deletedJan 18·edited Jan 18
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When Roman statesman Cicero wrote, "There is nothing so absurd that it has not been said by some philosopher", which absurdities did he have in mind? In other words, what were some absurd ideas that were being espoused in ancient Rome?

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Note of course that here by "Ranced Choice Voting" you mean specifically Instant Runoff Voting. :P

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I am strongly considering moving to the Bay Area. Do people have non-obvious tips about where the best places to live are? Areas that are under or overrated? Current front runners are, based on access to “nature”, somewhere near the presidio or golden gate, vs access to people I know, somewhere near rockridge Bart

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Oh hey I just wrote about how East Germany used approval voting:

“ After all, even East Germany had expansive constitutional rights on paper and—yes, I’m serious—fairly-counted multi-party elections. They used an approval-based voting system, which actually allows for effective constituent bargaining against incumbent politicians on local issues, and was thus recently on the ballot in Seattle as an alternative to both ranked-choice and first-past-the-post. The country’s dominant party only won around one quarter of the legislative seats, in each of its nine elections before the wall fell, and also in its final election afterwards (which allocated seats via standard western-style proportional representation). This legislature abolished the senate, and officially controlled both other branches, much as our judicial and executive branches testify before our congress in exchange for official guidance on all forms of power: personnel, provisions, and policy.

But, of course, a clear supermajority of their administrators joined the Socialist Unity Party, and that was the clear path to promotion… while openly supporting alternative options could get you fired and shunned from influential positions. For example, in the late 1980s, the SUP alone had well over two million members, while each of the other four main parties only had about 100,000. Much like their head-of-state only rubber-stamped the party’s decisions, our president can’t legally fire the vast majority of his ostensible subordinates, from Fauci to the Fed. Much like their organs of culture, prestige, and information were only independent from the party on paper, our deep state only offers access to favored media, and infiltrates organizations deemed suspect. And so forth.

In my view, there’s only one obvious difference between our manner of actually constituting a government and theirs: East Germans could choose to publicly register their actual votes, and so almost every voter did, to avoid arousing suspicion; in contrast, ever since 1891 we’ve had secret ballots, and so 20th Century communications technologies never got the chance to impose overtly totalitarian control on us. Thus, well over 90% of their ballots approved the candidates on offer. Meanwhile, the average margin of victory in our Senate and House elections is just 20 and 30 percentage points, respectively (though both sets of incumbents admittedly still win well over 90% of the time). Granted, I may be overstating the importance of this distinction, because our system publicly registers our party affiliations, our partisan donations, and all the times we’ve ever voted, and we can’t opt out from sharing this information. “

More such ranting at the link: https://cebk.substack.com/p/the-united-states-is-a-one-party

Basic summary: Campaign contributions and party registrations imply that 90% of civil servants favor Democrats, as do 95% of employees at elite cultural institutions; meanwhile, military contractors, big banks, pharmaceutical companies, and other such corporate boogeymen each employ equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans. What produces this outcome, and what outcomes does it produce?

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Leonard Bernstein's 1954 broadcast on the choices that Beethoven made, when composing the beginning of his Fifth Symphony, is extraordinary. And it's available for viewing anytime on YouTube!

Its link can be found a short ways down into these musings on Joni Michell's 1972 song about Beethoven, "Judgement Of The Moon And Stars." (Yes, hoping at least a reader or two might also be interested in Joni and this song, along the path there.)


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I wrote an essay about how elites are stealing the experiences of the lower classes to grow their own power and influence: https://jacobshapiro.substack.com/p/stolen-trauma

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To my fellow Jewish SSCers — is anyone else on here also deeply troubled by the recent events in Israel over the last month (and in particular, over the last week)?

In my view, this is one of the most significant tragedies for the Jewish community in the past thirty years. I am surprised by the minimal response from the diaspora, so I was curious how others on here are viewing this.

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Since you're being transparent with your subscription numbers, did you meet the target?

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What is the shape of the root distribution of the predictive processing model in your mind?

