Indeed, Summitrecoup is the best charge back company out there, reached out to them after seeing their reviews to help recover my investment and they did just that and more. I’ve been scammed twice by fake recovery companies But Summitrecoup com showed why they’re different and Legit. Got back all my funds.

Expand full comment

Reading Unsigned Integer's explanation of wage rigidity reminds me of the bit in Seeing Like a State where the local lord absolutely would not raise the grain tax from "one basket" to "one and a half baskets" because that would cause riots, but they would try everything else - stretching the basket so it becomes slightly larger, pouring the grain from a greater height so it compacts more etc.

Over here in the UK, where everyone from train drivers to university lecturers to the postal service has either gone on strike recently or will be doing so soon, the equivalent of fiddling with the grain basket seems to come down to: (1) awarding pay rises below inflation, (2) messing with parameters like the percentage of wages that go into the pension scheme, or the conditions of the scheme, (3) expecting workers to work longer hours for the same pay and conditions (overtime in the UK is mostly unpaid).

Expand full comment
User was banned for this comment. Show
Expand full comment

Here is the story of an experiment started in the Soviet Union back in the 50s, trying to domesticate foxes, which turned out to be wildly successful.


I'd like to replicate that, concentrated very strong artificial selection, but for intelligence, not for domestication.

Starting either with dogs or capuchins, double the population of the Belyaev experiments.

Back of the napkin calculations, this would cost somewhere around $90k per year (Eastern Europe is much cheaper than the US).

Are there any ways to get this funding?

VC funding expects returns with 5-10 years horizon.

Scientific grants would not be sufficient (again, Eastern Europe).

EU grants are mostly for politically acceptable targets, not weird stuff like this.

EA grants would not be appropriate either, it doesn't save lives.

Tech billionaires? Lesser known funds? Anything else?

Expand full comment

The newest post restricts comments to subscribers only? Since when is that a thing?

Expand full comment

What would the SCOTUS look like if it required an 80% supermajority in the Senate to be elected to it, and instead of/as well as the president, any Senator (or just the majority and minority whips?) could nominate a justice to be voted on?

Expand full comment

Practical(?) question: how can I signal that I am a shape rotator while only using words?

Expand full comment

AI art generation + 3D printing seems like a low-labor low-cost solution to a lot of the complaints about modern architecture here: https://astralcodexten.substack.com/p/highlights-from-the-comments-on-modern

Baumol's cost disease makes masonry keep getting more expensive in real terms, until we automate the masons, and we're very nearly there.

Expand full comment

I recall reading a blog post by a woman who was warning against mindfulness meditation potentially being harmful. I think I'm her case she said it slowed her reaction times and increased the severity of her visual snow. I can't seem to find it, anyone remember this?

Edit: Of course I found it as soon as I posted: https://hollyelmore.substack.com/p/i-believed-the-hype-and-did-mindfulness-meditation-for-dumb-reasons-now-im-trying-to-reverse-the-damage

Expand full comment

Apropos to nothing, a (small, underpowered) study (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1877042811018805) finding a strong number-of-siblings and birth-order correlation for... whether you'll be beaten by your parents.

"For parents, both physical and verbal severity scores of those with one child were higher than those with two children."

"The results showed that the second children in families are more beaten than the first child."

If this correlation survived a high-powered study, I feel like this could explain a lot about birth-order effects.

Expand full comment


A crazy notion... Maybe people eat meat because it makes them feel good. Not for some psychological reason, but there's (also) some physiological reason which is not yet understood.

If you want people to not eat meat, perhaps the right direction of research isn't to invent a plant-based thing which is indistinguishable from meat while you're eating it, but rather something which is pleasant enough and is a good physiological match for meat.

Evidence: I know a couple of vegetarians who went back to eating some meat after years of not eating meat, and it really did seem to be more about health.

Expand full comment

The BBC has an interesting story about LNG ships waiting around off the coasts of Europe, just chillin'.


The behemoths are waiting. Off the coasts of Spain, Portugal, the UK and other European nations lie dozens of giant ships packed full of liquefied natural gas (LNG).

Cooled to roughly -160C for transportation, the fossil fuel is in very high demand. Yet the ships remain at sea with their prized cargo.

After invading Ukraine in February, Russia curtailed gas supplies to Europe, sparking an energy crisis that sent the price of gas soaring. That led to fears of energy shortages and eye-watering bills for consumers.

"It's built up for about, I would say, five to six weeks," says Augustin Prate, vice president of energy and commodity markets at Kayrros, one of many observers who has watched the situation unfold.

He and colleagues track ships via AIS (Automatic Identification System) signals, which are broadcast by vessels to receivers, including on satellites.

"Clearly it's a big story," he says.

