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deletedJul 1, 2022·edited Jul 1, 2022
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I am very interested in surrogacy. Would you happen to know of good writing related to the benefits and costs of surrogacy, preferably with an ACX-like worldview?

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Do you think your preference for surrogacy over adoption would decrease with additional children, assuming you wanted more than one child?

This is what I first thought of when I began reading your sentence, 'If your interest is in policy...' I have been thinking about the likely consequences of the overturning of Roe v. Wade; thus, about who decides to adopt, when, why.

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There’s a strong feminist opposition to surrogacy.

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That's a great one. I didn't know that they were used by intellectuals; wouldn't the dangers of usage (excluding the idea of the benefits for the moment) have been high?

I personally like the idea that the growing popularity of coffee/coffee-houses did manifest an actual change in intellectual cultures (or at least, cultures of wit)

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The Germans used them to great effect in the Blitzcrieg.

Then I guess they had to crash…

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Similarly and more recently

"The use of amphetamines in U.S. Air Force tactical operations during Desert Shield and Storm"

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7661838/

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“After his mother's death in 1971 he started taking antidepressants and amphetamines, despite the concern of his friends, one of whom (Ron Graham) bet him $500 that he could not stop taking them for a month. Erdős won the bet, but complained that it impacted his performance: "You've showed me I'm not an addict. But I didn't get any work done. I'd get up in the morning and stare at a blank piece of paper. I'd have no ideas, just like an ordinary person. You've set mathematics back a month."[64] After he won the bet, he promptly resumed his use of Ritalin and Benzedrine.[65”

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Erd%C5%91s

I don’t know about street amphetamine, but s as someone diagnosed with ADD and on stimulant medications (long acting ones are safer) who became a self-taught programmer by basically locking myself in a room for a year and a half after getting into Linux as a hobby... don’t know if I could or would have done any of that without stimulants, so I’m not surprised.

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Extremely interesting, thanks. (I especially like "You've set mathematics back a month.")

There's scepticism about amphetamines today involving the idea that we're 'overstimulated' so it's good to hear that people prior the the internet also discussed similar problems anyway. I'll read more about it, since it would be interesting to know more about how young he was when he started using them (I doubt he began his mathematical career whilst on them?).

I'm personally too paranoid to try amphetamines; are there substances which you've tried which produce similar effects? I've heard some people talk about caffeine that way (obviously not a s strong), but I'm doubtful. Have you been off of them for any amount of time (e.g. a month or longer) and noticed similar? I don't know where to begin to find out more about ADHD, so I'll have a look around to see if Scott's written much about it.

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deletedJul 1, 2022·edited Jul 1, 2022
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Thanks so much for the info!

I'm sorry you have it so severely, I know people with it really bad and I can't imagine trying to live with it unmedicated.

I also have similar experiences with coffee- a friend has recently advised me to try drinking it after meals, or with a more sugar/milk with it(?) and oddly enough it seems to help. Not sure about the sugar helping to be honest-- I've had mixed results --but definitely after eating it's much better (an Italian friend also says that's the best way to drink it).

I'm currently reading https://slatestarcodex.com/2017/12/28/adderall-risks-much-more-than-you-wanted-to-know/, https://slatestarcodex.com/2014/09/17/joint-over-and-underdiagnosis/, https://astralcodexten.substack.com/p/know-your-amphetamines (i'm still part way through the first so no clue if the latter two are actually related!), but from what I've read so far the issue is more that people with minor issues (or students) will do what they can to get their hands on Adderall. This would definitely explain my distorted perception of them as risky/over-prescribed, but again, knowing people who have really severe ADHD, I don't know how they functioned before medication (also it seems like over-prescription is an American thing and is much less common elsewhere).

It still strikes me as a very deep problem, and not one which leaves me confident in our current handling of it... I also wanted to look at how much it has been increasing over time, but it's still very early so I guess it's hard to tell how much of the increase is just improved diagnoses-- add to that the fact that many people get a diagnosis when they don't really need it and it gets harder to evaluate the bigger picture.

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Same experience. Large doses of caffeine cause me to have a severe crash. non-XR adderall will cause a crash but its mostly me just being tired, not headache or anything.

Caffeine (up to 100mg at a time) with L-theanine avoids the crash. Therefore I default to tea for my caffeine.

I am also a programmer with ADHD (inattentive type and moderate). The meds help me get started, I think of it like getting the ball rolling. Then I fall into the groove and can get stuff done.

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Well, Adderall is dextroamphetamine and amphetamine. Adderall XR is extended release, and by releasing more slowly, there's less of a high and low. That's like pharmacology 101: The faster something crosses the blood-brain barrier, the more addictive it tends to be, which why generally injecting is worse than smoking or snorting which is worse than the oral route. Ritalin (or Concert, the slow release variant) was really bad for me because it contributed to me drinking way way way too much. I've tried all the psych meds, Adderall XR seems to be the best for me. I've gone without it for years and still felt something was missing, just didn't have the same drive. Modafinil is another one kind of helps... Maybe I'll have to try going without it again at some point... I'm actually super-healthy now, don't drink or smoke pot at all anymore, workout every day, try to get sunlight in my eyes in the morning like Andrew Huberman suggests, I do Wim Hoff method... And I take Thesis and Athletic Greens... All that stuff is great, but doesn't seem to do away with the need for stimulant medication. I can get by without it, but I feel like I'm just going through the motions of life like a zombie.

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Thanks for responding! If you have something which works as well as you describe then that's great! I think personally I'm too worried about it affecting me in some way I can't understand/undo, but people make good use of these substances for long times, and the alternative seems much much worse. I wasn't advocating you try going without them btw, I just wanted to know what the experience was like. I was just thinking about how Erdös wasn't using them until later in his life, and was absolutely a high achiever early on in mathematics, despite his account that going without them made him 'ordinary'. I don't really know what to make of that, other than that the problems can become more pronounced as you get older? I guess I shouldn't draw too much from single cases. Thanks again

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They left this out of my son's copy of "The Boy Who Loved Math"

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Hmm, this is a bit disturbing. Have we really sabotaged our futures by making powerful brain stimulants illegal?

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I think Ayn Rand was on amphetamines too! (I think they were mostly referred to as 'diet pills' back then.)

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Whilst she was a prodigious thinker and writer, the terrible judgement that she exhibited in her personal life certainly doesn't provide a good advertisement for whatever pharmaceuticals she was guzzling.

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Or at least not at the _doses_ she was using!

Scott's post about 'AD(H)D medication basically being meth' made me update towards 'there IS a plausibly/feasibly reasonable way to use these drugs safely, effectively, and with net benefits'.

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Michael Pollan wrote a book in which he explains how the Enlightenment was caused by coffee-house culture.

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And there's The Baroque Cycle book series by Neal Stephenson that has some vivid illustrations of the 'scene'!

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I hadn't realized this thought was there in Michael Pollan, but I did have this thought once in a conversation with some friends that if the rise of capitalism/enlightenment is connected with the transition from alcohol as the primary daily drink (before safe municipal water) to caffeine as the primary daily drink (boiled water is safe even if it's non-alcoholic), then there might be an interesting further change if cannabis starts displacing alcohol and/or caffeine as the primary psychoactive substance people consume.

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That's an interesting line of thought!

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I would expect cannabis to displace alcohol some - I've heard that combo described as "pissing into the wind". But I don't think cannabis will displace caffeine at all.

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There _are_ some nice 'head high' strains that are possible substitutes, at least along some dimensions, and for some people.

But mostly I think you're right that "cannabis" mostly won't displace caffeine at all.

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Another good/crazy theory is that it accounts for the decline in testosterone (and that this helps explain some things about the Amish). Of course, there are plenty of better-attested explanations for the endocrine damage we seem to be taking.

