Comment deleted
Expand full comment

I am currently doing some data analysis regarding the difference in immunisation between a 1 dose and a 2 dose vaccination strategy (sponsered by a COVID microgrant from Zvi + anon donor).

I thought collecting some input from the community here might be worthwhile and the earlier, the better, so here goes:


It is still a work in progress and one would need to look into the whole repo to get a complete picture but the linked file basically explains the method.

The calculations are done here:


If more information is needed I am happy to provide them. Also, you can contact me on various sites & the SSC discord, if you want to point out mistakes I made (or open a PR on Github).

Contact infos & the likes can be found here: oerpli.github.io/

Expand full comment

Here’s something that’s been on my mind lately.

Choose the correct answer from this official cognitive-functioning test question (you’ll want to commit to your final answer before reading further):

There are two women, Janet and Susan. Janet is attacked by a mugger just ten feet outside her front door. Susan is attacked by a mugger a mile away from her house. Who is more upset by the experience?

A) Janet

B) Susan

C) They are upset the same or it’s impossible to tell

This is from Michael Kinsley’s amazing piece in The New Yorker a few years back about living with Parkinson’s (“Have You Lost Your Mind?”). He was flabbergasted to discover that the literally accurate answer was deemed “incorrect.” The test-makers were purposely forcing respondents to choose between the most obvious answer, based in facile emotional intelligence that discerns the spirit of the narrative, or the one that relies on a closer, logical reading of semantics.

Kinsey interviewed the test-makers, who confirmed the gist of their intentions while remaining protective of their trade secrets, so there’s some speculation here: apparently they wanted to flag pedantic brains as functioning less than properly. Somewhere around 30% of all test-takers chose the pedantic answer, while most of the remaining 70% got it right. Interestingly, those figures were completely reversed among the Parkinson’s population.

I find it fascinating and opaquely illuminating that people who chose to interrogate the boundaries of the question were deemed to be incorrect. I wonder from what branch of science did the test-makers derive their confidence that a well-functioning brain should bias the gut, as it were, rather than getting bogged down in rules and semantics?

Expand full comment

One failing of the US healthcare system I do not understand: Why is it so hard to *pay* them?

You'd think the one advantage of a mostly-privatized system would be that they'd make it easy for you to give them money. But it's always incredibly complicated even in simple cases. I have standard health and dental insurance, and whenever I go to get something basic - like a regular checkup or a filling - the doctor's office won't let me pay the copay up front, tell me they'll call the insurance, and call me again or send me a bill in the mail six months later (by which time I've forgotten what it was even about). Why is this? This seems like something they're strongly incentivized to handle efficiently.

Expand full comment

Any advice on avoiding caffeine tolerance?

I used to be a coffee drinker, then I gave it up and went years without much caffeine. Now I'll have coffee once in a while, and it is *really* nice. I feel happier, friendlier, and more energetic/ The effect is strong, but I know that if I do that every day, my brain will adjust and I'll need coffee just to get back to baseline.

So what's the solution? Only have coffee once a week? Twice a week? Alternate coffee with something else that has a similar effect through a different mechanism?

Expand full comment

A couple weeks ago I posted here (and in some other places) some questions about the feasibility and best practices of developing friendships online. Here are some insights on the topic based on my "research" (and a surprise startup pitch at the very end):



I like friends who aren't inconvenienced easily. Some people are inconvenienced easily. They like things a certain way. They don’t like to have their routine disrupted. And they have every right to be that way. It’s just that they are unlikely to be my friends. Tragic loss for them, I know.

If I had a primary filter for friendships, this would be it. I know people whose primary filters are political, or aesthetic, or financial, or intellectual. They all make sense to me.

As you may intuit from my primary filter, my definition of friendship veers toward the romantic, or religious. I demand some level of sacrifice without accounting. If a friend shows up at midnight on my doorstep, unannounced, it’s a blessing.

I would assume that these values are becoming a bit antiquated today, but I don’t know, I haven’t done the research. Anyway, enough about me.

The Question

We’re all spending more and more time online - it seems about an hour/day more every decade. It’s not crazy that a cyberpunk virtual monopoly on our time will become the standard within the next couple of decades. If not for us, then for our kids and grandkids. So I was wondering, what will this do to friendships...

Continued at https://www.protopiac.com/post/on-on-line-friendships

Expand full comment

Suppose that you own a business and you have a choice of either hiring a robot or a human. The expected worker turnover rate is 10 years and the robot also breaks down after 10 years. The nominal salary and the annualized cost of the robot are the same. So which do you chose? The answer is the robot - due to taxes. Capital is a business expenditure, you can deduct it from your tax burden. A human on the other hand incurs payroll taxes and income tax (and some others as well).

Much has been said about the declining share of labor relative to capital (in general, but particularly low skill labor). But I've never seen anyone comment on the fact that our tax system explicitly incentives businesses to choose capital over labor whenever possible. Is this is a good thing - an incentive to automate where possible? Or is it an economic inefficiency? Or both?

Expand full comment

Assume that the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics is true. According to it, Nature is inherently probabilistic; it is only until a measuring device (not necessarily a human) makes a quantitative measurement of X that X can be said to have that measure. Does anyone know whether all the results of measurements are due to the foundational random generator of Nature? And if this is true, then does this mean that our actions are not ultimately determined or free but random?

Expand full comment

Sorry if this is too random/off-topic but are there any martial artists in this community? I've been practicing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for about 2 years now, but am thinking of quitting because I've been hearing a lot of anecdotal stories lately of BJJ athletes having strokes at young ages, possibly due to the chokes putting pressure on arteries in the neck. So I'm trying to look for another martial art to switch to. Looking for something fun and involving a good cardio workout, but without any long-term negative impact to health. Does anyone have any recommendations?

Expand full comment

Freedom of speech - what does it mean?

I've read quite often the slogan "Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequences", but that seems poorly thought-out, because in a sense, that's what it should mean.

"You're free to say what you want, but if we don't like it, we will abduct you and your family and torture you to death. But hey, freedom of speech doesn't mean freedom from consequences, amirite?"

...doesn't quite work for me.

"You're free to say what we want, but if we don't like it, we will scream at you what a terrible person you are and that you should burn in hell, and we will pester your employer to fire you and your prospective employers to never give you a job ever again. But hey, freedom of speech doesn't mean freedom from consequences, amirite?"

...still seems wrong.

"You're free to say what you want, but you should consider how it reflects on us, your employer/ teammates/ friends, and if we find it completely inacceptable, we may have to cut you loose to preserve our own reputation. But hey, freedom of speech doesn't mean freedom from consequences, amirite?"

...seems kinda reasonable. But is it really? Where should you draw the line between 2 and 3? Should you draw it somewhere else? Should the fact that there's a mob of obviously loony fanatics raging on twitter influence the reaction of employers, coworkers, friends?

