In light of what is happening in Iran, I have questions on Muslim women in the West:

What are the modern motivations to wear a Hijab for Western women? My understanding is that it's an attempt to curb male sexual desires. But in reality dressing modestly doesn't protect women at all. There's a lot of research indicating that the objectification and over-sexualization of women's bodies actually depends on modesty culture. The more we are forced to cover up, the more men objectify us, and in turn, the more violence is perpetuated against women.

In cultures where women don't wear a lot of clothes, their bodies aren't sexualized and they face less harassment. And conversely, in cultures where women are told to cover their entire bodies, showing hair or ankles can be seen as inherently sexual. A notable finding of these studies is that women's chests are only sexualized in about 20% of cultures, which suggests that the attraction men have to this part of the body isn't biological, it's cultural.

Of course, forbidding Hijabs, as they're doing in India and France is super disgusting. I would genuinely love to hear Muslim women's rationale behind wearing Hijabs and what they are aiming to accomplish.

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Suddenly have a lot more time and found out about this. Yeah, really late, but also wasn't paying attention.

I have some remarks to the Billionaires, Surplus, And Replaceability thread but given even the highlights thread already is somewhat old, going to post this on an Open thread. Not sure what the etiquette for these things are. I am going through the backlog and prob will have stuff to note on even older threads.

There were a number of nicpicks that I was going to discuss such as "2 years is a BIG change. Not sure how to map out an AU where everything is the same but Amazon is 2 years late, though it's almost certainly going to diverge not converge to this one"1 but going to focus on one of the more basic ideas it displays.

In the end, the main thought process is that "Bezos doesn't deserve his money" -> "really high taxes" in some form, but uh... this kinda skips a step.

It's like saying that we should have an extra lottery winner tax, not because of tax should be progressive or lotteries create negative externalities, but because they were lucky and anyone could have won it.

I know it's not exactly analogous - capitalism and rich people not lotteries and betters. But how humans treat those is kind of my point.

The easiest ways to tie the two are with moral/economic principles.

Ie. "Rich people are bad and don't deserve to be rich" which well, Robin Hood exists but not exactly consequentialism.

"Money is to be rewarded only as much as they deserve it" which isn't how money works.23 At least not in the economic environment that Amazon earned it from.

As a quick "gotcha" think about the opposite frame - if Amazon/whatever really does "deserve" the money, then why should it be taxed at all? I mean, they "earned it" rightfully then.

I know there are other arguments such as monopoly and deadweight loss that does focus on the taxing part, but that wasn't the main focus of the article.

Footnote 1. This isn't to try and somehow evaluate the "value" of the divergent timelines but more as an alert - do not simply assume "if a number is big/small, it does/doesn't matter".

Footnote 2. A lot of this is very similar to the criticisms for Great Man, but unlike that, you can state that teaching history DOES work like that. Plus pushing to reward the concept rather than the individual is... basically the same for this example.

Footnote 3. This is also probably a better criticism for patents to be more stratified be how obvious they are? Not sure, but at least the structure there is to reward first movers.

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The Onion files an amicus brief with the Supreme Court in defense of satire.


Shine on you crazy diamonds!

“The Onion cannot stand idly by in the face of a ruling that threatens to disembowel a form of rhetoric that has existed for millennia, that is particularly potent in the realm of political debate, and that, purely incidentally, forms the basis of The Onion’s writers’ paychecks,”


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I think living in modern nation states (and really any states in their style, the Roman Empire is as good as Babylonian city states for my purposes) is inherently doomed and bound to produce oppression and coercion, I think the very idea of being born obligated to "Social Contracts" that I have never seen before, let alone consented to, then being asked to comply with them at gunpoint is inherently against human dignity and liberty.

I see 2 possible futures out of this:

F-1: A Radical Technology (e.g.: brain implants that allows you to feel the emotions of others as your own) makes human an effective hive mind, which makes their states vastly better. States are fundamentally a reinvention of ants and bees with primate hardware: what ants and bees do naturally, we need social technologies like Money and Constitutions and so on to simulate, but the 1 thing we can't simulate satisfactorily is empathy, we can't simulate empathy beyond a DNA-hardcoded limit that was optimized for sub-hundred tribes but is now woefully inadequate. A technology like brain implants or radical DNA\biochemical tinkering can allow States and sub-State polities that, in the ideal limit, feel like tribes and families. Social Protocols and Contracts will no longer feel alienating and illegitimate for the same reason that the rules your parents set for you when you were small weren't.

F-2: Alternatively, or in addition to F-1, space colonization allows state-building to become a personal hobby again (just like it was before the 19th century or the 15th century or, hell, the 1st century, before the entire earth became devoured by faceless states). You can, literally, build your own country, bro. On an asteroid or one of the 69 moons of Jupiter. Experimentation with ways of governance and social protocols will flourish, but most importantly and relevantly, you are never obligated to live in a state you don't like or select whish state you like *less* from a small list of pre-made coercive states. In the Ideal limit, every thinking mind is its own sovereign, nobody is sovereign over a multitude.

Now, those futures aren't without their own dangers and problems. F-1, depending on the mechanism it's achieved with, has the potential to go massively wrong. Imagine the cults, the gangs and the dictatorships that you can get if every single member is in perfect harmonious emotional sync with the leader. Every time Putin gets enraged, every single soldier on the front (potentially at the speed of light if we're talking brain implants) feels his rage and vows to avenge him. How can you possibly turn such a soldier against his leader? he saw him from the inside, every person sees himself from the inside as very beautiful and very righteous and extremely justified.