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Aha- I like that. Friends have spoken to me about pipe-smoking being less damaging because you aren't supposed to inhale -- if that's the case I wonder if it would still produce the 'beneficial' effects at all? Luttwak's solution (nicotine patches) loses some of the charm!

Endocrine disruptors --Bisphenols and so on? I recently read about (typical) shampoos and soaps having a similar effect, and with the whole plastic/micro-plastic issue & pesticides in many things it's very easy to become paranoid about 'disruptive' stuff being everywhere. Hopefully it's not as bad as that...

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Doc Huberman tells us that it's agricultural runoff and that it's everywhere, hence the what, halving of testosterone numbers and sperm counts?

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Jul 8, 2022·edited Jul 8, 2022

Legal amphetamine production is at an all time high. There was an American crackdown in 1970, but by 2010 it had returned to the previous peak and just kept going up.

Prescription status is a red herring.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2377281/

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I'm an ass man, and I like the song, but I like medium-sized butts.

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Shape > size. In all things.

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Agreed, a well rounded beginning with a smooth finish. Like a fine wine.

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I like fine wine and I cannot lie!

You connoisseurs can't deny!

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For sure - a finely-shaped and smoothly-textured dick is a delight to savor. We’re all gourmands here!

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Yeah! A nicely-shaped dick is the best!

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Medium-sized dicks are great, too! How nice that there are folks like us who aren’t size queens, amirite?

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Mix-a-Lot probably just helped kickstart the conversation. I think Hanania basically has it right, that the Internet "democratized" male preferences, which are much more rooted in biology than fashion, by getting past "gatekeepers" that are more influenced by fashion.

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> signing "I like big butts and I cannot lie" repeatedly in the car

You mean something like this?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H7JaGoYdc_M&t=1m23s

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Thanks

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I suspect there may be some cross-contamination there between "big butt with a high fat percentage" and "big butt with a low fat percentage". Current fascination with big butts among the whites probably leans more to the latter (alongside with the general trend for normalization of more muscular women), while blacks (both then and now) are probably more appreciative of the former. The shift in tastes is still socially influenced, of course, but it's not quite the straightforward reversal suggested by the poster.

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Excellent point.

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LOL – damn; you all are on fire in the comments on this post :)

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Statistics on butts: a bayesian posterior

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LOL

I expect to see that in a future Rick and Morty episode :)

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O hello is this the thread where we talk about gendered body preferences? Let me be the first to declare that I’m open-minded too -I love a big dick, but a well-formed medium dick isn’t too shabby, either! Just so long as it’s in a nice, straight line. I sing about my preferred dick shapes in my car all the time! Thanks for making space for us all to talk about other people’s bodies with such candor! It sure makes me feel welcome as a woman to know that I can share my opinions about men’s bodies just as easily as you can share yours about women’s bodies.

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I get the impression you're being sarcastic, but you actually are welcome to share your dick preferences.

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Yup! :)

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I would love to read/listen-to your own alternate-lyrics version of "I Like Big Butts"! :)

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"Feminism through unionizing female college party-goers"

This is congruent with my observations about the persistence of frats (and typical complaints about them): https://jakeseliger.com/2014/02/20/if-you-want-to-understand-frats-talk-to-the-women-who-party-at-them-paging-caitlin-flanagan/.

Note the publishing date.

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I think that's further congruent with the broader points about intrasexual aggression and cartel dynamics. What the women form there is your classic cartel intended to reduce supply and increase prices - complete with the exact same PR justifications every cartel uses about how they increase public safety (where the truth usually has some more warts). But cartels are unstable because the more they succeed, the bigger the rewards for defection, and the uglier punishment of scabs has to get to keep it going.

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Really the cartel and union comparisons seem off to me, perhaps because they're not actually negotiating for anything. They're just sharing information about the best parties and agreeing to hang out together. Perhaps the frat parties will eventually improve, but so far the story seems to be that's not what's happening, the women are just working together to identify bad parties and find the best parties and then all going to them together as a huge group.

There's probably a tradeoff here between having enough women in the network to get good information about parties and having so many that they overwhelm the good parties when they show up at them. I suppose defection happens when individuals start absorbing information about parties to avoid but stop sharing information about good parties to attend.

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I think there's a little more to it than that, though, which comes out obliquely when the "union organizer" starts describing the college administrator's ham-fisted attempts to raise concerns about a social blacklist.

She's right that the administrator's out of her jurisdiction there. But it does seem like that's the actual point of leverage the "union" is trying to work. They're giving a more or less explicit ultimatum to the frats about particular partygoers: you can have us or you can have him. The idea is that it might be one thing to say "bros over hoes" when it's your friend versus one hot girl threatening to leave. But if you're faced with either throwing him out or having 35 girls all walk out at once?

So there's a real strategy there, potentially. But I suspect it's not going to work, for essentially the reason Gwern identified. An even better way of individually getting favorable treatment is to have the other 34 women walk out while you stay.

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What? No. That’s how to get gang-raped.

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Probably only in quite extreme circumstances, but I understand your point. The question is like, what's the tipping point? Maybe 1/34 feels too risky, but 5/30? 7/28?

And also, it's not like you're the only woman left at the party even in the 1/34 scenario. The Hoe Union has walked out, but there are almost certainly some other non-unionized girls still sticking around.

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I suspect that many of those girls will be looking around and saying "OK, why are there suddenly no other girls here, and should I leave as well?" I'm assuming here that having the union walk out will noticeably tilt the sex ratio.

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> What the women form there is your classic cartel intended to reduce supply and increase prices

That's certainly the concern about gender ratios. They appear to have other legitimate concerns that I don't think should be put in that framework, such as the clause about girls being allowed to prepare their own drinks.

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Yeah - admittedly my college had no frat scene but what kind of bizzaro-world party has a "no you may not make your own drink" rule?

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I was confused as to why the hoe union won't attend parties that have a gender ratio.

Women don't enjoy sausage parties, surely?

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That's sort of tautological, though, insofar as "sausage party" is slang for an event that's male-dominated in a way that's lame and uncool and unappealing to women.

Women looking to go out and talk to guys they're attracted are absolutely prepared to enjoy parties oversupplied with attractive guys and undersupplied with female competition. What they're trying to avoid are parties where the gender ratio has been manipulated so as to assure the lowest-appeal dude in attendance a strong chance of getting laid.

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This might be kind of what you're saying, but I'm thinking the possibility of finding a party that's oversupplied with attractive guys is very much a secondary concern. I'd say the primary one is the signal that a highly aggressive approach to gender ratios sends.

Men in this age bracket who are throwing a party are typically going to have two main goals, at varying levels of priority: (1) have fun and (2) get with girls. The girls want to attend parties where (1) is a strong priority over (2), in which the guys might even be open to meeting new male friends. The more the men act like elephant seals defending their harems in response to the possibility of male competition showing up, the more clearly the party is prioritizing (2).

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Right, because how dare those subhuman ugly males desire to get laid.

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I am 100% in favor of literally everybody desiring and achieving getting laid. I'm not endorsing anything about what the hoe union does, just explaining my sense of what they're likely optimized for.

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Speaking as a guy who was good friends with a few women in high school and college, I read that as wanting to avoid parties where the frat tries to block male friends from attending.

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This article seems to imply that women have no reason to want to attend a party other than getting laid. This seems deeply silly, and also like the sort of fallacy this crowd in particular might fall into.

To spell it out: in addition to various sexual desires, many college students have a deep and abiding need to get drunk in crowds of people even if there is zero chance that they'll have sex as a result. Parties may be a means to obtain sex, sometimes, but they are also much more than that. "That's where the party's at" is not code for "that's where the dick is," and the author of this article is bragging about listening to women while also radically misinterpreting their words to fit his priors.

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"Furthermore, in 1984 Congress passed the National Minimum Drinking Age Act, with the ultimate result of raising the legal drinking age to 21 in all 50 states. This change moved college partying away from bars and college-sponsored events and toward private houses—an ideal situation for fraternities."