Should freedom of speech apply to general statements that may or may not hurt someones feelings? Should it also apply to personal attacks, bullying etc? Whose right, and whose duty, is it to "hold others accountable" for objectionable statements?

Expand full comment

I'm drinking from the firehose that is the crypto economy and its community. It's so exciting, can prove personally profitable, and the space largely aligns with my libertarian priors. Are there any SSC/ACT readers here and/or LessWrongers that coalesce, discuss developments, pick apart projects? Maybe a Facebook group or Discord? If not, I could make one. I think the concentric circles of cryptoheads and rationalists would be too good not to exist. DM me if you're aware of something: https://twitter.com/maxefremov

Unrelated: I am overwhelmed with tasks and reminders that I create for myself, and lack a good organizational system that helps me tackle them systematically. Should I take a roam course of some kind? I enjoy the app but don't use it with anything like the agility or power that I infer some folks do when I see their roam screenshots. (Caveat that my problem may be less a lack of an organizational system and more a lack of clarity on goals. Any help on the latter would be appreciated, too :)

Expand full comment

Let's talk about theories of everything. In the past year or so, both Stephen Wolfram and Eric Weinstein have made waves by publishing proposed ultimate theories of fundamental physics. Wolfram's is based on networks evolving according to specific rules (very in character for Wolfram), while Weinstein's is based on the analyzing a 14 dimensional space where 4 of the dimensions are just the regular 4 dimensions we're used to, while the other 10 dimensions come from the 10 degrees of freedom in the spacetime metric. Both Weinstein and Wolfram understand the edifice of physics they are proposing to overthrow, which is more than be said of most folks who come up with new fundamental theories.

So far, Wolfram has published a great deal of material about his theory, making it clear that he does not yet have a specific network update rule that will describe our universe. That search remains to be done. He does, however claim to have found rules that imitate general relativity and quantum mechanics. This is already very impressive if true, in particular I would have guessed imitation of quantum mechanics to be impossible with mere network update rules.

Weinstein seems to be keeping his cards much closer to his chest. Though it's clear that our universe must be a 4-dimensional surface living in his 14 dimensional space, it's not clear if this surface is a fundamental object of the theory, or arises from the metric structure, the same way that particles end up have 1 dimensional timelines thanks to out 1+3 metric, or maybe something even weirder is going on. So far, details have been light, though he says that he'll publish some more information on the theory soon. He also has some experimental predictions, including some new particles. He also predicts that the 3rd generation of quarks and leptons in the standard model are somehow "impostors" (whatever that means, perhaps that the particles are secretly composite particles or something).

So, what do people think?

Expand full comment

I've always wondered if German state-forming history might have gone very differently if conflict between Prussia and Austria in the 19th century had been slightly more favorable for the Austrians. We might have gotten effectively a North Germany and South Germany (with Bavaria either being its own independent nation or in some type of union with post-Empire Austria). That would make for some very different politics in continental Europe, without the UK, France, and Russia realigning to oppose the German Empire.

What are some other plausible "might have been" nation-states? Burgundy if Charles the Bold hadn't screwed it up and gotten his crown after all? A still-separate South Vietnam?

Expand full comment

What do people think of the pro-immigration arguments Bryan Caplan lays out in *Open Borders*? It seems like effective altruists have massively underrated the importance of this cause—https://80000hours.org/topic/causes/global-poverty/immigration-reform// shows just three signal boosts in last ~10 years—if Caplan's claims are even 10% as likely as he states.

For instance, if we can get 10 Republican senators on board an immigration reform bill, we'd have a filibuster proof majority to increase legal migration to the US. Increasing legal immigration by 50% would mean ~500,000 new immigrants a year. I can't even imagine how high the NPV of half a million new immigrants annually would be on the planet.

Heck, if we could get *one* *prominent* Republican senator to lead the charge, he or she might be able to convince 9 colleagues more easily. Maybe a senator just reelected, looking to preserve or increase their legacy with a mammoth, bipartisan bill.

Seems like a very high leverage activity.

Expand full comment

A few years ago I bought Harry's razors on recommendation from SSC.

Now it's called Dorco, there's been some corporate restructuring, and the Amazon reviews say quality is way down.

So does anyone know what is the good and non expensive shaving brand in 2021?

Expand full comment

Scott, there's some cleanup work to be done on SlateStarCodex. Users visiting that domain should be made aware front and center that the new home for the blog is here.

I'm aware that you have made [this](https://slatestarcodex.com/2021/01/21/introducing-astral-codex-ten/) post, but some problems remain:

1) Just surfing to slatestarcodex.com results in the NYT blog post. And there is scant mention of ACX on this page. Enough time has passed that now I think that surfing to the base domain should result in the ACX announcement, not the NTY blog post.

2) One can find the ACX announcement post via clicking the "Archives" button at the top of the page. However, the ACX post isn't visible if you click the "Older" link to surf backwards.

3) Furthermore, I propose that the "About / Top Posts" should also mention ACX, for good measure. Something along the lines of: "Posts from 2021 and onwards are found at ACX, but you can find some highlights of my previous work on this page."


Expand full comment

Why are we not letting people in underdeveloped regions know about Library Genesis or SciHub? Many of them have smartphones and internet now even in villages where children can't have schoolbooks, or one book for 100 students. Instead of spending millions to send them books, why not show them this resource already infront of them?

From what I've seen most smart peoples biographies basically involve reading lots of books for 10 years. Maybe the next generation of Ramanujans would be enabled by being able to read literally any book they want for free, although I'm not entirely sure how widespread a lack of books is (even Ramanujan had access to math textbooks.) But I feel like it must help in some way, and it costs literally nothing because LibGen is already here.

And I might be fantasizing a little but there could even be recommended curricula for literature & history of various countries, languages, fields of science, or practical skills like mechanics or gardening.

Expand full comment

I had a question on my mind recently: Is it rational to anti-rationalize?

Background: I was having a discussion and most people didn't agree with me. I was tempted to bring up my personal experience to support my argument, which I knew would definitely shut people up. But I recognized that this impulse originates from my /desire to be right/. I know that I have a tendency be obnoxiously argumentative and it's a trait that I want to clamp down on in favor of bringing out humility and thoughtfulness. Therefore, I decided /not/ to bring up the thing that would put me in the right.

I mentioned this to a friend and she said I was totally justified to bring in my personal experience, because it was relevant, it would bring a perspective to the discussion most people don't have, and it would explain my opinion on the matter. But I still wouldn't do it, because I felt like I could rationalize any number of reasons to argue about this until others acknowledge my point, and as a result, I don't trust any of those reasons. Even if they're objectively good reasons, I feel like I have to resist the temptation in order to be my best self. Hence, the anti-rationalizing: doing the opposite of what your (bad) impulses tell you, no matter how convincing they are.

