replying to this:


"Is it true that there is no highest prime number? If so, Can you provide a physical explanation for that fact?"

sure i guess i could, but explaining that particular fact entirely and in detail would take a fair amount of time and effort.

can you narrow down your question to one of the following, or propose your own narrower question? i don't know which part of this you believe to be inexplicable on physicalism (perhaps you think every part of it is inexplicable?):

-how are numbers physical?

-how is the property of a number "being prime or not" physical?

-how are mathematical proofs physical?

-how are facts about non-existent/hypothetical sets physical?

-what about when those sets are infinite?

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Feb 12, 2022·edited Feb 12, 2022

Sure. How about “how are numbers physical?”

Or, if it will simplify things:

"if physicalism says says: "material reality is the ground of being; numbers and moral values are both physical concepts", and Max Tegmark style Neoplatonism (is that what people are calling it?) says "Mathematical reality is the ground of being. The laws of physics are just one possible mathematical structure, which acts like our local address"?

How can we choose between these two, or a third alternative which says 'tegmark is right, but moral values also exist a priori' ?

How should we, without smuggling a value system into our beliefs and positing it as correct, say there is a 'better choice' between physicalism and alternative? Why is physicalism better than casting sheep entrails unless a true objective answer as to what is good, and what is not, exists?

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I had to write and link to so much, I just put it on one of my wiki pages, I hope that's ok:


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responded there - thanks!

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Feb 11, 2022·edited Feb 11, 2022

Tyler Cowen's recent maxim is "Context is that which is scarce". https://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2022/02/context-is-that-which-is-scarce-2.html

At first this struck me as trivial: context requires lots of information, something without context less, so obviously "lots of information" is a more difficult ask than something requiring little of it.

We lack lots of knowledge is trivial.

I don't think his point is about how ignorant the population is. Rather, consider the ignorance of a population as a level, in the same sense that last year's GDP is a level.

Now let's divide the intellectual world into two kingdoms: knowledge and ideas. The Kingdom of Knowledge is that level: how much people know about stuff.

It would be hard to measure what our knowledge quotient is because there is so much stuff one could know, but the measurement of knowledge in a population *could be* objective regardless of how difficult it would be to do in practice.

Now consider the stream of information most people consume today. Most of it exists in the Kingdom of Ideas. What I mean by "ideas" are either theses or something with an implied thesis. For instance:

-"Raise the Minimum Wage"

-"There's a correlation between race and IQ"

-"Diversity in management improves results"

-"We have too many regulations"

-"Gender and biological sex are different"

-"Zoning is the problem"

-"We need election reform"

-"Russia will invade the Ukraine"

-"Prediction markets are important"

-"Context is that which is scarce"

All of the above reside in the Kingdom of Ideas not the Kingdom of Knowledge.

Of course, ideas aren't worth much without context, without knowledge. That goes without saying. We want ideas but the less knowledge we have to put those ideas into context the less valuable those ideas.

So what I think Tyler is saying by "Context is that which is scarce" has to do with the ratio of our intake of new information divided between knowledge and ideas. On Twitter, on Substack, we are inundated with more ideas. But most of these ideas, good or bad by their own merits, aren't helpful if we don't have the proper knowledge base in which to analyze them intelligently.

For every tweet we probably need an effort post to give us the background knowledge to, say, get the joke.

So I think Tyler is saying that reading theses is like consuming intellectual junk food at this point, whereas eating our vegetables would be, perhaps, reading more old books, taking more classes and travelling more to new locations.

Of course, it's easier to write an idea than an effort post. This post is an example. I haven't given you any knowledge.

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I want to add that knowledge != truth in my above usage. Knowledge is simply lots of information, true or not. Does that mean my division of information into the kingdoms of ideas and knowledge isn't perfectly clear cut? Probably. Knowing lots of ideas is a form of knowledge.

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For Effective Atruists: Is Combatting Ageism The Most Potentially Impactful Form of Social Activism?

I argue that 15-17 year olds are the most oppressed group in the West. Not only is ageism everywhere, permeating every space, infesting every mind, even those of the oppressed — this oppression is still enforced by the State. Imagine if we still had forced racial segregation. What teens face from the State every day is similar. I know many might say it’s not as bad, but I have philosophical reason to disagree. More on that later.

You have to understand that laws are ultimately enforced with deadly force if the disobedient will not yield. The government will escalate force until you die if you are serious about disobeying a law. That is, if you refuse to obey, and you refuse to accept the invalid actions of the State in response, they will kill you. Let me provide a concrete example. You know that being forced to go to a facility against your will simply for being, say, 17 years old, for 40 hours a week is an extreme violation of your civil liberties. Therefore, you don’t go. The government sends people whose job is to commit violence on behalf of the State, to commit violence on you. At first they will try to restrain you. You’re probably not strong enough to resist, but say you can knock these people out. They’ll shoot you. Their protocol says to spray you with the whole magazine-worth of ammunition. That’s what they’ll do. Maybe if you’re lucky, you knock one out for laying hands on you for illegitimate reasons, the others (they always come in packs) will aim their guns at you because you’re dangerous to them with just your hands. Most will probably just kill you right then and there. They have “qualified immunity” and won’t face any repercussions, because you were “belligerent” and “dangerous.” Maybe they’ll yell at you to get down. They won’t go away though. They’ll probably surround you and if you try to leave they’ll get “scared” and boom you’re dead. The point is they will escalate violence until it’s life or death. They ultimately enforce the law with the threat of murder.

To my knowledge, this is the only way a State can have laws. Hell, advanced restraining sounds more nightmarish than this. The point is that State enforced oppression is a big deal. If you are a 16 year old who decides that it’s your moral right to be able to travel as you please, and you try to use this right, the state will ultimately escalate violence until you are dead. They will lynch you like for exercising your civil rights. In contrast, the most decentralized oppressors can do is refuse to associate with you under various conditions. Sometimes it’s unfair, but it’s a lot different than the State sending a death squad after you for minding your own business.

So. Are teens the most oppressed? Yes. Teens are virtually treated like criminals on account of their age, similar to black people before 1960. They are treated like children, similar to women before feminism. Yet unlike criminals and children, teens don’t deserve it. Oppression is unjust subordination.

If you think they do deserve it, you’ve fallen prey to harmful, pseudo-scientific narratives that should make old-fashioned racial phrenologists blush. I debunk these narratives in my book, An Empirical Introduction to Youth. The gist is that all of the data agrees that the brain is developed by the age of 15. Even 13 and 14 year olds have judgment capacities that rival certain adult demographics. This makes sense because it would be weird for evolution to make people idiots until the age of 25 with mature, dangerous bodies. The pseudo-scientists and the media who talk about these studies lie about their findings, similar to how Stephen Jay Gould claimed that Samuel Morton lied about his phrenology findings even though he didn’t. They do this because of who pays them: foundations like MacArthur and Johnson which are run by the owner class and their hired-brains, the PMC. The owner class set up the education system in order to offload corporate overhead, such as cost of training, onto tax-payers. The PMC were and are hired to improve this system using their brains, among other things. In the process of doing so, they inject their own desires and attempt to reduce teens and young adults to something like their slave-class, which exists to make them look important, to pay them tuition, low level work for them, and so on.

If this sounds extreme, just read Foucault! Power corrupts knowledge, and deceit is a fundamental tool of power. The point is to manage your opinions and to manufacture your consent. The :”default” view on this issue, like many issues in fact, is not to be trusted. Said view only benefits a small class of masters, and is extremely harmful to teens.

Anyway, to recap: yes, teens are the most oppressed identity group. What should we do about it? I leave that to a future writing.

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Feb 13, 2022·edited Feb 13, 2022

> in the West (...) They’ll shoot you. (...) will aim their guns at you because you’re dangerous to them with just your hands. Most will probably just kill you right then and there

Can you provide examples of police or other law enforcement shooting teenagers for refusing to go to school?

Can you provide example of that happening in Europe?

> Even 13 and 14 year olds have judgment capacities that rival certain adult demographics.

So what? you need to be more specific here, "certain adult demographics" includes groups like "people with several mental disorder"

> I argue that 15-17 year olds are the most oppressed group in the West.

No, they are not (you have not even attempted to compare with other groups).

PS Are you the same person as one banned from themotte for being an obnoxious single-issue poster refusing to discuss and posting the same screeds?

> qualified immunity

That i a big problem but enormous and absurd abuse of that seems to be an USA specialty, is not limited to teenager adjacent cases and is not general West problem.

You seem to be really USA specific, have you ever visited Europe or read about situation there?

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I'm surprised that some people are struggling with thinking more than 1 layer deep. Yes, the penalty for breaking most laws isn't immediate death, but if you refuse to concede your rights the State will escalate violence infinitely.

Here are some examples in case you're still having trouble thinking a few layers deep about a scenario wherein the State is trying to enforce a law on someone who refuses to accept it:




As for Europe, I am unsure why you think they are pacifists, sounds like a great way to get invaded by China. AFAIK they are not pacifists and never have been,





>No, they are not (you have not even attempted to compare with other groups).

I don't think you read what I wrote, then. Youth oppression is enforced by the State, so it's the worst. You can't seriously argue that some group who has equal rights and who is constantly propped up by society as important and deserving of equality is more or as oppressed as a group that is effectively imprisoned for 40 hours a week for no reason, deprived of the fundamental rights to work, drive, vote, and self-determine, subject to all sorts of State-sanctioned humiliation, and then told they deserve it and that there is no problem.


PS Are you the same person as one banned from themotte for being an obnoxious single-issue poster refusing to discuss and posting the same screeds?

Yes I was banned for 90 days after a moderator censored me illogically, saying I wasn't allowed to make my weekly ageism post (always a new writing on my blog btw) anymore. I told them the fact that this topic is infinitely more important than COVID, and that they have like 5 COVID threads a day, so if anything I should be posting 10 ageism threads a day. Then the moderator insulted my intellectual value, so I pointed out that he never produces any scholarship on his account unlike me, then another mod said he had good noodle stickers from her "AAQCs" (which amount to 1 paragraph evidence free bloviations that confirm biases, literally, go on there and look at them) and she banned me for 90 days.

Surely you are bringing this up because you also understand just how irrational and ridiculous those people are, and you're totally not trying to irrationally poison the well!

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> if you refuse to concede your rights the State will escalate violence infinitely

Not in all cases. You may be unaware of it but most of Europe has no death penalty at all and police killing/murdering people is extremely unusual.

Even escalation to fines or prison sentence is not in play for many minor cases.

In particular, refusing to go to school may cause problems for you (or parents) but noone is going to be murdered.

I suspect that while getting shot by police is easier in USA you are not going to get there for refusal to attend school.

> As for Europe, I am unsure why you think they are pacifists

None of your European examples involves teenagers being shot for refusing to go to school. World War II in fact involved cases of teenagers being murdered FOR attending school. Germans outlawed higher education for people considered by them as subhumans in at least some occupied territories and enforced it by death penalty.

The same goes for most of the examples, only Waco siege may sort of qualify (and as far as I know "teenagers refusing to go to school" was not part of it at all).

> sounds like a great way to get invaded by China. AFAIK they are not pacifists and never have been,

I am from Europe, and in fact I worry right now about getting invaded by Russia.

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> I argue that 15-17 year olds are the most oppressed group in the West.

Ahh, a very interesting thesis...

> invalid actions of the State

Oh. an ideologue.

> Their protocol says to spray you with the whole magazine-worth of ammunition.

I had no idea. In fact, I must admit some skepticism.

> this is the only way a State can have laws.

Are you an American? I bet you're an American.

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>Are you an American? I bet you're an American.

I'm surprised that some people are struggling with thinking more than 1 layer deep. Yes, the penalty for breaking most laws isn't immediate death, but if you refuse to concede your rights the State will escalate violence infinitely.

Here are some examples in case you're still having trouble thinking a few layers deep about a scenario wherein the State is trying to enforce a law on someone who refuses to accept it:




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All of those examples are in America and none of them are of shot teenagers.

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I think you're missing the main point that States ultimately enforce their laws with the threat of death. Whether or not a teenager has actually suicided by challenging these laws is irrelevant.

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> ultimately enforce their laws with the threat of death

Untrue in large part of the world.

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The Solution to Many Problems: One Billion Persons on Earth

Author: Peter Rodes Robinson

[Photo of refugee boat]

Massimo Sestini—Polaris

How many humans are too many?

The concept of "carrying capacity"  originated in the 1840s to specify the maximum weight that could be carried by a ship. Estimates of the maximum carrying capacity of the Earth vary widely though the number ten billion pops up frequently. For example sociobiologist Edward O. Wilson said "If everyone agreed to become vegetarian, leaving little or nothing for livestock, the present 1.4 billion hectares of arable land (3.5 billion acres) would support about 10 billion people." Of course this calculation means: forget about eating meat.

When it comes to cramming people on to the Earth, we are not talking about a cruise ship. More like steerage class on the Titanic or worse. Ecologist Paul Ehrlich has said that even a "battery chicken" world would not support more than 4-5 billion humans long term.

Until recently the rate of human population growth was increasing. In other words the doubling time was getting shorter and shorter, from approximately 2000 years to 700 years to 37 years! Fortunately the doubling time is now getting longer.


These are the first three paragraphs of my essay. Immodestly, I believe it is well written and presents a vital thesis. If you read it, you can tell me I'm wrong (about either or both contentions). You will also find many links

Or you might find something more interesting to comment on. I hope you will read it and comment. I adore feedback.

Peter Robinson

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Feb 13, 2022·edited Feb 13, 2022

> We can probably agree that maximizing human population is not a future we yearn for. Ecologists Gretchen Daily and Paul and Anne Ehrlich have said the optimum population is no more than 1.5 to 2 billion people. David Pimentel and others think a population of 2 billion would be optimum. Theodore P. Lianos suggests that a world population of three billion is compatible with a steady state economy and ecological equilibrium.

I think if that were true, I would have heard a lot about that by now. Just Googling "estimates of earth's sustainable carrying capacity" shows that most scientists give much higher numbers. According to one survey[1], most studies estimate a carrying capacity above 4 billion and below 16 billion, with a long tail of more optimistic and more pessimistic studies.