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A thought/question I had, sparked by the discussion in another thread about politicians being smart/stupid/etc.

Does intelligence really correlate that well with good decision making? At least above some relatively low threshold? In my experience (which includes getting a hard-science PhD and having grown up with reasonably intelligent people for whom knowledge was a priority), it doesn't. The stupidest decisions I've seen came from people who, in their field, were brilliant.

Sure, if you're substantially sub-normal intelligence, you'll make a lot of stupid decisions based on not being able to put cause and effect together. But that threshold is more like a couple standard deviations below 100 IQ. Above that, it seems to me based on anecdotal evidence and the existence of tropes (which usually reflect something real about reality) that most decisions we make are...just not that benefitted by high intelligence per se. A totally normal person with a strong moral/value framework will generally outperform a high-IQ person with a maldeveloped or weakly-held value framework. Because most of the time, it's not the actual reasoning that matters. It's the underlying premises about reality and what's important. High intelligence just makes it easier to rationalize your stupid, self-defeating actions.

Personally, I'd rather be governed by a bunch of 100-IQ people with their heads screwed on straight and a strong grounding in practical reality rather than a bunch of Mensa qualifiers with no experience outside of theory. And that's speaking *as a theoretician!*.

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Let us assume that reincarnation is real.

How do you think this belief would change your behavior?

If your ability to preserve knowledge between lifetimes was limited in unspecified or unknown ways, what information would you find most valuable or significant to pass on to your next lifetime?

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If any of you guys work in academia and are generally supportive of freedom of expression, I recommend checking out and supporting the group FIRE:


It's a non-partisan free speech / First Amendment organization that advocates against censorship in academia (whichever side of the political spectrum it's coming from). Awesome organization worth supporting in my opinion.

Anyway I was just thinking about it because I saw in the news this week a controversy where a adjunct professor was fired for showing an image of the prophet Muhammad in her art history class. That reminded me how important these issues of academic freedom are.

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Jan 16·edited Jan 16

I was wondering why it was routine before modern times to have wars over bits of land that seemed not worth fighting over, and in some cases to be outright detrimental to possess–for instance, as Britain probably was to the Romans. I don't think I've ever heard of a king-level ruler selling off land on the edges of his domain in order to fall back to more-defensible borders–for example, to have a border along a river. Medieval maps sometimes show a border with a river running inside and parallel to the border. The strip of land between the river and the enemy couldn't have been defensible.

So I imagined one medieval ruler offering to sell such a strip of land to his neighboring ruler. The bargaining broke down when it came to the question of how much the land would be worth in a simple sale.

In a modern economy, we have a standard way of valuing any capital investment: it's worth the amount of money that, if invested [DELETE: at the going interest rate], would give a yearly return on investment equal to the yearly profit produced by the capital. But the [EDIT: return on investment, which was much lower than the interest on loans because (A) banks didn't exist and (B) the main risk in loaning money before modern times was default on payment] in antiquity was zero, making the value of any piece of land infinite. It never made sense, in a long-term analysis, to sell land.

Could one major cause of the bloody wars that dominate human history have been the combined lack of technological progress (to provide economic growth), and of a monetary economy with banking and interest (to make land's value finite)?

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I just came here to talk about Milf Manor, TBH...

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I wish you had posted those unveiled subscriber-only posts earlier, it would have changed some of my responses on the survey.

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Help me mend a damaged friendship:

John got a new girlfriend, and was meant to bring her to Paul’s birthday celebration. In the end they never turned up, and everyone found this strange. George and Ringo, who had met the new girlfriend a few days previously, revealed to Paul and I that they had both found her to be an extremely unpleasant person.

A few weeks later, John asked if he could bring the new girlfriend along to an intimate event which we had had planned for several years but was often put off because of covid. There was much covert discussion of this—oh no, if she’s as bad as George and Ringo made out, the whole thing will be ruined!

Eventually I decided that it was silly for us all to agree to something that we all didn’t want, and plucked up the courage to say to John: ‘Since it’s such a plan we’ve had for so long, I think we’d prefer not’. Paul and Ringo followed suit.