Expand full comment

That's not the main reason why increases in the minimum wage might not decrease employment; the standard argument from economists is based on non-competitive markets for labor, *especially* at the low end. When labor markets are monopsonistic (a monopoly but in reverse; only one buyer), it makes sense for an employer to artificially lower the wages it offers. You can almost think of it as the Marxist-style "reserve army of labor," except it's not held together by magic class-consciousness glue. If you're the only employer, refusing to create enough jobs for all workers so that you can drive their wages down is a viable strategy. (Unlike in a competitive market, where all that does is drive those workers to different employers and leave you without a workforce.)

To be clear, monopsonies are not all that common in labor markets as a whole. But low-income labor markets are a *lot* less competitive, particularly in rural areas where you can easily have a single Walmart or a factory that provides a third of a town's employment and most of its low-education jobs.

Economists generally agree that in the long run, nominal wages are fairly flexible, because employees move between jobs, at which point wages become "Unstuck." Even if they weren't, under the model in that comment, minimum wages would still damage employment and the economy overall. In the commenter's rigid-wage model, wages are too high in boom times, but in a bust, wages will be too low. If that's the case, setting high minimum wages will cause high unemployment in recessions, which will more than compensate the higher employment during booms.

Expand full comment

Sorry for the overly broad question, but what do you guys do for stress?

I try to rationalize my way out of it e.g stress is useless and isn't helpful, but this is typically a short term solution and the pit in my stomach inevitably comes back. I try to meditate but this is also short term. Any ideas?

Expand full comment
Oct 25, 2022·edited Oct 25, 2022

A quick question for the people living in California (and/or any other high tax US state). I am having a genuinely hard time understanding how the tax rate there is so high, and yet the public goods are so… non existent.

For reference: with Germany’s tax rate, if you are making about 100,000 euro, you pay 36.5% taxes (https://incomeaftertax.com/100000-after-tax-de). If you live in California, and make $101,100 (aka about 100,000 euro) you pay 30.1% (https://www.talent.com/tax-calculator?salary=101100&from=year&region=California). (And I think California tax rate exceeds German tax rate in the top income brackets). They get free health care, free university, pensions, actually working trains, great unemployment (the government will give you unemployment for life, if you need it), maternity/paternity leave etc.

Small differences, I understand. Differences in priorities, I understand. Low tax rates/Thatcherism, I hate (but understand). But I really do not understand how two places with comparable tax rates and ideals can be THIS different. Is it a culture thing? Corruption?

An alternative question: is there anything that California’s government does better? Like at all? Is there something that I am over looking here.

I friend recently asked me this question, and I don't have a good answer-- any thoughts?

Expand full comment


They'll let you know about the political orientation of where news stories are covered.

I subscribed, but I eventually found I wasn't getting around to using it. Still.... they *notified* me when my subscription was coming up for renewal so I could make a choice about whether or not to keep paying, and I think they deserve some publicity for that.

Expand full comment

Question for y'all, only a little inspired by Scott's recent house parties posts.

How does one go about hosting one of these? I spent most of college studying, and now that I actually have: a space to host in (in a few months hopefully), people around me who seem fun who I'd like to get to know better, and a few years spent working on social skills; I'd like to host a party.

Do I just... send an email? This feels almost like an ugh field to me, like I really don't know how it works but maybe it's not as complicated as it seems? Is there more to making it half-decent than getting food/drink, putting on some music, and being welcoming? Is there some form of social capital that drives whether people actually want to come, or is an email going to land in inboxes & invoke an "ew" in the recipient? Do I have to state a socially acceptable reason for hosting to get invitation responses?

Are these even the right questions?

And if it's not actually complicated, is there a way I can make it... fun? I.e. with as little material for another post like Scott's as possible

Really just out here yeeting questions in search of advice for someone who's never been too skilled socially. Anything helps!

Expand full comment


Three interesting things, once a week.

Expand full comment

Anyone here a fan of Star Trek? The DS9 episode 'Statistical Probabilities' reminds me in some ways of the rationalist-adjacent community (no insult intended, as I include myself in this group). Lots of success in forecasting and understanding things that most people wouldn't see, but excessive confidence in longer-term predictions and overreliance on game theory. Curious what others thought of the episode, and also happy to hear other Trek-related thoughts.

Expand full comment

I have some requests for fiction / surprise that they don't exist.

I've had a recurring fantasy since childhood of showing magical modern technology to various people in the past, or explaining recent history to them and seeing how they react. I'm not essential to this picture, just the fact of seeing someone having to absorb all the stuff that's happened in the however many hundreds of years they've been gone. I get that this has been done for present-day protagonists adapting to the future (e.g. Futurama, Samurai Jack, Idiocracy). However, I'm not aware of any past-into-present stories other than the film "Er Ist Wieder Da" (Look Who's Back) about Hitler waking up in modern-day Germany. But that's a comedy with a deliberately controversial premise while what I really want is a non-comedy about someone like a famous scientist or philosopher, a random peasant from the middle ages, or an ancient Assyrian king. Doctor Who might be an obvious place to look, but it's optimised for different stories to this. The TARDIS auto-translates languages which deprives us of an entire host of interesting issues to do with language evolution, improvised communication, themes of being alone in a familiarly human yet incomprehensible modern environment. I'd want to see those, the point being it's set in the *present* with no sci-fi besides whatever mechanism caused the time jump in the first place. Premise: so-and-so from the past wakes up in the modern world. Then ask: what would happen next, realistically? (if the answer is "die of shock / a modern disease" then we relax the realism to get an interesting story.)

