Forewarning of conditions for TERRORIST VIOLENCE (actually just the wilful use of technology for anti human, anti essentialist and wireheading purposes (unless you subsequently get violent about this)))


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I’m loving the clueing on today’s XWord

Clue: Pictures where people are headscarfed?


They are cracking me up this morning.

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OC ACXLW Sat April 6 Consciousness, Race, and Lived Experience

Hello Folks!

We are excited to announce the 60th Orange County ACX/LW meetup, happening this Saturday and most Saturdays after that.

Host: Michael Michalchik

Email: michaelmichalchik@gmail.com (For questions or requests)

Location: 1970 Port Laurent Place, 92660

(949) 375-2045

Date: Saturday, April 6 2024

Time 2 pm

Conversation Starters:

Your Book Review: Consciousness And The Brain: A review of Stanislas Dehaene's book "Consciousness and the Brain", which explores the cognitive neuroscience of consciousness. The book discusses the differences between conscious and unconscious processing, the neural signatures of consciousness, and theories of consciousness such as the Global Neuronal Workspace.

Text link: https://www.astralcodexten.com/p/your-book-review-consciousness-and

Audio link: https://podcastaddict.com/astral-codex-ten-podcast/episode/139738702

Questions for discussion:

a) According to Dehaene, what are the key differences between conscious and unconscious processing? What can the brain do without consciousness, and what requires consciousness?

b) How does Dehaene's approach to studying consciousness, which relies on subjective reports, differ from traditional methods in cognitive psychology? What are the strengths and limitations of this approach?

c) The book discusses several theories of consciousness, including the Global Neuronal Workspace, Integrated Information Theory, and the Multiple Drafts Model. How do these theories differ in their explanations of consciousness, and what evidence supports or challenges each theory?

How Should We Think About Race And "Lived Experience"?: An article discussing the complex relationship between race, genetics, and lived experience, using the case of Elizabeth Hoover, a professor who identified as Native American but was later found to have no Native American ancestry.

Text link: https://www.astralcodexten.com/p/how-should-we-think-about-race-and

Audio link: https://podcastaddict.com/astral-codex-ten-podcast/episode/172964727

Questions for discussion:

a) How does the case of Elizabeth Hoover challenge the idea that race is primarily a matter of "lived experience" rather than genetics? What are the implications of this case for how we define and think about racial identity?

b) The article discusses the potential problems with using genetics as the sole basis for determining racial identity, such as the risk of retroactively invalidating someone's life experiences and cultural contributions. What are the pros and cons of using genetics, lived experience, or a combination of factors to define race?

c) How might concerns about cultural appropriation, affirmative action, and the preservation of minority cultures influence how communities define and police racial boundaries? What are the potential unintended consequences of these practices, as illustrated by the Elizabeth Hoover case?

Walk & Talk: We usually have an hour-long walk and talk after the meeting starts. Two mini-malls with hot takeout food are readily accessible nearby. Search for Gelson's or Pavilions in the zip code 92660.

Share a Surprise: Tell the group about something unexpected that changed your perspective on the universe.

Future Direction Ideas: Contribute ideas for the group's future direction, including topics, meeting types, activities, etc.

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Does anybody here have experience with Acton Academy? One just opened up in our town (they're enrolling for next year) and I'm interested, but also a little wary. My son is in second grade and is not getting challenged at all in his public school (there are no gifted and talented programs). This is the only private option in town and I really want to believe that it might work for him.

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What is the current state of research on risks and effectiveness of psylocibin for depression-therapy? Does anyone know of a good discussion of this?

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Apr 3·edited Apr 3

So today I learned that the Obamas have a film and TV production company, which surprised me. I don't know why, except that "film production" is not something I would have imagined as post- presidency careers for them.

Looking it up, they've had it since 2018 and it seems to be mostly producing stuff for Netflix, so a more successful version of what Harry and Meghan tried doing with their production company? Anyway, I learned about all this due to the fact that their company produced a series set in Ireland that will be screening on Netflix in May:


It sounds a little bit like an Irish version of all those Scandinavian thrillers/police shows that were wildly popular in the UK a while back, and I suppose I'm fearful that it may indulge in Paddywhackery. Even the modern form of Paddywhackery, which is more "the dark dire drear doings of the bog dwellers, isn't it great that we're so modern and urban nowadays?" unless it's the "we're so modern and urban nowadays, we have gangs and crime and drugs and guns all that good stuff where people wallow in poverty and misery and can't get out" variant.

EDIT: Okay, going by the trailer, yep, Paddywhackery. And swiping the Scandinoir style with the Midsommar version of Hallowe'en (no, even in darkest West Cork they don't walk around with skinned rabbits in a procession, ask Scott if you don't believe me) and the de-saturated colours. I never thought I'd complain about asking them to turn up the brightness, because usually it's the *opposite* problem in movies/TV set in Ireland, but even while it can be grey and dreer here, it's a tiny bit brighter and greener than this shows. If it's Hallowe'en, that's the end of October, and in a West Cork coastal village you'll have the golden autumnal evening light and the long Atlantic dusk where the western sky is amethyst and sapphire.


EDIT EDIT: Although feck it, there's a scene at around 1:32 in the trailer where one of the intrepid podcasters breaks into what looks like an abandoned chapel full of beehives with a statue at the end surrounded by candles as in a shrine, and if the writers did *any* kind of homework, that *could* be Saint Gobnait because it's West Cork, she's a prominent local saint there, she's associated with bees and bee-keeping, and she's also the patron saint of a mountain parish in my own place, which is how I know about her.


