I took my question a step further in this week's post on Male Aggression: https://open.substack.com/pub/falsechoices/p/the-aggressive-male?r=27s0s&utm_campaign=post&utm_medium=web. I've appreciated the comments I received, thank you all!

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Nov 3, 2023·edited Nov 3, 2023

Breaking news - jury verdict in the Sam Bankman-Fried trial is in, and he's been found guilty on all seven charges:



(1) The courtroom sketch artist is *really* bad. I mean, some of the drawings are not one bit at all like anyone. Ouch.

(2) Turns out that sticking to "I don't remember", not answering the questions, and trying to tell the prosecutor how to do their job isn't a great way to present yourself. Double ouch.

I realise his lawyers probably had to put him on the stand, because it would look too bad if he refused to testify, but man. He just talked himself right into jail:

"Bankman-Fried has been jailed since August after Kaplan revoked his bail, having concluded he likely tampered with witnesses. Kaplan blocked Bankman-Fried from calling several proposed expert witnesses, and ruled he could not testify about the involvement of lawyers in FTX decisions at issue in the trial."

Now the fun begins, because I'm sure there are going to be appeals etc. Speaking of prediction markets, were there any on this trial and the likely outcome? Did any hopeful optimist think he'd be acquitted? And it seems that there's a *second* trial on further charges coming up, so triple ouch?

"Bankman-Fried is also set to go on trial on a second set of charges brought by prosecutors earlier this year, including for alleged foreign bribery and bank fraud conspiracies."

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Ok, one more thing about the kidney situation, and this is aimed at everyone who didn't think there anything off with the essay, which maybe was most of you: what's the hold up? You realize what Scott just taught you here: you, yes YOU, could save a life at very little risk and inconvenience to you. So what's stopping you? Whatever that blocker is, it is literally a death sentence for someone out there, as plenty people die on that waiting list. Are you sure you can't find a way around it? Donating a kidney is ultimately safe and not very inconvenient, so why not do it?

For myself, when I contemplate doing this, it just seems so damn extreme, getting an organ ripped out of me and going around for the rest of my life with only one kidney. But hey, it just SEEMS that way, looking at it rationally, it appears to actually not be a big deal. This is a real trial by fire of one's commitment to rationality.

But funnily, a big factor in Scott going through with this seems to have been that he got into a context where this started seeming normal, he started feeling like he had social permission to do that, which you know, interesting way to admit you run on vibes just like a postrat.

I know I don't have much of a commitment to rationality, but I have to say again to those of you that do: what's the holdup? Because it appears there are no rational barriers to you saving a life in this way. Who knows, maybe this pushes someone over the edge: I know my writing once convinced a guy to go back to the Giving What We Can pledge, maybe in this way I can have the assist for saving a life even if donating my own kidney to a stranger is a step I'm unwilling to take.

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A friend suggested I post here: I’m a humanities prof creating an archive of media artifacts from the Russian 1990s. We have an existing website but would like to make improvements to UX with a new designer and developer. This work is paid but it’s the academic humanities so it’s not going to be hugely lucrative. If interested, please write to russian90sproject@gmail.com

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I would like to start preparing for emergencies, like the next pandemic, a natural disaster etc. Can you recommend good resources to research how to do this?

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Possibly of interest to fan's of Scott's fiction: this is a short story I wrote called "They Hexed the Moon": https://vocal.media/fiction/they-hexed-the-moon.

If you like it, please like it or leave a comment on the site as that might help we win a contest.

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Buddhism is non-theistic, it's not that easy to group it in with the others. But I mean, maybe it's just an attractor state in the human brain. We like symmetry after all, and this is the ultimate symmetry. This would make all of spirituality a brainfart, but you know, spirtuality luckily thinks the entire world of the senses is a zero to the left, so it doesn't matter.

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Is it just me, or do the rest of y'all find Bing Maps to be nigh-unusable?

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I've written a post about my home-rolled Crossword constructor computer program. It might be of interest to fans of American style crosswords or computer programmers.

I did use it to create my first submission to the NYT's last week.


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What would be a reasonable process for finding a psychiatrist in New York? (For a depressed relative who lives there. Assume payment isn't an issue.)

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Has it happened to you that you were so affected by some major event or a controversy, that you found yourself obsessing over whether various public figures opined on it and what they said?

I've noticed that I'm growing obsessed over how people reacted or did not react to the events of October 7 in Israel (I'm Israeli). To the point where e.g. I've memorized the syntax of an advanced date query on Twitter, to be able to quickly look up Oct 7-10 tweets from any nickname I'm looking at.

It's strange because in theory I really, honestly don't think that everyone with a public platform of some kind ought to have said something. In truth, Israel has received an unprecedented wave of sympathy and support from the Western world, and I shouldn't care about whether e.g. some blogger I'm following on Substack or Twitter offered some heartfelt platitude (and I don't mean that sarcastically - responses to events of this sort can't help being platitudes, mostly, but they're still appreciated). In theory, I shouldn't care. But in practice, I find that I really do.

I can't quite resolve this gap. The best explanation I can find for myself is something like: "Sure, I can't really expect outsiders to care about the worst massacre in the history of my people since the Holocaust. It's fine that it was just another day to that person A. But should I really continue caring quite so much about the clever takes A has to offer on some culture war issues, or A's opinions on philosophy, or sex, or technology, or whatever? Suddenly it seems though A inhabits almost a separate universe. Normally when I read A, or B, or C, there's this background hardly-felt sense of imagining myself being A/B/C and thinking about those things that A/B/C are writing about. But A's studied indifference to the tragedy my country is experiencing breaks this illusion; I can't really see myself as A anymore and I'm annoyed at my own automatic attempts to do so."