Another spin on this would be a present-day person surviving in the distant past, maybe trying and failing to make interventions like advocating the germ theory of disease. Or if they have an extensive knowledge of history, compiling a huge list of very specific predictions for future wars or disasters (we'd obviously have to do something about the fact that such an act might itself change the course of history and render most of the predictions false, but this won't be the case for astronomical events or scientific knowledge.) The Man From Earth (highly recommended) didn't do this, but it's in the same ballpark and I enjoyed its story.

Perhaps all this is stemming from a desire for fiction that requires me to put myself in the shoes of a completely different person with different values in order to even comprehend the story. To truly experience a concrete example of the past being a foreign country where they do things differently. The same feeling Scott's Tumblr pills story gave me at the beginning:

> Nobody is the villain of their own life story ... Everybody thinks of themselves as an honest guy or gal just trying to get by, constantly under assault by circumstances and The System and hundreds and hundreds of assholes. They don’t just sort of believe this. They really believe it. You almost believe it yourself, when you’re deep into a reading. You can very clearly see the structure of evidence they’ve built up to support their narrative, and even though it looks silly to you, you can see why they will never escape it from the inside. You can see how every insult, every failure, no matter how deserved, is a totally unexpected kick in the gut.

(from https://slatestarcodex.com/2015/06/02/and-i-show-you-how-deep-the-rabbit-hole-goes/)

I ache for the opposite of the bullshit mindset that "depiction = endorsement"; that a protagonist must be *good* or likeable or not have any weird or immoral beliefs. To me, Starship Troopers is valuable as showing you what fascism must have felt like from the inside: your enemies appear to you like irredeemable non-human insectoid monsters who need exterminating. I want to see what life was like from the POV of some Bronze-age patriarch --- perhaps hallucinating command spirits a la Jaynes -- in a world where both men and women would laugh at the idea of gender equality; where you could just invade and conquer a land because you get resources and slaves and that's seen as a perfectly normal thing (rather than having to couch it as "self-defence" or "Special Military Operation".) Not that I think we'd be better off with any of that, it's just fun to inhabit that distance and feel the poignant WTF factor referenced by the quote.

Finally, what about "return to monke"? Imagine living in the environment your body and mind actually evolved for! At least, as a knee-jerk reaction to our modern problems. Constant exercise; you only have to worry about the opinions of less than Dunbar's number of people; insert something about mating. I hear some amazing things about dental health compared to agro societies. And everything has an explanation! Anything weird happens because of spirits, your dearly beloved recently-deceased aren't truly gone. Slaughtering the outgroup is as moral as it is fun! Do moral quandaries even exist in this world? I envy this "fit" of mental architecture from my position as an atomised 21st-century materialist schlub in a vast world of superstimuli, quantum mechanics and half-decent moral principles.

Obviously this is a rosy picture and others have said it all better. The relevant point is I would certainly enjoy sampling the perspective our distant ancestors had on the world. The thing is, there are all sorts of historical dramas set in various civilizations ... but not so much for hunter-gatherers and their even less relatable lives. What sort of problems did they have to solve, what metaphors and jokes did they use? Could you write a decent romance in this setting? There should be enough man-vs-man and man-vs-nature conflict there for something interesting. In the worst case there needn't even be a "story" but just a documentary following (fictional) people through the events of a day or year.

So, does this resonate with anyone or remind them of stuff they could recommend? Movies or TV shows preferred, but written stories or other formats are OK in second place. If all else fails, and I'm patient enough, then maybe one day I can just type a prompt into an AI movie generator...!

Expand full comment
Oct 24, 2022·edited Oct 24, 2022

test comment: <i>italics</i> <b>bold</b> <a href="www.example.com">link</a>

> quote

(Sorry, I've barely commented before and I want to make sure I can do these things)

Expand full comment

Does anyone know of a history of bounty hunting for animals? It seems like an interesting chunk of history, and sometimes has driven animals to extinction or lowered their population a lot, but I've never seen a resource on the subject.

Expand full comment

Any thoughts about how to avoid hiring people who are likely to do something awful?

Expand full comment

I appreciate not wanting to unduly bias reader judgement by showing a comment's likes, but I wish that it were possible to ❤️ comments in a way that only the commenter could see that others appreciated the thoughtfulness/work that went into their comment. Currently I have to either give them $10 or clutter up the comment thread by praising their comment.