Is this a good rule to adhere to? I'm sure there is a situation where your (bad) impulses tell you to do something that turns out to be the right thing, but I'm not sure I would make exceptions to the rule based on that and risk stunting my personal development.

Expand full comment

I saw some news snippet earlier today on the european union currently not donating any covid vaccines due to "high internal pressure". To me this sounds like a complete moral bankrupsy and I wondered if private donors could step in. What about feasibility, short-term availibility and cost-effectiveness? Can someone (ideally frome an effective altruism perspective) comment on this?

Expand full comment

First time I'm mentioned in a SSC/ACT post ever! I'll pour a nice brandy to celebrate!

I first thought I rambled too much and was not really clear in what I wrote, but later replies started to come and even Scott has read and apparently enjoyed it!

In my usual social circles I'm the intellectual one so in most subjects when I make a comment it's a good one. Here the standards are so high that the subject needs to be one I have unfair advantage in (being from a specific country). Thus, I feel this community is pulling me up, happy to have discovered here. Cheers to all!

Expand full comment

Astral Codex readers, Scottheads and old Slate Star Codex readers may be interested to know that I now have a free Substack under the name "Philospoher Bear".


I previously blogged under the name "de Pony Sum". My main claim to relevance around here is that I invented the terms mistake and conflict theory*, but I've been kicking around these parts for years.

*With the caveat that conflict theory is obviously repurposed from the same term in sociology with the same meaning but a slightly different emphasis/use case.

Expand full comment

I recently joined 'The Turing Way' and they are very successful on the inclusivity and diversity front (despite being predominantly about creating an online book on data science). I wrote a post listing the reasons I think they succeed: https://lovkush.substack.com/p/an-example-of-inclusivity-and-diversity.

Four main points are:

--having inclusivity and diversity as a top priority

--valuing the people/community more than the actual content. This is closely related to Scott's idea of understanding communities via rallying flags. A founder of the Turing Way said "The book is in my opinion not the most interesting part. The book is the thing we all gather around, but it is the community that is the most exciting aspect. My ultimate goal for success is that people feel that they are empowered to contribute into an open ecosystem."

--thinking about what makes most open source projects less appealing to minorities. See this article on idea of 'bropen science': https://thepsychologist.bps.org.uk/volume-33/november-2020/bropenscience-broken-science

--having minorities in central positions in the community / leadership roles.

Expand full comment

If you have noy already, I recommend listening to 80k interview of Ezra Klein. In particular, Ezra has some useful critiques of EA/rationality (which he strongly caveated by saying he does really like the community and what it is doing):

- If a person does not communicate in a 'rational style' (e.g. they are highly emotional in their communication), then there is tendency to disregard their opinion, rather than trying to understand their opinion and learn from them.

- Many people who study rationality / cognitive biases can actually become less rational than more rational, as they believe being aware of the biases makes them less biased.

Expand full comment

What does the EU common agricultural policy actually subsidise?

As I understand it, they pay out a lot of money per hectare of more or less cultivatable land. This sounds like it would be a great incentive to make new arable land ex-nihilo, were such a thing possible (without the help of a great, huge, large... prodigious, prepoſterous horſe).

Moreover, the subsidy seems to go to the landowner, who isn't necessarily the farmer that this policy is intended to help.

I understand that countries have an interest in subsidising agriculture for defence reasons, but it strikes me that this would be better achieved by looking at fertiliser supplies and agricultural machinery than the area of some dirt.

What do people think: am I mistaken about how CAP works, is there some subtle price-theory reason why this is a good idea, does the EU just hate Henry George for no reason?

Expand full comment

Just a heads up that the journal where Kolipsis and Bromley published is widely regarded as pretty bad. Further I have never heard of the authors. Of course this may very well be true but in economics if someone was taking down an important paper it would be well known, and likely in a better journal with replies and counter-replies. The fact that this ends up at this Journal and that the authors are otherwise u known (and contested by follow up work) makes me caution readers into not giving it great weight

Expand full comment

An event happened earlier this week relevant to two recent ACX posts (on polarization and on Turkish politics): the general election in the Netherlands.

The Netherlands has a massively multi-party system, with 17 entirely separate parties winning seats in the Tweede Kamer (the lower house of the legislature, which is the one that matters). With 150 seats in the Kamer, any hypothetical majority coalition which wants to install a Prime Minister needs to be composed of 4 separate parties. However, this time around the task should be significantly easier than normal, because polarization on the Netherlands is massively on the decline. While the Netherlands has a rich history of rule by Christian-democratic or social-democratic parties*, in 2021 the parties that placed first and second are very similar "liberal" parties (fiscally conservative, socially liberal by American standards): the right-liberal VVD (which is mostly concerned with keeping taxes down and such) and the left-liberal D66 (which is concerned with drug legalization and euthanasia, and is also more than a little woke). These historically weak parties have become way stronger over the past decade, and given their similarities they should have no problems working together. The news of neoliberalism being discredited does not seem to have reached Amsterdam yet (though the right-populist PVV and left-populist SP both rose over the course of the 2000-2015 period, support for them has since declined).

Whatever forces are afflicting the United States with polarization, they don't seem to be working in the Netherlands *at all*. Very similar parties are getting very strong results in the country.

How does this tie in to the post about Turkey, you ask? Well, in a system with 17 parties some of the small ones that make it in are *very* wacky. Besides the animal rights party, and the Calvinist theocratic party (...watch this space, given birth-rate differentials it should be very important sooner than we are expecting, but it is still quite small), there is a sufficiently large number of recent Turkish immigrants in the Netherlands that there is a *Turkish nationalist party* represented in the Tweede Kamer! (It is called Denk, which means "think" in Dutch but "equality" in Turkish). They are basically openly Turkish fifth columnists and many of their leading members are also members of the AKP. Their politics comes down to "whatever Erdogan wants". Right-populists criticize them a lot, as you might expect.

(To spotlight another tiny Dutch party, because I've fallen down a hole of reading about them this week: Denk originally tried to portray itself as a woke outfit and convinced a bunch of people to join them, before all of those people were bitterly disappointed by its heresies, including anti-Kurdish racism. Thus, the party BIJ1 (or bijeen, which means "together" in Dutch but "glory" in Kurdish) broke off of Denk, though their chief source of support is Surinamese immigrants and woke white Dutch people rather than Kurds, and also made it in.)

Would be interested in reading ACX-informed takes on Dutch politics here.

*I won't summarize the history of pillarization here, but the Netherlands used to be an uncommonly politically polarized society, even by 20th-century European standards!