I now think this was a massive mistake. John was upset and surprised, and with good reason— we would usually always agree to a request like that, and the only reason we didn’t was because we had all heard the rumour that the girlfriend was a really unpleasant person to be around. From his point of view we took the opposite attitude towards his new girlfriend to the one we usually take to other people’s and he was gutted about it.

Now it’s several months later and there is something of a rift between me and John, although I have apologised and we are on friendly terms. I have since met the girlfriend and got on fine with her, although according to John she sees us as having a feud.

What would be the most virtuous, prosocial thing for me to do here? On the one hand I would like be completely honest with John about the situation so that we can see eye-to-eye again, but to tell him that the whole thing was kicked off by George and Ringo’s scathing report would both throw them under the bus and cause more upset to everyone involved.

And yet I feel I can’t be sincere in my apology when I’m apologising for a slightly different crime to the one I committed. And that I can’t fully repair my friendship with John without us both knowing the same facts about what went down.

What should I do?

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I was puzzled for a good three years about why people dump their savings into high risk stocks/crypto. Think behavior post 2019 aka the rise of Robinhood & crypto.

It’s a weird psychological case because those assets are almost gambling and attract pretty much the same crowd. But they’re different in their function, so it looks like the same crowd is only attracted insofar as both groups have high risk tolerance.

Which got me down to turn in a different direction and come up with three main reasons as to why high-risk assets became so appealing:


2. Gaining an identity

3. Finding solace in the murky nature of the markets.

Let me know if anybody has any other reasons why high-risk assets became suddenly so appealing. I go into more detail below:


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Are there any "easy-bake" forum hosts (akin to ProBoards) with loose enough rules that a yandere-fandom forum wouldn't get banned? Toleration of NSFW and unPC content would also be good, particularly the second as yandere fandom is kind of inherently unPC.

(I am, or at least was, the only active moderator on Yandere^2 Forum, which recently got unhosted by ProBoards. We had a bunch of "IRL yandere" members, essentially hewing to "don't use the forum to commit crimes, but it's not our mandate to punish you for off-site behaviour". While I'm capable of modding, I don't have the technical knowhow or financial capability to run an independent site, so if I can't find another host I'm going to have to give up on bringing the board back.)

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I'm wondering if you all have any ideas for how to make friends with people who are interested in intellectual pursuits. When googling this, half of the responses seem to be answering the question of how to get more intelligent friends. While I suspect there's a correlation, I'm mostly just wanting to make friends who are similarly interested in philosophical/political/scientific/etc issues and topics. I'm not looking for people with similar opinions/backgrounds/mindsets as me (indeed to some extent diversity in these domains would be preferable), just people who want to discuss these topics. If it helps, I'm a 24 year old male in the Washington D.C. area. Thanks!

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If anyone in the Bay Area purchased, or knows someone who purchased (or knows... you get the idea) the scents package including ‘Hedonium Shockwave’ (for $20k!!) from Qualia Research Institute, I’m willing to pay a non-trivial amount of money or effort entertaining someone to experience it.

I figure I’ve got as good a chance as anywhere asking in the open thread. Scott, if you happen to read this, there’s gotta be, what, at least a handful of people around the area that actually went all out with it, don’t you think? I can’t be that many degrees away from it.

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You all may enjoy my interview of Lars Doucet: https://www.dwarkeshpatel.com/p/lars-doucet

His review of Progress and Poverty won Scott's first book review contest, and he has expanded that review into the book Land is a Big Deal. It's a book about Georgism which has been praised by Vitalik Buterin, Scott, and Noah Smith.

We get deep into the weeds of Georgism - the idea that you should tax land (and only land). His book completely changed my perspective on who creates value in the world and who rent-seeks off it. And this podcast episode was one of my favorites. Do check it out!