That seemed to be about 70% of the appeal of joining a fraternity when I was in college in the mid '00's. Good link.

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On the one hand, the "hoe union" makes sense economically -- it's kind of the modern version of the Lysistrata gambit. On the other hand, though, the implicit assumption appears to be that companionship, party attendance, and perhaps even sex (with men, at least) is merely a valuable commodity that women have available for trade. No sane woman would ever hang out with men just for fun, after all; it's just a big chore.

To be fair, this specific Twitter post does not go nearly that far, but I think it is still an example of feminism objectifying women -- or, at least, dehumanizing them in an effort to homogenize them.

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You can be unionised and still inherently enjoy what you do. I don't see actors or plumbers as being homogenised and dehumanised.

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The situation seems to be that there are multiple party options, or at least potential party options, and they are strategically leaving one to go to another. This doesn't require any such implicit assumption.

An analogy might be to famous athletes who wear branded (for example) sneakers. The athletes don't view wearing sneakers as a chore - they would greatly prefer to wear sneakers when playing their sport than dress shoes or no shoes at all. But they recognize that the sneaker company also benefits, and they can use that as leverage to get something else. The fact that there are multiple sneaker companies is crucial here.

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I joined a fraternity partly in order to have more sex. I never got laid thru the fraternity. Neither did anyone in my pledge class, so far as I know. We threw lots of wild house parties, and sometimes there was sex there, but as far as I know, it was only ever between people who'd already paired up beforehand.

We didn't throw parties to get sex; we threw parties to pay the rent. You can't easily fill your house with hundreds of drunk undergraduates and then sneak off to your bedroom for sex. You're busy the whole time. The main way people get laid at parties is to meet someone there AND THEN LEAVE WITH THEM. You can't leave when it's your party. You have to stay to the bitter end, kick out the drunks who refuse to leave, try to figure out where to put the ones who've fallen asleep, and maybe clean up some vomit before falling asleep. That's if the party isn't broken up or raided by the police.

Sorority parties were another matter. They didn't typically throw open parties; they'd invite one fraternity over for a party. But they weren't orgies. Most sisters didn't expect, nor I think want, to get laid /during/ a party. They might like to meet someone. But it seemed to me that most women went to or hosted such parties in order to party, maybe to try to be the center of attention, but not so much to get laid.

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I banged my head against this -- and this was ages ago, but still -- in college debates about frats. The bad actors connected to frat parties are almost invariably not brothers, but free riders who can skate if the party gets shut down.

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It's a bit of a tangent, but could you explain how throwing parties helped pay the rent? was there a door charge?

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Yes. The key is to buy really cheap beer, in balls or kegs.

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This was an especially excellent link Roundup!

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Agreed, must have been an interesting month :)

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Yes, thank you Scott!

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Some civil engineers build down.

University of Minnesota Civil Engineering Building. One floor up. Seven down.

https://www.minnpost.com/stroll/2015/09/seven-stories-down-u-building-serves-tribute-minnesota-experimentalism/

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What's your summary for why it made sense (if it did) for that building specifically?

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It turned out to be a bad idea. The plan was not fully baked. The article covers some of the problems they ran into after construction. The system to bring outdoor daytime light to the lower level never really panned out for one thing.

There was a location on the lowest floor where mirrors brought an image of street view down. Only one person at a time could use it though. They called it an ectosope I believe. That hardly redeemed the project.

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Thanks! I added the article to my read-later queue; curious about the details of the failures!

Reminds me of thinking about, e.g. 'how _would_ dwarves in Middle Earth engineer their homes/fortresses/mines underground' :)

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Point #6 is unworthy of your excellent writing. We cannot have a book review by someone who states definitively that he has not read the book.

I purchased "sadly, Porn" due to the wonderful article on ACT about it. Quoting second hand sources is one of the problems with modern liberalism.

Please, please please from a Fan Boi ? Don't do it. You're my only hope Astral Codex-Wanobi

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I think it's less of a book review and more an interesting essay in its own right that uses my review as a jumping-off point to talk about something which is interesting and (IMHO) in fact relevant to the book.

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It's possible I discounted it.

And - obviously it's your blog

Your rules.

However, if it's a comparison between 2 archetypes and he hasn't read the first then it's not even trying to "control" inputs. It's just poor journalism then. Don't we enjoy enjoy enough of this Already ?

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It's not claiming to be journalism, it's the personal blog of a fiction writer.

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It's an extremely basic point - how can one comment on a book one has not read? And substack is a paywall - it's modern journalism wether he considers himself a fiction writer or book reviewer.

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Since you ask: Pierre Bayard, "How to talk about books you haven't read", Bloomsbury.

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LOL

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That book changed my life. What a fascinating, illuminating insight into the power of literature and its place in a modern culture increasingly oriented towards immediacy and excess.

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> how can one comment on a book one has not read?

It's easy. Andrew Gelman had the last word on this here ( https://statmodeling.stat.columbia.edu/2010/07/02/the_moral_of_th/ )

> I can’t really criticize the guy for slamming my book without having read it. After all, I think the autobiography of Uri Geller and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion are almost certainly full of crap, but I haven’t ever read a page of either.

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One could comment on its quality as firewood

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I appreciate Nelson's honesty about not liking being sneered at. At the same time, the harshness of Teach's Lacanian universality is what makes his work challenging. Softening his "everyone and yes that includes you, probably by nature" to Auden's "only some people, and probably due to recent changes" deprives it of piquancy and strength. We may all hope that this is more accurate.

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Agree. I've found Sadly, Porn deeply challenging to read and to reveal deeper truths about my own motivations. I believe that's where it is such a compelling book - and it would be very hard to summarise it. Scott did a great job.

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Peacefully merging some African countries could be good, but isn't DR Congo still an epic basket case, though with less war now?

The others can do better!

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Also, re: the African Space Program - the Zambian Space Program is worth reading about too https://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/the-zambian-afronaut-who-wanted-to-join-the-space-race

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Not sure Burundi and South Sudan are better. But at least without the DRC the East African Union won't reach the western coast of Africa.

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DRC doesn't have good access to the sea anyway. AFAIK most of their exports go through other countries.

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A national government will have a hard time voting for its own dissolution and I'm not convinced it would help (except, as low-hanging fruit, Moldovans should consider Greater Romania). The East African countries might risk having this be an all-or-nothing proposition, while the European countries took it one treaty at a time and the sum of these decisions created a large power bloc with free travel and a currency.

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I'm fairly certain the facemorphed Senators is fake.

Here's an actual facemorph of all Democrats in Congress vs. all Republicans in Congress,

https://ychef.files.bbci.co.uk/1600x900/p05k91jb.webp

https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20171018-this-is-the-face-of-the-average-american-politician

The BBC does include Representatives as well as Senators, but I don't think that can entirely explain the difference. At minimum, I'd expect to see the 32% of Democratic Senators who are women to have *some* influence on the overall features.

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Your images are averaged faces, creating using this method: https://medium.com/@ronanist/face-averaging-made-simple-84eae4dcf57

@_sn_n's images were made using the morph feature of FaceApp.

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My guess is that FaceApp is a very different morphing algorithm than the one you're citing. I've seen many facemorphs that look like yours, but when I look up examples of FaceApp images they look more like the ones in the link (example: https://knowyourmeme.com/photos/1884471-faceapp-face-morphing )

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That link only combines two people, so each man's unusual features are preserved. Combinations of large numbers of people tend to smooth out unusual features and look like Katie's links. The ghoulish-looking facemorphed Senators pics, on the other hand, seem to exaggerate unusual features (e.g., the inhumanly long teeth on the Democrat). They're caricatures.

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Hmm, interesting! Now I'm curious about the FaceApp morphing algorithm, and how it handles morphing a large number of people - the images may not be "fake", but I'm still skeptical that they're "accurate" (in the sense of producing an image that contains equal contributions from each Senator, which is what I expected from the description) enough to be meaningful.