F-2, for its part, is a version of Scott's Archipelago (https://slatestarcodex.com/2014/06/07/archipelago-and-atomic-communitarianism/), what if something requires the cooperation of all polities? In Scott's version (and in other arguments against Anarchism), this could be grounds for a justification of the State. The State is whatever arises naturally when multiple polities realize that there are cross-cutting problems that can't be solved a single polity can solve. But in F-2, you're literally working against physics. Light is slow, conquering a Solar System is hard, conquering multiple ones while maintaining any sort of coherent government is impossible. F-2 is a bulletproof Archipelago, but what happens when the intergalactic aliens come knocking? or intergalactic climate change? how can we re-sync the countless independent polities again?

What are books or thinkers or stories that deals with themes and problems like these? For example, Scott's Meditations on Moloch (https://slatestarcodex.com/2014/07/30/meditations-on-moloch/) and Marx's analysis of capitalism correctly identify the massive alienation that arises from countless people forced to live and work together against their consent (although Marx misses Moloch and shoots at the largest target he can find in 1840s England instead, but that's an understandable honest mistake), Seeing Like A State introduces a notion that a State is like a new emergent organism that we unwittingly built and gave dominion over us, with senses that contort reality and social relationships and hands that force those contortions on its subjects.

On the fiction side, Ada Palmer's Terra Ignota introduces the idea of Hives, Hives are a non-geographical government, and they are consensual, you join them when you're an adult, and an ultra-Hive law forces people to respect your choice and provides you with all information you need to choose. The only problem is that there are so few of them, barely 7 or 10, but that's understandable given that there is no space colonization yet. The inhabitants of Palmer's world pride themselves on the "Death of The Majority", the world is so pluralistic and un-hegemonic, that there is no group that can be said to force and control others, not even states (although, semi-spoiler, that turns out to be a joke later). Another, more obscure, fiction is The This, by Adam Roberts. It recounts the story of a social media corporation that evolved to be the first hive mind, then later the first F-1 style polity.

All recommendations and discussions and objections are welcome.

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> You always worry about losing users during a move, but I see their main weekly thread is at 1766 comments and counting, so it looks like it’s going all right!

Depends on how many users are making those comments. Gotta look at the distribution

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Request for a sanity check (from people with experience with startups) before I make any rash decisions (quitting a company).

Since the beginning of this year I gradually transitioned from a consultant role for a fintech startup to a more permanent position in the firm (basically as their head of data). When we were discussing this transition, we agreed on some ESOP conditions which resulted in a percentage share in the company. This was essentially 7 percent where 3 of those 7 percent were limited by a valuation ceiling (the ceiling was a compromise deal between what I expected and what they felt was needed so that the company would have a room to accommodate more investors later).

We agreed on these parameters in April and then we were preparing an ESOP contract since. There have been some delays, I received a contract proposal in August which I found a bit too vague and the lawyers I had have a look at it agreed. I then sent a counter proposal (which the lawyers prepared) to make some things clearer. This was early August.

In September there has been a first investment round, quite a modest one in hundreds of thousands of euros (a larger funding round is expecteded early next year). The new investor entered the company late in September. During late August and September the ESOP contract was postponed, justified by too much work with due dilligence legal preparations with the investor (and I was assured that the ESOP conditions would apply retroactively from April, so no room to hurry).

Now, the due diligence process was finalized and allegedly, the new investor had a problem with my ESOP position, it being too high. So they erased the 3 percent completely (that were supposed to come with the ceiling) with the same justification they came up with the ceiling (to allow more growth and room for investors...), which would leave me with a 4 percent ESOP share (paid on the event of founder's exit). I am still waiting for the exact ESOP contract offer, we agreed that this would be finished by the end of September and now they say they will have it by next week...and of course I still would probably need to have the lawyers have a look at it.

My biggest issue is with the repeated unmet deadlines and most importantly the changes in conditions we agreed on. This makes me think that even the 4 percent might be iffy unless the contract is completely bulletproof and generally I don't think it is a good idea to work with someone I don't really trust any more. And of course, 4 percent of zero is zero and there is always (a lot of) potential for a startup to fail (but that is of course something I took into consideration when we agreed on the conditions in April).

Other than that the job pays quite well, although I think I could get some 15-20 percent more elsewhere.

I currently have no contracts with the company, because I still legally work there as a consultant and it goes via my previous company where I still technically work as a consultant. The boss of the consulting company is also one of the investors in this fintech company, though a minor one (this is how I got to work with them in the first place). I am a contractor with them and I have very little obligations to either subject. I have no grudge against the consultancy but quitting in the fintech abruptly would probably break ties with them as well. Like I said, I think I can get equally good or better offers in terms of monthly income elsewhere.

So I decided (I heard of the sudden change today) to take time over the weekend but I think I will simply tell them I quit on Monday and I won't even finish any work in October or do any handover (there is nobody to hand things over to currently...just two juniors on that data team, one if them is very good but definitely not experienced enough to lead the team and has zero business skills needed to discuss things with partners).

I guess I could also use this as a bargaining chip "restore the conditions we agreed on or good luck finding someone", but this would not solve the lack of trust I have now...

So...good idea to burn the bridges right away or am I being too hot-headed?

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Remember the supply depots that keep blowing up in Russia? This could be because their owners and managers are destroying them to hide the fact that they are empty, because of corruption.