Expand full comment

Are people who exhibit plumber's butt aware that they are exhibiting it? I take note of its presence from time to time and sometimes wonder about the level of awareness in the practitioner. It would not be my chosen style.

However, yesterday while gardening in the front yard I was troubled by a sinister voice in my head bringing up the possibility that I've been an exhibitor in the past without even knowing it! Most troubling, to say the least. I'd have thought one would at least feel a cool light breeze?

Expand full comment

I am willing to pay (in crypto) for the consulting services of a religion scholar who can help me identify the currently existing faith tradition which is most compatible with my ethical and metaphysical intuitions. If interested, email SumElse@protonmail.com

Expand full comment

This week I tested positive Covid 19. The only symptoms are that last Sunday I had a mild fever and a fair amount of fatigue that started on Saturday. On Tuesday or Wednesday I noticed I had lost my sense of taste and finally got tested Friday. I am isolating until Wednesday -- the nurse told me I have to isolate 10 days from onset of symptoms -- but otherwise am working.

Expand full comment

I have been reading this Codex blog for about 5 years now, but I feel like I'm no closer to understanding what the word "epistemic" means.

Would anyone care to explain it like I'm 35?

Expand full comment

Here is some bandura and accordion music: https://youtu.be/Qmr-hS_Z72E

Expand full comment

I can get the Moderna vaccine on Wedneday. Do people think there's any reason to wait and to instead try to get the Johnson and Johnson one at some unspecified point in the future? I'm just worried about potential long-term side effects of taking an mRNA vaccine, which is a really new and relatively untested technology. Is this completely irrational? I just feel like who knows if there will be long-term side effects - it's so novel!

I know everyone in every medium is saying "it's completely safe, no need to worry!", but honestly, how do they know if there may be long-term effects? They don't, do they? This is exacerbated by the fact that there seems to be a culture-war element to it, and people who are pro-mRNA vaccine seem to think that people who have any reservations about it at all are dangerous to larger society.

On the other hand, the J&J vaccine doesn't seem completely effective, so I'd be worried about possibly suffering long-term side effects from actually getting covid on it.

Expand full comment

I looked it up today, and was disappointed to learn that there is no one in the US named Donald McRonald.

Expand full comment

Am I a deontologist, or a rule utilitarian?

On one hand, I believe that the greatest good for the greatest number is probably a very nice thing overall. On the other hand, I am entirely of the belief that this is a terrible way of actually choosing what to do, because we flabby mortals are terrible at predicting the consequences of our actions.

I don't believe that a "Just give it your best shot and it'll all probably be fine on average" approach to predicting the consequences of your actions is any good either; I think if everyone did this then we'd have a helluva lot more murders because a sizeable fraction of the population probably thinks that assassinating their least-favourite politician or similar is likely to produce positive utils.

I think that trolley problems are a terrible guide to moral thinking, because they obscure the massive uncertainty about consequences that is characteristic of real-world decisions. A more useful trolley problem says "It's foggy, you're near a railway switch, you're pretty sure there's more people down one track than down the other but you're not really sure, and also you're not really sure which way the switch is adjusted right now, do you flip it?" Or for a more concrete example, "It's 2003, you are President Bush, do you invade Iraq?"

Given the impossibility of using utilitarianism to make or even guide choices on a case-by-case basis, I think the only reasonable thing you can possibly do is to come up with a workable set of moral heuristics that you can commit to in advance. Things like "Thou shalt not kill" and "Don't go messing around with railroad switches unless you know what you're doing". These heuristics don't give the optimal answer in every case, and each of them is open to debate and modification, but if we can all come to some sort of agreement on a reasonable-ish consensus set of heuristics to govern our behaviour then we're a lot better off than we would be in a world where everyone makes ad hoc decisions based on their personal guesstimates of how many utils are likely to be gained.

Does this make me a deontologist?

Expand full comment

The rationalist community has a pretty good reputation for finding convenient, memorable shorthands for complex mental rules and heuristics (“Victorian Sufi Buddha Lite”, "One-"/"Two-boxing", etc.). I've developed a small mental practice that I need help naming.

The practice is useful when I'm trying to tease out some kind of idea about a certain story, which is being re-told through multiple non-impartial outlets that give mutually exclusive information. A good example is a classic #metoo accusation scandal - he says everything was consensual and she was manipulative and vindictive, she says he was a horrific abuser and raped her several times with prejudice, conservative/anti-cancel-culture media support his side of the story, progressive/cancel-culture media support her side of the story.

What I tend to do in such cases is assume that whatever each side says about themselves (the rhetorical "defense") to be dismissible lies, and whatever they say about their opponent (the "offense") to be true. This creates a pretty bleak and cynical view of the world, but... sometimes I find it delivering kind of useful results. What's a nice name for this sort of practice?

(It's also not particularly a deep idea, so it's entirely possible that a lot of people have come up with something like this before. If they did, what did they call it?)

Expand full comment

(Reposting since this was right before the new OT)

Question for people who are or were in the past employed in law enforcement and/or criminal justice (e.g., police officer, detective, defense attorney, criminal etc.) If you've got a minute I'm really, curious how you'd rate the following procedurals (from 1-10) along the following dimensions:

1) How much you personally enjoy the show

2) How accurately the show captures some or all of your lived experience in criminal justice



The Untouchables

Police Story



Hill Street Blues

Cagney & Lacey

Miami Vice

21 Jump Street

Law & Order franchise (feel free to call out any particular series for praise/condemnation)

Homicide: Life on the Street

CSI franchise (if you think it's relevant I guess?)

The Shield

NCIS franchise (same)

The Wire

Brooklyn Nine Nine

So you could say for example, *Brooklyn Nine Nine* Enjoy: 7 | Accurate: 2 (or whatevs) and by all means add in additional color if you are so moved.

If you haven't seen a show feel free to skip and if I missed your favorite by all means add it in. If I get a good sample size I'll graph it for the next OT. Thanks!

Expand full comment

Long ago Scott wrote:

An example: Alice writes a blog post excoriating Bob’s opinion on tax reforming, calling him a “total idiot” who “should be laughed out of the room”. Bob feels so offended that he tries to turn everyone against Alice, pointing out every bad thing she’s ever done to anyone who will listen. Carol considers this a “sexist harassment campaign” and sends a dossier of all of Bob’s messages to his boss, trying to get him fired. Dan decides this proves Carol is anti-free speech, and tells the listeners of his radio show to “give Carol a piece of their mind”, leading to her getting hundreds of harassing and threatening email messages. Eric snitches on Dan to the police. How many of these people are in the wrong?

My verdict:

>Alice is in the wrong initially, but not in a way that merits serious concrete retaliation, except maybe throwing a few insults back at her.