In reaching for some similar behavior, I'm finding only examples I don't quite like - I wonder if that's how Covid antivaxx people feel, for instance, when they ask obsessively whether people they interact with or some public people "took the jab". I don't like the comparison, but maybe it's apropos.

Not really sure where I'm going with this.

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I visited San Francisco this past weekend, what an interesting place. Things that pleasantly surprised me was how walkable the city was and how clean/safe it felt compared to the reputation it seems to have online. Certainly it's a bit jarring seeing all the toiletries behind plastic covering, and I'm sure I avoided the most problematic areas, but the narrative you hear about the city really doesn't match the experience I had there. Probably the only downside is that the food scene was just ok, most places weren't bad but nothing was that good given the prices. It's also funny to see all the communist/anarchist shops in what must be one of the richest communities in America.

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From one angle, I don't like seeing Scott hassled about what I see as a generous and thoughtful choice.

From another angle, he cultivated this forum to include a wide range of sometimes contentious opinions, and pushback was inevitable.

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Oct 31, 2023·edited Oct 31, 2023

Okay, now AI applications are just getting weird and/or creepy.

AI can diagnose diabetes from your voice in 10 seconds?


"The study stated: “In women, the predictive features were mean pitch, pitch SD, and RAP jitter, and in men, mean intensity and apq11 shimmer were used. In simple terms, the variation in these features found that women with T2DM reported a slightly lower pitch with less variation, and men with T2DM reported slightly weaker voices with more variation. These differences likely stem from differences in disease symptom manifestations between the sexes.”

Kaufman commented that these differences found via the AI’s signals processing between male and female voices were “surprising”.

The researchers concluded: “Voice analysis shows potential as a pre-screening or monitoring tool for T2DM, particularly when combined with other risk factors associated with the condition.”

Link to study:


"Voice synthesis is a complex process that relies on the combined effects of the respiratory system, the nervous system, and the larynx. Anything that affects these systems can influence the voice, whether it is perceptible audibly or detectable through computer analysis.3 In T2DM, individuals experience sustained periods of high blood glucose. Point-in-time glucose concentrations have been hypothesized to affect the elastic properties of the vocal chords, and long-term elevated glucose can have detrimental effects such as peripheral neuropathy and myopathy (ie, the damage of nerve and muscle fibers, respectively). Myopathy has been shown to correlate with an increased prevalence of voice disorders and dysphagia, potentially because of muscle weakness within the larynx, whereas hoarseness, vocal straining, and aphonia are present in individuals with diabetic neuropathy. Furthermore, T2DM has been linked to an increased prevalence of psychological disorders such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and decreasing cognitive function, all of which have been linked to vocal changes."

I do wonder how much this is from the voice, and not from "the associated data we used were predictors of likely diabetes and we just shook the voice data a bit to match it up". But if it's true, then wow, we're going to go back to things in traditional medicine like "looking at the eye can diagnose illnesses" and acupuncture points, except this time SCIENCE! because it's the AI.

If I'd heard "you can diagnose diabetes from the voice", I would have lumped it in with iris reading and the likes. Everything old is new again!

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Regarding Scott's kidney post, what does everyone think about mandatory organ, blood, and other tissue harvesting of the dead, with an opt-out option for those that don't want it? Seems like that would clear up the waiting list without having to encourage people to sacrifice their own healthy tissue?

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Several years ago there was a question on DSL so good that I'm going to repost it here: Suppose you want to know what the most obscure state is in the USA. How would you go about figuring it out? A poll wouldn't work, because a state that wins a poll couldn't be the most obscure state. So what method might best determine the most obscure state?

Note: An obvious method might be to get a group of people to list all the states they can from memory and take the state least mentioned. But this won't work because for the purposes of this question everyone has continual internet access. Everyone can write down all 50 states if that is the question.

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How much should Hamas be ridiculed?

The German writer Berthold Brecht, when writing about his play Arturo Ui (re-telling the rise of Adolf Hitler by making him a prohibition era gangster boss) argued that the great political criminals must be exposed, and preferably be exposed to ridicule, as they are not great political criminals, but the perpetrators of great political crimes, which is something completely different.

He was claiming that there is generally a level of reverence and respect for those who kill, from the serial killer to the bloody conqueror, and that this respect must be destroyed. [1]

Looking at the rise of "true crime", I can not help but concur. In my opinion, if you have to put specific serial killer or mass shooter into the media at all, make them the butt of the joke in a late night show or something. Killers generally forfeit what Harry calls the "deontological protection of the innocents", so go wild. Speculate about their penis sizes, whatever.

For terrorist organisations, I feel that the only ones who should take them seriously are the security services tasked with opposing them. While it is sad when terrorists kill someone, the piety which is due to their victims should not rub of on them. The fight of them against western nations is comically hopeless, and their willingness to murder should not cause us to think them Serious.

Of course, it could be argued that ridicule as an aspect of propaganda is yet another old symmetrical weapon. [2] I don't know if that is true. If I find Chaplin's The Great Dictator hilarious and would probably find the antisemitic caricatures in the Stuermer dreadfully predictable, is that purely due to my world view only?

