May 28, 2022·edited May 28, 2022

Champions League final tonight, pray for us!

FiveThirtyEight is giving odds Liverpool 65%/Real Madrid 35% of winning, so now I'm nervous!

Still, it should be a beautiful night in the City of Lights, the weather here in Ireland at least is beautiful (for the weekend, getting cloudy again Monday) so here we go!

EDIT: Curse of FiveThirtyEight strikes again - Real win their 14th Champions League with 1 goal to 0. Courtois (the Real Madrid goalkeeper) had the perfect game, saving everything.

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I have tried silexian based on Scott's recommendation. Seems to have a bit of a calming effect (after a bad few days) but I got a lot of lavender burpies. It feels like I literally washed my mouth with soap! Is there a way to mitigate this effect?

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I created a prediction market for whether fusion will provide >2% of US electricity by 2050:


Starting very low because D-D requires much higher temperature than D-T and we can't even break even with D-T yet and T/He3 fuels are prohibitively expensive until you solve D-D fusion. The number of neutrons produced from fusion will be nowhere near enough to breed as much T from Lithium as it consumes. Maybe excess neutrons from fission plants can will be used to produce enough T for a few reactors, but fusion is probably never going to provide a large fraction of grid power. I want Helion to succeed but based on my understanding of the physics I'm 98% confident that they're the next Theranos. They claim they'll be able to break even with D-D but nobody else has even solved D-T yet, and that's orders of magnitude easier.

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I don’t get lavender burps from the supplement discussed a few threads ago.

Out of curiosity I bit one open in my mouth.

PSA: Don’t do this.

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"It's pretty much an evolutionary environment that selects for chaotic nonsense, if anything makes too much sense then the locusts can (and will) descend and strip it to the bone. That might make for a fascinating experiment in a jar but not a very good way to run a society "


This at least sounds plausible to me as a consequence of the efficient market hypothesis.

In theory, it means people need to settle for typical returns. Does it work out that way?

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Is there any way to unsubscribe to those little default substacks about tips and interesting writers on the app? They clutter my feed and I dont care for them.

Anyone know how to remove something from your archive? Ive archived some things accidentally.

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May 25, 2022·edited May 25, 2022

I don't know if people here are familiar with the Amazon Vine programme, but it is immensely frustrating.

For me, anyway, and I will tell you why.

I found that when I was leaving reviews on products purchased through Amazon, I had this little flair about "Vine Voice" included. I had no idea what that was, and it was only by looking this up that I found out what it was all about:


"What is Amazon Vine?

Amazon Vine is a program that enables a select group of Amazon customers to post opinions about new and pre-release items to help their fellow customers make educated purchase decisions. Customers are invited to become Amazon Vine Voices based on the trust they have earned in the Amazon community for writing accurate and insightful reviews. Amazon Vine provides members with free copies of products that have been submitted to the program by vendors. Since Voices will receive access to products that are not yet available on the market, their opinions may be among the first posted on a product’s detail page. Amazon does not influence the opinions of Amazon Vine members, nor do we modify or edit their reviews."

Well, free goodies, what is there to complain about, you ask?

No free goodies, because I'm not American. And they didn't even ask me before slapping this label on, and there was no damn way to tell them "Knock it off, I'm not American":

"I am not a U.S. person (either a U.S. citizen or a resident alien). Do I need to provide any information to Amazon?

No. Unfortunately, you will not be able to continue to participate in Amazon Vine. The Vine program is open only to U.S. persons."

It was only today, after they sent me an email inviting me to once again submit reviews, that I was able to get taken off this programme, by filling out the tax questionnaire. Once it was Officially IRS Not An American, *then* they booted me:

"Your Vine account has been closed for not meeting our program participation criteria. You will still be able to view your Vine reviews and Vine order history but will no longer be able to request Vine items. We encourage you to continue posting unbiased reviews to be able to participate in the program again in the future."

Which is fine by me! Being a "Vine Voice" gave me no benefits, I had never requested or received any Vine items, and I did not like Amazon using me to sell their goods by shilling me as a reviewer who should be trusted, so if I said I liked product X, you can be sure it's good so please buy product X!

But damn it, Jeff, can you tear yourself away from your midlife crisis with your new armcandy to fix your damn website so people can inform it "Believe it or not, other countries than America exist and I am not an American and this bloody thing does not apply to me, stop using my name, thanks and kisses"?

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May 25, 2022·edited May 25, 2022

The CA primaries have me thinking about tactical voting, and it occurred to me that the Instant Runoff Voting that people keep advocating is also vulnerable to tactical voting, due to the risk of a second choice being eliminated early.

For example, if you have something like 49%-A, 48%-BC, 3%-C, then the B supporters have an incentive to vote for their second choice C instead of B in order to prevent the hated A from winning. IRV is often touted as letting people vote their heart instead of compromising on the most electable candidates, but that's exactly what happens in this example!

Given that tactical voting is a problem anyway, it seems like it makes sense to just stick with FPTP, which has the simplest and easiest to understand rules. And simplicity is an underlooked virtue, given how confused people are and how controversial vote counting is even in existing elections. Just look at the shitshow that happened during the NYC mayoral election vote counting.

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Scott, is there any chance to see the ratings for the non-finalists (after you've decided which extra ones get honorable mentions etc). It's hard to know how it was received otherwise.

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Manifold is predicting 80% chance of open source DALL-E substitute within 2 years. Alphazero to leelazero was much quicker than that, but getting enough good training data is harder here. I presume the open source version will be uncensored or trivially uncensorable by a mod. Not sure what google and openAI are accomplishing by refusing to generate sexy things. Avoiding bad press perhaps but no real world benefit beyond that as far as I can see.

Distributed network of volunteers can provide plenty of compute and plenty of web crawling for training data but maybe the training data quality would have issues. I predict 90% chance of an open source dall-E substitute within 2 years, considering how quickly google replicated it with Imagen.

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May 24, 2022·edited May 24, 2022

I read this article on the BBC today https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/extra/85qihtvw6e/the-faces-from-chinas-uyghur-detention-camps

I knew it was bad there, but these are genuine 1984 levels of state oppression. I feel like even North Korea does not do this (mainly because they don't have the tech).

It made me feel physically ill for the most of the day and it also left me wondering whether there are any feasible long-run strategies for regime change in China (or even short-run ones, but there probably aren't any). Is there anything the West could realistically do to bring the Chinese communist party down?

I guess that one strategy would be a gradual shift from manufacturing in China towards India, South America and Africa. China would stagnate or get poorer and once the country does not keep getting richer, people there might be less supportive of the regime. And if not, then at least the regime will stop getting more powerful and become weaker internationally instead. I don't know much about economic geography, but I'd say China is not all that interesting in terms of its raw resources and the West mostly uses it for cheap production. But India can probably do it cheaper already and most African countries can do that too.