Of course, not everything has to be accurate/meaningful in order to be entertaining.

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That picture is a spitting image of a professor I used to work for. I'll not link him for pricacy reasons but I find it uncanny.

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The abstract of the link on insect population declines says "Accordingly, there are no signs that the arthropod abundance or biomass on birch in this subarctic study site has gone through the same declines as have been reported from sites in other habitats. The reason may be that the impact of factors identified worldwide as drivers of arthropod declines so far are small or non-existent because of the low human population density in this area."

I don't think "more evidence insect populations are not declining" is an accurate summary of that single study. Instead it appears to be "more evidence that in the (few) wild areas not impacted by humans insect populations aren't declining." That's a huge difference!

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See eg https://earthsky.org/earth/insect-apocalyps-not-north-america/ for context. My impression was there were some early studies showing decline, larger and more careful studies mostly didn't, and this is another example of the latter.

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It is not just Europe, it is NA as well. See: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006320718313636

Also while your study above does make the claim that insect populations are stable, your original link (and commentary) do not - it has no external validity either.

Salient bits from my meta (Lepidoptera only as an example for brevity but Hymenoptera is another good example): "In California...The overall trend implies that 23% of species are disappearing."

"In Japan, 15% of the 240 species of butterflies are threatened, but among those 80% of the grassland species are endangered..."

"steady intensification of Japan's traditional “satoyama” landscape...has negatively affected most species"

"In Malaysia, some 19% of moths at Mount Kinabalu (Borneo) had their abundance reduced between 1965 and 2007..."

Cheeky Coleoptera example before I hit post: "Harmon et al. (2007) reviewed 62 historical datasets of aphidophagous coccinellids in the USA and Canada, spanning 1914–2004...ladybird species richness and population sizes did not change much until 1986, when a major decline in native species began to be noticed and affected 68% of species over the following 20 years"

This is absolutely not Europe specific or Europe only.

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And in Europe, it's not just some early studies. Here is a study from the UK from last year showing a strong decline:

https://www.buglife.org.uk/get-involved/surveys/bugs-matter/

It's very much compatible with similar studies, e.g., in Denmark:

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/ece3.5236

These are not focusing on a single species, but on proxies for the total insect biomass. Similarly for studies of bird viewings which have been running with consistent methodology for decades and give pretty good data: they are also showing overall decline, though far from consistently over all species (some species expand, but not enough to counterbalance the total decline).

Overall, I am not super confident of which side to believe. But it will take more than a single study for me to shrug this off, even if it looks at 5,000 time series.

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I agree with OP that I found your summary confusing. A lot of the claims I’ve seen on insect decline has claimed steep declines in rural areas, primarily due to the local impact of agriculture (particularly pesticides), but also due to climate change and other global factors. This study is designed to tease out global versus local factors, and concludes that global factors seem not to have an impact in wild areas at this latitude. None of this reflects on total insect populations: this study would be totally consistent with a total decline in insect populations. It is, of course, an optimistic study for those concerned about insect decline: one could infer that if we’re able to mitigate the damage caused by intensive farming and increase the number of wild areas, insect populations may recover despite issues like climate change.

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Does anyone else think the numbers in the survey in 43 are way too low? Only 20% of couples have arguments about household chores?

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Maybe a lot of arguments go meta and turn into "tone of voice" or "how you argue," and the original topic isn't getting counted?

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Yeah, it doesn't seem like a common argument for a wife to say: "Would you mind picking up after yourself?" and the husband fires back and says "No, and I resent the request!"

More often, you have a dynamic where the wife nags, the husband gives her a "Yeah, yeah, yeah." Now you've laid the groundwork for an argument, but it's expressed as a disagreement about communication, not chores.

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Yeah, I think that this is more appropriate thought of as generational differences in the gloss people put on their arguments, rather than generational differences in the root cause of arguments.

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N of 1, but my experience was my wife and I argued a lot about chores early in our marriage. Then eventually found our equilibrium and now both know what "our" jobs are, so the arguments mostly went away.

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founding

I was sad my own worst argument topic wasn't listed; seems bad (to/for me).

(My own worst argument topic is 'the other person's untreated mental illness'.)

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> My own worst argument topic is 'the other person's untreated mental illness'.

There are a couple of obvious reasons why that wouldn't be a common source of marital arguments:

- Not enough people exhibiting the problem

- People who do exhibit the problem are particularly unlikely to be married

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founding

I'm not so sure – mental illness is _very_ common.

I'm probably thinking of a 'looser' sense of 'mental illness' than 'diagnosed with a psychiatric or psychological disorder', e.g. 'garden variety' depression or anxiety.

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#7: The ads really contrast with the image results. There’s globes, polyhedra, “liquid motion sandscapes”… and a Shrek Buddha. Marketing vs. reality?

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I would guess that the results are some weird quirk of algorithmic ranking, rather than reflecting the dominance of Nazi paraphernalia in the desk ornament market.

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Yeah, we're probably seeing the results of two different algorithms in the shopping results vs. image results. Reminds me of a wacky Google autocomplete that's gone viral a few times (warning: it is really gross): https://www.huffpost.com/entry/why-wont-my-parakeet-eat_n_353913

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Can any Indian explain number 41?

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Jul 1, 2022·edited Jul 1, 2022Author

I'm not Indian, but I looked into it a bit.

It looks like some Hindu nationalists are angry that everyone raves about the Taj Mahal as the peak of Indian architecture, since it was built by Muslim invaders and so this is dismissive of Hindu Indians. So these people are badmouthing the Taj Mahal.

Then other Hindu nationalists are coming in with a conspiracy theory that the Taj Mahal was secretly built by Hindus as a Shiva temple and so it's fine for people to think it's great Indian architecture, but we need to let them excavate the secret rooms in the basement that would prove this.

Then some other things happened and I lost the plot.

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I know very little about contemporary Indian politics.

I agree with both your observations.

Re: the Muslim invaders, Mughals, are quite unpopular in some states where Hindutva is big. Especially Shah Jahan who built Taj Mahal, and his son Aurangzeb, who built Bibi Ka Maqbara.

Re: Taj Mahal in particular, there has recently been a claim that it was built on top of a Hindu temple, and there readily are many believers. I don't think it's mainstream yet. Today is literally the first time I am hearing about it: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taj_Mahal#Controversies. It sounds very much like RSS/BJP trying to recreate a controversy similar to the previous temple-mosque controversy about Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, which ended with riots: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demolition_of_the_Babri_Masjid.

Re: Constructions/statues. During the Modi administration, India got several giant statues, and some are still under construction. Some examples:

- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statue_of_Unity

- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statue_of_Equality_(Ramanuja)

- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statue_of_Equality_(Ambedkar)

- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adiyogi_Shiva_statue

- https://twitter.com/statueofbelief

I only learnt about them recently, don't have a comprehensive list, and don't know the exact details. But Modi inaugurated all of them, and they are all said to be at least partially Govt funded. Beyond any pure desire to, ahem, colonize https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_tallest_statues, there is probably some Hindutva angle for why these projects were launched now.

The OP, Dhruv Rathee, is a popular Youtuber who does political commentary. He has criticized Modi and Hindutva, and as such has the attention of Modi bhakts. He has also criticized the statues several times, e.g. https://twitter.com/search?q=from%3Adhruv_rathee%20statue&src=typed_query. I think one of the reasons people are fighting is that the OP criticized these new statues but is praising Taj Mahal.

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It's absolutely the Ayodhya playbook all over again, only stupider. The Ayodhya impulse was at least moving to me, even if the specific claims were factually false. This is just sheer idiocy.

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Since you say you are largely ignorant of India, I will just urge caution in interpreting whatever responses you get. As you can see, such threads always target one group which is supposedly consistently stupid and ignorant, and it is good epistemic practice to suspect that something is missing from such discussions.

