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Since politics are allowed:

There's been some recent drama at the NIH regarding funding grants from Black researchers that received worse scores than would normally be funded. The initial announcement was here:


Now, Science magazine has reported that they rescinded that notice. https://www.science.org/content/article/nih-pulls-notice-aimed-encouraging-applications-black-scientists

I'm glad; in my opinion, it was a step too far. Although the grant application process has many problems, doing things like this won't fix any of them, and will just lead to resentment.

See also: https://www.science.org/content/article/major-u-s-research-charity-places-big-bet-diversity (HHMI scaling back their normal fellowships to give more to "underrepresented minorities").

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It has been 20 years since The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language came out. It's remarkable how much uptake it has enjoyed in some communities and how little it has had in linguistics. If you've heard about or used it, what are your thoughts?

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Why does a carbon tax, pegged at the cost to remove CO2 from the atmosphere, not just completely solve the climate change problem? You directly target the source of CO2, for example taxing coal, and let the rest trickle through the economy

There are a few subtleties that can be addressed.

1. Carbon taxes can be very regressive. We solve this by making sure that all proceeds from the tax are used to alleviate other taxes on the poor (for example making income tax more progressive by cutting it for lower income brackets).

2. Imported goods will miss this tax. To deal with this you need to tax an imported good by how much CO2 went into producing it that was not taxed at the source.

I like this solution because it is incredibly simple and easy for people to understand, seems fair, and seems price things correctly. I don't know why activists aren't pushing for it more.

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I found out recently that Halloween comes from All Hallows Eve, which itself is part of a three-day holiday from the Early Middle Ages that celebrated the dead (it's also the inspiration for Day of the Dead in Mexico). Amusingly enough, Christmas used to be more like it - the Christmas equivalent of going door to door asking for treats was called "Wassailing", and the early 19th century push to reshape Christmas into a more family friendly festival was in part a response to Christmas in the city being a rowdy affair with wassailing and drinking.

I'm thinking the reason Day of the Dead isn't a bigger holiday in the US is because we already have Memorial Day. Plus Americans just don't seem to do Two-Day Holidays besides Black Friday after Thanksgiving.

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The history of philosophy is the history of forgotten hands. I wrote about why, with a riff on the invisible hand in Adam Smith and Heidegger: https://whatiscalledthinking.substack.com/p/invisible-hands

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People who got introduced to Effective Altruism a couple of years ago, and who have been seriously involved for some time: how do you feel about the trends within the movement? How credible do various organizations and cause areas seem to you now? What do you think about EAs in general? How do you envision the most likely future of EA in 5-10 years? How has the involvement changed your attitude, fundamental values, beliefs, and priorities?

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I've been following reactions to Dave Chappelle's latest special, The Closer, pretty closely. I'm a big fan of stand up in general and Dave is my favorite comedian. My best friend, also happens to be trans, and she, like a lot of progressives, believes Dave is transphobic. While I've seen plenty of responses to The Closer from people on both sides of the argument, I have failed to find anyone who seems genuinely interested in convincing those with whom they disagree. There is an abundance of name calling going both ways here, and seemingly very little interest in persuasion.

So my question is: How would you go about convincing someone that a cis person who makes jokes about trans people isn't necessarily transphobic/bigoted etc? More broadly, how would you go about convincing someone that they should not be offended by jokes?

If you disagree with me on this, you are welcome to try and change my mind, but I'm not particularly interested in debating that point here, and would prefer you shoot me an email at emwjazz@gmail.com if you'd like to discuss that instead.

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Is anybody up to date with the most promising trends in "psychosomatic health"? I am especially curious about the affordable biofeedback devices, novel supplements, and therapeutic modalities that substantially help people suffering from various bodily discomforts, fatigue, and somatic complaints that seem related to a struggling with a combination of depression, anxiety, sleep problems, etc. I have met many such "broadly psychosomatically dysregulated" people in the last years, and they don't seem to benefit much from the mainstream advice (first line treatments, healthy lifestyle, etc).

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Howdy. I'm getting an early start on my New Year's resolutions, namely weight loss! [Alternatively --- and sadly more accurately --- I'm getting like a 2 decades' late start at controlling my morbid obesity, with some timely extra motivation coming from an upset stomach caused by pre-Halloween candy binging. 🙄]

Anyway, my question regarding weight loss: **Does anybody have a deeply informed opinion they want to share --- or failing that, a mildly informed opinion or personal anecdote they want to share 😉--- with the _commercially available gut microbiome tests_?**

Most pertinently: do they really produce anything *both* actionable and novel? Or do they, in the end, seem to give advice that... oh I don't know... ends up just being Michael Pollan's motto: "Eat [minimally processed] food. Not too much. Mostly plants."

Quick searching of this substack as well as its subreddit and bulletin board as well as LessWrong.com didn't bring up any posts directly talking about the commercially available options (as opposed to aspects of gut microbiome science generally).