>Bob is very much in the wrong, by going through every bad thing Alice has ever done and turning people against her, he has greatly transgressed a moral line. He gets a tiny bit of exculpation because Alice was rude, but only a tiny bit.

>Now Carol retaliates on Alice's behalf. Carol claim that Bob's actions are sexist is a little tendentious just from the information provided, but given that Bob has tried to destroy Alice's life life, I would generally consider what Carol has done reasonable retaliation. Trying to turn all of someone's friends against them and trying to turn their boss against them are about on the same level, so it's a legitimate tit for tat. I would be open to the possibility that Carol's acts are slightly wrongful, but only slightly.

>Dan is unequivocally wrong.

>Eric's act in getting the police involved is probably wrong, but to make a definite determination on this I would need more information, e.g. based on the radio show etc. etc. is it likely that Dan put Carol in mortal danger? Is Carol a public figure.

Expand full comment

A PSA to everyone who built up supplies at this time last year as the virus was incoming:

check all your stuff, eat what's still good, toss what must be tossed, replace what should be replaced.

Expand full comment

substack getting some flak -


"the company’s lax—which is to say, nearly nonexistent—content moderation policies have also come under fire. Transphobes like Graham Linehan, who have been kicked off other platforms, have found a home at Substack. Others have used their newsletters to launch harassment campaigns against other journalists. Substack’s response has been defensive and disingenuous."


"I had watched as the platform morphed into a haven for online transphobia, and when I hit my limit, I hit it hard."


"I think of myself as having decent critical faculties, but somehow I got suckered again by a bog-standard publishing venture masquerading as a useful communications tool. I’m referring, of course, to the Substack debacle -- and my inadvertent role in it."

Bonus - author of that last one used to work for Gawker.

Expand full comment

Half baked, random thought about the predictive processing model: jokes are the opposite of songs.

We like jokes because they pack a lot of surprise into a small amount of information, allowing us to adjust our mental models. We like songs because they pack a lot of information into a small amount of surprise (think about how much data is encoded in lyrics, melody, etc., and songs are largely designed by/for memetic evolution so that they are very easy to remember or catchy).

Expand full comment

I don't see the "like" button anymore, but I've gotten a few email notifications that people have liked my comments. Comments I made today, on this thread. I'm a subscriber.

Expand full comment

It seems from the various (excellent) comments on how dictators rise to power that a common thread is that things were bad, and the dictator provided a path to things getting better. And things were sufficiently bad that people were willing to support the dictator anyway, because often he delivered on the specific issues.

This reminds me a lot of Paul Collier's book, The Bottom Billion, which revealed, among other things, that wealth was a very good reverse predictor of instability -- that is, if people have very little wealth, they are more likely to be willing to fight, because they have little to lose. If they are more likely to be willing to fight, it's easier to have a civil war.

Maybe making everyone richer is a good way to keep away dictators.

Expand full comment

I don't know nearly as much about statistics as I would like to.

Are there any recommended online resources to study?

Expand full comment

I am interested in spending a little money to advertise my blog which I mentioned in another comment because I may one day monetize it. If you have ideas on the most effective ways to advertise (currently free) blog, feel free to suggest them or pitch them to me.

Expand full comment

If Oral Roberts University wins the NCAA tournament, would that adjust your Bayesian likelihood that the Pentecostal Faith is correct? Or that Oral Roberts truthfully said "he has raised people from the dead" https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1987-06-28-mn-237-story.html

Expand full comment

correction for #4: SimonM's roundups are nice, but i believe they're just pulling the top 5 most upvoted comments on metaculus that week. saying "best of prediction market news" is overly generous (upvotes on metaculus don't always go to the most insightful comments, usually they're just jokes or informal polls).

if you want "the latest in prediction markets news", i would just go to metaculus and filter by "open" questions, and sort by activity.

Expand full comment

I recently started taking Vyvanse, and it has destroyed my appetite. I basically only eat because I know rationally I'm supposed to, otherwise a baloney sandwich per day fills me up.

I've also been trying to lose weight, so this seems like a positive development, but I've heard that just starving yourself into weightloss isn't a good idea because reasons.

I've never payed much attention to diet science before, but suddenly I have an opportunity to build a purely rational diet. Any advice on where I should look for reliable information? I know there's a lot of nonsense out there, and the results I'm getting from google leave a lot to be desired. Is there an expert concensus out there of the form "literally just eat this every day forever and you'll lose weight but won't die"?

Expand full comment

A (pretty benign) mad scientist is running a prestigious summer camp for teenagers. Secretly, the scientist screens prospective attendees for extroversion, and selects them as to form two groups: one clustered around 0.2 std below the Big Five Extroversion mean, and one clustered at 0.2 std above the Extroversion mean. Once the kids get to camp, they are told that they have been randomly assigned into one of two teams, the "Carps" (below the mean) and the "Condors" (above the mean).

As a part of the camp, the teens can form clubs, organize outings and events, vote on rules for the camp etc. People start noticing that members of the Condors are over-represented in leading these initiatives. Soon norms form whereas leadership is seen as a "Condor thing": Condors start pursuing leadership positions even more to assert their identity, while Carps avoid leadership positions since they don't want people to question their status as "true Carps". At the end of the camp, almost all leadership positions are held by members of the Condors.

So in this story, as small difference in "innate" ability caused a shift in social norms which created a large difference in outcome. I personally think this effect, combined with how small differences in mean can cause large difference in the tail, is responsible for many of the hotly debated differences between groups we see today. I don't know if I think it's a bad thing or not. In the story, a Carp and a Condor with the exact same level of extroversion might pursue widely different activities based on the socially constructed norms about group identity. That seems unfair and arbitrary. But people want to belong to groups, and they do things to signal group identity, and we can't really stop that. If the groups would have been completely random, they would probably have found some real or imagined differentiator to focus on anyway? It seems problematic to have one group dominate leadership, but as long as no observable oppression is going on it's fine? Is the ideal that there's no groups and everyone just does things according to their innate ability? That sounds dystopian to me: somewhat arbitrary constructed social groups are an important part in being human IMO.

I haven't seen this idea around a lot: much of the discussion about innate differences seem to skip this dividing social feedback loop which I think is very important. Or am I re-inventing the wheel? Thoughts and ideas?

Expand full comment

It occurred to me that many people trying to lose weight fail because they overeat at home due to giving in to temptations. Would it be feasible to create such a food environment that you only have 1600 calories at home? Or at least no quickly preparable foods?

Has anybody here ever tried dieting by strictly restricting access to food so as to minimize temptations?

Expand full comment

I recently did a survey on Reddit about peoples predictions regarding the next Stormlight Archive book and I figured I could report back here how it went (this comment will have no spoilers, don't worry if you're not up to speed with the series).

The survey asked people to grade the likelihood of various things happening (some characters dying or surviving, a bad guy being permanently defeated, a number of fan theories coming true, etc).

