> an ideal experiment would involve taking a really talented family, adopting away one of their kids at birth, and seeing what happened to them.

More practical experiment: high-IQ women inseminated by sperm of smart famous men. The study tallies IQ and talents of children, scatterplotted against... (i) the husband's IQ/abilities and (ii) famous men's children's IQ/abilities?

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Extremely random thought: I hereby propose that we rename generations as follows:

Silent Generation -> Generation A

Baby boomers -> Generation B

Generation X -> Generation C

Generation Y -> Generation D

Generation Z -> Generation E

Generation Alpha -> Generation F


(In my proposed scheme, there are no names for the Lost Generation or the Greatest/G.I. Generation, as most of them are dead anyways at this point.)

This proposed scheme has several advantages over the current one.

Firstly, it sets the set-point for generation numbering at a fairly reasonable point, and thereby eliminates our need for suddenly switching to the Greek alphabet. (In the old scheme, Generation A would be ~1500-1520, assuming a 20-year generation span, and no one has generational stereotypes stretching that far; in my proposed scheme, we won't need another alphabet until Generation Z is finished being born around ~2440.)

Secondly, it makes giving names for members of particular generations much easier, as now one would only need to append "oomer" to the generation's letter to refer to a single member. This way, Generation B members get called "boomers", in accordance with current slang. The other names also (kind of) make sense too (though I'm not sure if they're accurate or valuable as new generational stereotypes): Generation C members (born between 1960 and 1980) get called "coomers" (i.e. people addicted to pornography), Generation D members get called "doomers" (i.e. people extremely concerned about forthcoming worldwide doom). (Generation A members get called "aoomers" and Generation E members get called "eoomers", which are neither well pronounceable nor semantically memorable, but that's okay - neither generation is really well known for having a Defining Generational Experience.) It even works for the forthcoming Generation F, who would get called "foomers" (i.e. things that FOOM, or exhibit characteristics of AIs exhibiting a hard takeoff), which is precisely correct given current (optimistic?) estimates of when we should expect some kind of AI takeoff to occur.

Now for some possible disadvantages: The current system of generation naming is already well-established and it would be incredibly hard to change it. Also, I'm not sure whether "coomer" and "doomer" are appropriate generational stereotypes for members of Generation C and D, respectively - some quick searching suggests that people generally think of Generation C members as cynical and sleep-deprived and Generation D members as lazy and tech-savvy. Furthermore, I'm not even certain that dividing people into generations by *birth year* is the right way to go - I think that it's also popular to divide people instead by *age*. (This depends on whether people tend to be shaped more by when they were born rather than their current age. It seems the former would be more useful in a rapidly changing society and the latter in a very slowly changing one, which seems to suggest that birth year is more useful? But I digress.)

Sincerely, an eoomer*.

*Yes, I'm revealing my age, sort of, but I've already written about so many times on the internet that it's not really sensitive info for me at this point.

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At the very least, the Polgárs should be a demonstration that home environment can be very important for the kind of things that show up in your "Great families" post. Maybe they would have become doctors or something and never received widespread attention in a counterfactual world.

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I'm still unvaccinated after getting my first impressions on COVID vaccines from anti-vaxx-because-mRNA-is-poison crowd, but I've been thinking about the statistics and decided whatever the scale of adverse reactions, they are regrettable but vanishingly small in the bigger picture, and I'm not likely at all to get life-threatening ones outside of recoverable myocarditis and/or blood-clotting, the last one also occasionally found in live infections. So such side effects is actually on par with the real bug or even smaller, rather than magnitude worse than actual infections. Granted they can accumulate, and antivaxxers warn of unknown unknowns (or suppressed knowns like fertility "inhibition"), but those might wear off with immunity itself, or not sufficient to be of my immediate concern. I'll still prefer non-mRNA ones over mRNA ones because of the new technology aspect, which needs several years to investigate its long-term side-effects before being really safe.

I can stay unvaccinated & avoid those places where a vaccine passport/health code system is set up, like many Conservatives who hate such a level of state overreach. That's probably as big a rationale to "resist" vaccination, along with job-quitting. They are often moving to GOP-dominated areas, getting work that don't have vaccine mandates or WFH, or even trying to be self-sufficient and do business informally (what they call "parallel" societies). They are sticking to their principles and those efforts at alternative economic organizations are applaudable, but the question is, is the trade-off worthwhile (no vaccination & a degree of surveillance, but massively lower quality of life indefinite, which they can blame on the mandates and the system as a whole)?

Thanks for the advices because that will determine my lifestyle for the next 2-5 years, & life planning for even longer!

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There was some talk about a Florida meetup in late October that I wasn't able to attend, but I was wondering if anyone could provide an update to that. How many people attended? Did it go well? is there any talk of doing one again in the future?

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To kick off my presence here at this colossal blog I'm asking for a few questions on how commenters here evaluate some conspiracy theory claims that is gaining acceptance by an emerging segment of people on the political right-wing. Personally I see a lot of those to be narratively more structured and "convincing" explanations than what is (propagandized?) to be mainstream, and often consider issues from their perspectives. It is basically the "end phase of NWO to enslave and/or kill everyone outside of the elite thru excuses starting from COVID"

The most immediate concern for them is to confront the emerging COVID "police state", or neutrally put, the digitalized system of intensive surveillance and direction of daily lives based on a particular interpretation of contact-&-mobility-restricting NPIs (e.g. vaccine passports & contract tracing apps) and the assumption of a "New Normal" based on obligatory (instead of mandatory) vaccination. Their main objections are libertarian, anti-surveillance, anti-segregation & anti-centralization of social agency, not unlike what emerged after the passage of the Patriot Act (also rejected by much of the same people). To counteract that they have sought alternative social & economic strategies, from building extra-formal parallel societies conforming to their political ideologies to practices of subsistence-level self-sufficiency.