The most credible-seeming source of information I found through quick Googling and such was this: Episode 51 of the podcast "The Quantified Body": https://thequantifiedbody.net/microbiome-labs-richard-sprague/ . Alas, I'm pretty sure dates from 2018. Also, I'm a little leery of taking it as truly indicative of the expert consensus. I mean don't get me wrong: the interviewer and interviewees involved seem proper, postgraduate-degree scientific folks IMHO, and certainly the website design gives off IMHO awesome vibes of the sort "Behold my laudably well-curated info dumps that will satisfy even the most insatsiably curious of you, my gentle readers and fellow infovores!" (e.g., full transcripts and annotated bibliographies and such). So, that's a definite plus IMHO. On the other hand, there's the ye olde problem that the most voluminous content on the internet on on any given non-mainstream issue, even if it's written with rational-ish vibes, is probably written by people wayyyyyyyy too enthusiastic about the given non-mainstream issue to use it a simple proxy for "yup, this truly the expert consensus".

In case you want more specifics of what I'm imagining (i.e., feel free to skip):

Well, I'm under the impression many commercial gut microbiome test companies advertise with the notion that there's actually a substantial-and-personally-very-much-worth-knowing heterogeneity across the human population to how much various foods spike one's blood glucose, putting forth hypothetical scenarios where some invidividual has gut microbiota that aren't adapted (alternatively, are hyper-adapted) to extracting sugar in the presence of dairy fats so that such a person can indulge in full fat ice cream with a lot less of a blood glucose spike than the average person (alternatively, should avoid full fat ice cream as if it were utter poison)?

Is the overall notion that such heterogeneity exists right?

Even if it exists, is it really a key modifier of one's weight loss strategy for any significant portion of the population?

And even if that, can you trust these microbiome tests' generally qualitative recommendations in and of themselves, or do you have to go full biohacker and, say, wear a continuous glucose monitor for awhile to quantitatively calibrate these microbiome tests' generally qualitative recommendations?

Thanks for your time. 😊

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On YouTube I can spend hours watching well done videos about any conceivable topic - how to cook the last meal served on the Titanic, the latest on the James Webb Telescope, a review of the Model S Plaid, what’s the modern equivalent to Mr. Darcy £10,000/year and on an on. All non-political topics. Politics certainly exist on YouTube but the algorithm doesn’t push them on me.

On the written internet, it seems every site has to include a political angle. This site is great as it has a lot of non-political content. But is there some other way to find an aggregator of non-political content? There is so much going on in the world besides clickbait political takes designed to get folks all riled up about nothing.

Any suggestions?

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Trivial but potentially interesting: what is your favorite image, sound, tactile sensation, scent, and/or flavor?

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Has anyone noticed a political balance to opinions on continuing work from home? I have my thesis but I want to see if there’s data on this. Does anyone know if the red tribe / republicans or the blue tribe / democrats are more likely to want to continue working from home?

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Why does the provision of educational services have to be done by a government bureaucracy. Why not move to a free market.

Creating an educational endowment for each person and paying out annually when students attain an agreed level of mastery, using tests like the Texas STAAR, would change everything in a hugely positive way.

There has never been a better time to introduce competition into the K-12 educational system.

I propose creating an educational endowment for each student, with the money paid out only when that student achieves a specified annual level based on tests like the STAAR.


Education funds are currently paid in at the top and are expected to be used properly to educate the students. That is often not the case. The worst failures are in poor areas where a good basic education is most needed. Our current system also leaves dropouts to fend for themselves.

Students should be seen as customers for educational services, not inmates in a government factory school system.

We should change all state level funding to an endowment at the individual student level. The money stays in the student account until each level is met, making poor students much more valuable to educators who can catch them up. For example, bringing a fifteen year old at the sixth grade level up to sophomore level would pay four years of compensation to the successful educator.

Instead of leaving dropouts to fend for themselves, the funds would remain on deposit indefinitely, allowing those who got their act together after some time in the adult world to get an education.

Troubled students would have teachers and mentors who had a financial stake in the outcome. The dramatic difference in quality based on differences in community income levels would end.

Opening educational services to the free market will see most students moving through material much faster than at present. This will allow for practical job related instruction, and college level courses, to be included as providers fight for market share.

Competition among educational providers will make full use of technology, will provide useful training for actual jobs, will deliver far more education for the same money, and will free the taxpayers from the grip of an incredibly corrupt and self-serving educational establishment.

Our factory government school system is a relic of the past. We need to insure that everyone is educated, but trying to reform the current system is a hopeless task. Without competition nothing will ever change.

I don’t know what an ideal system would look like, but we can all agree on the desired results, and competition operating in the free market will bring it into being. I have followed the educational system all my adult life, and what we have now is ridiculous. By focusing on the desired result, which is student mastery of the required material as measured by tests like STAAR, we can bring about immediate major improvement.