Expand full comment

So I came across this story in my news feed - https://thehill.com/regulation/court-battles/3701369-california-baker-wins-case-over-same-sex-wedding-cake/ - and I wondered, as I have previously whenever such stories about wedding cake baking come up, not about the legalities of the claim, but rather why this is a battle worth fighting at all from the perspective of the plaintiffs - i.e., why not just go to another bakery that aligns with your beliefs, rather than incur significant additional cost to force someone you disagree with to accept money from those with your beliefs in the future? Is there something about wedding cakes that's inherently "important" enough to be worth fighting over? Is the niche so small and bakers so hard to find that it's worth fighting over? It doesn't seem like it would be that small a niche to me, but I'll admit to not having researched that side of the issue at all.

I'm probably blind to something here, coming at it from a cis white dude perspective, but "wedding cakes from THIS SPECIFIC BAKERY even if they don't want to sell to me" seems like a particularly weird piece of ground to battle over.

Expand full comment

Anyone know any good, up-to-date, research about how to accurately discern domain expertise? Or how differentiate experts from novices? I've read most of the classic papers on this topic, just wondered if anyone knew any less well-known papers, or blog posts, or books that are worth reading?

Expand full comment
Oct 24, 2022·edited Oct 24, 2022

Any recommendations/suggestions for book that look at the phenomenon of the global 19 and 20th century Indian diaspora/migration? When I say this, I’m thinking of the grand flows of migration settled the Indo-populations of the Caribbean, Southeast-Asia, and Africa. Less so the post WW2 migration to US, UK, etc.

I’m thinking particularly something along the lines of Grand histories such as Replenishing the Earth, Fischer’s Albion’s Seed or the Formation of New Societies.

I would not want anything ‘ethnic or critical studies’ and the more stodgy facts or numbers, the better!

Part of me feels like I came across such a book and forgot, or I dreamt it..

Expand full comment
Oct 24, 2022·edited Oct 24, 2022

Has anyone ever heard of Naboso insoles?


I wear minimalist/barefoot-style shoes because I have ankylosing spondylitis and for some reason zero-drop minimalist shoes reduce my back and hip pain. These insoles seem popular in the barefoot shoes community, claiming to help with posture and foot fatigue, but it all looks like snake oil to me. Is there any reason that these "proprioceptive" insoles would actually help with posture and reduce fatigue?

[Also, is "bad posture" actually a thing?]

Expand full comment

Peter Zeihan put out a video recently on the Jones Act: https://youtu.be/Sc128K695R0. I tend to agree with him, but am finding it hard to play devil's advocate--I may have a blindspot on this issue. Can anyone tell me why we shouldn't significantly update the law, or why congress can't or won't (other than low-priority/laziness, and perhaps a small union lobby)?

Expand full comment

Etiquette question. How do folks feel about starting multiple, controversial comment threads within six hours on an open thread?

Yes, this is about le_berger_des_photons. At this point, approximately a quarter of the comments on this thread are them, or people responding to them.

Expand full comment

What are we all doing for legal drugs, for entertainment/killing time on a weekend night? Emphasis on the world 'legal', please. To date I've tried experimenting with marijuana (legal in my state, I enjoy the drinks much more than the smokeable form), small amounts of alcohol (I don't enjoy more than 2 drinks), kratom, and kava off and on. I do like kratom probably most of all, but it's chemically related to opioids, and it also makes me nauseous after a couple of hours, so I tend to be sparing with it. Kava can be quite fun but requires drinking a large gross-tasting concoction, it's rough on the digestive system, and it doesn't last that long.

A couple of drinks and 25mg of CBD seems to be a nice combination to mellow out, watch Netflix etc., while not being super-strong. I've tried making experimental mixes of half a marijuana drink (so 1.25mg of THC and CBD all-in) and a small amount of kratom, haven't quite found the perfect combination there but I'm working on it.

Does anyone else have anything different they use to while away a Friday or Saturday night? My apologies to Scott if it's an inappropriate question, I can delete. Obviously this is not meant to be an illegal drug discussion

Expand full comment
Oct 24, 2022·edited Oct 24, 2022

trigger warning: suicide, drug abuse, pregnancy, irresponsible parenting

I know a woman who is a former opioid addict who raised healthy and happy children. Bless her heart. I also know another former opioid addict who killed herself after miscarrying. She's finally found peace.

I also know a third former opioid user who seems to be struggling with some sort of drastic personality change in the first trimester of pregnancy: it's looks like something overrides her decision making and emotional self-regulation, in a way that might be acutely detrimental to the well-being and mental health of a young child. And I worry about her, as well as about her unborn child: what sort of life would that child have? Would parental trauma doom that child to repeating the same self-destructive patterns?

