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R.e. diets, what if the following are true:

1) there are precisely two different kinds of metabolisms that humans can have. Call them A and B.

For people with an A metabolism, low glycemic index diets are totally correct, easy to maintain, and lead to healthy weight regulation, while if they try a high glycemic index diet, they'll constantly be hungry and not really lose much weight.

B is exactly the opposite: only high glycemic index diets work, while low glycemic index diets don't let them lose weight and leave them miserable.

2) literally nobody in the populace believes or suspects that 1) is true

In this case you should expect:

- some people will have tried the 'correct' diet for themselves and will talk it up to the moon

- many other people will try this diet and have it fail miserably

- anyone doing analysis on this would reach the conclusion "low glycemic diets don't work any better than high glycemic diets. For some reason some people seem to lose weight but we can't figure out why"

Does anyone else get the feeling like we are kind of living in this world?

The best 'general purpose advice ' is, i think, "have excellent self-knowledge", and yet i get the impression that most people run around with the idea that either:

- everything is determined by luck and so there's no bother trying. (this one seems really common)

- that there is something wrong with them, personally, that prevents them from accomplishing even simple goals like weight loss (This one seems very common too)

Has anyone else noticed this? It doesn't seem to me like 'most people are trying various strategies to accomplish their goals and failing because of biases or inaccuracies or goals beyond their level' - i get the impression most people feel more or less pushed through life by forces beyond their control, and that this is generally taken to be 'the standard state of affairs' for most people.

am i wrong?

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I knew a Borgia once. I thought she was the last of her name, with no brothers to pass it on; I'm somewhat heartened to hear that there are more branches out there.

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Re Cuomo, it's certainly true that the sexual harassment allegations were trumped-up. The moral I draw from the story is that if you run a 20-million-person state as your personal fief and abuse your staff until they quit, very few people will stick around you for more than a few minutes once it's clear you're toast. Sexual harassment was the solution to a coordination problem.

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China isn't destroying its tech industry; it's destroying independent internet biz-to-consumer companies. It's still struggling to build an entire chip-fabrication ecosystem, and is clearly going to completely own opto-electronics in the near future (since approximately 100% of grad students in the US working in opto-electronics are from mainland China).

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The cost benefit analysis thing (item 3) is HUGE.

After 50+ years of trying really hard to give people the benefit of the doubt, I think Scott's point "missing a developmental milestone" is correct.

It's not just public health people, and it's not just cost-benefit; it's everything everywhere.

It's an inability to even conceive of the fact that the world is imperfect and tradeoffs are always necessary.

For example you may, if you have had an especially good political education, be aware that after any proposal the immediate response should be "compared to what?"

But when were you ever presented with this in history class?

Black slaves treated abominably? Sure -- but compared to what? How were white laborers treated? What were death rates like for sailors on slaver ships?

Colonialism bad? Sure -- but compared to what? How was the local system treating women/gays/the poor/everyone before the colonials took over?

Capitalism bad? Sure -- but compared to what? What's the alternative system [please cite time and place] under which you'd prefer to be living?

Ultimately I think there's an even more basic developmental flaw at the root of this which I call one-dimensional-thinking. This is a form of cognitive dissonance, an ability to maintain in the same mind the idea that something may be good along one dimension while simultaneously bad along a second dimension. Thus we get people apparently sincerely incapable of both appreciating the comedian part of Bill Cosby's life while also deploring the sexual behavior part.

Incapable of admitting even a single good thing in the presidency of Trump (or Obama or Clinton).

Incapable of seeing the past in all its (very high dimensional) variety.

And incapable of conceding that a policy they like (medical, political, ecological, ...) might have some downsides; or vice versa for a policy they don't like...

When you're incapable of even conceiving of the world in two dimensions, your problem is not that you don't know how to trade-off type I vs type-II errors, or how to perform a cost-benefit analysis; it's that you don't not believe these things even exist, and automatically assume anyone who raises them is an ideological enemy who is driven by the usual isms and hatreds.

The demon-haunted world is real; it's even more depressing and irrational than Sagan ever imagined; and it's where 90%+ of our fellow citizens live (including a goodly fraction of those who read this web site).

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I had previously seen the "Can I believe it"/"Must I believe it" quote about motivated reasoning attributed to Tom Gilovich, not EY for what it's worth.

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I'm probably being paranoid, but the "degrowth" movement genuinely scares me, not so much for what it is now but for what it could become.

The "rich countries sacrifice so that the poor can develop" is very noble, but if literally all you care about is preventing climate change, then actively sabotaging the development of poor countries, or even deliberately trying to lower their populations through war and famine seems like a more effective approach. I obviously think this would be evil, but the very alarmist rhetoric around climate change makes this seem worrying plausible in the near future.

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Either England and the Republic of Ireland will sink by 2060, or they will escape the tyranny.

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The image of Baghdad from the post contradicts the map from the linked article (and the common sense too): the city cannot be densely populated inside and change into some vaguely drawn fields immediately outside of the gates. If anything, higher-value crops would be grown to supply the city (so orchards, not fields) and there should be plenty of buildings too, especially along the roads.

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I don't understand #23 (the PhDs and anti-vaxx attitudes thing). I can't read the table as Scott describes it. PhD's in January have neither the highest nor lowest numbers (and I'm not sure what the numbers are).

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Related to the Russian Atlantis, I read this recently which suggests that propagating an imagined, more glorious national history is more common than you might expect: https://newlinesmag.com/essays/jesus-was-turkish-the-bizarre-resurgence-of-pseudo-turkology/

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About micro-dosing causing visual distortion in colorblind people, there's plenty of serotonin receptors in the retina (as well as in visual cortex), so it could interact with colorblindness, although I'm skeptical of such anecdata. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0300908418303213 The retina is incredibly complicated, so I doubt anyone can provide an answer that's very scientifically constrained. Assuming the report is true, a way to make progress on this would be to compare the effect of microdosing on different kinds of colorblindness, but I doubt the effect is consistent enough to feasibly get enough statistical power to make real progress, given the rarity of different kinds of colorblindness.

