mean I've been told I'm pretty unemotional, but sadism would definitely be a new development.

Remember, he's using the Lacanian / Zizekian definitions of terms, which are a lot different and more nuanced than their ordinary definitions, so you're probably the "good kind of sadist". ;) Lacan ironically classifies Marquis de Sade as a masochist!

From the extended paper:


Pervert, in the Lacanian definition, actually means a person who enjoys being a vessel of the rules. Zizek identifies the method of discourse that the psychoanalyst uses as the pervert’s discourse, because the analyst sits in the position of the object of desire for the hystericized subject. This means that the analysand [the person being analyzed] projects their ideals onto the analyst during a process of questioning known as transference. When we use analysis to determine why we use a programming language, we are operating in the analyst's discourse. It is important to have a basic understanding of Lacan’s terms (such as perversion) in order to understand the cultural critiques of Slavoj Zizek and other Lacanians.

“Thus, in psychoanalysis "perversion" is not a derogatory term, used to stigmatize people for engaging in sexual behaviors different from the "norm."”, Bruce Fink. A Clinical Introduction to Lacanian Psychoanalysis: Theory and Technique (Kindle Locations 2460-2461). Kindle Edition.

“The Other's desire or will is accepted by the masochist instead of the law, in place of the law, in the absence of the law. As Lacan mentions, the Marquis de Sade (better known as a sadist, but in this instance manifesting decidedly masochistic tendencies) pushes his mother-in-law, Madame de Montreuil, to the point where she expresses her will that Sade be punished. It is her desire or will that has to serve Sade as a law. Not the law, but a law.”, Bruce Fink. A Clinical Introduction to Lacanian Psychoanalysis: Theory and Technique (Kindle Locations 2805-2808). Kindle Edition.

> sadism would definitely be a new development

I guess that might depend upon your regexps and how gnarly/undocumented they are :-)

Was it not perl that introduced the documentation feature to regexp (the extended "x" flag)?

I think Perl got it in 99 or 2000. The only other two possibilities are Ruby or PCRE. But I think they were following Perl rather than leading at that time.


Raku's reinvention of regexes threw away the x flag. Instead comments are always supported. And whitespace is insignificant.


Except when one explicitly asks for it to implicitly be significant. Imo this simple maneuver is shockingly sweet, the sort of thing I'm glad Larry Wall saw, with his usual piercing clarity, is brain-dead obviously precisely the right thing to do:

    rule declaration { <declarator> <name> '=' <value> }
The above declares a `rule` which is like a regex except it doesn't backtrack between atoms, and, if there's whitespace between atoms, it treats that as a tokenizing boundary. So, for example, whitespace can appear in the input where it appears in the pattern, and tokens corresponding to the atoms (`declarator`, `<name>`, etc.) can't run into each other unless one is comprised of alphanumerics and the other non-alphanumerics. This is precisely how humans expect things to work; `let foo` must have a space between `let` and `foo`, but `let foo=42` is OK because `=` is a non-alphanumeric. Simple. Sweet.

Me too, but I'm also a hysterical fetishist. So the more programming languages you use the more insane you get! Seems pretty accurate ;-)

Obviously Lisp, Scheme, and Smalltalk are not melancholy languages because you are only melancholy about them when you are not using them.

They are perhaps narcissistic languages, or obsessional.

Well said. Used to be a die hard Smalltalker (with a strong appreciation for my Lisp (esp CLOS) cousins). Now I get by doing Swift, Kotlin, Python, and a bit of embedded C. Life feels dirtier now.

I wonder what moved Clojure from melancholy to sadism? Hickey's glasses, probably.

The slide says, "Injects itself into the corporate scene, then subverts from within."

FORTH is definitely a masochistic language by every definition.

Matlab should be in the Hysterical, Psychopath, Masochist and Sadist categories. Worst time I've ever had writing something non trivial was in Matlab. I once ran into a bug in their GC that was apparently 5+ years old and had to time line to fix. For context this was about 8 years ago and I was asked to do it in Matlab for a neuroscience lab I was working for. I would have chosen C++ or Python and interfaced with the C++ binaries.