Some lessons learned:

1. **The results were much closer to my own predictions than I would have anticipated for what amounts to mass wild guessing.** I did post my own predictions on Reddit prior to making the survey (the survey was suggested by a comment on those predictions), which obviously may have influenced some votes, but I still hadn't expected this to be so close.

2. **People are either much more inclined to take surveys or much less likely to upvote a post in Reddit than I thought.** The post that linked to the survey got about 11 upvotes, plus or minus some vote fuzzying, and two comments from people that weren't me, but the survey got 94 responses. Given the several orders of magnitude differences in effort between upvoting a post and taking a survey (and not a short survey either), I didn't expect this and I don't quite understand it. I guess the takeaway is that many, many more people read stuff than actually upvote/comment/interact with things online?

3. **The difference in upvotes between the three posts I made on the topic was much bigger than I would have anticipated.** The original post containing my predictions ended up with 0 upvotes (so at least one downvote, as you auto-upvote your own stuff in Reddit), the actual survey got 11 and the survey results got 508 plus a bunch of Reddit gold and award nonsense-thingies.

4. **People are better at reading questions/probabilities than I gave them credit for.** There were two questions where the answers were more or less mutually exclusive, so the answers should add up to about 100%. I gave a hint to that extend in the question, but I was still expecting basically no one to actually have their probabilities within a reasonable range. It turns out that almost half the responses summed up to less than 140% (which is reasonable given that each answer needed to be rounded to the nearest 10% and the lowest available answer was 5%).

5. **I should have included a reading comprehension/lizardman bait question in the survey.** I would have liked to see how high the lizardman constant was for this type of thing. I did end up accidentally sort of including a question like this. One of the characters for which I asked whether they would survive the book had already made an appearance in another book that is set at a later time than the book I asked about. 4% of the answers gave him a <50% chance of surviving, which would be pretty close to the standard lizardman constant. It seems all of them either just gave <5% on all but one or two questions or never scored anything above 40% (which implies they got tricked by the google forms UI and just didn't realize you could scroll sideways in the questions).

6. **This was a ton of fun!** I enjoyed this process basically every step of the way, even the boring data compiling bits, and reading about the wild predictions people gave in the freeform questions was awesome.

I'm probably going to be doing something like this again for future Cosmere books. If you're doubting about whether to do a survey about something you like I can highly recommend giving it a go even if it looks like nobody is interested (you might be wrong about this, see bullets 2 and 3).

Expand full comment

I didn't want to post this in the article comments in question, because that would verge on bulverism and/or ad hominem. I honestly believe it's just a hilarious coincidence and no inferences should be drawn from it. But it is hilarious, so I kind of feel compelled to share.

The main villains (though not by any stretch the most *evil* villains) of the classic space opera videogame Star Control II: the Ur-Quan Masters are the eponymous Ur-Quan Kzer-Za, an alien race that were brutally enslaved for millennia by horrifying sadists. After finally breaking free, they had become so paranoid that they started conquering all *other* sentient life in the galaxy in order to protect themselves from anything similar ever happening again. They are referred to as "the Ur-Quan Masters" because the canonical ending of Star Control I was the Ur-Quan conquering Earth and its allies with an unstoppable superweapon called the Sa-Matra.

Scott has, infamously, been somewhat critical of the social justice movement. One of the themes frequently revisited is that of the "conceptual superweapon", a heuristic or set of heuristics about a group, built up over time via strategically-chosen examples of members of that group doing bad things, that can then be used to victimise innocent members by association, regardless of the facts of the matter.

There was a comment a few days ago, on the Erdogan post, which criticised Scott rather harshly for his old post "You Are Still Crying Wolf". As far as I can see, the basic thesis of the comment was "Trump is bad, so posting about him not being bad in a specific way was improper whether or not it was factually correct" (that said, I may be misinterpreting; I'd suggest reading the comment and followup for yourself). The comment ended with these words:

"Because I want you to understand: you don't have a future as a political blogger outside of the circle of people that care about substack, you won't make it as a commentator unless you can understand that YASCW was a failure."

The commenter's username? Sa Matra.

Expand full comment

Hi Everyone,

I’m a long-time reader, sometimes commenter, and occasional meet-up go-er. I’ve got an announcement about a project I’m developing that may be of interest to your average SSC/ACX reader.

It’s an online platform for creating and organizing campaigns for collective action, but using some clever techniques to solve game-theoretic coordination problems, especially under conditions of preference falsification - in other words, a tool for organizers to safely find allies and band together when

#1, a coordinated group effort might be effective where an individual effort would fail

#2, a coordinated group effort breaks a bad status quo equilibrium where no single individual has an incentive to act, but many would be willing to act if joined by enough others.

I hope to prove a method of lowering the courage requirements for taking action (from heroic to average), by reducing the personal risks (from potentially catastrophic to marginal) and increasing the expected value for organizing around actual preferences in the face of adversity.

Many years ago, I majored in behavioral economics, so I’ve always been interested in these types of problems. The germ of this idea preceded my first reading of “Meditations on Moloch'', but the impact of that essay definitely galvanized me into attempting something more concrete - one day...The pandemic and an evolving work-life balance created the opportunity to get it started.

The app I'm building has some shared DNA with Kickstarter, The Point, (before it pivoted to become Groupon), GoFundMe, and Change.org, but configured to enable the anonymous accumulation of support followed by simultaneous de-anonymizing at a predetermined tipping point. Crudely, think of the last scene of V for Vendetta where everyone takes their mask off at the same time.

My hope is that the riskiest parts of starting and building a group project/campaign under adversarial conditions can be mitigated, which will better enable mutual support and solidarity, protect against targeted retaliation, and leverage the power of collective action.

The use cases for this can vary widely and are ideologically agnostic by design. That said, some subjects and objectives would be out-of-bounds for obvious legal reasons. Here are some hypothetical examples of campaigns:

Unionizing Veggies R Us Distribution Center Workers.

Presenting an alternative DEI training curriculum at Hopscotch inc.

Uncovering sexual harassment in the Marketing Department at Frazzle.io

Concerned parents of Cedar Country Day School against changes to the curriculum.

Faculty of University X in support of our unfairly persecuted colleague Y

Whistleblowers at Enbition Energy Inc exposing accounting malfeasance.

Those yet to be named by Robespierre, against Robespierre.

On a personal level, why am I doing this?

I believe social norms enforced by unquestionable orthodoxies are probably wrong and deserve scrutiny and challenge.

I don’t like bullies, no matter where they’re from or how they justify themselves.

Mafia-style intimidation, and making “examples” out of people through disproportionate punishment are illiberal, disgraceful but unfortunately effective tactics that create a fraudulent public discourse, which is anathema to the ideals of a liberal society.