[1] (Warning: German, Warning: pdf) https://www.berliner-ensemble.de/download/document/1331

[2] https://slatestarcodex.com/2017/03/24/guided-by-the-beauty-of-our-weapons/

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Some of the discussion below got me thinking: isn't one of the big moral questions where exactly we draw the line between valuing type 1 vs type 2 thinking? Civilization is built on type 2 thinking, yet we can't do without raw, blind, primordial intuition either, no? The easy way out of a repugnant conclusion from type 2 thinking is to defer to type 1 when you're in a jam. And Nietzsche basically spent his career using type 2 thinking -- to praise type 1!

So does anyone have a rule-based ethical system which says "If sent here, go with type 1." ?

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What's the best non-theistic explanation for why so many of the world's major philosophical and religious traditions have converged on the idea of an entity that is both the supreme law of the Universe and a force calling us towards moral virtue? The most interesting case to me is the Greek revolution, because there it represents a very clear break from the myths of popular tradition; Zeus is king of the gods and sort-of an enforcer of the moral law, but he's neither the original creator-deity nor the true supreme power of the universe, and obeying the Fates (the actual supreme power) doesn't have anything to do with your morality, you just do it because you don't have a choice. It's only once you get into the attempts by philosophers to develop a more rational cosmology that this idea starts becoming important.

Clearly there are significant differences between the conceptions of this entity represented by Platonist Form of the Good, Aristotelian natural law, the Biblical God, the Zoroastrian Ahura Mazda, the Confucian Heaven, the Taoist Dao, and the Buddhist/Hindu law of karma*. But the fact they differ on so many other points just makes their agreement on this core concept seem even stranger.

*(I'm not 100% sure the law of karma is actually an example of what I'm talking about? My knowledge of Indian religions is pretty superficial. If I'm wrong about the emergence of this idea in Indian traditions, it would go along way towards making this feel less mysterious to me.)

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Does anyone here know a good source for average temperature of cities around the world? Wikipedia has an article, but it has only a fraction of the cities I want data for.

There is a Lancet article that finds global deaths from cold much larger than from heat — about seventeen times as large. There is a later Lancet article, with the same lead author, that finds that the temperature increase from climate change, at least for the more rapid variants, increases mortality summed over the rest of this century. That's puzzling, since not only does climate change raise low temperatures as well as high, it raises low temperatures more than high temperatures and raises temperature more in cold regions than in warm. The explanation of the puzzle seems to be that mortality increases much faster with increasing temperature for temperatures above the optimum than it decreases for temperatures below.

The second article makes no allowance for adaptation, assumes that the mortality effect of a given temperature will be the same after almost a century as before, which strikes me as unlikely — Chicago winter temperatures would have a drastic effect in San Jose, not so drastic in Chicago, where people have adapted to them. It occurred to me that the same data used in the articles could be used to estimate the size of the adaption effect. The articles calculate, for each city, its optimal temperature, the temperature resulting in the lowest mortality. Regress that on average temperature and you get a rough measure of how much the inhabitants of a city adapt to higher or lower temperatures. To do that I need average temperatures for the several hundred cities the articles give optimum temperatures for.

The articles' calculation is more elaborate than I have described. The links, for the curious, are: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanplh/article/PIIS2542-5196(17)30156-0/fulltext



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Hello, I have written a new essay: https://arcove.substack.com/p/iron-lotus

...and also a modestly well received twitter thread about my writing process: https://x.com/dschorno/status/1718735873163042964?s=20. This I think i mention "microhumor" which I believe is a term I picked up from scott at some point but I'm not sure

The essay uses the early internet hoax, "bonzai kittens", as a metaphor for how we are physically and psychologically shaped by pressures and constraints in our environments. It strings together a bunch of connections between ideas like a sort of theme park ride: foot binding, posture, wilhelm reich, taylorism & schools, parenting trends, and some pop culture stuff.

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The linked video is nominally about video games, but it is mostly a Protestant complaining that other Protestants are Protestant-ing incorrectly (and flexing? that he literally went to church with Donald Trump):


I was raised Catholic, so I have no idea how commonplace this inter-Protestant bashing is. My only previous exposure was the kid who lived next to my grandparents claiming that the Methodists were "backsliding." (I think he was a Baptist.) Is this a thing people normally talk about?

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I, a Canadian, want to learn about Margaret Thatcher. Normally the thing to do here would be to find a biography, but I hear she is an unusually controversial politician, so I expect that most of the books I could find would be either partisan hit pieces or hagiographies. Can anyone recommend a book or other resource that does what I'm looking for, a just-the-facts history suitable for people with no knowledge of British politics?

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Was this prediction from five years ago accurate?

'The rapid appearance now of practically useful risk predictors for disease is one anticipated consequence of this phase transition. Medicine in well-functioning health care systems will be transformed over the next 5 years or so.'


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The negative reaction to Scott donating a kidney reminds me of the kind of inverted-morality common among low-conscientiousness, usually but not always low-class people. To these people, stealing from family members, cheating on one's romantic partners, driving drunk, that's all kinda sorta bad. But if someone says they're sorry, they are owed instant forgiveness. And trust, which is an entitlement, not something people earn through trustworthy behavior. The worst sin one can commit is to think you're better than others, to look down on them, to not forgive them. These people almost always make an exception when they are the direct victim, but otherwise, forgiveness man. Jesus said so. I am owed it.

