Rational Feed

Scott:

Brief Cautionary Notes On Branded Combination Nootropics by Scott Alexander – Many ‘Xbrain’ pills contain ineffectively low doses of ingredients. Nootropics, like many drugs, effect people differently; you need to isolate which nootropics work for you. Drug interactions are very poorly understood, even for well studied drugs.

Rationalist:

Questions Are Not Just For Asking by Malcom Ocean (ribbonfarm) – Hazards of asking questions. Hold your Questions. Reveal your questions. Un-ask your questions. Question your questions. Using Questions to Organize Attention. Letting the question ask you; becoming the answer.

Multiverse Wide Cooperation Via Correlated Decision Making by The Foundational Research Institute – “If we care about what happens in civilizations located elsewhere in the multiverse, we can superrationally cooperate with some of the their inhabitants. That is, if we take their values into account, this makes it more likely that they do the same for us. In this paper, I attempt to assess the practical implications of this idea”

Politics and Economics:

Contra Sadedin Varinsky: The Google Memo Is Still Right Again by Artir – Detailed refutation of two criticisms of the google memo. Lots of long quotations and citation of counter evidence.

Misc:

Erisology Of Self And Will Closing Thoughts by Everything Studies – “Here in Part 7 I’ll end with a summary and some thoughts on how to deal with the problems described in the series.”

Rational Feed

Scott:

The Lizard People Of Alpha Draconis 1 Decided To Build An Ansible by Scott Alexander – Faster than light communication via negative average preference utilitarianism.

Rationalist:

Happiness Is Not Coherent Concept by Particular Virtue – A social science concept is ‘real’ if and only if it represents reality well and you have ruled out alternatives. “If a thing can be measured several different ways, and a causal factor can push one in a direction but not the other, then you start to worry that the thing is not actually one thing, but several things.” Why should you care that happiness isn’t a single thing.

Politics and Economics:

Indian Feminism And The Role Of The Environment: Why The Google Memo Is Still Right by Artir – A very detailed cross-country look at female enrollment in CS and various technology fields. A focus on countries where women are well represented in tech (many in Asia). Lots of discussion.

Podcast:

The Biology Of Good And Evil by Waking Up with Sam Harris – “Robert Sapolsky. His work with baboons, the opposition between reason and emotion, doubt, the evolution of the brain, the civilizing role of the frontal cortex, the illusion of free will, justice and vengeance, brain-machine interface, religion, drugs”

Rational Feed

Scott:

Sparta by SlateStarScratchpad – A historian claims that Sparta’s military renown was developed during a period when Sparta’s actual military ability was declining. Scott disagrees and cites sources showing that the earliest records all claim Sparta was very powerful.

Rationalist:

The Craft Is Not The Community by Sarah Constantin (Otium) – The Berkeley Rationalists are building a true community: Sharehouses, Plans for an unschooling center, etc. However many rationalist companies/projects have failed. Sarah doesn’t think it makes sense to tackle ‘external facing’ projects as a community. Tesla Motors and MIT aren’t run as community projects, they are run meriotocratically. Lots of analysis on the meaning of community and what makes organizations effective. Personal.

EA:

Drug Policy Reform 1 by MichaelPlant (EA forum) – 9300 Words. Six Mechanisms for drug reform to do good: Fighting mental illness. Reducing pain. Improving public health. Reducing crime, violence, corruption and instability (including international scale). Raising revenue for governments. Recreational use. Five major objections and the Author’s response.

Politics and Economics:

The Kolmogorov Option by Scott Aaronson – Kolmogorov was a brilliant mathematician as well as a sensitive and kind man. However he cooperated with the Soviets. An option for living in a society were many falsehoods are ‘official truth’: Build a bubble of truth and wait for the right time to take down the Orthodoxy. Don’t charge headfirst and get killed. There are no ‘good heretics’ in the eyes of the Inquisition.