Here comes the question: how do you evaluate the legitimacy of the current "police state" system? What I have seen is either resigned acceptance, or total resistance. I'm trying to find principled arguments that legitimizes the current level of strictures. 2ndly, of the political understanding to marginalize the unvaccinated? They appear similar to Nazi or Soviet dissidents that were prosecuted and often denied basic services & needs. 3rdly, of the modernity-withdrawing reactions of those "resisting" vaccine passports & contract tracing apps? (I won't be surprised if these have come up before and discussed)

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I am looking for book recommendation about Ancient Rome. I know almost nothing. Particularly interested in political institutions, law, and political economy. Also interested in day-to-day life portrait kind of stuff. “Great man” history is ok I guess, and I do appreciate biography, but I’m looking for something a little more expansive. Extra points for something fun and readable. I’m not afraid of tomes. Recommendation?

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Attempting a different calculation of the number of lottery tickets in the pyramid and the garden (https://slatestarcodex.com/2016/11/05/the-pyramid-and-the-garden/):

If you round the speed of light to just 2 decimal places (29.98), you still hit the great pyramid (https://goo.gl/maps/kHKNJQWvwVd3Rbi9A). It's exactly the location of the entrance on the north face. So we only need to explain a 1-in-10000 coincidence.

1. At least 10 constants which would be impressive if ancients knew them:

* c

* G

* 9.81/m/s^2

* Avogadro's number

* molar gas constant

* lyman-alpha wavelength

* fine-structure constant

* proton-electron mass ratio

* planck constant

* stefan-boltzmann constant

* electron charge

2. At least 10 man-made wonders of the world

3. At least 16 characteristics in which to encode the interesting constant (latitude, longitude, height, length, width, circumference, plus length/width/height of a few internal features)

4. At least 3 choices of units (SI, imperial, and cubits or whatever the local system was when other wonders were constructed)

5. At least 4 choices of decimal point placement

That gives us 10*10*16*3*4 = 19200 lottery tickets to explain a 1-in-10000 coincidence.

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This year's gift guides are predictable and sad. I'm looking for your Top-1 recommendation for each of these:

a. Really Good Black Friday deal.

b. A gift for your SO.

c. A gift for coworkers.

I'm intentionally not specifying budget, SO's gender, interests etc. I'm just looking for good ideas in any price-range, and in any interest category (tech, history, literature, rationality etc.).

Only thing I'm asking is that you share your top-1 recommendation only ;-). Why? Because it's fun to think about "best", "most valuable" etc. ideas, instead of saying "I have 10 great ideas" :-P. I guess I can't stop anyone from sharing more than 1 really...

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Does anyone have any good tips about making medical and dietary decisions when there isn't very much data? My baby Daughter is going to have to go on a drug that is known to be associated with having lots of allergies. It seems really unlikely to me that choices about weaning etc. aren't relevant to reducing this risk but since so few kids need this drug I think it's unlikely there will be good medical trials on this.

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From https://bariweiss.substack.com/p/lose-the-mask-eat-the-turkey-and

> The largest study worldwide, the Israeli study, showed that natural immunity was 27 times more effective than vaccinated immunity in preventing recurring Covid illness. The only two studies to the contrary are from the CDC. They were sham, jerry-rigged studies that were so embarrassing they would get disqualified in a seventh grade science fair project. That’s how horrible these studies were.

Anyone know the basis for this claim ?

Also, thoughts on this interview overall are welcome. Never heard of Dr. Makari before - his pedigree sounds trustworthy but the interview format leaves little room for references/footnotes, which means that this is a “trust me” format, not “trust but verify” format. I don’t like this on principle.

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I haven't read The Nurture Assumption, but got a lot of similar information from Bryan Caplan's 'Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids'. I think the results of the 'parenting doesn't matter' studies oversold. IIRC, 1 SD 'better' parenting can do things like raise IQ on average by 3 points. Not a big difference individually, but far more than 0 - especially at the extremes of the probability distribution. 3 IQ points roughly doubles the frequency of 150 IQs, 6 points roughly quadruples it.

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I've seen some people (including Paul Graham) making a big deal about the lack of association between parenting and Big 5 personality traits. I think the findings have been misinterpreted as saying "everyone ends up becoming themselves so whats the point of good parenting". The study literally begins with "personality traits are stable, but also amenable to change." I'd be willing to bet that just because personality is stable does not mean that perceived personality (by both the person and others) and well-being are not affected by parenting. A neurotic person with good coping mechanisms might always have a tendency towards anxiety, but if they avoid falling into negative thought patterns they might not think of themselves as especially anxious and generally feel fulfilled.

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Is there any real downside for a commenter here using their real name? I started using the name of one of my old S Corps - and my favorite entry lake to the BWCA - on a whim early on.

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Two blegs:

I ask for two things, a good history of the world (in under 400 pages) and a history of the Late Republican and early imperial Roman periods in the style of Kulikowski's Imperial Triumph. Anyone have suggestions?

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> I’m wondering if I’ve been blogging so long and cast such a wide net that I’ve collected readers who aren’t familiar with The Nurture Assumption

I think it is a mix of this plus people coming in with strongly held beliefs that are expensive to update.

Bryan Caplan has talked about how economics is a weird subject because in a lot of 100 level classes, students will argue with the professor that the whole field is wrong. Not many subjects get that. If The Nurture Assumption was taught, I'd bet it receive similar treatment.

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Both Trudeau SR and Castro are some of the most influential historical leaders of their respective countries...

It would be hard to tell if Trudeau JR got his political talents (and indeed, very quickly fell into the role of Prime Minister in his political career) from being the 'adopted' son of the most consequential Canadian prime minister in postwar history or being the biological son of someone who was able to navigate the politics of revolution and post-revolutionary Cuba.

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I guess my objection to "success is genetic" is that it does NOT follow even from the assumption that everyone's personality (including intelligence) is 100% genetic and 0% environmental. And I do believe that this assumption IS a good approximation of reality, so no need to oppose me on that part.