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Out of consideration for Sandeep's prudent caution below about such discussions devolving into one-sidedness, I'll just point you to the link in Sravan's post above for the Wikipedia page on the demolition of the Babri Masjid.

This may be unfair, but the thing that's vexing about this to an outsider is the persistent impulse to treat the landmarks of Mughal civilization as some toxic combination of plagiarism and vandalism.

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Post-Ayodhya trends may have rekindled enthusiasm for the idea but I first read about as a boy in the 1970's (note: when Hindu nationalism was at a low political ebb) in a book by P.N. Oak (1917-2007) the godfather of Indian loony history.

Btw if you like Erich Von Daniken you'll love P.N. Oak. If you don't or if you are older than 7 you might not :-)

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I may be reading too much into things, but I would say there is a definite political angle there: the statue of Ramanuja is in honour of a prominent Vaishnavaite saint/guru (worshipper of Vishnu); the one of Ambedkar is someone who not alone was involved in the foundation of the state but converted to Buddhism/founded his own school of Buddhism and converted a lot of the Dalits (Untouchables) along with him, and the statue of Shiva is, of course, Shiva.

So those are two of the three main Hindu Trinity and a version of Buddhism followed by the lower classes. The Unity statue is someone intimately involved in the struggle for independence and what came after. Modi and his administration are doing something to make them popular with all groups (and possibly position him as the modern figure of national unity for all the classes).

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Jul 2, 2022·edited Jul 2, 2022

I like that the guy most responsible for popularizing the claim the Taj Mahal was built on a Hindu Temple also claims that the Vatican and Westminster Abbey were originally Hindu temples. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P._N._Oak

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He's actually beating this guy, which is impressive: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Annio_da_Viterbo

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This sounds like the strawman version of the actual outrage. Indian news in the west gets filtered through a much more ideologically tilted elite-media than you see with the US and NYT.

A lot of muslim mosques were built on top of hindu temples. For reference, there are almost zero non-vandalized hindu temples more than 400 years old in mughal ruled areas. The density of these temples explodes the second you step out of any of these regions.

There have been centuries long 'conspiracy theories' about certain important hindu temples (kashi vishwanath) being razed to construct mosques. The last few years have seen evidence to prove that *some* of those conspiracies were indeed true. Now, It is possible that the Taj Mahal was also built on top of another temple. However, there no reason to believe that it was a temple of any importance. There are no myths or stories to indicate any cultural memory of a pre-taj temple. (unlike kashi vishwanath)

> people are badmouthing the Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal is incredibly beautiful. But Indians generally have a troubled history with the Mughals. From religious persecution to shambolic economic policy to the general embarrassment of being subjugated by an invader; it is not a memory that brings great joy.

There is an understandable insecurity (and sense of loss) among North Indian Hindus that all of their architectural buildings of note are Islamic or British buildings. Among the most ardent, it manifests in the form of a belief that goes : 'The Taj Mahal ain't shit, surely there stood a grander Hindu temple here'. Even the RSS [1 ] themselves do not want to get into this outrage, and see it for the 'scab picking' that this outrage amounts to.

[1] https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/gyanvapi-mosque-dont-look-for-shivlings-in-every-mosque-says-rss-chief-mohan-bhagwat/article65488845.ece

The even sadder thing is that the Taj Mahal is indeed an incredible architectural wonder and the North-Indian Hindus do NOT have an answer for it. India's top 1% is exceedingly atheist, left leaning and years for approval from the west. None of India's top architects want anything to do with the right wing. Additionally, they know nothing about the Hindu architectural tradition or the aesthetic models within it. Part of it has to do with the shoddy quality of Indian archeology and history, but also because all of India's most famous architects come at it from the post-modern perspective.

Indian Hindus are experiencing a deep insecurity that is not too unfamiliar with other civilizations over the last 1000 years. Historically, such insecurities have been resolved through complete religious/cultural conversion of the land like the crusades or most famously Hagia Sofia; ethnic uniformity through exoduses/genocides.

As India attempts to grapple with this peacefully, you will see that anger channeled through social media outrage instead.

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The thing is, the Taj Mahal is actually based on Sufi conceptions of what Paradise looks like and in India particularly in that era, there was a lot of cross-pollination between Sufis and Tantric Shaiva yogis. But it is rather a stretch from there to "Shiva temple."

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I had a sense of what the controversy must be (almost any controversy in India that involves Hinduism and/or Islam is the same) but I'm trying to figure out why Scott linked that particular tweet, which asks the question why people are upset, but doesn't seem to have any follow-ups explaining it. Maybe there's a whole thread that displays if you've got a Twitter account logged in?

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The more I read on here about people complaining about wokeness, the more I'm starting to think that it must be some kind of thing that just doesn't exist where I live and in the circles in which I spend time. I used to think that I understood, but more and more it sounds like I'm just not thinking about what they're talking about. Is is a uniquely American thing?

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Not uniquely, but it's more prevalent. Where are you?

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I live in New Zealand. Also interested to hear from other kiwis if they have the same impression as me, or disagree that it's different here!

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Not a kiwi but according to my nz friends there it comes across as pro Maori bias

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Do you/r friends see this as the same thing? There's definitely a lot more pro-Māori sentiment and a substantial amount more funding lately but it doesn't seem to me to be something that people are being obligated to engage with, unless they work in the public sector. I get the impression from what I'm reading that being 'anti-woke' is more about being able to live your own life without interference and without fear of losing your job?

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This to me is a really interesting question about NZ.

When I look at Jacinda Ardern, my immediate gut sense is that this is somebody who, if she were living in the US, would be the most blindingly, incorrigibly woke person you'd ever meet.

In NZ, she can just become the prime minister, so the expression of those same impulses and inclinations and class-based sentiments takes the form of practical politics rather than wokeness.

Wokeness is what you find in places where the system of politics in the narrow sense, of actual representative government, is tilted much farther to the right, but the left has perpetual running room in every institution devoted to shaping hearts and minds.

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I wonder if this could have something to do with the USA's (forgive me for saying so, but) frankly insane electoral system? People on the US left can quite plainly see how they're being assigned disproportionately low political representation and power, so it wouldn't surprise me if they felt more desperate to fight their battles in whatever arenas were present and less respectful of their country's institutions.

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founding

This is a great description/story/theory; thanks!

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To me that feels like a direct parallel. Would you be comfortable saying that pro-maori pandering goes too far? Would you lose your job for saying so?

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Lots of people do say that, and they don't seem to lose jobs for it. I'm yet to hear stories about job losses because of it

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I imagine it hasn't percolated over there yet, but it will probably do so in time. Here in Ireland it is, as others are saying, largely imported from the US which means that the activists who engage in it parrot off chunks of US-context rhetoric which isn't suited at all to the situation in Ireland. For instance, we had Black Lives Matter protests here in 2020:

https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/news/thousands-of-people-take-part-in-black-lives-matter-protests-across-ireland-39265087.html

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My feeling is that the situations (NZ vs. US) are very different, and I don't really understand what's going on in the US, but to the extent they can be compared... maybe NZ is already "woke".

I studied at UoA. There were dedicated scholarships and exclusive classes (at least in first year) for Maori and women. There was a Marae on site. The engineering graduation ceremony was merged with education, whose PhD titles were things like "Maori spaces in foreign places". At the company I worked at, before building a new office iwi had to be brought in, the land had to be surveyed for Maori sites. Then they were blessed by local iwi at opening. Auditing of gender balance/hiring/pay gap was common. LGBTQ+ awareness/campaigns was definitely a thing though not a Big Thing. Dedicated outreach/networking for women was common. Consultation with Maori is built into many parts of the public system, as are indigenous concepts (think tangata whenua etc.). The accepted narrative is that Maori were/are stewards of the lands in spiritual harmony with nature or something. Under the Treaty of Waitangi we pay reparations to Maori. And so on and so forth.