But it'll probably just be a statue of the Blessed Virgin, so a missed opportunity!

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Old news?

The psychological risks of meditation


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Do we know which percentage of subscribers are paying subscribers here on ACX and in general on substack.

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The rationalist tradition in Hinduism that began in ancient India. (Btw, This is a great channel of you're interested in Indian history. Came recommended by an expert I know.)


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What do wombles do with the litter they collect?

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I'm deciding between upcoming travel opportunities in Hong Kong and Taiwan - any recommendations for either (or both)?

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like collapse, like AGI, time will most certainly tell

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I feel like this might be getting tedious now, but something has gone wrong with the scores. The highest blind score on the spreadsheet is 0.275 (as stated in the post) and the highest full score is 0.34. But the winning score was 0.38.

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"Google has launched an "antiracism" initiative claiming that America is a "system of white supremacy" and that all Americans are "raised to be racist"—including Ben Shapiro, who is depicted as a layer of the "white supremacy pyramid," culminating in "genocide.""

Something to keep in mind next time somebody talks about 'wokeness is in decline' or something

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What do you all think of Orchid genetics? Has anyone used them yet?

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More and more evidence that the purported financial benefits of a firm's "diversity" are based on bad/misleading science that doesn't replicate: https://twitter.com/cremieuxrecueil/status/1774891359268147684

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I stumbled into a (relatively) old interview [1] with Yehuda Shaul, a Co-founder of Breaking the Silence [2], an Israeli organization that specializes in debunking the myth of the "Most Moral Army" by soliciting personal accounts from some of the people who fought for said army about what they did during their service. For example, the current top link on Breaking the Silence's website is a post-October-7th NYT op-ed [3] from an IDF soldier who fought in the 2014 war, where he recounts how - based on false briefing from his superiors - he accidentally killed an elderly woman with a grenade.

Breaking the Silence, along with B'Tselem, are the main 2 characters in a change of heart I had recently (mostly after October 7th, but in some sense it started before, not by too long), where I transitioned from an older model of Israel, the mainstream default in most Arab circles, of Israel and Israelis having no intention to ever see the word "Peace" except as a cynical delay tactic and as a tool for aborting actual peace initiatives and negotiations, to an updated model where **most** (by number) of Israel and Israelis are like this, but where a significant and influential minority of as-yet undetermined size truly wanting peace and bearing massive social and personal costs as it swims against the immense currents of cynicism and warmongering in a desperate Hail Mary for peace. I'm highlighting this org because - in some sense - this change of heart it induced in me is the 3rd most massive POV switch in my belief network, right after Atheism and Vegetarianism. And just like for those 2, I have a certain fondness and feeling of gratefulness for the people who pointed me to (what I now see as) the right direction and away from the unexamined inertial one.

The highlight of the interview for me:

-- Yehuda recounts how his former unit in the West Bank city of Hebron was tasked with what he described as "making our presence felt". Meaning: Breaking into a Palestinian home, waking up the resident family in terror and inspecting the whole house, going to the roof, jumping into the neighboring house's roof, and coming out the other house's gate. 8 hours a day per individual patrol, each day a year, every year from 2000 till now. For what reason? What military objective? What galaxy-brained endgame that defenders of the IDF's behavior always seem to hallucinate in their ever-more-futile quest to justify the unjustifiable? Yehuda, former IDF personnel, says "literally nothing". Nay, that's actually not what he said, he said something far worse: the objective is to create the "Feeling of being Persecuted" in the occupied Palestinians, translating from a slang Hebrew term widespread in the army. That is, the whole reason is for Palestinians to know that "Big Brother is Watching", the entirety of the IDF mission in occupied Palestine being essentially little more than a gesture of "That's a Nice Family you have over there, would be a shame if... you know".

I recommend watching the full interview and checking out the Breaking the Silence website to see the thinking and handiwork of a man that I'm sure changed the mind of many Israelis and (more importantly, and so I hope) many Palestinians and those who root for them. The interview was posted nearly an exact 10 years before October 7th, on October 10th 2013. Itself a statement about the sheer uniformity of oppression and dispossession meted out by the Israeli war machine, an anti-dote to the artificial short Context Window that many on the Pro-Israel side loves to impose on the debate, where you're supposed to tunnel-vision on the exact 100 hours stretch between the night of October 6th and the night of October 10th of 2023 and not a single sensory input else.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TXiMyQkCPfI

[2] https://www.breakingthesilence.org.il/

[3] https://archive.ph/z63RM, paywalled original: https://www.nytimes.com/2023/10/28/opinion/international-world/gaza-idf-israel-veterans.html?unlocked_article_code=1.6Ew.X_0W.8hhb88AHkBKB&smid=url-share

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Iowa women playing LSU in a minute. According to Michael Che there are bars that only show women’s sports. They’re called ‘the empty ones.’

Ah cmon Michael,this is some good basketball and the are called sports bras.

Oh, man and Caitlin drains her first three pointer.

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I am looking for as detailed as possible a data source on human height: average, median & variance, segregated by sex, nationality & decade; the more, the better. Does anyone have recommendations where to look for that?

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What effect will the new weight loss drugs like ozempic have on lifespan?

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Statistics sanity check:

This report claims that cybercrime costs the world $8 trillion annually:


All experts are at risk of inflating the importance of their area of expertise, so there could be bias here. And $8 trillion is a huge number (roughly equal to the combined GDPs of Germany and the UK). World GDP is ~$100 trillion.