Suppose that because of genetics, you get "the type of brain that is capable of inventing the cure for cancer". But there is still a huge gap between having this type of brain... and actually inventing the cure for cancer.

Your environment can make you interested in biology and medicine... or history and conspiracy theories. Both are great areas for someone who can memorize thousands of small details and notice patterns, but the latter does not lead to you inventing the cure for cancer.

There is a difference between merely having a talent... and having the same talent, plus good tutors, learning resources, opportunities to network with people studying the same thing, etc.

Education costs money. If your family can't afford it, no matter how smart you are, the path to medicine is closed. Not necessarily because you lack knowledge, but simply because you lack the credentials.

Your general financial situation also determines whether you can study things that are interesting and spend a lot of time thinking about them... or you must do whatever maximizes your income in short term, even if it destroys some opportunities in long term. On the other extreme, financially independent people can get 10 extra hours of free time every workday; that is not a small thing.

Money can make the difference between owning a famous company... and being the most productive employee in a company that made someone else famous. In academic sphere, political connections can make the difference between being known as the guy who invented the cure for cancer... or being on the list of his sidekicks.

(An argument in the opposite direction is that generally intelligent and conscientious people have more than one opportunity in life, so even if something prevents them from inventing the cure for cancer, they can still become famous for something else.)

Shortly, to achieve great success, you need to score high on both genetics and luck. Even if nurture has no impact on your personality traits, your family can influence your luck.

Plus, there is this example of the three Polgár sisters. People usually dismiss it by saying "they just inherited the chess genes from their parents, duh". However, although their parents were chess players, they were no grandmasters. And without the benefit of hindsight, you probably would have *predicted* the *opposite* -- the daughters being *less* good at chess than their parents -- because of the regression to the mean. And they exceeded their parents, thrice.

Yes, the Polgár sisters definitely inherited some superior "chess genes", but the genes alone would not have made them so famous. They also needed the supportive family. If you read the book, there were a few hostile people placing various obstacles in their way, such as trying to ban them from competing in the "male league", or refusing to issue them a passport so they would be physically prevented from participation in the world championships... and the parents had to fight hard to overcome these obstacles. (So if there was ever an equally genetically gifted girl born in a less supportive family, we would not know her name.) Not all competitions are fair, and the family can make a big difference here, too.

So, my model is that you have "genotypic geniuses" and "phenotypic geniuses", and the family plays the role *twice* -- the first time it is a source of the genes, and the second time it helps to transcribe the genes into actual world-class success. "Genotypic geniuses" that happen as random mutations are much less likely to translate into "phenotypic geniuses". The thing that we see running in the successful families are the "phenotypic geniuses", but the "genotypic geniuses" could be much more widely distributed in the population.

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I was shocked by the global map in Scott's Ivermectin post ( https://bucketeer-e05bbc84-baa3-437e-9518-adb32be77984.s3.amazonaws.com/public/images/ac9e4f34-f9cc-40f2-9d83-da4e7178fad7_772x330.png ) showing that, in about half of the world's land area, more than 10% of the population is infected with worms. Shouldn't there be charities to distribute Ivermectin or something similar in these parts of the world? Shouldn't Mexico, Brazil, China, and India be able to do this on their own?

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What if the total number of U.S. Senators stayed fixed at 100, but they were apportioned based on the square root of each state's population?

Also, regardless of how small a state's population was, it would be guaranteed one Senator.

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Wait, how do we know Trudeau isn't a Castro?

Did someone collect some of his glorious hair for a DNA test?

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Why does it become harder to remember names than other parts of speech?

Why can it be possible to remember a thing, and bunch of related facts about a thing, while still not remembering its name?

I just mentioned Erdos in a comment. I couldn't remember Erdos' name, but [nomad mathematician] turned it up.

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Completely speculative, but I wonder whether some of the incredible achievements of Ashkenazi Jews born in central Europe from 1880 to 1920 was a result of a similar mix of circumstances that has also been associated with extraordinary, concentrated achievement in other times and places. Periclean Athens, 1st century BC Rome, 15th century Florence, maybe late 18th century Edinburgh, maybe mid to late 17th century London, maybe the Netherlands in the early 17th century. Most of our culture was created in a very small number of places, in a short period of time. And then, although high achievement in those places/cultures continued - as it certainly has done for Ashkenazi Jews judging by the number of Nobel prizes they win - the great, world-changing contributions faded away.

These cultures do seem to share some things. Wealth and power - they were all rich places that were extending control over others, and were at the forefront of contemporary technological development. Novelty - all of these were very consciously new societies, doing something different from anything that people living in those places had done before. Threat - they were all under constant threat, not just of attack, but of total destruction. It's almost as if the relative lack of a past they could call their own, and a future in which their culture was reasonably certain to survive, helped focus the collective mind of these places on achievement in the present.

Looking at these indicators, one might expect the most interesting place in the world today, and the most promising place to look for major contributions to the future of our culture, to be rich, technologically advanced, realistically threatened with annihilation, and new - a civilisation which thinks of itself as separate from anything that has gone before. I'd say that the place that seems to fit those criteria best would be Taiwan. I know almost nothing about Taiwan.

I'm in the happy state of being aware that there's a mountain of speculation on this subject, but sufficiently ignorant of the nature of that speculation that I feel free to add my own half-baked noodling to the pile.

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If your child has a personality that gets on your nerves, what should you do?

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There are now three nags to subscribe per page instead of two (top-of-page/end-of-article/end-of-comments instead of top-of-page/end-of-comments). Is this intentional?

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Last whole number OT I gave some arguments from the cognitive scientist Donald Hoffman's "The Case Against Reality: Why Evolution Hid the Truth from Our Eyes". Hoffman's interest is in understanding consciousness/qualia; he presents radical ideas such as what we see physically as medium-sized objects like humans and other animals are merely the equivalent of an object in a video game because our perceptions have evolved to give us a useful interface of reality that tells us nothing about what is behind the screen. It's a pop-science book strained and stained with tired The Matrix tropes, nevertheless I found some of the ideas serious and novel.

