I don't use Twitter/X, I only saw this because it was on https://twitter.com/ESYudkowsky which I check every day (an example of a secure way to mitigate brain exposure to news feed algorithms).

The galaxy-brained word combinations here are at the standard of optimization I hold very highly (e.g. using galaxy-brained combinations of words to maximize the ratio of value to wordcount). 

If someone were to, for example, start a human intelligence amplification coordination takeoff by getting the best of both worlds between the long, intuitive CFAR handbook and the short, efficient hammertime sequence, this is the level of writing skill that they would have to be playing at:

The most useful razors and rules I've found: 

1. Bragging Razor - If someone brags about their success or happiness, assume it’s half what they claim 

If someone downplays their success or happiness, assume it’s double what they claim 

2. High Agency Razor - If unsure who to work with, pick the person that has the best chances of breaking you out of a 3rd world prison. 

3. The Early-Late Razor - If it's a talking point on Reddit, you might be early. If it's a talking point on LinkedIn, you're definitely late. 

4. Luck Razor - If stuck with 2 equal options, pick the one that feels like it will produce the most luck later down the line. 

I used this razor to go for drinks with a stranger rather than watch Netflix. In hindsight, it was the highest ROI decision I've ever made.


5. Buffett's Law - "The value of every business is 100% subject to government interest rates" - Warren Buffett 

6. The 6-Figure Razor - If someone brags about "6 figures" -- assume it's closer to $100K than $900K. 

7. Parent Rule - Break down the investments your parents made in you: Time, Love, Energy, and Money. 

If they are still alive, aim to hit a positive ROI (or at least break even.) 

8. Instagram Razor - When you see a photo of an influencer looking attractive on Instagram -- assume there are 99 worse variations of that photo you haven't seen. 

They just picked the best one. 

9. Narcissism Razor - If worried about people's opinions, remember they are too busy worrying about other people's opinions of them. 99% of the time you're an extra in someone else's movie 

10. Everyday Razor - If you go from doing a task weekly to daily, you achieve 7 years of output in 1 year. If you apply a 1% compound interest each time, you achieve 54 years of output in 1 year. 

11. Bezos Razor - If unsure what action to pick, let your 90-year-old self on death bed choose it. 

12. Creativity Razor - If struggling to think creatively about a subject, transform it: 

• Turn a thought into a written idea. 
• A written idea into a drawing. 
• A drawing into an equation. 
• An equation into a conversation. 

In the process of transforming it, you begin to spot new creative connections. 

13. The Roman Empire Rule - Historians now recognize the Roman Empire fell in 476 - but it wasn't acknowledged by Roman society until many generations later. 

If you wait for the media to inform you, you'll either be wrong or too late. 

14. Physics Razor - If it doesn't deny the law of physics, then assume it's possible. Do not confuse society's current lack of knowledge -- with this knowledge being impossible to attain. 

E.g. The smartphone seems impossible to someone from the 1800s -- but it was possible, they just had a lack of knowledge. 

15. Skinner's Law - If procrastinating, you have 2 ways to solve it: 

• Make the pain of inaction > Pain of action 
• Make the pleasure of action > Pleasure of inaction 

16. Network Razor - If you have 2 quality people that would benefit from an intro to one another, always do it. 

Networks don't divide as you share them, they multiply. 

17. Gell-Mann Razor - Assume every media article contains a % of false information. 

Sandbox the article from your worldview until you've: 

• Seen primary sources 
• Spoken to 3 domain experts 

18. Taleb's Surgeon - If presented with two equal candidates for a role, pick the one with the least amount of charisma. 

The uncharismatic one has got there despite their lack of charisma. The charismatic one has got there with the aid of their charisma.

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Minor exception to Taleb's Surgeon: if charisma is directly relevant to job performance (as in sales, for example), feel free to take the more charismatic candidate.

10. Everyday Razor - If you go from doing a task weekly to daily, you achieve 7 years of output in 1 year. If you apply a 1% compound interest each time, you achieve 54 years of output in 1 year. 

What's the intuition behind this -- specifically, why does it make sense to apply compound interest to the daily task-doing but not the weekly?

I think the second part is bullshit anyway, I can't come up with a single example where compounding is possible to a whole year in a row, for something related to personal work/output/results.

I think that came from James Clear's Atomic Habits, talking about how if you get 1% better at something every day, then you get >30 times better at it after a year (1.01^365 = 37.7). But it has to be something where improvement by a factor of 30 is possible e.g. running a mile.

I think it makes sense that you can repeatedly get 30x better at, say, reducing p(doom), especially if you're starting from zero, but the 1% per day dynamic depends on how different types of things compound (e.g. applying the techniques from the CFAR handbook compounding with getting better at integrating bayesian thinking into your thoughts, and how those compound with getting an intuitive understanding of the Yudkowsky-christiano debate or AI timelines). 

19. Recursive Taleb's surgeon

If someone is significantly relying on Taleb's surgeon to make a choice, then they are not competent enough to discern actual competence.

Absolutely! I like some of these razors better than others.

Competence assessment is way more accurate in some fields than others e.g. software engineering (does the code run?) vs legal work or policy research (where have they worked before?).

20. Memetic Razor: If you hear news "through the grapevine" or see something on the "popular" feeds of social media, it has likely traveled a long journey of memetic selection to get to you, and is almost certainly modified from the original.

I'm interested in people's opinions on this:

If it's a talking point on Reddit, you might be early.

Of course the claim is technically true; there's >0% chance that you can get ahead of the curve by reading reddit. But is it dramatically less likely than it was, say, 5/10/15 years ago? (I know 'reddit' isn't a monolith; let's say we're ignoring the hyper-mainstream subreddits and the ones that are so small you may as well be in a group chat.)