Edit: Misread the above post. He said Matlib not Matlab. Not sure if that was a type or just referring to the plotting library, but my feelings towards Matlab still stand!

Where do Nock and Hoon belong (from Urbit, for those who are out of the loop)?

Hoon is a sadistic language implemented by a hysterical personality.

Subjecting Urbit to Lacanian/Žižekian psychoanalysis is like feeding Zippy the Pinhead quotes into ELIZA, just without the computer.

They both out of the chart!

Not sure why Erlang is in the sadist category, along with Perl and Regexp, since it's one of the most readable language I've encountered. I get the fetishist part as it emphasizes a specific paradigm but sadist seems unfair. It might be because the syntax is slightly unusual but it's in fact quite simple.

The sadist (causing anxiety to the other in order to get the other to announce the rules) wants the other to admit their impotence (in the way that the other develops software). The erlang community wants the other to admit that they can't develop software that has nine nines of availability.

Isn't it sadistic the way Perl and Bash are so ideal for developers gaining control over their employers and ensuring job security by making themselves indispensable (forcing their employers to admit their impotence of firing them) by writing obscure unmaintainable code that only they can understand and modify?

You can do that in any language, of course, but Perl and Bash are are optimized for it.

While the other hand, Java is designed to appeal to management by making software developers fungible easily disposable worker-bees.

I've heard about a merger between two companies.

One use Java, the other used Perl.

At some point both teams were told that they had to add a particular feature.

The Perl team was done well before the Java team.

This was a story from one of the Perl trainers. I don't remember enough about the rest of the video in order to find it online.

If we're talking about the same thing: this was about merging their databases, so that either could sell the other company's inventory. Both had an XML-interface for affiliates. It took the Perl team about 3 weeks to be able sell the other company's inventory using the XML-interface. The other company at that point hadn't agreed on a date for a initial design meeting yet.

By this, the company of the Perl team almost doubled its turn-over in 3 weeks. The other company ceased to exist a few years later, with most of its staff integrated in the company with the Perl team.

I'd have thought C++ was the poster-perversion for this. The community wants users to admit they can't develop software at all.

Its interesting to me to reclassify language schisms slash internal wars in this context. The C programmers(masochists) vs the C++99 programmers(Obsessives) vs C++11 programmers(Obssessives who want to move to Hysterical). The Raku vs Perl split as a move toward sociopathic behavior. The resistance in go to generics as an aversion of the masochistic to the hysterical. Its super fun.

I view the Raku vs. Perl split as schizophrenic conflict resolution.

Private equity has been making millions selling the parts of a company for more money than the whole. I don't see how that split is any different.

Where's Rust and Swift?

I'd put Rust in the obsessional camp and Swift in the hysterical. I'd put Haskell in both camps.

The way the community talks about doing things the "swifty" way is very reminiscent of the way the python community talks about the "pythonic" way of doing things, I've used both languages extensively so maybe I fall into the hysterical camp. Swift falls a little into the obsessive category too.

And Kotlin as well?

Look how beautiful and yet strict it is, and how other java folks suffer!

Sadistic hysteric it seems.

Miss APL, (or K etc.), Pascal and Fortran and Algol 68 ...

This talk is an amusing aside. I think the other posters are bit harsh for a talk that's clearly meant to be taken in that way.

If you're interested in actual psychology of programming languages, there is a small but growing research community at the intersection of programming languages and software engineering. The focus is mostly on usability research a la human-computer interaction, but there's also work on community psychology, etc. applies to programming languages and software engineering. See, for example, https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/7503516

Psychology vs psychoanalysis is addressed more in the paper:

"Psychoanalyst’s Rhetorical Question

Psychoanalysis can take a pragmatic stance when compared with other stances concerning the ontological status of the mind. A key question psychoanalysis addresses is the reality of the causes and effects of the subconscious. A provocative question here would be: ‘ Is sexual trauma completely free, or must it be compensated for?’ One form of compensation would be what psychoanalysis calls ‘the talking cure’. The implicit argument here is that the unconscious is real if it has real consequences. Computer scientists are concerned with the mind only in so far that it can be modeled, hence the question: ‘ Can the target pass the Turing test?’. Cognitive scientists are preoccupied with the scientific aspect of the mind to the point that the most relevant question to the others in the debate is: ‘Can you repeat your findings?’ Economists, are like the cognitive scientists in that they want repeatable findings but they also want to allow for agents to adjust to their environment including the fact that they are being measured. This means that economists and game theorists pose the question: ‘Can you create a strategy?’, where strategy is defined as those decisions that take other people's decisions into account. Finally, philosophers are preoccupied with the ontological status of the mind itself, and therefore ask the question: ‘C an you locate first person experience?”, while the closely related cultural theorists are more concerned with: ‘Can you create or critique an ideology?’" https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/vulk-blog/ThePervertsGuid...

Well, various parts are taken amusingly but I think this is aiming to be a serious inquiry into the psychology of programming language choice, which a bit different from the psychology of actually programming. Language choice is much wrapped up with power and ideology, areas that Zizek etc focus on strongly.

And letting go of a programming language that you fell in love with, who was ripped away from you or died for whatever reason, can be an emotionally difficult experience. Then there's that period where you're not ready to learn a new programming language, because you don't want to dishonor the memory of the lost language you're still mourning for.

At the end of the talk, he mentioned that Paul Graham writes poetically about Romantic Languages, and classifies Lisp and Scheme as Melancholy Languages, but he would also classify Lisp as a Hysteric Language, and COBOL is a Depression Language. ;O

From the paper:


Other Categories of Enjoyment: Based on the subject's relationship with the object of desire, there are various other categories of enjoyment that can be applied to languages. Depression within Lacanian psychoanalysis can be described as the stopping up of circulation around the object of desire. With depression, the object is lost and enjoyment is retrieved from the reminiscing of the loss. With melancholy the very memory of the object is lost (a loss of a loss) so the enjoyment comes from the romantic attitude with respect to the history of the language.

My feelings for Turbo Pascal are not unlike my feelings for the first ex who I truly cared about. It's hard to let go of that first love.

Here's the extended paper version of the talk, with all those great mind map diagrams (which were made with Loomio, [I think, but not sure]):





>Loomio is decision-making software designed to assist groups with the collaborative decision-making process. It is a free software[3] web application, where users can initiate discussions and put up proposals.[4][5][6][7] As the discussions progress to initiating a proposal, the group receives feedback through an updatable pie chart.

The mind maps were both hand drawn and made using simplemind. Loomio is a voting tool :)

cheers for the most original analysis of a domain (PL) using a farflung framework (psychoanalysis) i've seen in a long time. really good job! have you tried to publish in a journal?

incidentally you might enjoy this paper


That paper looks great. No, I haven't published anywhere. If you have any suggestions on journals let me know :)

I don't see anything about the mind maps. Can you give a pointer to loomio.org or gitub which specifically speaks to that?

Maybe I misunderstood that the tool he was using was Loomio in this video (that's what it says in the title bar, but maybe that's just the name of the file) -- it could be he's using some other mind mapping tool, but I don't recognize it, and I'd love to know what it is:

Here is a talk by W Watson (the same guy who gave this talk) about Loomio, and its background, history, and purpose, as it relates to asynchronous group decision making!

Austin Software Co-operatives - Video Recap: Economic Update - Enabling Worker Coops

>In May, we will discuss a 60 minute long video from Economic Update on Enabling Worker Coops - https://www.democracyatwork.info/eu_enabling_worker_coops Please watch the video prior to the 7pm call to have some background. We are looking forward to discussing this topic with the group!

>Software co-operatives and meritocracies are more complex than you might think.

>These concepts sit on the intersection of self-organizing groups, capitalism, consultancies, meritocracies, law, and ethics. Help us discover the best way to structure a software co-operative.