I suppose that both India and most of Sub-Saharan Africa lacks the infrastructure (and stability, in case of many countries in Africa). But it does not seem like these are insurmountable problems. Also, geopolitically it might be wise to invest in Africa to reduce the Chinese influence there.

I am not sure what is going on with Latin America. The countries there have a reasonably well-developed infrastructure (in most regions), they almost all speak either Spanish or Portuguese (easy to learn languages for English speakers, plus a lot of people there speak at least some English), closer to the US than China is. The corruption there is fairly high and stability is an issue in some countries. But corruption is high in China as well, plus China has a complete disregard for patents and copyright which makes the real costs of production in China much higher. Not sure how expensive Latin American countries are, I guess Chile might be a bit expensive, but for instance Colombia might be only slightly more expensive than China?

Is there anything else that might be done? I am afraid that Milton Friedman was unfortunately wrong on China when he predicted that when people there become richer, they will demand more freedom as well and communism in China would end. It looks like the comrades found the mythical "third way" unfortunately, and it is no less ugly than real communism (except that it is probably more sustainable and gives them more power).

In any case, like with the conflict with Russia, the West (plus allied nations like Japan, South Korea, Australia, ...) is extremely powerful economically and given that a war with China is even more unthinkable than a war with Russia (which would be easy pickings if they had no nukes, the same cannot be said of China), I guess that any such strategy has to involve using that leverage. Only trouble is, a lot of that is tied to cooperation with China, so that is why I feel that shifting this away from China elsewhere would be a necessary first step that would weaken China and strengthen the global influence of the West.

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Looking for career advice in a broad what should I do with my life kind of way. I recently graduated from a prestigious music conservatory but because of an overuse injury I've had to give up pursuing a classical music career. While doing my masters I built and sold my own publishing business, but besides being self-employed I have no work experience outside of the classical music world.

I'm looking for career ideas that don't require me to do more school but would make use of my skills (hard worker, self-motivated, good writer, fast learner). So far, most "no experience necessary" job listings that have decent pay are all in sales. I'm fairly confident that I would not make a great salesperson however.

Any former classical musicians successfully pivoted to a new career? I really want to be done with school but I have no idea how to change careers after spending my whole life pursuing one in classical music. I know I could just do some kind of coding bootcamp but my experience with coding in the past has led me to believe that I wouldn't enjoy it long-term. Any advice/ideas appreciated!

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In a hypothetical future world where SEC is disbanded for one reason or another, how would investing look like? Immediate thought is that SPY would cease to be a solid conservative choice since the top valuation companies in America would be various crypto ponzies.

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I think the opposition to preservatives leads to increased energy costs and wasted food, but I don't have numbers. I'm also uncertain about the risks/benefits from various preservatives.


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In the social revolution that took place in Spain in 1936, over a period of two years, people took power into their own hands and started to construct a completely different society based on anarchist principles.

Anarchist ideas had been gaining strength in Spain since the second half of the 19th century. The CNT, an anarcho-syndicalist trade union, was formed in 1910, and by 1936 was very powerful, having a membership of 1.5 million. By that time anarchist ideas were strong in the minds of the peasants. In fact, collectivisation had actually started in some areas of the countryside before the revolution. ?

On July 17th a military coup took place in Spanish Morocco which spread the next day to the peninsula. In the cities and villages the workers organised themselves to defeat the military uprising and thanks to their courage and initiative the fascist revolt was stopped in three-quarters of Spain. These people however were fighting not only to crush the fascist attempt to seize power, they were also fighting for a new social order in Spain.

As soon as the fascists were defeated, workers’ militias were set up independent of the state. The factories in the cities were taken over by the workers, and in the rural areas the lands of the fleeing fascists and fascist sympathisers were taken over. In the rural parts of the Republican zone, under the influence of CNT and FAI (Federation of Iberian Anarchists) members, collectivisation was the most far reaching. Usually it was the members of the CNT or the FAI who called general meetings in the villages and pushed for collectivisation.

At these meetings people voluntarily pooled whatever land, tools and cattle they possessed. To this was added whatever land had been expropriated from the large land owners. “People who had nothing to bring to the collective were admitted with the same rights and duties as the rest”. [1] Soon almost two-thirds of all the land in the area controlled by anti-fascist forces was taken over and collectivised. In all between five and seven million people were involved.

Unlike in Soviet Russia, collectivisation was not forced on people and those who did not wish to join the collectives were allowed to do so on one condition: they could keep only as much land as they and their family could work and could not hire anyone to work for them. People who refused to join collectives were called “individualists”.

In keeping with the anarchist principle that there is no freedom unless everyone is free, people believed that participation in the collectives should always be voluntary. The collectivists were by far the majority in the countryside, however they made special efforts to respect the choice made by the individualists and they were not condemned. In many areas the individualists, encouraged by the example set by the collective, eventually joined the collectives voluntarily and their numbers declined.[7]

The individualists often benefited from the collectives. In Calanda for example they received free electricity and paid no rent. They also paid low prices for any goods bought from the collective.

Communities were not interested in possessing more land purely for the sake of increasing their domain, but instead they wanted only as much land as they could work themselves. There was a strong feeling of solidarity between the different collectives. For example, 1,000 collectivists from the Levant, which was quite advantaged, moved to Castille to help out. The collectives sent food and provisions regularly to the Front and also to the cities.

The collectivists in Albalate de Cinca sent the following to the unconquered city of Madrid in March 1937: ten live hogs, 500 kilos of bacon; 87 chickens; 50 rabbits; 2.5 tons of potatoes; 200 dozen eggs; vegetables and several dozen goats. “There was no question of payment or requisition by the military”.[9] Refugees fleeing from areas conquered by the fascist advance were also taken care of in the remaining collectives.

With the creation of the collectives people were no longer in competition with each other. They were also free from having to follow the orders of some boss, working land they did not own for little reward but instead had control over their work and had equal input in any important decisions made concerning the organisation of work and the management of resources. Thus liberated, the initiative and enthusiasm of the Spanish peasants knew no bounds. “Collectivisation has all the advantages of free co-operation: humane collective labour. Freedom and equality are its foundation.”[10]

New modern methods of farming were employed. Experimental farms were set up. Resources were used to modernise the farms and get new machinery. Communities gained greatly from having pooled resources. Expert technical advice was made available by the Regional Federation. In addition, parasitic middlemen and the wasteful bureaucracy and other control mechanisms necessary for maintaining a capitalist system were dispensed with.

Production greatly increased in the collectives. In some cases harvests increased by up to five times their pre-revolution level. In Alcoriza the collectivists established a sausage factory in an old convent. “Daily production has reached 500 kilos. This production is sent to the anti-fascist militia. They have also built a shoe factory where they produce leather and fabric footwear, not only for the residents of their village, but also for neighbouring communities.”[11]

In no collective did unemployment exist. This was a big change from life in Spain before the collectives where often peasants would be unemployed for half of the year.