Is this claim plausible? If yes, chances of making this a new EA cause area? Even marginal progress on reducing cyber crime might save a trillion dollars!

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I asked this in the announcement thread but was late and got no reply so trying here: Would it be acceptable to enter the book review contest by writing a review of a fictional blog? The blog in question has not "concluded" and is not structured as a book, but it is fictional and I think could benefit from a "book review"-style analysis, but if that's not what the contest is looking for I'll write up something more standard.

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Again inviting people to read and hopefully subscribe and even more hopefully then comment on what they read at "Radical Centrist" https://thomaslhutcheson.substack.com/

Recent topics are

COVID policy errors

Climate Change

Monetary policy

Macroeconomic Indicators

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There was an article I read a while back about a US intelligence officer who lived in Damascus before the civil war broke out. He talks about sitting in cafes and coffee shops eavesdropping on the conversations people around him were having, and realizing based on this that shit was really about to hit the fan. Not only was a war going to break, but based on what he was hearing on the ground he thought there was a chance that radical Islamic groups were going to end up controlling large swaths of territory in the midst of the chaos. Apparently he brought these insights to his superiors in the Obama administration and they laughed him off. Of course that’s exactly what happened.

Point is that sometimes what you’re hearing on the streets is a useful barometer for a monumental shift that’s about to happen.

I bring this up to say that I think there is a decent chance Trump wins in a landslide. I was at a Lil Wayne concert recently, with a crowd that was roughly 75% black and Hispanic, and for whatever reason there were a ton of people voicing their enthusiasm for Trump in the Men’s room and elsewhere. All races cracking jokes about how terrible Biden is and how insane democrats are. It was pretty surprising. If Biden can’t win the Lil Wayne fan demographic, which based on what I hear on the ground it doesn’t sound like he is, he loses the election in a landslide. Obviously it’s not a perfect heuristic, but it seems like everywhere I go there’s more enthusiasm for Trump than there’s ever been.

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Apr 1·edited Apr 1

Every measurement about the world needs error bars in order to be correct.

This is true the same way that every energy measurement needs a relativity term in order to be correct: In the vast majority of cases, this extra term can be safely ignored.

In some cases it cannot, and this is the common problem between non-frequentist probabilities and the “Rootclaim’s $100,000 Lab Leak Debate” probabilities. To be clear, I fully believe that someone smarter and more eloquent than me has written about this. However, since I haven’t seen said writing, I’m going to give it a go myself.

In the case of non-frequentist probabilities, this is a little bit pedantic, but I think it gets to the root of why (some) people object to them. It plays out as follows:

If I see 400 white balls and 600 black balls in an urn, then I can say “There is a 40% probability of a randomly pulled ball being white”. However, this is incorrect. What is actually true is “There is a 40% probability of a randomly pulled ball being white, given that I counted the original number of balls correctly, plus N% that I was off by net-1, plus an M% chance that I was off by net-2, etc…”. In other words, my 40% number has error bars – It’s really 40.0000% += “probability I counted wrong”. In this case, however, we can assume that “probability I counted wrong” is very small relative to the information being conveyed by the 40% number. Maybe it’s actually 40.00 +/- 0.1%. Thus, in common parlance, I can elide the uncertainty altogether, and just say 40%, and very little information is lost.

In the case of the question “will it rain tomorrow”, the model is much more complicated, but the basic idea remains the same. If the weather forecast says “There is a 20% chance of rain”, what they actually mean is “there is a 20% +/- all-the-error-in-our-model-compounded”. And (I assume) meteorologists actually know what these numbers are, at least to some extent – there’s a reason that weather forecasts don’t go more than 10 days out: meteorologists understand that, past a certain point, their error bars are large enough that they simply can’t say anything helpful. They don’t include their error bars in their forecasts because we don’t live in a statistically literate society, but it’s generally understood that a.) the weather forecast has bigger error bars than the 400/600 balls case and b.) the weather forecast’s error bars increase with temporal-distance-from-the-present

Hell, I assume Samotsvety has detailed confidence calculations on all of their predictions. I would hope. If they don’t, I would love to know how their results end up being as good as they are.

The problem with putting probabilities on AI doom (or any other thing that we don’t have well-tested models for) is that the error bars are large enough that 0-100% are all included in them. Saying “AI has a 20% chance of destroying the world” is technically wrong in the same way saying “I have a 40% chance of pulling a white ball is wrong”. Both of them are eliding the “+/- chance-my-calculations-model-etc-are-wrong”. But with the balls case, that probability ends up being very small – saying “40%” when the reality is “40% +/- 0.1%” is mostly correct. But in the AI case, the chance the model is just wrong is really high. So saying “20%”, when the reality is “20% +/- 50%” is mostly incorrect. Given “20% +/- 50%” as a probability, the ‘correct’ shorthand is “I don’t know”, and not “20%”.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with probabilities for future events, but stating numbers for things with large error bars gives a misleading


This has gotten long, so I’ll keep this short. This is the same problem that Baysean reasoning has, particularly with many terms, and particularly with small terms.

If you’re multiplying probabilities, you have to multiply their errors as well. Probabilities aren't numbers -- they're distributions. And if you do so, you very quickly get error bars which encompass, say 20+ orders of magnitude. Thus, unless you are supremely confident on all your components, any Baysean process that doesn’t ignore uncertainty will very quickly find itself giving a useless answer, and any Baysean process that does quickly becomes wrong.