Brief Thoughts On The Google Memo by Julia Galef – “So as far as I can see, there are only two intellectually honest ways to respond to the memo: 1. Acknowledge gender differences may play some role, but point out other flaws in his argument (my preference) 2. Say “This topic is harmful to people and we shouldn’t discuss it” (a little draconian maybe, but at least intellectually honest)”

Podcast:

Senator Michael Bennet by The Ezra Klein Show – Senator Michael Bennet. “This is a conversation about why Congress is broken, and what broke it. We discuss money, partisanship, the media, the rules, the leadership, and much more. We talk about what Bennet thinks House of Cards gets right (hint: it’s the sociopathy) and whether President Trump’s antics are creating some hope of institutional renewal.”

Rational Feed

Scott:

Links: On The Site Of The Angels by Scott Alexander – Standard SSC links post.

Contra Grant On Exaggerated Differences by Scott Alexander – “Hyde found moderate or large gender differences in aggressiveness, horniness, language abilities, mechanical abilities, visuospatial skills, mechanical ability, tendermindness, assertiveness, comfort with body, various physical abilities, and computer skills. Perhaps some peeople might think that finding moderate-to-large-differences in mechanical abilities, computer skills, etc supports the idea that gender differences might play a role in gender balance in the tech industry. But because Hyde’s meta-analysis drowns all of this out with stuff about smiling-when-not-observed, Grant is able to make it sound like this proves his point. It’s actually worse than this, because Grant misreports the study findings in various ways.”

Rationalist:

Why So Few Women In Cs: The Google Memo Is Right by Artir (Nintil) – Sampler: Lots of data and graphs covering multiple countries. “Occupational segregation by gender is stronger in egalitarian countries. This is a fatal blow to the sexism theory.” In the 1980s demand for the CS major far outstripped capacity. This lead to severe limits on who could major in CS. These limits occurred at the same time female enrollment percentage dropped.

Rational Feed

Scott:

(Lots of Scratchpad posts recently. Check out the blog if you are interested)

Communism by SlateStarScratchpad – Scott thinks he would have been a communist in 1910.

Mildly Condescending Advice by SlateStarScratchpad – Ten mildly condescending but useful pieces of advice Scott recommends.

Politics and Economics:

Rise And Fall Of Rawlsianism by Artir (Nintil) – “I will introduce street Rawlsianism, a simplified version of Rawls’s Theory of Justice to get an idea of what this is all about. Then, I will explain how that came to be, including some extra details about Rawls’s justification for his theory. This story itself, the development of Rawls’s own philosophical views, is a good enough criticism of his original theory, but I will add at the end what I think are the strongest critiques I know.”

Misc:

Prime Towers Problem by protokol2020 – Prime height towers. From which tower is the most tower tops visible.

Podcast:

Tyler Cowen On Stubborn Attachments by EconTalk – “Cowen argues that economic growth–properly defined–is the moral key to maintaining civilization and promoting human well-being. Along the way, the conversation also deals with inequality, environmental issues, and education”

Amanda Askell On Pascals Wager And Other Low Risks Wi by Rational Speaking – Pascal’s Wager: It’s rational to believe in God, because if you’re wrong it’s no big deal, but if you’re right then the payoff is huge. Amanda Askell argues that it’s much trickier to rebut Pascal’s Wager than most people think. Handling low probability but very high impact possibilities: should you round them down to zero? Does it matter how measurable the risk is? And should you take into account the chance you’re being scammed?”

Living With Violence by Waking Up with Sam Harris – “Gavin de Becker about the primacy of human intuition in the prediction and prevention of violence.”

Physical Training Dating Strategies And Stories From The Early Days by Tim Feriss – Tim answers viewer questions. Physical training, interview prep, the art of networking, education reform, dream guests on the show.

Rational Feed

Rationalist:

Something Was Wrong by Zvi Moshowitz – Zvi visits a ‘stepford pre-school’. He can’t shake the feeling that something is wrong. He decides not to send his son to the place where kid’s souls go to die.

Thank You For Listening by Ben Hoffman (Compass Rose) – Zvi’s post above starts with a reference to a previous Ben Quo post. If you have hurt your child via school you aren’t the enemy. Society taught you that you were helping. If you are still sending your child to a harmful system you aren’t the enemy either, you are doing what you think is best.