You see an extreme version of anti-morality in prisons. John stabs his cellmate to death? What do I care, none of my business. John reported his cellmate to prison staff? I'm full of righteous indignation, we in the prisoner community must altruistically punish him! Morality becomes inverted. It's easy to see why this happens, if you want to get away with violating rules, anti-morality is rational.

The weird thing about the negative reaction to Scott is that it's coming from ordinary people who pay their rent on time, don't leech off of family members, and never show up to work drunk or high. But the motivation seems to be the same. You have this person who did this thing that seems to indicate they are morally superior to me. I could try to emulate them. Or I could not, acknowledging that, yeah, they probably are morally superior to me. Or I could say, "omg, that's WEIRD, man, and sounds GROSS too! I mean, for a STRANGER no less!"

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Anyone know any ways to get ADHD medication in the UK- not including going through the NHS?

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Tyler Cowen was recently a guest on Rick Rubin's podcast Tetragrammaton, and towards the end of the episode, when Rubin asks him if there's anything else he'd like to share, he says that he wishes it was more widely known that Paul McCartney released a second, much improved recording of the song C Moon. He doesn't give many more details, and as someone who isn't too familiar with deep Beatles/McCartney lore, I found it a little difficult to follow up on this. I did find the following version on Youtube, which is billed as a "remaster", but I'm unsure if this is the version that Tyler was referring to:


If anyone here can verify that this is the version Tyler was so excited by, I'd appreciate it!

P.S. Tyler, if you're reading this, please talk about music more often!

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How did British intelligence decode the Zimmerman Telegram?

I've read the Telegram was enciphered using "Code Book 13040." Did the British have a copy of the Book?

The details of how the Telegram was decoded are not made clear on the internet. If doing so merely meant looking up entries in Code Book 13040 and matching them with the numbers in the Telegram, then the task could have been given to a person with no special skills. Instead, I've read that decoding it required two, talented cryptoanalysts to work for on it for basically a full day.

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How can you tell if the advice your doctor gives you (be it to get a test done or no recommedation of any test) is in your interest versus in his or her own interest?You have no way of telling what his financial incentives are. His contract with the insurance company is not visible to you.

Why can't this contract be visible to patients?

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A math teacher I know recently posted on FB a nice set of four puzzles that look harder than they are. In each case, it looks like there isn't enough data in the problem to find a definite solution, and there can be many possibilities - but once you think about it carefully, it turns out that there's only one way it can work. Here they are, roughly in the ascending order of difficulty (translated from Russian). They can all be solved without pen and paper, but if you do need to write things down, there ain't no shame in it.

1. I bought a lottery ticket with a five-digit number, and the sum of its digits turned out to be equal to the age of my neighbor. Find out my ticket number, taking into account the fact that my neighbor was easily able to do that.

2. Ten children stood in a line, each carrying some nuts. Each child gave a nut to every child to their right (careful: not just to their right neighbor). After that, the girls all together had 25 more nuts than at the beginning. How many girls were in the line?

3. The sum of the three different smallest divisors of some number A is 8. How many zeroes are at the end of A, as it's written in decimal?

4. Five married couples met and exchanged some handshakes. Nobody shook hand with themselves or their spouse. One husband asked everyone else, including his wife, how many hands they shook, and it turned out that all 9 answers were different. What was the number his wife said?

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Something else, I've been thinking about regarding superintelligence: can sufficient intelligence truly melt down any barrier? Sure, Yudkowsky says you can bet on a chess engine winning, even if you don't know how it will do it, but has anyone bothered to find an amount of handicap such that the human player always wins, even against the best chess engine? The same could be done to AlphaGo: there has to be a handicap there that makes it so AlphaGo can't win against professional go players.

Perhaps it would allay some fears if it is established that there are problems that no amount of intelligence can solve (other than stuff like the halting problem or the incompleteness theorems, I guess).

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That blocking any specific fossil fuel producing or transportation project (What I sort of unfairly call McKibbin-ism, although I’ve even seen John Quiggins defend it in the much larger context of exporting coal from Australia.) will, because of substitution, result in very little CO2 emission avoided but at the cost of the lost project benefits and political costs to the Democratic Administration that goes along, why is this such a popular “activist” tactic? [Disclosure: I hope top use answers to improve a Substack post on this issue.]

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FYI Scott, your Lorien Psychiatry page at https://lorienpsych.com/ currently pops up a big screen saying your plan has expired and the site is going offline soon. I assume this is unintentional, unless you’re actually planning on taking your practice’s site offline. (If I’m wrong, please preserve the writing somewhere?)

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Has anyone had any experience, good or bad, with hiring technical talent from New Founding?


I remember some buzz about this a few months back, seemed like a good idea, but I wasn't in an actionable spot. Now I'm looking at potentially some serious hiring and expansion in 2024-2025, taking a more serious look at it, and while I like the idea...their youtube and twitter feels more like entertainment than serious professionalism. But maybe I'm misreading it. I'd really appreciate anybody who could share some feedback from working with them, good or bad. Thanks!

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Oct 30, 2023·edited Oct 30, 2023

Has anyone been able to leverage self-hypnosis into observable positive outcomes in their life?

I have a good meditation routine that has obvious quality of life benefits. I thought perhaps the Reveri app could approach some stubborn issues from a different angle, but I can't find a use for it.

Maybe I'm just doing it wrong?