And despite the EA community's intense interest in existential risks, they seem to give more credence to the more optimistic takes (over 8 billion). Actually it's weird how little this issue is discussed among EAs, but I assume that's because there are no obvious signs that we've already exceeded planetary carrying capacity (if reasonable steps toward sustainability are taken, as mentioned below).

I am a bit concerned about what would happen if someone invented life extension technology that could instantly double the lifespan of most people, but the current population trajectory, which is going to stop increasing at 10-11 billion, doesn't worry me very much.

> Too many humans causes air and water pollution which threatens human lives. Humans are steadily raising the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere which leads to global warming and rising sea levels. Large portions of Miami are at risk in this century and in the longer run coastal areas all over the world are threatened. Population pressures lead to deforestation which turns rainfall into devastating floods. Clear-cutting forests makes subsequent forest fires burn hotter and longer. Encroaching on natural areas encourages viruses to jump from animals to humans which can lead to pandemic diseases such as Covid-19. Too many mouths to feed encourages destructive factory farming and soil depletion.

This paragraph is a good reminder that carrying capacity is not fixed, but depends on what technologies we use and how well we use them.

I'm no expert, but can't synthetic fertilizers keep our soil in a usable state indefinitely? If in fact the carrying capacity were only 3 billion, we should be depleting the soil, pretty much everywhere in the world, very quickly. if that were happening, tons of experts would be raising alarms, but they aren't.

I'm sure that CO2 emissions / fossil-fuel air pollution and clear-cutting can all be stopped. It is practical to completely replace fossil fuel burning with renewables and nuclear power (I guess it'll be hard to go beyond 95% reduction or so due to our reliance on concrete and jet fuel, but net-zero is certainly possible). I am under the impression that Canada, for example, has a sustainable forestry industry. Brazil destroys the rainforest as a cheap and very dirty way to alleviate poverty IIUC, but there are other ways to alleviate poverty. I quite doubt that natural virus production will increase enough to worry about (the modern world's main problem is that it spreads viruses around the world so very efficiently). Sea level rise will eventually destroy a lot of valuable real estate, I expect, but I don't expect it to change the total amount of real estate by very much, and some locations such as New York are likely to put up a fierce enough battle against the sea to actually protect themselves.

I have reason to suspect that making people more prosperous might actually increase Earth's carrying capacity rather than decrease it, because more prosperous people will deploy more of the technologies that increase carrying capacity, e.g.

- More prosperous people can afford cleaner and more sustainable energy sources (nuclear, of course, being the least land-intensive, but also wind power can be used on farmland or at sea)

- More prosperous people can afford denser multi-storey housing and denser food production techniques => reduced land use (though this is offset by eating more food).

- Reduced wood-burning => reduced air pollution

> One might reasonably demand to know: of what use are humans to nature?

That sentence sounds VERY familiar .... you must be the same guy I responded to before about this same topic, when I said: I don't see why this is reasonable. "Nature" is an abstract concept, like "life" or "evolution" or "welfare"; it doesn't exist as an entity in reality and so cannot have feelings. Perhaps you mean animals, like hens and foxes. Perhaps these have feelings, but in nature their existence is usually meagre, and one will eagerly kill the other without a second thought. Humans are animals too, and they sometimes kill each other as well, but at least they have the potential to make lasting truces. This is one reason to keep humans around. Another is our unusual ability to make discoveries, so that perhaps one day we will scientifically unravel the Hard Problem of Consciousness. A third reason is that if you decide not to keep humans around, they're not going to take kindly to your decision and the resulting animosity will be unproductive.

Which led me to point out that even if 2 billion is better than 7 or 10, it's going to be ridiculously hard to get everyone on board with a depopulation plan. And then I said many of the points I just made again.

[1] https://www.science.org.au/curious/earth-environment/how-many-people-can-earth-actually-support

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Feb 10, 2022·edited Feb 10, 2022


In 2022, even ethnic erasure is automated.

I have to admit I get a special kind of schadenfreude from institutions blundering into dumpster fires this way.

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Feb 10, 2022·edited Feb 10, 2022

I just asked a girl out, unambiguously, in-person, for the first time in a very long time. I was building it up in my head to be a bigger deal than it really was, like Harry Potter in 4th year. But it was no biggie. When I came into the gym all the treadmills were occupied so I was forced to take the treadmill next to her (otherwise I would feel weird about doing even that). Then there was 30 minutes of both of us silently doing cardio while I avoid looking at her or doing anything weird and I listen to Walter Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs at 2.5x speed. Then when she finished her exactly 50 minute cardio session and walked away she left her bottle behind and I said "hey you forgot your bottle" and she said she was just going to get a towel to clean the machine. (without a hook like that to give me license to initiate a conversation I would feel weird about it). Then as she's cleaning the machine I comment "so you did 50 minutes of cardio, that's a lot" and she laughed and smiled which I took as a green light, so then I just asked "do you wanna go out with me sometime" and she was like "no, that guy who was talking to me earlier was my boyfriend. Have a nice day." and I say "Have a nice day" and she walks out of the gym with her boyfriend.

What are some venues I can go to where I can feel maximally licensed to initiate conversations with strangers, but which aren't bars? I feel like cafeterias in school and university were great for this, but restaurants for adults are terrible for this. At school it was perfectly normal for strangers to sit together for a meal and talk to each other. There were countless times where random strangers put their tray the table where I was already sitting, and vice versa, and strike up a conversation. But in restaurants this is just not done -- I've eaten in restaurants approx 5000 times post-college and it has never happened once, p<0.000001. Why are restaurants so much more antisocial than school cafeterias? I'll take a stab at it. People who are going to the same school have a lot in common -- age, occupation, intelligence, etc. Whereas out in the adult world a random stranger has a vastly lower expectation of having anything in common with you. Without a high expectation of strangers having something in common it feels less worthwhile to try to talk to them. So the comparative antisocialness of restaurants compared to school cafeterias could be an example of what Robert Putnam calls "hunkering down" in response to diversity.

I am orders of magnitude more likely to initiate (and be initiated) in conversations with strangers at conferences and conventions, where we are all basically pre-screened to have something in common. But outside of some environment where people are pre-screened to have something in common, serendipitous conversations with strangers are exceedingly rare for me. No one initiates and I don't initiate either. I feel like "doing cardio next to each other for 30 minutes" is a sufficient threshold of having something in common though.

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Go out dancing.

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Congrats on taking the chance. It’s not easy if you are inclined to introversion. I came of age in another era - those licentious 70’s - when being healthy and not obviously dangerous was enough for a casual thing.

I met my wife at a mutual friends wedding. We really clicked so it was fate or good luck or whatever. We’ll be celebrating our 40th anniversary later this year.

Keep trying. It’ll happen.


After you do get married it becomes much easier to strike up a conversation with women. The wedding band seems to signal that it’s just a chat. Not trying to get you to come home with me or anything. With that off the table it seems like everyone relaxes a bit.

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> After you do get married it becomes much easier to strike up a conversation with women. The wedding band seems to signal that it’s just a chat.

You don't actually have to wait for marriage, just get a fake wedding band. ;)

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I saw Richard Dreyfus use the trick in a movie once. He was hitting on Holly Hunter. When she noticed he said that was just to make women relax around him. He was a salesman. After he explained he tossed the ring into the ocean. Yes, he got the girl.

“Once Around” 1991

Not a great IMDB rating I enjoyed it quite a bit.

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Modern society fucking sucks is the short answer.

I found all of my girlfriends through mutual friends, online and offline, so I'd recommend having a social life. But mine is recently in short supply as well and I don't know how to fix it, so...

One opportunity for casual hookups (and maybe something more) are music festivals and similar places where people are less inhibited, more curious, and in general open to have a good time. Maybe bars, but bars aren't really a place I'd meet any girl I was ever into.

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I'm only into orchestral music and your music festival recommendation probably doesn't apply to the symphony, right?

Another thing I miss about university is that everyone is prescreened by age and intelligence. So everyone I'm attracted to at university is almost guaranteed to be of legal age (and if not they're some genius who skipped multiple grades which would counter any claim they weren't able to consent, which ought to counter the social awkwardness if I mistakenly tried to ask them out). But elsewhere that's very iffy and hitting on a person of ambiguously-legal age could be a huge faux pas if I guess wrong. I tend to be strongly attracted to people of ambiguously-legal age and even younger. (I think Crown Princess Leonor of Spain at age 16.5 is the most beautiful person in the world, still, although she peaked when the pandemic started. This is one of her best photographs from her peak: https://people.com/royals/princess-leonor-of-spain-starting-school-in-800-year-old-welsh-castle/ I think my physical-attractiveness utility function peaks within a year after they begin to ovulate and then declines with a half-life of 5 years, which is plausibly rational in evolutionary terms of maximizing offspring over marriage-for-life with a short life expectancy, but unduly taboo). Meanwhile everyone at university is also screened by intelligence. I'm in the top 2% of intelligence and I want to find a woman who is as smart as me. That filters out 98% of my potential dating prospects. I once calculated that solely on the basis of not-very-ambitious filters for gender=F, age=18-28, and IQ>115, my alma mater (50k students) had the same number of suitable partners as the entire las Vegas metro area (2.3M randos) so that out here I'm trying to find needles in a haystack which is a much higher difficulty level than dating at university (which I did a good amount of in undergrad, including a year-long serious relationship with a valedictorian 19-year-old who looked younger and at one point was serious about wanting to marry me while I was less enthusiastic. Then her friend who disliked me took her to a 3-day music festival without me and we broke up within 3 weeks of her return. Then in grad school I was living 2 miles off campus by foot, and I was much less attracted to grad students than undergrads, and everyone was a lot dumber than me because I went to my safety school, so that made the difficulty level of finding suitable people much higher than in undergrad).

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Undergrads are obviously more attractive at first glance than older women, but their advantage quickly disappears once you A) talk to them and notice they're annoying and you have nothing in common B) realize after a few years you'll be at square one, and if you're into long term relationships you'll have to deal with it. Find someone who is good company and ages gracefully, and you won't mind - speaking from experience.

I think you overestimate the importance of a woman being as smart as you - there's a lot of space between yourself and a normie, and it contains interesting people. Consider expanding from whatever STEM niche you live in - personally I enjoyed dating artists, it's a nice balance from the over-intellectualized environment of my professional circle, and they tend to be a lot wittier than you in conversation which is all that matters.

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I agree it is really important to find someone who is good company, beyond the physical attraction. Also hopefully attraction is somewhat malleable and due to the constant reinforcement of having sex with a partner and the gradualness of their aging I'll stay attracted to them. I know married couples who are still attracted to each other somehow at ages when that should be impossible (perimenopause and up).

I thought about dropping acid and fapping to progressively older material as a means of adjusting my attractions, by analogy to methods that were used to cure phobias and trapped priors, but I'm not sure this would work and I don't want to risk messing myself up with acid, plus from an evolutionary point of view there's nothing wrong with me and it's society that needs to stop freaking out over post-pubescent age-gap relationships. I'm not going to do the equivalent of pray-the-gay-away.

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Feb 11, 2022·edited Feb 11, 2022

I'm pretty sure everyone is like you, to some (big) extent, but it's polite to not talk about it.

Honestly a big part of what makes attraction malleable is that in a long term relationship, theoretically you could stray for that hot young piece of ass but it's not really worth it, when you think of all you've built together with your partner. Sex is just sex, and it's not like you're thirsty.

Also, I insist on the "ages gracefully" part, a large part of which is not getting overweight.

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Thanks. BTW, If I want to be highly confident in having above-replacement fertility (3 kids), I can calculate the maximum age woman I should consider dating:

From meeting to starting to try to have first child: 2.75 years

From starting to try to first birth: 1.25 years

From first birth to second birth: 3 years (assuming a year and change of breastfeeding)

From second birth to third birth: 3 years

Total: 10 years

Age of inadequate fertility: 35

35-10 = 25

So I shouldn't initiate dating anyone over 25. What a lovely coincidence that this agrees with my perception of physical beauty (and that of Leonardo DiCaprio: https://www.reddit.com/r/dataisbeautiful/comments/azjti7/leonardo_dicaprio_refuses_to_date_a_woman_over_25/ )

One might shave 5 years off that timeline by rushing the relationship, deliberately having twins via IVF, and not breastfeeding, but that doesn't appeal to me.

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Indeed. One can find much to talk about in bed without resorting to quantum physics.

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It has occurred to me that make-up is designed to make women look like they did when they were 15.

Re: meeting women. What about chamber music?

I imagine "chambers" as being snaller more intimate places where one might strike up a conversation.

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Feb 10, 2022·edited Feb 10, 2022

I think talking at concerts is a nonstarter. Either it's loud enough that they can't hear you, or quiet enough that third parties get annoyed at you for talking during the show. Plus I would feel extra bad about making anyone feel awkward if they were "stuck there" for the duration of the show. That's why I waited till end-of-workout to ask the girl at the gym.

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Classical music concerts and operas often have intermissions, with overpriced drinks and snacks, which is the ideal time for mingling.

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Feb 11, 2022·edited Feb 11, 2022

P.S. My parents' marriage started unraveling when my father had an affair that started at a classical music festival. It is not as wild as pop music things, but you might be surprised.

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I was thinking people might discuss the performance after it was over.

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Also: House parties used to be a big thing before the year 2020. You sound young, so maybe you don't know what the adult world was like in the Before-Times.

Dating is mostly about developing a social network (Not a fake fucking facebook one but a real one). A male friend can be as valuable as a female friend in terms of advancing your dating prospects if he is a real friend and has some charm.

I'd say work on developing a post-plague real-life friendship group. Because what you want to do is create romantic opportunities. That's much easier with friends at your back than going solo at a coffee shop.

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Feb 10, 2022·edited Feb 10, 2022

From your description, you never got into much of a conversation in the first place. You need to talk to a girl for 20 minutes before asking her out. That's possible at bars or coffee shops but not at restaurants. Are you seeing girls eating alone at restaurants? Or do you mean a food hall?

At a coffee shop you need a ruse. Watch Impractical Jokers for some examples. Like write an interesting email, business or personal, and say "Excuse me. Is it possible I could get your opinion on this?"