I have several associates in the Black Community, and the appeal of this idea to them transcends ideological boundaries.

If state level funds were used to set up student endowments, paid out only after educational accomplishment, if would start dramatic positive change.

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I'm curious whether anyone has any views on this new article "Effectiveness of Common Antidepressants: A Post Market Release Study"(https://www.thelancet.com/journals/eclinm/article/PIIS2589-5370(21)00451-X/fulltext).

It purports to find substantial differences between anti-depressants and, importantly, it identifies different anti-depressants as being better or worse within different (quite specific) subgroups (the best antidepressant had an average remission rate... 1.5 times higher than the average antidepressant... and 20 times higher than the worst antidepressant").

Strikingly, it has a neat web site http://hi.gmu.edu/ad where you can input your medical history and it will generate an individually-targeted recommendation for a specific anti-depressant. For example, the first time I tried it, it suggested that for people with my characteristics, fluoxetine had the highest remission rate (55%) and compared this to the remission rates for a bunch of other specific anti-depressants.

So far so good, although naturally I had some initial scepticism of subgroup analysis. Particularly since the medical history 'quiz' was taking a lot of quite specific information (not just age, gender etc.).

Unfortunately, when I retook the test a couple of times the wheels started to fall off. Some of the questions were a bit ambiguous (maybe they'd be clearer to a US audience). For example, it asks whether you've received psychiatric evaluation or had a gynecological appointment (does this mean *ever* or specifically in connection with your depression? would meeting with your General Practioner and discussing depression count?).

With slightly different answers on questions that do not, realistically, seem likely to be connected to massive differences in the effectiveness of different anti-depressants (as well as some different branching paths where the test will ask different questions based on your previous answers) the test generated totally different answers. In some of these cases (despite only very mildly different answers) it was explicit that for example, only one antidepressant had been used by people in that particular subgroup, so that was the recommendation. In one of these cases it also explicitly said "This antidepressant has a 3% chance of remission, but it's still the one we recommend!"

Suffice to say, this seems very dubious and it seems quite likely they are over-interpreting noisy subgroup differences.

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COP26 starts today. What are peoples views? It’s been billed as the most crucial summit on climate change since the Paris Agreement, as countries are expected to have submitted new plans to reduce emissions.

Do you consider it a crucial summit to prevent climate change? Or is it just another UN summit, like the now forgotten COP25?

Personally I guess from the China presidents no show this will just be another talking shop but progress will be made toward countries agreeing stronger emissions targets. It will take another year though for the politics to be worked through.

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What are the reasonable lifestyle options for people with a very low well-being (e.g. due to genetics, external circumstances, resistance to most treatment options, lifelong imprisonment) who don't want to or can't undergo euthanasia/commit suicide?

I was curious if frequent lucid dreams and deep meditative states (such as 6 hours of jhanas or metta per day) could serve as satisfying coping strategies.

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For the last decade America has been depolarizing around race and repolarizaing around class. To be clear, it's still more race polarized than class polarized. But that's been changing. The Democratic Party has been bleeding working class voters to the Republicans. The Republican Party has been bleeding middle and upper class voters to the Democrats.

The issue with that is that the working class outnumbers the other two classes. If the process is completed then you'll see the Democrats representing 20%-33% of the population and the Republicans representing the rest. For now, the Democratic Party is staying afloat (more or less) on the fact that minority woring class voters are still Democrats. But that's increasingly shifting.

I think that political parties tend to know where their bread is buttered. They see these changes and I expect them to react. The question is what the Democrats can do to prevent becoming a permanent minority. Electoral reform won't do it. It will give them a boost but they're genuinely losing vote share. It might even accelerate the process by forcing the Republicans to appeal to non-traditional Republican groups more. Likewise, it's increasingly looking like non-voters are leaning Republican so the Democratic focus on general turnout like automatic voter registration isn't likely to help. (Both are good things for democracy but not the party. Also, politically, the major reforms the Democrats want are unlikely to happen anyway.)

So where do the Democrats go from here? Do they find some kind of new working class politics? Can they afford to alienate their elite, cosmopolitan donor/volunteer base? Can they reform the actual people who make up party leadership to look like their base? The Republicans, for all their other flaws, have politicians, donors, and staffers demographically similar to their base. The Democrats don't. Do they (ironically) need some kind of affirmative action? Do they become an increasingly tyrannical minority and turn on democracy as a concept? (They haven't so far but how much of that is contingent on the fact they're getting the majority of the vote? It's easy to be pro-democracy when you're winning.)

My idea (which is half baked) is that we're heading for something like Britain got in the 1930-60s. The Democrats could collapse and be replaced by a more openly socialist, consciously working class party. They'll stay on as a rump like the Lib Dems who represent the OxBridge set but don't have enough vote share to do anything. The question is whether the Democrats can course correct and absorb the nascent movement (like they did in the late 19th century and 1930s) or not. Though an argument against that is Labour has increasingly become, like the Democrats, a non-working class party too! The British working class is increasingly voting for the Tories, which is admittedly easier since the Tories have a longer history of working class engagement. So there's some kind of general political shift going on here throughout the west.