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#10: I like that the author pointed out this instance scare-mongering going on at the Sierra Club. I think most people don't realize how unscrupulous non-profit organizations can be when it comes to fund-raising. They just think "oh, these people are doing something for the greater good; you can tell because the organization that employs them is a not for profit. That is good. I will give them money so I can feel good about myself."

#11: didn't they also put ship builders to death in the 1500s, because the emperor was worried about maritime merchants becoming a rival power center?

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I’m a little suspicious of the idea that nothing’s happened to insects on the whole, given that compared to say 400 years ago we’ve totally wiped out many precious large swarming behaviors of insects, and turned much of their previous habitats into farmland monoculture (where some species thrive but not others) or single tree species or concrete. But short term, it makes sense not much has happened.

IRB approvals often suck, and presumptions of harm being arbitrary are generally dumb, but cotton masks have a presumption of being totally fine that is IMO entirely justified, because it’s a sheet of cotton. And n95s are also fine because it’s a sheet of plastic. It’s not like many medical professionals haven’t been wearing them this entire time. From the experimental studies I read, if you’re exercising heavily, you have to breathe a bit harder to push the air, but it’s only a bit harder and it doesn’t effect much. It is likely reasonable to subject life critical intravenous solution to a higher standard than a piece of plastic.

> cognitive distortions

Even if the data source was reasonable, phrases like “because I feel” and “everyone thinks” and “nobody but” are ... not ... indicative of any problems on the part of the writer of them. (From the supp info) https://www.pnas.org/content/pnas/suppl/2021/07/22/2102061118.DCSupplemental/pnas.2102061118.sapp.pdf Very odd study.

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Re: cost-benefit analysis.

Agreeing with name99 who commented earlier, this is definitely not only public health people, I'd seen the exact kind of hole in argumentation with environmentalists and with anti-racists, and honestly I've seen it with edgy /pol/ dwellers too.

I have two interpretations for the cause, no idea which one is more suitable.

1. They feel that performing some sort of analysis or calculation is in itself immoral, unempathic to the victims and/or displaying disloyalty to the cause which is being thwarted or endangered. Like if upon hearing that some baby might have died your first impulse is to do a utility calculation and not become sad and enraged and whatever, something is wrong with you.

2. (perhaps more charitable/steelman-like) This occurs with people being so involved in a moral cause that even a (comparatively very small) damage to their cause, presumably a cost to extract a larger social benefit, to them seems like a massive disutility and that reverses the conclusions of the cost-benefit analysis.

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Re the Chinese tech industry. The null hypothesis would be that it isn't any grand plan in either direction, but a self interested attempt to capture the money for the elites, regardless of the larger economic impact. Which tends to be the pattern in authoritarian countries whenever a new industry is successful. (To take a simpler example, someone discovers gold, digs a mine, and starts selling it, once that effort has already gone in its easy enough to move in your son/cousin/crony to take it over and give you a cut of the profits)

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The thing about glycemic index is that it's oblivious to fructose, which is the likely main culprit in metabolic syndrome. So finding that GI is useless as an index is roughly as I would have expected.

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The developmental milestones thing... reading this probably gave me the most profound insight since "OMG, when I instantiate a variable, I'm INSTANTIATING a VARIABLE", just more useful - you mean, other people don't understand these things?! Like, it's not that they just make fun of me, they haven't made it to these points? (yet?) also, about a dozen therapists, psychiatrists and people of similar ilk will be glad to hear that the effort they've put into me over the last 20 years hasn't been for nothing.

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The problem with cost-benefit analyses is that they're a categorical error for anything involving ethics with many ethical framework. If you consider it fundamentally immoral to take away a person's right to not get vaccinated, any cost-benefit analysis about gun ownership is meaningless. If you think it's fundamentally immoral to put any child in a situation that kills them, any cost-benefit analysis about the rate of that happening (where the rate > 0) is a category error.

Of course the nice thing about consequentialist frameworks is that you can decide between two bad options because one will usually be better than the other.

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> Is it true that, as GK Chesterton claimed, people who don’t believe in God will believe in anything? IE that Christianity fills a useful religion-shaped-hole in people’s heads, and so non-religious people are easy prey for cults, conspiracy theories, etc? I hear this a lot, but here’s a study finding that church-goers were more likely to believe in QAnon, even after “adjusting for confounders” (remember, this is hard and doesn’t always work). The same article notes that “white evangelicals” are more likely to believe in vaccine-autism connections, moon landing fraud, etc - although I find this less convincing than I would if they just gave me the church attendance statistics without bringing race and denomination into it.

For starters, I don't think this bears much at all on Chesterton's claim -- a conspiracy theory is not a "religion", not even in the vague "God-shaped hole" sense of "a psychological construct that fills the same niche as Christianity/etc in devout believers". Qanon may be something like a cult, at least in the center of it, but the other "conspiracy theories" they cite (election fraud/vaccines/moon landing) are just single straightforward factual beliefs. Trying to get at the question of whether non-Christians or non-churchgoers are more likely to hold other "religion-equivalent psychological constructs" seems very hard, using anything like modern social science methodology, but this isn't a decent attempt.

That said, regarding this study in particular, I'm pretty sure they're just getting confounded by "broad political attitude" (and I don't believe their model successfully controlled for this). Note that Qanon, 2020 election fraud, and nefarious vaccines all currently have a heavy political valence. (And note also that their question about Qanon is a simple favorable/unfavorable, and can't get at whether the respondents are deeply involved in the more culty aspects or believe the weirder claims.) White Evangelicals are among the most heavily churchgoing demographics, and also quite right-aligned on the culture war axis. So I'm pretty sure all those answers are best interpreted as just "yay, Trump! boo, The Establishment/Deep State/whatever!" (Note that the most straightforwardly political theory, the election fraud one, has by far the strongest effect, and the least political one, moon landing hoax, has basically no effect.)