None of this strikes me as "woke" for two reasons I think. First, for the same reason that level of gun control in NZ doesn't strike me as excessive. That's just how it is. We don't have guns, we pay Maori reparations.

Second, I think kiwis were less extreme/divided to begin with and so compromise rather than ever more dividing. The American equivalents of all the points above are causes of strife, where as in NZ... instead of George Floyd and BLM protests we have Always Blow on the Pie. AFAIK total payments under the treaty are only a few billion NZD, which sounds a lot but isn't really much to buy a bit of peace. The results of those gender equality audits: there's still a pay gap but it's not bias on our side and here's a few more outreach and support programmes. Both sides grumble a little, but since Maori aren't being gunned down in the street and we have a female PM who had a child while in office, it's hard to complain too much. Give everyone an inch and it's harder for anyone to justify taking a mile.

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You might recognize it under a different name.

Some of it existed as "political correctness" discourse in the 90s, and social justice discourse in the 2000s.

Generally, it's about excessive, toxic demands for moral purity along left-aligned cultural issues. I don't consider all anti-racism to be woke. It's more along the lines of trying to get the terms blacklist/whitelist removed from open-source software to fight "systemic racism" (something I've actually seen on Github).

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Also the software terms master/slave. But doesn't getting rid of that offend the B&D fans? ;-)

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It's not unique to America, but in other countries where it manifests it tends to be perceived and debated as a form of creeping Americanization. This is often apparent just in linguistic usage: I'm told the French, for instance, call it "le wokeisme."

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Jul 1, 2022·edited Jul 1, 2022

I agree, here in Europe wokeism is seen as coming from America. For that reason I've always found it funny that Americans of both political tribes tend to think that Europe is way to the left of the US. That depends. In some ways, it's the opposite.

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It's coordinated agitprop. Sanders' policy proposals, for example, are far to the left of every single European country, but the narrative that "Democrats are center-right compared to Europe" makes them seem less radical.

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A lot of it is rooted in gender dogma. Appropriately, cis-this and trans-that and Bruce Jenner and pregnant men don't make a whole lot of sense to people studied biology in school and don't follow pop media. It's even political in Pola nd and Hungary. Genderism loses elections.

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You folks got Just Cause dismissal in New Zealand, IIRC. It probably does seem strange from a country where it's a lot harder for a mob of people to get you fired because they didn't like what you said on social media.

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Jul 1, 2022·edited Jul 1, 2022

I think it is. Here in continental Europe (I'm excluding Britain) wokeism is weak, and what wokeism we have is perceived as coming from the US.

One problem for the woke in Europe is that here the only stance acceptable in public about race is that there's no such thing. To seriously use concepts like "black" and "white" and so on, is seen as racist and associated with the most extreme far right.

In contrast, in America, even leftists and conventional thinkers talk about "blacks", "whites", "Asians" (as a race), as if these words mean something real. Wokeism, at least racial wokeism, requires that attitude.

BLM (or its equivalent) could not have arisen in Europe, because here blacks (or any other race) don't exist as an acceptable grouping. We have Muslims and gypsies, but those are cultural minorities, not racial; and we have immigrants, who are minorities because they are immigrants; but if you're born and raised here, and have citizenship, then you're part of the majority, no matter your skin color, which must be treated the same as hair or eye color, and anyone who puts a racial label on you is presumed a neo-Nazi idiot.

Recently Scott posted a graph about murder victims by race and some Brit in the comments reacted with shock, despite Britain being the most Americanized part of Europe. The typical continental European would react with even greater shock. That is because we don't have graphs organized by race, to us they look like phrenology or astrology or something. Race is not supposed to exist.

This state of thing makes it hard for US style wokeism, at least when it comes to racial minorities. How can you defend from oppression what does not exist? It's like defending the rights of Libras. You can still fight against racism, but you have to frame it differently, in a way not compatible with the extremes of American wokeism.

(Although I can't be sure that what I'm saying applies to all parts of Europe).

(I'm not saying anything about whether race in fact exists or not. I'm just describing how Euro culture is different from the US.)

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That approach is explicitly decried as "upholding racism" in the US, even though it seems like an obsessive focus on race is likely to keep it top of mind and increase racial tension. Thomas Chatterton Williams is very good on this topic.

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It's curious why color blindness meme failed in the US but not in Europe

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founding

Only the most scrupulously fair-minded would want color-blindness when they can instead have "give me special advantages because of my skin color". Which, in the United States, they have found that they can.

In Europe, there's not a compelling argument that minority races/ethnicities can put forward for preferential treatment, once people are seen as having stopped discriminating against them. In the United States, we actually *enslaved* one of our minority ethnicities once upon a time, which a lot of Americans feel really bad about. And which can be spun into a tale of an intergenerational debt and enduring legacy of slavery, etc, etc, and lots of people can be convinced that the descendants of the slaves deserve special treatment in compensation. Particularly if they don't think they are going to be the ones paying for it.

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But slavery was established by the British Empire, and was common throughout the world in those days, and the US only failed to get rid of it at once upon gaining independence, which is bad but not exactly uniquely horrible. I guess the big difference is that European powers didn't import slaves en masse to the mainland, and therefore, like you say, don't have to directly deal with millions of descendants of victims of those atrocities.

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Slavery long, long predates Britain; I get that you're trying to say that various European countries were in the business of purchasing slaves and shipping them to the Americas - and not to the European mainland - but do be careful what you actually say. Note for example that the British Empire abolished slavery decades before the USA did.

Also note that most of the comments here were about continental Europe more generally - only the westernmost countries participated in the Atlantic slave trade (mostly since without at Atlantic port there isn't much point).

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Almost nobody in Britain feels bad about the slave trade, because there weren't any slaves in Britain and there are obvious and retroactively non-British scapegoats to blame for the slavery in the colonies. So, "British people - you need to give us special privileges for all the harm you did to us with the slave trade", gets mostly ignored in Britain. It's not a winning strategy, and very few people on the left attempt it.

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> Only the most scrupulously fair-minded would want color-blindness when they can instead have "give me special advantages because of my skin color".

"Wokeness" tends to be pushed more by whites than blacks or latinos.

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Jul 2, 2022·edited Jul 2, 2022

Wokeness is certainly not uniquely American, at least for the meaning of "uniquely" that doesn't just collapse to "originally". It's clearly being steadily imported and adopted, even here in Poland. You can see it more clearly from my vantage point on the ideological left.

This can mean two things. First, that left-wing environments are much more exposed to it than the population at large. That's true, I won't deny it, but also stereotypical and tired, and often used to collapse wokeness and leftism together. Whatever, let's move on.

The second, more important one, is the way of understanding the world. I view ideology as an expression of class interests, in the case of wokeness, of the interests of educated elite aspirants. Certainly, these people are nowhere near as powerful here. One, because the country being poorer makes them less numerous. Two, because our entrenched liberal elite is much more conservative. Three, because our liberal elite writ large has a much weaker grip on institutions. But look inside the institutions the globalist comprador elites do control, look how they speak, what they do, what happens within them, and you'll see wokeness clearly on the rise, and the entrenched elites ultimately defensless against the takeover. When you bet on a shared interest with the metropole, and the metropole turns woke, there's not much you can do. I mean, you can fight the tide, often successfully (by positioning yourself as the effective, pragmatic alternative), but you can't control, much less avert, its direction (as in, fundamentally disagree with it or oppose it).

I started with "even here in Poland", but, given the above, I expect we're actually more vulnerable than established (though eroding) social democracies to the west of us, whose institutions are built upon successfully carving its own path, often contrary to the US influence. Well, our liberal elites are vulnerable, Poland as a whole has a second, much stronger line of defense in the form of paternalistic conservative nationalism. (Which I don't exactly consider preferable to wokeness, but, well, I'm merely trying to describe historical processes, and they don't care one bit about my preferences.)