I am still working through the consequences of being born to a mentally unstable mother, who only mellowed out somewhat after entering menopause, and to this day refuses to admit that certain traumatic episodes that have burned themselves into my memory took place. So I suspect that a culture-bound self-fulfilling prophecy kind of thing acts as the triggering factor: anxieties about child-rearing and self-worth in a patriarchal society, and persistent failure of loved ones to respond appropriately, could definitely drive someone to self-harm, drug abuse, general risk-seeking behavior, and (perhaps most harmfully) a sort of persistent psychological blind spot that would negatively affect a child's upbringing and initial psychological makeup, perhaps to a crippling degree.

So I came here to ask: does my model of the above make sense? Furthermore, is there a biochemical connection between the effects of opioids and those of pregnancy on the human brain?

Expand full comment

It feels like a strange coincidence for Scott to have a "HOT or not?" discussion this week, me feeling pretty ambivalent either way, and then suddenly this OT has caused me to update strongly in a decisive direction. All part of the plan!

(Counterpoint to more frequent OTs: some other blogs do them super frequently, like one a day, and those get basically ~no traffic despite similar sized readerships. The 1k+ comments on ACX OTs are intimidatingly numerous and cause technical problems, but I'd much rather have that sort of lively activity than a dead mic. Lends a certain liveliness to the place, rather than feeling like a passive commentariat that just comes out of the woodwork to react to author posts.)

Expand full comment

Anyone here read this pair of posts? The blog is only a couple of degrees separation from this one, so apologies if this has been discussed before.



I can't tell if this is like, insane or not. I can totally buy that skilled people can use body language, suggestion etc. in order to manipulate others. But the effect claimed here seems very large. And even if it works, would being able to make people feel terrified without them actually knowing why be a generally useful tool for getting your own way?

Expand full comment

I'm 5'10" and I've been fluctuating between 205lb and 230lb since 2019. This comes after I was 260 to 280lb for about a decade previously. Obviously I'm thrilled about having lost so much weight from my previous state, but I get so frustrated by being unable to get below 200lb.

There's been a good deal of talk lately about new weight loss drugs, like semaglutide, which are really repurposed diabetes drugs. The scary thing about these drugs is that they all seem to come with an increased risk of thyroid cancer, at least in animal trials. Can anyone speak to this? It seems to me that unless I were so obese that I could barely get up stairs, the prospect of thyroid cancer is so scary that it doesn't seem worth it to try such drugs. Am I overestimating the risk? Is there anyone here who knows more about these drugs that can speak to the risk benefit trade-off?

Expand full comment

> I’m wondering if the open threads would be more manageable if they happened more often,

Why not just add an additional OT (and leave the HOT as it is)?

Expand full comment

Agree or disagree: all reasoning is motivated. The real difference between the rationalist movement and other groups is our particular value system that emphasizes map-territory alignment as good, instead of the things other groups say are good.

Expand full comment

What are average wages for US computer programmers who know machine learning, are provably very good at math, and just out of a good state college?

Expand full comment

As a subscriber, I prefer the closed thread just for having a lot less activity. I’d be disappointed to see it permanently replaced by another open thread even if the open threads improve substantially.

Expand full comment

First time posting to this site. Really. Amazing open thread. So many cognitive styles in evidence. The diversity of the human mind is incredible! Key to our species success, I imagine. Cognitive antibodies to any possible cognitive disease.

Expand full comment


Recent interview with Robert Sapolsky.

Sapolsky talks about wanting to live in an empire as pathological, which it might be, but is there evidence that life in an empire is actually better? Worse? Good when it's good and bad when it breaks?

Interesting claim that some people don't just verbally agree with a group which makes false claims about which line is longer, some people affect their memories to eventually see the shorter line as longer. Sapolsky calls this "internal compliance".

A claim that desert cultures lead to monotheism and valorizing dying in battle, while rain forest cultures don't do either. Vikings seem like a partial counterexample-- plenty of water, but valorize dying in battle.

An account of the Christmas truce in WWI-- it's different than "Christmas in the Trenches"-- a brief truce was declared by the Pope for people to retrieve and bury their dead, and led to cooperation between the sides until the officers forced a resumption of fighting with threats of execution.

Disagreement with Pinker about when war was invented. And that peace was less stable that peace didn't become all that stable.


Suggests, using 1800s Sweden (a very violent place) that people may be continue to be arrogant and hierarchical, but can be convinced to be proud of different things.

Values and behavior can change a lot faster than genes.

Expand full comment
Oct 24, 2022·edited Oct 24, 2022

Say you wanted to raise a genius. How would you go about doing that?

Assuming that your starting with an above average intelligence child with a greater likelihood of naturally becoming a "genius", can appropriate environmental/educational interventions substantially increase the child's potential for becoming one?