There have been some HN postings about Loomio:


Here's something a friend of mine wrote about one of Žižek's movies:

>I don’t usually recommend movies, but I really got a lot out “The perverts guide to ideology“

>Essentially it’s a well presented theory that any particular ideology is a sum of components that can be combined to create a complete undeniable way of living. Nationalism, ethnicity, religion, atheism, capitalism, socialism (and many others) are all components that can be combined in different proportions to create a complete ideology. Like a cooking recipe. The interesting thought is that no matter how one combines the variables, they converge to the same point. Which is, you must think and behave like we do, or you will be cast out. The filmmaker presents societies as swinging between the extremes of pure capitalism to pure communism, with the wealthy always maintaining an advantage. Interesting stuff.

That reminded me of Jonathan Rees' a la carte menu of features or properties of "object oriented programming" ideology (or objectology):


"Because OO is a moving target, OO zealots will choose some subset of this menu by whim and then use it to try to convince you that you are a loser."

I'd love for Slavoj Žižek to do "The Perverts Guide to Objectology”!

I was about to make the comment about the Zizek connection but you beat me to it!

Fun fact, Zizek came in a very close 4th place for President of Solvenia in 1990. I was shocked that he almost became a legitimate president back in the day.

I wonder what he has to say about the toilet paper shortages?

To be fair who can out debate him.

At least three other people?

Still at the six sigma of candidates

You should probably check out the debate between Zizek and Graham Harman (the object oriented ontology guy): https://youtu.be/6GHiV4tuRt8 Although ooo is not directly oo, you can probably pick up on where philosophers are more concerned with the problem of properties ( universals, nominalism, etc) in ontology a lot more than language designers are.

Just started. It's a use of contemporary "continental" psychology (Lacanian and Zizekian psychoanalysis) to consider the irrational choices that go into programming language.

It's kind of out-there but anything that gives a wider view of the choices programmers make might be useful.

Edit: Watching a bit.

I would view the quandary the presenter is discussing thus.

Human being are both power-seeking, ego-gratifying being and "rational", logic-using beings.

Now, human communicate with language. And a given "speech act", is not going to a pure exercise in logic or a pure exercise in power-seeking but some combination. Then, consider that humans interact with discreet "speech acts". A given speech act is going have an overt logical structure (simplify whatever math-y logic you wish) and it's going to involve some degree of power assertion. The power-assertion part by a fairly simple mechanism - identify yourself with a symbol and argue that symbol is "good" (and further associate symbols with each other, other symbols with "bad" and so-forth, all in dynamic process of power assertion). The most common example is a national flag but lots of judgements and colorations come in with this. Moreover, speech is a sequence of "speech acts" and first speech acts in a given context tend to "set the tone" - power is dynamic so the first speech act in a context to set the context the most.

So, with all that, I think it one can find a useful explanation why curly-bracket-semi-colon language and block-structured language have an apparently eternal "holy war".

Also, I think evolutionary game theory is a more coherent context for this. Evolutionary game theory allows the contrast between overt logic and self-seeking to be more clear and not have to call any process "irrational".

The debate as played out within a company may be more about power assertion, but the debate in the wider community and on the internet seem fairly rational.

I do worry that if the idea that it's all about power-seeking gains acceptance that we will throw up our hands in the air and say it doesn't matter either way (because of an unconscious fear of being seen as a simple power asserter) about things that do matter and that we stop trying to improve things.

"if new true friend not protected for explicit private union, break case and try using this"

All C++ keywords (and one operator). Dunno where that properly places C++ in the list.

Lately I’ve been getting into the habit of washing dishes and watching YouTube videos.

It’s lovely. For whatever reason, occupying my brain with my hands makes it easier to relax and focus attentively for an hour. Takes very little willpower.

Occasionally I find a YouTube video here and there, add it to my watch list, and stumble upon it later.

Always thankful when I find something promising.

Thank you.

This is a really interesting take on the psychological motivations behind language choice. I don't know if they're 100% right, but just the concept that people choose languages based on psychological effects is worth watching the video over, even if you end up disagreeing.