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Remember the city of NEOM in Saudi Arabia? Well, in 2029 they will host the Asian Winter Games: https://english.aawsat.com/home/article/3910846/saudi-arabia-wins-bid-host-2029-asian-winter-games-neom

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Admitting that you were wrong is usually hard and unpleasant, but not always that bad, and can even be a source of pride in some circumstances.

The thing that's really hard, and I've hardly ever seen, is admitting that your enemies were right.

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I found this YouTube channel that mocks bad movies, in particular, those by Steven Seagal.


Before this, I didn't realize just how many awful, direct-to-DVD movies he made over the last 20 years.


The YouTuber keeps joking that the film projects are probably money laundering schemes that make Seagal money. Could that actually be true? Given Seagal's Eastern European connections, his general sleaziness as a person, and the fact that these movies are so terrible yet inexplicably keep appearing, how can market forces have led to this?

How would you use a film production as a vehicle for money laundering?

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Russia is sending T-62 tanks to its militias in Ukraine, and now Slovenia is sending T-55 tanks to Ukraine. The vehicles are badly outclassed by younger tanks like the T-64 and up, so why even send them?

"An obsolete/obsolescent tank is better than nothing" sounds like a fine response, along with advice to not put the old tanks in situations where they could encounter new ones. However, the more I think about it, the more devils I see in the details.

The old tanks use different ammunition and need different spare parts, than the newer ones the Ukrainians and Russians are used to. Different crew training is also required. Moreover, remembering to keep the old tanks away from parts of the front line where newer enemy tanks could be would just complicate a general's battle plans. These considerations make me think it wouldn't be worth the trouble to send the old tanks to Ukraine, for either side.

Also, accepting the notion that old weapons still have places on the modern battlefield, so long as they're strictly kept in roles that don't stray from their limitations, leads to some absurdities. Is there still a place for the T-34 in the Ukraine War? How about muskets?

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This… seems like the correct solution IMO. I’m surprised at the amount of flak Elon is getting.

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Taken one of those 23andMe tests and found out I have two Apoe4 alleles, supposedly putting me at an elevated risk of developing Alzheimer's .

Is there anything apart from the standard "eat well and exercise" I can do to lower my risk or at least delay the onset of the disease?

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Anyone have thoughts on why Peloton, a relatively small company who manufactures high-end exercise equipment is regularly in business news. Even before their now infamous commercial that was parodied by Ryan Reynolds(woman on treadmill) it's a steady flow. Today it's sales though Hilton; last week, via Dick's Sporting Goods.

Are there people "in-the-know" that drink every time there a new story about Peloton?!

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I had posted in a previous open thread about a friend's child in India. He is addicted to a video game. From his age of 12 to 14, his parents (both doctors, who are very specialized, busy and have huge work responsibilities) were very busy with covid-related work. In that time, a friend offered to build a gaming computer with him. They happily agreed.

The child's grandparents were home with him a lot. As his addiction grew, no one noticed. At one point he refused to go to school, as he wanted to keep playing. He would get violent if his access to the game was cut off in some way.

He is now seeing a psychiatrist. He was persuaded to give up the computer a few days ago. He is having acute withdrawal symptoms. He is on medication for this.

These things are designed carefully to be addictive. They're as awful as alcohol or drugs in the hands of kids. Smartphones with social media apps are no different. (There is a case going on now in the U.K, and the name of the child is Molly.)

This is all ridiculous. I don't know what the solution is. Why isn't there a warning label on video games and social media apps, saying they could cause harm? Any devices with the ability to carry these things should carry that warning too.

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Playing prediction markets is pretty humbling, just by forcing you to actually make specific predictions and see the results of *all* of them, rather than just remembering the ones that worked.

I decided to participate in the Salem Center contest on Manifold back when Scott announced it in early August. I didn't plan to spend much time on it and don't have much experience, but I figured maybe I'd get lucky and end up in the top 5 anyway, and if not, at least I'd be contributing to "the wisdom of crowds". I decided to just pick 20 markets and put S$50 in each on the side that seemed most likely and then hold to resolution.

So far I've had four markets resolve, two wins, two losses, and my "portfolio value" is S$1031, a slight profit on the starting 1000, but pretty much indistinguishable from chance. Predicting the future is surprisingly hard! How is everyone else doing?

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On Metaculus today: somebody accidentally hit the resolve button on the “ Nuclear Detonation in Ukraine by 2023” question, giving the community quite the scare!

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I haven't read Data Secrets Lox for years, and *of course* there is a "Ukraine war" thread, so I started at the beginning, and...

> International sanctions are not going to do anything of substance, besides fueling Putin's "it's us against the evil West" rhetoric.

> their NATO/EU membership does make [the Baltics] harder to invade, but that just means that Putin will have to work a bit harder on making up his excuses [after he is finished with Ukraine]. China will gladly back him up, which means that US/EU will have no choice but back down.

> there's no reason for [Putin] not to issue an ultimatum for NATO to withdraw from the Baltics and probably Poland.

> the determining factor in the Ukraine situation from his perspective is that we'd already publicly precommitted to not doing anything to stop him

> Looks like Zelensky is now willing to “negotiate”, so maybe we have entered the end-game. I’ve seen casualty estimates of 400-800 for the Russians.

> What can he negotiate, besides "nigh-unconditional surrender in return for my own worthless hide"?