Or is this not a problem and the realignment will stop before it necessitates any kind of response? Will the Republicans just fail to pick up the $20 on the ground because they're too married to their form of class politics? Place your bets, I guess, but I'm curious to hear what people think.

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If someone were telekinetic, what's the least amount of force one could exert to kill a person? The obvious answer would be to squeeze on their brain, but I'm wondering if there's an even more efficient line of attack.

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I'm not sure we're allowed to talk about themotte culture war thread, if we aren't just delete this or something.

I've been posting on the motte for a while, and recently I had a feeling it was becoming useless as a space where I could have "good" arguments with people I disagreed with. Just to check, I made a couple fake accounts and posted a bunch of wedge statements, some racist/tradcon stuff and some woke/BIG COMUNISM stuff.

The most heavily heterodox right wing stuff got positive karma and no pushback (mixed societies have heavy drawbacks, Black people are low IQ, Democratic participation should be restricted), the mildest center left statements ("Diversity can have benefits") got neutral karma and some back and forth, and anything to the left of center (Global warming exists) got huge -karma and massive push back.

This extends to any scientific arguments the right doesn't like (Vaccines work, Covid is real, etc.) I'll admit it's not the most scientific test, but I also don't actually care that much, so I'll leave it at that.

It looks like the inevitable self sorting mechanism of internet communities has happened.

Seems like it just can't be avoided. Maybe it's just a feature of social groups.

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A belated re-revisit, since I missed the initial publication due to a change in format. The 2020 FBI Uniform Crime Report is now available for download, which means we can finally evaluate the first prediction from You Are Still Crying Wolf properly. The prediction was: "Total hate crimes incidents as measured here will be not more than 125% of their 2015 value at any year during a Trump presidency, conditional on similar reporting methodology [confidence: 80%]"

The ACX revisit was written before the 2020 data was out, and initially listed this prediction as correct using the 'Total number of Incidents' metric. A commenter pointed out that the 2019 measurement was 125.03% of the 2015 value, and that it was thus false. While that alone might be sufficient, I also had the complaint that the initial ruling ignored that 2020 was indeed a year during a Trump presidency - using the same metric for 2020, 7,759 incidents gives a more decisive value of 132.6% of 2015 values. Reversing the evaluation would now require throwing out a minimum of 447 incidents (assuming zero issues with the 2015 values), up from merely 2 in 2019. That's a much more substantial epistemic cushion.

Relevant links:

2020 data: https://crime-data-explorer.app.cloud.gov/pages/downloads

2015 data: https://ucr.fbi.gov/hate-crime/2015/tables-and-data-declarations/1tabledatadecpdf

SSC article: https://slatestarcodex.com/2016/11/16/you-are-still-crying-wolf/

ACX article: https://astralcodexten.substack.com/p/mantic-monday-grading-my-trump-predictions

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There was recently a thread on HN about post-SSRI sexual dysfunction ( https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=29024808 ). Are long-term side effects (even months after stopping the SSRI) really so frequent?

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Hello and happy sugary sweets evening to all.

I had a question about getting into medical school.

I graduated from a top undergrad program though didn’t do the full pre-med courseload. But I do have clinical research publications at an Ivy, an MD mentor, a great GPA, relevant medical work experience, and of course a really strong desire to become a psychiatrist. My parents are both medical practitioners (MD, APRN) affiliated with Ivy institutions should that factor nepo-credentially.

What are my options here? How can I slide through this creaky old door? Notably, due to Covid many schools are waiving the MCAT for this academic year.

Alternatively I consider a PsyD, but I don’t want to “settle” with this life-long goal of mine.

On the very off-chance a medical school admissions officer or pertinent member of faculty is reading me, I would really cherish your input.

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The connection of cold weather to cardiovascular issues got me thinking. Cardiovascular health and mental health are closely intertwined. Things that are good for cardiovascular health (like exercise) are also good for mental health. Perhaps temperature is an independent contributor to seasonal affective disorder (not only light). I thought back to a time last year when my shoulder was so severely injured that I couldn’t put on a shirt so I had the thermostat set to 80 degrees 24/7 for a couple of months. I felt I was sharper than usual during that time. So yesterday I ran a self experiment where I raised my thermostat from 70 to 76 and I felt a bit better after a day. (Maybe just a placebo). Are there any good studies yet of temperature-based interventions for seasonal affective disorder? I couldn’t quickly find any on google due to the results being flooded with irrelevant stuff.