The Spanish revolution is unique in history insofar as it is the only time when the masses consciously put anarchist theories into practice. Although the collectives were not given the chance to develop fully and were not perfect, they were nonetheless a great success while they lasted. They show how ordinary people are perfectly capable of organising a just and efficient society given the right conditions. The peasants and workers in Spain showed that anarchism is possible.

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Say, is anyone else being heavily censored on YouTube? I started to notice it late last year. YouTube tries to hide the fact that it is censoring you using two methods, and if they only used the second method, almost no one would realize it is happening.

Often I edit my comments because I’m rarely quite happy with how I worded it the first time around. This started to fail. It would say that an error occurred. Then if I refreshed the page, my comment would be gone. It would be deleted from my comment history, too. After this happened twice, I started to save each comment and check which ones were deleted.

So, here are four of my comments that YouTube censored, broken down by technique.

### Method 1: hidden deletion ###

Your comment is visible to you, but secretly, it was deleted immediately and is not visible when the page reloads.

Example 1a: My reply to Saaber Shoyeb Jan. 11, 2022 was immediately deleted from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Grv1RJkdyqI

I had said

> Yes, correcting them [flat earthers] won't do anything; they are aware there are endless reasons to think the world is round, and they reject all of them. OTOH you can find a lot of people dismissing climate science or slamming Covid vaccines, who seem reasonable in the sense that there are a lot of plausible-sounding arguments against both of these and it's understandable that they would be taken in.... nevertheless you almost certainly won't convince anybody. My father's anti-vax brother died of Covid in October and (as I expected) my father stayed just as anti-vax after that happened. I went so far as to send him a copy of the book Scout Mindset in an effort to influence his *style* of thinking, but all signs point to that having no effect either.

Example 1b: my comment on “How big is the universe?” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pn3euL8Tbfw) was immediately deleted:

> You left out the theory that personally makes the most sense to me, which is that the universe is *endless* but *not infinite*. I got this idea from Stephen Wolfram's preposterous, yet attractive ideas which in turn were inspired by cellular automata: Finally We May Have a Path to the Fundamental Theory of Physics… and It’s Beautiful—Stephen Wolfram Writings

> In this model, time and space are both endless but finite. Let's start with time first, because it is simpler: the universe is about 13.8 billion years old. Assuming that time had a beginning, the total amount of time is about 13.8 billion years. 13.8 billion is clearly a finite amount. But we never run out of time, so it is also endless.

> Similarly, space begins as a single point and then expands outward at the speed of light, creating an unimaginable amount of new matter as it expands. After being created, space then expands uniformly as it does in the standard inflationary model. But, this endless space always has an outer edge. The new space being created today is probably absurdly dense, just as the very first space was. In this model, the universe is no longer 13.8 billion years old. Rather, 13.8 billion is just a lower bound; the universe might be 14 billion years old or 14 quintillion years old, depending on how far we are from its original origin point. But since the universe is finite in this model, there are no exact duplicate copies of you.

*Update* Example 1c: Here I corrected misinformation. The video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DRCzj_uCmZ4) gives the impression that document “War crimes of the armed forces and security forces of Ukraine: torture and inhumane treatment" was written/endorsed by the OSCE. YouTube deleted my reply:

> 13:13 Important: this is NOT an OSCE report. It was written by "Foundation for the Study of Democracy", a Russian organization (its web site is democracyfund dot ru), but it is hosted on the OSCE web site for some reason.

By the way, it's hard to find any information about this organization in English. Basically the report is just a long series of anecdotes about torture by Ukrainian authorities, generally without corroborating evidence, and often without any date or location of the alleged event.

### Method 2: Shadowban ###

Your comment is visible to you, and still visible when you reload, but invisible to everyone else. [edit: except people who choose the non-default Chronological viewing mode]

Example 2a on Vlax Vexler’s “BIG PICTURE UPDATE as battle for Donbass begins” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kGwqEYKXz4Q&t=365s):

> I think something important is missing here though. I don't know what. But sanctions and a defeat in Ukraine don't seem like they will inspire Russia toward new leadership. To the contrary, while sanctions somewhat disempower the Putin regime, both in Ukraine and domestically, I think sanctions will make ordinary Russians feel even more disempowered, and Putin's propaganda will continue having a lot of success selling the idea that this is all the fault of NATO and Western Nazis. How can the Russian people be given a vision of a future without Putin, within their new high-censorship environment?

Example 2b on Niki Proshin’s “Life in Russia Under Sanctions: Half-Empty Malls and Food Prices” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZsjDSLgOMMc):

> I'm surprised to see so many Latin and English names on products. I do think prices will continue to rise in Russia because the Kremlin has used unsustainable efforts to create the appearance of normalcy. It won't work for long. I wonder if P*tin might announce a "victory" in the "special operation" soon, an "operations winding down" phase, to help convince ordinary Russians that the effects of sanctions next fall/winter are not related to Russia's actions. It seems like the Kremlin already convinced most Russians that none of this is Put*n's fault. But if a "victory" is announced, the shelling and fighting will continue, and Ukraine will regain territory because it will have more replacement troops than Russia.

*Update* example 1c on "The Housing Affordability Crisis We Don't Want To Solve" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nUFZ1_fC3Kw)

> 5:55 It's exceedingly strange to have a whole discussion about house-price appreciation that doesn't mention any factors that have limited the supply of housing for 40 years (factors limiting on higher-density housing.) I *didn't want* a house with a lawn in the suburbs, but that's what I bought because, in my city, it was the most affordable option (and it should not have been). You say "it's simple supply and demand. People were demanding not only larger homes but homes that were closer to city centres or other amenities. This restricted supply." No, that's not what restricted supply. Something that actually restricted supply was the illegality of building medium-density housing in a location zoned for single-family homes. Think: requirements limiting the house-size-to-lot ratio, requirements for parking spaces, requirements to get approval from neighbors before building something larger, etc.

In fact, the majority of my comments are either deleted or shadowbanned, and the second method (which of course I did not discover until later) turned out to be more common. So maybe this has happened to you too, even if you don’t know it.

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May 24, 2022·edited May 24, 2022

In Ukraine Warcasting[1] nobody predicted both that Putin would invade, AND that his army would do badly or lose. I haven't quite found that unicorn, but Trent Telenko came close.