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Re. cost-benefit analysis ("a lot of people just never seem to consider it at all, and I’m starting to notice this more and more everywhere, kind of like a missing developmental milestone thing."):

I've spent the past 5 years studying the history of Western culture, and concluded a few years ago that a very large fraction of it can be described as a ~3,000-year-long battle between rationalists and empiricists. One of the key disagreements in this battle is about integers vs. real numbers. Western Rationalists owe most of their beliefs to Plato; and to them, only the integers are "Real" (by which they mean "unreal"), and they ought really be called "ordinals", because their primary purpose is not to /measure/ but to /order/ things (in order of their closeness to God).

In Western academia, all of the sciences but math are controlled by empiricists, and all of the humanities except economics, psychology, and linguistics are ruled by rationalists. Hence the science / humanities split, which is far wider than I think anybody else realizes, because both sides use the same words in their epistemologies (like "truth", "reality", "proof", and "knowledge"), but mean entirely different things by them. People in the humanities use these words with the same meaning they've used them for the past 2,500 years:

- Only eternal, transcendent, universal categories are "real". Races are real; you and I are not (except in Platonism, Christianity, and other rationalist religions in which individuals have distinct souls).

- Propositions are either knowledge about these eternal categories, or facts about temporal individuals deduced from eternal knowledge. All propositions are either True or False.

- A True proposition is absolutely, eternally, universally true, regardless of context.

- Knowledge consists of universally-quantified and eternally-true propositions about transcendent Forms which are either (A) divinely revealed, (B) proven (as in geometry) with 100% certainty, or (C) arbitrary cultural constructs taken as fiat. ("The sun will rise tomorrow" can't be knowledge based merely on the empirical observation that it's risen every day for at least several thousand years; this requires the deductive proof of universal laws governing its behavior. "Socrates is mortal", which doesn't appear in any ancient Greek texts AFAIK, isn't knowledge, but a fact about a temporal being which was deduced from knowledge of eternal truths.)

Scientists who venture into the humanities quickly notice their high insanity quotient, and learn to just not think about epistemology, since its importance to practicing science isn't obvious. People in the humanities rarely have any familiarity with the sciences, and are blissfully unaware that science has changed since the days of Aristotle. This is why we have post-modernism, which argues that Aristotelian metaphysics are unsatisfactory and then thinks it's refuted science. (In my metaphysics survey, 43% of respondents agreed that science claims to prove or disprove beliefs about the physical world with certainty. I haven't correlated this with Scott's data yet, but I expect this correlates strongly with majoring in humanities and/or stopping after getting a B.S..)

The humanities base their epistemology on Greek geometry. In ancient Greek geometry, there were no numbers. Nobody measured anything; lengths and areas weren't given numerically. (That's why Euclid's proof of the Pythagorean theorem is much longer than most of the proofs we use today.) The humanities are part of the continuous, usually-dominant, rationalist school of epistemology, within which measurements are a kind of heresy. Measurements can be made only of earthly things, which are profane and misleading, and which true scholars should never pay attention to.

This applies /especially/ to measurements of value. This is why the rationalist tradition has always despised money, merchants, and utilitarianism, all the way back to Homer. (Odysseus was once accused of being a merchant; he indignantly replied that he was a pirate, which was much more respectable.) Rationalist moralities are based on some eternal ordering of categories or virtues, from the most-important to the least-important, where the most-important things have absolute priority over all less-important things, regardless of quantity or context. If the value of individual things can vary over time, then you would /have/ to use utilitarianism; no deontological or virtue-based system could work. (This is why Marx wanted a labor theory of value; as a Hegelian, he required that value be an essential property of a thing's nature, rather than something that could vary over time. It's also why, for most of Western history, merchants and businessmen were despised as parasites; they merely move things from place to place, or order around the people who "actually make things", while contributing nothing to a thing's value.)

That is, to a rationalist, you can't separate a thing's utility value or market value from its moral value, which must be an eternally-constant value inherited from its category rather than a product of its individual peculiarities and its circumstances.

A cost-benefit analysis, besides involving measurements of value, is premised on the belief that whether principle X takes priority over principle Y depends on the numeric quantities involved. Rationalists call that "relativism" and consider it evil. They're mentally incapable of distinguishing someone who considers numeric quantities while making a moral decision, from someone who has no morals at all. Their ontologies can't represent moral decisions as value trade-offs.

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#25 We got to watch this flip in real time regarding wearing masks. In March 2020, it was “we have no conclusive evidence that masks work to prevent COVID, therefore you should NOT wear a mask”. In May 2020, it was “we have no conclusive evidence that masks DON’T work, but it seems like they might, so you MUST wear a mask”.

The evidence didn’t really change from March to May, just the establishment consensus on what conclusion we ought to draw from the evidence. In both cases, openly disagreeing with this consensus was considered “anti-Science”.

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22: You say PhDs were least likely to be against vaccines in January, but unless I'm completely misunderstanding that table, PhDs in January have a value of 23.1, which is lower than "high school" (35.0) and "some college" (27.3), but higher than "bachelor's" (15.4), "master's" (11.8), or "professional" (12.8). Explain?

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I really love the Links posts!

2. Real estate - yes the up and coming folks with more money move out of their poorer houses and into fancier houses and if there are not enough fancy houses, then they can't do it. But in their wake as they leave their old poorer homes...it can lead to overall prices rising.

This group of people who are leaving their poor home because they now have too much money to live amongst the poorer folks are typically taking a lot of equity they've built up meaning they're selling for more than they bought their houses for 5-10 years ago. Often a big part of their upward house movement is fuelled by rising house prices. Meaning they'll vote for, support, and benefit from policies which see house prices rise. Certainly theri old home is 'freed up' in the sense that a chair you get up from is now free, but it is only a pedantic truth. Overall it has little bearing on their effect on the market other than to say most folks don't keep both homes to live in, they'll at least rent out the old home if they choose to retain ownership.