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I've reviewed a puzzle game on Less Wrong which I'd consider to be a rationalist game, i.e. one where playing it requires practice of rationalist skills like forming hypotheses, noticing confusion, etc. Link to the review: https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/39Ae9JEoGCEkfiegr/recommending-understand-a-game-about-discerning-the-rules

(I already posted this in the last open thread, but late enough that possibly no-on saw it. Will not repost again.)

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Proposal for a Secured Zone in Haiti

See TinyURL.com/HaitiZSS

In 2010 an earthquake killed 220,000 Haitians. In 2016 Hurricane Matthew killed thousands more. In July of this year the autocratic President of Haiti was assassinated by a squad of Columbian mercenaries who were probably hired by other members of the Haitian government. In August another earthquake struck Haiti.

I live in the Dominican Republic with a Haitian family. I am always concerned about Haiti, but particularly so lately.

I have written (or quoted) over 7000 words on a plan to help Haiti. I want to make it as useful and realistic as possible. I am requesting feedback.

Please think of my request like an appeal for donations, except it will cost you time rather than money. If my ideas have some merit, an entire country might be helped. How much is that worth?

How much is that worth to you?

Almost anything you might say, positive or negative, would be helpful to me as I endeavor to improve the plan.

I hope to read your comments.

Peter Robinson

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In the middle of researching the background of multiplayer speedruns in Diablo 2 for one of those video essays on YouTube, I found one of the early organisers had “stashed” a quote from Elizier Yudkowsky in his post history back around 2010. So for the longest of shots: MFB from indiablo - do you happen to read these comment sections?

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So what are the US fallback solutions if we can't defend Taiwan from a Chinese invasion or blockade? Is there a way for America to punish China for the (presumably successful) invasion, while stopping short of a full naval engagement with them in the South China Sea? This is for the next 5-20 year time span (I believe that we could still defeat China's navy today, albeit at probably great cost).

The most common response is that America's blue water navy could simply blockade China, the world's largest trading nation, and brutally punish their economy by blocking imports & exports. (Somehow a landmass the size of China doesn't seem to have large-scale oil reserves, so they import a ton of oil. They do of course have a strategic oil reserve, but it would run out eventually). I guess I'm just a bit skeptical that the US could successfully blockade them for a long period of time. The world relies on trading with China, and a real blockade would seem to usher in a serious global recession. I'm sure global opinion would turn against China if it invaded Taiwan- I'm sure it would turn again against the US if, say, Europe & Latin America & Japan entered a major recession due to losing the Chinese market. Not to mention the effect on the American economy itself! Doesn't seem like a long-term solution.

Any other tools in the American toolbox? Some long-range bombing to flex muscles & look tough while not engaging in a full-on naval battle? Just seizing all Chinese financial assets on Wall Street under the Trading With The Enemy Act from the 30s? (How much cash does Alibaba, Tik Tok & Huawei keep in American banks, anyways?)

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Diamond is strong because it is pure and its carbon atoms have a regular, crystalline arrangement.

However, pure metals are weak thanks to their regular, crystalline arrangements, and can be made stronger if alloyed with other elements.

Why does the crystalline arrangement of atoms have such different effects on hardness and resilience in different elements?

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I just bought an Oculus Quest 2 and have been experimenting with it. I'm not a gamer and was mildly skeptical about the recent "metaverse" buzz. But now I think this is going to be a huge deal, especially as the tech improves. And it's already pretty good.

I could absolutely see this turbocharging the work from home trend. Virtual conference room meeting will be like real life- miles better than Zoom calls. It could eliminate a ton of business travel. Hell, travel in general- if you're traveling to see the sights and talk with people. The VR tours they have of historic urban centers are already pretty amazing.

I've also played a bunch of ping pong on it. Not quite perfect yet, but pretty damn impressive.

Would be interested to hear other thoughts on the future of VR tech and the metaverse concept.

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I mentioned this last time, but I'm now happy to share that my new podcast has officially launched. It's called "Rock Docs: A Podcast About Movies About Music". Every week we discuss a different music documentary. Episode 1 is about "Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese". https://linktr.ee/rockdocspod

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Anyone know some good original sources to get an insight into how the political elite of the European powers reasoned during the begining of World War One?

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Are there any parliamentary systems that don't have snap elections? As a committed anti-populist who's skeptical of too much direct democracy, I think presidential systems are maybe a bit too high-stakes (the US is currently in the middle of proving this old saw correct), and I'd like choosing the executive to be removed from them. However, as an American I find foreign snap elections & the constant coalition collapses baffling and fundamentally just weak, if I can be frank.

Could this system work at all- we have multiparty elections in the House and the subsequent winners form a coalition and select a Prime Minister, possibly with a Constitutional time limit (2-3 months, say) to prevent interminable negotiations. The House Reps serve for 4 years, and the PM once picked serves for 4 years with them. (I'm not sure whether to include a Senate here or not). There are no snap elections or dissolution of the government- if the coalition partners encounter issues after the fact, tough. The PM is there for 4 years, so you have to get along somehow.

