Rational Feed

Rationalist:

War, Ants and Grasshoppers by Ben Hoffman – A parable of two ant colonies and a grasshopper.

More Notes On Simple Rules by Zvi Moshowitz – Zvi responds to six more reasons people might oppose simple rules: Low Trust, Ignorance, Power, Price Discrimination, The Copenhagen Interpretation of Ethics, Making exceptions is considered being ‘nice’.

Lonelinesses by Jacob Falkovich – Seven varieties of loneliness explained via greek mythology: ‘In recent weeks I found myself experiencing a profound loneliness. I became curious about this feeling, and I tried to examine it. Though not often, I’ve certainly felt lonely before and yet this time felt new to me. I wondered if there are different flavors of loneliness that we lack the vocabulary to categorize and understand. I also found myself rereading bits of Greek mythology. It struck me that loneliness is a core theme the ancient Hellenic worldview.’

EA:

Visualizing Donations by Ozy – ‘When I donate money to charity, I try to visualize the effects of my donations. It’s easy for donating money to not make you very happy. You write a check and you don’t get to see the consequences of your actions. It isn’t as viscerally rewarding as, say, talking to a friend who’s been through a bad time or helping someone move or setting up two people on a date– even though donating money can have a positive effect hundreds of times larger than those actions.’

Podcast:

Healthcare, Doctors and Medical School by Conversations With Tyler – ‘Do we overrate the importance of doctors? What’s the importance of IQ versus EQ in the practice of medicine? What are the prospect for venture capital in biotech? How should medical training be changed? Why does he think the conventional wisdom about a problem tends to be wrong? Would immortality be boring? What would happen if we let parents genetically engineer their kids? Tyler questions Emanuel on these topics and more, including the smartest thing his parents did while raising him, whether we have right to medical self-defense, healthcare in low- versus high-trust institutions, and much more.’

Rational Feed

Scott:

Opentos Thread by Scott Alexander – Public Open thread. Comments of the week: ‘scchm presents an apparently original theory that buspirone works on D4 receptors (but see the whole thread, including my comments). And Murphy gives some pointers for determining when to believe claims of large effects from single genes.’

Political:

Simple Rules Of Law by Zvi Moshowitz – Robin Hanson gave a list of twelve situations where people seem to prefer discretion over simple rules. Zvi discusses each situation in some depth.

Links 27 by Artir – Link post. Sampler: AI progress in China, expect delays in self driving cars, people don’t care about privacy, a history of financial regulation, Etherium’s actual uses.

Misc:

Naked Mole Rats: A Case Study In Biological Weirdness by Eukaryote – Nine very weird facts about naked mole rats.

Podcast:

Land Use Regulations by The Ezra Klein Show – ‘In this special crossover episode, Brookings Institution’s Jenny Schuetz joins The Weeds’ Matt Yglesias to discuss subsidies, zoning reform, and much more.’

What Does The Mueller Report Really Say by Waking Up with Sam Harris – ‘Sam Harris speaks with Benjamin Wittes about both volumes of the Mueller Report.’

Rational Feed

Scott:

Age Gaps And Birth Order Effects by Scott Alexander – Scott looked at the SSC birth order data and the effect of age gap: ‘This study found an ambiguous and gradual decline from one to seven years, but also a much bigger cliff from seven to eight years. Is this a coincidence, or is there something important that happens at seven?’

Rationalist:

Simple Rules by Robin Hanson – Hanson discusses many areas where most people prefer discretion: ‘The common pattern here seems to me to be a dislike of clear formal overt rules, mechanisms, and criteria, relative to informal decisions and negotiations. Especially disliked are rules based on explicit metrics that might reject or disapprove people. To the extent that there are rules, there seems to be a preference for authorizing some people to have discretion to make arbitrary choices, regarding which they are not held strongly to account.’ He then considers their motivations and concludes: ‘However, my best guess is that most people mainly favor discretion as a way to promote an informal favoritism from which they expect to benefit.’