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I have become all but convinced that it is best to think of artificial neural nets as a platform on which higher-level "applications" can be implemented. But those applications aren't implemented by programmers writing code. They're implemented during the training process. Here's the abstract of a short note I've just uploaded about story grammars in ChatGPT:

ABSTRACT: Think of an artificial neural net as a platform on which to implement higher level structures, like one might implement a word processor or a database in C++. In investigate of the neural net underlying ChatGPT implements a simple grammar, stories with five components, in order: 1) Donné, 2) Disturb, 3) Plan, 4) Enact, 5) Celebrate. I present the results of four experiments in which ChatGPT transforms one story into another based on a single change in the nature of the protagonist or antagonist.

You can download it here: https://www.academia.edu/95032499/A_note_about_story_grammars_in_ChatGPT

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Is Zodiac’s classification of personalities meaningful?

Like since there is an ancient wisdom component to it, subjected to memetic evolution, did it create a personality types which are distinct and would interact with each other and with a world in a way which the zodiac predicts/helps to predict? Can a real person have that kind of personality, and use zodiac, if the person would know their correct zodiac sign, to understand themself better? Would it be useful to devise a personality test which would identify your correct sign?

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What’s exactly wrong with a US President having classified documents at his home anyway?

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As someone who is a newcomer to the software engineering industry - does anyone here have predictions about how code completion models like GitHub Copilot or ChatGPT would change the industry? (Predictions you are confident enough in to share, obviously)

I know better than to run around in circles screaming "AAAAAH AI is going to take my job!!!!1", but for one, I am concerned that I seem to like the part of the job that actually consists of writing code. This is where the "magic" lies for me - I like the satisfaction that comes with having, my own fingers on my keyboard, produced logic that I can then see used by business users and/or merged into larger projects. I almost feel parental about it. It appears that efficient code completion would shift the focus to thinking about systems and an even higher level level of abstraction - and while I think I will still have work when that becomes the industry standard, I don’t know if work will be as satisfying as what I have now.

Now, of course, I program in Python so saying that I’m the only author of my code is kind of a lie - I’d not be able to reimplement the Python interpreter in C from scratch, nor would I be able to do that for the more developed packages I depend on. But I

still manage to feel like the author of my code, and derive satisfaction from it. That appears to be good news - maybe I’ll be able to feel good about giving prompts to a code completion model, also. Has anyone here gone from programming in a lower level language to a higher level language and managed to still feel good about the work process?

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Ideology is mostly fashion. The issues of the day are issues because intellectual trend setters make them issues. Those ideas which compose an ideology are a set of merely fashionable issues. Most of them shouldn't be taken too seriously by serious people because the laws of fashion dictate that they will be out of style before long.

Is there any way to determine which issues of the day aren't merely fashionable?

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>The Institute for Effective Policy has helped convince the Australian government to include funding for long-term catastrophic risks in its Disaster Ready Fund.

Damn, still no civil defence against nuclear attack. Not that I'm faulting IEP for that.

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How about the Ivermectin revisit? Alexandros Marinos has been holding his pen for the last few months and declared that he is ready with the review. I personally think he has loads of valid points so for the sake of rationality it would be fantastic if you could address his most serious points.

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The linked theory of patriarchy has the usual problems:

1) It equivocates "alpha males" and "all males". It explains how a coalition of strong men can coordinate to kill a stronger but lonely tyrant. It does not explain why such coalition would create rules that *also* favor the weak men. Intrasexual competition is much more important from the evolutionary perspective.

If I tried to design social norms that favor strong men, it would probably be something like "only strong men can have sex with women" or "it is a crime if a weak man has sex with strong man's wife, but it is legal for a strong man to have sex with weak man's wife". Along with a system that makes the distinction clear, for example only strong men are allowed to wear certain dress / headband / necklace, and you can officially become a strong man by successfully challenging a strong man to some kind of physical conflict in presence of two witnesses.

So the hypothesis of "alpha male coalition" needs to explain how the social norms of monogamy etc. have evolved, instead of something like described above.