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How much precaution do you all take when preparing and eating cooked rice, using ric leftovers?

I use a lot of leftover rice to make new dishes. It sits out at least for the course of dinner. I recently learned about a pathogen that doesn't die even with heat, or its toxin doesn't denature, and rice seems to need a treatment as careful as raw meat with regards to refrigeration?

Is this right?

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Oct 30, 2023·edited Oct 30, 2023

Autism and elevation: Can someone fact-check me?

Hello all,

I found some articles/studies showing a pretty strange correlation between elevation and rates of neurological issues and autism. All these studies seem pretty old, but the correlation they found is pretty shocking:

“for every 328-foot increase in altitude, there was a corresponding 2 percent increased risk of developmental delays.” (For reference, New Mexico is 5,700 feet, LA is at 310 feet, while Boston is 46 feet, which means New Mexico children are at about 35% more risk than Boston children... wow!)

“children living above 8,530 feet were twice as likely to be at risk of experiencing delays in their mental development as those living at or below 2,625 feet.”

Does anyone who knows more about this field know if this is accurate, or was the methodology flawed here? If so, why is it that I can find so little modern data on this?

Here is the laypeople article I am looking at: https://medicalxpress.com/news/2012-11-children-high-altitude-higher-mental.amp

Here is the corresponding medical study: https://www.jpeds.com/article/S0022-3476(12)01025-6/fulltext “Living on Higher Ground Reduces Child Neurodevelopment—Evidence from South America”

Edit: grammar errors

Edit: here is a link to read the article for free-- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3556200/

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Would a public tagging system be a good idea for ACX? I'm thinking about a crowd-sourced method of noting substantial discussions, like the recent one about getting into experimental treatment trials or the current one that's shaping up about integration and differentiation.

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AI doom is one thing, but AI saving the world? Destruction is much simpler than creation: how does an AI solve the favelas? Israel-Palestine? The CCP? North Korea? Is there really something even a superintelligent AI can do about these things? I'm not sure if we end up in these messes due to a lack of intelligence...

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Scott donating his kidney didn't sit right with me. There was even a guy who unsubscribed because of this. I think I pinpointed why: he was telling us about this very extreme act in his usual subdued tone, when I think it called for something like Radicalizing the Romanceless. And it is radical: someone pointed out that a friend of hers died during the surgery to remove her kidney (to give to her dying husband). A procedure that invasive will always be risky, even eliding the fact you have mutilated yourself. And to do it for a stranger? Cold altruism? As my brother said when discussing this: if you can sell this as reasonable, you can sell literally anything as reasonable. Myself, I'll keep reading, but it definitely gives a different tenor to that 30% chance of AI destroying the world that Scott gave...

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I know that one person doesn't count for much, but just to get it out there, my vote has flipped on the question of next year's review contest. I initially voted to keep it to books, but the idea of opening it to a broader set of essays has started to appeal to me recently.

Seems like most winners use the books as a framing device for conveying an ideology anyway, might as well canonize it.

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"Post about anything you want, ask random questions . . . "

OK, WHY is it ( do you think ) that the 4th amendment is routinely violated at every airport in the U.S.A. ?

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Does anyone else become peeved by noticing people being hypocritical in their accusations of hypocrisy? This is something I've been thinking about for a long time (actually, since I was a tiny little kid).

Let me give you the classic example: free speech debates. As far as I can tell, factions on both the left and right have shut down or tried to shut down legitimate speech in recent years. (I'm not going to debate which one "is worse"; let's just agree that neither are blameless.) And people on both sides know this. So whenever some kind of free-speech-disrespectin' goes on, there's always someone on the opposing side who smugly notes something along the lines of, "Wow! I can't believe [INSERT PEOPLE YOU DON'T VOTE FOR] hates free speech? I thought that they were the protectors of free speech! Guess that's not trueeeeeee!" And then they secretly admire their profound philosophical genius.

But if you look at things from a broader perspective, you see that not only do both sides sometimes go against free speech, but they both accuse the other side of hypocrisy - while themselves being hypocritical.

I've seen this a little bit with the Israel-Palestine situation, as well. I've seen rightists downplay the wrongs of Israel while focusing only on the evil of Hamas, while also complaining that leftists are hypocrites for downplaying Hamas and only focusing on Israel's wrongs. And I've seen leftists do the opposite.

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In the past few months I have suddenly started showing symptoms of OCD, ADHD( minus hyperactivity), anxiety attacks usually in the evenings, brain fog and mental fatigue, sudden spasms in muscles, pseudobulbar or maybe google is just making me a hypochondriac.

Sleep, appetite is normal, no sudden changes in lifestyle or stressful events. Blood tests indicate no health issues. My hypothyroidism is under control for years with medication.

I tried Vit D, magnesium supplements - no effect. L-theanine has a minor calming effect but doesn’t help in other areas. I ended up taking Nicotine 1mg logenze occasionally in the evenings which make me feel slightly better. 5-htp gave me giggling fits so I stopped using it. I don’t drink, smoke. Have decent diet and exercise routine.

Any suggestions ?I can’t get psychiatrist appointment for few months. Therapy was useless .

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Thanks for letting us know, Lars.

Lux Perpetua


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Was the Internet a mistake?