You aren't going to get into a conversation with a girl without making a large effort to make it happen. Don't ever expect things to "just happen".


>I feel like "doing cardio next to each other for 30 minutes" is a sufficient threshold of having something in common though.

No, no. That's the wrong idea. Only verbal communication counts.

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Good job putting yourself out there. I know exactly how hard that can be.

The problem you mention, not having any place that feels like you're allowed to talk to strangers, is ridiculously hard to solve. But the advice I was given is to ignore that feeling and do it anyway. You gotta stop thinking of yourself as a potential harasser and start thinking of yourself as a potential date. People do apparently get dates by starting conversations in places that are considered unsuited for that, like when you're waiting for the metro or at the grocery store. It doesn't matter if you have anything in common, you can find out later.

Now, I don't know if this is good or useful advice and I have too many psychological blocks to put it into action consistently. Best I've been able to do is ask someone out at the blood bank - unsuccessfully, but without drama. It's worth trying anyway, since it's arguably easier than finding an adult social space like a high school cafeteria.

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Law Enforcement recently seized ~$400 Billion in crypto stolen in the 2016 Bitfinex hack (link at end). From the DOJ Statement of Facts:

>"On January 31, 2022, law enforcement gained access to Wallet 1CGA4s by decrypting a file saved to LICHTENSTEIN’s cloud storage account, which had been obtained pursuant to a search warrant."

What is your interpretation of this with respect to law enforcement decrypting someone's file? Seems like the options are:

1. Perp used a deprecated encryption method that has now-known vulnerabilities or exploits

2. Perp used robust encryption but got lazy and left the decryption tools somewhere discoverable

3. Perp used "robust encryption" but it turns out the govt can bypass it anyway via secret means

4. The word "decrypt" was used incorrectly or imprecisely in the affidavit and what the authorities actually did was something more like unlocking a password-protected zip folder


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Rubber hose cryptoanalitycs? Someone just gave them password?

1, 2 (leaving password somewhere), 4 seems also likely. 3 seems unlikely to be burned on something like that.

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Since substack reads these comments, I think the new layout is a bit annoying in so far as I have to scroll so long to get to the post I'm interested in. I'd suggest you reduce the amount of text to just a paragraph or two in the preview

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If substack is still listening, I wish I would get email notifications about replies to replies, not only direct replies to my comments.

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On a computer it's not too bad. On a phone, scrolling past a bunch of posts to get to a particular one is a pain. You used to be able to click on the Codex icon and see heading links for all the posts. That was much better IMO.

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The layout is bad and I assume it's a bug and will revert soon. There is no good reason to remove indexing/dashboards in terms of page navigation. Other substacks not affected.

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I agree. But does substack actually read these comments? Seems like a lot to read every day.

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I only have time to visit Prescott or Flagstaff. Which should I visit and why?

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It depends on what you like -- I'm partial to Flagstaff for personal nostalgia reasons (and there's more national forest up there), but maybe consider Sedona and/or Jerome, both attractive small towns? It also depends on the state of the weather. Flagstaff puts ground volcanic sand on their streets in winter, so it looks kind of ugly if there was snow a few days ago that's in the process of melting (I don't know if Prescott does the same).

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I just published an article on the crazy housing market, what's causing it, and whether it's now a good itme to buy a house. https://kavoussi.substack.com/p/the-housing-market-is-on-fire

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I'd appreciate more meat on those bones - more statistical analysis, or hotter takes, or more actionable advice. I could get as much information skimming a discussion thread on Reddit.

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In the UK there has been some controversy in Parliament and the news media. PM Boris Johnson suggested that the leader of the opposition, Keir Starmer, bore some responsibility for the decision not to charge a now-notorious (and dead) sexual abuser with any crimes. Starmer was the most senior prosecutor in England and Wales at the time. (Scotland and Northern Ireland have separate justice systems.) A lot of people have criticized Johnson for unfairly blaming Starmer over what was actually the decision of an unnamed junior prosecutor.

Which prosecutors tend to make which charging decisions, in which sorts of cases? If it's the lower-level prosecutors who typically make these decisions, how often are they overruled? Does it depend on the type of crime and/or the prominence of the accused?

I expect it will be hard to generalize about this.

England and Wales and the US (federal or state) interest me the most, but I'm happy to read about any country.

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Below I asked about ways in which workplaces have grown woker than they were a few decades ago. The biggest surprise for me were claims that employees are now often strongly encouraged to talk about social issues at their workplaces--issues they may prefer to be silent about--with potential career-limiting punishments for remaining silent about them.

My question now is: why are so many corporations suddenly doing this? Is it:

1) They are covering their asses against potential discrimination lawsuits

2) They are focused on ESG compliance due to woke investors

3) The women in HR are True Believers in wokism and want to hear the rest of the workforce repeat the Party Line

4) Upper Management are True Believers and want to hear the workforce repeat the Party Line

5) Upper Management and HR believe that the majority of workers are now woke, and therefore it's good for morale for everyone to proclaim their solidarity in these beliefs

6) Something else?

I'm inclined to believe it is mostly about 1, somewhat about 2 and little about 3. Maybe at 70%/20%/10% ratios.

What do others think?

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In the places I've seen it, I'm pretty sure it is a mix of 4 and 5, probably mostly 5. "Woke investors" is I think implausible in the general case, because most employers either don't have investors or have the bulk of their investments coming from mutual funds, pension funds, etc. And "HR Ladies" I think can't really get away with something this intrusive without buy-in from management, though they could be a contributing factor.

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Feb 10, 2022·edited Feb 10, 2022

To me it seems like 1 and 3, in that order. Fortunately in my neck of the European woods mandating employees to "talk about social issues at the workplace" is a lawsuit waiting to happen, ironically on anti-discrimination grounds (and the employees tend to be smart enough to not fall for it, in case it comes from woke HQ).

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Success of a corporation depends on good relationships with its employees, customers, investors, and regulators. So you'll see them mirror social trends in each of those populations, in proportion to how important each is to its business.

I think (3) & (4) are not causes--true believers wouldn't be put into high positions unless it was believed to benefit the company. (1) and (2) are definitely things any corporation will worry about, while (5) is something more important when there's a lot of competition for employees.

My memory is fuzzy, but I remember hearing regulators were collecting diversity stats. In industries with shortages of qualified diversity candidates, that makes the threat of lawsuits pretty scary, and so (1) would also be my guess as most important driver.

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I agree with you and others here. I'll probably revisit this question in a couple weeks, hopefully with a more refined version of the question based upon the feedback here.

A political aspect of it I am interesting in exploring is: would Libertarianism help? It sounds like corporate wokism isn't driven by the government but by woke investors, woke employees, woke consultants, lawyers and fears of lawsuits. etc.

In other words, it doesn't sound like government is the problem here. It's culture.

Conservatives often say "politics is downstream from culture" but what I always assumed was meant by that is something like "todays culture is tomorrows public policy".

But in this case of corporate wokism, public policy has little to do with it. It's woke investors, woke employees, woke management making this stuff happen, short-circuiting any political considerations. In other words, this is the free market having its way. In that sense, it isn't progressive in any anti-free market sense but simply culturally progressive.

What if a Libertarian Paradise means we all spend an hour of our work day ceremoniously honoring the indigenous people who once sparsely occupied this land?

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When I hear people complaining about this, the issue is often that a large fraction of the rank and file workers are True Believers (with a minority being loud and pushy but the vast majority agreeing).

It really depends if you're asking asking about mandatory seminars on X, which is all about ass-covering (points 1 and 2) or what conversation happens in the break room, which is to do with the beliefs of your actual co-workers (though an intolerant minority is capable of dictating topics)

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Open office plans. Six sigma. Empowerment.

Get with the program or get out.

None of this is new; the only thing that is "interesting" about corporate wokism is the ways it is superficially similar to a complex of beliefs that are somewhere between political and religious, and there are a lot more people who are offended by being made to pay lip service to "privilege" than are offended by being made to pay lip service to "quality".

Corporate wokism has about as much in common with woke politics as Corporate Memphis has in common with Memphis. Or, really, as much as Memphis has in common with Memphis; the art style had its corrupt corporate interpretation long before Corporate Memphis was a thing.

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I had the bad fortune to endure the six sigma fad working on an 80,000 line C++ program that began life on a PDP 11.

You want to have 99.99966% reliability?

With this code base?

Are you serious?

You are acting like you are serious about this.

Do I have to keep a straight face?


One too few zeroes

800,000 LOC

The build took 5 hours

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I agree with you (minus limiting 3 to the women in HR). The leading factor in a lot of businesses is lawsuit prevention, and *legitimate* issues are being raised more often (see Activision-Blizzard's recent lawsuits).

For the true believers who probably get these things started at companies, I don't doubt they mean for the best with it. The problem is that they are annoying at best and puritanical at worst.

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Feb 9, 2022·edited Feb 9, 2022

EDIT, added the next morning: I would really like to be able to put this result up on a forum I’m on where there’s an ongoing discussion of the culpability of the unvaccinated, but I am not confident it’s a good enough analysis, even by back-of-an-envelope standards. Would really appreciate hearing from people who’ve done more of this sort of thing whether my analysis is merely rough and approximate (which is OK) or fatally flawed in some way that makes the result off by an order of magnitude. And if it’s fatally flawed, what do I need to take into account to fix it?

I am in the middle of a long argument on a huge state Reddit sub about how long and how much people get to hate on those who didn’t get vaccinated. There’s a “never forgive, never forget” mentality, and people writing purple prose containing phrases like “blood on their hands.” Honestly, people sound as though they think every person who refused vaccination caused quite substantial damage — like maybe on average each non-vaxed person killed one other person.

So I did a back-of-the-envelope calculation, trying to come up with a figure for how many US covid deaths it’s reasonable to blame on those who refused available vaccinations. So I compared our death rates and non-vaxed rates to Canada’s, from 1/1/20 to 10/3/21, and used these figures:

How many covid deaths did the US have above the number it would have if its vaccination rates were the same as Canada’s: 670,000 deaths

How many unvaxed were there in the US as of 10/3/21: 112,200,000.

So ratio of first number to second is 6:1000, or 1/167. So you can think of this as meaning it takes 167 unvaccinated people to produce a covid death that would not have happened if we’d all been as good about vaccination as Canadians. Or you could think of it in terms of “micromorts.” Every US citizen who did not get vaccinated killed 1/167 of a person — they accumulated 1/167th of a micromort.

I know calculating antivax micromorts could be called both Aspergerish and ghoulish, but I’ve gotten sort of preoccupied with trying to figure out how much societal damage a person caused who declined vaccination. And how does it compare to the damage caused by being a smoker? Or by being someone who frequently drives when impaired by alcohol, accumulating let’s say 1000 ETOH miles per year.

Is anyone else interested in playing around with these numbers?

And if you’re not: Where might I find data on “micromorts” for other activities that are dangerous to others? Also, is there a better country to compare the US to than Canada? I want to compare us to a country that gives a rough idea of what vaccination rates it might have been possible to achieve in the US, given our size, wealth, infrastructure etc.

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Thank you for working on this. I've been dubious about the venom dumped on anti-vaxers and voluntarily unvaxed people, which is not the same thing as having a strong argument.

Just driving means taking a chance on killing someone.

I suspect the greatest risk is from new variants coming from people in low-vaccination countries. Computing the risk of new variants would be really hard.

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Am I missing something, or are you attributing the difference in US/Canada death rates from 1/1/20 to 12/11/20 to differences in vaccination? Because nobody in either country, outside of the experimental study group, was vaccinated during that period, and that's when most of the deaths occurred.

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Feb 9, 2022·edited Feb 9, 2022

Here’s what I did. It was a very crude method of approximating things, and skipped over all kinds of stuff including what you point about about virtually no vax in year 2020. Also, it only included data thru 10/3/21, because that’s the latest Canadian data on one of the graphs I used.

OK, so I got excess deaths in 1/1/2020 - 10/3/2021 (i.e., deaths beyond what would have been expected for that period based on recent years) for US and Canada. From here: https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/cumulative-excess-deaths-covid?country=USA~CAN.

Total cumulative excess deaths

US: 817,000

Canada: 17,000

Calculated Canadian excess deaths as fraction of population:

17,000/ 38 million = .00045

Multiplied US population by fraction above. This gives how many excess deaths US would have had if we had managed the virus as well as Canada.

.00045 x 330,000,000 = 147,000

Subtracted US excess deaths if we’d managed virus like Canada from actual US deaths:

817,000 - 147,000 = 670,000. That’s how many lives would have been saved if US had managed virus as well as Canada. For purpose of this analysis, assumed that getting population vaxed is the only virus management strategy that matters.

So then I looked up vaccination rates for US and Canada as of 10/3/21 on this table:


Counted as unvaxed anyone who was neither fully nor partially vaxed. Fraction of US unvaxed on that date was 34%, number of unvaxed was 0.34 x 330,000,000

= 112,200,000.

Divided number of death attributable to US bad virus management (here considered to consist entirely of falling short of Canadian vaccination rates) by number of US citizens still entirely unvaxed at end of period examined:

670,000/112,200,000 = .006 = 6/1000 = 1/167

So whaddya think, John?

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Feb 13, 2022·edited Feb 13, 2022

[Edited] I think you did a similar mistake to the one John mentioned, though not the same one.

1. Excess deaths in Canada in January and February 2021 probably shouldn't be in your calculation because (i) Canada's vaccine supplies arrived later than the U.S.'s, (ii) it takes a week or two for vaccine-induced immunity to take effect, (iii) most deaths happen two or three weeks after infection - so I'm just guessing here, but even if all the elderly people in Canada got their shots around the beginning of February, it wouldn't prevent deaths until the end of February.

2. More importantly, the U.S. had 2.56x more deaths than Canada before Jan 31, 2021, so the obvious conclusion is that most of the difference between deaths in the U.S. and Canada is not caused by vaccines. After the end of February, the difference in the death rate between the two countries did increase to about 3.5x, though, which I would guess is related to vaccines in large part.

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Let's try to get John's numbers. It's complicated, because there were points in time when some parts of the US has excess doses, even while other parts of the country had too few. Also, the same situation in Canada applies.

I -think- it is safe to say that, as of August of 2021, everybody who wanted to get vaccinated had the opportunity in both countries, however.