Probably a good opportunity for a reminder that being cynical and edgy does not necessarily make you better at predicting.

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Does anyone know how to stop Substack from flooding my inbox? I can turn of email alerts for subscriptions I pay for, but I can’t figure a way to turn off email alerts for my free subscriptions. It’s making me insane - I’m losing important email in the mess of constant Substack updates

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I'm continuing my ten-post Substack experiment with an essay inspired, to some degree, by some of Scott's earlier posts. I'm not as happy with it as with my last two posts, which got a lot of play, but I think the ideas in this one are more interesting, even if ultimately underdeveloped.


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I remain baffled why anyone finds r/the motte valuable. Wheneveren I've been there it's just been generic right wing talking points repeated without analysis and mildly left wing ones being down voted to oblivion. If the appeal. Is meant to be a libertarian ideal of free speech and good discourse it doesn't seem to be achieving that. Just changing who's norms are enforced

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What is it about this community that attracts so many people that have divergent sexual preferences and/or are gender nonconforming?

Or is this not true?

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Anybody know a way to search ACX comments that always works?

(Have been trying to track down a comment thread from a while back but can't find it. DDG/Bing is useless, Google often works (though not in this case) but I hate using it, no organic search functionality I can see, there was acxsearch.herokuapp.com but it is dead.)

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I wrote a blog post to explain a new paper of mine about success of internet memes: https://www.michelecoscia.com/?p=2205

It's about the tension between meritocracy (= you succeed because you are good) and topocracy (= you succeed because of your privileged position in the market). I think you might find it relevant, because the effect of topocracy is something I didn't see much discussed in Scott's post about great families (https://astralcodexten.substack.com/p/secrets-of-the-great-families) and, unless I missed it, it wasn't seriously considered in the comments.

Of course this is about internet memes, so the generalizability is meh. But I think it's a promising idea, and it is based on previous theoretical work (https://www.nature.com/articles/srep03784) showing how sparse networks are dominated by topocracy. Real world networks are typically very sparse.

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Is it possible to find the original chapters of Unsong with the comments underneath?

The first time I read it, I really enjoyed reading the comments.

But I can only manage to find the Prologue back in the SSC archives--the other chapters appear to have been removed and are only available on the separate Unsong site, with comments no longer visible.

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A slightly exaggerated (but not much) partial explanation for why universities (in the US at least, maybe those elsewhere are paragons) are such hotbeds for anti-capitalist, anti-landlord, anti-business thinking, scholarship, and activism. This is based on my experience having gotten a PhD (physics, to be precise) and then spent most of a decade teaching at a private prep school.

For starters, academics are almost exclusively people who have very little experience outside of academia. Because if you get off the PhD -> Postdoc + Adjunct -> Tenure Track train at any point, it's really really hard to get back on. Mostly (and more and more so), academics are people who had that as a goal from day 1 of college at the latest. They went to the best schools themselves (saw a graphic where 80% of professors are from 20% of schools and 2% of schools make up 20% of professors). They've mostly lived in college towns or in big cities (which are often themselves dominated or heavily influenced by a series of universities). So academics have a very narrow world-view, especially where business is concerned. Their experience is mostly around a couple types of businesses. What are those?

Well, for starters there's the university itself. Which, despite not usually being a for-profit business, is a BIG BUSINESS in every way that counts. Multiple 10s of millions of dollars in annual revenue, huge payrolls, huge assets. And huge bureaucracies with all that goes along with that. And worse, many of them are WAY too big to fail. Either they're the Ivy League or they're big state schools that are literally propped up by governments.

Then there are the academic publishers. Academics and wanna-be academics have dealt with them at all levels--as a student buying exorbitantly-priced textbooks with user-hostile devices that prevent reuse and resale. As grad students/academics trying to get published. As teachers assigning texts.

Then there are the college-town landlords. Who have a huge flood of price-insensitive undergraduates (because student loans) who are living away from home for the first time and tend to trash things. And whose incentives are to pack people in as densely as possible in minimum-quality, maximum-price lodgings. AKA slum lords for the modern era.

What do all of these have in common? They're the very model of a rapacious, empire-building, no-concern-for-customer-welfare, unaccountable big business. They wield TONS of power and there's not really much you can do about it. In fact, they're all the things that anti-capitalist, anti-business people decry.

But, even with that, academics (once they're tenure track at least) have it pretty nice. Working conditions are just about as good as it gets, you're doing stuff that you enjoy, <sarcasm>are surrounded by pretty but dumb undergraduates as eye candy</sarcasm>, can wield immense personal power (career life or death) over subordinates...So academics look at the outside world (of which they really know very little from personal experience) and think "wow. If I have to deal with such evil, horrible companies and my life is THIS good...how nasty must it be out there in the wastelands outside academia?" And thus is perpetuated the belief that business MUST be awful and the source of many, if not all, ills. Because the ones they deal with *really are that bad*. And the academics just don't know that their situation is abnormal. That, in fact, it's that bad *because* it's so sheltered from the vicissitudes of actual capitalism. They're living in a world where monopolies and extreme power differentials are not only normal, they're the water in which they swim. And don't realize that a lot of the rest of the country...just isn't like that. That I, as a programmer at a company, can, in fact, wield a substantial amount of power both directly and indirectly despite having no titles and not really getting paid all that much. That most businesses are struggling, not being run by fat cats lying around on piles of money.