More than once I've heard people use the term 'bondage languages' to describe languages that restrict the developer's ability to create footgun programs. As someone who regularly uses the Ada language, I fully endorse the use of this hilarious analogy.

If you are using Ada, you might know of Richard Rhiele. That Ada is a bondage and discipline language is a joke that I got from him back in 1993ish.

Like Ada, Linda was also named after someone else whose last name was Lovelace!


I thought it was fantastic! But my father was a clinical psychiatrist. When I explain to people how the computer thinks I mostly automatically role play, and when they get indignant I don't care, I just shrug it off. But the psychoanalyst is a pervert, right?

This reminds me of Joe English's definitions of XML Namespace sanity http://www.flightlab.com/~joe/sgml/sanity.txt

> enjoyment does not mean pleasure or happiness

this is me scratching my Dark Souls itch

I want to do all my talks sitting all relaxed in a chair.

It's interesting, but I think the speaker would have done better to concentrate one language for each archetype, with examples.

I think this video https://youtu.be/D1sXuHnf_lo

Explains what languages correspond to which fetishes better.

You can see the author is very subtle and only say it at 0:55 while discussing some languages.

And plus it is Emacs!

Edit: NSFW

Where would BASIC fall in this categories?

Basic was the Javascript of its era: a workhorse for people who just wanted to make things, without a care for the specifics.

In this model: psychopathy.

Infantilism? Or Masochism?

"Programming in Basic causes brain damage." -Edsger W. Dijkstra

With or without compiler pragmas?

I used to use %VAL and %REF in DEC BASIC to do memory management. Most def sadistic. It was simple. It was dangerous. And it failed in the most inscrutable ways, particularly if you were a "normal" BASIC programmer.

Can someone explain me how's that C# and Java are in different categories?

Its not necessarily about how a language is syntactically or semantically it is about how the users and creators of a language talk about it and want it to be seen.

So according to this video these psychoanalysts completely redefined a good number of emotionally charged terms when developing their theories?

Or did people hear the words and redefine them later? The wanton disregard for existing structures really bugs me, perhaps more than it should. It's seemingly intentionally misleading, like they're afraid other people will find their conclusions too simplistic so they intentionally obfuscated the language to appear more sophisticated.

His title is a take on Slavoy Zizek's A perverts guide to ... series. Zizek is a scholar of Lacan, and thus uses the definitions of Lacan. As this talk leans heavily on the works of Zizek in other fields it is safe to assume it uses lacanian definitions as well.

Google n-grams has "sexual perversion," "neurosis" and "psychosis" all picking up between 1860 and 1900, i.e. as psychoanalysis was picking up steam. Most likely they got there first.

Interestingly, the frequency of "perversion" was steady through that period, so in this case the psychoanalysts did attach a new meaning to an existing word ("the alteration of something from its original course").

There was a huge spike of "prevert" from 1989 to 1995! What an exciting time that was to be alive.

But I wonder what fun I missed out on during the Great Prevert Spike Of 1807 -- that looks like it was quite a party.



I don't think it's malicious. I often find that as I think about and re-categorize things, meanings of words shift until I'm thinking and occasionally talking in my own private vocabulary. It's rude at best to let it out in the open, but primarily because it's lazy. Inventing new vocabulary is a lot of work, and also has its own fundamental difficulties.

People who divide the world into different categories are kind of screwed when it comes to communicating their ideas. IMO this is one of the thorniest problems in all of communication.

The tests comment was meant in good fun. I made it up the corporate ladder as far as Director, but decided I liked programming better. But if I put on my management hat, the question would run somewhat as follows:

I see you're expressing a fair amount of indignation, and I acknowledge that. But are we supposed to gaze upon your indignation, or the indignity you claim to have suffered?

Can you write tests for that?

Psychoanalysis: psychologists that don't do experiments, according to my university. Because of this they were briefly covered during one lecture and then completely tossed aside.

Psychology != experimental psychology

Yes, experimental psychologists have a field that almost completely crumbled, but at least they (1) admitted it and (2) some of them try to conduct science and succeed at it (most don't succeed unfortunately as virtually nothing is reproduced).