2) Maybe it's my careless reading, but the explanation seems circular / begging the question at some places. Sons were considered more important, therefore paternity became important, therefore women were confined to their homes. Okay, but *why* were the sons considered more important? You can explain how patriarchy can lead to more patriarchy, but the question is how it started.

Consider an alternative explanation: using a plough requires a lot of physical strength, and men are on average stronger than women. Thus in societies based on agriculture which used plough, men provided greater value at war, at hunt, at agriculture, so women had to provide value at childbirth, child care, and taking care of household; there was not much of a choice how to split the tasks. In societies that used hoes for agriculture, there was more freedom for division of the work. Occam's razor.

This is not saying that boys' clubs do not exist. They do. But they do not promote *all* men, only their members.

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Is anyone else having the issue when viewing substack comments on phone (Android), people's profiles keep popping up and hiding the text?

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How much of the past 200 years of history was self-fulfilling? I have in mind people publishing books on the importance of naval power or "the doctrine of world empire" or other big idea strategy books in Europe. Seems like all the home-country publishers of these works as well as their allies and enemies had to take them somewhat seriously, if only as a helpful guess about what their enemies were thinking. Perhaps the logic of these works themselves was facile, yet they may have led world powers into adopting their principles because they thought what you thought was what they thought you thought... and therefore had to implement them as a countermeasure.

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I'm sorry if this has been discussed before, but I would be curious about what folks on here think about the US requiring all non-immigrant visitors to be vaccinated, a requirement that was recently extended again until April.

I don't want to make this about the vaccine per se. I know that there are some decidedly vaccine-skeptic people here, and I can imagine what _they_ think of it, so this is probably less relevant unless you can surprise me. I would like to know what people who generally believe in the safeness and efficacy of the COVID vaccines think, on a policy level, about this as an immigration requirement, contrasting it with domestic policies on COVID.

Personally, I am vaccinated three times and believe the vaccines to be safe and moderately effective on the individual level, but unconvinced that they have much of an impact on whether you get infected or spread. My parents, unfortunately, have become vaccine skeptics during the pandemic. This has resulted in many family arguments; on the other hand, unvaccinated people were heavily ostracized here in Germany in a way that I found pretty shocking, and I am sympathetic to them being bitter about it - I still wish they would just get the fucking shot.

Now, most restrictions for them are gone, aside from the fact that they can no longer visit the US, which they were always very fond of and which I know hurts them. They also point to the requirement as proof that governments are attempting hard to get the vaccine injected into as many arms as possible, since none of their domestic policies - no mask requirement, no test requirement etc. - suggest that they really worry too much about the spread of COVID.

Personally, I am at a bit of a loss here. I can't think of a good reason myself that doesn't venture into conspiracy theory territory. Especially from a democratic side, imposing any additional barriers at the border, even for visitors/non-residents only, has generally sparked outrage (cf. Trump's "Muslim travel ban"). There are many conceivable measures that would possibly even be more effective from a public health standpoint (testing requirement + requirement to prove medical coverage for unvaccinated visitors) without barring those people outright. The best explanation I can think of is "government's don't like to backtrack as they don't like admitting having been wrong", but even then you typically just silently let a policy expire rather than actively keeping extending it.

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A friend of mine, who is not a specialist of Artificial Intelligence but is good at summarizing issues wrote a long article on AI in general and ChatGPT in particular. There was among his reflections things that I notice are frequently neglected in the discussions here, so I think reading it might interest people:


It's in French, but automatic translations should do a decent job.

There also was an insightful reply to the post by a regular reader:


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Jan 16·edited Jan 16

What is the Institute for Effective Policy taking credit for?

According to the PDF, projects seeking funding must target natural hazards, including geological hazards and extreme weather and climate-driven hazards. There are two streams: infrastructure and systemic risk reduction.

Is stream two (systemic risk reduction) what the Institute was pushing for?

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From a Financial Times interview with Tyler Cowen:

"On cancel culture: The leftwing gets cancelled more than the rightwing. [In

universities] moderate-to-left Democratic women are the demographic group most

likely to be cancelled. Rightwing men are relatively secure."