Using ourworldindata's Covid Death data (I'm not using excess mortality for a variety of reasons), ~292,000 people died in the US between August 1st and today. ~8,000 people died in Canada over the same timeframe.

That's ~2.1e-4 deaths per capita in Canada, and ~8.8e-4 deaths per capita in the US, for a difference of ~6.7e-4 deaths per capita, in the post-vaccine period. There's the start of John's figures, but as I got this data, I noticed that Canada had fewer deaths before vaccines began.

So what about the pre-vaccine period? Let's just consider the period of time from March 1, 2021, to December 1, 2021. (Technically vaccinations began on December 14th, and it would take time for those to take effect and start changing death rates, but even numbers.)

The US had ~783,700 deaths; Canada had ~29,700 deaths. That's ~7.84e-4 deaths per capita in Canada, and 2.4e-3 deaths per capita in the US, for a difference of 1.65e-3 deaths per capita.

Okay, so: Vaccines lowered the death rate of Canada from 7.84e-4 deaths to 2.1e-4 deaths per capita, a reduction of 73%. Vaccines lowered the death rate of the US from 2.4e-3 deaths to 6.7e4 deaths per capita, a reduction of 72%. So vaccines were about as effective in Canada as they were in the US, despite the different vaccination rates.

Without assuming that whatever factors caused a higher death rate in the US than Canada prior to vaccination stopped about the time we started vaccinating, those numbers are close enough for me to say that this calculation suggests that we cannot actually say that unvaccinated people caused any deaths at all. Including their own.

At this point I notice I'm confused. I could blame a correlation between the factors that caused a higher death rate in the US than Canada for erasing the signal, I guess; I can plausibly argue that the excess deaths in the US relative to Canada was because more people in the US were behaving irresponsibly, and these same people also refused to get vaccinated. If this is the case, I predict Canadian support for Covid restrictions will be higher than that in the US. However, when I look up polls in Canada, it looks like Canadians generally had slightly less popular support for, for example, stay at home orders, than in the US.

So I can't just say that the unvaccinated people were causing problems before vaccinations were available; that's just trying to salvage the hypothesis when the data conflicts with it.

Okay, suppose that the difference between 72% and 73% is, in fact, significant. That ends up being the difference between 6.7e-4 deaths, and 6.6e-4 deaths per capita in the US; so an additional 1e-5 deaths per capita from the difference in vaccination rates. I'm also going to use the "full vaccination" rates; 64% in the US, 80% in Canada, for a difference of 16%; this 16% "additional unvaccinated" caused 1e-5 deaths. Double this to account for the people who aren't vaccinated in either country, with some wiggle room for partially vaccinated people, and I get 2e-5 per capita deaths, caused by unvaccinated people. Multiply by the population, and unvaccinated people in the US added an additional ~6,680 deaths to the total.

And I'm back to being confused, because I'm pretty sure that figure is wrong, as it, with the other data, implies some kind of weird decision theory puzzle is true in the real world, and vaccines are only effective for people who would choose to get vaccines, and if you wouldn't choose to get a vaccine, the vaccine wouldn't help you anyways.

I'm going to conclude that either I've screwed up a step in the analysis, or the analysis fundamentally won't work for this.

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Error observed looking at this with fresh eyes:

First, a typographical issue, I stated the data started on March 1, 2021, but really it started on March 1, 2020. Second, I'm comparing a 21 month period of time pre-vaccines to a 6 month period of time post-vaccines. So actually this is overstating the overall effectiveness of vaccines by ... a lot. Like, basically, the entirety of the death reduction from vaccines disappears.

And for nearly three of those months, Omicron has been dominant.

I notice I'm really fucking confused.

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Feb 11, 2022·edited Feb 11, 2022

This complicates the math a lot, but would it help your analysis to consider the most heavily vaxxed groups are the elderly and those most likely to have complications from COVID? And the least likely to get vaccinated are those who are young and healthy. That tracks the information I've seen, and also indicates rational thinking on everyone's part. Those least likely to die are most likely to avoid vaccination and because they were very unlikely to die, the overall death rates don't actually move much. If a large number of people with low risk profiles did get vaccinated, it would actually make the vaccine seem less effective, because they change the numerator (number of people vaccinated) without changing the denominator (number of people dying).

Roughly 1,000 children (18 and under) in the US have died of COVID. That's out of 73 million. If the vaccine were 100% effective against death and all children were vaccinated, that 1,000 lives saved would make almost no difference at all in your calculation. Adding 73 million more to the "vaccinated" list, there drastically changing the ratio of vaccines given verses deaths, would therefore make it seem like vaccines did nothing.

What I think happened instead is that the at risk populations of both Canada and the US took the vaccine early, and we got most of the benefit of vaccines by say, April 2021. After that most of our efforts getting people vaccinated was of less use.

Edit: And this actually overstates the effectiveness/need for vaccines in the under 19 group, because most of those 1,000 deaths happened before anyone under 18 was even eligible for the vaccine. Assuming only a few hundred potential lives saved and a less-than-100% effectiveness at preventing death (most of the children who died were immune-compromised or otherwise at greater risk), even complete vaccination of all children would have made virtually no difference whatsoever to the number of deaths from COVID.

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Interesting results as I'm digging through the numbers of deaths more. Total US deaths from COVID of *all* people under the age of 50 was just under 62,000. Most of them died before vaccines were available, so maybe 30,000 total died after vaccines were even available. The amount of lives possible to be saved at that point, even with near perfect vaccine effectiveness and uptake, is not enough to move the needle very much on total deaths. Compare that with over 668,000 who died that were 65 or older.

We needed to vaccinate the older and the medically compromised, and the rest didn't much matter. I think we succeeded very well, and mandates were functionally worthless because we had already achieved almost all of the gains by the people who most needed them getting vaccinated without the mandates.

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That's basically my guess about what's going on, but it seems really, really weird for society to be that good at risk calibration.

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Thanks for doing this so I don't have to :-)

But yes, this. You can't just assume the difference in death rate in the US vs Canada is due to vaccination. There are other relevant differences in their COVID mitigation strategy, and there are relevant differences between US and Canada generally (e.g. population density). The fact that there was a substantial difference in per capita death rates before the vaccine was available, not only proves that but provides a decent quantitative estimate.

So, as Thengskald has done, you use *that* to estimate a baseline for the relative death rate and then use the *difference* between that baseline and the actual death rate during the vaccination period to try and get the death rate specifically due to vaccination differences.

And find that the result is lost in the noise.

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Feb 9, 2022·edited Feb 9, 2022

Thank you Thegnskald for taking this on. I don't have time rn to take a careful look at your calculations and thoughts, but will later today. If you have any appetite for further wallowing in stats, here are a few other considerations:

-I'm pretty sure that most vaccinated people overestimate the amount of death and destruction caused by failure to get vaccinated. So in calculations like mine, I'm in favor of simplifications that are going to overestimate rather than underestimate the number of deaths that can be attributed to people's willful failure to get vaccinated. I'd like to present a figure and be able to say, "this is probably an *overestimate* of the number of deaths caused by individual's refusal to accept available vaccinations."

-Failure to get vaccinated leads to increased deaths in 2 ways: The unvaccinated person is likelier to die of covid, and is also likelier to kill someone else by infecting the other person with covid. But of course as soon as the original unvaxed person dies he stops being a vector. This creates a sort of mobius strip in the data, or maybe a coupla linked mobiuses, and how does one handle that? I didn't even try in my crude calculation.

-What got me started on this project was the scenario that seemed to underlie the most rageful purple prose on the Reddit covid sub I follow: *Here I am vaxed and boosted and my life is STILL terribly restricted because of all those non-vaxed mofos, who have killed lots of good folks like me and my kids and might very well kill me & my kids too if we resume living the way we used to.* One part of deconstructing this scenario would be to have an estimate of how many vaxed people have been killed by the non-vaxed. I'm guessing that number is *quite* low, for 2 reasons: First, the vaccinated are far less likely to die of covid than the unvaccinated. Second, vaxed people tend to moved in vaxed social circles and unvaxed to move in unvaxed ones. So a particularly useful pair of numbers to extract from the data would be "vaxedmorts" and "unvaxedmorts" -- i.e., if someone never got vaccinated, what fraction of an unvaxed person has he "killed," what fraction of a vaxed one?

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Which country had the best chemical weapons in WWII?

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The Germans had a fairly substantial stockpile of nerve gas bombs and shells by the end of the war, well in advance of anything the rest of the world could offer. But there are some things even Nazis won't do - either because the Head Nazi had had a very unpleasant experience with chemical weapons in the last war, or because as Bullseye notes pretty much everyone had figured out by then that chemical weapons aren't worth the bother against a serious army.

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Or possibly this...

"According to Hermann Goering, the main reason was the Wehrmacht was dependent upon horse-drawn transport to move supplies to their combat units, and had never been able to devise a gas mask horses could tolerate"


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It didn't matter. WWI proved that chemical weapons weren't worth the trouble.

Explained here: https://acoup.blog/2020/03/20/collections-why-dont-we-use-chemical-weapons-anymore/

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That article was much more persuasive than I'd expected it to be. Thank you for linking to it.

I'd been expecting the argument to be based purely on the existence of countermeasures like gas masks, NBC suits, and atropine autoinjectors; and on the technical difficulties of using chemical weapons effectively on a large enough scale to matter. While there's a fair amount to these arguments, I think they're often overstated: they reduce chemical weapons use against a prepared enemy to a marginal advantage (forcing use of inconvenient countermeasures, use as a terror weapon against soft targets, and potentially doing a lot of damage against troops in the field when you manage to catch your target unprepared to use their countermeasures in time) rather than a proverbial silver bullet, but a marginal advantage is still an advantage.

Empirical examples I'd been prepared to cite in favor of chemical weapons still providing a marginal edge: continued use by both sides in the later years of WWI even after countermeasures were developed and deployed, the Iran-Iraq War, and the effort the US has put into deterring use of chemical weapons against us (first by building a VX gas arsenal, then by adopting our "WMDs is WMDs" policy and threatening to use nukes to retaliate against chemical weapons use).

The article did make argument similar to that, but the key piece for me was the additional argument about "Modern System" armies, specifically that chemical weapons are no better and are often worse than conventional weapons when used by or against a "Modern System" army, while acknowledging that chemical weapons do in fact have at least marginal utility in conflicts where two "Static System" armies are fighting one another, specifically discussing one of my intended counterexamples in the process.

That leaves that American "Gas us and we'll nuke you" policy unexplained though, although I don't think that's a fatal defect. For one thing, talk is cheap. Even modest-sized chemical weapons stockpiles are cheap on the scale of the American military budget. Combine that with military conservatism in the face of uncertainty over how things would play out on the battlefield (recall that there hasn't been a full-scale shooting war between Great Powers since 1945), and even if we're 95% certain using chemical weapons against the US Army would be useless, that last 5% is worth at least a bit of effort to deter. In addition, the policy also serves to deter use of chemical weapons as a terror weapon against civilian targets (we have the technical capability to distribute masks and suits to the whole civilian population, but civil defense is a bit of a taboo due to a combination of politics and successful Cold War era Soviet propaganda) and any of our allies that may still have Static System armies.

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> we have the technical capability to distribute masks and suits to the whole civilian population

When Covid started we had trouble distributing surgical masks to the whole population. Why would gas masks be easier? Or do you mean “have the technical capability” in the sense that we can technically put people on the Moon?

(Re-reading what I wrote, it looks sarcastic. I’m genuinely asking, don’t know how to avoid making it look like that.)

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For Covid, the problem was scrambling to do it immediately at the start of the pandemic. It takes time to ramp up manufacturing and arrange distribution of hundreds of millions of anything.

Making gas masks and glowbug suits for everyone on short order in an emergency would likely have been quite a bit harder than making surgical masks or N95 respirators for everyone, but that's not what I was thinking of. I was imagining a scenario where some major strategic rival decided to build a massive arsenal of nerve gas weapons as part of their strategic deterrent, and the US decided to counter this by ordering and distributing (or at least preparing to distribute) protective gear in parallel with the ramp-up and well in advance of any likely use of the weapons.

Israel has something like this as part of their civil defense program, stockpiling enough gas masks and protective suits for everyone and handing them out when there's a particular reason to fear chemical weapons attacks in the short to medium term. I attribute Israel doing this and the US not doing this to radically different threat environments and correspondingly different political attitudes towards civil defense, not to Israel having a particular technical capability here that the US lacks.

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Okay, yeah, from that point of view it makes sense.

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Long-time lurker here, commenting for the first time. I realize this is going to sound like a troll post, but I have a serious question I want to ask.

By now, it seems to be common knowledge in the rationalist community that the IQ gap between different races is partly due to genetics - Scott himself has acknowledged that the evidence seems solid to him. However, the scientific community at large continues to reject this view and bully dissenters such as James Watson, for what appear to be ideological reasons; the experts in the relevant fields appear to be complicit in this, which shows that even highly competent people are not immune to being misled. From this, I can conclude that the scientific community has failed at the task of upholding high epistemic standards in the face of ideological pressure, and every claim that it makes is now potentially suspect, especially if it is related to politicized subjects, including global warming, the safety of COVID vaccines, or the (lack of) efficacy of conversion therapy for transgender people.

Given the above, please tell me how a layman such as myself is supposed to trust any claim that is presented as the scientific consensus.

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Feb 13, 2022·edited Feb 13, 2022

> it seems to be common knowledge in the rationalist community that the IQ gap between different races is partly due to genetics

I don't think that's true. I think what's common knowledge is that a child's intelligence depends somewhat on their genetic code, which is passed down from the child's parents. I've also often heard that black people have lower average scores on certain tests.

But it is not at all clear nor obvious that the *genetic component* of IQ is correlated with *skin color*, and I don't know of any rationalists who have studied the matter and presented a conclusion one way or the other.

But I did see Shaun rebut The Bell Curve pretty effectively on YouTube[1], and it seems clear that there is a segment of the population that VERY much wants to believe that black people have lower IQs because of their genetic code and *not* because of their environment (or English skills - often rural African students are not so good at tests written in English).