Yes, I realize that all questions of the form "Was X technology a net negative" all have certain things in common, including the obvious problem that many techs become virtually inevitable once the science, infrastructure, and economic incentives are there. But I'm looking at the increase in anxiety and general mental illness which characterizes individuals born after the Internet came on the scene. Millennials and Gen Z are addicted to their phones, struggle with relationships, and seem to spend a lot of time freaking out about AGI or AI girlfriends (https://www.freyaindia.co.uk/p/we-cant-compete-with-ai-girlfriends).

For me the Internet was an amazing, unmitigated good, a light that went on and pulled me out of a gloomy, intellectual cul-de-sac. But for everybody else... I mean I look around and people just seem so much more miserable than when I was growing up.

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On Georgism - if there is the Black Death round 2 and suddenly much less people and (likely) less demand for land, would governments be more or less robust if they were solely dependent on LVT?

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How much does children's vaccine response vary year-to-year / with age? I'm asking because my 4.5-year-old used to shrug off vaccines (including claiming that the pediatric COVID vaccine didn't hurt at all, either during the shot or afterwards), but this year his flu shot brought several days of a painful, itchy, warm-to-the-touch rash. From what I understand, this is still within the range of normal (if on the more annoying side of it), but I'm concerned about the dynamics: does this mean he'll now get reactions to all shots, and will the reactions continue to get worse over time? And if yes, what can we do about it?

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Classifieds Thread Success Report:

I posted about looking for a job in the last classifieds thread. I'm happy to report that, as a consequence, I did in fact get a job which I will be starting this week! I thought that others might be interested in this fact as a data point on how useful that thread is.

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I'm looking for a nuanced and intelligent place to be able to talk about or read about changing definitions in autism diagnosis, and more broadly the movement of self-diagnosis among adults. In general I'm skeptical of this.

My therapist thinks I might be autistic. In a lot of ways it fits thinking about behavior as a kid that would be called stimming now Etc. And whether or not I'm think the diagnosis is important, having that theory of mind for myself has been really helpful in understanding my own behavior. And a lot of it feels reaching because I don't know that I have struggled more than the average person with relationships or communication. Ie. Where is the line between masking and having good communication skills that take into account what someone else's experiencing? I would love to see nuanced discussion on this and I'm not finding anything.

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Happy 300th Open Thread everyone! Recently I made a temporary commitment, neither related to my professional life nor a personal obligation to anyone else, that had me doing an estimated 3000-4000 miles of driving in my car alone (I get a little over 40 miles to the gallon). Does anyone have any idea where and how I should go about offsetting this carbon footprint, and how best to calculate roughly how much money that would cost?

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I recently purchased an app called Stellarium. You can use it to view in real time the constellations and planets by pointing your phone at the sky (or even the ground, to see the view from the other side of the earth).

Absolutely love playing with this and highly recommend it to anyone who looks up at the night sky and wishes they knew what a certain star, constellation or planet was.

*I have no affiliation with this app or anyone who worked on it

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Is there something like a medical detective in the rationalist sphere?

What I imagine is that I give a bounty of like 10,000$ for a diagnosis that leads to a substantive reduction of my symptoms.

I can provide a list of symptoms and health stats for someone who might want to take this on.

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Oct 30, 2023·edited Oct 30, 2023

A Call for Compassion: A Kidney for a Lifesaver

Hello fellow rationalists and compassionate souls,

I am reaching out to this insightful community following my inspiring read on Scott's altruistic kidney donation. Life has a poetic way of intertwining our stories, and today, I find myself reaching out on behalf of my father who's in dire need of a kidney transplant.

My father, a 68-year-old dedicated radiologist, has been extending his expertise and care to a marginalized community in the rural southeast of Turkey, near the Syrian border. His relentless service continued even as he battled Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD), a condition I inherited from him and him from my grandpa whom we lost after a couple of years of hemodialysis in 1996. However, the relentless march of time and disease has cornered him into a four-year-long ordeal with periton dialysis. His medical indicators are not painting a promising picture and the waiting list for a transplant seems to stretch beyond the horizon.

His life is a testament to the positive ripple effects a single individual can generate within a community. Now, as his health deteriorates, I am compelled to seek a beacon of hope that could promise him more years of service and love to his family and community.

I have been encouraged by Scott to share our situation here, with the hope that among you lies a potential donor, or someone with the information that could lead us to one. While age might be a factor of consideration, the spirit to give and save lives transcends numerical boundaries. We are willing to travel wherever necessary to make this transplant a reality.

It's a long shot, but a shot nonetheless. In a realm of rational thinkers, I find my plea swimming against the tide of statistics and medical advisories. Yet, within the logical fabric of this community, threads of compassion run deep. It’s a test of altruism, spurred by Scott’s own journey, nudging the world, one kidney at a time.

The rationalist and EA community's endeavours always echo with logic entwined with empathy, and today, I seek that blend in saving a life that has saved and enriched many.

Should you wish to discuss this further or need more information, feel free to reach out to me at emdincerext@gmail.com.

Thank you for your time and consideration. Your thoughts, prayers, and any leads are immensely valued.

Warmest regards,

E Dincer

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I've come to the idea, perhaps not conclusion but close, that our civilization took a long detour to the notion that we could re-program human beings to behave in very different ways. In that detour we not only lost the thread of our culture but also the thread of our species' evolution. To what degree does human evolution impact our behavior? Rob Henderson in a recent substack post wrote this:

"To be sure, there are socio-cultural influences involved here.

But environmental factors do not operate on blank slates. To understand young men and young women, you have to take into account not only the cultural context but also evolved sex differences."

