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September 14, 2007



There are some issues in which there are really just two sides. Take a falsifiable proposition and ask "Is it true?". There's generally just two possibilities, unless it's a leap-year. Binary differences are fundamental things and some have speculated that this "difference that makes a difference" is the ultimate foundation; an idea phrased as "It from bit".

I agree with you on the bias to see things as two-sided rather than multiple-sided though.

Hopefully Anonymous

I agree there are some issues on which there are really just two sides. For example, in a primate grouping, when an alpha male and a challenger male are battling for supremacy over the group. ;)

But as for "it from bit" theory, I'm heartened to see that in your own site there are multiple variants of criticism and alternatives proposed to it from bit:


Heartened because it shows the limit that we as a species are constrained thinking a natural approach to decision making is that there are two options (which I do think likely stems from our primate roots).

Robert Lindsay

Hello, my defense of Stalin and Mao are simple and the links can be found here on the Entitled To an Opinion blog. My argument is simple. Stalin saved far more lives than he took. In fact, Czarism was three times more deadly on a per capita basis than the average for the Stalin years. Plus, Stalin set a world record for the fastest doubling of life expectancy in any land. This amazing feat was only broken by Mao in 1976. Therefore, based on those records, I hold that Stalin and Mao were two of the greatest humanitarians that the world has ever known.

There are plenty of ways to kill a man. You can do it with a bullet, work him to death, or you can kill him with hunger and disease. Dead is dead, one way or another. I liken Stalin and Mao to vaccines that, say, kill 50 people every year, but without the vaccine, 1000 would die. Or the death rate of abortions versus childbirth.

Further, the notion of the worst killers of all time is simply insane. Over his time, Stalin killed maybe 4 million. Yet he saved so many lives that at the end, he had saved a net 35 million lives, NET. In contrast, the transition to capitalism with its collapsing life expectancy may have killed up 15 million, NET. I suggest we look at net losses and gains of life when making lists of these "killers". Increase in life expectancy is not a given. Near the end of Stalin's rule, life expectancy was still about 35 in both Albania and China. There are places now that have life expectancy that low.

Let us look at China and India. They had similar figures in 1949. Since India took the capitalist road over the socialist one, we can compare nations by life expectancy and death rate. India is killing 4 million Indians per year, compared to China. That is the penalty for India not taking the Chinese path to development. Further, 14 million starve to death every year in the world, mostly in South Asia - India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Afghanistan. I do not understand why killing 14 million a year is not chalked up to the worst killers of all, but S and M are? Figuring over time, we can see that compared to China, Indian capitalism has killed about 170 million Indians. And that comparison INCLUDES all of those killed by Mao (maybe 20 million).

I will also argue that there were really no deliberate famines in Ukraine or China. China's famine in 1958 was caused by gross stupidity. The one in the Ukraine had many causes, but deliberate starvation was not really among them.

Stalin's victim toll has been exaggerated. It is really 4 million instead of 20 or 40 or 60 or 120 or however many million.

Mao's looks the same - maybe 20 million as opposed to 40, 60, 80 or however many million.

Indian capitalism kills 4 million a year, minimum. I would argue that replacing it with a killing system that killed a lot less people would be a net good.

I really do not support most of the killing that Stalin and Mao did, but many of those killed by Stalin had taken up arms against the state, or were trying to overthrow the government, so they were not totally innocent. The initial killing of 3 million landlords, not by Mao, but by the outraged peasants themselves, was not a killing of innocents either. Almost of those landlords were serious criminals with a ton of blood on their hands.

Robert Lindsay

Sorry that comment was supposed to go on this post here.

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