When Wholes Become Parts by Robin Hanson – ‘Here’s a nice simple general principle to describe many kinds of systems. When once self-sufficient wholes join together to become parts of a new whole, the parts get simpler and also more different from one another.’
Highlights From The Comments On Kuhn by Scott Alexander – Scott quotes and often responds to his favorite comments on his recent Kuhn article.
Some Thoughts On My Psychiatry Practice by Lara Foster – ‘During residency I worked at a hospital Medicaid clinic and saw mostly poor, often chronically unemployed people. While monetary problems were a source of stress, they were not nearly as present in people’s minds as someone from a middle-class upbringing might think. These people were used to going without. They were not trying to get more. The types of things they talked about were family problems, health problems, and trauma. So much trauma. People’s ego-identity crises centered less on their accomplishments and more on their relationships. The patients I see now are mostly highly successful, highly educated, wealthy people, most of whom care a lot about their careers. Their ego-identity crises center around their work and their position in life relative to others.’
Good Erasure by Ziz – ‘If the truth about the difference between the social contract morality of neutral people and the actually wanting things to be better for people of good were known, this would be good for good optimization, and would mess with a certain neutral/evil strategy. To the extent good is believed to actually exist, being believed to be good is a source of free energy. This strongly incentivizes pretending to be good. Once an ecosystem of purchasing the belief that you are good is created, there is strong political will to prevent more real knowledge of what good is from being created. Pressure on good not to be too good.’
Book Summary: Consciousness And The Brain by Kaj Sotala – Global Workspace Theory models the mind as a collection of sub-agents who temporially stand under the spotlight of conscious attention. Kaj reviews a book about the neuroscience underpinning GWT.
Alignment Newsletter 41 by Rohin Shah – Weekly alignment newsletter. ‘Building AI systems that require informed consent’
Clothing For Men by Solnassant – Advice for dressing well as a man: Fit, Colors, Brands, wardrobe basics, etc.
Kernel Of Doubt: Testing Math Preference Vs Corn Eating Style by Scott Alexander – The SSC data did not support the theory that how you eat corn predicts if you prefer anaysis or algebra.
Politics and Economics:
Restorative Justice by Ozy – Oxy has borderline personality disorder which makes it difficult to be a ‘good person’. Restorative Justice is a theory of criminal justice that focuses on reconciliation and rehabilitation. Ozy explains why they find this theory appealing in light of their disorder.
Writing Altruism by Conversations With Tyler – ‘Larissa and Tyler discuss the thinking and thinkers behind her profiles, essays, and books, including notions of moral luck, exit vs voice, the prose of Kenneth Tynan, why altruistic heroes are mainly found in genre fiction, why she avoids describing physical appearances in her writing, the circumstances that push humans to live more extraordinary lives, what today has in common with the 1890s, and more.’
Digital Capitalism by Waking Up with Sam Harris – ‘Sam Harris speaks with Douglas Rushkoff about the state of the digital economy’
CDT=EDT=UFT by abramdemski – A rather technical post explaining why, from the right perspective, all the major decision theories are essentially the same. CDT=EDT=UFT.
Paradigms And Priors by Jay Daigle – A summary of Kuhn’s ideas, what they tell us about science and how they relate to Bayes.
Too Many People Dare Call It Conspiracy by Scott Alexander – Scott discusses a set of heuristics for which ‘conspiracy theories’ are plausible.
Givewell Top Charities Explained: Deworming by Ozy – Ozy explains deworming and why they are really ‘economic charities’.
A Founders Farewell by Curtis Yarvin – Curtis Yarvin / Mencius Moldbug was a neo-reaction blogger Scott used to discuss years ago. For the pass few years he has been working full-time on ‘urbit’ which is intended as a way to add actual property rights to the internet’s infrastructure via Ethereum. He recently left the company that developed urbit. His farewell post has some interesting thoughts on property rights.
SSC Survey Results 2019 by Scott Alexander – The latest SSC survey data is released.
Combination Existential Risks by Ozy – Many risks, such as global warming, are not existential on their own. However they might combine to create a genuine existential risk to humanity.
On Solzhenitsyn by EconTalk – ‘The historical significance of the life and work of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Solzhenitsyn’s birth.’
Digital Minimalism with Cal Newport by The Ezra Klein Show – ‘Cal Newport is making a bid to be the Marie Kondo of technology: someone with an actual plan for helping you realize the digital pursuits that do, and don’t, spark joy and bring value to your life. This is a conversation about becoming a digital minimalist: why to do it, how to do it, and what it might get you. Whether you want to try Newport’s whole plan or just pick and choose some good ideas from his buffet, there’s a lot in here that will help you find a healthier, more intentional approach to technology.’