A couple of anecdotes say yes:

(1) Scott's review of "The Man From The Future" (https://astralcodexten.substack.com/p/book-review-the-man-from-the-future) shows that Von Neumann, besides from obvious his obvious genetic advantage, benefited from growing up in a very resourceful family environment with rich exposure to top intellectuals & domain experts from all kinds of fields and private tutors.

(2) Laszlo Polgar's "Raise A Genius" (https://slatestarcodex.com/2017/07/31/book-review-raise-a-genius/) suggests that the key is "early specialization" in a subject chosen under the parent's discretion (as long as the child enjoys the subject) in conjunction with 1:1 tutoring and having access to peers that are "mentally appropriate partners."

The field of behavioral genetic paints a somewhat different picture:

Most if not all psychological traits including intelligence being highly heritable, as long as you don't severely mess up your parenting (eg abuse, malnutrition), the specifics of your parenting strategy won't influence your child's outcome that much. Social/educational interventions just ... aren't as effective as one may expect them to be a priori.

But these two views aren't incompatible; some possibilities include:

(1) Tail-effects in education: Since interventions have to scale, they end up being mediocre to "what could be possible." Perhaps having a Really Good Education (like what Von Neumann had) has disproportionate effects on one's life outcomes/genius-ness in a way that standard social/educational intervention RCTs can't capture.

(2) Tail-effects in genetics: Just like how people with very low-intelligence seem to be fundamentally bounded (https://www.gwern.net/reviews/McNamara) in terms of the tasks they're capable of (regardless of the education they receive), a similar effect might be going on with normal intelligence folks where there's rapidly diminishing return to improved education—i.e. education scales better with individuals genetically predisposed to be smarter.

(3) Both (1) and (2), where geniusness is a "leaky pipeline (https://www.gwern.net/notes/Pipeline)" in which you need both tail-end education and tail-end genetics to become a "genius."

What is the actual underlying dynamic of "genius production"? My hunch is that things are closer to (3), considering how Von-Neumann-type intellect is much rarer compared to the number of individuals that grew up having access to his level of resources. Also remember, the causal influence is bidirectional (https://psyarxiv.com/pqf78/).

Is there any prior work on "designing literally the Best Form of Education that's conducive to genius production" (provided that the child is genetically predisposed enough to actually benefit from them)?

Longitudinal studies like SMPY (https://www.gwern.net/SMPY) comes into mind, but I don't know whether studies like these have been distilled enough to validate the practices of Neumann/Polgar, or produce novel insights for (non-mass-consumption) education.

Expand full comment

The UK's in a rough spot economically, on top of a decade of stagnant growth, and several decades of stagnant wages. A lot of young people are living materially poorer lives than their parents and maybe even their grandparents. Most of the western world is similar.

I'm wondering if there's any disagreement that we need a change of economic system comparable to the New Deal/post war consensus or the neoliberal revolution. If so what what sort of system do people favour?

It seems like our options are to be more free market then neoliberalism, return to social democracy, or move to something even further to the left than that. All those possibilities look quite radical or tried-and-failed. And there doesn't seem to much political pressure for reform, beyond just expanding the money supply.

Does anyone think this crisis will work itself out or is overblown?

sorry if it's too broad a topic for an open thread.

Expand full comment

The NYTimes has a good article about impediments to solving the homeless problem in LA:


In 2016, the people of Los Angeles overwhelmingly passed Proposition HHH, a ballot measure that raised $1.2 billion through a higher property tax to create 10,000 new apartments for the homeless. “The voters of Los Angeles have radically reshaped our future,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said, “giving us a mandate to end street homelessness over the next decade.”

Six years later, neither the mandate nor the money has proved to be nearly enough. In 2016, Los Angeles had about 28,000 homeless residents, of whom around 21,000 were unsheltered (that is, living on the street). The current count is closer to 42,000 homeless residents, with 28,000 unsheltered. Prop HHH has built units, but slowly, and at eye-popping cost. The city says that 3,357 units have been built, and the most recent audit found the average cost was $596,846 for units under construction — more than the median sale price for a home in Denver. Some units under construction have cost more than $700,000 to build.

Karen Bass and Rick Caruso, the candidates vying to replace Garcetti, don’t tend to agree on much, but they agree that HHH hasn’t lived up to its promise. “To spend that kind of money per unit makes no basic common sense if you know anything about building,” Caruso told me.

Bass wasn’t much kinder. “If I’m elected as mayor, I want to go in and deal with homelessness like it’s a hurricane,” she said. “I want to say: In ordinary times we have all these requirements, but this is a hurricane — we need to get people off the streets immediately. A lot of the rules and regulations that are there in ordinary times need to be relaxed.”

Expand full comment

Universal Basic Income eliminates any effect on employment. UBI, not unemployment benefits.