I think a social climate where people are honest rather than dishonest, and where problems are confronted rather than repressed, is preferable.

I believe that organized collective action and bargaining is one of the only levers ordinary people have against self-perpetuating institutional power. Pitting atomized individuals armed with personal consumer choice and performative self-expression against powerful organizations is an unfair fight; I want to try evening the odds.

I suspect there are all kinds of dormant preference cascades waiting to be triggered by the right conditions.

This project is still in development - but feel free to DM me if you want to be kept informed on progress or want to participate in testing the prototype.

My Twitter is: https://twitter.com/jbraunstein914

The Website is: https://spartacus.carrd.co/

Expand full comment

It's probably time for another Naval Gazing update/links post. The biggest thing I've been up to lately is a look at the history of the submarine-launched ballistic missile. This is going to take a while, but the first few posts are up, starting with early Soviet efforts and moving on to an in-depth look at the American Polaris program:





Polaris Parts 4 and 5 will be up Wednesday and Sunday respectively.

I've also written up one of the great tragedies of the ironclad era. When the turret was first invented in the 1860s, how best to mount it on ships was controversial, and politics was allowed to override sensible naval architecture. The result? A capsized ship, and several hundred men dead:



Expand full comment

I was recently vaccinated with first dose of Oxford-AstraZeneca. Does anyone here have a good idea where it will be relatively safe to smoke some cannabis so as not to suppress the immune response? I have only found rather unconclusive data [1,2] suggesting small, but measurable negative effect on immunity, but the quantities used in studies are often absurd (I want to smoke a single joint two-three weeks after vaccination, not four just before the injection!).

[1] review article: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK425755/

[2] effect on HBV vaccine: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5930049/

Expand full comment

Is there enough consensus on the genetics and evolutionary environment of first humans to differentiate between the following two possibilities?

1. A single individual with the human genome; everyone else human is related to that single individual (we can call the individual "Adam" or "Eve" depending on gender);

2. An interbreeding population where multiple human mutations are being selected for simultaneously, and (most likely) multiple individuals acquire the "human" gene combination in parallel; there's probably still a single common ancestor shared by all of them, because I'm assuming this to be a single interbreeding population, but the common ancestor is not themselves Homo Sapiens.

(Maybe there's something else I'm missing, like several breeding populations independently coming up with the Homo Sapiens genome.)

To clarify, I realize this is entirely silly as a way to draw the line between Homo Sapiens and not. It's really a question about the environment in which Homo Sapiens was evolving, and whether the mutations were getting fixed in one at a time, or there were multiple of them recombining simultaneously.

(Back story: this was a conversation with a friend where I said "I don't have any cousins" and then corrected with "well, I probably have some a few times removed, I should have some relatives in my generation," to which they said "well, duh", and then we went into "how do you define generation anyway", and then we wanted to know whether we can just take shortest paths back to the start of Homo Sapiens, and that's how we got to hypothesizing about what the start of Homo Sapiens looked like.)

Expand full comment

There is an activity my son enjoys: jumping on the trampoline with me.

This is great for my son, because he typically avoids physical activity, but something about the trampoline makes it fun. It's kind of fun for me, too (my family? With Asperger's? Un-possible!) and gets me my aerobic exercise.

So, great for him, but I'm in my 40s. I know that we've discussed on the old SSC what young-people exercises cause great damage later in life. I'm not sure where trampolining fits on that. I looked it up on the web and most of the concerns are about *short-term* injuries, like trying a stunt and landing wrong. Trust me, I'm not doing that. I can handle the short-term risks.

I also see sources that say it is "low-impact" and great for seniors, but that seems to be with very small "rebounders" and I am trying to get some good height going.

So what's the end result? Is this something I should definitely not do, or do in some special/different way?

Expand full comment


This article won the effortpost contest over at DSL for the month of February and had a lot of interesting points about what poverty looks like from the perspective of someone who is currently struggling with it.

Expand full comment

It feels like Moloch is winning. What can we do to turn the situation around?

Expand full comment

I would love to hear people's views on Stephen Wolfram's view of consciousness- https://writings.stephenwolfram.com/2021/03/what-is-consciousness-some-new-perspectives-from-our-physics-project/

Expand full comment

Put recommendations for lefty but rationalist-tolerable youtube channels here.

Because I've watched a lot of Robin Hanson and some Jordan Peterson, the youtube algorithm has decided I'm more right wing than I actually am.

Yes I know about philosophy tube and contrapoints. Philosophy tube I never liked (maybe one video), contrapoints has a tone I don't like any more (I can't listen to Eric Weinstein for the same reason).

Possibly youtube/recommendation algs make for a crap medium, but I don't think telling me this will change anything. By all means judge me and say what you think about the thinkers I've just named, but please put your alternative recommendation in the first sentence.

Expand full comment

So probably the rationalist community already has thought this up, but it just occurred to me today: oppression heuristics. (I've been trying to get a name on it for years though). I think it's very human to come up with ways to predict what other people are going to do. In terms of sociopolitical oppression, "marginalized" basically means, a member of this group needs to use identity characteristics in their personal danger heuristic. This is shown by, for example, someone who decides that as female there is unacceptable risk of walking at night, but thinks that if they didn't have the identity characteristic female then the risk of being attacked would be lower. Danger heuristics are culturally influenced and begin forming in childhood; an "oppression heuristic" would be for analyzing the presence of risks and dangers related to an identity.

People seem to disagree whether oppression heuristics are legitimate (based on statistics or not). Additionally, they disagree based on whether it should even exist, and they also disagree as to whether certain experiences even exist, and, if an oppression heuristic is appropriate in general, whether a certain thing should be accounted for in it.

Part of the problem of "woke" seems to me to be an attempt by a group to adopt wholesale the oppression heuristic of another group (without themselves being subject to the risks it is designed to predict and without the knowledge at the level of detail needed to employ it intuitively). It is not the same as recognizing that a cultural group may have a culturally transmitted oppression heuristic that is different from one's own. I've seen people read a very fine level of detail into actions that might seem innocent on the surface, but according to the (not shared) heuristic, funnels into a dangerous action later on. I've seen that be right some of the time.

Is this an approach anyone else uses?

Expand full comment

Has anybody read (preferably a professional scientist) read <a href="https://graymirror.substack.com/p/the-restoration-of-science">this Moldbug post</a>? Is it any good? The teaser is so intriguing I'm considering subscribing to his Substack just for that one post -- would it be worth it?

Expand full comment

General questions about men's upper middle class fashion: I'd like to dress in such a way that signals that I'm an approachable, capable, egalitarian-minded upper middle class intellectual. What brands/clothing strategies meet this bill?

