===Highly Recommended Articles:
What Is Rationalist Berkleys Community Culture by Zvi Moshowitz - The original rationalist community mission was to save the world, not to be nice to each other. Sarah recently suggested the later is currently the actual goal. Zvi reinterprets this as sounding an alarm. The rationalists should not become just another Berkeley community of bohemians and weirdos.
Cthugha The Living Flame by Exploring Egregores - Rationalists as worshippers of an Eldritch Star God. Valuing knowledge and ideas above all else. Bonobos and transhumanists. Yudkowsky's argument about distributed vs concentrated intellect. The AI box experiment. Nerds as the true extraverts. "What do you think the singularity will actually look like?" The site maps eight other Eldritch Gods to different philosophical dispositions.
Internet Explorers Not Exploiters by Nostalgebraist - Exploit vs explore tradeoffs. Attention spans. How long should you try a math problem before you give up? Exploring new options can be uncomfortable since it might lead nowhere. Addictive games and the internet. Academic research.
Diversity And Team Performance What The Research Says by Eukaryote - Opens with several links about diversity and inclusion in EA. The pros and cons of different types of diversity in terms of group cohesion and information processing. Practical ways to minimize the costs of diversity and magnify the benefits. Lots of references.
The Market Power Story by Noah Smith - Many issues in the American economy are blamed on the increasing market power of a small number of firms. Analysis: Monopolistic competition. Profits. Market Concentration. Output restriction. Three updates. Lots of citations and references to papers.
The Anti Slip Slope by samuelthefifth (Status 451) - An analogy between workplace noise and workplace sexism. How efforts to stamp out 'workplace noise' can get out of control.
Dota 2 by Open Ai - Open AI codes a 1v1 Dota-2 bot that defeaated top players. The bots actions per minute were comparable to many humans. The bot learned the game from scratch by self-play, and does not use imitation learning or tree search. The game involves hidden information and the bot's strategies were complicated.
Stop Caring So Much About Technical Problems by Particular Virtue - Links to an article describing what attributes actually get developers jobs (other than technical skill). Caring about making great products is much more desirable than caring about technical problems. Developer interviews are highly random. Experience matters alot. Enterprise programmers are disliked. Practical advice.
Partial Credit by Scott Alexander - Blotting out the Sun. Short story.
Moral Reflective Equilibrium and the Absurdity Principle by SlateStarScratchpad - A long discussion about the nature of morality. The absurdity heuristic. Reflective equilibrium of moral values. The feedback loop between intuition and logic.
Advertising by SlateStarScratchpad - Nostalgebraist muses about advertising. Scott briefly explains how advertising works on SSC.
Fear And Loathing At Effective Altruism Global 2017 by Scott Alexander - EA Global was well run and impressive. The deep weirdness of EA. The fundamental goodness of effective altruists. The yoke is light and everyone is welcome.
Community History by Scott (r/SSC) - Scott answers: "What happened to Lesswrong? When (and more importantly why) did the spread out to other blogs happen?"
Threado Quia Absurdum by Scott Alexander - Bi-Weekly public open thread. Recommended comments on: how organizations change over time, self-driving car progress, gun laws in the Czech Republic, why comments are closed on some posts here. Scot may be choosing a SSC moderator.
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.
The Lizard People Of Alpha Draconis 1 Decided To Build An Ansible by Scott Alexander - Faster than light communication via negative average preference utilitarianism.
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.
Internal Dialogue About End Of World by Sailor Vulcan - Short Story. Keep living, maybe we will win the lottery.
My Tedtedx Talks by Robin Hanson - Ted talks by Robin about his books "The Age of Em" and "The Elephant in the Brain". Talks are short ~12 minutes.
Paranoia Testing by Elo - Experiments to test if you have paranoia. Costs. Notes and some graphs.
Theres Always Subtext by Robin Hanson - Mostly a quote about subtext in film.
Play In Hard Mode by Zvi Moshowitz - "Hard mode is harder. The reason to Play in Hard Mode is because it is the only known way to become stronger, and to defend against Goodhart’s Law." Zvi revists the eleven examples from 'easy mode' and shows how to approach them from a hard mode perspective.
Play In Easy Mode by Zvi Moshowitz - Eleven examples of 'selling out' and taking the path of least resistance. Interestingly in several examples taking the easy path is quite defensible.