Expand full comment
Oct 24, 2022·edited Oct 24, 2022

Fans of truly niche games may be interested in the Finnish Army Simulator, which aims to recreate the experience of Finnish conscript service, including the parts that suck.


Expand full comment
Oct 24, 2022·edited Oct 24, 2022

For curiosity, i was looking at the site of my country's EA organisation and its list of suggested charities. In particular, for AI and x-risk they suggested MIRI.

But how effective is MIRI, really? I personally don't think AI foom is possible and i don't think AI is an x-risk, but let us accept the argument that it is an x-risk and we need alignment reaserch. How much has MIRI practically accomplished in terms of alignment reaserch? Is MIRI reaserch well established in the AI field, since they don't seem to publish that much in peer reviewed journals? How much ideas and techniques developed by MIRI are being used in practice to align current day AIs?

Expand full comment

I really enjoyed the recent Bay Area House Party post, and I was thinking about how you could write a similar Foreigners in Korea House Party piece while I was reading it, but then I realized I'm a decade or more out of date and I had no idea of what they're like these days. Do the Seoul Players even still write and perform plays? Are any of them still in Korea? They would have been one of the groups.

It was interesting to reflect on that idea, in the context of the aging self, and on how while once I may have been horrified to be so far out of the loop, these days I have made my own loops and I am more than content to be headed in new directions. Really fun to think about how my points of reference have changed, and how personal growth is an uneven process.

Expand full comment

This is an update to my long-running attempt at predicting the outcome of the Russo-Ukrainian war. Previous update is here: https://astralcodexten.substack.com/p/open-thread-241/comment/9002861.

20 % on Ukrainian victory (up from 15 % on September 12).

I define Ukrainian victory as either a) Ukrainian government gaining control of the territory it had not controlled before February 24, regardless of whether it is now directly controlled by Russia (Crimea), or by its proxies (Donetsk and Luhansk "republics”), without losing any similarly important territory and without conceding that it will stop its attempts to join EU or NATO, b) Ukrainian government getting official ok from Russia to join EU or NATO without conceding any territory and without losing de facto control of any territory it had controlled before February 24, or c) return to exact prewar status quo ante.

45 % on compromise solution that both sides might plausibly claim as a victory (unchanged).

35 % on Ukrainian defeat (down from 40 % on September 12).

I define Ukrainian defeat as Russia getting what it wants from Ukraine without giving any substantial concessions. Russia wants either a) Ukraine to stop claiming at least some of the territories that were before war claimed by Ukraine but de facto controlled by Russia or its proxies, or b) Russia or its proxies (old or new) to get more Ukrainian territory, de facto recognized by Ukraine in something resembling Minsk ceasefire(s)* or c) some form of guarantee that Ukraine will became neutral, which includes but is not limited to Ukraine not joining NATO. E.g. if Ukraine agrees to stay out of NATO without any other concessions to Russia, but gets mutual defense treaty with Poland and Turkey, that does NOT count as Ukrainian defeat.


Main news now is that usually reliable Institute for the Study of War reports imminent Russian withrdrawal from their large bridgehaead on the western side of the Dnieper river (around Kherson).

This is important for two reasons: a) until Russians are squatting on the west bank, key Ukrainian industrial cities of Krivij Rih and Mikolajiv are in jeopardy. If they were made to withdraw, it is unlikely they will cross the Dnieper ever again. Ukraine would be thus free to pursue more aggressive strategy and less inclined to negotiate under duress. b) it destroys Russian credibility among local collaborators, whose, um, collaboration, they need to govern occupied territories. Few days ago Putin declared that Kherson is forever part of Russia, now apparently not.

*Minsk ceasefire or ceasefires (first agreement did not work, it was amended by second and since then it worked somewhat better) constituted, among other things, de facto recognition by Ukraine that Russia and its proxies will control some territory claimed by Ukraine for some time. In exchange Russia stopped trying to conquer more Ukrainian territory. Until February 24 of this year, that is.

Expand full comment

Jeremiah 31:37 feels very Unsong-y, but I don't remember it being mentioned. What are other verses remind you of Unsong?

37 Thus saith the Lord; If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the Lord.

Expand full comment

There's this idea that strife in post-colonial Africa is primarily a result of Europeans "drawing borders" in Africa, resulting in the creation of countries that do not correspond to natural boundaries between tribes/ethnic groups, meaning these groups were forced to live together in the same country together. This is almost universally believed by people on the left (and is even common amongst people who are more or less apolitical) and is a "fact" recited entirely uncritically virtually any time there's a discussion on why decolonization has been a monumental failure (in producing the kind of functional, progressive countries western liberals were so confident it would). It's the received truth about the world and you're some kind of weird racist if you don't see its obvious accuracy. 