3. Cost Benefit 'missing' in action. I think this is often a form of rhetoric and manipulation and dark arts more so than it is missing. Even if the person using that style of rhetoric isn't consciously aware of it, people will tend to shy away from ideas which have a low probability of supporting their position or are too complex/nuanced to be useful in an argument. Scott might be falling into a 'good faith' assumption a bit too much in this case.

9. Insect Apocolypse...umm...I think sometimes smart people talk themselves into corners and end up missing what is obvious. Since the green revolution of turning war crime level chemicals into something we put on our food crops...then slowly ban them one by one over decades in a game of cat and mouse where getting caught means dying of cancer.

Anyhow...insecticides kill insects...I don't get how or why people are confused by this. Farmland soil managed in the 'conventional' way is devoid of insects to an insane degree - partly due to monocrop farming and large scale biome changes with habitat loss, but also due to these chemicals which do stick around for a long long time and do spread out across the land, waterways, and oceans. I'm simply incapable of looking at the dead body of the Butler with the Candlestick in the Library and saying...hmm this meta analysis says that Butler's almost never die to candlestick injuries.

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The link in the caption for “the metacontextual hyperamericas to which we have never not owed our allegiance” goes to the same place as the "source" link above. Is that intentional?

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Well, now I'm aggravated: I only scored 85.63 on that Divergent Association Task.

It seems the Chesterton quote is not actually by Chesterton, but by a Belgian writer who wrote a study of Chesterton: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%89mile_Cammaerts

"When men choose not to believe in God, they do not thereafter believe in nothing. They then become capable of believing in anything".

I appreciate the King In Yellow reference.

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Always love your link collections. That artist rendition of Bagdad is stunning! (Sorry for brevity, post-second-jab, only one of my arms is working well today!)

One small bit of info for you: Non-US folks (and apparently even some US folks, judging by my living-in-Boston boyfriend) don't know what happened with Cuomo, and "all this" is an accordingly confusing summary. COVID-19 politics was my first guess, but only weakly. No biggie! Just letting you know for calibration purposes.

Thanks again!

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14: A member of a discriminated group X needs a higher ability threshold to get through the hiring filter than a member of non-discriminated group Y. So among those that get hired, objective measures of job performance should be higher for group X than for group Y. That seems like the best way to measure discrimination -- if your Xs outperform Ys on average, then you're probably setting the bar too high for Xs or too low for Ys. So far I haven't seen any data showing blacks outperforming whites on objective measures of job performance -- all the studies I've ever heard of had the opposite result.

So why would the resume name-swapping test show discrimination when the job-performance test doesn't?

A perfectly rational Bayesian superintelligence with a goal of "hire the more qualified person for the job", when presented with two identical resumes, but one of them has the name "Steven" and the other has the name "Lakisha", will choose Steven, because the base rate of competence is higher for Stevens, and a degree D from college C is not infinitely strong evidence so it doesn't completely eliminate the relative effect of those priors. Throw affirmative action into the mix, and D becomes even weaker evidence in favor of Lakisha.

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I am pleased to be able to claim responsibility for the addition to the Cox-Zucker page. I saw Jadagul's link to the memorial note from Cox, and added it to Wikipedia. Long live the amusingly vulgar!

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I'm shocked that you could include item 4 but not link to one of the greatest Onion articles of all time: https://www.theonion.com/third-amendment-rights-group-celebrates-another-success-1819569379

Also, it would have been funnier if item 4 was listed one spot earlier as item 3.

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No. 22 seems like a perfect example of the bell curve meme.

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Apparently Cox and Zucker were graduate students all the way back in the early 70's. When I was a grad student myself I actually briefly studied Mordell-Weil groups of elliptic surfaces over the projective line but don't remember hearing of the Cox-Zucker machine. I was studying alongside at least one fellow grad student who I remember as being a bit of a "bro" (but ironic about it) who loved coming up with wordplay connecting mathematical names to obscene terms, so I'm sure if the Cox-Zucker machine had come up, I would remember someone making jokes about it.

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11. I tend to lean towards Door #1 there, although with a degree of moralizing "We need real industry, not this social media crap!" sentiment among China's rather old leadership (Xi is no Joe Biden, but he's still 68 years).

James Palmer is one of the more interesting Twitter follows on China, and I remember him saying you got to beware of this kind of stuff. One of the top guys who later fell out of power got a lot of praise in his day for crushing corruption and organized crime . . . only it came out later that he was just wiping out rivals and putting HIS people in positions of power to exploit corruption and organized crime.

EDIT: Deleted my older comment. Not sure commenting on that was appropriate.

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Might the PhD vaccination thing be due to age, i.e. a random 30-year-old is much more likely than a random 80-year-old to have a PhD and less likely to be vaccinated?

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I mean, the problem that people don't consider cost-benefit analysese, don't consider tradeoffs, is common enough and well-known enough that there are names for special cases of it ("sacred values"), and that Eliezer wrote this old essay about it: https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/PeSzc9JTBxhaYRp9b/policy-debates-should-not-appear-one-sided

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> IIUC it finds no overall gender discrimination (some industries/firms favor one gender over another, but it tends to cancel out).

While I get what you're saying here, calling that "no overall gender discrimination" seems a bit off. :P

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#14 are there any studies which attempt to disentangle racial from class effects in these sorts of "fake CV" studies? What's the effect of a name like Billy-Bob or Bubba versus Bryce or Beauregard?

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I'm of two minds about the whole "reposting Xinhua" thing. I know Xinhua isn't very good at what they do, and we're mostly just laughing at them, but there's this niggling voice in the back of my head saying "making a practice of sharing hostile memetic weapons doesn't seem like a very good idea" (cf. "Meditations on Moloch", "Sort by Controversial").