Going Critical by Melting Asphalt – An interactive exploration of network effects, diffusion, critical thresholds and virility. Highly recommended.

EA:

A Response To Making Discussions In EA Groups Inclusive by Ozy – A proposal to make EA more inclusive by silencing one side of some debates will probably not work. In particular lots of the opinions that would be silenced are popular among marginalized identities.

Podcast:

Contrapoints by The Ezra Klein Show – ‘YouTube is where tomorrow’s politics are happening today. If you’re over 30, and you don’t spend much time on the platform, it’s almost impossible to explain how central it is to young people’s media consumption. YouTube far outranks television in terms of where teens spend their time. It’s foundational to how young people, and plenty of not-so-young people, form their politics. And it features a political divide that’s different than what we see in Washington, but that I think predicts what we’re going to see in Washington. Natalie Wynn, of the channel Contrapoints, is one of YouTube’s political stars. The former philosophy PhD student dropped out and found her calling producing idea-dense and aesthetically rich explanations of everything from capitalism to Jordan Peterson to incels to “the West.” In this conversation, we talk about the political divides on YouTube, how the YouTube right differs from the YouTube left, why obscure ideological movements are making comebacks online, her experience transitioning gender while in the public eye, why you need to take trollish questions seriously, and the anxieties of modern masculinity.’

On The Culture Of Coding by Rationally Speaking – ‘Technology writer Clive Thompson discusses his latest book, “Coders: The Making of a New Tribe and the Remaking of the World”. Topics Clive and Julia cover include: Why coders love efficiency so much, Are there downsides to efficiency?, Do coders have particular blindspots when it comes to human nature?, What is a “10x Coder,” and why do people disagree about whether they exist?, Does Clive still agree with his older book, “Smarter Than You Think,” which argued that technology is making us smarter?’

Rational Feed

Scott:

Is There A Case For Skepticism Of Psychedelic Therapy by Scott Alexander – Seven reasons to be skeptical of psychedelic therapy. One reason is that the FDS approved version might not be very good and might be restricted to very hard to treat patients.

Rationalist:

Predictable Identities 9: How To Change by Jacob Falkovich – Part 9 of Jacob’s ongoing series on identity. Previous entries mostly focused on the pressures pushing us toward stable identities. This one explores how to change.

Politics and Economics:

The Persistence Of Poverty by Robin Hanson – ‘We experience diminishing returns for “relievers” that reduce our pain. Which actually gives us increasing, not diminishing returns for getting “more” in that area. For example: That is, you don’t notice as much of a difference between very and mildly crowded, as you do between mildly and not at all crowded.’

Tales From The American Medical System by Zvi Moshowitz – Getting a needed insulin prescription refilled without coming in for an appointment the next day required threatening to post on social media and enduring gaslighting by a doctor.

Rational Feed

Misc:

Book Post For April: Global Poverty And Misc by Ozy – Book Post: Global poverty and its interactions with gender, how the poor use financial institutions, feminist utopia, etc

Podcast:

Karl Ove Knausgaard by Conversations With Tyler – ‘What is Karl Ove Knausgård’s struggle, exactly? The answer is simple: achieving total freedom in his writing. “It’s a space where I can be free in every sense, where I can say whatever, go wherever I want to. And for me, literature is almost the only place you could think that that is a possibility.” Knausgård’s literary freedom paves the way for this conversation with Tyler, which starts with a discussion of mimesis and ends with an explanation of why we live in the world of Munch’s The Scream. Along the way there is much more, including what he learned from reading Ingmar Bergman’s workbooks, the worst thing about living in London, how having children increased his productivity, whether he sees himself in a pietistic tradition, thoughts on Bible stories, angels, Knut Hamsun, Elena Ferrante, the best short story (“Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius”), the best poet (Paul Celan), the best movie (Scenes from a Marriage), and what his punctual arrival says about his attachment to bourgeois values.’