He says Putin will definitely invade:

> A Russian invasion of Ukraine is no longer a question of "if". It is all about "When." https://twitter.com/TrentTelenko/status/1473422763583025153

And Putin will definitely not conquer the whole country:

> Whatever else happens, Putin will not be able to conquer the entire Ukraine. The Ukrainians are fighting as a national people. The Russians are fighting as a classic Oriental despotism who's chief objective is to keep Putin in power https://twitter.com/TrentTelenko/status/1466970924868067330

> The issue isn't "will the Ukrainians stand and fight?" They have stood and fought every day since 2014. The question is, rather, who will get Ukrainians to stop once Putin kicks off his next invasion. It certainly won't be the Zelensky government. https://twitter.com/TrentTelenko/status/1487452009322233868

Other things he said before the war started:

- The reason Zelenskyy complained about the US's claims that an invasion was imminent was economic: "The panic caused by the Biden Administration statements has killed the business insurance market in Ukraine. The 60 firms doing so have dropped to three. No insurance equals no business operations, a Ukrainian economic heart attack." https://twitter.com/TrentTelenko/status/1487245447693578244 https://twitter.com/TrentTelenko/status/1487828101518311428

- Before 2022, RU suffered far higher casualties in Donbas than UKR. He notes that "Putin stopped in 2014-2015 when the Regime Security Forces were rendered combat ineffective. The Ukrainians are aware of this Putin Regime dynamic" https://twitter.com/TrentTelenko/status/1484694297836503040

- He predicts world famine as a result of the invasion's impact on grain supply https://twitter.com/TrentTelenko/status/1484948780705361922 https://twitter.com/TrentTelenko/status/1484988985256681479

- He shares a lovely UKR military recruiting video: https://twitter.com/TrentTelenko/status/1466966039372218372

- Thinks that the separation of the UKR and RU orthodox churches made the invasion inevitable...? https://twitter.com/TrentTelenko/status/1484589369629589506

- Says Russia's huge buildup of forex reserves is... payments from China? https://twitter.com/TrentTelenko/status/1486016489899630592

- Knows his Javelins https://twitter.com/TrentTelenko/status/1486031108168892420

Granted, Scott was just talking about "pundit" predictions, but the people who understand things best tend not to be pundits. What we can do is belatedly follow people who got things right, after their predictions come true. Anybody else want to credit somebody who made good predictions (not just Ukraine, any topic)?

[1] https://astralcodexten.substack.com/p/ukraine-warcasting?s=r

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For two years we wondered why Japan had so few Covid cases, and after all that time, some guy swoops in to take credit. In a plausible way. In a respected publication.[1] Well played.

> By the end of February 2020, scientists had identified many clusters of transmission and realized that most infected people did not infect anyone else, but a few infected many. From my past work, I knew that respiratory viruses are mainly transmitted through aerosols. My colleagues and I looked for common risk factors among superspreading events to come up with a more effective public-health message for the public. It incorporated early indications that SARS-CoV-2 could spread through aerosols.

> This led us to warn against the ‘3Cs’ (sanmitsu): closed environments, crowded conditions and close-contact settings. Even as other countries focused on disinfection, Japan promoted this concept extensively, by asking people to avoid high-risk activities such as karaoke bars, nightclubs and indoor dining. People largely complied. A panel of artists, academics and journalists named sanmitsu Japan’s buzzword of the year in 2020.

How come we never got this "3 Cs" messaging? I didn't learn Covid was airborne until, I don't know, 7 to 12 months later, and WHO was like "pshhhh it's not airborne"...

[1] https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-022-01385-9

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'Making Nature' sounds intriguing. I wonder if it means what's beyond The Green Wall, in Zamyatin's -- Huxley's -- Orwell's dystopias. Who the Naturals are.

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Biden has abandoned strategic ambiguity and committed the US to defending Taiwan:


Why isn't this the top story on every media outlet? I learned about it from Wikipedia's Current Events page. Of course, if Trump had done this, it would be a different story (remember when he talked to the president of Taiwan on the phone and it was the End of the World?), but this is Actually Important and a new low for the media, if the NYT is to be trusted.

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TurnItIn is a for-profit text-matching tool which instructors use to check their students' work for plagiarism. It gives a numerical rating of text similarity to each submission, based on overlap with other students' submissions and published text.

This blog post summarizes a panel discussion at the recent European Conference on Academic Integrity and Plagiarism (https://copy-shake-paste.blogspot.com/2022/05/ecaip2022-day-2.html). Apparently, TurnItIn has been purchasing smaller competitors. A plagiarism researcher says this is bad, because different plagiarism detectors use differing methods to discover plagiarism that their competitors didn't discover. A TurnItIn employee responded that the bigger TurnItIn gets, the more it can innovate.

I am interested in any programmers' views, whether or not you have worked with text matching. From that brief summary, do you think this consolidation is more likely to be good or bad for plagiarism detection?

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Does anyone know of any good resources for finding apartments for rent in NYC? My wife is a travel nurse who will be working in the city over the summer. She paid a deposit for an apartment, but I'm pretty sure she just got scammed (going to the bank tomorrow to try and cancel the wire transfer).

So I figured I'd go to the one place where you know you can trust people and not get scammed. The internet. 😎

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Why is there so little innovation in building materials?

If I walk down my local streets while keeping the damn phone in my pocket and ignoring the cars and clothes, there's little that distinguishes the view from how it would have looked in, say, 1927.

It's basically 1940s flagstones, concrete that was probably poured in the 60s and 70s, tarmac (patented early 20th century), steel (invented 400 BC?), glass (3,500 BC) clay bricks and tiles (7,000 BC), and wood (400,000,000 BC). There's some plastic, but surprisingly little.

Admittedly, I live in London. But I've been to Tokyo, and yeah there's more steel, glass and plastic... and also more wood... but not like, pavements you can bounce 10 feet high on, or, say, colour-and-opacity-controllable super-strong super-lightweight transparent walls.

Is this because:

(1) The innovation is everywhere but invisible to me – sure it's still called "tarmac" but it's 95% different from the Macadam stuff and full of fancy compounds

(2) I may have been to Tokyo but I haven't been to Seoul

(3) We're at some local minimum where better materials are very hard to discover or expensive to manufacture

(4) No one wants fucking bouncy pavements or see-through walls, materials are optimised to the needs of people and machines as our culture currently produces them

(5) Some sort of Andreesen / Thiel shtick that as a society we just lost interest in atoms.

(6) Conspiracy by government / developers / Big Tarmac

(7) Something else


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At this point I'm desperate for a child covid vaccine not because I'm worried about my child getting covid (he already had it), but so I can finally avoid these nonsensical quarantines that make me hemorrhage money. Covid policies in schools is the one thing that's close to making me a single issue voter, the cost to benefit ratio is miniscule and the "think of the children" attitude from people who sacrifice nothing is maddening. Daycares love it because their "charge full fees, provide no services" is perfectly legitimate under the health guidelines.

Local health department only parrots state department guidelines, which only parrots CDC guidelines. Is there anything one can do to change this?

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Is anyone else on their third Covid go-round yet? I've just recovered from Round 3 - got it in the Delta wave last summer, then in an Omicron wave over Christmas, and then this one. Hoping it doesn't become an every 4-5 months thing from now on, though we seem to be heading towards that level of seasonality.

