It happens frequently, that I'm researching a topic and don't really know which sources to read to get a good grasp of the topic. I expect that many fellow aspiring rationalists feel the same. 

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8 comments, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 7:28 PM

I want to understand electrolytes better. When should we consume additional electrolytes? To what extent should we consume more when we sweat? How much of what electrolytes should be consumed? When is it best to consume them? How much and in what mix?

What sources would you recommend to get a good overview?

This is only partially related, but I was trying to learn about hydration for exercise and this paper was the best source I could find. Downsides are it focuses on very long-duration exercise (think ultramarathons). If I had to summarize it, I would say it's very nonchalant about salt and water consumption with its main recommendations being to just avoid over-consumption of water (particularly avoid consumption such that body weight increases during the exercise). They do note that individuals who find visible salt deposits on their clothes may need to increase salt consumption due to having high sweat rates and high salt-in-sweat concentrations. But otherwise the recommendations about whether or how to consume salt left me confused so it's a pretty imperfect source.

Is there a scientific research of good and bad people? Preferably an easy-to-read summary thereof.

The definition of "good" and "bad" is itself a part of the question, because a good definition should match what actual people do, so it is an empirical question. (Unlike e.g. Comte's definition of "altruism" where the person who helps others but takes pleasure in doing so, is just another selfish bastard. This does not classify people usefully at all. I am interested in the non-empty categories of actual human behavior.)

The established deep wisdom says that nobody is perfect, and you shouldn't judge people... either never, or until you walked a mile in their shoes (which for most practical purposes also means never). But of course we judge people all the time unofficially, and occassionally officially (by legal system), so it seems to me that the deep wisdom actually means "as a low-status person, shut up and let the high-status people do the judgment".

Some people instinctively try to help other people, and try to fix things. Other people take joy in hurting others and destroying stuff. This is kinda the thing I have in mind when I call people "good" or "bad". What causes this?

Milgram experiment tries to explain how people become bad under pressure. That is also interesting and relevant, but I am more interested in what makes people good or bad when they are not under pressure.

Are good and bad even opposites? Are good people less likely to do bad things, and vice versa? Or is it actually more about people being agenty and doing lots of stuff, some of it good, some of it bad, vs people being passive? What about people who e.g. driven by ideology believe that they are doing lots of good, but in fact are mostly hurting others -- are they psychologically more similar to the (non-ideological) good people, or the (non-ideological) bad people? What about people who dream and talk about helping others, but never actually do it?

How much is good and bad determined by nature or nurture? As far as I know, psychopathy has a strong genetic component. Besides that, are there known genes for e.g. friendship or philanthropy? How much influence does the culture have on people being good and bad? Is there perhaps just a tiny minority of intrinsically good people, a tiny minority of intrinsically bad people, and most of the population is neutrals who mostly just follow peer pressure? Religions try to instill some good behaviors in people; how much do they actually succeed?

I suspect that a lot of my intuition about good and bad people is a typical mind fallacy, and that I live in a bubble that I have created by associating with people similar to me; perhaps for people living in different bubbles, differents things are "obvious" or "absurd". People can have weird blind spots; some people can be genuinely unaware that things like "friends" or "helping each other" actually exist. Perhaps the Dunning-Kruger effect applies to ethics, too; both the good and bad people underestimate how good/bad they actually are. (For example, bad people can genuinely believe that everyone is bad, and that what seems as "good" is either stupidity or scam.) Is there an official goodness test that would put me on a scale?

There is a lot of contradictory popular wisdom. People who were victims of something bad, are there more likely to become fighters against the bad thing, or more likely to become abusers themselves? Are rich people more selfish, or is philanthropy a costly signal of wealth? I would like to know the truth of this all.

I want to learn about impact measurement, prioritization research, and how to do local priorities research. I'm currently reading from Charity Entrepreneurship and EA Forum, but they are not enough.

I'm working on an essay about "love" as a virtue, where a "virtue" is a characteristic habit that contributes to (or exhibits) human flourishing. I'm aiming to make the essay of practical value, so a focus on what love is good for and how to get better at it.

"Love" is notoriously difficult to get a handle on, both because the word covers a bunch of things and because it lends itself to a lot of sentimental falderol. My current draft is concentrating on three varieties of "love": Christian agape, Aristotelian true-friendship, and erotic/romantic falling/being in love.

Anyway: that long preamble aside, if you know of any sources I could consult that would help me along, I'd appreciate the pointers.

Allan Bloom's Love and Friendship is an interesting collection of essays discussing love and friendship in literature (Rousseau, Stendhal, Austen, Flaubert, Tolstoï, Shakespeare).

I want to learn more about self organizing systems? How these systems evolve, propogate and their contraints? My interest in these systems is a more general one rather than learning about a specifc instantiation.

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