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That's exceptionally clarifying, thank you.

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To be fair, I have been in American universities for my whole life, and I also don't recognize half the claims that people on this site make about wokeism. I do see problematic ways that people obsess over little bits of language, and problematic ways that some people's opinions are criticized, but I think the bigger thing is that there's a deep-seated paranoia that a lot of people have about the set of changes, and that paranoia leads them to see some of these changes as much bigger and deeper than they actually are.

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It’s true. But I also know more academics my age who have died of COVID than who have lost their career to cancellation, which seems to be the big worry people have.

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> Poll: 46% of Democratic men below 50 now believe “feminism has done more harm than good”, compared to only 4% of Democratic men above 50 (h/t Dylan Matthews). I would like to see this result replicated before updating on it too hard, but that is one heck of a vibe shift.

This is likely just bad data. While the specific finding is believable-if-surprising, there are a lot of other findings from the same poll that beggar belief. Eg, looking at the question "transgender people are a threat to our children": for older Dems, 2%/9% of men/women agree; for younger Dems, 42%/27% of men/women agree.[1]

Throughout much of the poll, older Dem men are suspiciously radically left (often much more so than young Dem women!) while younger Dem men are suspiciously rightwing; the feminism question is just an artifact of these broader trends.

[1] https://www.splcenter.org/sites/default/files/gender-roles-identity-3.png

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Thanks, I've added this to the link.

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Analysis by someone in the relevant beat: http://justthesocialfacts.blogspot.com/2022/06/too-bad-to-be-true.html

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Jul 2, 2022·edited Jul 2, 2022

By "bad data" do we include "ambiguous questions"? If so, then yes. Many of the questions can go either way (if the two ways are "right" and "left" or "anti-woke" and "woke").

* Has feminism done more harm than good? Anyone familiar with how the trans and TERF communities interact might say "yes because it has become a regressive force which privileges the assigned-female-at-birth".

* Similarly, "has gender ideology corrupted American culture?" is very nearly a verbal Rorschach -- any leftist who even thought of toxic masculinity as a gender ideology would say "yes".

* "Are transgender people a threat to children" is close to impossible to spin, and shows the lowest percentage. And note that under 50 includes probably all self-identified democrat women who now have small children and have shifted to the right on certain issues without acknowledging it.

* "Are transgender people trying to indoctrinate children into their lifestyle?" is an obvious "yes" from anyone who is familiar with the issue and being honest. The point of departure would be assuming this is bad or assuming this is good. Folx aren't out there trying to crack eggs because they think it's bad for children, and they'll happily admit that it's better to be indoctrinated into progressive values than regressive ones. I'd guess the only reason this one isn't higher is because some respondents properly identified the question as being spin.

If these questions are all biased towards being less ambiguous for older adults, this could explain the differences we see. I'm not claiming any of this is the case, but it's worth considering.

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" Poll: 46% of Democratic men below 50 now believe “feminism has done more harm than good”, compared to only 4% of Democratic men above 50 (h/t Dylan Matthews)."

Men (and indeed women) over 50 would have been born/reaching young adulthood in the 60s-80s. First and second wave feminism is what would have been their experience of it, and while that meant a lot more equality for women, it also meant things like easier sexual access due to contraception and shifts, including political feminist shifts, in thinking around female sexual behaviour.

So men over 50 have the foundation that "feminism means women working jobs and earning money like men, so they can pay their own way; marriages mean two incomes; divorce is easier so nobody is stuck in an unhappy marriage; sex is considered normal part of life, you don't have to be married to get it, and contraception means no babies unless you want them".

Younger men get the third and later wave feminism, the Rape Culture Feminism (which admittedly had its roots in the 60s but wasn't that large a part of it). So their experience of feminism is "Title IX cases where if you are accused, you get expelled and nobody will fight your corner", 'believe women' and so forth. Inceldom, however we want to argue about that, and the belief that women are living on easy mode, that society is biased in their favour, that women will be preferentially hired to male candidates, that accusation of sexual harassment is a threat they can hold over the heads of men in the workplace, that they control sexual access and deny it to men, that even below-average women can have access to their pick of sexual partners but men have to work very hard to get any attention, that a woman can ruin a man in a divorce and if she becomes pregnant it's her sole choice as to whether or not to keep it and force the man into financial bondage of child support for years, and so forth.

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Yea, the finding itself is believable, and that's the interpretation that everyone who sees it comes up with. But none of that is relevant to the not-so-believable examples I mention in my comment, which cast doubt on the poll overall and its surprising-though-plausible result.

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#53 Wait, am I missing something? The AI is saying "yo, be real" to questions that aren't nonsense.

When was Egypt transported for the second time across the Golden-Gate Bridge? It wasn't. What do fried eggs (sunny side up) eat for breakfast? Nothing. How many cumulus clouds are there in a mile-high vase? None. Why does President Obama not have a prime number of friends? Assuming he doesn't, it's probably because prime numbers become increasingly rare for large Ns and Obama has a large N of friends.

I consider "yo, be real" to be a wrong answer. Any human could have successfully responded to these questions.

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Humans are far more likely to react with something like “huh?” or “what are you talking about, Egypt can’t cross a bridge” than answer these questions at face value.

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Jul 1, 2022·edited Jul 1, 2022Author

I think the point was that the questions are wrong in that they are based on a false assumption. "When was Egypt transported across the Golden Gate Bridge" is asked in a way such that an answer that follows along with the spirit of the question would be a date/time. In order to get the right answer, you have to reject the question as stated.

Compare to "Was Egypt transported across the Golden Gate Bridge?" in which case the answer is a simple "no" and stays within the spirit of the question.

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That sounds reasonable but it's still a failure if humans can cross the inferential gap but GPT-3 can't.

(Though maybe it can, if you phrase the question right?)

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I don't see the "yo, be real" response as a failure to come up with any reasonable response - the model wasn't instructed to only say "yo, be real" if it can't think of anything else to say. It was instructed to respond that way to questions that are nonsense, and it's successfully picking out the nonsense questions.

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founding

I'm a bit skeptical that GPT-3 is really failing to cross any inferential gap – that even _most_ humans would/could (easily).

Yes, GPT-3 is missing a TON of context that any human you could communicate would have, but it sure seems like it's often very possible to explicitly _provide_ enough of that context to GPT-3 and get _much_ more 'reasonable' responses from it.

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I disagree. Firstly, as you've said, humans have a lot of context built-in; they know what countries are and what bridges are and what transporting is, beyound just tokens in a text. GPT-3 lacks that context, and it lacks it for the vast majority of words, not just Egypt and bridges. As you said, we can provide that context, but then we'll end up mostly answering our own question. And I predict that GPT-3 would give the "404 not found"/"yo be real" answer to most unusual combinations of words, not just country/bridge combinations.

But secondly, a sufficiently smart human would indeed be able to answer this question in a more creative way than "404 not found". For example, Rod Serling made a career of answering short and seemingly nonsensical questions in an episodic TV show format. I bet that even now you're thinking about all kinds of interesting scenarios (bonsai countries ? transdimensional travel ? a glitch in the Matrix ?); I know I was when I saw that question. GPT-3 could maybe generate some of them with careful prompting; but it could not do so on the fly.

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founding

> a sufficiently smart human would indeed be able to answer this question in a more creative way than "404 not found".

Sure – but that seems like an _entirely_ unfair comparison!

GPT-3 is already, arguably better than _most_ humans at this kind of task!

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> But secondly, a sufficiently smart human would indeed be able to answer this question in a more creative way than "404 not found".

Yes, but if a human did that after they were *explicitly* told to answer “404 not found” for nonsense questions I would expect they were not that smart.

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> How many cumulus clouds are there in a mile-high vase? None.