Interestingly, the 3rd time made me more ill than the 2nd time, despite occurring after my booster. If I had to give some statistics, I would rate the experiences (in chronological order) as follows on a scale of 0-10, with 7 being the sickest I've ever been from all causes:

- 1st vax: 4

- 2nd vax: 0

- 1st Covid: 6

- 2nd Covid: 1

- Booster: 1

- 3rd Covid: 5

In all cases + the vax illnesses, my symptoms were mainly extreme fatigue (for multiple days), plus fever for a day or so, and some aches. No real respiratory symptoms, thankfully. Would be curious to hear what patterns other multi-covid sufferers have seen!

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I developed an immune response to politicians asking for donations a while back, when I realized they'll send you a new email every week with some clever argument about how they really actually desperately need a donation this time, and it's more important than ever before.

Over the years I developed other immune responses to other kinds of bullshit, to the point that I was mostly just bitter about everything.

And then the Flynn thing happened, and I made a second donation specifically because it was supposed to be a close election. It wasn't.

I don't want to imply this is a big deal. It isn't. Scott has a superhuman but still imperfect capacity for avoiding mistakes, and I was too lazy to do my own research. I'm just sad that I can't personally seem to interact with this world in a sustainable way without turning my cynicism up to eleven.

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I just wanted to take the opportunity to plug my blog, which advocates for rationalists to seize power (in a legal and peaceful way, of course) by manipulating the political process through trolling, false flag techniques, and the use of simple programming algorithms to manipulate public discourse on social media forums. I feel like most of the rationalist community's "effective altruism" is actually extremely INEFFECTIVE because most of our efforts are undermined by our complete lack of political power. If we actually want to achieve any sort of lasting impact on the world, we need to grab some political power for ourselves. The elites currently in charge aren't going to give up power voluntarily, so we may need to fight them in order to take it.

Even if you don't want to get involved in what you might consider the "Dark Arts" of rationality, you might be interested in how these techniques work, so that you aren't on the receiving end of this type of political manipulation. I hope you enjoy, and feel free to give me feedback!


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I cooked a thing I'm quite happy with-- an approximate kuku sabze.

It's a Persian herb frittata, possibly using an expansive definition of frittata.

It's not the kind of thing with some little bits of green in a dish that's almost all egg, the chopped herbs should have a larger volume than the eggs.

6 eggs

3/4 stick of butter

2 large bunches parsley

1 large bunch cilantro

good sized bunch (not as large as the other one) of fresh dill

a giant leek (probably about a pound) with the dry parts of the leaves cut off

about 3/4 T of salt

a little roasted powdered garlic

second round:

1/4 pound walnuts

olive oil

Abdul the Strong curry powder


So, chop all the veggies, beat the eggs, fry the veggies at a medium heat until they flatten out. Add eggs and garlic. Cook at a low heat until the eggs solidify.

The reason I did it in two steps is that it was okay but not special, and I was reminded that it was supposed to have walnuts, fenugreek, and turmeric. The last two are major ingredients in Abdul the Strong, and it was convenient.

So I chopped up the walnuts and fried them a bit in olive oil and spices. The result was excellent, and I might well explore more nuts fried with spices.

What impresses me most about this dish is that usually I make three or four meals worth of whatever I cook, and then rotate them, but with this, I ate four meals in a row of the same thing.

It's possible that butter was a little bland on the first phase, and it should be at least partly olive oil. I don't see any reason not to cook everything together.

I'm thinking about an Italian variant with parsley, basil, garlic, and rosemary.

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May 23, 2022·edited May 24, 2022

Regarding this would-be Oregon congressman. It's easy to be altruistic when you are spending other people's money (and other people's descendants' money, via the US national debt). That's why EA and politics do not mix. Better to let people spend their own money.

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Yes, please, do add your selected book reviews to the finalists!!

I had been wondering about this already - in my ideal world finalists would come both from Scott's selection and from readers' selection.

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I recently realized that whenever I am on my laptop, I subconsciously arrange it so it is tiled away slightly to the right. And whenever I try to straighten it out, it feels unnatural and like it is tiled to the left. It's really bugging me. Anyone know what's going on?

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What are your favorite books about the counterculture of the 60s and 70s? Biographies, histories, memoirs, pro-counterculture, anti-counterculture, whatever.

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> Thanks to everyone who donated to or otherwise supported Carrick Flynn. Unfortunately he didn’t win.

Predictably. As I've said a few times, the EA community doesn't really survive on effectiveness but on selling the idea of effectiveness to wealthy EA donors. Anyone with even modest political experience (and mine was quite modest) could see the failure coming. And could have pointed out the $14 million was an inefficient use of resources. But it excited people to solve a problem that liberal people from SF want solved (political representation, winning in moderate districts, etc) so it attracted a lot of donations.

So it failed but it got $14 million and boosted the profile of everyone involved. Which is a classic principal agent split. The principals didn't get what they wanted (a successful election) but the agents got to raise their profiles and a whole lot of money.

This is not how the EAs should be doing politics. They should acknowledge what they are: a small minority with some profoundly weird ideas who have a lot of money and a specialized skill set. And they should act appropriately like a special interest group or a radical political faction. (Indeed, lobbying the government like one is probably the best multiple available for effectiveness. But it's not sexy I suppose.) But instead, from what I've read on LW, there's a significant contingent who truly believe they're going to take over the world or have an EA president or something.

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Wouldn't it have made more sense to have someone with even a tiny amount of political knowledge involved in the Flynn thing? They could have told you dumping 10mil on a House race with a candidate with no serious experience and no plan for local issues was dumb as hell. I lose a lot of confidence in EA people for not just thinking this would work but piling a bunch of cash in and setting it on fire.

When I submitted by grant application it wasn't with serious intent but maybe you, Scott, and your friends, would have benefitted from a more personal understanding of what motivates a politician and why and how that relates to a constituency.

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Does anyone want to defend presidential systems in general, as opposed to parliamentary ones? From a pretty detailed study of 20th & 21st century comparative politics, parliamentary systems seem obviously superior. This seems to be the consensus view of most or all political scientists and academics. Famously most developed countries are parliamentary ones, and most poor countries are presidential. Also, the Allies pushed Germany and Japan to go the former route post-war, which has again lead to great stability. The most prominent presidency, in the US, seems to have fallen prey to exactly what political scientists had always critiqued- a demagogue who achieved power by going directly to the voters, despite being opposed by nearly all party elites. Aka the classic Latin American situation.

I’m pretty familiar with the pro-parliamentary arguments- what are the pro-presidential ones? Wikipedia has something vague about allowing for more ‘decisiveness’ in an emergency, to which I’d respond that Churchill seemed decisive enough, and Israel seems to function just fine with a prime minister despite being in decades of near-constant conflict. I’ve never found the checks & balances argument persuasive- the only real check necessary is an independent judiciary, and Germany has an even stronger one than the US does, in hand with a parliament. Why should any country choose a presidential system? Have any notable academics written a defense of the presidency?