Does anyone know where he got this from?

If true, it makes some sense-- moderate-to-left women would be more likely to listen to progressives.

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My phone has stopped autocorrecting a single lower case "i" to upper case, which is annoying since that is the only way I ever use it. My phone will no longer give me an "I" for an "i".

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Why can't China just copy existing mRNA products from Pfizer, Moderna, etc., and slap a Chinese brand on it? They could tell their population that it's a local Chinese invention, not Western. Is the secret sauce that makes up mRNA really that difficult to copy/steal? I don't see that China um has a great deal of respect for existing intellectual property rights, and it's certainly less embarrassing for them than needing Western vaccines. Is it really that hard for them to reverse engineer it in a lab, especially as they've been out for a couple of years now?

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How much of charity is just tax evasion schemes and how much is a sincere attempt to make world a better place? What are the best ways to estimate this?

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I recently learned that Al Capone's preferred nickname was "Big Snorky":


This video both tells you how he got the nickname "Scarface" and gives a recipe for a soup that might (or might not) have been served at his Chicago soup kitchen.

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I've got 2 subscriptions to Razib Khan's Unsupservised Learning to give away. Reply with an email address or email at me at mine https://entitledtoanopinion.wordpress.com/about/

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Wrote a post about the Sapient Paradox, Stoned Ape Theory, and the Snake Detection Hypothesis. Figure this crowd would enjoy: https://vectors.substack.com/p/the-snake-cult-of-consciousness

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Jan 16·edited Jan 16

Does anyone else feel like people in Long Island voted for Bugs Bunny and now Mel Blanc has a seat in congress?

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Jan 16·edited Jan 16

I came up with a very silly theory that some of you might enjoy. After Newton died in 1727, it took a while for anyone to notice that there was nobody enforcing the law of gravity any more, but eventually they did, culminating in the first successful aeroplane in 1903. To put a stop to this nonsense, Einstein developed a new theory of gravity, general relativity, in 1916. After his death in 1955, the engineers were prepared and developments in defying gravity took off much more quickly, with the first artificial satellite in 1957, the first manned orbital spacecraft in 1961 and the first people to reach the moon in 1969. In 1974, Tamiaki Yoneya discovered a way to include gravity naturally within string theory. While string theory remains unproven, we can infer the fact that it works from the fact that to this day, Tamiaki (who is still alive) has been able to prevent the successful development of space elevators, mass drivers, spin launch systems, or really any fundamental advancements in defying gravity beyond the chemical rockets developed between Einstein's death and stringy gravity. John Schwarz and Joël Scherk made the same discovery as Tamiyaki and are also candidates for the current gravity police except Scherk is already dead. Since Tamiyaki and Schwarz are now 74 and 81 years old respectively, we can expect a burst of new development in flight technology any year now. If anyone asks why we haven't made it to Mars yet having reached the Moon over half a century ago, or why we don't have flying cars, you now have the answer. It's not that robots explore more efficiently, or the average commuter can't be expected to learn to pilot an aircraft. No, we're just waiting for the next gravity interregnum.

Apart from the main thesis of course, all the supporting facts here are true (at least according to my brief Wikipedia research) (and with a bit of cherrypicking in what counts as a fundamental advance in defying gravity), and I was pleased with at least how well the dates lined up.

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One of the things I really like about Scott is that he's both thoughtful and heterodox across a lot of axes. Even when I disagree with home, I feel like he makes me think carefully which isn't always true for other people I read. I'd say the same thing for Freddie deBoer (who I disagree with often) and Lyman Stone (who I disagree with most of the time).

I think the key thing is that they tend to present arguments that are both thoughtful (they don't default to assuming everyone agrees with them on matters of creed or tribe) and novel (they're not just more thoughtful on the usual issues - they actually tackle new issues).

Is there anyone else who writes on the internet that fits those descriptions that you'd recommend?

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Doesn't Alice Evans turn up in the comments here from time to time, or am I hallucinating?