So how to deal with psychoanalists? What I did: see them as entertaining inspiration for philosophical thoughts. But you can also skip to his section "why psychoanalysis" [1]. I wasn't impressed. Also, those bullets are questionable.

So beware: in my opinion, this talk is not precise in terms of scientific accuracy, but it might be fun to use as an inspirational source.

[1] https://youtu.be/mZyvIHYn2zk?t=264

The video does a decent job of explaining the relevance of Lacanian-Zizekian theory. The approach isn't really aiming to be equivalent to experimental psychology. Rather, it's a view of strategy in personal interactions.

Not to spoil anyone's surprise, but the title of mettamage's linked video is "Deldo - Vibration Control and Teledildonics Mode for Emacs".

Zizek has a joke that since so many people own sex toys nowadays he wonders why they don't just bring them to each others' homes on dates and let the toys do their thing while the humans discuss philosophy and sip tea, and so on.

Timothy Leary was a pioneer in group psychotherapy, FWTW.

And Timothy Leary benefited from a practical application of his own psychological test, the "Leary Interpersonal Behavior Inventory": he used it to break out of jail.


>On January 21, 1970, Leary received a 10-year sentence for his 1968 offense, with a further 10 added later while in custody for a prior arrest in 1965, for a total of 20 years to be served consecutively. On his arrival in prison, he was given psychological tests used to assign inmates to appropriate work details. Having designed some of these tests himself (including the "Leary Interpersonal Behavior Inventory"), Leary answered them in such a way that he seemed to be a very conforming, conventional person with a great interest in forestry and gardening. As a result, he was assigned to work as a gardener in a lower-security prison from which he escaped in September 1970, saying that his non-violent escape was a humorous prank and leaving a challenging note for the authorities to find after he was gone.

who else saw the title and thought of Zizek? :-)

(nvm, the paper directly mentions Zizek, should've clicked through first)

Still, one of the more fascinating HN finds today.


> there were no emotional, psychological, psychiatric, subconscious, etc. considerations at all

> I heard good things about big shops successfully using Windows Server for Web sites and running database. I need database, and Microsoft's SQL Server seems well respected, understood, popular, documented, stable, etc.

This clearly suggests a yearning for a father figure. What was your parents' relationship like when you were a child?

I think there's an underlying cognitive dissonance between parent/child node relationships in digital tree data structures, and parent/child human relationships in biological family tree structures.

People and animals typically have two parents, while nodes typically only have one parent!

Would a more humanistic collection API support both "mother" and "father" relations, instead of just a single "parent"? Or should they be even more inclusive, and support any combination or number of "mother" and "father" relations, and even user defined parental relations?

I'm joking, but maybe it would be a good addition to Brainfuck.

Non-relational :(

him: one-to-many, her: one-too-many



Critical theory is a communicable memetic mental disorder.

Yeah, but so is nearly everything else. Money, sexuality and gender, architectural designs, military tradition, the list goes on without end. Nearly our entire society is a communicable memecomplex, and additionally, nearly every meme is logically incoherent, or at least logically unfounded.

By the very implied claim that you make that mental disorders exist, you also imply that there is such a thing as ordered mental states, correct patterns of thought, and healthy logical reasoning. This is a bold claim! You would do well to have less black-and-white reasoning.

Our bridges stand. Our rockets fly, and our planes (tend) to not drop out of the air unexpectedly. If not for some healthy logical reasoning, correct patterns of thought, and ordered mental states, then what? Yes, it's fun to discuss this kind of thing, and a lot of what we do is irrational, but it's just as often sophistry as anything else. I note, of course, that you did only say 'nearly', but that's basically exactly what I mean.

Mathematics and physics are memecomplices which allow us to study and consider the Platonic realm. There's no one single mathematics from a cultural perspective; consider where numerals, operators, and grouping come from. The notation is how we make sense of the abstract, non-physical aspects with our mere physical brains.