Compare Institutions To Institutions Not To Perfection by Robin Hanson – Hanson responds to criticsims of prediction markets. Short term accuracy is always easier to incentivize. Its always easier to find surface as opposed to deep connections.

Double Crux Web App by mindlevelup – Double Crux is a rationalist technique for resolving and understanding disagreements. It involves identifying facts/statements, called cruxes, that would cause you to change your mind if you changed your mind about the crux. The author built software to facilitate double crux during the Google CSSI 3 week web dev camp. Links to the site and an explanation of Double Crux.

EA:

How We Banned Fur In Berkeley by jayquigley (EA forum) – Fur sales banned. Main strategies: cultivating relationships with sympathetic council members, utilizing a proven template for the bill. Background. Strategy Details. Advice

Blood Donation Generally Not That Effective On by Grue Slinky (EA forum) – Having a supply of blood is very important. However the marginal value of blood donation is too low to recommend it as an efficient intervention.

Medical Research Cancer Is Hugely Overfunded by sanjay (EA forum) – Chart of disease burden vs research share. Six reasons you might disagree with the conclusion including cause tractability and methodology.

Politics and Economics:

Hazletts Political Spectrum by Robin Hanson – “Not only would everything have been much better without FCC regulation, it actually was much better before the FCC! Herbert Hoover, who was head of the US Commerce Department at the time, broke the spectrum in order to then “save” it, a move that probably helped him rise to the presidency.”

Rational Feed

Scott:

Why Not More Excitement About Prediction Aggregation by Scott Alexander – Prediction markets and aggregation methods work. Superforecasters proved some groups can consistently make good predictions. Why isn’t there more interest? Wouldn’t investors pay for predictions? Do theories about signaling and prestige explain the situation?

How Mentally Ill are Medical Professionals by SlateStarScratchpad – Psychiatrists are very mentally well adjusted on average. “I think you get way more illness in the therapists, counselors, etc, especially the ones that are kind of low-status and don’t require a lot of training.” Doctor’s recovery rates from alcoholism are very good.

Rationalist:

Erisology Of Self And Will: The Need And The Reasons by Everything Studies – “Here in part 6 I discuss the reasons why the traditional view persists when prescientific thinking on other topics often doesn’t.”

Body Pleasure by Sarah Perry (ribbonfarm) – “As non-human intelligences get more sophisticated, it may be the case that human work remains extremely important; however, it may also be that humans are faced with increasing leisure. If that is the case, the critical problem facing humanity will be how to enjoy ourselves. If that seems silly, consider your favorite dystopian images of the future: only humans who understand how to enjoy themselves can demand living conditions in which they are able to do so.”

Inscrutable Ideas by Gordan (Map and Territory) – The author describes ‘holonic’ thinking and why its hard to explain. Postmodernism as a flawed holonic tradition. Buddhism as a better holonic tradition. Fundamental incompatibility with system-relationship epistemology.

AI:

July 2017 Newsletter by The MIRI Blog – News and Links: Open AI, Deepmind, AI Impacts, EA global, 80K hours, etc

Politics and Economics:

Another Point Of View by Simon Penner (Status 451) – The author was raised working class in semi-rural Canada and moved to Silicon valley. He experienced a ton of culture shock and significant cultural discrimination. This causes him to have less sympathy for people who quit software because of relatively minor pressure saying they don’t fit in. The author overcame this stuff and so should other people.

Misc:

Clojure: The Perfect Language To Expand Your Brain by Eli Bendersky – Clojure will almost certainly change how you think about programming. Clojure is a fully modern and useable Lisp. The designers of Clojure are extremely pragmatic, building upon decades of industry experience. Sequences and laziness for powerful in-language data processing. Right approach to OOP. Built-in support for concurrency and parallelism.

The Un-Yoga Manifesto by SquirrelInHell – Yoga has a sort of ‘competitive’ ethos baked in. There is alot of pressure to do the postures ‘correctly’. Instead you should listen to your body and follow the natural incentive gradients that lead to maintaining one’s body well. Four practical pieces of advice.