This indicates the issue is politicized, which raises the standard of evidence for me*; it means I need to know that the person claiming this relationship (from skin color to intelligence) is not a right-wing hack who wants very much to "discover" that relationship. Of course, there are also left-wing hacks spouting nonsense (like that nasty woke editorial in Scientific American[2]) but they are pretty easy to spot, since they typically imply that one's genetic code cannot affect intelligence at all.

[* Edit: mostly what I mean by this is that my standard of evidence is normally low: if something is not politicized and I hear a couple of scientists saying it's true, then I am strongly inclined to believe it. But once controversy becomes apparent, hearsay isn't enough and we have to go examine the evidence. The more controversial it is, the more carefully we should look. And this is extra tricky because even if you have a university degree, it's tough to evaluate papers by oneself, so there is a need to evaluate and listen to experts.]

If you tell kids they are no good at something, or if you tell kids they lack talent, that's likely to make them less willing to keep trying, and thus, less skilled. (I don't know if this is a rigorous result, but I saw a demo of this effect on adults in the pop-sci show "100 Humans"). With that in mind, I do think it would be unreasonable and unwise for a rationalist to claim without strong evidence that black people somehow have worse genetic codes that make them dumber on average. Even if we had solid evidence of this, it's not just a bad look politically, but also, contributing to a "black=dumb" meme could have a side effect of harming black kids' actual scholastic skill, and maybe even their intelligence. (also, of course, we should not be telling kids "your parents were dumb so you're statistically more likely to be dumb too". Though yeah, if we shy away from uncomfortable science too much or for too long, I guess that is a bad thing too.)

So if it were proven that that is true, but we only talk about it in hushed tones, that would be okay with me. Obviously - sigh - the woke people would be persecuting the scientists who discovered this, which I guess might be a good reason to speak up, but luckily I don't know of any scientist who actually believes this for strong evidence-backed reasons. You mentioned James Watson, and I notice that Wikipedia doesn't cite any studies Watson has done that support his view. Plus he talked about "Chinese being intelligent but not creative because of selection for conformity" - come on now, has Chinese culture selected against creativity for many thousands of years straight? This is prima facie implausible, and remember that evolution is a very, very slow process.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UBc7qBS1Ujo

[2] https://twitter.com/DPiepgrass/status/1477024429141942273

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You are neglecting to recognize that erroneously attributing group differences to environmental causes, rather than genetic causes, may have undesirable consequences as well, in that measures will be introduced to compensate for "systemic discrimination", and those measures will become progressively more drastic as they fail to achieve the desired effect. Scott has talked extensively about this in his posts about women in STEM fields.

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Feb 18, 2022·edited May 16, 2022

Assuming discrimination without clear evidence, or attributing group differences to environmental causes without clear evidence, or just generally being dogmatic, is also bad. But here are some obvious environmental differences that could be relevant:

- different wealth levels

- different nutrition levels

- different education quality

- people reading their native language vs a language they are unskilled in

I think there's probably lots of evidence that these factors affect how well people do on tests, but I'm not steeped in this enough to know where to get the evidence. (edit: and the Flynn Effect strongly implies that environment is important, without telling us which aspects of environment matter.) Luckily I'm not here to prove that all these environmental factors definitely affect IQ test results, I'm just here to say you can't reasonably reach a definitive conclusion while ignoring any of these factors (or any other potentially relevant factors).

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I wish the entire discussion would shift from the poorly-defined abstraction "Intelligence" to "Problem-Solving in Any Given Environment". As humans adapt and evolve to different environments (with correspondingly different sets of problems) we would expect to see different specializations emerge. That would moot the entire issue of whether one group is 'smarter' than another. And instead of telling a population of kids 'you have a genetic disadvantage at X' we could instead say, "your ancestors are really good at X because they lived in an environment where Y was really challenging for humans". OK, maybe that's not super-inspiring, but it's better than what we have now, which as you note, is a group of people who seem REALLY motivated to find ways in which people whose skin color is different from their own have different scores on IQ tests.

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Feb 13, 2022·edited Feb 13, 2022

Well, g factor[1] is a thing, and I haven't heard any good arguments that it's "meaningless" or should be ignored. Of course, g factor is not the only factor, so IQ (or similar) test results vary (would vary when taken by the same person) depending on what exactly they are measuring. But I think that, just as some right-wingers want to think "blacks are genetically dumber", some left-wingers want to think "really we're all equal, everybody just has different skills". And I haven't seen anyone do a good job defending either of these ideas... but even if I did, I would worry about whether the bottom line[2] was written first.

Most modern specializations didn't exist in the ancestral environment, e.g. I don't know how to complete a sentence like "Perhaps I am talented at computer programming because my ancestors lived in an environment where _________________." And again, evolution is very slow, so whatever the mysterious factor is, it would have to be in place for thousands of years. For that factor to affect one skin color but not another seems to require a lot of stability - consistent selective pressure in one broad racial group but not another (or opposite pressure in the other). Again I haven't seen that proposition seriously defended. (edit: though possibly genetic drift could do something here?)

On the other hand, the conclusion that "a child's intelligence is affected by their parents" is just something I would expect from basic evolutionary theory and agreed-upon facts. Although all complex adaptations are presumed universal[3], human intelligence and talents do in fact vary from person to person, including among people living in similar environments, and various respectable-sounding things I've heard lead me to think that there's a genetic component to the differences. But differences in intelligence/skills shouldn't be complex adaptations, so probably what we're seeing is akin to the alignment of engine parts: if all parts are aligned perfectly, the engine works very well, and every misalignment or small gap between parts reduces the engine's performance. A child will have a mix of "alignment settings" from zis parents, which usually produces an engine that performs similarly to the parents, but could also, by chance, produce much better or much worse overall alignment than either of the parents. Also, some parts of the brain are specialized for certain tasks, and I expect there will be "alignment settings" that only affect those parts, which could give people talents or shortcomings that are outside the g-factor.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G_factor_(psychometrics)

[2] https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/34XxbRFe54FycoCDw/the-bottom-line

[3] https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/Cyj6wQLW6SeF6aGLy/the-psychological-unity-of-humankind

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I don't have an answer to "perhaps I am talented at comp programming because my ancestors ..." but I bet given time and effort we could come up with some pretty interesting speculations.

It's interesting also to think of culture as an evolved adaptation, which would itself drive further adaptation (as, over time, people evolved to better adapt to their cultural environment), which would itself drive further adaptation, and so on. And then of course humans alter their environment over time as well...

So a lot of potential entanglement!

I find it hard to take seriously the idea that we are all born genetically tabula rasa, but I recognize there are indeed people who argue exactly that. I tend to think in terms of populations (and individuals) having some degree of genetic specializations based on their unique evolved environments, rather than having a single trait (generalized intelligence) conferring advantages or disadvantages vs others.

G.I. is always going to be slippery because someone has to decide what it is and how to measure it--and that is invariably going to be political.

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Well...as I tried to explain, complex adaptations should be expected to be universal ([3] above), and the g-factor is far from being a single trait (highly polygenic). I am not aware of evidence that defining it has ever been "political" and I certainly don't think it should be. If a partisan-affiliated or partisan-sounding scientist tries to define it, that will be a good reason to be more skeptical of the definition. Usually in science there are multiple definitions proposed by different scientists, and the most reasonable definitions produce highly correlated measurements (e.g. there are many ways to estimate global warming, and the half-dozen groups estimating average surface temperature change all get similar results. I believe the same is true of intelligence tests. I don't think anybody reasonable wants politicians or partisans involved in decisions about how to do these measurements!)

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Steve Sailer is fond of noting that the position of NFL Corner is invariably occupied by people of a certain skin color. Does "ability to play NFL Corner" fit into your definition of g-factor? Does my ability to deduce what g-factor means without looking it up on Wikipedia? Why or why not?

I suspect we both believe average global temperature is well-defined. We might disagree as to how best to measure it, but there would likely be no disagreement between us as to what, exactly, we were trying to measure.

In contrast we have no such definitive agreement as to what "intelligence" is. We might agree to define intelligence as "the score a person gets on an IQ test," but that's hardly satisfying, because it implies intelligence depends wholly on the test's construction--or more accurately, on the test's creators.

And thus it becomes political. That does not imply that intelligence is not real (nor consequential!) -- it just means we have no objective definition of it, nor even an agreed-upon definition of it, and therefore (obviously) we have no good way to measure it.

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You aren't supposed to. Life's harder than that. You have to be smart and skeptical and forage around for the truth.

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I think an extremely important job these days is "person who helps other people find people they can trust." Not sure if there is a catchy job title for this (there ought to be!), but I think Scott is an excellent example of such a person. Given the state of the media these days I don't see any way around cynicism regarding "scientific" consensus. But there are people who are trying hard to come up with a best approximation, given the best available evidence, as to what is true in any given moment. They are worth finding. So to answer your question, find good Trust Arbiters, and let them do most of the work.

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Don't trust consensus, trust results. Disparities haven't gone away despite massive efforts; there are your results. The experts can't get any results, and until they do you can disregard them. They don't know anything if they can't get results. Moldbug is useful here despite all his shortcomings; see his "Clearpill pt 2" essay for what he says about power disrupting truth. It does disrupt truth greatly; if you can get canceled for saying something, you're not dealing with science and there is a high risk that the consensus is distorted by power away from truth. Results don't need to cancel; I can preach the flat Earth and keep my job, but if I give my judgment on genetic difference between racial groups (which comes down to me predicting new study results accurately + predicting that genetic modification will get rid of disparities) based on the massive amount of evidence I have sifting through, it's over for my career. That's not a sign of trustworthiness.

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> the theory of relativity, *which is still wrong*

I would refrain from calling a description of reality that is indistinguishable from perfect "wrong" - it takes a lot of meaning out of the word "wrong", even if the theory is superceded later.

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>If it's "common knowledge in the rationalist community", then the rationalist community is wrong. There are still plenty of holes in that hypothesis that do not square with real world data (eg: there is no observed IQ gap between the white and black children of US military personal raised on oversea US bases).

What study is this? I think I know the one but I want to make sure. If it's a different one I somehow haven't heard of, I'd love to see it, although at this point there is so much evidence contrary to what you're saying that what you speak of can simply be said to have not replicated. Given our political climate it's easy to imagine why that may be.

May I ask your qualifications on this topic? Me, I've written multiple essays on it, I've read dozens of studies, hundreds of block posts, and 10 or so books on the topic. I consider myself to probably be in the 98th percentile of expertise on this subject. It's always good to know where others are when it comes to this because it's somewhat complicated and it's probably not worth debating, eg flat earth, with someone doesn't know any physics or geology if you're an expert physicist or something.

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Why do you care so much about proving your superiority over your fellow man?

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You sound quite offended. I hope you can get over that and be more rational in the future.

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You ignored my question on your background in this topic, which is a bad faith tactic. Readers should therefore assume you're not very well read in this topic, and indeed, I can say as a relative expert that your objections here are more revealing of a low level of contact with the field than with anything having to do with the field itself. One thing I like to make clear on this topic is that it's a serious, complex area of scholarship, and before you can make judgments on it you have to read a lot of stuff. It very much seems like you're pretty low-info on this topic, so I find your judgments inappropriate. If you know you are not very well-read here, especially compared to me, I think it's most appropriate to show a little epistemic humility.

That said, let's see why I think this, other than your bad-faith ignoring of a main part of my post.

>I can't find that particular study, but it's not like it's the only piece of evidence against that theory.

You make this vague statement against "that theory." From my very well read POV, this sounds like a flat earther making a vague claim against "that theory" that the Earth is round. What do you have to back this statement up?

>It largely fails to explain, for instance, why economic outcomes are so uniform over sub-saharan africa, denoting homogenous IQ rates, which makes 0 sense if IQ is strongly linked to "race", since there's more genetic diversity in sub-saharan Africa than in all the rest of the world combined. There should be more IQ variations between different groups of black Africans than between Europeans and Asians.

This is all you have to back that statement up. You can't find the other study you referred to, and now you have these statements. The problem here is that you're assuming IQ and economic status of a country are 1:1 and nothing else factors in here. The correlation between IQ and SES is about .5 and it's the best known single predictor of SES (Strenze 2007). So the idea that IQ variance has to produce a lot of economic variance is a Stubborn Assumption. In 1st world conditions having a gene pool that produces a lower IQ does largely cause black economic underperformance because the US is largely a meritocracy, especially at incomes under $200,000 a year or so, and especially for intelligence. In Africa it's more than plausible that, for instance, there is a threshold effect where having an average IQ under 80 and not having access to welfare from Europeans leads to bottom-barrel economic conditions. Such a threshold could cause very little economic variance compared to genetic intelligence variance. Furthermore, you've also failed to consider that we are only concerned with genetic variance that impacts intelligence. How much variance do sub-Saharan Africans have in skin color compared to Europeans? The idea that the "lots of African genetic diversity" meme that is very common in race denialist literature implies "lots of genetic variance in IQ among Africans" is a low-information Stubborn Assumption.

You have not recognized your Stubborn Assumptions as such because the reality is that they're hard to notice unless you're familiar with the broader body of evidence. You're evidently not very familiar with the broader body of evidence, so these assumptions seem fine, maybe you're not even consciously aware of them.

I know, however, that the broader body of evidence essentially proves, as much as science can ever prove anything, that like everything else evolution happens above the neck, and the US-black US-white IQ gap is highly, highly genetic. Yet it very often happens in this sphere that people who are not very familiar with the evidence come up with some reason Igbo Scrabble scores imply that the US black-white IQ gap is highly environmental. So far all of these are based not on evidence, but on Stubborn Assumptions that link these two disparate topics together uncritically. Therefore, I coined the term Stubborn Assumption Cherrypicking, or SACing, to refer to the phenomenon when someone who is very low information thinks they can debunk a whole field of study from their arm chair with one or two idle observations plus one or two Stubborn Assumptions. "If the Earth is round why can I see the Twin Cities from here? They're supposed to be under the horizon." (I have seen this with flat earths for real actually, besides assuming a wrong horizon/observation distance, the answer is that light refraction can cause things which are under the horizon to appear as if they are not, especially near water. This is complicated and it's a hardly noticeable Stubborn Assumption to ignore this).