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Ravi Agarwal appears to be a real professor, possibly emeritus, at Texas A&M University - Kingsville. https://www.tamuk.edu/artsci/departments/math/about/agarwal.html

I became aware of him because this showed up in my search results as I was looking for something else: https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/mathematics/irrational-number

> 5.2 Irrational number without zeros among its digits is inconceivable

> An irrational number (nonrecurring, i.e., no pattern in its decimal form; in other words, when the decimal form has no pattern whatsoever, it is irrational. If there is a pattern, then it is a good indication for rational) without zeros among its digits is inconceivable. An irrational number (a number that cannot be expressed as the ratio of two integers) will always have zeros in its decimal (or any other radix) representation. It is a conjecture to us now, but the proof should not possibly be difficult.

This is apparently an excerpt from a book that is available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Zero-Landmark-Discovery-Dreadful-Ultimate-ebook/dp/B017UAMW7Q/

(Obviously, you should not buy the book. It is gibberish.)

Hell, it's also available from Elsevier, implying that the trade dress in the Amazon image is not fraudulent: https://shop.elsevier.com/books/zero/sen/978-0-08-100774-7

It is of course very easy to prove that irrational numbers exist which have no zeroes in their decimal expansion. You can do it by constructing an example! (A really easy example would be the number whose decimal expansion is the concatenation of the strings '2', '12', '112', '1112', '11112', etc.)

So my question is:

(1) what exactly is going on with this book? Anyone who accidentally read it would have to notice that it is, at best, just a bunch of words someone made up, which, to the extent they're supposed to have a meaning at all, are wrong.

(2) Why is Ravi Agarwal's name on it? Is that fraud or did he do it? His faculty page says that he is or was a research mathematician with a Ph.D. from IIT. It isn't possible for such a person to believe that it might be possible to prove that all irrational numbers have a zero in their decimal expansion. What happened?

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I just published an article on COVID-19 denialism and how COVID-19 impacts the brain:


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Graphing the connections between wikipedia articles and looking for patterns.

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When I hear Americans talk about socialism and communism, they seem to talk about them as though they are the same thing — especially when libertarians or conservatives speak — and that both are necessarily totalitarian.

Here's Bryan Caplan (nothing special about him, it's just the latest example of many):

> Or to take one last example, when I debate socialists, most of them never even mention the old Soviet bloc. They give the impression that their ideas have never been tried. Which makes me wonder: Are they unaware of the history of actually-existing socialism?

I'm neither a communist or a socialist but I am interested and I have always understood them as distinct ideas.

Perhaps socialism is a stepping stone on the way to communism for some but my understanding is that socialism is compatible with democracy — as demonstrated by the many socialist parties in Europe — whereas communism is necessarily totalitarian.

I asked on Substack Notes and a few people replied that I am mistaken: the socialist parties in Europe are not socialist and the core of socialism is totalitarianism. The British Labour Party, for example, was not socialist according to this understanding.

Can anyone help me out? Am I mistaken? Does everyone in America have this same interpretation? What about other countries?

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I am currently working on organizing a forecasting tournament in a large Western-European government organisation. Due to overzealous compliancy officers, I will have to use tools that can be run locally on a network. As far as I know, this means the open source project by the Confido Institute is my only option. Are there other options ways to run a forecasting tournament locally on a network? Does anyone have experience running such a tournament and might be able to share resources (emails, announcements etc.)?

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Request for help from a speaker of Greek:

Years ago I had a friend who constructed Greek words for various irrational fears using the suffix -φοβία, which could then be used in English. A familiar example is acrophobia, from the prefix ακρο, meaning "peak", and φοβία, meaning "fear". Using this construction, he coined the English words "ipsophobia", or fear of everything, "scataphobia", fear of shit, and several others I have forgotten.

I need a similar word for "fear of the Post Office". A friend has displayed this for years, and I thought she must be the only one, but recently another person admitted the same fear.

I have the opposite condition, an irrational love of the post office, so I guess I will need that word also.

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Scott, I'm bumping: the Spring Meetups Everywhere 2024 listing for Newton, Mass. is still wrong.

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Apr 1·edited Apr 1

Well, I'm officially Too Old because what the hell is a "community of practice" as in Newspeak's "emerging communities of practice"?

That's extremely vague to the point of being slightly sinister. "What are you?" "A community" "And what do you do?" "We practice" "Practice what?" "Being a community".

What it *sounds* like is "We train you to be a SPAD"


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"Newspeak House"

"Political Technology"

I am probably more conservative (in both the express political sense and the temperamental sense) than the target audience for this group, but I definitely share your impression of perceiving this language as sinister. Would fit well into Lewis's Space Trilogy, as well as Orwell.

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So what's going on with the US's hypersonic weapons program, relative to Russia and China? In the popular media the narrative is that the US is in 2nd or 3rd place in the race to develop hypersonic missiles, and we've certainly had a pretty slow & inconsistent track record in building them so far. On the other hand, I've heard a variety of different responses (which kinda conflict with each other):

1. What Russia is building/using are not actually 'true' hypersonic missiles that we're building, so the 2 programs can't be compared

2. Hypersonics are actually of relatively less utility for the US given our existing missile/other capabilities, so advancements here are less of a big deal

3. Hypersonic missiles are overrated. Alternately, that existing materials technology can't make missiles sturdy enough for hypersonic speeds, so any true 'advancements' in the field aren't practical at this time

Any general thoughts on the field? I'm a little skeptical of what I read in the popular media about highly technical topics

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So let’s say he actually does fifteen out of the twenty-five years. Will the DNC return to his victims the millions the ‘effective altruist’ Sam Bankman-Fried so generously donated to the Democratic Party?