(NB: I'm not *normally* a deplatformer. I think people have the right to have their opinions heard. I'm nervous about Xinhua - and I mean *nervous*, not "how dare you do this" - because what comes out of there isn't "opinion" so much as "propaganda", and because their endgame isn't to convince us to improve ourselves or be nice to them - as with most domestic propaganda - but to set the West against itself as a prelude to military attack.)

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Would you consider stopping linking to Vox articles? That site is like what you would tell a kid about to make them grok why lying is wrong. From the Orwellian motto down to the clickbait titles, it is a dumpster fire.

Before the 2016 election they straight up did an article on why pro lifers should vote for Hillary Clinton. https://www.vox.com/first-person/2016/10/25/13380272/donald-trump-pro-life-abortion

At the start of the CV crisis they they were all over the idea that closing borders to stop the coronvirus was evidence of bigotry, and how the real threat that we should be careful about was that the pandemic would be exploited to inflame xenophobia. https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2020/3/4/21157825/coronavirus-pandemic-xenophobia-racism

It isn't just that they make mistakes. None of us are perfect. But honest mistakes are unpredictable, as likely to be wrong one way as another. Vox's mistakes are always in the same direction, always aimed at compelling obedience.

The crew at Vox strategically lies to people dumb enough to believe them in order to make them do what they want, and they do it in the name of 'explaining the news'. Until they own up to being an arm of the Democratic party, dedicated to getting their guys in power whether that means telling lies or telling the truth, they don't meet the smell test in terms of being worth reading.

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No Babylon 5 watchers for #15? The show had a running joke with the character Michael Garibaldi (Jerry Doyle) hitting on the character Talia Winters (Andrea Thompson). Later on, Doyle and Thompson actually got married, so in the end Talia was Garibaldi's wife.

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Creativity test is cool. But a few people I shared it with did it properly once and then instinctively did it to get as low a score as possible. This might mean that the earnest get more flattering results.

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Re: hiring bias study. I took a look at the abstract but its approach isn't going to capture most of the bias that does exist, because it's only looking at CV callbacks. In many of the most biased sectors like tech, finance, politics, the arts etc interviews aren't allocated on a first-come-first-serve basis by looking at CVs. There is a strong preference towards people who are already known to the organization in some way, usually via referrals (all tech firms award large referral bonuses to employees), but also via head-hunting directly via technical forums and these days, just by going directly to universities. The giant pile of dodgy material labelled "submitted CVs" is looked at only as a last resort.

I would always be very skeptical of claims that hiring isn't gender or race biased, because so many companies proudly assert on their own websites that it is and so many people have stories of directly experiencing it. In particular, giving women a much easier time through the hiring process and targeting headhunters only at women is very widespread, to the extent that if the law were actually enforced many big firms would find themselves hauled before the courts as in most jurisdictions, there's no way their practices can be legal. But western culture has developed in a direction whereby bending the rules for women and racial minorities is OK, so de-facto discrimination against "white men" and "Asian men" is often not even perceived as such - or is, but is justified as the right kind of discrimination.

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FYI link and text in first para is broken in the RSS feed. Probably you've already fixed it and feedly is still serving a cache but just in case figured I'd mention it.

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> vaccine-autism connections, moon landing fraud, et

The cofounder here is obviously the "set of weird beliefs chosen". Say you have group A of which 1% believes conspiracy theory X, and group B of which 10% believes conspiracy theory Y, if you test only for conspiracy theory X of course you'll find that group A is more susceptible to conspiracy theories.

Pick a theory like "the experts know with high confidence how the trajectory of corona cases will evolve given mask wearing vs no mask wearing" or "russia colluded with Trump and facebook to manipulate the 2020 elections" or "the reason we can't have nice things is billionaires hogging all the cash" and see whether these results replicate.

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I don't think Wales and Cornwall would vote Republican. Wales is pretty left-wing and always has been. Cornwall does vote Tory, but my subjective impression is that they're quite middle-class, socially liberal tories (i.e. Democrats).

Of course, by 2060 the Democrats and Republicans could have switched axes of opposition and even switched sides two or three times, but given that the American part of the map still looks pretty similar to how it does today, I don't think we're meant to assume that.

But the main thing I want to know is the backstory of how Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales, Cornwall, and London all ended up joining the USA but the rest of England didn't. :D

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An aside, because I think it's cool: The creativity test uses word vector distance (specifically GloVe vectors) as its measure of semantic distance. Word vectors were the hot thing in natural language processing before giant language models like BERT and GPT-3 took over, and the idea is pretty simple: Take a giant corpus of text, and count how often words occur in each other's company. Next, assign each word a vector, which you can think of as a point in space. Usually this will be very high-dimensional space, but you can imagine it as a big cube with lots of word-points floating around inside it like bubbles. (To quote the great Geoffrey Hinton: "To deal with a fourteen-dimensional space, visualize a three-dimensional space and then say the word 'fourteen' to yourself very loudly. Everyone does it.")

Where does each word vector end up in this space? Simple: Near the vectors for words it co-occurs with. You can imagine each word being pulled towards the ones it frequently occurs with (like "university" and "professor") and away from the ones it very rarely occurs with (like "spoon" and "hydroelectric"). Fun properties emerge from this - even if two words don't co-occur with each other extremely frequently, they can end up in similar regions of space if they both share the same neighbours because of said neighbours' gravitational pull - perhaps "professor" and "lecturer" are rarely mentioned together, because someone is usually referred to as one or the other but not both, but they both share the same verbal surroundings and contexts, and that's going to pull their vectors closer together than their isolated co-occurrence might suggest.

Once we have our vectors, the measure of semantic distance used in that test falls out for free - we can just measure the distance (technically the angle, but that's an implementation detail) between two vectors and that tells us how 'similar' they are, where that similarity is essentially derived from their co-occurrence or context-similarity as described above. In other words, what you're really being asked for is a set of words that are are rarely if ever seen together, and that share completely different clusters of acquaintances as well.