I'm saying this because I don't want to be your personal SACing debunker, so if you SAC again I'll have to ignore it or go over it much more briefly. I hope this commentary has given you the tools to recognize when you or others might be SACing; it's a common fallacy that I see in this sphere that the Overcoming Bias types must have missed.

If you would like to become more acquainted with the evidence, see my essay here: https://juliusbranson.wordpress.com/2020/08/24/an-examination-of-the-causes-behind-the-black-white-iq-gap/

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>Let's cut the noise.

At least you're acknowledging that you just ignored my whole post. What is it with you and ignoring things that make points you dislike? I will give you credit for half acknowledging that this is what you're doing at that you have no expertise here.

What you need to do though is get less haughty with me. You need to have some epistemic humility; if you know you don't know much compared to another guy, you probably shouldn't try to tell the other guy what the reality is as if you're on high. That's what I do. When someone knows more than me, I just ask questions. I have epistemic humility.

So you are dictating to me, quite arrogantly,

>The vast majority of experts reject the idea of a strong link between race and IQ, which you and OP are certain exist based on your own research.

This is wrong. The experts are not quite as wrong as you think, although quite a few "experts" are still quite wrong: https://emilkirkegaard.dk/en/2020/04/expert-opinion-on-race-and-intelligence/

The reason for the wrong ones are incentives and low information, as always. You seem to be lacking in familiarity with how the Cathedral operates but suffice it to say that most "expertise" is see-through. This is because cranking out a paper and advancing your career is not the same thing as actually knowing your stuff. I've been on the inside of this process numerous times in STEM and I know it for a fact. See the 1st three chapters here: http://thealternativehypothesis.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/AltHypeReader.pdf

>There are only possible two explanations for why this is happening:

So as we've seen, I really don't think you're in an epistemic position to dictate to me what the two possible explanations are. You display 0 humility in this statement, like your others, and still like your others you are wrong. You are absolutely certain, like the other things, based on little to no actual information, that there are only these two explanations and no others, and yet once again you are wrong.

The third explanation is that the portion of "experts" that are wrong on polls (no where near all in this case, probably because the evidence is so overwhelming) are victims of confirmation bias and motivated reasoning. There is no conspiracy of professors. One man in particular has gone over this at length specifically for people of your persuasion, here you go: https://americanmind.org/salvo/the-clear-pill-part-2-of-5-a-theory-of-pervasive-error/

Now please, instead of ignoring this whole comment and responding with some other arrogant gish gallop, that will in all probability, based on my last 3 replies to you, just get eviscerated like your other random classifiers, read my links and learn something, challenge yourself, gain expertise. Grow!

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Just to clarify, I am not saying that the scientific method is invalid - just that the scientific institutions in the West might be corrupt, similarly to what happened with Lysenkoism and Japhetic linguistics in the Soviet Union.

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Scientific institutions are many and varied. They are hardly homogeneous. It should take more than a handful of examples before you decide to throw out all expert knowledge.

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Politics allowed so this. Mitch McConnell grows something resembling a spine.


If you can’t get past the paywall;

WASHINGTON — Senator Mitch McConnell, the minority leader, pushed back hard on Tuesday on the Republican Party’s censure of Representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger and its characterization of Jan. 6 as “legitimate political discourse,” saying the riot was a “violent insurrection.”

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Yeah, that was the first time I was impressed by McConnell. Even I was skeptical of the term "insurrection", but I guess the incident really did rattle him.

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Is Ageism Against Youth Rational?


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The risk-taking part isn't meaningless but it's also not the whole story - there are other issues, like being physically large enough to see over the wheel and reach the pedals, and sufficiently-trained hazard detection.

Are these things highly variable in people of all ages? Yes. Could a battery of tests discriminate on these measures more accurately than an age cutoff? Yes. Does age *correlate* fairly well with these things? Yes. Would the increase in complexity of law have a social cost? Yes.

In the particular case of driving there is also the issue of wanting people to have full criminal responsibility for manslaughter before handing them the most common tool of manslaughter yet devised (this is similar to the attribution problem with killer robots - it fundamentally breaks the laws of war if it's possible for war crimes to happen without a war criminal who cares about the punishments). The previous four rhetorical questions apply to that field as well, but the social cost of complexity in that case is far greater.

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> discrimination against youths is simply ageist

Then this kind of ageism is correct. I do not care about quality of specific study, it is self evident to me that 13 year old should not be allowed to operate deadly pile of metal on a public road without proper supervision. And that is without going into even more obvious cases (sex, drugs, contracts).

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I think that pretty much everyone that 8 year old should not be able to drive car, enter in serious contract, take loans, have parental rights, be able to buy drugs or be claimed to be able to consent to sex?

And at most you can ague which age should be applied to that - 18? 16? 21? Something else?

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Does anyone else think Glenn Greenwald's latest (about the Joe Rogan/Spotify censorship campaign) is a little over the top? I agree with him in spirit, but the rhetorical heat level makes me uncomfortable. So does the word choice "liberals" to refer to an essentially authoritarian faction within the democratic party that wants literally the opposite of the root of the word.

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"I agree with him in spirit, but the rhetorical heat level makes me uncomfortable"

This has always been my experience with Glenn for the 10+ years I've been following him. The rhetoric is sometimes entertaining but not helpful, sometimes utterly destructive and pointless, but he's usually 'correct' in a sense I care about so I still follow his work. I do wish he would tone it down a bit at times, but as Mr Doolittle points out he's also copped at least as bad as he gives so his reaction is mostly understandable.

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Glenn has a personal history of getting censored and attacked for unpopular reporting. First when he helped Edward Snowden, and then more recently when he tried to write about Hunter Biden. Both times it was by people calling themselves "liberals." He uses the word on purpose because his targets self-identify with that term, and he sneers it because of the fact that it means the opposite of what many "liberals" actually do.

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Was he actually censored (as in a government institution used legal means to prevent his views from being published) or did people just vehemently disagree with him and refuse to engage with him (by choosing not to publish his writing or choosing to no longer do business with him)?

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I guess that depends on some information that the public doesn't have. Regarding the Hunter Biden report, he claims that the company that he worked for broke their contract with him and forbid him to write the story (at least the way he wanted to, which he says was in his contract to do). Breaking a contract to prohibit him from publishing does seem to go beyond "no longer choos[ing] to do business with him." You can read his take on it here: https://greenwald.substack.com/p/my-resignation-from-the-intercept

For clarity, I do consider "censored" to go beyond official government action, and to include private actors censoring for political reasons as problematic.

In regards to Edward Snowden, the government clearly went after Snowden for blowing the whistle on illegal activity. How much Glenn was affected or targeted by *official* legal action is up for debate and depends on information we probably can't ever see. He was threatened with arrest by people in Congress, though it's hard for us to determine if they were at all genuine instead of grandstanding. That they "attacked" him for his actions is without doubt. Here's his Wikipedia page if you want to read more on it: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glenn_Greenwald#:~:text=Greenwald%2C%20who%20was%20not%20detained,a%20ruling%20from%20Supreme%20Court

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"I'm still a liberal. It's those people who aren't liberals." (GK Chesterton about the Liberal Party, by memory so possibly not verbatim)

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What is up with the options for responding that appear below each post? As of this thread we now have the option to report comments. As of last night, evening of 2/7, there was a Report button, and also a Give Gift button. The latter allowed the reader to donate money to pay for a month's or a full year's subscription to ACX for the writer. This morning, the Give Gift button is gone, but meanwhile somebody sent me a heart in the night, liking a comment I'd made. How did they even do that? There was no 'Like' option when I was on yesterday evening.

So wutz up? And while I'm talking about options, would like to express my preferences:

-I'm delighted to have a Report button

-I want the option to send someone a "like." It makes posting here feel more real and satisifying -- it least it does that for me. It adds an element that's there in spoken conversation, where people's facial expressions let the speaker know when they are moved or amused or othrwise taken with his ideas. (On the other hand, I wouldn't want accumulated like votes to appear alongside posts -- that feels like high school.)

-I didn't like that give gift thing as a way of expressing approval. Seems unreasonable to have to pay $10 to tell someone you liked their post. And it seems like many recipients would find the gift useless, because they already are subscribed for the year, do not want to subscribe at all, or have no need of a little ACX scholarship. And it seems like the money basically is a donation to Substack.

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I see the "Give gift" option for some comments and not others. I guess it only appears for people who are not currently subscribed.

The browser extension is https://github.com/Pycea/ACX-tweaks

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I think there is a browser extension that allows likes. You can 'like' someone's comment if it shows up in an email. At least that option is there for me.

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Incivility is *way* down. I put up a post on Open thread 206 complaining about the degree of incivility, especially instances of flat-out PVA, Primitive Verbal Abuse. That was a month ago, and I can't remember seeing a single instance of it since. Worse thing I've seen since is occasional sniffiness and irritability - "you're continuing to argue back despite my clarifications, seems like willful refusal to consider my point" kind of thing. And that stuff is just par for the course.

So no PVA is great. I'm delighted by the absence of turd-dropping harpies zooming over the conversations here, but am not sure why they're gone. Doubt that my posts convinced any harpies to change their ways.

Scott, did you ban a bunch of people?

Everybody else: Do you agree that civility level is much improved?

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Feb 8, 2022·edited Feb 8, 2022

Personally, I think it's improved, but I think part of it is because "I hate you, you are (enemy tribe) and you deserve evil to happen to you" has been mostly replaced with highly weird and esoteric ways of saying the same thing. Over the past week, I've been repeatedly accused of engaging in "frame manipulation", which as far as I can tell just means "you think that things I find good are bad or vice-versa and refuse to use my nomenclature, and this is a personal attack on me and morally evil instead of a strong disagreement."

I still prefer this over "I hate you, go die" because it at least is trying to have some kind of elevated discourse, but I suspect part of it is more "adaptive camouflage" instead of a genuine attempt at civility. But maybe I'm just being uncharitable.

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Yeah, I was vaguely aware of an exchange with you and someone else that had that tone, but it was about some topic about which I had neither thoughts not feelings so I just skimmed over that part of the thread. I have a vaguely worked-out idea about debates -- how the people involved are of course feeling angry and eager to win, but that the best debates are the ones where the emotions are just fuel for the process of articulating and angling acute points. The emotions are burned up in the process. Sounds like what you're describing is like an engine with poor combustion.

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Having read Scott's blog for a while, I find that there are two main factors that vary from time to time. One is individual actors who bring heat to discussions. They can easily respond to a dozen different people and add nothing of value to the conversation, which can make it seem like a lot of incivility (especially when people respond to them angrily in return). A few well placed bans can often fix that (marxbro comes to mind as a recent ban that probably made an actual difference - more from people no longer responding to his sealioning). The other factor is in individual discussions. One or two heated topics or threads can feel like a lot of incivility, compared to the low baseline.

That said, yes, I have noticed less incivility as well.

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Self promotion: A few days ago I published a book review of "Where is my Flying Car". (This book previously appeared in the ACX book review contest). https://moreisdifferent.substack.com/p/notes-from-who-stole-my-flying-car

Please consider subscribing to my Substack if you are interested in Progress Studies, metascience, or AI. I feel optimistic I will have a couple posts on those subjects published in the next few months.

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Feb 8, 2022·edited Feb 8, 2022

Hey, have you guys heard of ZDoggMD? I just discovered this guy and loving it. He's a sort of rationalist / scout mindset type of guy, but with a different branding. As a doctor, he's doing a lot of videos on vaccine misinformation lately, and I think he's doing a fantastic job.

Great video (if a little dry) on the divisions in society, "Covidiots Vs. Covidians? An Alt-Middle View": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jZIJ0ekD_HE

Another example: here he's arguing against hydroxycloroquine king Peter McCullough using the FLICC analysis framework without explicitly naming it (Fake experts, Logical fallacies, Impossible expectations, Cherry picking and Conspiracy theories): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8pcIbVvHI2c

And like myself, he's promoting a political middle: "If you like the way we talk about these things, join our tribe of alt middle people. We're trying to change discourse. We're trying to fight social media and big tech's dominance on weaponizing our hatred of each other. We're trying to think clearly. We have a good time." But unlike myself, he does a good job :)

Then in another video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HpH1kpkkwAg) two doctors have this conversation that makes my heart flutter:

> Yeah a lot of the people who used to love me hate me, and you know, and people who used to hate me love me. [...]

> Honestly that's why I like to do a show with you, because I know this about you, you've been consistent. In fact, I reached out to you years ago, prior to Covid, because I saw your work. And I said, this guy is as skeptical of how medicine does its business as I am. A that was a kinship right because we both share that particular compass. And what's interesting is what i've had to learn, what I've had to grow into myself, is understanding how how to to look at another side compassionately and be able to speak to them in a way that is accepting of who they are without giving up the fact that I actually think what I'm saying is right and I need to persuade you. So that's been a change for me that Covid helped to accelerate. And the truth is, if you're not allowed to change, grow, or have strong opinions, because you're afraid the audience is going to abandon you, then that's a bad [business] model, right, it means you're dependent on clicks. [...]

> So your survival mechanism is that you, probably to a large degree, you're willing to tolerate massive losses in your audience?

> Yeah I am, in fact I'm willing to tolerate it going to zero, i just don't care, but it took me a long time to get to that point. [...]

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FWIW I prefer text too.

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Like Thegnskald I much prefer reading to taking somebody in via videos. But I will check him out, and hope to be pleasantly surprised. I looked him up and he is on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram but does not seem to have a blog. Here's an article about the guy: https://www.chcf.org/blog/the-curious-case-of-zdoggmd/out.

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I have basically zero patience for information presented in video format for a variety of reasons. Does he have any text work?

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Feb 13, 2022·edited Feb 13, 2022

Wow, it's as if I'm the only one here that enjoys videos. 2x speed anyone? But I think it's important to have more rat-adj or "alt-middle" thinkers on video... because lots of people don't like reading so much. I don't know if he does any text work.

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WARP, a rationality camp I help organize, is open for applications for ~another week! Relevant for 16-19 year olds.

What? A 10-day programme on applied rationality. More details at https://warp.camp/.

Who? Students between 16 and 19 years old. Usually 20-30 attendees and a dozen staff. Organized by the ESPR team (https://espr-camp.org/).