This system would hopefully combine the strength & decisiveness of a fixed term with the anti-populist element of not directly electing the most powerful office. Would this work at all? Has it ever been tried?

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Does anybody know much about the International Phonetic Alphabet? Can it express the sounds of all the world's top thirteen or so languages by GDP (English, Mandarin, Spanish, Hindi-Urdu, Arabic, Japanese, Russian, French, Portuguese, Malay, Turkish, Korean, Italian)? Can it it be used to write specific accents? Is it worth me learning it?

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This has bugged me since I was a kid. Did Captain Kirk die whenever he went through a transporter?


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I have written a brief explainer for the Bible; is it good? While writing it, I have noticed that listening to the Bible via audio is generally superior to reading it silently. https://eharding.substack.com/p/what-is-the-bible

Given Boris Johnson's recent claim that “When the Roman Empire fell, it was largely as a result of uncontrolled immigration" (an arguably true, if definitely silly claim), I would also like to point out I have also written a brief explainer for the fall of the Western Roman Empire; I would also like to hear your thoughts on it:


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Just wanted to get some eyeballs on some amateur fiction I've written:


The first story is something I hope would make Rod Serling proud, the second is based on the video game "Little Nightmares". Constructive feedback is welcome.

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Dreams: does anyone else commonly have dreams that they are NOT in? In that either "you" is an entirely different person that is nothing like you, or "you" are not in the dream at all (whether as yourself or anyone else) and are just watching in an omniscient role like you do when you watch a movie?

This never used to happen to me, but the past couple years I am not in about half of my dreams. I fear this is from consuming too much media and my brain learning to be too much of an omniscient, outside viewer. Wondering how common or rare this is.

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Does the ACX community contain any aspiring playwrights, screenwriters, poets, or novelists? Are there are other literary types here who happen to enjoy STEM subjects and Scott's perspective?

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I've seen a bunch of discussion of the Roman Empire, across ACX/SSC, especially when it comes to civilisational fall and inflation fears. At one point Scott (if I'm recalling correctly) worried in a post that the COVID debt we were taking on might be something like Roman coin debasement , and we wouldn't be able to control the resulting inflation - and perhaps whatever political destabilisation it brought along with it.

This became the personal research project that launched a thousand tangents, but a series of posts is finally coming out. Because deteriorating Roman economics is nothing like the common picture.

Because first up, Roman debasement, inflation, and political instability are centuries out of sync. They're not causative. I don't think we can even say they're related.


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Here's a game I invented in a dream last week, maybe someone here can tell me how many times it had been invented before and how complex and interesting it might be:

The game is played on a regular chessboard, with 31 black and 31 white pieces. At the start all pieces are on squares of their respective colors, save squares a1 and a8.

White starts.

A valid move is a skip over an enemy piece, like in checkers, only orthogonal (up-down, left-right), not diagonal like in checkers.

A piece skipped over is removed, just like in checkers.

Chain captures (jumping over several pieces in sequence) are allowed but not enforced.

To clarify: you can only skip, simply moving pieces is forbidden.

The player with no valid move to make loses.

I played a couple of games with myself and it seems interesting, but I'm very bad at strategy games so I'm not even "probably" but "definitely" missing a lot of basic stuff re. strategy and playability.

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Here’s a question for those of you who think that machines will replace all workers.

Why do we still have baristas?

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How have you managed your mental health while traveling? I find traveling more than 2 weeks tends to be quite stressful for me.

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Has anyone seen a good discussion of sanctions? In fairness, I'll tell you that I tend to be anti, on libertarian principles.

Do they tend to work to achieve their stated purposes? How much do they hurt third parties or otherwise harmless people? Do targeted sanctions work to just hit specific people or organizations? If a sanction is ended, how long does it take for ordinary trade to resume?

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Another ask for information-- I've never seen a book or other major source about bounties on animals. Anyone seen anything?

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To the CIV players (or EU / CK): If an epidemic appeared with the stats: "fast, universal infection; killing 0.5% of population, 80% of which over 60 years." - would you consider any action or even start worrying at all? ( I did move the capital in CK2 when the bubonic plague came close). Would you close ports? Stop trade? Demobilize? - Sorry for sounding trolling-like. I really do wonder. And got vaxxed first weekend shots were open for my age group.

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There's a very culture war topic I've been thinking about for a while, that I was hoping to get some thoughts on from this community. It's about vaccine mandates, and the purpose/drive behind at least some of them.

I'll say up front that I think that taking the vaccine makes a lot of sense, especially for certain groups (the elderly, people with comorbidities) and also that requiring a vaccine for a deadly virus is justifiable in fields where risk of infection and spread is of particular concern (nursing homes, hospitals).