Last week I focused on Hoffman's emphasis on how much our perceptions, particularly our visual perceptions, are divorced from "reality".

Now I want to focus on Hoffman's radical ideas about what it is that consciousness is.

Hoffman approaches understanding consciousness by attempting to solve the maze backwards. Cartesian-like, he starts over with a basic premise: consciousnesses are agents who 1) perceive The World; 2) Decide to act based upon info from 1; 3) Act, changing The World, changing perceptions, leading to new decision, new actions, changing the world again, etc.

It's the most simple model of consciousness (although he acknowledges an unconsciousness computer could also fit that model.) The idea is to cut consciousness down to its essential elements, assume it is real, and then ask What Then?

Hoffman seems very influenced by studies about epileptic patients who have had the hemispheres of their brains separated. The two hemispheres seem to exist as separate yet whole consciousnesses ever after. Such result seems to imply that two conscious structures capable of acting independently can also join together to form a new consciousness containing both.

Hoffman believes that, humans say, are a grouping of many fundamental conscious agents joined together in a hierarchy. So one agent might be in control of the blood flowing through your liver; another your heartrate, another your breathing, etc., and all of these agents are "unconscious" to "conscious" higher-order executive functions, which we more normally think of as consciousness.

We may even, who knows?, ourselves be lower-lever agents playing our video games of life, while in reality our business is something more important like being the unconscious agents of who monitor and stabilize the blood pressure of sleeping dragons. Who knows?

Hoffman doesn't claim to know much, and ultimately that is the failing of his book. He has big ideas but can't flesh them out.

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Another talented family that got missed: the Fields. David Dudley Field I, a Congregational minister, had nine children--several of whom gained national prominence. Stephen Johnson Field become a Supreme Court Justice, serving from 1863-1897 (the second longest of any justice). Cyrus West Field laid the first transatlantic telegraph cable in 1858. David Dudley Field II became a Congressman and also pioneered a major legal change: the shift from common law pleading to code pleading. Their sister, Emilia Ann Field Brewer, had a son, David Josiah Brewer, who also become a Supreme Court Justice from 1889-1910. Funny to think that the United States, a nation of about 63 million people at that time, had an uncle and nephew pair on the Supreme Court.

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A contrarian acquaintance of mine who's in habit of posting these sort of things linked the following blog post: https://alexberenson.substack.com/p/vaccinated-english-adults-under-60

Turns out that, according to the government data, between May and September all-cause mortality for vaccinated 10-59 year olds in the UK has been twice as high than those who are unvaccinated. The original substack has some comments attempting to form an explanation other than vaccine actually being the cause of these deaths, and I can think some more myself, but I would be interested to hear if someone here can provide a robust model of what's happening and not just a handwavey set of reasons that sound about right (including an explanation to death rate among vaccinated being that much lower before the trend shifts in April).

Some of my thoughts regarding the issue:

0. I have a fairly strong prior towards human body being robust against presence of foreign mRNA and/or bits of inert viral proteins and would be rather surprised if it turned out vaccines of any modern type did actually cause excess deaths.

1. The base rate mortality for this age group is very low so just about any confounding factor has the potential to overwhelm it

1a. At the beginning of the time period almost no one was vaccinated, towards the end only some 10% of 10-20 year-olds appears to have received a second dose (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/oct/12/explainer-why-has-the-uks-vaccination-rate-slowed-down), whereas more than half of the deaths among 10-60 year-olds are accounted for by 50-60 year-olds. Additionally, the mortality of the unvaccinated appears to drop somewhat. This definitely explains a decent chunk of the effect, but surely the mortality in 2nd vaccine group shouldn't exceed the mortality before basically anyone had vaccine?

1b. People with potentially deadly comorbidities are presumably self-selected to take the vaccine

2. This was brought to my attention by someone who actively seeks out data that can be used to support a contrarian stance, and whomever noticed this anomaly the first might be the same. As far as I can tell, there could be more degrees of freedom than is apparent at first glance. There's a decent chunk of variability in both groups. I have no idea of the usual variability. It seems possibly convenient the beginning of the dataset has been cut off (I'm not comfortable enough with spreadsheets to do the visualization). All the other possible fudge factors.

It seems like 1a might also explain the initially lower death rate among doubly vaccinated, if we suppose the only people who had received two doses at that point are healthcare professionals, and that healthcare professionals enjoy lower mortality than the group of 10-60 year-olds by large.


(I can see this is tangentially related to politics, but my intent is to understand people who are anti-establishment in general, and the whole pandemic response thing is just background)

Nevertheless, I want to say I very much get where the mentality behind the contrarian stance comes from. While writing this post I looked at all kinds of British news articles and was again reminded by how preachy a lot of the news reporting sounds, at least when it's not just reporting of daily COVID deaths(*) or something else that at this point feels about as front-page worthy as "Theory of relativity still thought to be broadly correct" (reporting about TRENDS would make sense, I find that kind of information worse than useless precisely because it detracts you from the big picture), "trust science" sort of messaging aimed at people who fundamentally distrust the elites, and all that. I have approximately zero credence on this being a conspiracy and correspondingly high credence on all of this being explained by Moloch is playing us like puppets, but if my priors were different, I could easily see myself interpreting the push towards vaccine passes, yes-men attitude of the media and other such details as some sort of NWO takeover.

*) Indeed, I would attribute the rote daily reporting of case numbers as one of the prime culprits to a trap politicians have found themselves in: it seems fairly well-established vaccines are quite effective at reducing cases requiring hospitalization yet only have a limited effect at reducing transmission that tests positive, and consequently politicians are responding to raise in confirmed cases as though it was spring of 2020, despite vaccinations markedly changing the cost-benefit analysis of interventions which, as I recall, Scott himself concluded weren't trivially the right or wrong thing to do to begin with (in the "Lockdown Effectiveness: Much More Than You Wanted To Know").