Emotional Labour by Elo - "I wanted to save you the effort of thinking about the thing and so I decided not to tell/ask you before it was resolved." VS "I wanted to not have to withhold a thing from you so I told you as soon as it was bothering me so that I didn’t have to lie/cheat/withhold/deceive you even if I thought it was in your best interest"
Paths Forward On Berkeley Culture Discussion by Zvi Moshowitz - Follow up to Zvi's post on the Berkeley rationalist community. A long sketch of the arguments Zvi would make and the article he would write if he had time to respond in depth.
How Social Is Reason by Robin Hanson - Humans alone have a logical reasoning module. 'Logical Fallacies' evolved because they are adaptive for persuasion. Unschooled populations often cannot solve logical problems. Epistemic learned helplessness. Impressive complex arguments are preferred over simple ones.
Self Fulfilling Prophecy by Entirely Useless - The author analyzes various edge cases about intention and choice. They discuss how to modify their theories and whether they are on the right track.
Decisions As Predictions by Entirely Useless - "Consider the hypothesis that both intention and choice consist basically in beliefs: intention would consist in the belief that one will in fact obtain a certain end, or at least that one will come as close to it as possible. Choice would consist in the belief that one will take, or that one is currently taking, a certain temporally immediate action for the sake of such an end."
Bathtime by The Unit of Caring - Bath time play with a baby. Things are compelling when they have the right balance of surprise and predictability.
Internet Explorers Not Exploiters by Nostalgebraist - Exploit vs explore tradeoffs. Attention spans. How long should you try a math probem before you give up? Exploring new options can be uncomfortable since it might lead nowhere. Addictive games and the internet. Academic research.
Embracing Metamodernism by Gordon (Map and Territory) - "Metamodernism believes in reconstructing things that have been deconstructed with a view toward reestablishing hope and optimism in the midst of a period (the postmodern period) marked by irony, cynicism, and despair."
Why Ethnicity Ideology by Robin Hanson - "he more life decisions a feature influences, the more those who share this feature may plausibly share desired policies, policies that their coalition could advocate. So you might expect political coalitions to be mostly based on individual features that are very useful for predicting individual behavior. But you’d be wrong."
A Village Is Better Than Group House by Particular Virtue - More private space. Non-shared legal ownership. More people means much more social space and stability.
A Flaw In The Way Smart People Think About Robots And Job Loss by Tom Bartleby - Considering jobs one at a time causes smart people to think no one will lose their job from automation. However small incremental advances reduce the number of needed workers. A history of secretaries. Personal experience of saving time via programming.
More Brain Lies by Aceso Under Glass - "But sometimes it helps to take the gap between is and ought as a sign of how high your standards are, rather than how bad you are at a thing."
Ems In Walkaway by Robin Hanson - A review of the science fiction book 'Walkaway' which features brain emulation. Robin describes what he finds realistic and unrealistic.
Take My Job by Jacob Falkovich - "I want to tell you about the job I’m leaving, why you should think about applying for it, and what it has taught me in the last four years about company culture, diversity, and the makings of a good workplace." Cool jobs have work environments. Keep company identity small if you want real diversity.
The Parliamentary Model As The Correct Ethical Model by Kaj Sotala - An explanation of how the 'parliamentary' model of morality resolves uncertainty around which model of morality is correct. Why the parliamentary model is itself the correct model.
The Problem With Prestige by Robin Hanson - Small fields such as academic disciplines often use prestige to reward people. A mathematical model of how effort is allocated to maximize prestige. Why prestige doesn't scale and what is under-incentivized by prestige.
How I Think About Free Speech Four Categories by Julia Galef - Descriptions of the following categories: No consequences, Individual social consequences, Official social consequences, Legal consequences. Disagreements about categories.
Choices Are Really Bad by Zvi Moshowitz - Exercising willpower is a cost in the short term. Decision fatigue. Reasons why people, including you, WILL choose wrong. People justify their choices. Choices create blame and responsibility. Choices cause paralysis. Choice are communication. Choices require justification. Choices let people defect and destroy cooperation.
Repairing Anxiety Using Internal And External Locus Of Control Models by Elo - Two variable model. Locus of Control: Internal or External. Feeling: Good or bad. The four combinations. Moving diagonally, for example from internal-bad to external-good.
Social Insight When A Lie Is Not A Lie When A by Bound_Up (lesswrong) - If you merely speak the truth as you see then you will be misunderstood. Example of saying you are an atheist. Many people are incapable of understanding your real arguments.
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"
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.
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.
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.