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As to cost-benefit analysis - a lot of people have more or less principled beliefs that engaging in cost-benefit analysis is morally sinful. They are crazy, but they're basically up front about what they think and their craziness is mostly limited to saying (as opposed to doing) crazy things.

But there's another large group of people who believe that engaging in cost-benefit analysis is scientifically invalid because it conflicts with (in general) the Precautionary Principle or (in medicine) the Hippocratic Oath, both of which specify that, if taking an action would have any costs of any kind, then taking that action is prohibited. Benefits are irrelevant.

It continually astounds me how many people are happy to loudly invoke the Precautionary Principle without realizing that it prohibits every course of action equally. And how many other people are willing to go along with it when that happens. People seem to have some natural defenses against arguments of the first type, that go "if we can stop one child from stubbing his toe, isn't that worth paying absolutely any price?". But those defenses apparently don't apply to arguments that go "as long as there are rocks outside, the Precautionary Principle tells us that we must never leave our homes". I don't understand the difference.

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#21 I was recently thinking how creating a counter bias instead of removing the existing one leads to higher polarisation and conflicts. With reference to how something can be similtaniously overdiagnosed and underdiagnosed https://slatestarcodex.com/2014/09/17/joint-over-and-underdiagnosis/

Suppose we have two groups and one group has some priviledged way to succeed, inaccessible two the second. Trying to counterbalance it, we create a new way for a second group to succeed inaccessible to the first. This makes experience of both groups more unique as they now have more different insentives. Moreover, previously we had people in the second group who felt opresed due to not having the benifits of the first group. Now we can have people in both groups simultaniously feeling opressed by the other one. Their beliefs are justified by their experience, but the members of the other group can't understand it as they have the direct opposite experience. Political thinking makes everything worse. Every group want to shout louder about their oppression, treating every claim of the opposite group as an reactionary attempt to prevent their liberation.

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> All these numbers seem lower than some other studies (eg here) and I haven’t looked into them enough to figure out why.

"Here" is a study from 2003. Is it not a reasonable null hypothesis that firms are less racist and less sexist on average now than they were in 2003?

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I don't know if the Covid outbreak started as a lab leak, but China is sure as heck acting as though it was!

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re 17: It's well established that people who believe in one kind of nonsense will tend towards belief in other kinds as well.

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Calling Vsevolod Ivanov a "conspiracy theorist" is perhaps selling him a bit short. He was actually a very famous and popular (system aligned) author in the Soviet Union.

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Regarding 19, visual disturbances in people with red green color blindness while microdosing:

All I could find on this is that several color blind individuals dropped out of Fadiman’s study because of visual ‘tracers’ that persisted for days after a microdose.

The tracers were similar to those seen with a full ‘tripping’ dose of LSD.

I couldn’t find any attempt at explanation.

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About the insects: What's the alternative narrative for the fact that windshields used to be full of dead gnats when I was a kid, and now that's not the case anymore? (People I asked confirmed that impression.) Did car aerodynamics change?

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13. I gotta say I like it. It's propaganda but it makes absolutly zero sense at all. Is the idea that the scientist (who one thinks studies dangerous viruses) would fooled into thinking a poisen apple is safe? Is the idea that if she participates in an investigation sincerely her words would be twisted and she would be taken advantage of? Who the hell is Kung Fo Panda? This requires a decade Marvel style cinematic arc to explain all these backstories.

25. OK but a caregiver would have access to a child for a few hours at most. Presumably parents at home would not mask around the child so dose is a pretty big question here.

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The cost-benefit thing has been a real bugbear of mine over the last year and a half, as so many people I discuss Covid with don't seem to get it. They just seem to think you can compare countries directly in terms of Covid deaths per capita, and whichever country had the lowest Covid deaths per capita "wins". I've pointed out to people that one cost associated with lockdowns has been a drop in referrals for cancer treatment - many of the people I've pointed this out to seem legitimately shocked to hear it, as if nothing like it had ever even occurred to them before.

I wouldn't call myself "anti-lockdown", but a lot of the people taking part in the conversation about lockdowns don't yet seem capable to me of making a cost-benefit analysis - they seem stuck in a mindset of "anything which brings Covid cases and deaths down is an unalloyed good; anything which causes Covid cases and deaths to rise is an unqualified bad; anyone who expresses any scepticism about any measures taken to curb Covid is a selfish geronticidal maniac who'd step over his own mother's corpse for the chance of a pint in a pub with his friends".

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How do u end up with asymmetric body maps about where it's ok to touch?

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Who is the target audience for the Chinese propaganda?

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Your score is 90.32, higher than 96.75% of the people who have completed this task


trampoline 83

lion 82 86

nucleus 91 94 88

pear 93 84 75 89

peer 81 86 87 91 91

petard 111 86 97 102 97 103

room trampoline lion nucleus pear peer petard

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My hot take on 14 is that the fact that the discrimination seems to be concentrated in retail suggests that employers are less racist themselves than worried about racist customers.

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> I realize I sound arrogant and annoying here, but I guess I’m just urging people to notice when there’s a big hole at the point in an argument where a cost-benefit analysis should be.

While I'm inclined to agree, doesn't this seemingly assume a utilitarian point of view which others may not share? A deontologist might simply conclude that any unnecessary death is a tragedy we should work to avoid. They might agree that we can take a utilitarian approach to decide in what order to tackle these tragedies, but not whether they qualify as a tragedy.

> How are resources in effective altruism allocated across issues?

You know what would be the most effective use of funds? Political reform. Get the money out of politics, fund elections using public money, and move towards more proportional representation (but not full PR).

Presumably effective altruism should be about moving the biggest lever to effect the most positive change, and there's no bigger lever than the federal government. $400 million is money that can move elections.

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I'm a little dense, so is Nate Silver showing two people on opposite sides of an argument, each jumping right to a conclusion, neither doing any cost-benefit?