Anyway, my own half-baked theory on the subject is that patriarchy was mainly a function of tribalism. IE, if the Viking raiding party comes and carries you off to be their sex slave, this is a really bad outcome for you; you'll do almost anything to avoid it. But you're largely dependent on the men of your own tribe to protect you from such a fate, and therefore, you've got to jump when they say jump.

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What do people think is going on in this article about the effect of alcohol consumption on health (https://www.nytimes.com/2023/01/13/well/mind/alcohol-health-effects.html) that starts with

Even a Little Alcohol Can Harm Your Health

Recent research makes it clear that any amount of drinking can be detrimental. Here’s why you may want to cut down on your consumption beyond Dry January.

And ends with

Notably, none of the experts we spoke to called for abstaining completely, unless you have an alcohol use disorder or are pregnant. “I’m not going to advocate that people completely stop drinking,” Dr. Koob said. “We did prohibition, it didn’t work.” Generally, though, their advice is, “Drink less, live longer,” Dr. Naimi said. “That’s basically what it boils down to.”

What prevents these experts from coming out and saying the obvious thing, that if less is better of this toxin, that none is best?

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So, saccadic masking. I just observed a very weird phenomenon where I brought my laptop screen about 10 cm close to my face (I was trying to make out something that was black on dark grey amidst white on dark grey text) and... I saw motion blur when I moved my eyes. I don't seem to get that when my face is even closer to the screen and I don't seem to get that when I'm looking at it from further away and I don't recall ever consciously experiencing this before. To be fair, I also didn't think it was *possible* to see motion blur effects from saccades and usually don't have reason to *keep* my laptop that close, so maybe I just wasn't paying enough attention before. But now that I've discovered it, it's very repeatable, and the effect is that the text "wobbles" into predictable directions and blur-unblurs.

Does anyone know what might be causing that? Has anyone experienced this before?

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Jan 16·edited Jan 16

What do I need to know about this Nick Bostrom situation? I saw Matt Yglesias re-tweeted a blog post (?) from the EA Forum (?) on the topic literally entitled 'Do Better,' which did not bode well for the content of the essay. In the end, I found I just had no clue what was going on (I had only ever heard of Bostrom before this, no real clue what he does), no clue what the author was saying, and no real desire to seek out more double-speak from the pro- and/or anti-Bostrom/his apology camps. I know it involves an email he sent in 1996, which strikes me as the definition of inadmissible, past-the-statute-of-limitations offense archaeology.

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Is blood orange season late this year? I thought they were usually in shops by dec/jan

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I wonder if there should be a term for the absence of Gell-Mann Amnesia. I recently read an article about a subject I had personal knowledge of, and it was surprisingly fair and accurate.

Although what's even weirder is one time last year when I read an article on a topic close to me and it was overall fair and accurate but had one offhand statement that was completely false. It was kind of baffling how that could even happen, and it wasn't ideological or bias or anything either. Presumably, the source for the article just misremembered something and they didn't bother to check.

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Jan 17·edited Jan 17

It's been five years since you made this post: https://slatestarcodex.com/2018/02/15/five-more-years/

It would be interesting to see you review your predictions (unless you already did and I missed it)

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My partial experience with the Seattle thing was hearing folks on the left here saying that basically Approval is better for the country because it produces more moderate candidates that minimize voter regret, but since Seattle is already captured by the left they'd *prefer* getting more extreme candidates since those will be extremely left only. Hence IRV instead.

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Anti-white racism promulgated in the woke community:


Getting black-pilled in law school, what it was like to shift from woke to anti-woke.:


Anti-Asian prejudice in the Black community, excused by wokism


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I write a simple newsletter where I post 3 things I find interesting, once a week.


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I asked this in the last open thread, but it was late enough that I didn't get any results: does anyone know how, exactly, the use of semaglutide as a weight loss drug got popularized? Scott started writing his article on it before Elon Musk endorsed it, so it isn't Musk, first and foremost.

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Does it ever make sense to fund a lawsuit against yourself? Does this ever happen?