More On Dota 2 by Open Ai - Timeline of the DOTA-bot's rapid improvement. Bot Exploits. Physical Infrastructure. What needs to be done to play 5x5.
Openai Bots Were Defeated At Least 50 Times - People could play against the openAI Dota bot. Several people found strategies to beat the bot. One of the human victors explains their strategy.
Things I Have Gotten Wrong by Aceso Under Glass - Mistaken evaluations: Animal Charity Evaluators, Raising for Effective Giving, Charity Science, Tostan.
We Have No Idea If There Are Cost Effective Interventions Into Wild Animal Suffering by Ozy - Many people are confident there are no effective ways to reduce wild animal suffering, Ozy disagrees. Ecosystems are complex but we aren't completely uncertain. Wild Animal Suffering is a tiny field staffed by non-experts working part time.
Altruism Is Incomplete by Zvi Moshowitz - "I worry many in EA are looking at life like a game where giving money to charity is how the world scores victory points." Controls in psychology are often motivated by researcher bias. Amazon is the world's most effective charity. Life is about getting things done, often for selfish reasons. Veganism. Zvi doesn't believe the official EA party line.
Let Them Decide by GiveDirectly - Eight media articles about Basic Income, Give Directly, Cash Transfer and Development Aid.
High Time For Drug Policy Reform Part 44 by MichaelPlant (EA forum) - "This is the fourth of four posts on DPR. In this part I provide some simplistic but illustrative cost-effectiveness estimates comparing an imaginary campaign for DPR against current interventions for poverty, physical health and mental health; I also consider what EAs should do next."
High Time For Drug Policy Reform Policy by MichaelPlant (EA forum) - "This is the third of four posts on DPR. In this part I look at what a better approach to drug policy might be and then discuss how neglected and tractable this problem is as cause area of EAs to work on."
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:
Unpopular Ideas About Social Norms by Julia Galef - Twenty-four ideas, many with references explaining the ideas. As an example: "Overall it would be a good thing to have a totally transparent society with no privacy"
Unpopular Ideas About Political And Economic Systems by Julia Galef - Twenty-three ideas, many with references explaining the ideas. As an example "Many people have a moral duty not to vote".
The Courage To Stand Up And Do The Wrong Thing by Tom Bartleby - According to Supreme Court Justice Black, applying Brown vs Board of Education to DC schools was an unprincipled but correct decision. Have principles. Don't follow them over a cliff. Acknowledge deviations. Charlottesville. Cloduflare suspends service to the daily stormer.
Many Topics by Scott Aaronson - Misc Topics: HTTPS / Kurtz / eclipse / Charlottesville / Blum / P vs. NP
The Muted Signal Hypothesis Of Online Outrage by Kaj Sotala - "People want to feel respected, loved, appreciated, etc. When we interact physically, you can easily experience subtle forms of these feelings... Online, most of these messages are gone: a thousand people might read your message, but if nobody reacts to it, then you don’t get any signal indicating that you were seen... . So if you want to consistently feel anything, you may need to ramp up the intensity of the signals."
Marching Markups by Robin Hanson - "Holding real productivity constant, if firms move up their demand curves to sell less at a higher prices, then total output, and measured GDP, get smaller. Their numerical estimates suggest that, correcting for this effect, there has been no decline in US productivity growth since 1965. That’s a pretty big deal."
Greater Gender Parity Economics Suggests Reform Tenure Systems by Marginal Revolution - Biological clocks conflict with the tenure system timeline. Tyler recommends a much more flexible system with a variety of roles. The leaders in the economics profession have been 'punching down' at an infamous anonymous economics forum.
Moral Precepts And Suicide Pacts by Perfecting Dated Visions - "To be trusted to remain peaceful, you must be the kind of person who remains peaceful. And to be a peaceful person and earn the trust placed in you, you must be peaceful even when you have every right to fight. It’s the same with tolerance. If you want to shut up your argumentative opponents and vigorously retaliate when your opponents show signs of intolerance, you will not be trusted to be tolerant to others who are tolerant, even those who basically agree with you." The constitution, World War 1, Nazi's today.
Seattle Minimum Wage Study Part 3 Tell Me Why Im Wrong Please by Zvi Moshowitz - Most writers thought the Seattle minimum wage study showed that low wage workers were hurt. Zvi found a fundamental flaw in their analysis. If you correct for raising wages in Seattle then the study seems to show low wage workers weren't hurt or perhaps benefitted.