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(Repost from the last Open Thread in the hopes that enough people see it to produce an answer or at least some informative speculation)

What the hell is going on with Rivian? They're an electric car company that just IPOed, have a market cap of over $100 billion (currently the fifth "biggest" car manufacturer in the world, down from third place last week), and have produced less than 200 vehicles.

As far as I can tell their valuation isn't based on some enormous technological breakthrough or anything, so why on Earth does the market think a company this small is worth more than Ford or GM, and why this one in particular when there are many EV startups to choose from?

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Item 4:

I took most of the following information from the Wikipedia articles about these two men:

Miloš Forman, 18 February 1932 – 13 April 2018, directed films such as One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975), the film version of the Broadway musical Hair (1979), and Amadeus (1984). He won 2 Academy Awards, 3 Golden Globe Awards, and a Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival.

Forman was born in Čáslav, Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic) to Anna Švábová Forman who ran a summer hotel. When young, he believed his biological father to be professor Rudolf Forman. During the Nazi occupation, Forman's mother died in Auschwitz in March 1943, and Rudolph Forman died in the Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp in May 1944.

Forman later discovered that his biological father was in fact the Jewish architect Otto Kohn and Forman was thus a half-brother of mathematician Joseph J. Kohn.

Note the dates of birth:

Joseph John Kohn (born May 18, 1932) is a Professor Emeritus of mathematics at Princeton University. Since 1968, he was a professor at Princeton University, where he served as chairman from 1993 to 1996. Otto Kohn emigrated to Ecuador in 1939.

Since 1966, Kohn has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the National Academy of Sciences since 1988. In 2012, he became a fellow of the American Mathematical Society.[2]

Kohn won the AMS Steele Prize in 1979 for his paper Harmonic integrals on strongly convex domains. In 1990, he received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Bologna. In 2004, he was awarded the Bolzano Prize.

Not a bad daily double if you ask me.

My wife's great grandparents are buried in the cemetery at Caslav. Pretty town about 70 mi east of Prague.

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Even were Justin Trudeau the secret love child of Fidel Castro, he was nevertheless raised the son of Pierre Trudeau, who also served as Prime Minister of Canada, so it would still tell you nothing about the effects of nature vs. nurture.

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I feel like it is so obviously true that parenting / childhood environment affects people's personalities, behaviors, and life outcomes. I think you should be much more skeptical of these sources that aren't finding a correlation.

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Can anyone do a better job than me of thinking of counterexamples to the "science progresses one funeral at a time" meme? Counterexamples in the sense that an erstwhile consensus view (which was ultimately shown to be the correct one) retrogressed one funeral at time through the death of its supporters, eventually ceding its consensus status (at least temporarily) to a now demonstrably false view?

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It seems to me that the best tactic for doing a lot of super-hard research is to figure out how to enhance your human researchers. If you have 1000 person-years of work to do, then finding a way to make your researchers 2x faster or "better" is worth 500 person-years; and for research that can't be parallelized any further, enhancing the researchers is the *only* way to make it happen faster.

I'm thinking here of biological enhancements: e.g. drugs that make your brain work more like von Neumann's, or like a 25-year-old's if you're 60, or accelerate or replace sleep; computer-chip implants that augment your short-term memory or perform tasks like arithmetic; brain-to-brain and brain-to-computer communication interfaces; growing or grafting more brain cells; and so on.

These enhancements seem extremely valuable, for particular projects and for humanity in general. Yet I don't think I've seen much serious activity on them. SENS and such are about reversing aging more generally, and I haven't heard of them focusing specifically on making their aging researchers more productive; Neuralink exists, and apparently their plan is to "make devices to treat serious brain diseases in the short-term, with the eventual goal of human enhancement", so they *might* be doing the right thing eventually; drug-based cognitive enhancement is nootropics, and my impression is that the field severely lacks rigorous results from large-scale trials, probably due to lack of funding. For replacing sleep, I googled, and found some results about "Orexin-A", which seemed promising; but according to a Vice article, the researcher is merely trying to treat narcolepsy, and thinks "sleep replacement" means temporarily keeping someone awake and alert (as opposed to identifying the critical maintenance tasks sleep accomplishes and finding better ways to do them) and is therefore a bad idea long-term.

I suspect these researches are underfunded partly because of difficulty in capturing externalities. Making up numbers: If, say, $1 trillion is spent per year on research, then making all researchers 2x better is like getting another $1 trillion, and if it took $1 billion it would be so worth it; but if the research budget you personally control or care about is only $1 billion, then it's not worthwhile to you. So it's mostly useful for those with huge budgets, or those who don't care about capturing the externalities. And my impression is that government agencies and others are a lot more likely to fund "fixing diseases" than "enhancing healthy people".

So I guess I'm proposing that cognitive bioenhancement, perhaps aimed primarily at researchers and engineers, should be high on the list of EA causes to fund.

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My healthy 68 year old mother has two doses of the COVID vaccine, but says she "does not need" a booster because she doesn't have any other risk factors and doesn't normally interact with people outside her small social group and family. Is it worth pushing for her to get one when we get together for Thanksgiving?

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Ignorant question about cryptocurrency: are there people working on alternate ways to anchor the value of cryptocurrency other than mining with graphics cards, which has environmental costs and has totally screwed up the market for graphics cards?

If we required bitcoin mining to happen using human power on exercise bicycles instead, would that work? (that's a joke). Are there other options that people are considering that could plausibly work? Are there any good articles out there about this that would make me less ignorant?

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I submitted an application for an ACX grant but I didn't get an email confirmation about my responses like I normally do when I submit a Google Form. Is this expected? I'm somewhat concerned now that I might not have entered in my email correctly or something.