Is this a complete explanation? No. Not at all. Is it exaggerated for comic effect? Yes, a bit. But, I think, it captures at least a truth about how different academia is from the "real world". And it's one of the huge reasons I'm glad I *didn't* get my desire to become a professor and am happy I ended up where I did.

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Upon my death, between 0 and 15 years from now [almost surely << 10], I could have about $10M (USD) to bequest. Possible up to twice that in real terms, maybe less. So I need to write a will. No family considerations that I haven't already factored into these numbers.

I don't know where to give it. Scott's grant program seems a great choice, but he might not do it again. Considerations: non-religious, non-utilitarian (for any version of utilitarianism that rewards sheer numbers of 'happy' population), pro science, pro-progress, anti-sentimental (so you can save a billion human lives, how very _boring_), very much pro (though accepting that it's a bit metaphorical) "omega point." I don't care much about individuals human's lives, only humanity's (or intelligent life's) purpose and fulfillment as a whole.

I do tend to think (i.e. "think we should act as if") that humanity is the only intelligent life form in the reachable universe, so avoiding extinction events is a supremely good (if somewhat sad) answer, but it's where I lean. I'd like a more positive goal!

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Oct 3, 2022·edited Oct 3, 2022

Anyone else has read/watched too much about the Cat in the Hat and feels like he's a Neil Gaiman character waiting to happen?

Think about it. He can appear from nowhere and do other things that are either impossible or really damn hard. He also drives a vehicle with impossible properties and a lot of hands and commands two sidekicks of unclear origin and nature, initially locked in a box.

The PBS series "The Cat in the Hat knows a lot about that" has more good stuff. In "The Cat in the Hat knows a lot about Halloween" the Cat says that you should only be afraid of things that can hurt you and admits that he's afraid of nothing (it turns out later that that's not quite true, he's afraid of pumpkins). The episode "Whatever floats your boat" features the following laugh: "The last time I saw my paddle, it was under the piano" - followed by the Cat taking off his hat, taking the piano out of it, and taking the paddle from under the piano.

Happy Halloween, everyone!

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Oct 3, 2022·edited Oct 3, 2022

I want to signal boost excellent work being done by Phil Magness and co-authors to try and prevent left leaning academics from tarring champions of markets and liberty using academically and intellectually dishonest techniques

Misrepresenting Mises: Quotation Editing and a Rejection of Peer Review at Cambridge University Press


Darity, Camara, and MacLean on William H. Hutt


The intellectual dishonesty they expose is stunning to me.

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How do people feel about claims that modern food has less nutrients/vitamins than in past generations? Variously attributed to modern agricultural practices leaching the soil, etc. And consequently from that- that we should be taking multivitamins or other nutrient supplements to make up for it? To date my nutrition philosophy has always been 'get the vitamins from actual food, not the basically unregulated supplement industry', so I've always eaten a lot of vegetables. But there does seem to be some decent research suggesting that modern food is less nutritious.

For instance, I've given my personal experience here before that taking magnesium supplements lowkey changed my life- reduced anxiety, even sharpened my vision. But I also currently consume 2 cups of dark leafy greens every day, and then another cup of other chopped vegetables. So it makes no sense that I should be magnesium-deficient- unless the 'modern food is less nutritious' hypothesis is correct.

And then if you've accepted that premise- are products like Athletic Greens actually nutritious? If they are, I'd probably consume one serving of that every day, and then do my usual salad on top of that too

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Does anyone have suggestions on how to learn about economics/finance?

I enjoy learning about most quantitative subjects, so I don't mind a mathematically heavy treatment. I've taken economics classes multiple times before, and have even done well, but for some reason I'm not able to internalize economic intuitions very well, and easily forget what I do learn. Notably, this isn't the case for me when it comes to other STEM fields.

Another, related, problem is that I'm not sure when to take conclusions of economic arguments seriously. For instance, you are taught in economics that imposing a minimum wage increases unemployment. Yet, I have seen claims that the empirical evidence suggests that this isn't the case. If such a basic conclusion turns out to be dubious, then how can I be confident that the rest of economics holds up? Is it then even worth learning the subject? Econometrics feels sketchy to me, too, as so many conclusions in causal inference seem to change depending on the variables you adjust for (e.g. see Scott's old post: https://slatestarcodex.com/2019/06/24/you-need-more-confounders/).

Finally, does anyone have suggestions on how to learn the basics of personal finance? I get stressed out right now when I have to think about money, and I feel like this is at least partly due to financial incompetence. Thanks.

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This is interesting. A startup whose business model is predicated on the belief that AI will be good enough to be widely used commercially but remain bad enough to not understand normal English.


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Has anyone ever actually defended an argument of the form "Jeff Bezos (or whoever) deserves to be a billionaire because he works so much harder than normal people"? I've seen quite a few leftists insisting that this is what the right believes, but almost every rightist argument I've seen relating to this point either justifies the wealth of billionaires by the value they create for society, or sidesteps questions of desert entirely by challenging the moral right of the government to take money from private individuals. I've never seen one that was based on "hard work". Is there any actual basis for this, or is it purely a strawman?

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Sketch of an argument: Either we are actually the only intelligent species in the universe and all statistical arguments are moot, or (self-improving) AI is impossible, or AI is not a Great Filter/X risk. Why? Because we don't see any AI colonizing the universe. We should expect to see an AI colonizing/strictly controlling the universe because if it didnt, it would be outcompeted by one that does.

Can this argument be fleshed out, has anyone done so, or is it fatally flawed somehow?