The "nearly" that I am exempting is for those things which are logically deduced from other things alone. While a person might reason incorrectly based on faulty premises, they are nonetheless using reason to do so, and applying it in a logical fashion (cf "formally formal" logic proofs). The right lesson to take away, I think, is that being logical, being consistent with empirical observations, and being uncontradicted by dialectic evidence, are three distinct things, and none of them are the truth, if the truth even exists.

> Mathematics

Is a purely deductive field and have no connection to reality, it's all about dealing with pure mathematical objects.

> physics

Exists within a strong empirical framework, which allows us to verify models, not just construct them.

Critical theory gives no verification framework whatsoever to prove or omit its statements.

I assert there are comparatively more ordered mental states, comparatively more correct patterns of thought, and comparatively healthier logical reasoning. None of that is black and white, and no one is perfect, but some do more harm, and some do more good. To claim otherwise is to abandon reason and hope when confronted with suffering. You have not done so; if not, why type at the internet?

I will take your first branch: Mental states are not observable, certainly not in a way which gives rise to some measure which we can call "orderedness". Study psychopathy and you'll see extremely "ordered" behaviors from people who are "suffering" from "mental disorders". At some point, the analogy becomes incoherent; human behaviors are too rich.

You may be interested in Aumann's Agreement: If two reasoners disagree, then either their reasoning differs, or their prior observations differ. It seems to me that typically it is the priors that differ. So why stigmatize folks for differing reasoning? Perhaps there is no good reason.

I can observe my own mental states, and I work to bring them into better alignment with my observations - more ordered. When I think it helpful to others, I use language to represent them. Because other's mental states are not directly obervable, I use a null hypothesis that they also use language to indicate their mental state.

When I use a regular expression, I have an intent to model an understanding. Some people may not have that vocabulary at all - my spouse, for instance. Some may be far more fluent than I. The point is: I have observed my understanding to be disordered or incomplete. I further observe that is the default state until I apply a degree of attention.

"Stigma" is an inaccurate model for when we don't have the resources to align another's goals with our own - goals which must include a baseline of wellbeing for every other. Persons suffering harmful hallucinations - or other harmful mental states - should be treated for them, but "stigma" is a blunt indicator to avoid conferring responsibility on those persons - I hold it an error to involve hatred or indifference. Our deficiencies in understanding are pervasive. I would not ask my spouse to develop a regular expression. They would not ask me to perform a phrase from a Mozart sonata.

> Yeah, but so is nearly everything else.

Nope. There are scientific, verifiable, objective things (and nobody cares about epistemological problems).

As other post told: rockets fly, internet connects etc.

And there are subjective matters, like ethics, aesthetics, art, beauty.

Now, subjective doesn't mean bad. What I really dislike is things like philosophy (which critical theory is part of), which tries to cover subjective opinions with obscure rhetoric to make them appear as facts.

Ahhh yes, the compulsive need of the reasoning mind to neatly categories all theories

Maybe so, but please don't post unsubstantive comments here.


Such things can still make a fine Hacker News submission.

"Please don't post shallow dismissals, especially of other people's work. A good critical comment teaches us something."


> A good critical comment teaches us something

Feel free to discard point number one of my post if you enjoy watching that kind of tripe.

Point number two of my post teaches us not to waste 30 minutes of our lives watching something that serves no practical purpose whatsoever.

Curiosity doesn't require a practical purpose. If you're not curious about this story, that's fine; there are others on the front page, and thousands more if you click 'past' at the top. Please don't punish the readers who are, though, by posting off-topic bile to the thread.

Speaking of number two, what are your thoughts on Zizek's theory of the Paradox of Toilets?


> serves no practical purpose

Not everything needs to serve a practical purpose.

I dare say the title of this is an allusion to Zizek


Yep the talk is about Zizek and Lacan amongst other things

interesting! I'll be sure to watch it then!

AKA, How to violate every language's Code of Conduct in a single talk.

Wonder if they apply retroactively.

I haven't listened to the talk but please let's not overreact to the title. It's a clever reference, and I'd rather not have to change it to "Psychoanalysis and Software", which might be just as baity anyhow.

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