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Some thoughts re brain poisoning yourself by following people on twitterl:

I heard about Glen Greenwald on here a while ago, had some 50/50 thoughts on him ("Isn't he that reflexively anti-establishment guy who lost his job for being edgy? He's probably worth looking into at least").

I read saw his history, read some of his new pieces, and felt like I had found another good source for moderating my current events feel.

Then I followed him on twitter. I now think that he is hopelessly biased, and basically useless for calibrating myself against vis. What Is Happening.

Am I correct? Did I gain any actual useful information here, or did I just trick myself into thinking poorly of someone I've never met?

Basically, can you extract useful information about a public figure by seeing their social media style minor interaction? (discounting them being obviously malicious, of course.)

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I think part of the reason for push back is that the subsection of people who believe in nurture and privilege believe it passionately. My reaction to the great families was "Yep, sure". So you get an obvious bias in the comments.

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So there is a decent amount of discourse happening on YouTube nowadays but I was surprised to see that there seems to be very little flow of ideas between communities like this and the discussions happening there. I decided to try my hand at the video essay format and the first one was a discussion of Moloch. Here is a link:


I also have a few other videos on topics like biases and Cancel Culture. Please let me know what you think.

(My apologies if this kind of post isn't allowed.)

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Did anyone else laugh out loud a lot when they read “Bobby Fischer”?

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In regards to #4, there is a documentary called "Three Identical Strangers" on Amazon Prime that is about triplets who were separated at birth and placed into families in three different socioeconomic classes: Lower Class, Middle Class and Upper-Middle Class.

Furthermore, I was adopted myself and had a complex upbringing. I recently met my biological mother, grandmother, three half-brothers, and uncle. I spent six months with them in the last year. I've learned that I share similar aptitudes and shortcomings with my biological relatives.

I am also inclined to believe that the socioeconomic status of any given family could likely be caused by certain habits, traditions, and values which that family upholds. If earned independently, a higher economic status could be a reflection of that family placing a higher value on education and financial literacy. In short, I believe that the values the Great Families uphold are more likely to cultivate an environment where exemplary achievement can be attained.

I am new to Substack but I've been a writer for years. I'll be posting blogs that go into further detail about my experiences with these matters soon.

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What constrains your the most? If there were one “variable” you could change about yourself to improve your life overall what would that variable be and why ?

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With regard to _The Nurture Assumption_, the author mentions the rare case where the family is the peer group. That was my situation, I think hers, and it is particularly likely if your family members are almost the only people you know who are smart as you are, which would fit your families story. In that situation the family environment can have a large effect on you, as in the case she describes in the book.

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Perhaps it strikes many as a small point, given the primary focus of the debate between genetics and parenting styles, but Judith Rich Harris is very clear on the impact of peers - and how parents CAN matter if their focus is constructing a particular peer environment,

"Even though parents may not have much influence as individuals, they can have a great deal of power if they get together. Hebrew used to be a dead language—a language used only for ceremonial purposes. A bunch of grownups got together and decided to make Hebrew the language of their new country, and they taught their kids to speak Hebrew. The kids found that their peers spoke Hebrew too, and Hebrew became their "native language," even though it wasn't the native language of their parents. It worked because the parents who decided to do it lived in one place and their children played together and went to school together. It wouldn't work if only one family in a neighborhood decided to do it. So parents who want to have an influence on their kids should get together with other like-minded parents and send their kids to the same school. That's the way the Amish do it, and the Hasidic Jews. In fact, it's what middle-class parents do when they move to "nice" neighborhoods so their kids can go to "nice" schools."


This mechanism through which parents can have an impact shows the mechanism through which cultural differences also may have a more significant impact - children raised in significantly different peer communities may have outcomes different from those who have not been raised in significantly different peer communities.

In a different context Robert Plomin also acknowledges the impact of peer communities,

"If you've ever seen these really mathematically-gifted kids like one of my students has this foundation in Russia. For some reason, they seem to have a lot of mathematically-gifted kids. And if you see these kids early in life, they just live math. They joke about math. They talk math basically with their friends. And they have friends who are interested in math as well.And I think that’s the way genes work to influence complex traits like mathematical ability. It's not hardwired in the brain. I think that's why I said before, it's as much appetites as it is aptitudes. And if you have this genetic propensity, then you select and modify and create environments that are correlated with your propensities. And that's where I think parents can make a difference as they recognize what their kids are good at and like to do, they can help them do that. And that's an environmental influence but we call it a gene-environment correlation. It's not like the environment overriding genetic propensities. Instead, it's going with the genetic flow if you see what I mean."


An obvious inference is that with respect to environmental influences, we should be focused a LOT more on the norms of peer populations (and less on parenting).

John Ogbu, the Nigerian anthropologist who mainstreamed the notion that engaging in the behaviors needed to do well in school was "Acting White" among some African-American teen peer groups. Roland Fryer estimates that 1/3 of the black/white achievement gap at the high end may be due to the impact of norms against "Acting White,"


The notion that outcomes are either genetic OR idiosyncratic (an increasingly common dichotomy among advocates of behavioral genetics) eliminates a focus on the role of peer influence, subcultures, and cultures in outcomes. Researching, discussing, and addressing these issues more fully and openly is the next frontier. At present those who discuss differences in outcomes associated with particular cultural norms are often attacked as aggressively as advocates of behavioral genetics used to be (see Amy Wax).

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I was hoping that "the other Scott" would continue his series on the continuum hypothesis but it looks like he lost interest, so I post my (naive) question here, since there probably is a large overlap between the two groups of readers.

Here it is:

I can sort of follow the argument that you can build a model where ZFC+CH are valid and one where ZFC+NOT(CH) are valid.

But I still don't know what it all means for THE reals - you know, the equivalence classes of Cauchy series of rational numbers that we learn about in college.

It seems to me that that ought to have a definite answer, or am I missing the point?