When? 22nd March - 1st April 2022.

Where? Oxford, United Kingdom

Price? Free! OpenPhil generously covers the whole cost of the program for participants.

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I am trying to find a book review scott published on SSC possibly 2019ish. Subject was on the Holocaust, and I think the gist of the analysis was that Jewish populations did worse (by far) in areas that were effectively stateless when the Nazis invaded, and were (much?) better protected in areas with strong functioning governments. Assuming I am not hallucinating this, If anyone could give me the book title and even better a link to the review I would be most grateful. Thanks!

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I'm pretty sure the book is _Black Earth_ by Timothy Snyder, but I'm not finding the review.

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That was probably this - https://slatestarcodex.com/2017/01/30/book-review-eichmann-in-jerusalem/

Section IV discusses which countries did more or less to protect the Jewish populations. It doesn't look like Scott himself comes to that conclusion about the correlation with having a stronger government, but maybe people in the comments talked about that.

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thank you but pretty sure this isn't it. I was thinking maybe a review of "Black Earth" but as far as I can tell, Scott never did that on SSC.

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Are you sure? He (or H. Arendt) discusses the treatment of Jews under different governments as well as their own leadership in the second half of the article.

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I have a distinct memory of Scott having a strong emotional reaction and calling it (paraphrasing) one of the most depressing books he'd read. But I've searched through SSC's archives and I can't find anything that fits. Sometimes I think I have memories of other universes. :)

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I actually searched through a bunch of SSC articles with references to Jews and Nazis (it was a slow night) and couldn't find anything that seemed to fit better (to what I understood from your description). For example, this is one paragraph from the Eichman article:

Other interesting profiles include Greece (hopelessly depressing), Slovakia (very Catholic, in favor of killing Jews but got in a bunch of fights with the Nazis about ethnic Jews who had been baptized into Catholicism), Hungary (ruled by an admiral despite being landlocked; otherwise hopelessly depressing), Belgium (deliberately left the trains unlocked so the Jews could escape!), Holland (kind of like France; the local Gentiles tried to help, but the assimilated Jews sold out the refugee Jews in the hope of placating the Nazis; the Nazis were not placated; three-quarters of Jews died), and Poland (I don’t even want to talk about how hopelessly depressing this one is).

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hmm...that's got to be it. Thanks for your persistence!

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One obvious explanation is that if the government is strong and is hostile to Jews, the Jews would have already been killed or driven out. So this would not prove that stronger governments protect Jews on the average--you're literally seeing survivorship bias.

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In this case "strong governments" = governments that protected the rights and safety of their citizens, Jewish people included -- even after they were invaded

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Was going to try and submit this via the AC grants, might still, but going to post here-

I have a proposal that doesn’t require any funding. I am hoping you might write a post on David Pearce’s Hedonistic Imperative.

It is essentially a trans-humanistic argument that humanity is ethically obligated to use technology to guide its own evolution to reduce suffering asnd maximize eudaimonic and “hedonistic” states. By “hedonistic” we do not mean “wire head hedonism.” We mean raising the baseline of mental health in a similar way in which Bayesian rationalism aims to raise the “sanity” wireline.

We know that much of a person’s baseline happiness is determined by genetics. In the short term, we can use technology to improve this basis for everyone. But long term, towards a post-human future where mood states and spiritual states might be comparable to the MDMA experience. There is already top down stimulation technology developed by IARPA’s brain project for PTSD that works “too well” in terms of curing depression and creating euphoric states. But this is just a narrow framework of what could be possible. There are experiments involving electromagnetic fields that induce a temporary form of ablation of turning off neural circuits temporarily to determine their function. There was a story (and I would have to dig to find the link because it was years ago) where someone who had previously only been able to draw stick figures was able to see the world as an artist and while this EM field was in place, draw realistically detailed art.

There is the possibility, not that far in the future, that people can not only improve their states of well being, but not be limited by their genes and experiences to access different modes of consciousness and being.

Pearce’s view is ambitious and comes from a negative uiltitarian standpoint where he emphasizes the abolition of suffering. I sympathize with this, but I don’t see that the basic idea necessarily has to be conditional on accepting negative utilitarianism or any specific ethical system as a prerequisite with whatever philosophical baggage that entails. Pearce and many who support the HI advocate for the abolition of suffering in all sentient creatures. In the extreme long term, this means a re-engineering of the biosphere.

However, I along with Pearce and others have started something called the biohappiness initiative. The aim is not adoption of the HI as a specific dogma, but opening the Overton Window to discussion of these considerations. This is ethically urgent as humanity is already in the time where the decision we make now will influence the future in incredibly dramatic ways. I see this as as intersecting with existential risk.

For sure, many will be wary of such a utopian ideal. And wary for good reason. But the important thing to understand is the beginning of these changes is already happening, and if we collectively stick our heads in the sand and adopt a “wait and see” approach, the evolution of this will be an extension of the current condition in which these dynamic forces began to shape.

Governments, corporations, and specific visionaries will push these things along a Fabian gradient. Much like the early days of the internet, when engineers understood that the principles they established then would have dramatic consequences in the future, we can’t afford to wait, as in the case of the internet, till these things have become such a part of the fabric of our society they can’t be reversed and re-engineereed in hingsight. If evolution is outlawed, only outlaws will evolve.

We already see talk of how Elon Musk’s neuralink hips could cause orgasm. Imagine a metaverse that directly connected to the brain where instead of the “soft” dopamenergic push of Facebook’s tricks, one had induced orgasms to reinforce behavior.

Or the experiments where people’s sense of ethical judgements can be altered. Or the technology that can read images from peoples mind and even insert them (if you’re skeptical of any of this I can provide links but I think you are better informed then the average person on these matters.)

Or Xi Jingping’s combination of big data and mood monitoring helmets. It is not hard to see how any number of nightmarish dystopian possibilities could evolve.

Or, to put things in terms of conventional existential risk, how when people integrated more and more with technology, the “runaway ai” scenario could look more like the Borg then Skynet.

Musk already has stated his goal is to combine machine and human intelligence and understands the risks, but feels it is the only way to stop the purely AI singularity.

We are summoning a kind of techno Moloch that can runaway with nature of humanity in a way where this really will be “the dreamtime”, and no push to say “no we shouldn’t” will stop whats already growing and evolving. For the same reasons we can’t just play civ and design the perfect society, we cant stop this change. Even if such things we’re banned in the US, we can’t stop Jingping or Putin- but as you understand its deeper then that.

But we can imagine an actual dreamtime. We can open up and accept the inevitable, and realize we can’t go the luddite route. The only way out is forward. Towards a difference between literal heaven and hell.

My aim in asking you to cover this is to get our ideas into the Overton Window of discussion. I do not expect you to agree with everything Pearce says. I don’t myself. But the ideas as a counterpoint to the “digital copy upload” version of transhumanism which is more popular at least is worthy of discussion. If nothing else then as a counterpoint to the current trend of discussion which strikes me as not unlike Huxley’s Brave New World, where he later admitted he presented two insane option and only later wish he had included a saner option.

The entry to Pearce’s work is Hedweb.com.

There needs to be a discourse, at least amongst the tech minded crowd, where there is something more then just “we need to summon a lesser a Molloch to fight the bigger Molloch.” It seems to me that for all of Less Wrong’s success at raising the profile of existential risk, no one has any solutions that don’t involve creating the very thing they are afraid of (like proposals to create a global AI to find and shut down existential risk). I believe the HI, or at lest the general thrust of it, is a sort of “third” or “fourth” way, and really the only chance we have of avoiding disaster.

-David Kinard

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"There is already top down stimulation technology developed by IARPA’s brain project for PTSD that works “too well” in terms of curing depression and creating euphoric states."

Got a link for that? I just googled IARPA + PTSD and found absolutely nothing except a single study comparing 2 common PTSD treatments, EMDR and Truama-Focused CBT. Both treaments were found to produce moderately decent results, and to work about equally well.

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The crackpots/visionaries (YMMV) at qualiacomputing.com have covered these topics extensively.

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I agree with you 100%, a future without superhappiness is wasted potential. I'm interested in learning about IARPA’s brain project for PTSD. Is there a paper or website that you could share? I've read a lot about brain stimulation and it would be good to know if this is something novel.

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You claim that Pearce is opposed to wireheading, but from the way you're describing his goal, it sounds bad for similar reasons. It might not be wireheading in the strict sense of "sit in a chair pressing the 'pleasure' button all day and doing literally nothing else," but being able to control your own emotions to the extent of making yourself happy whenever you want sounds like a softer version of the same thing. There are good evolutionary reasons we didn't develop to control our own emotions, and being able to do so would argue destroy the impetus for much of what makes us human. "My entire family just died horribly, but I still feel happy because I can just make myself feel happy whenever!" isn't any kind of enlightenment or paradise, it's something that most people would rightly consider a mental disorder. (In fact, "being happy all the time regardless of circumstance" is an existing mental disorder. Pearce's proposal is different in that people would theoretically be free to choose other emotional states, but given the opportunity to simply choose happiness, it's hard to imagine they would choose anything else.)

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Suffering because your family is dead is the normal reaction, expected by society, but that doesn't make it good. Because, in addition to your family suffering, you are now also suffering. A negative emotional reaction to a negative thing doesn't make that thing any better.

Unless your response to death is to declare death your enemy and do what you can to prevent it.

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Feb 8, 2022·edited Feb 8, 2022

How do you get that from "raising the baseline of mental health" and "abolishing suffering"? There are already people out there who naturally seem to be positive and happy all the time, without any "wireheading" drawbacks.

I mean one could take it too far and I guess that would be a disorder, but I think most people are on the other side of the line of optimality, more on the side of melancholy than necessary. And if, hypothetically, people were "flipped" about the optimality axis - biased to much toward happiness rather than biased too much toward experiencing suffering - that sounds like it might be a better tradeoff than the one we have.

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Feb 8, 2022·edited Feb 8, 2022

Are you sure you'd be able, at your lowest, to resist modifying yourself into something less than human just to stop suffering?

Given how we already have huge problems with very blunt wireheading instruments (opiates, cocaine) I think there will be a literal lost generation with, hopefully partial, societal collapse. Whatever society emerges on the other side will have a sane approach to wireheading figured out (which may be just tabooing the whole process).

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I don't think the problems associated with extreme highs (opiates) necessarily translate into problems with targeted techniques to prevent suffering that do not create highs.

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Note- If anyone knows if Scott has a contact email for this sort of thing, I would greatly appreciate it.

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His email is included in the actual post...

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Interesting essay on public intellectuals! Interesting example (Thomas Friedman. I agree!).

The ones that deserve to fade, I think, have strong opinions on hard questions in areas they know nothing about.

But they stay around if they market themselves well.

Lots of average thinkers say outrageous things for attention, to stick around.

Which leads us to...who is the audience for these public intellectuals? What is that audience looking for from public intellectuals?

If you want to impress seriously smart people with your ideas, you're only going to have a small, niche audience. I'd be satisfied with that if I were a public intellectual.

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RemovedFeb 7, 2022·edited Feb 7, 2022
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That was interesting! I'm not sure if anyone saw that, but the comment said "asfasadfasd" for a few seconds and then changed to the spam one. I guess the substack spam filter doesn't work on edited comments.

So Julia, I'll give you credit for figuring your way around the spam filter, but... is this a manual process? Is this forum really the right target for this kind of spam?

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It’s still there after 15 hours. Apparently an effective weird trick. Much better than the one weird trick to remove belly fat. Is it possible that no one has reported it?

[Edit] I reported it and it was deleted. I guess everyone thought it had already been reported.

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Feb 8, 2022·edited Feb 8, 2022

I saw it last night, evening of 2/7, via Safari on iOS Mac. Reported it at approx midnight EST.

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I reported it too.

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It’s hidden from me in Safari on my phone but visible in Windows with Chrome. [Edit - It's hidden on my iOS Mac with Safari too. Looks like a browser dependent issue.

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Looking for opinions / experiences with a similar situation (I amconsidering a job offer)...Thanks!


I am currently working for a more or less consultation company, doing data science and machine learning. The company has grown considerably over the past 2 years, from a startup of a few dozen people to a mid sized company of almost 200 (and growing). The work is shotgun-like, we do all kinds of data science and ML but this also means it is not too focused (although not everybody does everything) and projects usually last a few months to a year. I can learn quite a bit of this and that but it is not that focused. I learned A LOT about business and thinking about it when doing data science though, I doubt I could learn it as much elsewhere. There are also a lot of people who know a lot about specific ML-related things I don't know yet and want to know. The pay is average to perhaps somewhat below average in the field (it is supposed to increase company wide this year though and I would likely get a bit of a promotion on top of that which would probably translate to a 10-15 percent increase or so in pay)

We have a client/partner company where I've been leading a data science project (for the past year or so). The company is a startup which recently got funding from their main investor and are looking for others. It is run by two business guy and all data-related stuff has been done by us. They want to boost their development and are looking for an internal data science team (they will need data engineers as well) and they offered me a position leading that team. The pay offered is extremely good compared to my current pay (twice as much, in fact). However, being a startup (and there is competition in their field which might be a bit head of them), they may easily crash and burn. I also have an option with my current company payable in about 2 years which I would lose and which is good enough to cover quite a bit of the difference (though not all).

I am quite confident in my data science and business skills, somewhat less so in my data/platform engineering and DevOps abilities (or MLOPs, though I feel nobody has really figured out proper MLOPs yet) but I suppose I understand these well enough to recognize people who actually understand it very well and who would therefore be good additions to the team. The founders are entirely business people and the "tech" part of the job would be up to me entirely because of that. I think it might be interesting to build something almost from scratch like that but at the same time it is a bit risky. I am in my early 30s so I guess I can afford a bit of risk though :)

To summarize, I guess the main motivations to stay where I am are familiarity, more security and a lot of ML-oriented people I think I can still learn a lot from (probably the last thing is the main motivation for me). The main motivation to take the offer is the pay, focus on one clear thing (instead of working on 2-3 disparate projects at any given moment and having fairly limited time to code) and simply the fact that it is something new that I have not tried before (setting up and running a focused team like that).

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Take the offer. It pays more, and doesn't seem to be obviously worse.