My question is has the fairly new study of evolutionary behavior brought us full circle to an appreciation of human nature that was once foundational to western culture? I tried to make that argument here: https://falsechoices.substack.com/p/the-human-heart. Would be interested to know what this group thinks???

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I’ve seemingly developed a bad bout of tinnitus in the last month or so. My noticing of it lined up with a particular bad upper respiratory illness, but I’m long since recovered and still struggling with the tinnitus. I do go to loud music shows but I wear earplugs and I’d be surprised if the 1-2 shows I went to in the last month were the tipping point, but fear I may have to accept that reality.

Anyways, it’s really disturbing my meditation ritual. As I try to relax and just notice sensations, it quickly becomes the loudest and dominant wavelength in my consciousness. Does anyone have any advice or know of others who have had similar struggles?

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It's annoying when the last half an inch or so of shampoo in a bottle won't flow to the nozzle and thus can't be used. It isn't miserly to want to use the whole bottle, but a commendable wish to avoid waste. But fear not, I have a solution!

Just add some water to the empty bottle and shake, I hear you say. But it isn't as simple as that, because watery shampoo is very likely to pour straight down one's face and into one's eyes. And it isn't worth using the last drop if you end up looking like a red and blinky eyed Nosferatu for hours afterwards!

No, the trick is to put aside the nearly empty bottle and start using a new one. Then when the new bottle is around three quarters full, pour the diluted remains of the previous bottle into it and shake. The result will be slightly less viscous shampoo, no more likely than the original to flow freely, and a completely used previous bottle!

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I just rediscovered Rainmeter - a piece of software that allows you to create your own custom widgest for Windows and I've been having tons of fun costumising myy desktop. It's way cooler than it sounds and the community is quite big with tons of people creating skins and widgets that you can use

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What have you learned recently?

I've taken the MSG-pill and have become enlightened. Started adding a bit of MSG to my pasta sauces and it's an instant and highly effective flavor enhancer. Would recommend that my fellow readers also try it.

A hypothesis. While I don't think MSG itself is directly unhealthy, I think it's possible that by adding MSG to foods we increase the chances that we pick up unhealthy habits like overeating. It basically makes food so much tastier that it becomes easier to keep eating. I haven't seen this exact dimension of health impact explored very much when MSG discussions come up and I would appreciate any thoughts.

Congratulations on the 300, Scott.

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I just want to wish everyone well.

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Does someone have a link to a nice primer on how various things in history are dated? Here are types of questions I would like to know answer to.

(i) Websites are full of estimates for Euclid's date, but I couldn't find what the "hard" upper and lower bounds are, what the "confidence intervals" or "epistemic status" of these datings are etc.

(ii) Say some prehistoric population has made cave art or pottery (e.g., Chinese pottery from apparently 20000 years ago), an ancient king has got letters scratched into a rock or a pillar, or there is a copper plate from a medieval king recording some grant. I guess these can mostly not be carbon dated. How are they dated then, and how reliable are the estimates?

Why does wikipedia typically not give "hard" upper and lower bounds for various dates?

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Hidden threads are no longer a thing that happens?

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In the UK, the Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves just published a book, she is a smart economist having worked at the Bank of England a successful parliamentarian and she was a top chess player in her youth.

Her book has whole paragraphs copied and pasted from Wikipedia, the Financial Times found 20 instances in the book of plagiarism.

How common is this kind of thing? Are politicians and economists regularly doing this but no one notices? Is there anyone who does plagiarism checks on books? This case was just spotted by the FT book reviewer.

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Oct 30, 2023·edited Oct 30, 2023

Recently Scott made a post speculating that more building activity and less strict zoning laws (YIMBY) might actually *in*crease housing prices. He got a lot of push-back, especially from economists, and updated accordingly.

An important example was Tokyo, where housing is cheap. This was mostly attributed to high building activity. Now Tyler Cohen has argued that this is attribution may be wrong, and that the main factor is not (only) building activity, but rather peculiarities of Japan which makes Tokyo unattractive for new residents. He doesn't go so far to share Scott's original interpretation (that building more houses mean larger prices), but he does propose a weaker version: that some informal "housing restrictions" may decrease housing cost.

I was sympathetic to Scott's original argument, and updated together with him when the push-back came. But after reading Tyler's arguments, I think that perhaps I updated too much.


Added: here are the comments on Scott's original article:


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Does anyone have an intuitive explanation of why integration is generally so much harder than differentiation?

I get the kind of practical reasons – the need to cancel terms that would appear when differentiating back again, the fact that there's an infinite number of possible antiderivatives, etc. And I have a hand-wavy sense that you're going "up a dimension" and this implies that the antiderivative encodes more information.

But I haven't seen a clear conceptual reason why finding a derivative is essentially an algorithmic process, while integration often requires a lot more creativity and strategy, and is frequently not possible at all except numerically.

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What are the best ways to make a bet on AI being a 'big deal'? Most ppl in the world seem to underestimate how drastically it could change everything (good or bad) so there must be lots of financial low hanging fruit, right??

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Let's keep re-reading Scott's old blog: what better time than now when you're hungry for more Scottish content?

"Stuff" https://archive.ph/5CgGN discusses what not to name your kids, and the Anti-Tyrion Principle is introduced.