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Speaking of TV, I just discovered the 2017 series Trial & Error, funniest thing I’ve seen in a long time. Very British style comedy about a murder trial where an earnest young NY attorney is dropped into a small town murder trial where everyone, literally everyone, is some combination of insane, deranged, delusional, oblivious, etc, and John Lithgow is pretty much all of those as the defendant. Light fare but OMG is it funny, to me at least.

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Typo: "...some of Andrés Gomez Emilsson’s theories. Anders has since written..."

I assume "Anders" should be "Andrés"

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Can someone explain why and when the regular commenting group here changed so drastically?

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In chess news, 18-year-old Alireza Firouzja is now ranked number 2 in the world, behind only world champion Magnus Carlsen (who will be defending his title against Ian Nepomniachtchi in a match starting this Friday).

In the last month, Firouzja won a spot in the 2022 Candidates Tournament by winning the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FIDE_Grand_Swiss_Tournament_2021 , and led his adopted country of France to victory at the European Team Chess Championship.

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Hey - not sure if this is allowed so feel free to remove if not but I'm a big fan of Scott and have just started writing my own substack which I think is sort of similar in theme and some people here may enjoy. Here's a post on the placebo effect that might be particularly interesting to ACX readers: https://atis.substack.com/p/all-placebos-are-not-created-equal

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What do people think is and is not within the norms for advertising on Open Threads? Scott seems to allow it within reason, but what is reasonable?

My view would be that if you finish/start a new big project it’s okay to post about it once (you just started a blog, your software is finished, etc) as long as it is something that at least plausibly could be of higher interest here than among the general population (if you made a new kind of generic sock, maybe this isn’t the appropriate place to shill it).

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On (3) I can recommend Robert Plomin’s book “Blueprint: How DNA makes us who we are”. It’s a recent book from a leading geneticist that convincingly argues that parenting / nurture doesn’t matter.

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This post is the first I heard of The Nurture Assumption, and I read Malcolm Gladwell's summary of it. https://web.archive.org/web/20140808055954/http://gladwell.com/do-parents-matter/

I'm having a lot of trouble resolving it with my existing paradigms of mental health. I've been in therapy for years trying to work my way out of depersonalization/derealization disorder and other general anxieties. Through the years, I've come to believe that dysfunctional attachment as a child is the "original sin" that leads to poor mental health outcomes in most cases. It makes sense to me that the poor emotional regulation of my parents would result in my own poor regulatory ability and predispose me to dissociation. That paradigm still seems realistic to me, and my suspicion is that some meta skills like emotional regulation are learned predominantly from parents and other traits like personality are learned through peer groups.

I'm curious about whether mental health outcomes are more strongly correlated with parenting than personality traits. How does The Nurture Assumption resolve the strength of the correlations in the ACES studies which are mostly concerned with childhood conditions mediated by parents?

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Re 4: I'll mention it again because it's relevant. Another experiment that was performed was by Sir Francis Galton in Hereditary Genius. He looked at boys adopted by popes and boys who were sons of men of eminence. The boys who were sons of popes were afforded lots of resources but were not genetically related to the popes. He found that the boys who were adopted by popes didn't achieve eminence like the sons of eminent men did. He believed that eminence was hereditary.

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Once again re: The Great Families. I want to post an excerpt from "The Son Also Rises: Surnames and the History of Social Mobility" by Gregory Clark. This is very relevant to the discussion of Darwin. If you're interested in intergenerational transmission of eminence/success, this book is worth a look.

The Son Also Rises pp. 132 - 135:


"One clear prediction of the human-capital theory is that, other things being equal, the more children parents have, the poorer the children's outcomes. The more children there are, the fewer family resources can be devoted to bolstering the human capital of each. Over time, however, there have been remarkable differences in the correlation of fertility and social status. Sometimes it has been strongly positive, at other times strongly negative.


The lineage of Charles Darwin is a nice illustration of how large the families of the middle and upper classes could be in preindustrial England. He descended from a line of successful and prosperous forebears. His great-grandfather Robert Darwin (1682-1754) produced seven children, all of whom survived to adult hood. His grandfather Erasmus (1731-1802) produced fifteen children (born to two wives and two mistresses), twelve of whom survived to adulthood. His father, Robert Waring (1766-1848), produced six children, all of whom survived to adulthood.10

In a social environment where all these children had to be privately educated, dowries needed to be provided for daughters, and estates were divided among children at death, human-capital theory would predict that the heedless fecundity of the English social elites of these years would lead to rapid downward social mobility. The lower classes of preindustrial society, producing only modestly more than two surviving children per family on average, would be able to concentrate resources on the care and education of their offspring and see them rise rapidly on the social ladder.

In contrast, by 1880 in England, upper-class men seem to have produced far fewer children than those of the middle or lower classes. Indeed, from 1880 to 1940, the richest English families seem to have been dying out. Based on the rare-surname samples of chapter 5, the upper-class males produced, on average, fewer than two children who survived to adulthood. At the middle and bottom of society, however, men were producing an average of 2.5-3 children who survived to adulthood, in reversal of the pattern observed before 1780. Figure 7.3 shows, by twenty-year periods, the estimated total number of children surviving to adulthood per adult male for two wealth cohorts: initial rich and initial poor or average-wealth rare surnames. Fertility for the richer lineage is consistently less than that of the poorer in the years 1800-1959.

This major change in the relationship between fertility and status can be illustrated again by the Darwin family. Charles Darwin (figure 7.4), marrying in 1839, had ten children, though only seven survived childhood. These seven children produced only nine grandchildren, an average of only 1.3 per child. (This figure is unusually low for this era, but there was great randomness in individual fertility.) The nine grandchildren produced in turn only twenty great grandchildren, 2.2 per grandchild. This figure was less than the population average for this period. The great-grandchildren, born on average in 1918, produced 28 great-great-grandchildren, 1.4 each.11 Thus by the time of the last generation, born around 1918, average family size for this still rather elite group had fallen to substantially less than replacement fertility. The Darwin lineage failed to maintain itself in genetic terms.