Theory Vs Data In Statistics by Noah Smith - Theory heavy vs minimal theory models in Economics. Machine learning as the extreme of a "no model required" paradigm.
Thats Amore by samzdat - Epistocracy, democracy with limits on who can vote. Competency and incompetency and pizza. Politics is the strongest identity. Trading power for the image of power. Morlocks and Eloi. Replication crisis. Google guy. The Left's support for the powerful. Nhilism.
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.
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.
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)"
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 where 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.
Can Atheists be Jewish by Brute Reason - Reasons MIRI can be an atheist Jew: Judaism is a religion, but being Jewish isn’t necessarily. Belief in god isn’t particularly central in most Jewish communities and practices. Because I fucking said so.
Ten Small Life Improvements by Paul Christiano (lesswrong) - Nine tech tips. Christmas lights all year round.
Extremely Easy Problem by protokol2020 - How much water per second do you need to raise the sea level 6 meters in 100 years.
The Premium Mediocre Life Of Maya Millennial by venkat (ribbonfarm) - Venkat - "Yes, ribbonfarm is totally premium mediocre. We are a cut above the new media mediocrityfests that are Vox and Buzzfeed, and we eschew low-class memeing and listicles. But face it: actually enlightened elite blog readers read Tyler Cowen and Slatestarcodex."
Right And Left Folds Primitive Recursion Patterns In Python And Haskell by Eli Bendersky - "In this article I'll present how left and right folds work and how they map to some fundamental recursive patterns. The article starts with Python, which should be (or at least look) familiar to most programmers. It then switches to Haskell for a discussion of more advanced topics like the connection between folding and laziness, as well as monoids."
Meta Contrarian Typography Part 2 by Tom Bartleby - You should use two spaces after your sentences whn drafting. Why to use a plaintext editor. Why to write a resume in plaintext. Flexibility is power. Two spaces is more much more machine readable.
Trip Sitting Tips And Tricks by AellaGirl - Thirteen practical tips for trip sitting someone on a high dose of acid. Focuses on accepting their experiences, treating them similarly to a small child and keeping yourself safe.
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."
We Are Not Worried Enough About The Next Pandemic by 80,000 Hours - "We spend the first 20 minutes covering his work as a foundation grant-maker, then discuss how bad the pandemic problem is, why it’s probably getting worse, and what can be done about it. In the second half of the interview we go through what you personally could study and where you could work to tackle one of the worst threats facing humanity."
Identity Terror by Waking Up with Sam Harris - "Douglas Murray. Identity politics, the rise of white nationalism, the events in Charlottesville, guilt by association, the sources of western values, the problem of finding meaning in a secular world."
Seth Stephens Davidowitz On What The Internet Can Tell Us by Rational Speaking - "New research gives us into which parts of the USA are more racist, what kinds of strategies reduce racism, whether the internet is making political polarization worse, and the sexual fetishes and insecurities people will only admit to their search engine."
John McWhorter on the Evolution of Language and Words on the Move by EconTalk - "The unplanned ways that English speakers create English, an example of emergent order. Topics discussed include how words get short (but not too short), the demand for vividness in language, and why Shakespeare is so hard to understand."
The Limits Of Persuasion by Waking Up with Sam Harris - "David Pizarro and Tamler Sommers. Free speech on campus, the Scott Adams podcast, the failings of the mainstream media, moral persuasion, moral certainty, the ethics of abortion, Buddhism, the illusion of the self."
Conversation: Comedian Dave Barry by Marginal Revolution - "What makes Florida special, why business writing is so terrible, Eddie Murphy, whether social conservatives can be funny (in public), the weirdness of Peter Pan, how he is so productive, playing guitar with Roger McGuinn, DT, the future of comedy."
Ritual And Spirituality by The Bayesian Conspiracy - Rationalist ritual. Witchcraft. Welcome to Nightvale. Concerts. What makes something ritual? Is rationalist ritual psychologically safe?
Chris Hayes by The Ezra Klein Show - Chris Hayes. Should Trump be removed from office. "Infighting between different factions of the Democratic Party, the signs that congressional Republicans are growing some backbone, and the reports that Trump’s closest aides are conspiring to keep him from doing too much damage to the country."
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"
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."
I think it'd be valuable to:
a) have a meta-"Rational Feed" post that both explains the concept, links to all previous Rational Feeds, and maybe highlights top-essays-according-to-deluks917
b) promote that post to Main.