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Our local radio hosts, on both commercial talk radio and on the CBC

(the public broadcaster), often fail to speak in complete sentences. They frequently use phrases instead.


"The Jets, playing in Chicago tonight."

"The premier, expected to announce a cabinet shuffle later today."

"The health minister, alarmed by an uptick in COVID cases!"

etc., etc.

Of course it behooves me to finish their sentences, e.g.:

"The premier, expected to announce a cabinet shuffle later today, ATE GREEN EGGS AND HAM FOR LUNCH."

Is this just a local (Canadian Prairies) thing, or is it happening elsewhere?

If any of you also hear this, does it bug you too?

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What do people think about the Magnus / Hans chess cheating controversy?

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Where on earth do you think the most people have laughed?

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What do people imagine when they think of sensible legal immigration reform?

This seems to be one of those things a lot of people are in favor of, "if only Washington could get it's act together". But as I start to look into it, roughly ~50% of legal immigrants are immediate family members (spouse, child, parent) with another ~20% being extended family (brothers, grandparents, etc). (1) Now maybe people are planning on cutting out extended family (the whole chain migration issue) but...employment visas are ~20% and refugee/other are ~10%.

So what's the sensible immigration reform people are imagining? We're not going to stop someone spouse or child from joining them in America, but unless there's some reform to immediate family immigration. .. we're kinda just fiddling around the edges. Like, if 50% of the immigrants are untouchable (for pretty obvious reasons), what does this actually involve. Because when I ddg this stuff, I'm not finding anything that seems sensible.


(a) am I missing something?

(b) if not, what are people imagining as sensible immigration reform?

(c) what is the impact on the number of immigrants? Does sensible immigration reform mean more immigration? If not, who's getting decreased? So, if there's basically 4 immigrants (kids, grandparents, new employees, and refugees) who is winning and who is losing?

(1) https://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/frequently-requested-statistics-immigrants-and-immigration-united-states#permanent-immig

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I tried the stew also. I can't say I faithfully tried it as written with a mix of canned beans - I looked for canned butter beans, but there's a shortage of such things here - so I just cooked a package of some fancy heirloom dried white-ish beans I had. They are good beans but not necessarily as easily mashed as the recipe writer prescribed. I liked the recipe - was not, as hoped, blown away by these simple ingredients in combination - but appreciated that she gave me permission to try "Better Than Bouillon" vegetable stock base. Because let's face it, you seldom have more than a cup or two of vegetable stock socked away in the freezer; and beginning a pot of soup by first filling a pot and wringing the flavor out of vegetables that won't end up in the soup, is not always practical. Especially as I was already cooking the beans.

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Appreciated the in person meet up this weekend. 💓

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I'm organising a couple of conferences in Prospera, the startup city that Scott has written about multiple times.

Traveling to Honduras is not as scary or difficult as it sounds, especially if you're coming through Miami or Houston, which has direct flights.

Roatan is a beautiful, paradise Caribbean island with an excellent infrastructure.

Prospera Edtech Summit, October 28-30, 2022: https://infinitafund.com/edtech2022

Prospera Contech Summit, November 11-12, 2022: https://infinitafund.com/contech2022

Prospera Fintech Summit, November 18-20, 2022: https://infinitafund.com/fintech2022

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Oct 3, 2022·edited Oct 3, 2022

So... What do you all think of the poker controversy between Garrett Adelatein and Robbi Lew? Did Robbi win fair and square, or did she cheat via some as-yet-undiscovered method? I've tried to apply Bayesian reasoning and come to a different conclusion than many of the knee-jerk reactions I've seen online.

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Jonathan Haidt, prominent psychologist and author, quits an academic society due to forced wokery.


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Has any country ever tried a parliamentary system- where the Prime Minister is not accountable to the people (i.e. the lower house), but instead a different body? Options could include a Senate/council of states, or another non-directly elected body of elites that's effectively running the country. As a fan of 10% Less Democracy, I'd be curious to see other types of parliamentary systems that are less populist- you'd get the benefits of a replaceable head of state, but it'd be less based on the whims of the larger population. You could use a Senate that is elected but just to long terms (like 6-8 years), so that they could take a more longterm view as to the direction of the country.

Relatedly, a surprising number of national Senates are still not directly elected. Canada's is appointed by the PM to a lifetime (!) term, the Germans Irish Spanish and I think a couple others have their state legislatures elect them like the US-pre 17th Amendment. French Senators are picked by some kind of weird electoral college of the whole country's mayors or something. Whatever the House of Lords is. Etc. etc.

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So Elon M comes with new robot (barely walking) , Boston Dynamics has a robot that does parkour. It will be interesting to watch what they can do this time. Before he always jumped on industries that were non existent or barely existed. I will take my hat off to Tesla team if they can beat BD in their game.

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Fortunately, it looks like the days of Ukrainians needing to flee from their country are coming to an end. But they'll maybe be replaced by the Russians needing to flee from the Ukrainians' country.

And on a practical note, keep in mind that many of those fleeing Russia now were pretty OK with Russia trying to conquer Ukraine and are mostly objecting to having to do the dangerous parts themselves. It's a good thing to give those people an out, even if they are six months late in making the move, but if you're into helping refugees from this war, it's probably best to keep the Ukrainian refugees and the Russian refugees separate. Many of them will have friends and family who were killed by the others' friends and family, and they may not be in a forgiving mood.