It occurs to me that due to the divide between those seeking vaccination and those turning it down, and specifically that the divide breaks along legible political lines in many cases, it may be easier for Democratic leaders to insist on a vaccine mandate, and difficult for Republican leaders to allow it. In the least charitable interpretation, Democrats realize that they can get Republicans fired en masse from a wide range of professional positions, and pick a policy that allows them to do it. Also speaking uncharitably, Republican leaders like Greg Abbott of Texas see the same political ploy and therefore make a heavy-handed rule the other way (he outlawed vaccine mandates). Somewhat more charitable, it may not be an intended consequence, but more of a desirable side effect of a policy that would still be sought otherwise.

There are other political situations with similar intended effect versus beneficial side effect situations. Voter ID seems to fall into this bracket, where it may be good policy on its own, but at least some accuse Republicans of pushing it so that less minorities vote. Similarly with the SALT tax deduction caps from 2017, which create a weird inversion in politics due to how they tend to penalize rich Democrats from high tax states. Republicans raised taxes on the rich, and the Democrats are the ones who want to lower the taxes. I think the SALT situation is a much clearer example of the least charitable interpretation, and I think the least charitable version is the true version.

The overall question is not whether the vaccine mandates are purely to get Republicans fired, as that's unlikely to be the main motivating factor. What I'm curious about is the idea that certain policy choices become much easier when it benefits your tribe and/or hurts the other tribe. Arguably vaccine mandates do both for the Democrats, and may explain why Democrats seem so willing to push a mandate that would get people fired even during a major labor shortage. Nurses are extremely hard to find at the moment, for one example, yet they are also being fired from their jobs if not vaccinated.

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I predicted the future well enough to make a lot of money on the stock market using superforecasting. I also used memetics to start a religion online. This are both fringe sciences that I've been dabbling with for the past 10 years in order to create mathematical rules that quantify group behavior.



A lot of people expect me to show the math. But I'm not an altruist and I don't work for free. I dislike the current power structure of society and I'd like to gain fame and money and power of my own which I can use to change our cultural norms into something more healthy. I am reiterating my offer that if anybody disbelieves me, all they have to do is put me in touch with a reporter or hedge fund manager. I'm willing to prove my claims in person to anybody who can help me obtain large amounts of either fame or money.

Until then, I plan to continue using my sciences exclusively to benefit myself while harming the elites in charge of our society.

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Excellent summary of Gain of Function research in this week's issue of Nature! The author discusses all the different ways viruses can be manipulated, and how the lack of a precise definition for "Gain of Function" can inhibit the development of regulatory regimes for viral experimentation (which I think is necessary on a national and international level). And as an aside, one researcher in quoted in this article pointed out that that creating a viral vector vaccine like AZT by splicing a SARS-CoV-2 spike protein on a harmless Adenovirus backbone falls under the definition of Gain of Function (because it involves the creation chimeric virus that has new functional properties that the original Adenovirus didn't have). So, regulation of GoF and GoFRoC (Gain of Function Research of Concern) processes will require creating a more precise listing of the different techniques used to manipulate viruses.


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Can you explain the Skopje "doesn't count" thing? Why am I not seeing scads of comments from offended Skopjeans?

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The depiction of Skynet's rise in "Terminator 3" is more confusing and open to interpretation than you think.


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I came late to the post mentioning intransitive dice (#10 at https://astralcodexten.substack.com/p/links-for-october), but I was curious whether anyone sees a link between these dice and Simpson's paradox (https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/paradox-simpson/; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simpson%27s_paradox). A simple example of Simpson's paradox occurs when you are comparing two treatments, A and B, for two subpopulations, X and Y. It is possible for treatment A to be the more effective treatment both for subpopulation X and for subpopulation Y, but for treatment B to be more effective across the entire population X + Y. It feels like this phenomenon violates our intuitive expectation for an "associative property" of statistics in the same way that the dice violate our intuitive expectation for a "transitive property" of statistics. But I'm curious whether the mathematics behind the two paradoxes is similar at all.

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Why doesn't every power plant and factory have a bank of Nitinol Engines to convert waste heat into electricity?


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What booster are folks getting, esp. if they started out with a Moderna series?



^ These suggest that a 100mcg Moderna booster is ideal - not offered in the US today (boosters are 50mcg, additional dose, which is an altogether different thing, is 100mcg). 2nd best and almost as good, seems to be Pfizer.

Is this about the net conclusion reached by most folks ?

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I have a platform to talk on a radio-ish/podcast-ish thing, about rationality and adjacent topics, to a college audience, in a location where there is only a small rationalist/EA presence. I would like topic suggestions, methods of approach, texts to just straight up read out loud, and any other miscellaneous thoughts you may have, including whether or not this seems like a worthwhile opportunity to take advantage of for reasons other than "it might be exciting for me personally".

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Can anyone suggest a good discord for discussion purposes? The one linked to on this substack is admined by a pompous loser who seems to have have nothing to do with Scott anymore.