If, after he’s served his sentence, SBF is able to conjure the $32B he was convicted of making disappear through his cryptocurrency exchange and hedge fund, he will have earned a taste over $2B per year.

If he can only conjure up a sorry billion, he will have earned a mere $67M per year. Not bad, but pitiful for a gamer yearning to join the pop pantheon of tech savants.

But security could be is a problem. When one makes so much money disappear — and the vanishing includes the investments of others — some people will likely be unhappy. The more money involved, the more victims and the higher the losses will be. Some investors could be very unhappy. The good news is that victims of the thief know where to find him, which is bad news for SBF.

Housing would ordinarily be in a dorm with maybe a hundred other men, all one’s possessions in a 2x3-foot box. That would cost the government about $35 to $40K per year. But in a dorm, too many parties would be offering and counter-offering protection schemes, it would be impossible to keep track of all the shakedowns, and his safety would still be at risk. An open yard would be too stressful and problematic, and emergency medical care pretty rudimentary.

If he ends up in administrative segregation, the cost will about double; in full protective lockdown, probably triple. But either way, the abrupt change from the stimulation of gaming during business conferences, etc., to roosting on a bunk with no electronics — and the stark simplicity of incarceration — will be a shock. The immature 32-year-old should change considerably. The psychological tedium and carb-rich diet will take their toll. Electronics and the cyborgery will be quite different in two or three decades. Whether his incarceration will set back the development of cryptocurrency or ‘effective altruism’ remains to be seen. And the DNC is likely to remain pleased to be a beneficiary of Bankman-Fried’s effective robbery. For a libertarian, he sure flashed Democrat bona fides in giving away other people’s money.

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I learned about the prophetic perfect tense from here a little while ago. I found, in the wild, as it were, a similar weird tense when talking about the weather forecast: something like, "it was raining next Monday, but now it's mostly sunny."

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I am kind of struggling with a personal decision and so I am doing the only reasonable thing and turning to internet strangers for help (because I am horribly unconfident in my ability to make decisions). I currently hold a full scholarship to a law school (it's a strong regional school, not a T14 or anything) and an offer from LSE for the MSc in Philosophy and Public Policy. I don't really think that I will enjoy law school, the people, or the intellectual topic there, (at law school events, I mostly spoke with the friend I brought and got blank stares from future classmates that weren't in philosophy or civil service already) whereas I have strong reason to believe that I would enjoy the program, topic, and people at LSE.

That being said, law school has a really clear path to a career, while the MSc definitely does not (the program emphasizes PhD placement). I'm really torn and don't know which to pick. Does anyone have any advice about it?

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April fools day and Dyngus day. There's a joke in there somewhere, but I can't find it. Enjoy the day everyone!

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Apr 1·edited Apr 1

So I've been reading about polyamory here and on the old SSC site for years now, and I still just don't get it. I've had friends that were in *open* relationships, but that was just about sex, and I've read here and elsewhere that polyamory is about being in a relationship with multiple people.

I've been married for almost 20 years and relationships are *hard*. You have to establish boundaries, build communication skills, learn to fight fair, deal with in-laws, baggage, hammer out a mutually agreeable position on children, finances, leisure activities, etc. I'm frankly having trouble processing the idea of trying to do that with more than one person at once (much less doing it in a way that bucks strong societal norms). Intuitively, at least to me, it seems like the following trilemma must hold and at least one of the following is true:

1. The difficulties of being in a relationship scale sublinearly to the number of participants

2. Poly relationships are shallower than traditional monogamous ones and avoid a lot of these problems

3. Poly relationships tend not to be stable long enough to hit the many of the above issues

2 and 3 seem to contradict the writing on the topic from poly folks, and I'm reluctant to discredit somebody else's lived experience. 1 if true would be *fascinating* and somewhat surprising. Any poly folks want to please explain this to my tiny traditional brain? What am I missing here?

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Can anyone tell me whether the Groenlinks-PvdA party in the Netherlands is running primarily on YIMBYism?

From a recent Christopher Caldwell essay (https://claremontreviewofbooks.com/flooded-with-migrants/):

"The Labor Party (PvdA), an electoral juggernaut in the 20th century, has steadily lost working-class voters. Last year it had to merge with a second party, GroenLinks (Green-Left), to scrabble 16% of the vote. What does this consolidated party stand for? Gentrification, mostly—it wins neighborhoods convenient to city centers where public housing has been privatized and the old tenants pushed out, like those just east of the center of Utrecht."

This jumped out at me in an otherwise pretty boring essay. I'm not sure if this is some dig at the left but if any place was going to have an explicitly YIMBY political party, it would be a European country with a parliament and like 30 tiny parties fighting to be in a coalition. And a primarily YIMBY party would be really interesting. But I don't know anything about Dutch(?) politics and I thought I'd ask.

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My colleague and I wrote this piece as a summary of the science-based arguments for God I posted here last year:


The commentators here were very helpful in asking questions and engaging in respectful dialogue. We'd be interested to know what your thoughts on this piece are.

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Great pick on Instacart! The stock has gone straight up since you did your piece on it.

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3 Body Problem.

(Spoilers follow.)