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Been feeling down lately and this obscure band/song helped me through the worst of it, so here it is, in case someone else can enjoy it, as well. https://youtu.be/muemSk8WqNs

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In May, I asked people on an open thread to take a short, unscientific survey. I then turned it into my bachelor thesis in philosophy on emotion, have since graduated with very good grades, and now you can read it here: http://killermilchschnitte.de/uni/BA.pdf. All 67 ACX responses as well as responses from other samples are in the appendix.

The survey questions were "How are you feeling?", "Are you experiencing an emotion right now?" and "How do you know?", I reference the answers when discussing theories of emotion. I'm exploring how emotion can be differentiated from other things and distinctions between different types of emotion.

I also wrote down some less academic observations of the responses, I collected those on substack.

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I have a newsletter about three interesting things, once a week. Pretty simple.


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All of my substack eamails ended up in my trash folder. I've solved it by whitelisting them (no word back from support at panix). Has this happened to anyone else?

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Substack complaints/helpful fixes thread

Why did this substack switch back to showing new first as the default comment display setting? I thought we had lobbied pretty hard to get that incredibly toxic default changed. Is there any way to fix this on a user by user basis?

also I am still getting horrible bugs that make comments practically unusable. Whenever somebody replies to one of my comments, it is inpossible to discover the context, I only get the choice of seeing their reply or the huge list. Substack generates permalinks but doesn't give us access to them. Comments aren't indexed by google. All of this makes it literally impossible to have a conversation that goes on for more than one or two replies, as soon as something is not ctrl+f-able from the main list i might as well just give up.

On top of that, trying to find specific things from the past is impossible because the 'activity' page that substack uses is one of those nightmare infinite-load-scrolling pages that doesn't save your position, so every time you click 'back' it resets to the top, then I have to spend about 3 minutes scroll-loading to get back to where I was. It's impossible to open a comment in a new tab, because right clicking in the 'activities' section doesn't actually treat the comment like a link for some reason.

Whatever substack is paying you scott, I would like the opportunity to outbid them for you to move back to a fucking WordPress please

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Oct 2, 2022·edited Oct 2, 2022

I was planning to make the stew this week too.

I have a suspicion that it remains the top post on that substack not because of any particular transcendence, but because it contains the author's announcement of another high-profile project.

But I enjoy beans, and the author's attitude towards beans. So we shall see.

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That seems very faint praise about the stew! I was intrigued because I love dill, but putting it with cabbage doesn't work for my mental taste buds. Has anyone else tried it, is it really "yeah it's okay but I wouldn't go out of my way to make it" recipe?

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Trevor Klee recently wrote a critique of the FTX Future Fund, and in particular the Clearer Thinking regranters, for giving out too much money too quickly and creating bad effects for the EA community:



I think Trevor has quite an interesting point: "the insane amounts of money they’re spending is changing EA to being a social movement from being one where you expect to give money, to being one where you expect to get money." And this might attract grifters and rent-seekers.

There was lots of good discussion on Reddit and I'm interested in hearing more views. My own view is that it might be OK for most of the grants to be wasted if a few are hugely successful, but from what I've seen of the Clearer Thinking finalist list, it seems like there could be better ways to allocate money. In other words, Trevor pointed out:

"When you start giving out millions of dollars and ask for it to be used ASAP, there will be very few “shovel-ready” projects that can use the money. Concrete ideas are difficult to implement, take time to plan, and need and use money in stages. You know what doesn’t take time to plan and can use a lot of money quickly? Hiring a bunch of people to write think pieces."

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Can we get some discussion going about Joseph Henrich's book _The WEIRDest People in the World_?

Quick summary: Westerners are very psychologically unusual compared to other societies throughout the world, and this is responsible for the incredible success that western countries have experienced. The usual psychological outlook of westerners was caused by the Catholic Church's ban on cousin marriage during the middle ages, which had the side effect of breaking European clan hierarchies, and forcing westerners to adopt more a more individualistic mindset.

I find the theory fascinating, but I'm not completely convinced. I'm waiting for more evidence. (Maybe someone in this thread can provide it.) But this is one of those things that is "huge if true", so I keep thinking about it.

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Any home energy geeks want to give me tips on hunting a stubborn energy vampire?

I have a Tesla system with solar panels, a Powerwall, and a "Home Energy Gateway" box that ties the whole thing together. In the Tesla app I get a "real time" view of how much energy the house is using, how much the panels are producing, whether energy is going to/from battery or grid, etc. And there's a stats tab that gives readings of home energy use in an every-5-minutes timeseries, rounded to the nearest 0.1 kW, as well as daily, weekly, etc total usage in kWh.

I noticed from looking at these stats that even when I turn off "almost everything" to go on vacation, the house still uses 7-8 kWh per day, and the 5-minutely load never drops below 0.2 kW even in the dead of night. Now some of this is the largish built-in fridge and chest freezer, but they'd have to be reeeeally inefficient to account for that much usage, and more to the point, those are intermittent and not constant loads. I wanted to know what else was going on; I don't mind using a lot of energy on actual useful things, but I hate wasting it, and I like understanding my house better as a system even though it'll likely not save enough to be "worth my time".

So, one recent weekend, I did some experimentation with "really turning off everything." I got smart plugs for the appliances I know use standby power, and turned those off, after verifying that the power usage measured through the plugs wasn't anywhere near sufficient to account for the observed load. I turned off all lightswitches and thermostats, of course. And to catch the remaining stuff I went to the breaker panel and turned off almost all the breakers (exceptions discussed below). And still the real-time and 5-minutely load did not fall below 0.2 kW.