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Scott: This one should be in your wheelhouse:

"Madness for Decivilization" by Michael Shellenberger | 31 Oct 2021


"Liberals and progressives had gone, thanks in part to the ACLU, Foucault, and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, from advocating humanistic psychiatric care to opposing it. Part of the reason progressives demand proof of mental illness in the form of violent assault, murder, or suicide is that they have lost faith in our capacity to recognize it and at times even denied its existence."

Excerpted from "San Fransicko: Why Progressives Ruin Cities" by Michael Shellenberger (Harper, 2021)

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I remember slowly "waking up" at some point around 18-20 y.o.

I get a solid impression that I didn't have qualia and/or self-awareness for a long time.

I remember having emotions, experiences, but I don't remember *interacting* with them in self-aware way. It was all like autocomplete spewing out thoughts, words and actions.

Probably normal people can get similar realisation after finding meditation, and peeling off layers of illusion. That's how I was able to relate to that previous feeling. But I feel like I really has come from the bottom of not-being, even not-being a silent observer.

Obviously I am feeling like I'm a special snowflake, but maybe everyone has this, just doesn't talks about it much? Can someone relate to this?

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How can I condition myself to be more tidy?

My problem is that when I'm finished with a thing, I let it lie around, instead of putting it into its place. Like Prentice Mulford (or whoever) said, a place for everything and everything in its place.

E.g. I come home, take off the shoes, leave them in the middle of the corridor. Leave a book on the living room table. Leave tools somewhere random when done with them.

My son is even worse, and no amount of nagging can bring him to put the nail scissors always back to its place when he's done cutting his fingernails. (Which he does strangely often. If I need the manicure set, my best bet is looking for it on his desk, rather than the bathroom.)

So, we need some intervention. It drives my wife crazy, and I agree she is right and would like to change. But it's very hard to fight against my own absent-mindedness.

Are there any neat tricks?

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A question for people who know about "Dune" - How did the Atreides forces make the basic mistake of clustering all their forces in one place on the surface of planet Arrakis? Worst of all, their space ships were on the ground, parked side-by-side, making them easy targets for bombardment. Why wasn't some fraction of the fleet always parked in orbit to shoot down any enemy ships before they could land on Arrakis?

Also, how many Atreides military forces remained on planet Caladan after the expeditionary force went to Arrakis? Surely they wouldn't be dumb enough to leave their home planet unprotected. Why don't the forces on Caladan counterattack the Harkonnen planets in retaliation for the latter's attack on Arrakis?

I just watched the "Dune" movie but haven't read the books, and as a novice, I'm confused over what appears to be comically bad military strategy.

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Has someone written about what's the fairest way to tax a multi-income household, where the number of income earners > 2?

I feel like taxing in pairs may disadvantage, say, a throuple - like say a situation with 2 breadwinners and one live-at-home caretaker. Is there a way for say, a 3 - 4 adult household to enjoy similar benefits of joint taxable income as a 2 person couple?

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Jordan Peterson: I really like Jordans intellectual capacity, his world view, his ethics, his rationality, he is a guy I would like to trust seeing as a leader of a huge country, the climate change issue, the WHO, the UN what else. BUT: from about 10:00 in this video he looses me when he is talking about 'a god's, about 'a genesis' and stuff. I was raised as well by my parents that I should believe that there is a Christian god, but it made never sense to me even as a child. So what shall I do with him after he discloses he is believing in an old white bearded men floating in space and creating life and universe in 7 days???


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My friend and I both have an issue sometimes where we hear a song, and can't tell whether it's in our heads or we can actually hear it. We have to ask someone else to find out.

We both assumed this happened to everyone -- but from asking other people it sounds like this is unusual. Anyone understand this or have any information?

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Would very much like to hear your thoughts on this Scott: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2000/12/a-new-way-to-be-mad/304671/

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How would Taiwan credibly pre-committing to attacking the 3 gorges dam in the case of a Chinese attack on Taiwan work?

Taiwan could use some sort of bond that works regularly the majority of the time but if and only if China attacks Taiwan then it renders some sort of economic advantage to Taiwan if they spend x resources on attempting to destroy the 3 gorges dam. You can balance it out with another bond that renders some smaller advantage in preventing war with China but I doubt anyone thinks Taiwan could benefit from war with China.

Also would the US plan over a Chinese invasion of Taiwan ever not include retaliation with India towards China?

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In June a certain Leonid Chuzhoy posted about an online discussion on why parliaments appeared in Europe. I have been searching for something similar since, but I've never seen anything.

Does anyone know of events like this? I thought it would be a great way to make new friends.

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I will read your link and reply later.

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The reply system here is either broken or very confusing. I got an email that Zorba had responded to the last thing I said in our thread. I clicked on Reply. It gave me a mostly blank screen with a comment box. So I wrote a comment. "I will read your link..."

But that comment was not added to our thread. I will go back to the slow method that I know works: click on View and use Find in Page to search out the end of the thread.

For me it's annoying.


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