[citation needed]

Cumulus clouds apparently form at altitudes between 1,000 and 7,000 feet. Whether there are clouds in the vase is going to be contingent on other factors like how wide it is.

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But there is no known mile-high vase, so none is the right answer.

The questioner didn't say 'could'.

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Nonsense. There is no need to have explicit modality on such questions in English. How many feet tall is a mile-high vase? There is no known mile-high vase, but I assure you that the answer "zero" is incorrect.

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That isn't quite the same though. The relevant detail in your question is the foot-mile comparison which can be answered since both things exist.

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But it is the same. It's easy to answer my question because the question contains enough information to determine the answer. That is not true of the mile-high vase question. But that means the correct answer is "the question doesn't contain sufficient information" (or the equivalent), not "none". "None" is obviously wrong.

How many people are there in a football stadium? Well, there are no known football stadiums, so... wait, that's stupid.

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17. I got a similar vibe from my reading, but Hanania offered some clarifying follow-up commentary here.

https://twitter.com/richardhanania/status/1538934269736759296?s=21&t=Gdwz4QNgZRNspd7ZpN06Gg

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Maybe a useful exercise to consider what topics that I might subscribe to this approach for. Would I endorse truth-seeking even if I thought it made the world substantially worse off overall? I might!

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This is a great comment. Reminds me of the time Robin Hanson objected to the suggestion that people should be more religious based on the data linking better life outcomes to religion. He wanted to believe whatever is true even if it made him unhappy.

While emphasizing truth over happiness is more sympathetic to the rationalist crowd than Hanania favoring gender conformity for children over an increase in GDP, it's ultimately kinda similar. I'm sure both Hanania and Hanson believe that the thing they value over human well-being is broadly compatible with producing it in most cases, over a long enough time horizon. But on some level that's a subjective judgment.

This makes me wonder how Scott would answer Hanania's thought experiment modified to his own deeply held beliefs. How big would the benefits to abandoning the rationalist pursuit of truth and knowledge have to be for him to do so?

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I would love to see Scott write about these reports of harmful effects of meditation. It’s wild (and terrifying) to me that we can do these things to our own brains without external factors.

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Having had some scary experiences of my own in meditation, that's a topic I'd like to see more of as well! At least to counter the overwhelming narrative that meditation is always positive and leads to a place filled with flowers and sunshine. This is not to stay that meditation is bad, but that it can have negative outcomes.

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I've been thinking about it, and it seems to just be really difficult to actually evaluate it. I used to think of it as something simply exercising a part of the brain (focus/concentration) and so it would-- in that case-- purely be a 'good' thing (excluding the idea of over-straining oneself). As this involves some kind of restructuring of the brain, however, it immediately becomes way harder to actually evaluate it (in general a phenomenological change in one's mode of experience is extremely difficult to tie to a hermeneutic about whether it's 'positive' or 'negative'; see e.g. Scott's review https://slatestarcodex.com/2017/09/18/book-review-mastering-the-core-teachings-of-the-buddha/, where the writer outright acknowledges that repeated depressive periods are part of the necessary experience in progressing...-- as soon as you can say "My practice works, ultimately, but you will have to suffer a lot & probably be depressed/manic" it's now consistent with every single theory of health-changes, or something like that. I forget what it was but there was some 'miracle substance', later known to have exclusively negative effects on health, whose users all heralded it as extremely good etc...)

I guess the best direction to take would be to check studies looking at brain changes, but I'm not optimistic about those being reliable, and even less so about self-reported changes for obvious reasons (long-term changes would be nice, and I can't really see self-reports being that reliable over very long times but idk). I guess neurochemistry would be another approach but that's another can of worms.

Sorry to ramble on but, what I mean is that I'm not even sure what would in fact constitute a good way to go about understanding the effects of meditation.

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I really don't know, but I think that learning many kinds of skill (I would guess predominantly physical+mental skills; painting, music...) significantly alter the brain structure; the issues are with domain independence I guess. I also think that changes due to meditation operate in a different way from other skill-learning-- taxi drivers get exceptional memory (again possibly domain independent?) with corresponding brain structure, meditators get 'clear thinking' and 'calmness' (I know a handful of people personally who claim the same from weightlifting and believe them, and I'm sure many more online make similar claims about exercise). The specific benefit of meditation seems to be (forgetting about the spiritual stuff) an increase in focus or executive function..? One suspicion I've heard aired in (admittedly more aggressive circles) is that it can be inducing a kind of 'dulling-of-protest', and that this looks the same as 'ignoring-negative-impulses'. In practice I think it's difficult to separate these two.

Having said this, I would like to know if e.g. meditation makes it easier to get over addictions, as that's a fairly clear example of (depending on the substance) a 'negative influence' one wishes to resist. My guess, without googling it yet (ha ha), is that there will be some studies claiming slight positive benefit of meditation for withdrawal. -- again, it would be useful to have a correspondence like, 'does practicing/focusing on ANY skill also bring this benefit'... Anecdotally, I've noticed similar effects from improving my ability to focus on a text (which interests me) as with light meditation (better general focus, inhibition control... but this is all personal anecdote so I'm wary of it).

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A good rule of thumb is if you can break something in your brain with psychedelics some people will get the same breakage through meditation. I think meditation can be really great (it certainly was and is for me) but we shouldn't consider it like this perfectly safe thing. It's more like this thing that might throw you into all kinds of challenging experiences you didn't sign up for that can lead to maturing, but that might also retraumatise you and break habitual patterns that you were still relying on for navigating life (at least for a while).

This is especially true for the Sayadaw/Goenka style mindfulness that is popular around here (eg Daniel Ingram). If you want to make meditation more safe and PG-13, it would be helpful to emphasise loving-kindness, forgiveness and other qualities like that. One problem is that western people tend to be mindful often with a judgmental attitude, a belief in not being good enough, meditating in order to fix yourself, without examining this attitude fully. I got the impression that this was one of the issues encountered by the person Scott linked.

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#38 - I'm surprised by the numbers for sequential-art>manga. Only ~20% male readership feels rather low to me. I would have expected something closer to 50. Anyone have a guess as to what might cause the big margin?

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Jul 1, 2022·edited Jul 1, 2022

There is a lot of romance manga out there. Comics aimed at women and girls used to exist in the American market, but we’re hit particularly hard by the Comics Code Authority and then were wiped out entirely by the 90s comic crash, which gutted the American comics market for good (which is why the only comic you see sold at grocery stores these days is Archie: used to be all kinds of comics we sold there because lots of people were reading them).

Japan, in contrast, has maintained a very strong domestic market for manga, for both male and female demographics. Including more adult oriented “echii” manga which is roughly equivalent to an American steamy romance novel, as well as tons of more youth oriented “shoujo” which is more high school soap opera-y. In short, America hasn’t really made comics for females in 60 odd years but Japan keeps cranking them out monthly. So you’ll see more men represented in comic books and graphic novels, and way more women reading manga. They ain’t reading One Piece folks, they’re reading Fruits Basket. Or gorging on the never ending buffet of shoujo that is WebToons.

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Does anyone else think there's a link of influence from BL manga -> tumblr -> the predominantly(?) female 'fanbases' who slash male/male relationships... of e.g. Marvel (but many other places; BBC's Sherlock is the one that really stuck out to me as a turning point but not sure)

The other obvious answer is that these desires are latent/normal desires in some parts of the population (see Greer) & that the popularisation only began on tumblr because it's the avant garde. Tbh I started writing this feeling that there had been a large change in the popularity of the female audience celebrating male/male relationships, but actually I'm not even convinced of that anymore-- just that it's more commonly referenced or joked about by popular media itself..

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Remember that "slash" itself (the term) comes from K/S, ie male/male relationship fiction involving Kirk and Spock, written by and circulated among an overwhelmingly (heterosexual) female audience starting when TOS was still on TV.

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