Someone please explain to me how its RottenTomatoes approval stats (77% with the pro critics, 81% audience) are possible, because holy hot damn, is it wildly incompetent at storytelling.

First, my background: I went to technical film school, and, between the ages of 19 to 26 or so, I made it a personal mission to see *every* movie that came out in every theater in my region (first Phoenix, then L.A.). I made an exception for The Barney Movie (although I never quite felt right about deliberately breaking that streak), and certain special-interest releases (Christian propaganda, etc). After seeing a movie, I'd read professional reviewers, like Ebert, for further education. I usually wrote my own reviews on Livejournal.

In other words, while I am not a professional critic, I certainly had the viewing-and-reflection habits of a professional critic, and thus I tend to have broadly similar standards and tastes of a professional, not-ideologically-captured critic.

Which is why I'm so bewildered that *any* professional critic could give 3 Body Problem a positive review. The choice to relocate the story from China to England had dire consequences on the believablity of a story which requires draconian government control, a China-sized government infrastructure and resources, and a culture of isolationism.

The show attempts to recreate the CCP's draconian power by imagining an unnamed British shadow agency to whom all other agencies and government officials unquestioningly defer. They are fully empowered to do CCP-esque things like send a heavily armed strike force to arrest everyone at a peaceful semi-religious gathering of 100+ people with no probable cause, to commandeer military personnel and equipment at whim, to detain people indefinitely with no probable cause, to access and monitor people's home security cameras, internet and phone communication, to straightforwardly murder 1000+ people *including children* living on a retrofitted container ship in pursuit of a MacGuffin, and do it *IN THE PANAMA CANAL*, in broad daylight, like *TEN MINUTES AFTER A CRUISE SHIP GOES BY* and surely like *TEN MINUTES BEFORE THE NEXT SHIP IS SCHEDULED TO COME ALONG,* without said large-scale murder and extremely visible carnage being noticed and investigated by the Panamanian, American, or any other government.

The issue of scale and isolationism is likewise just as absurd; I routinely laughed out loud at the scenes of a dozen British scientists formulating an elaborate nuclear powered space probe plan to gain intelligence about a coming alien invasion without any seeming awareness of, or intention to, consult with NASA, Elon Musk, the European Space Agency, the Chinese National Space Administration, etc about said plan. There is even a speech about how these people in the room are so very critical to future, and the show certainly seems to want the audience to believe that the future of the species depends on these people in this room, particularly our protagonist, and and no one else executing their plan.

Not until said plan was fully formed, anyway, at which point Shadow Government Guy picks up the phone and tells an American, "Hey, we have a plan and you're going to go along with it, we gotta borrow Cape Canaveral and your nuclear bombs."

There are almost as many other problems with the script as there are scenes across all the episodes. In one scene, a human who's been having phone calls with the aliens (or the aliens' AI) for decades reads the story of Little Red Riding Hood, at which point it the alien starts asking questions like, "why did Little Red Riding Hood want to get eaten by the wolf" and eventually asks enough questions that the human realizes that the aliens *don't understand the basic concept of deception,* lying, fiction, and presumably metaphor, exaggeration, figures of speech, etc. due to their form of instant psychic communication.

First, how did this not come up sooner after decades of chats? This is the very first time the human is reading the alien a work of fiction which prompts the alien to ask a couple of illuminating questions?

Second, bullshit, because the aliens (or their AI, which would of course be a reflection of their knowledge) have built an advanced video game for humans, which would require the aliens/alien AI to be capable of imagining and envisioning things that aren't real and didn't happen, and thus capable of fiction.

Third, bullshit again, because in the very first communication with the aliens, an alien tells a human, "don't try to reach out to us again, our civilization sucks," and when the human does it anyway, the next aliens are like, "hey, we're great and come in peace."

Fourth, bullshit again-again, the aliens/AI later take control of every screen on the planet to tell all humans, "YOU ARE BUGS," which stands in stark contrast to Shadow Government Guy definitively stating in one of the strategy meetings *after* this event, "we know the aliens can't lie" as an expository rule of this particular universe.

Then there are the hundreds of little details which are just wrong, like a 40 million dollar estate which includes a business and homes being liquidated and distributed into the bank account of one of its heirs within two days; the existence of a somewhat dilapidated bungalow perched in perfect isolation over a deserted beach by what sure looks like the White Cliffs of Dover, an inability to track a helicopter and a general lack of awareness about a retrofitted container ship with a 150ft satellite dish perched on its deck (is that even seaworthy for a transatlantic crossing?), an extremely high-value target in tremendous danger of assassination being escorted into the UN building through the front door and then getting shot in a bullet-proof jacket by a sniper who doesn't bother to reload and try again, despite said character being very obviously unharmed and with an unprotected head, and on and on and on.

And then there are all the other more ephemeral problems of the series; disastrously awful casting choices, laughably inept visual effects sequences, flat cinematography, a score which is somehow intrusive *and* boring at the same time, and on and on and on.

With the exception of perhaps one or two well-acted scenes and one well-written scene, the entire show is just...utter...clownshoes.

So I ask...*how?* How can anybody watch this show and not notice these glaring, unforgivable errors?

Errors which purportedly cost $20 million dollars an episode to produce?

And no, critics are not supposed to "shut their brains off and just enjoy" a given work of art; their whole job is to analyze it for people who don't want to invest any time in a work which might disappoint them.

"It doesn't have to be good" is never an excuse.

