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[Book Review] Destiny Disrupted

Destiny Disrupted was critical history reading for me, and helped break me out of a Eurocentric viewing of the world before college. I've tried very, very hard to find a history book from Chinese, Russian, or Indian authors that has the same insider's point of view but written in accessible, plain English. 

Aside from wanting to read similar books about other cultures/civilizations, I am reminded that it seemed a bit steeped in "post-9/11ism". 

How to Write Like Kaj Sotala

Are there examples of Kaj's writing that you find particularly salient/useful? 

Predictions for 2021 (+ a template for yours)

Why new year's predictions? Why not new day's predictions, or new week's predictions?

In general, it is easier to make a list of predictions and gauge uncertainty at one time. It takes a lot of effort, and so is generally done sparingly. The beginning of the calendar year makes a good Schelling point to do that work, especially given that there are lots of other "new year" rituals it folds into. 

Couldn't you do better? Should you carry notebooks with you everywhere all the time, prepared to write predictions? Should you use an interval timer to force you to make a prediction whenever it rings?

There is probably a market outside of Less Wrong (definitely within Less Wrong and the ratcom) for some sort of app or service that reminds people to make predictions, gauge uncertainty, and then update those predictions at time intervals. Think "Anki cards" but for predictions. The biggest hinderance is mental effort and the fact that the rewards are so nebulous ("oh wow, I've become good at gauging uncertainty thats [socially] useful for... what exactly?")

In Addition to Ragebait and Doomscrolling

I would say that Sneer Culture is a subset of "scornporn". Sneer Culture is generally about "X licensing" whereas scornporn is about "Contempt generating content that makes you feel higher on the social hierarchy." 

In Addition to Ragebait and Doomscrolling

I wonder if that is because /r/TTC couldn't figured out how to differentiate cringe from irony and post-irony, or if it just got big enough that /r/all converted it ?

Evading Mind Control

Ferris is probably coming from a place of the LINDY Effect- why read new books, when books that are older definitively are more useful because if they hadn't been useful they wouldn't have lasted as long.

New content and timely content is more of a bet than a sure thing.

What would a world of widespread statistical numeracy look like?

I guess the question is "how much of people choosing one mode of transit over another is caused by innumeracy?" Planes are several times less risky than cars, but planes are also highly, highly regulated. If you took those regulations away, let anybody who wants to build and fly a plane, and then completely remove the TSA prechecks, you lower the cost of the planes, lower the non-travel time commitment, and presumably raise the risk of flying.

But would it beat a car? Would they reach equilibrium?

What would a world of widespread statistical numeracy look like?

Well, obviously Covid wouldn't have happened. People would drive less, take public transit (especially planes) more (alternatively, planes would be massively deregulated and become incredibly cheap to fly). People who feel even a bit sick would wear masks.

I would imagine that this type of numeracy would extend into the personal realm to include things like personal finance and personal productivity. They would cook their own meals more, eat healthier, and possibly buy less luxury goods.

They would push for the end of coal plants (24 deaths per TWh compared to .02/TWh for solar), decreasing the amount of funding the military gets for anti-terrorism activities, and charging the leadership team of Boeing and the FAA for criminal negligence

Anatomy of a Gear

I just want to say that any good mechanical engineer designing a new system with some tolerances and known limitations but making use of novel gears, like on a rocket engine, will probably be running those gears through finite element analysis

That indicates to me that the "lowest-level component in a model" question is not just "what makes a good model" but "what is the lowest-level component I can get away with".  


Paul Graham also has a recent essay exhorting his readers to produce content.

Most people don't even reach the stage of making something they're embarrassed by, let alone continue past it. They're too frightened even to start.

Content creation has two ends: the reward for doing it, and the punishment for doing it*. You've outlined the reasons to do it above, Jacobian, but it seems like you haven't tackled the punishment for doing it? (Maybe I've missed another blog post). The Big Yud's concept of "hero licensing" comes into play here: a little voice inside people's heads that says, "who are you to try to fill in Scott Alexander's shoes?"

But fuck it, Jacobian, you and Zvi are the only two people trying and I hereby give every reader of this comment a license to be the new SSC.  

*(It might also have another two ends, the rewards for not doing it and the punishment for not doing it).

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