I'm now stumped. Here are my remaining hypotheses:

1. It's one of the exceptions, such as:

(a) the Internet router, which I can't turn off because then the data reporting would stop-- but the smart plug on that power strip shows a ~20W steady state draw, not nearly enough.

(b) An old security system control box, the kind that calls out to a company, which I inherited from the previous owner and haven't used in years, having installed modern DIY security instead. I can't tell which circuit that's on-- but it's hard to believe it would use a lot of standby power.

(c) Something else I'm just forgetting. I turned off the hot tub, heat pump, and EV charger all at the breakers, so it's not any of those, for example, but maybe I'm overlooking a common cause.

2. It's the Tesla system itself using all that constant standby power. I asked Tesla support about this and they couldn't give me a quantitative estimate for their system's standby usage-- not "that's confidential" but "we don't know"-- which surprised me.

3. It's measurement error.

Anyone have any ideas on which of these is most likely, whether there are other possibilities, and how to do better tests to find out? I could get a Sense or similar home energy monitor, but it's not clear what that would give me that I can't find out by turning breakers on and off and looking at the Tesla app stats.

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What is the point of foreign development efforts? They clearly don't work and in fact often make things worse, and unless done in some precise and yet unknown way, they are inevitably referred to as "neo-colonialism". So why bother, honestly? White guilt?

Though, not trying to help will receive similar criticism, and obviously if today's exact policies actually worked, they wouldn't be called "neo-colonialism", it would be "obviously they worked, white people just needed to give us wealth back after stealing it during colonialism, duh", which is to say that accusations of "neo-colonialism" are entirely opportunistic. But why help people who spit on you for trying or not trying to help? What is it going to take for you to realize this doesn't work? Some bright spark has some great theory about why previous efforts have failed but this new fangled approach is going to avoid the errors of all previous attempts at helping, and then this inevitably fails and a new theory comes along explaining why and the cycle seems to repeat indefinitely.

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I'm interested in having my whole genome sequenced in order to figure out possible causes of my chronic health issues. Does anyone have a recommendation for which service to use or other advice related to genetic testing?

The services I'm currently considering are Nebula Genomics, Dante Labs, and Sequencing.com, which all seem roughly equivalent from what I can tell.

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In my work I'm often trying to help people think about jobs and career, & I'm always wishing there was a list to consult of all the possible jobs there are. Is there anything like that? There are a few areas of life where I actually have a sense of what the various ob possibilities are, but regarding most I'm pretty ignorant. For instance, take the movie industry: Reading about Alec Baldwin's accident gave me a lot of new information about jobs on a movie set. For instance it had never occurred to me that there must be people who are specialists in firearm management on a set.

So anybody know of a book or an online database with this info?

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In any discussion on here about national differences and their causes, there's almost always multiple people coming in and saying it's "good institutions" that explains why some countries are more successful than others (most recently, last open thread, but virtually any time such discussions arise here).

I always find this very irritating, because "good institutions" is a very high-level fact about a country that is going to be driven by much more fundamental factors, but the concept is talked about as if it were akin to the country's natural resources or climate.

It's really only just a bit better than saying China produces more cars than Brazil because China has more car factories. Of course, building more car factories will allow you to build more cars, but if that's all there were to it, why doesn't Brazil just build more car factories? That true cause of the difference are much more fundamental than this. "Good institutions" is actually worse than this in a sense because there isn't some explicit "good institution" policy that a government can pass that neatly explains the differences between countries (the way a national economic policy aimed at expanding car production can). It isn't even "democracy" - China is much more functional than a great many "democracies" in the world.

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I have a couple of questions on American habits. Firstly, why do they peck at their food with just a fork, instead of using a knife and fork like normal human beings? :-) The only advantage I can see is that it saves washing up! Also, why do they hold torches back-handed, pointing down at the floor like some ham actor holding a dagger almost backwards, unless they raise their arms vertically like a telegraph arm? It seems a most cumbersome, unnatural way to hold a torch.

I suspect that in fact most Americans use a knife and fork, and hold torches properly, and the bizarre habits we see in films are mostly a Holywood affectation, rather like the way incoming meteors in films have to look like burning smoking toffee apples even though everyone these days knows they actually glow steadily with a bluish white light.

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I'm conducting a 2-minute survey to better understand how people with niche interests (attempt to) find friends. Any help is greatly appreciated!


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Do you know of a good review of the empirical literature on what makes a new business/startup succeed ?

I read the unicorn's shadow by Ethan Mollick but it relied on a a lot of small samples. Do you know of anything in that genre but hopefully better ?

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Oct 2, 2022·edited Oct 2, 2022

That description of the very different theories on how inspiration works is a pretty good start. Its super complex and has huge implications downstream in terms of hermeneutics, pedagogy, exposition and application.

Most Christians in the west fall into some version of verbal/plenary/inerrant as a function of the (controlled in some way by God) life context of the person writing the assumed inspired text. They don't really think about it much though.

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The food article "Twenty Twenty Stew" was probably her top-ranked post not because it's the best stew ever, but because in it she offhandedly announces that she's releasing a TV show on CNN+.

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Oct 2, 2022·edited Oct 2, 2022Author


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deletedOct 2, 2022·edited Oct 2, 2022
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