(https://pastebin.com/JmxL4LcE link for those who can't open archive for some reason, index of all the archived posts: https://archive.ph/fCFQx)

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Over at Themotte.org people discuss culture war issues. If you are looking for discussion with people that you ideologically disagree with on a reddit style forum you might find it interesting.

It is descended from slatestarcodex via the slatestarcodex subreddit culture war thread which was discontinued and moved to another subreddit called themotte, and then there was some worrying levels of reddit censorship so themotte moved off of reddit entirely.

Warning: there are people you disagree with there. And often not just light disagreement. Like full on "our world views are incompatible" disagreement.

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Hi ACXers. Last week I asked for your thoughts on Marc Andreessen's Techno-Optimist manifesto.

Over the week I've compiled everyone's responses on Substack. I've also added a few thoughts of my own - more pragmatic than rational - but I'd appreciate your thoughts and comments.


The more I think about "techno-optimism", the more I think it's quite parochial and probably not worth a manifesto. Tools and technology literally defines homo sapiens capability. So the interesting thing isn't about being optimistic about it really - we're going to build stuff because that's just what we do.

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I'd like to talk with someone who lives at the Rationalist group houses in the Bay Area, or ideally several such someones. I'm looking for on-the-ground information about their locations and disaster preparedness; essentially, I'm concerned for your safety in case of either WWIII or US civil war.

Replying to me here would work. If you want some degree of privacy you can email me (same handle @gmail.com). You have my word I'm not out to do anything untoward; I'm just trying to help.

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I have a sense that the conversation in Western countries around the Middle East is gradually changing to the point where most unbiased observers agree that Hamas is an awful terrorist hive of scum and villainy and eradicating them would be for the benefit of Israelis, Palestinians, everyone really. I say this as an Australian after a joint statement this morning by six of our former prime ministers to this effect. What's the vibe out there?

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I recently put out a podcast where I talk to Giles Milton about his book White Gold. It is about how Europeans were captured and taken into slavery in North Africa and tells the story of one such slave, Thomas Pellow, who was captured at the age of eleven.

It left me with a few slightly uncomfortable questions about my enjoyment of the story.

It is an exciting and exotic tale. The Sultan of Morocco of the time (Moulay Ismail) seems to have been a Caligula like figure. Cruel to the point of psychopathy but with intelligence and wit as well. He liked to drive around his palaces in a chariot pulled by some of his wives and eunuchs. And he had plenty of wives - apparently around 500. And maybe unsurprisingly he is high up in the league table of men with the most children in recorded history.

The story is packed with ironies. Pellow (a slave) is sent as part of a slave raiding expedition across the Sahara into West Africa. He hopes to escape by contacting French or British slavers who have operations there. They do come across a French ship but before he can do anything the Moroccans have boarded the ship, captured the slavers who are sent north in chains to join their compatriots in slavery.

One question I have is at what stage does history become an interesting/exciting ’adventure story’? These were real people who suffered terribly yet from this distance (at least to me) Moulay Ismail is almost a figure of fun. But his cruelty was just appalling. One of his favourite punishments was tying someone to a board and having them sawn in two lengthwise.

So why do I enjoy reading this stuff instead of feeling nauseous? Is it just the passage of time?

Anyway here is the podcast. Giles Milton is a great storyteller and best I can tell it is all true.


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I shared this last time in an open thread comment, we received quite a few positive emails back. Sharing it again (for the last time? don't want to be spammy)

Working with a UK cyber security startup, on a free AI powered Linkedin report that tells you how you're perceived based on your LinkedIn activity. Useful for those job seeking, thought leaders on the platform, and those with public facing jobs (marketing, sales, writers, etc.)

You can request yours for free here - https://www.visible.cx/lp/linkedin-report-request

It's free but would love feedback as we're developing the MVP.

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Oct 30, 2023·edited Oct 30, 2023

Correct me if I'm wrong, but the sequence to get to Yud's ~60-80% chance (actually >90%)³ of AI extinction by the end of the century appears to be as follows:

1. There will be no AI warning shots

2. Even if there are warning shots, we won't be able to develop controls because humans

3. Even if we do develop controls, the warning shots aren't going to be sufficiently representative, by definition, of PCMs (paperclip maximizers)

4. The technological path to ASI continues unabated

5. A PCM emerges

#1-4 have reasonable priors (as do their complements, although not as compelling¹)

But #5 doesn't. There is no experimental evidence for PCMs, and if they're defined so as to be disconnected from weak AIs, then we won't get any of that evidence. When I go through the arguments for PCMs, I concede that I can't find a logical reason for why they wouldn't emerge.² But if I step back, I realize that any confidence in PCMs should remain theoretical, for now.

Shouldn't we assign <<50% to #5 on priors by virtue of this argument alone?

UPDATE: added note 3


[1]: Interestingly, the complement is a polar opposite story, one that requires some anthropic-y reasoning. For example, the majority of my <<5% estimate comes from the fact that we've survived atomic self-annihilation. But you can reach the opposite conclusion if you put Occam's razor in the hands of a Rationalist, who would likely say that our survival has been due to luck.

[2]: https://www.astralcodexten.com/p/open-thread-299/comment/42326398

[3]: Per comments below, and indirectly cited by Scott: "Eliezer Yudkowsky seems to think >90%" https://www.astralcodexten.com/p/why-i-am-not-as-much-of-a-doomer

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Oct 30, 2023·edited Oct 30, 2023

I'm sorry for your loss, Lars.

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