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I bought an old house and have been replacing all the water pipes because they are made of galvanized steel, and their insides are badly rusted. Some pipe segments are so constricted with rust that they're practically clogged. This led me to do some research into galvanized pipes, and I discovered the material is considered obsolete for water pipes because of this problem.

With that said, why are galvanized steel pipes still sold at places like Home Depot? Are they only used for natural gas lines? Are some fools still using them as water pipes?

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It’s the general belief in Britain that the British Empire was benign, and the Spanish and Portuguese empires were far worse. What do the learned gentleman of ACX think?

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What’s the current best option for consumer whole-genome sequencing, and what can you do with it once you have it?

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May 23, 2022·edited May 23, 2022

A few months back I posted a complaint in one of the hidden open threads about my experience interviewing at Google, in which I took a round of interviews, was congratulated by my recruiter on having passed and told to expect some "team fit" interviews, and was then rejected without any further input from me into the process.

My least favorite response was a comment letting me know I had no reason to be upset, because obviously if I can pass an interview at Google I can just go get a job somewhere else. Needless to say, I have not actually found this to be the case.

But if anyone is aware of someone willing to hire based on this kind of ability signal ("if I can pass an interview at Google..."), I would appreciate a pointer.

(I had thought the classifieds posts might be more appropriate for this, but they do not appear to be a going concern.)

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I recently wrote down what I know about caste: https://bsravanin.substack.com/p/caste-unlike-race

It got me talking more about this with close friends, but... if anyone can explain what jati means, or has good suggestions for essays to read, or has strong opinions about casteism in India (and other parts of the world), I would appreciate it.

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May 23, 2022·edited May 23, 2022

Thoughts / comments / feedback on the following analogy / chain of thoughts:

A) production ML models typically have a predictive component and a loss function

B) the predictive component generates predictions from signals, the loss function says 'how much it matters' that a given prediction was correct or incorrect

C) the 'predictive component' is something like a 'map of the space', and the loss function says something like 'where do we ~actually~ want to go' (edit: i think 'utility function' is what i want here)

D) if we squint at a humans and think of them as ML models, the utility function encodes our value systems; these represent some mapping between world states and how we appraise them

E) less wrong / ssc / ea / rationalist community promotes a series of norms / values which pertain _mostly_ to the internal structure of the ML model and how it _ought_ to update based upon evidence, and how it _ought_ to evaluate (i.e. predict) various choices, but not details such as 'this aspect of the loss function, as it pertains to the territory represented by the map, is more important than this other aspect' (i.e. this part of the territory is more important than this other part)

F) there aren't modern materialist movements devoted to helping people improve the quality of their loss functions

G) such a movement might be useful and would fit naturally into the EA / SSC / Less wrong community

H) such a movement might also be risky and dangerous because it would look something like a religion (in that it might end up promoting a set of values about acting in the world)

I) a loss function could be considered more or less correct, given some pre-existing definition of 'correctness', but in some sense, asking 'is there a correct loss function for a human being' is roughly equivalent to asking 'is there a correct human moral system' ?

J) we might skip the bootstrap problem by reframing the question in 'I' as: "are there loss functions which allow my predictive model to more rapidly converge on stable, net-positive valences?"

K) a positive answer to that last problem might look something like wireheading yourself. To avoid wireheading, we might use something like 'coherent extrapolated volition', so 'is there a loss function which satisfies the constraints in J, yet which gives rise to behavior that my current loss function also evaluates as being a desirable way for me to act in the world now'

L) at some point all of this starts to look so much like 'the search for moral truth' that it's reasonable to believe at least some aspect of historical religions can be understood in these ML terms: religions act as claims about correct loss functions

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EA could be a Global Political Party ?

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May 23, 2022·edited May 23, 2022

RE: Carrick Flynn, I'm not surprised. He ran on "I'm a local boy" but the problem was, he wasn't local enough. He'd never held any sort of political office, and his message boiled down to "Vote for me, send me off to the Big City, and I will work on - preventing pandemics".

That's nice, but what are you going to do for me? By contrast, the winner was someone who already holds office in the Oregon House of Representatives and has a track record voters can look at. She's from a union family, so that gives her a big connection to the local and wider Democratic Party:

"Andrea’s experience is what sets her apart in a crowded primary field. She doesn’t just hold progressive values – she has delivered progressive victories. She’s worked as a US congressional aide and policy advisor to three Members of Congress including Senator Harry Reid, Congressman Pete Stark, and Congresswoman Darlene Hooley. After serving as a congressional staffer for over a decade, Andrea became an advocate for unions, environmental groups, and reproductive rights organizations like the Oregon Environmental Council, NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon, SEIU Local 49, SEIU Local 503, Pineros Y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste (PCUN), and more. She also served on the Oregon League of Conservation Voters Board for over 8 years."

Over on r/TheMotte, I had a look at the new congressional district that was carved out and which both parties are hoping to take in order to be first and hold on to it. It is constituted from the following:

"(1) Polk County - votes Republican. A mix of agriculture and education (Western Oregon University is a major employer). So he'll probably take the college/city votes. Is that enough?

(2) Yamhill County - Republican leaning. Again, agriculture, wine and education as above, again, he'll probably take the college votes.

(3) Marion County - Democrat, but just about. Has switched between the Republican and Democrat candidate in the last four presidential elections. Economy runs on agriculture and "government". Again, he'll probably take Democrat votes but will that be enough?

(4) Clackamas County - ooh, whoever edited the Wikipedia article does not like the knuckledraggers living here: "In contrast with the more liberal and cosmopolitan Multnomah County to the north, and the more corporate Washington County to the west, some citizens of Clackamas County have espoused a blue-collar, yet conservative political outlook of the backlash mold described by Thomas Frank. It was the headquarters of the Oregon Citizens Alliance, which has worked to pass a number of homophobic initiatives" 'Homophobic', oh my! But it leans Democrat, all the same.

(5) Washington County - very Democratic since the 90s, and besides the usual agricultural economy, has many electronics and computer companies located there such as Intel and Epson, as well as Nike. If he's going to get votes, this is the place.

But he's not the only Democratic candidate running for selection, and maybe Oregonians will go for someone more established that they know, rather than a new guy who is getting headlines about all the big-money outsiders backing him."

And that's what happened. Andrea Salinas (white Hispanic) is the local politician who got the nod despite all the outside money that came flooding in for Flynn. And *because* it was outside money, that's where he fell down. If I'm a winegrower or logger from one of those counties, and I see all these headlines about "big rich guys from something called EA are pouring money into Flynn's campaign", my instinctive reaction is "what are they gonna do for me?" and I'll vote for someone who I think will do something for me.

Also, it looks like Flynn just got outplayed on politics; there seem to have been immediate complaints about his campaign by the rivals from the get-go. That doesn't mean he did anything wrong, just that the old stagers know how the sausage is made.