Interestingly, with respect to social mobility rates, the twenty-seven adult great-great grandchildren of Charles Darwin, born on average nearly 150 years after Darwin, are still a surprisingly distinguished cohort. Eleven are notable enough to have Wikipedia pages, or the like, such as Times obituaries, devoted to them. They include six university professors, four authors, a painter, three medical doctors, a well-known conservationist, and a film director (now also an organic farmer).12

But we see no signs that social mobility rates in England slowed as the upper-class groups produced fewer children. Instead, as chapter 5 shows, the intergenerational correlation of status remained constant for education and wealth. By implication, human-capital effects on social mobility must be modest. Status is strongly inherited within families mainly through genetic or cultural transmission, or both."

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re 4: It's impossible, and will almost certainly be for ever impossible to make such experiments with a large enough number of subjects. But this really shows why the Simulation Hypothesis is almost certainly true: it makes sense to make a number of simulation copies of a given universe, so you can run scientific experiments on them, by taking talented kids off talented families and making them grow with dunces, or killing Baby Hitler, etcetera, just to see what happens. Makes me think that our universe possibly is an almost exact copy of a universe where Baby Hitler was indeed killed... Regarding the Fidel Castro thing, for example, it's just too good not to be true, Almost certainly some alient experimenter tinkered with that, to see what would happen to Canada if you were to put a son of Fidel in charge.

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I do think the extreme scepticism of the families post is a product of most followers being American.

If you are British, German or Italian you expect famous people to be second cousins or great grandchildren of other famous people.

P.S. How did you forget the Robert Aumann, Oliver Sacks, Abba Eban and Jonathan Lynn all being first cousins.

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I didn't know the Nemenyi/Bobby Fisher connection. Another example of separate upbringings would be Steve Jobs (put up for adoption) and his biological sister, award-winning novelist Mona Simpson (raised by their mother, mostly).

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By definition, light speed is 299,792,458 meters per second. I am embarrassed every time I look at this number. We can do better.

By shortening the meter by less than 0.07%, we can redefine light speed to be exactly 300 million m/s. This will be much easier for everyone to remember and inconvenience only some easily-ignored eggheads. (Lengthening the second instead would be a much dicier proposition.)

Who's with me?

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N.B.: it’s Andrés Gomez Emilsson, not Anders Gomez Emilsson.

I love QRI’s stuff!

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I've been following this conversation on editing - https://twitter.com/RichardHanania/status/1461877959078277123 - on editing, and - don't make fun of me - I'm kind of confused by the whole thing.

Suppose you're a famous writer (doesn't have to be Shakespeare level, just a journalist at a top publication with lots of experience). Shouldn't we expect that your editor, who is not a famous writer, is a worse writer than you? And when a better writer and a worse writer disagree about the best way to write something, shouldn't we expect that the better writer is more likely right? I understand editors have a role in correcting typos and factual mistakes, and in making sure your opinion/style line up with the rest of the paper, but people seem to imagine that editors make writing better. How?

I can see a few possible arguments:

1. Publications get their best writers to retire and become editors, so the average editor is a better writer than the average editee. Seems possible but factually false.

2. Good writers don't look over their own work in detail, so editors have more time and are doing a service writers couldn't do. Makes sense except that this person seems to think when a writer and editor disagree (and both are paying a lot of attention to the question), the editor is more often right.

3. Weird game theory stuff. Each journalist wants newspaper readers to spend as much time as possible reading their own column (so might write longer stuff), but an editor has the company's best interests in mind and so wants each article to be shorter so readers can read more of it. But that doesn't explain why eg Glenn Greenwald should have an editor.

4. People are psychologically blind to certain flaws in their own writing, so even a worse writer can tell them when they're wrong and be right. Seems pretty speculative compared to the "better writers are better at writing than worse writers" factor.

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I think Steve Pinker's chapter on parenting in The Blank Slate is a good (and beautifully written) summary of the basic evidence against parenting mattering for children's outcomes.

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If we feel that our initial application didn't contain enough specificity on how it related to your primary requested goals can we edit it somehow?

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Anders Gomez Emilsson is part of a center that tries to formally study consciousess. (The [Qualia Research Institute](https://www.qualiaresearchinstitute.org/).) My impression is that many people on LessWrong are philosophically opposed to their approach, which may be in part because Eliezer Yudkowsky has different positions on consciousness. But if anyone here has read their stuff, I'm curious what you think.

Roughly, they assume dual-aspect monism, which asserts that there exists only one kind of stuff, and matter and consciousness are its two aspects. This is in the family of panpsychism. They also assume the consciousness aspect has structure and can be formalized much like physics, only it hasn't been done yet.

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Why would you make a deadline for Thanksgiving Day?

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Big n, high-quality, longitudinal, very recent - no impact of parenting styles or practices on children's personalities as measured with the Big Five


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I recently stumbled across this: https://americandreaming.substack.com/p/global-basic-income-ending-world argument for "global UBI." Basically, the rich world has enough money to give UBI to enough of the world to get rid of extreme poverty.

It's so simple and straightforward. And it's funny that your typical UBI advocate generally push "UBI for my country" (or maybe "UBI for me") rather than for the dirt-poor of the world.

My general worry for UBI is that it will create a permanent "serf" class. But a low-level global UBI doesn't seem to have that same risk.

Anyway, wondered if anyone else had read that post and had opinions on the matter.

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Hello! I filled out your grant application, but I am unsure if it submitted properly. Can you check to see if you have an application from "The Exclosure"?

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I learned about The Nurture Assumption in your old live journal, Scott. You had a book review there.

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> Anyone know of a good refresher I can link people to?

The one written by Astral Codex Ten next month 😉

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Did you watch the Apple TV adaptation of Foundation? What did you think about it?

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