This is really kind of insane to me. Just think about what being said: Ethnic diversity leads to political conflict, war and even genocide. This is the barely implicit belief being held by the same people who think diversity is the greatest thing in the world. This is the belief being held by people who think there should be virtually unlimited immigration to western countries regardless of the racial, ethnic, cultural, religious, political and linguistic differences between immigrants and the existing populations of the countries. This is the belief of people who think race is a "social construct" and the only reason "black people" are viewed as being distinct from "white people" is because of racist white eugenicist ideologies. 

Imagine if somebody in Minnestoa said they want to commit genocide because they're being forced to live around Somalians. They would be considered demented psychopaths for feeling this way. But for Africa, this is not simply an understandable kind of mindset, it's the "expected" outcome of postcolonial diversity. OF COURSE there's war, of course Africans are butchering and raping each other, you made them live alongside a different tribe! 

Now, it's at this point I usually get some kind of reply where people attempt to say that I'm misrepresenting what is being argued, and that "I think what people are actually saying is [insert unrealistic steelman position here]". No, that's not what they're saying. They say that drawing borders in Africa has caused its massive problems because different ethnic groups are made to live together. This is exactly what they're saying. And this is not compatible with fundamental liberal narratives around diversity. 

It's an obvious double standard that exists to shift the blame for the problems in Africa off of genocidally intolerant Africans and onto Europeans. If liberal narratives were correct, making Africa more diverse should have been an unequivocally GOOD thing! But when diversity-induced conflict is manifest amongst non-whites, then temporarily abandon their previous narratives used to justify third world immigration to the west and create some other narrative where people who are different (but much more similar than e.g. black muslim americans and white christian americans) need to be kept apart, and where hating people who are different from you is perfectly understandable. But then e.g. a white Englishman says he doesn't want to become a minority in his own country, then the regular narrative gets brought back and he's a far-right racist nazi. It would be one thing if this were some fringe, far-left belief that only true radicals believe, but it's not, it's basically a mainstream belief at this stage. I think I even remember my history teacher in high school saying something to this effect. 

Expand full comment

Given MIRI-style beliefs about imminent omnicidal AI takeover, how much would humanity's long-term chances be improved by a global thermonuclear war? The largest impact EA intervention ever? (only slightly trolling)

Expand full comment

Why have allergic diseases exploded in the richer parts of the world during the last few decades? And why do babies put everything in their mouths? Could it be that nature has given babies an instinct to put things in their mouths in order to train their immune systems? When people get higher standards of living and fewer children, one of the things they are suddenly able to do is to keep their babies from putting outdoor dirt in their mouths.

I wrote a blog post about it


In summary:

* Allergies have exploded in the rich part of the world. About 20-45 percent of young people have some kind of asthma, allergy or atopic eczema.

Within the rich world, urban children have more allergic diseases than rural children. Older siblings seem to protect from allergic diseases. Children on farms are known to have especially low rates of allergic disease.

* A study compared children on Amish farms with children on Hutterite farms. Both the Amish and the Hutterites are anabaptists, but they live differently: The Amish live in single-family households and are selective with technology use. The Hutterites are agricultural socialists who live in collectives of up to 150 people with very large-scale, modern agricultural operations. The Amish had low rates of allergic disease. The Hutterites had normal rates, more than 30 percent of their children were allergic. Researchers analyzed indoor dust and concluded that the barn dirt escaped into Amish homes but not into Hutterite homes.

* Does this mean that only cows protect against allergic disease? A study comparing children in Denmark and urban and rural Greenland found that a lot fewer children had allergic diseases in rural Greenland. Despite the lack of cows, then.

* A study comparing Finnish and Russian Karelia found that rates of allergic disease were multiple times lower on the Russian side. Finns started to get allergic in the mid 20th century, but Russians did not.

* My conclusion from this data is that the common denominator for people who get little allergic disease is outdoor dirt. Third-world dirt, Amish dirt, Greenland dirt, Karelia dirt. Our immune systems do not seem to be very picky. A study from 2004 suggests that babies take everything they see in their mouths in order to train their immune systems for the inevitable.

* When people get better houses and fewer children, they are able to prevent their babies from ingesting outdoor dirt. That could be an explanation why people get more allergic diseases when they get richer, more urban and have fewer older siblings. I can't find any study of how parents behave in this respect, but anecdotal evidence suggests that many parents prevent their babies from eating outdoor dirt.

What do you think? Could allergic disease be prevented if parents allowed their babies to crawl outdoors and eat things from the ground?

Expand full comment
Comment deleted
Expand full comment
Removed (Banned)Oct 24, 2022
Comment removed
Expand full comment
deletedOct 24, 2022·edited Oct 24, 2022
Comment deleted
Expand full comment
Comment deleted
Expand full comment
Removed (Banned)Oct 24, 2022
Comment removed
Expand full comment
Removed (Banned)Oct 24, 2022
Comment removed
Expand full comment
Removed (Banned)Oct 24, 2022
Comment removed
Expand full comment