What was Salinas' message?

"In Congress, she will fight for a $15 minimum wage, paid family and medical leave, and an even bigger social safety net for our communities."

What was Flynn's message?

"With the correct government interventions, it is possible for us to never have a serious pandemic again. I will champion these measures."

I see he's revamped his campaign website to emphasise 'growing the economy', etc. but up to recently that was his big message. Parish pump politics - that's what you can't beat. $15 an hour for the workers of Oregon versus something something committees something.

Here's what a local paper has to say about it:


"Carrick Flynn, running in the Democratic primary, had almost no local contacts or organized support, was known before the campaign hardly at all locally and showed no distinctive issues or talking points. But his candidacy was supported by money – mountains of it, amounts most House candidates would never dream of.

A cryptocurrency billionaire contributed millions to a pro-Flynn political action committee, and a national Democratic PAC added in with more – totaling $12.2 million according to the most recent campaign finance reports. Flynn did not control that PAC money, but the funds spent on his behalf were enough to cast a deep shadow over the funding of all the other eight candidates.

The leading conventional candidate in that primary, Andrea Salinas, was well funded by usual standards but brought to bear only a fraction as much. Pro-Flynn ads (and toward the end, anti-Salinas ads) swamped the district. Salinas did however have plenty of endorsements, a strong campaign organization and some familiarity with the district through work in the legislature and in advocacy organizations. Voters heard a message appealing to the Democratic base."

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I’m a lifelong vegetarian, and I just got diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Most diabetic cookbooks seem to be about dieting/losing weight, which I don’t need to do (I could stand to put on about 10 pounds right now).

Does anyone have a good recommendation for a vegetarian low-carb cookbook that still has recipes with actual calories? Thanks.

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May 23, 2022·edited May 23, 2022

I'd really value some feedback on my book review entry (Surface Detail by Iain M Banks) from anyone who read it. My best guess is that either it was too long or that I didn't do a good enough job justifying the choice of book in the text, since fiction generally didn't do well in the contest - but I'd really like to know if the writing itself was incompetent / boring, whether there were any specific sections that didn't work, and whether my self-assessment of my review is accurate.


Also, since nobody else seems to have started one, perhaps this can be a general 'discuss my non-winning review' thread - I'll try and read and comment on any review anyone posts below if others are also looking for more detailed feedback on their own work.

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Just updated this https://pathfindings.substack.com/p/young-blood-old-monsters-and-rejuvenated?s=w - with thanks to:

1. Dave Simonds for kind permission to use his cartoon (originally in The Economist, 2017)

2. Prof. Consuelo Borras Blasco, University of Valencia, for graciously agreeing to be interviewed and giving corrections and encouragement

3. The Good Lady @Deiseach of this parish, for alerting me to Mary Elizabeth Braddon's 1869 gothic sci-fi in which our heroine employs a progressive doctor to keep her in wonderfully wicked health through blood transfusions from young women (who sicken and die, natch).

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If you have never seen Newton's Pendulum in action, but would like to, I present to you:

Newton's Pendulum (Gangnam Style)


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It's very unfortunate communities like this haven't developed any norms against the political '-isms' and '-phobias' (racism, sexism, transphobia, ableism, fatphobia) when they have developed norms against 'lazy swipes'. Perhaps they're not exactly the same thing, but they're certainly bad for very similar reasons. Racism is of course the most egregious of the lot based on a comibination of how meaningless the word is and the political weight it carries. Given how meaningless the word is, I don't think its use can possibly be justified on a good faith basis. I don't see how it serves any good faith purpose at all.

It's become nothing but a bludgeon used to silence one's political opponents (which includes people merely stating salient empirical facts, and increasingly those facts spoken by well-meaning, good faith liberal-mninded people). It doesn't convey any meaningful information about that person, it never progresses any debate or brings anyone colser to the truth. It's a modern day equivalent of proclaiming somebody is a "heretic". And yet, on ACT and adjacent communities, I see people uncritically using it, as if it were a useful and meaningful term, when its not. There ought to be a norm that basically says you should say what you you're alleging in plain terms. Instead of saying "So and so is a racist", it should be "so and so believes [heritable differences explains racial outcome differences/black people aren't disproportionately the victim of police violence/doesn't hire black people in his business/hates black people]".

See the stupidly broad range of things that "racist" can mean to people? See why using one extremely powerful word to describe all of these vastly different views can be problematic? "Racism" rolls off the tongue better than any of those things, but since the word has been reduced to a slur, convenience is no justification for its continued usage. Even "so-and-so hates black people" is ripe for abuse, because the people who use 'racism' excessively will claim that acknowledging some empiricaly true facts represents hating black people, but at least this makes it more plainly obvious when its being used abusively ("really? Acknowedging that 'hands up don't shoot' was a lie means that literally *hate* black people?"). I've even seen people on here use the term "scientific racism", with the obvious implication that any scientific pursuit that has as it's empirical finding a fact that contradicts egalitarian ideology is necessary *incorrect*. This is just wildly anti-science in a way that even anti-vaxism isn't.

"Racism" is used to silence dissent and foster hatred of political foes. Nothing more.. Maybe its use was justifiable once upon a time, but now there's no good faith basis for its use.

And the same is largely true of all the other isms and phobias. I saw somebody angrily proclaim that a new pubilc building design was "ableist!" for not incorporating sufficient disabled access. Ableist! She didn't just say, "this building design doesn't accomodate disabled persons adequately", no it's "ableist". What is the point of that word other than trying to make its target look evil and/or stupid?

If nothing else, if you don't see what I'm saying, then it should be opposed because it's the quickest way to alienate anyone who isn't part of your tribe. I'm sure the overwhelming majority of people believe that building should be designed to accomodate the disabled, even if that increased the cost of construction. But for a lot of people, they hear somebody bleating on about "ableism", and they reasonably assume that the person saying it is an unstable asshole and their claims are probably some SJW nonsense. Even if *you* think that they shouldn't do this and should care about "ableism", or look past this partisan language and see the real issue at play, what matters is what they're actually going to do.

Scott has touched on something *similar* in 'Against Murderism', but huge numbers of ACT commentors either haven't read it or don't agree with it.

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https://bariweiss.substack.com/p/he-was-a-world-renowned-cancer-researcher?s=r I dont know about the epistemic status so cannot vouch for that.

If any part of this is true, a scientist - well renowned, nobel-tipped, and talented scientist - can't find work because of the dynamics of how grants and studies play out today. If the story is false, it still feels like he wasn't given due process.

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Speaking of E.H., his recent Harper's article is a good corrective for conservatives who think they have a monopoly on accusing the powerful of using COVID as an excuse to increase their authoritarian power: https://justinehsmith.substack.com/p/is-everything-political?s=r

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consistently awed and delighted to hear new things about just how _weird_ Wittgenstein was as a person: http://people.soc.cornell.edu/swedberg/Wittgenstein%27sVisittoIthaca.pdf

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If anyone has time for a really short and terribly unscientific survey (no market research, I promise), I'd love you to fill out https://forms.gle/RSkx4ujp1F6vkrVn8.