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Over the past year I've adopted a heuristic. If you ask somebody "does X cause Y" and their answer is "there is no evidence that X causes Y" without any further context, then I assume some level of malice.

Why? Because a) they answered a different question than the one I asked; b) they didn't acknowledge that they did that; and c) they are acting-as-if they answered the question I asked, which they didn't, and they know they didn't, which means they believe they're deceiving me.

If they were sincere, they might say something like "Well at this time we don't have any evidence that X causes Y, but it's worth investigating". Or "Well at this time we don't have any evidence that X causes Y, but based on first principles it's reasonable to think it might". Or even "Well at this time we don't have any evidence that X causes Y, but based on first principles, it's reasonable to think it doesn't"

They might say: "Well we don't have any evidence that it does, so really, who knows". But overwhelmingly, in my experience at least, when you ask "does X cause Y" and someone says "there is no evidence that X causes Y", they are very strongly trying to make you think "X does not cause Y" without actual evidence of it.

Now I'm not being a stickler for evidence. In fact, another one of the heuristics I've come to believe in the last year is that evidence is way less useful and more prone to bias and manipulation than people think. It's more, like, a mismatch in the confidence level. If you ask a question and someone's answer is "there is no evidence for your hypothesis", then the honest disposition is to be incredibly uncertain about the question and every potential answer. But that's not what I see. What I see is, most of the time, "there is no evidence for your hypothesis" being said as if it's a confident statement that there will never be evidence for your hypothesis.

If this strikes you as too confrontational, or too obstinate, or otherwise unacceptably irrational, I have an alternative formulation for it, and I will use the object level example from (25)

Me: "Hey does wearing masks all the time fuck up childhood development?"

AAP: "There is no evidence that wearing face masks all the time fucks up childhood development?"

This is the heuristic alternative:

Me: "Ok, so, does wearing masks all the time _not_ fuck up children?"

The only honest answer to this question, assuming their previous answer was also honest, is "there is no evidence that wearing face masks all the time _doesn't_ fuck up children". And once you juxtapose those two non-answers together, they cancel out the connotative implication that "your hypothesis is wrong" and return you back to "we don't know so I guess make some guesses based on first principles and factor in heavy uncertainty"

Another another way of thinking about it: this is like a Watson selection task. If I want to know does X cause Y and someone answers "we have no evidence that X causes Y", that tells me nothing. The correct way to invalidate that hypothesis is not "we have no evidence" but rather "we have counter-evidence". It's to say "well actually here's a bunch of studies that show that X definitely doesn't cause Y". But very few people think in this instinctive falsification mode, and they get snowed.

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4: Volokh has a pointed to a situation in WW2 where the government did flagranty violate the third amendment:


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I'm really surprised so many ppl are surprised or can't understand why these public health officials (and many policy peeps in other areas) avoid believing, often by not looking, cost-benefit analysis. If you took public health/policy cost-benefits seriously you'd upset and alienate your friends/peers/felloe partisans so you manage to figure out a way not to (and you aren't a sociopath so u can't just lie all the time).

I can't be the only one here who felt they had way less friends and was far more isolated than they wanted to be *because* I couldn't bring myself to believe the views that would make me acceptable to my peers and at other times tricked myself into ignoring evidence to retain social connections.

Fuck, I'm pretty sure 80% of philosophers are delibrately choosing not to think about trans-gender philosophy bc they in some sense realize/suspect coherence is incompatible with the list of statements they'd lose friends etc for endorsing[1]. And I wouldn't be surprised if any number of us here aren't busy doing the same thing about aspects of the role the sequences/Yudkowsky have in rationalism.

So yah of course ppl avoid doing C/B analysis across the board ...anyone who did would basically end up with the kind of views expressed here (in lvl of hereticality not necessarily content) and find themselves pushed out of both power and good graces of friends.


[1]: No, I don't mean some crazy anti-trans view is right. I just mean that most philosophers at some level realize taking a close look at philosophy of gender is quite likely to lead you to a perfectly humane and sympathetic yet unacceptably heretical view like what I and I think Scott believe: that trans-men aren't men on the traditional usage/meaning of that word but that just means we should change the meaning (ppl > dictionaries). Or that any 'gender' not traditionally recognized by your society (perhaps and none of the above) is better understood as a strongly felt attitude about gender instead.

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"is smashing its tech industry"

China isn't "smashing" anything. Is Weibo down? Is Ixigua down? Is WeChat down? Is China's tech sector going to be a smaller percentage of the world tech sector in a decade? Over the past year or so, China has at last started to address real problems that exist in mainland society -a bloated education sector, a bloated property sector, declining population, low wages among large employers, etc. Some moves in this direction may be misguided, but one actually has to demonstrate that they are before presuming this. Many people in other countries would kill to have a government with such agility in setting priorities.

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I don't know how reliable the PhD skepticism result is, but I can see a possible explanation, along the general lines of Dan Klein's work. He found that, when an issue was linked to group identification, the more scientifically competent someone was, the more likely to agree with his group's position, whether that meant believing in evolution or not believing. His explanation was that whether you believe in evolution has no significant effect on the world in general but a substantial effect on you, via your interaction with the people around you, making it in your interest to believe what they do. The more sophisticated your understanding, the better you are at talking yourself into what you want to believe.

Similarly here. If you have some reason, social or personal, to want to be skeptical of vaccines, it's easier to ignore the "all expert opinion says they are safe and effective" argument if you know you are in the top 2% of the population by education, hence just as smart as the purported expert opinion and so competent to reject it.

That, after all, is my attitude on issues where I reject the current orthodoxy such as the need for government or the effects of climate change.

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Re: 9: This is great news for me, as I'd never heard about any of the insect apocalypse alarmism to begin with. I take this as slight evidence that alarmism that never rises to the level of me hearing about it can safely be ignored anyway, and alarmism that rises to the level of me hearing about it may be relevant.

>but then suggests the solution is affirmative action for poorer students, which seems worse than trying to identify and eliminate whatever biases favor the rich.