Current job might give you more depth (specific ML knowledge) but the new job will give you more breadth (engineering side plus management side). Breadth will be more important for your future career.

Even if the startup crashes and burns in eighteen months, once you can say you've led a team your career prospects drastically improve.

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I think I would learn a bit about engineering even in my current job. Management in terms of leading projects with teams of 3-4 people and project ownership in general is what I've already been doing in my current job, though this would definitely be a lot more "holistic".

I am not completely convinced about the founders though in terms of their business skills (they're quite alright personally), so perhaps this is the one thing in which it is clearly worse (our CEO is definitely someone who has proven to have skills to turn a small group of 10 or so people into 150+ sized company within 5 years and with no external funding (the no external funding bit is of course easier for a consultation company which. at the end of the day, mostly sells labour).

But you are right that having such an important role in a starting product-oriented company is something I don't have experience with yet.

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If the start-up isn't offering substantial equity, I would punt. The way you get rich is ownership of something that works out well. That's what compensates for the fact that almost all start-ups are short-lived.

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They offer 2 percent in ESOP. I discount the value a lot though, in fact I am not really considering it much in my decisionmaking since as you say, start-ups tend to be short-lived. My reasoning is that the pay should be good enough to compensate for that and if it actually is successful, the ESOP is a nice bonus (though 2 percent aren't a lot unless they become really wildly sucessful which I doubt) They also offer a further increase in pay after another successful funding round.

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Feb 8, 2022·edited Feb 8, 2022

Well my impression is kinda meh. 2% is pretty cheap, if you're one of a handful of near founders. If they're offering a way above market salary instead, that seems like a danger signal to me, like maybe they think either the company will fold or they won't need you around for all that long -- anybody can pay a very handsome salary for a short time. To my mind your current set-up bespeaks a little better biz judgment, paying people in a new company market to a little under with the promise of a stake a little later. That's financially sound, plus you prioritize those in it for a longer term. (I'm assuming here you're not drastically underpaid, because if you *are* then you should 100% jump ship, you don't want to work for people who don't recognize your value.) You've got to weigh $$ against working conditions for yourself, but I personally put a premium on really superior top management, as that is both hard to come by and a daily burden when it doesn't exist.

Any chance you could discuss this frankly with your own top management? I mean, if they offer you a bigger equity stake in the current venture that might make the decision easy. If it were my company, and I had someone I valued very highly, I'd want them to let me know the situation, so I could make them happy if it was worth it to me. But YMMV of course.

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I think i could discuss this, in fact my current company has minority share in that startup and I was already discussing this with my boss, basically saying that if they offered something extraordinary, I would consider it but I'd rather stay if their offer was not that special (I did not know the exact offer yet at the time but my boss wanted to discuss it, he knew about the offer since the founders discussed it with him as well).

In my current company I don't have an equity though, only an option whose value is based on company business performance (but with a fixed range based on specific business goals being met) and which is payable in about 2 years from now (provided that I keep working there full time or close to full time throughout the 2 years). But you're right that if this were increased a bit, that might make it easier as you say.

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I read John Gray's "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus" and I found it to be a very good description of the differences in how my wife and I behave/communicate and how that leads to conflict.

Now, I've read a few popular psychology/self-help books before, so I wouldn't have been surprised to see a few vaguely plausible but quite general claims that kind of make sense, so that you could fit them to your reality like a horoscope. But this was more than that. I read many of the accounts of arguments couples had had and thought, "Wow, that's just the kind and sequence of things we said when arguing about X the other month, with the male/female roles matching."

To what degree are the claims the book makes about typical differences in male/female behaviour/preferences true? There's a summary of some of the key claims here:


I haven't been able to find a good discussion of this online. There are plenty of people who say, "This book is amazing and saved my marriage." as well as those who say, "This is a terrible book because it perpetuates sexist stereotypes," but not much else. I found one paper where someone did a survey of "romantic gestures" in the book suggested for men/women and didn't find men/women preferred them as the book might suggest, but that's about it.

John Gray makes a number of dubious-sounding claims about hormones and nutrition elsewhere, but he's not an expert on biology or medicine, so I don't have much faith in those. On the other hand, he has claimed that before writing his book, he was a celibate "monk" for nine years, then had sex with hundreds of women over a couple of years and asked them to "tell him their stories". If true, I suppose that may be a bigger data source than most social science studies.

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Men are from a fixer-upper planet that's going to take a whole lot of work to be really nice, women are from a pure unredeemable hellscape? That can't be right, can it?

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Ha ha. I suppose that's the astronomical interpretation.

The surface of Mars is Frozen, so you can fix this fixer upper with a little bit of love.

I recall from a BSD fortune that Biblical hell has lakes of molten sulphur, so must have a temperature between 115 and 445 degrees C. But the mean surface temperature of Venus is 464 degrees C. So it can't be a literal hellscape!

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Venus has very high air pressure, which changes the melting and boiling points. I looked at some phase diagrams, and I'm not totally sure, but I think sulfur would indeed be liquid on the surface of Venus.

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The big thing Venus has going for it in terms of interplanetary colonization is that Earth-normal air is a fairly powerful lifting gas in Venus's atmosphere, and the upper bands of Venus's atmosphere where the pressure is about the same as Earth's at sea level also has a fairly reasonable temperature range of ~30-120ºF, so floating cities are theoretically possible.

There are a few downsides, though: the colony/airships would need to be either constructed in place (out of what materials?) or transported interplanetary distances fully-assembled, either of which involves extreme engineering and logistical challenges. The colonies would also need to be build to withstand Venus's atmosphere, which is still highly corrosive at that altitude even if the temperature and pressure are reasonable. And then there's the question of what you're going to do on a floating Venusian city that's going to be worth all that effort and risk.

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Here is a pretty good takedown of Gray's book: https://sci-hub.se/10.1080/10417940209373229

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Thanks for the link.

I read the paper. The introduction is snarky and presents a straw man. The second half is a critical (read: social justice) analysis in which the author asserts a "blank slate" position on male/female personality differences. This doesn't invalidate the remainder, but doesn't fill me with confidence.

The first half cites results from a number of studies, mainly on when and to what degree men/women feel cherished/needed and how they respond when stressed. (I haven't looked up the individual studies.) My reading of the analysis is that there are small differences, which mostly agree with the directions of Gray's claims. However, because the differences are not large, the idea that men and women behave as if from different planets is hyperbolic (but then you knew that already).

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I have not read the paper, and believe your critique of it. I def have a bad attitude about the book, some of it justified by title's absurd implication that male-female communication differences are enormous, some by my life experience and reading of social science research, both of which tell me that it's a virtual certainty that there will be considerable overlap of male and female bell curves on almost any variable.

Additionally, I was irritated by what I experienced as a sort of subtext about the author's personal skills with women, in the account of how he researched the book: After 9 years as a monk, he went into penis turbocharge mode and bedded *hundreds* of women, who found him to be such a perceptive listener that they happily confided in him about their communication experiences with menb while basking in a post-coital glow. Seems like the book's subtext is: "Had a 9 year dry spell? Read me and you too can go turbopenis and fuck hundreds of babes who will like you and confide in you."

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I haven't read the book but from the summary, it seems like it teaches valuable communication skills. The contentious bit would be whether the different personalities it tries to bridge are as rigidly gender-correlated as the title implies.

Suppose I'm upset for some reason. There is definitely a problem-solving mood and a need-a-listener mood, and I seem to get more of the former while my girlfriend gets more of the latter. However, there are definitely moments when treating me like I'm "from Mars" will just make me more annoyed.

So... "the good parts aren't original, and the original parts aren't good" seems to sum it up.

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I think John Gray is from Uranus.

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Feb 8, 2022·edited Feb 8, 2022

I have no idea whether Gray's claims about men and women are true at a statistically significant level, let alone whether they are true at a noticeable-without-regression-analysis level.

But an existence proof for them being incorrect as stated is trivial - just find one woman who argues like Gray claims men do, or one man who argues like Gray claims women do; I don't even have to go outside my household to do that.

My guess is that if you believe what he says, rather than translating it into what he might in fact mean, you'll make an ass of yourself.

OTOH, those cross-purposes arguments are really really common. People with "good soft skills" can fairly reliably figure out how some other person works, and adapt their communication.

Maybe some people with meh soft skills can improve their poor track record with heuristics like this.

Thought experiment: imagine that many people really do tend to match one or other of Gray's communication patterns. Imagine farther that the pattern match is somewhat gendered. Let's say 60% of men are "male" patten, and 40% of women, and vice versa.

Now let's take Joe Clueless. He personally follows the male pattern, and currently treats everyone he encounters as the same as him. He's wrong 50% of the time overall, but 60% of the time when dealing with women, and only 40% when dealing with men. If he adopts Gray's theory, and assumes all women follow Gray's female pattern, he'll now be right 60% of the time, with all the improvements involving his dealing with women.

If men with Gray's female pattern and women with Gray's male pattern are less common, he improves even more.

He's still made of fail compared to someone with decent interpersonal skills.

But if his wife or girlfriend happens to follow Gray's female pattern, it might just save the relationship.

OTOH, if he starts treating male-pattern women as female-pattern, those relationships will somewhat predictably go straight to Hades.

And ditto for Jane Clueless, a female-pattern women with similar social aptitudes.

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For what it's worth, John Gray acknowledges that a lot of what he says are generalizations that may be untrue for some people. In the introduction (of the edition I read), he writes:

"I make many generalizations about men and women in this book. Probably you will find some comments truer than others... after all, we are unique individuals with unique experiences. Sometimes in my seminar couples and individuals will share that they relate to the examples of men and women but in an opposite way. The man relates to my descriptions of women and the woman relates to my descriptions of men. I call this role reversal. If you discover you are experiencing role reversal, I want to assure you that everything is all right..."

The summary I linked doesn't mention that, and I can see how claiming generalizations were universally applicable would offend people, and applying them universally would make many inter-personal relationships worse (not just romantic ones). In any case, taken literally, the title is provocative, as "a real dog" points out.

There's something in your model that I think needs refining. The way the book is written sounds like it's mainly targeting people in long-term (heterosexual, monogamous, etc) relationships. (OK, Gray seems to have rewritten basically the same book several times, and one edition is about workplace relationships.) In this case, the outcome will be more binary, as Joe Clueless only applies Gray's ideas to one relationship (with his wife Jane). Then it's potentially either a big success or a terrible failure.

Also, what happens if Joe Clueless is married to Jane Clueful? Presumably she can at least communicate with Joe as he wants, which will diffuse a lot of arguments. Do they both have to be initially clueless to get a significant benefit?

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Regarding sexist stereotypes, this is what Eugenia Cheng says about it in her book x+y:

"Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus by John Gray is a famous and divisive example, but I actually found it rather useful. I didn’t take it to mean that all men behave in the “Mars”-type ways, but it helped me to recognize when someone (of any gender) was behaving in one way while I was behaving in the other, and thus helped me to communicate better and resolve situations that might otherwise have become ever more antagonistic. It helped me understand things like why I am resistant to advice when I tell someone about a problem in my life (because I am seeking validation, not a solution—in a Venus-like manner). I take the book to be really saying, “Some people, in some situations, are from Mars, and others, in other situations, are from Venus, and it’s often men who are one and women who are the other but not necessarily, and you might be both at different times in different situations.” That is a somewhat less catchy title.

Somehow the imagery is much more vivid and arresting when it involves a very distinct dichotomy between two completely different things, but our need for something vivid and arresting can get in the way of a nuanced understanding."

I agree with that interpretation...the goal is to figure out how to relate to individual people, even if there are "typical differences in male/female behaviour", you're still just talking to the one person. In my mind it's a book about making a serious effort at understanding the person in front of you, and how hard that can be sometimes, and just how different people can be from each other; it's not a book about how men and women are different.

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Pretty Venerean take.

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Have a Martial (?) take. If you're upset, try to remember to say whether you want listening or advice. It's possible that which you want will change in the course of a conversation.

If you talking with someone who's upset, ask them whether they'd rather have listening or advice.

I'm inclined to think that people who don't like the idea of saying which they want are worth avoiding, but I lack experience, so this is a guess. This rule doesn't apply to small children.

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I found the same thing. I found it very difficult to work out why my good lady was arguing in such an unproductive fashion before I read that book and discovered that we were both aiming for different goals in the conversation.

I was using speech to try to solve the problem while she was using speech to help her consider the different aspects of the problem.

Once I recognised that behaviour, and stopped trying to solve the problem, everything made sense.

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I’m skeptical. I see a lot of variability between individual men and individual women but don’t see a great different between one group and the other. Maybe it should be something like men are from Iowa and women are from Illinois.

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This is the issue I was actually hoping for some insight/commentary on.

I'm aware of some differences in the "Big Five" personality traits, and of the people/things difference, all of which have been discussed on this blog and its predecessor. But these traits seem quite low-level compared with claims like "women want men to listen to them while men desire solutions to problems". That sounds like a stereotype.

Research on stereotypes (for example, Jussim/Crawford/Rubinstein) shows they are often true qualitatively. But has anyone looked at these stereotypes specifically? Obviously something like that is going to be quite hard to measure empirically, but I imagine you could devise an experiment involving recording arguments and coding what each person talked about.

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For a literary take on the matter read Virginia Wolfe’s “Orlando”

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There are tests that try to determine gender. I took one once and they weren’t sure if I was a guy in spite of my years of eating rusty spikes for breakfast. [I wish didn’t have to do this but: Joke]

Maybe I should have used a magnifying glass to fry ants instead of taking the thing away from my brother. I dunno.

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What is a very fascinating aspect of your favorite historical group that has never been implemented in a video game in a representative way? Consider the Socii system of the Romans as a potential example. Examples can be political, religious, administrative, etc. Don't limit yourself to war games mechanics.

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After reading Bret Devereaux's article on the logistics of the Mongol hordes (a slow-moving base camp with the sheep moving between grazing lands, supported by hunters traveling much longer distances on horseback) I really want to see it implemented in a game. It almost reminds me of XCOM 2's mechanics with the Avenger.

Nomadic groups in general are hard to represent in a traditional cities-and-borders sort of wargame. Have any games done a good job with that?

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