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Was Krugman wrong about total factor productivity growth in the Asian Tigers? Why?

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An interesting thing about "The Society Of The Spectacle" by Debord is that Baudrillard became much more famous than Debord by just repeating Debord's ideas in "Simulacra and Simulation".

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Another Bayesian brain / predictive processing example, this time with music:

“The ‘Mysterious Melody’ illusion was discovered and first published by Deutsch in *Perception and Psychophysics*, 1972. This musical brain teaser shows how our knowledge of a piece of music can have a profound influence on how we hear it. Suppose you play a well-known tune such that all the note names (C, D, E, and so on) are correct, but the tones are distributed haphazardly among three different octaves. If people are given no clues as to what the tune might be, they find it very difficult to identify. But once they know what to listen for, the melody becomes easy to follow.

“The ‘Mysterious Melody’ illusion provides a striking example of ‘top-down processing’, or the use of previously acquired knowledge, in sound perception.”


(h/t Matt Voglewede)

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Looking for advice and commentary on a design for a new prediction market model. I think it should be possible to design prediction markets that play nice with Kelly bets, and I've come up with a concept that improves handling for Kelly bets, allows for much higher leverage, and allows the market to automatically track your preferred betting algorithm. The big cost is complexity, of course. Here's my writeup:


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Can you recommend an effective course of action to eliminate aging? What NGOs do exceptionally well in that regard? Thanks a lot in advance :)

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I just read Blum and Blum's very recent paper, A theory of consciousness from a theoretical computer science perspective: Insights from the Conscious Turing Machine (CTM) https://www.pnas.org/doi/full/10.1073/pnas.2115934119

I might be fooling myself, but it seems to me that their CTM architecture might actually provide a solution to the hard problem of algorithmically conjuring consciousness from a machine. It also seems like it would be both buildable and testable. And yet, as far as I can tell, no one is even playing around with this approach, far less working seriously on implementing it.

So please feel free either to tell me what I'm missing here -- or else to get as excited about this as I am!

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The I.R.S. failed to collect any of my 2011 taxes, and now a statute of limitations has kicked in and that money is forever lost to them. Tomorrow I’m celebrating by donating that $4,031 to GiveWell’s Maximum Impact Fund. This sort of tax redirection is a long-standing practice among conscientious objectors to military taxation, and I think it may also have a place in the effective altruism movement.


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My latest model of existence which explains qualia is this: There’s no objective universe, everything is subjective, everything is in The Mind (capitalized for dramatic effect).

There’s one Mind. Call it God, Buddha, The Oversoul, The Great Spirit, what you will. Materialism makes no sense because the fissure between subjectivity and objectivity can’t be bridged. What seems to be the physical universe is a projection of The Mind. What saves us from solipsism is the notion that The Mind contain trillions and trillions of agents. You can think of these agents also as parallel processes or nodes. They all communicate unconsciously to form Voltron (Correction: The Mind), but aren’t individually conscious of each other’s flow of consciousness. So, you and me, separate agents (Or rather, emergent, fluid, composite identities formed from myriad agents), we aren’t conscious that we are part of the same Mind, and can’t, therefore, read each other’s minds.

As for “How can the physical universe be a mere projection of mind?” Well, we know we can vividly experience a universe that most people agree is created by the mind when we dream, so there is evidence the mind has the ability to create universes. The main difference between our wide-awake universe and our asleep-but-dreaming universes is continuity. We aren’t conscious when we dream, so we have no memory of what happened the moment before, no ability to keep the narrative coherent. But awake, we steer our imagined universe into a consistent, logical story.


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I just want to say that the evolution/sperm bank argument always gets accepted without challenge. But I find myself at least moderately drawn to donate sperm for procreation reasons. Rather, there's a lot of social pressure against it. e.g. I have a fiancée who wouldn't love the idea, and it's actually illegal in Canada if I understand things correctly.

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Hi Everyone! Posting here one more time, because I think I may have posted on the last open thread a little on the late side, and perhaps it would have actually been better to wait for this one. So I saw this fresh new open thread and thought I'd give it one more nudge. :-)

Just wanted to let you know that Legal Impact for Chickens, an ACX-supported nonprofit, is hiring!!! We're looking for a litigation attorney.


Thank you for your consideration!

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I'm reposting unsigned integer's note about the FDA's fluvoxamine decision, and my follow up, since I put it in the old open thread about half an hour ago, and it feels like something Scott will have thoughts on:

The FDA has rejected the request for an EUA for fluvoxamine for Covid: https://www.vox.com/future-perfect/2022/5/20/23107842/emergency-approval-fda-rejected-fluvoxamine-covid-drug

Here's there explanation: https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/nda/2020/EUA%20110%20Fluvoxamine%20Decisional%20Memo_Redacted.pdf

This is pretty ropey in my semi-educated opinion. They reject the overall endpoint used in the big Brazilian study, which was terminated when it hit the pre-registered threshold for proven effect.

Having done that, they're left with point estimates of reduction in hospitalisation and mortality (!) of >20%, but juuust outside the 5% significance threshold (top of the RR CI is like 1.05).

Then they refuse to update at all based on either of the other studies or on the meta-analysis performed as part of the submission because

"the meta-analysis itself had limitations including the fact that the studies evaluated different endpoints, locations varied amongst the trials"

while also complaining that:

"The STOP COVID and real-world data studies had design limitations, including small size, single center"


"this was also a small study (≤80 participants per arm) conducted within a single geographic area"

and this

"an additional factor considered is the clinical setting, since the study was conducted entirely in one region of Brazil. It is difficult to determine if these efficacy results from a study conducted entirely in one geographic location would be generalizable"

This doesn't seem to me like a fair-minded review of the evidence, but I'm not intimately familiar with their decision making. I will say, as a health economist, that it's incredibly hard to see it passing any kind of cost benefit test given the safety profile of fluvoxamine - even accepting that it's now much less relevant with Paxlovid on the shelves.

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May 23, 2022·edited May 23, 2022

Which narrative do we think best explains Elon's recent tweets?

(a) Republicans are less likely to increase taxes on billionaires; or

(b) conservatives are more likely to believe that sexual assault claims are politically-motivated lies?

*edit: should also have added some actual good faith options: (c) he's getting older and naturally less progressive, or even (d) he honestly thinks the Democrats have become extreme far-left

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Anyone read anything good lately? Books, articles, essays, etc.?

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Anyone know how to remove things from the substack archive? I've put a number of things there by accident and it bugs me.

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What evidence is available about Monkeypox and how worried should/shouldn't anyone be? Recent experience tells me that the critical time to make any preparatory decisions is when it still feels like you might be prematurely over-reacting.

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