The proximate impetus: I've recently started lifting weights consistently, and my jeans don't fit anymore. I listened to a lot punk music in my teens and was into the DIY music scene in my teens/20s, so I've defaulted into wearing jeans, and dark colors. (My shirts are all entirely without logo, e.g. well fitting, unbranded american eagle t-shirts. Shirts with logos on them are the height of poor taste, as far as my class sensibilities register.)

Because of the bulking problem, I bought some bright red "joggers" recently, and holy shit, these are so much more comfortable than jeans. Also, wearing them around is giving class/social signaling that I don't entirely understand - people respond to me differently; it feels like a different subset of the population is being nice to me. I haven't been out and about enough to do any hypothesis building on which slice of the populace this is.

I like jeans because they're durable and not flashy. I now would prefer not to wear jeans because it turns out they're incredibly uncomfortable.

I could start wearing men's tank tops and workout pants, but when I see that in the wild, it strikes me as men signaling for sexual availability/desirability, and I'm not really going for that.

Maybe I also have a broader question about taxonomy of fashion as it applies to social class, and if somebody wants to do an effort post on that, you'll have at least an audience of one. But mostly I wanna figure out how to dress good without jeans and without peacocking.

Expand full comment

I think we should cool down Death Valley, but am not sure how to do it. Death Valley is the hottest place on Earth because it is surrounded by tall mountains and gets a lot of direct sunlight. During the day, the sunlight strikes the ground in the Valley, heating it up, which in turn heats up the air above it. The hot air rises from the ground, cools a little bit, but can't get above the mountaintops to blow away, so it sinks back down towards the Valley floor. In effect, a bubble of hot air gets trapped there.

The concentration of high temperatures leads me to think there must be a way to harness it to generate energy. I also think doing that would be good for the environment since cooling Death Valley down would make it habitable for more plants and animals. However, I don't know what machines and structures we'd need to build to do this.

My first thought is that we should build a tube that stretches from the floor of Death Valley to the peak of the Amarcosa Range, which is the mountain range hemming in the Valley on its east end. I recommend looking at this topographic drawing to visualize the rest of my proposal:


The tube would be two meters in diameter, and both of its ends would be open. The tube would run up diagonally, and would be buried three meters under the surface of the Amarcosa Range's west slope. Inside the tube, there would be a series of small wind turbines.

My theory is that the difference in air temperature and pressure at both ends of the tube would move the hot air from the base of Death Valley through it. Since the tube would be buried, the surrounding soil would act as an insulator, preventing the "hot air bubble" effect that naturally keeps the Valley so hot. As the hot air passed through the tube, it would make the turbines spin, generating electricity.

Would my idea work? Are there alternative ways to cool down Death Valley?

Expand full comment

Interested on opinions about the "confederation solution" for Israel-Palestine, as an alternative to one state / two state. (The idea is: one confederation of two states, with freedom of movement; e.g. Israeli citizens can live and travel in Palestine, and Palestinian citizens can live and travel in Israel; some issues like national security are governed jointly at the federal level. E.g. https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/06/29/an-israeli-palestinian-confederation-can-work/)

It's not as well known; the movement advocating it is small; and lack of trust on both sides is an obstacle to it happening (e.g. Israelis who just think of Palestinians as terrorists). But it at least somewhat deals with the thorniest issues (Jerusalem, refugees, settlers, army):

- Jerusalem - both Israel and Palestine would rather have all of Jerusalem as their capitol, not half of a divided Jerusalem. With confederation, the whole city can just be a capitol to both states.

- Refugees. Some amount of the Palestinian refugees can live in Israel, as permanent residents, but with Palestinian citizenship. They get to go home, and Israel gets to stay Jewish. I doubt all of the refugees would be able to (there are 10x as many now as fled in the first place!), but it could be a big symbolic victory for both sides.

- West Bank Settlers. Instead of having to leave their (currently illegal) homes in Palestine, they'd just become permanent residents of Palestine with Israeli citizenship.

- Army. Palestinians want a state with an army, but Israel's too powerful and scared and will never let them have their own. But with a (successful) confederation, 1. one army would defend both states with both states' participation; and 2. Palestine's biggest threat, the threat from Israel, would be lessened, since it's less likely that the confederation would air strike itself.

One concern Palestinians would have is that Israel would in practice probably still be more dominant, so e.g. if Israel wants to attack Egypt, now Palestine's getting dragged into it too. (But maybe Arab-Israeli normalization lessens that risk?) Lack of trust is a concern in general. On the plus side, Palestinians think it could be economically good.

RAND corporation interviewed some focus groups in Israel and Palestine about alternative ways forward, and it wasn't anybody's favourite (https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RRA725-1.html). But the favourites were ones that will never get consensus (e.g. Israelis preferred the status quo, which is crushing to Palestinians; Israelis are fine with two state if there's no Palestinian army, but Palestinians want two state with an army); and the confederation option also was less well-known. I think maybe if it became better known, it would get more popular, especially if both sides saw the other side also taking it seriously.

Expand full comment

I've been vaccinated for COVID-19. I'm pleased to be protected from death and hospitalization, but I'm concerned that there's still a significant chance that I could get a mild infection that turns into a debilitating "long COVID" that would have a serious negative impact on my long-term quality of life. Does anyone know where to get data on (1) what percent of people with mild infections wind up with any long-term symptoms, and/or (2) what percent of people who have any long-term symptoms are seriously affected (e.g., difficulty walking, brain fog) rather than mildly affected (e.g., partial loss of sense of smell)?

Expand full comment

I recently came up with an idea for a Quantified Self-type self-experiment: Since Google offers the user to toggle ad personalization in their settings, I thought I would try to spend some time with personalized ads and then spend some time w/o personalized ads, then compare my user-experience satisfaction with each. (I think personalized ads might be better anyways because they'd show me stuff I might actually buy rather than merely being generic annoyances; as Yudkowsky once tweeted, "It's disconcerting how much online advertising seems to be centered around an absolute denial of agency to the viewers." - c.f. https://twitter.com/ESYudkowsky/status/1329896859431624704) Any comments on this idea?

Expand full comment

I just reread your post on Ages of Discord and found this

But the most important thing about this book is that Turchin claims to be able to predict the future. The book (written just before Trump was elected in 2016) ends by saying that “we live in times of intensifying structural-demographic pressures for instability”. The next bigenerational burst of violence is scheduled for about 2020 (realistically +/- a few years). It’s at a low point in the grand cycle, so it should be a doozy.

So , how bad are the BLM unrests right now ? And does this fit his prediction ?

Expand full comment

Continuing the discussion about the term "globalist", from here :


Another example of the use of the term "globalist" from a blog that doesn't fit cleanly in the US left/right divide :


(Search also for the mention of "globalist" in the comment section.)

Expand full comment