Suppose you are a business engaged in some activity in a legal grey area, the legality of which has never been established one way or the other. Sooner or later, someone is going to sue you, it's going to go to court, and a precedent will be established that will make your whole business either perfectly legal or perfectly illegal. It's in your best interests to fund a lawsuit against yourself, but to make sure that the plaintiff's case is somewhat dubious and their legal team is weak, hoping that they'll make a shitty case before the judge in this major, precedent-setting case.

Does this ever happen? Are there existing laws against it?

Inspired by https://www.theverge.com/2023/1/17/23558516/ai-art-copyright-stable-diffusion-getty-images-lawsuit -- not alleging that it's happening in this case, just saying that it would make sense for some deep-pocketed AI company to try and get the legal question of whether it's copyright violation to train an AI on copyrighted material resolved in their favour.

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Gynecologists in the U.S ask women who are wondering if they're close to menopause or not, to check their FSH, Estradiol, possibly other hormones, to estimate the answer.

Some problems are often resolved at menopause without surgery. So this is useful to know, for some people.

Doctors in India say these numbers are useless, to make this estimate.

Who is correct?

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Jan 18·edited Jan 19

In some cultures, the rich and famous are buried with elaborate grave goods for use in the afterlife (most famously the pharaohs of ancient Egypt). This practice seems to have been common across Eurasia but is now largely gone. Are there cultures where elaborated grave goods survived? Who was the most recent person to be buried with grave goods for use in the afterlife, where the expanses on goods is more than the average lifetime income of a worker?

(I know we westerners sometimes still bury people in elaborate mausoleums with sentimental jewelry and nice clothes. This doesn't fulfill the "use in afterlife" clause, but feel free to argue that this clause is stupid. Without the clause, I'm sure we can find some celebrity buried with jewelry expensive enough to qualify. I have looked and not found anyone yet (e.g. the jewelry buried with Queen Elizabeth, or the scrimshaw buried with JFK, would both fetch a hefty price as memorabilia, but the actual market price of them without the association wouldn't be bronze-age level expensive.).)

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Possibly of interest to rationalists?

A lot of free houses in Japan-- they at least look good, though it isn't clear from the video whether most of them need a lot of work.


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What happens if a nuclear war kills off most of the U.S. government? I know there's a long line of succession for the President, so we'll always have one of them, but what about Senators, Congressmen, and Supreme Court Justices?

Could we get into a situation where so many officials are dead that the remaining ones legally can't make decisions? Like, if there is only one Supreme Court Justice left, and the Senate can't nominate replacement Justices because they're all dead, are any of the Supreme Court decisions valid? They'd just be the opinions of one guy.

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I propose now that "George Santos" is in fact a stunt; Andy Kaufman is still alive and he's having a laugh on all of us.


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I am Dutch and writing a blog in English. I would much appreciate your feedback on my English, and about the blog posts in general. Reading time is 2 to 3 minutes. This is the most recent one, about my brother leaving Jehovah's Witnesses:


Many thanks for your time and trouble.

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This has more to do with substack, but long comment sections are a pain to navigate and they should collapse responses by default. At the very least, *allow* you to collapse them.

I miss forums.

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Sometimes there are some good jokes on Tumblr (and, apparently, Twitter since this is where the source came from):


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Thanks for the suggestion Heinrich, I might try ChatGPT.

If you have any particular things to share that would make my writing smoother, I'd be happy to receive them.

Do you have German ancestors? Your name sounds so German, or is it fairly common in the US too? Assuming your American of course. Actually my full name is Hendrik, the Dutch version of Heinrich.

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Ask me anything about BDSM. This stuff is getting popular, but there are many misconceptions.

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There was a sci-fi short story that I read in the 90s. It is about a "writer" writing a story, but he's using an AI assistant. He basically just sets up a general prompt or theme and then the AI starts writing, and then he sometimes thinks it's going the wrong direction and tells it to try again or refines the prompt a bit.

Unless my memory is playing tricks on me, it was EERILY PROPHETIC. Anyone know what story I'm talking about?

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