It's definitely worse than actually identifying and eliminating the biases, but may be much better than 'trying' to do so, especially if the people in charge of 'trying' have strong incentives to not succeed (like enhanced networking with rich and powerful families if the bias continues).

That's generally a justification for affirmative action - if a bias in a selection process still exists 60 years after the Civil Rights Act, it's probably actually hard to eliminate it for whatever reason, but we could just get the same outcome as eliminating it today for free by putting our thumb on the scale in an equal and opposite manner.

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Fun antecedent: I went to college with Kaitlyn Bennet and we frequented a lot of the same parties because I was friends with some of her editing team through our degree. As a person she’s actually pretty nice outside of politics and though she comes off as “crazy gun girl” she’s really just an extreme libertarian who can turn off the whole persona when she’s not on camera. Seeing her name on the prediction (5) makes me think about other people who get typecast on the Internet and how and digital architects could further structure communication or their perfect in a way that helps people avoid falling into tribalistic assumptions (if they want to) through digital communication.

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The third amendment argument against the eviction ban may have been intended as a joke, but if we're to read the third amendment literally, I think they have a point.

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"Probably makes sense in the context of which problems are money-constrained vs. people-constrained and what the rest of the world is doing. "

Or more likely, the communities that have even heard of Effective Altruism are the ones that spend all their time worrying about AI risk.

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What does "I wear no mask" on link 28 allude to? Is that a quote from somewhere?

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Nice to see Bagnold getting a mention ['There Are Two Types of Dune']. It necessarily skips past a massively important contribution he made that still echoes today, the formation of the Long Range Desert Group. This group was a small bunch of disparate and hardy souls whose mission was to carry out deep penetration, covert reconnaissance patrols and intelligence gathering missions from behind Italian lines in the N African desert in WWII. It also assisted the fledgling SAS, formed by Sir David Stirling, [the 'Phantom Major'] in their more piratical, action orientated behind-the-lines operations.

The SAS had an exchange Officer, Col. 'Charlie' Beckwith, who, thus inspired, formed 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment–Delta, or Delta Force. And Delta Force, for the past twenty years, has obviously been in some very sandy places...

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Divergent association, straight-up results with words chosen over the course of about two minutes:








score of 89.56, percentile of 95.82


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Nobody else has said it, so I might as well: those Russian Atlantis paintings are gorgeous. I'm going to steal them for an online D&D campaign.

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RE: Divergent Aptitude Test, Shawn Presser asked people to find the *lowest* score instead of the highest. So far, 6.2 is the best.


Although, it would also be interesting to find the lowest score that wasn't a sequence of numbers.

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Regarding QAnon, I feel that one of the best cofounders to adjust for with something like that would be support for Donald Trump, since virtually every QAnon supporter also supports Trump, but not necessarily the other way around. A paywall prevents me to see what they actually adjusted for.

Something like homeopathy would be a much better choice for this type of study, since it's politically neutral. I wouldn't be surprised if there actually was a correlation with church attendance and belief in homeopathy, but at least I would trust a study on that more than this.

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It's already been pointed out that Chesterton didn't actually say what's attributed to him here, but it seems to me to be trivially true nonetheless. Modern woke-liberalism is an *obvious* religion, for example; or a dysfunctional substitute for a religion if you prefer. New Age hippie crap, the Osho movement, Yud-worshipping rationalism for some of the people here, parts of the environmental activism subculture: all this shit is occupying a mental niche which doesn't disappear just because you remove the belief system that slotted into it, and I think the increasing frequency of generalized anxiety is basically just the product of leaving the niche empty. Most people can't manage without a faith, just as they can't really cope with liberty. This is one of the big flaws of any rationalizing project; just look at the French Revolution, for example. What a catastrophe.

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I'll bet the ability/inability to think about costs has a VERY gendered distribution

probably with the usual 1:4 ration


only the sith deal in absolutes

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Regarding the insect apocalypse article - when I see thing like this, my bias flagging sensors go up immediately. Sometimes appeal to authority and credentialism is so dang obvious, why do journalists bother?

The original "alarmist" is described as such: "Dave Goulson, a professor at the University of Sussex and one of the paper’s co-authors. Goulson was a relatively unknown English biology professor at the time, but rapidly became the public face of the crisis narrative."

The contra scientist is described as such: "Manu Saunders is a prominent entomologist, and recipient of the Office of Environment & Heritage/Ecological Society of Australia Award for Outstanding Science Outreach."

Come on.

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Re Vaccine hesitancy by education level: for someone in my social media feeds, the interesting thing was not the high hesitancy for PhDs, it was that Masters degrees have the lowest hesitancy. This person took that as a sign that people with Masters have learned high ego but have not gained the understanding of how much they don't understand [full disclosure: I have a Masters degree and two Pfizer shots]

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Re: Infant caregivers wearing face masks

My four month old is terrified of face masks. In every other respect he is the most easy-going baby ever, but if a person wearing a face mask gets too close he suddenly starts screaming.

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Re 25. So we have different standards for different claims - for some, we require proof, for others, we require refutation. But isn't that just textbook Bayesian reasoning? If we assign a high prior to X, we start out believing it, and will go on believing until there's strong enough evidence to the contrary.

If that's the case, the problem is not people using a wrong (irrational) process, but rather assuming too extreme priors. I also think it would be hard to tie the prior, in an empirically significant way, to "what we want to believe" apart from the ingroup consensus - and ingroup consensus seems to be a sensible prior...

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Re: harvard,

Throwing money around is a really good way to cheat basically any metric, and correcting for all the specific ways that metrics can be cheated is very hard. It's much more effective to just adjust for net worth (not income, which people rich enough to really be a problem here basically don't have anyway & which is at least somewhat associated with skill) than to try to adjust for anything else. This isn't much of a burden on the rich, because another thing money is really good at buying is options (and, well, insulation from any and all burdens aside from the ones generated in your own head).

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