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Wait, people are just outright linking to their blogposts and not getting banned for doing that? Cool, here's mine:


(It's a data science challenge I'm currently running on LessWrong; should take an evening or two to play, depending on skill level; if you post an answer before next Monday you get bragging rights when I release the solution.)

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Apr 1·edited Apr 1

I have kind of a strange question that's sort of about music theory kind of but not your typical music theory concepts such as chords, scales, etc. Maybe it has more to do with the psychoacoustics than music theory. But I also don't hear psychoacoustics people talking about this either. I was going to ask it in Reddit, but I don't even know what Reddit would be appropriate for this, what category it falls into.

My question is kind of about how we perceive rhythm instruments. I'm wondering why is it that drums are so important to music, especially modern music such as rock and jazz. Why is it that we need to have a separate instrument that doesn't really play notes, but just hits the rhythm? As anyone who is a great musician will tell you, when you're playing, listeners should always be able to feel the pulse of the rhythm through your playing. This stands true whether or not you're playing guitar. piano, or just about any other instrument.

Every instrument in the band makes its own rhythm, so why is it important that we have another separate instrument devoted entirely to just creating the rhythm? Drums add so much to music, but I'm not sure I understand why. Especially when there's a backbeat, drums make the music feel like it moves, whereas if they're not there, the music simply feels much more static

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Hey guys.

Come see about me and my slice of Internet bullshit when we ask the question - why do some people feel the need to do unpaid PR for those more powerful than themselves? I wish I had the answer, but come see what I wrote about it anyways 💋


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Against the extermination of hard games


In this post, I argue against the extermination of hard video games, that is games that are hard to beat, even on the easiest difficulty setting. Those who wish to exterminate these games usually do so by broadly advocating for the implementation of easy modes. I deal with two main arguments, the "narrow liberal" argument and the argument from accessibility. The narrow liberal argument simply asserts that the inclusion of an easy mode does not harm those who wish to play on a harder setting. I refute this by showcasing advantages of unique difficulty settings. The argument from accessibility states that accessibility concerns should trump concerns regarding the enjoyability of the game. I show why this doesn't make sense. Lastly, I take a broader perspective and end up with the metapolitical implications of applying a "narrow" or "broad" liberal worldview.

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Folks here might be interested in this: https://www.wired.com/story/deaths-of-effective-altruism/?utm_source=pocket-newtab-en-us. It’s a pretty critical piece on EA. The author is Leif Wenar, “the Olive H. Palmer Professor of Humanities at Stanford, where he is Professor of Philosophy, and, by courtesy, Professor of Political Science and Professor of Law.”

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Avian ova can't yet be grown in vitro, but they can be engineered in culina.

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Apr 1·edited Apr 1

I've been studying factors that correlate with the COVID death rates of US states. The correlations are not all in the same direction, because some factors are good things when high (like GDP per capita) and others when low (like obesity rate.) Here are the correlations I've found, from strongest (largest absolute value) to weakest.

+0.70 Poverty Rate

-0.68 Social Capital Index (State-Level)

+0.58 Gini Coefficient of Inequality

-0.57 Life Expectancy

-0.56 Average IQ

-0.51 % of Adults with High School or Higher

-0.49 % of Adults with Bachelors' Degrees or Higher

+0.46 Obesity Rate

-0.43 % of Population Vaccinated (Fully)

+0.42 % of Population Black

-0.35 GDP Per Capita

-0.33 % of Population Vaccinated (One Dose+)

-0.27 Tax Burden

-0.23 % of Adults with Advanced Degrees

+0.16 % Republicans

-0.083 % of Population White

-0.045 % Democrats

+0.0019 % of Population Urbanized

I'd be happy to add other factors to this list if you point me to decent sources, or discuss the data I've used or other details. We all know about confounding variables, and how spurious correlations can trick us.

Anyway, based on this data, it looks like a lot of things help keep the death rate from a pandemic like COVID down. Being generally healthy helps. Being clever or educated, helps. Being in a rich state, helps. But from a public-policy perspective, if you want to make things hard for the pandemic, what you need to do is get poverty down.

I'm guessing what's going on here is that poor people live in ways that make things easy for the virus. They live in crowded apartments that are often multigenerational. They have employment precarious enough that they can't afford to take days off when they're sick, so they go to work and infect people there. And they delay seeking medical care, because they have trouble affording it.

Edit: Added correlations with vaccination rate (one dose and full) and Social Capital Index.

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Apr 1·edited Apr 1

Bryan Caplan named the Mellow Heuristic: https://www.betonit.ai/p/the_mellow_heurhtml

>The rule has two steps.

>Step 1: Look at how emotional each side is.

>Step 2: Assume the less emotional side is right and the more emotional side is wrong.

I myself have long used something similar, let's call it the Debate Heuristic:

>Step 1: Look if one side systematically refuses to engage in calm, rational debate.

>Step 2: Assume that the side willing to debate is right and the side that refuses is wrong.

Obviously the pitfall off both these heuristics is that I conclude that grey tribe autists who think and talk like myself are always right.

Are there any good case studies through history when these heuristics are obviously wrong with hindsight?

