Ssc Journal Club Friston On Computational Mood by Scott Alexander – “The idea of depression as a prior on bad outcomes seems pretty fricking obvious. I’m not even sure if it’s any different from the sort of stuff Aaron Beck was saying in the seventies. The big advance in this model is uniting ‘prior on bad outcomes’ with ‘low precision of predictions / low neural confidence’. The low-precision part helps explain anergia, anhedonia, low motivation, psychomotor retardation, sensory washout, and probably (with a little more work) depression with psychotic features. Flipped around, it offers an explanation of psychomotor agitation, grandiosity, psychosis, and pareidolia in mania. The only problem is that I still haven’t seen ‘prior on bad outcomes’ and ‘low precision’ really get unified.”
The Friston Free Energy Stuff by Nostalgebraist – A great explanation and critique of Friston’s ‘Free energy’ theory that was recently reviewed by Scott.
My Attempt To Explain Looking Insight Meditation And by Kaj Sotala (LW) – An in depth explanation of how meditation actually works including a detailed and concrete account of how the author’s experience. The main problem that meditation solves is that we identify or fuse with our emotions too strongly. Meditation helps us notice emotions arising without getting caught up in them. The case of suffering: Flinching away from pain is actually what turns pain into suffering.
Person Moment Affecting Views by Katja Grace – A common view in philosophy is the ‘person affecting view’ which says that since something is only good/bad if its good/bad for a specific person. Hence if we compare two possible worlds we should ignore people who only exist in one of worlds. However it is commonly accepted that the notion of ‘person’ is not really coherent. People are really just clusters of ‘person-moments’ and these clusters can become less clear in some edge cases.
Politics and Economics:
A Quick Battle Field Guide To The New Culture Wars by Venkat (ribbonfarm) – A detailed model of how the culture war is and will play out. Nine different fronts are described. The author argues the current culture war is a real (if bloodless) war and discusses how one should react to it.
One Smart Guy’s Frank Take Working Major Tech Companies by Marginal Revolution – A reader email about working at google in the earlier days. What google got right (cutting lots of useless management, hiring top people, algorithmic raises and promotions) and what it got wrong (too much focus on cool stuff). Initially the problems were manageable but they degraded over time. Some thoughts about other tech companies.
Everything Is Going According To Plan by samzdat – A long post about Science, Steven Pinker, Nhilism, the Enlightenment, Nietzsche and how Truth functions in and changes society.
Pesticide Suicide Prevention by 80,000 Hours – Pesticide ingestion is a common method of suicide globally accounting for 20% of global suicides. In Sri Lanka the government worked with the guest’s non-profit to dramatically reduce suicide by pesticide.