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Thinking about the intersection of AI and modern romance/relationships. How do young people get together in a world where AI makes jobs/work cruelly useless? https://falsechoices.substack.com/p/small-bag-big-sandwich

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I wrote a post which covers (among other things) the scoring function for the prediction contest; I'm pretty sure I've got the important details right at least. https://pappubahry.substack.com/p/evaluating-my-2023-acx-forecasting

The two different scoring methods used both started by calculating the Metaculus Peer Score for each question answered by each contestant. The difference comes from when these are combined into a contestant's overall score:

- the scoring in the original winners post takes the average Peer Score for the questions answered by the contestant

- the second scoring method used divides the sum of a contestant's Peer Scores by 50 (the number of questions)

Effectively, the second scoring method, which is what Metaculus uses, gives you a score of zero (the average Peer Score) for a question you don't answer. The original scoring instead heavily incentivises only answering questions where you think you'll do (much) better than average. SmallSingapore's strategy of skipping questions where he had no prior information was therefore a key to his victory, along with doing extremely well on the questions that he did answer.

I think that the second method is better, and that in a contest to find who can predict well, you don't want to punish people who attempt difficult questions.

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My latest post on Sleeping Beauty problem explores the topic of betting


I resolve some of the pervasive confusions about it, such as the idea that people should use either halfer or thirder probabilities depending on what is the betting scheme or that thirdism has any advantage in regards to betting.

There is also a riddle about betting in an alternative version of Sleeping Beauty. I'd appreciate if you read it very carefully and did your best to solve it, especially if you are a thirder, before you spoil the answer to yourself and then share whether you managed to answer it correctly.

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I've made an open source browser plugin to remove AI recommendations from Instagram, and otherwise let you customise the interface to be less addictive (e.g. remove Explore tab).

Would love some feedback - bugs, features people want.

Chrome: https://chromewebstore.google.com/detail/instalamb/pbongghmpamnclmnmildleojmpdkgipl

Firefox: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/instalamb/

There are similar plugins already for Twitter and YouTube and Facebook, but I couldn't find an Instagram one!

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Regarding the Hungry Brain/metabolic set point stuff: from memory, the idea is that we have a weight that our bodies consider to be the right weight - our "set point". It will adjust our energy expenditure and hunger in order to return to that set point. But something in our modern western diets or lifestyles pushes that set point up, making many of us stubbornly overweight.

My question is: has dairy been considered as a contributor or cause of this set point shifting? Some reasons it seems plausible:

1. Dairy is mostly only a thing in western diets, which is where most of the obesity is.

2. It would seem to make sense for milk consumption to signal to our bodies that it's time to gain weight - that is what babies are supposed to do after all.

3. Anecdotally I have noticed strong links between the amount of dairy I'm consuming and my ability to motivate myself to lose weight.

Obviously dairy is a factor in weight gain just for its caloric content, but my question is might it also increase this set point?

(Although, it seems dairy consumption has been decreasing in recent decades, so maybe not?



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I just started a monthly substack post bringing together the best long form content I have stumbled across in my internet travels. It is called "The Long Forum" and features a mix of podcasts, lectures and long form articles. Little islands of human curated internet are our only hope to push back against the tide of algorithmically optimised dreck.


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With regards to twin studies and such. As I understand, much of the human microbiome is inherited from the mother at birth. Might it not constitute a factor that is somewhat between "genetics" and "shared environment"? On the one hand, it acts like the former, following adopted children to their new homes. On the other, it's not routinely tested for, i.e. "genetic assays" look only at the DNA of human somatic cells, so that it escapes any recognition as a factor, and in addition it's not fixed but potentially variable over time and in relation to the environment.

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Have you seen https://www.wired.com/story/deaths-of-effective-altruism/ ? I'll be interested to see your take, if/when you have one.

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What do people...uh... say at the SSC meetups?

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Biannual classifieds?

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BAPISM as a music movement:

Until recently I didn't really understand the success of BAPISM. Sure BAP was pretty funny but this didn't explain his insane cult following among even seemingly normie GOP staffers. Was it just a matter of admiration for the sheer force of will required to write a screed as long and narcissistic as Bronze Age Mindset was? Was it the ability to enjoy racist/sexist... memes in a context where you could always pretend you were laughing at it's absurdity, a kind of literary 'I like Borscht, do you like Borscht'? Both probably. But recently I started playing with turning his most insane rants into music, and now I understand it entirely, they work perfectly as hard rock pieces:


(Of course being only human, I was damn right going to capitalize on this discovery)

"I saw once a jaguar in zoo, behind a glass, so that all the bugs in hueman form could gawk at it and humiliate it. This animal felt a noble and persistent sadness, being observed everywhere by the obsequious monkeys, not even monkeys, that were taunting it with stares. He could tell—I saw this! He could tell he was living in a simulated environment and that he had no power to move or live. His sadness crushed me and I will always remember this animal. I never want to see life in this condition!

I wonder how many writers are in effect really song-writers, and whether this might be the main way they'll be thought of in the future."

Added Note: For those not aware of it, this is a pretty decent intro article to the BAP phenomenon: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2023/09/bronze-age-pervert-costin-alamariu/674762/

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Apr 1·edited Apr 1Author

Weird question, but why aren't we bombing bats?

Lab leakers and natural spread proponents agree that COVID originally came from bats. SARS originally came from bats. Ebola originally came from bats. Probably bats will produce a new pandemic every few decades. But they're all clustered together in a few big caves. Can't we just bomb them? Or gas them? Or barricade the caves so they can't get out, and they starve? We don't need to bomb all the bats, just the ones in Yunnan with all the weird diseases who keep causing the pandemics. We don't even need to get every last one of them, just decimate the population to the point where it's too small to produce new viruses very often.

This will probably make environmentalists sad, but there are many worse things we are doing to the environment for much less compelling reasons. Why is nobody talking about this?

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