All of Acty's Comments + Replies

As a judoka, this really spoke to me and was a useful analogy - thankyou very much for it!

My own idea of what good mental posture looks like includes some idea of the way you model yourself. One of my biggest failure modes is when I slip into seeing myself as 'random useless seventeen-year-old' and therefore acting as I expect a random useless seventeen year old to act (ineffectively) or waiting to get permission before I do things. When I manage to change into seeing-myself-as-agent mode, my productivity and rationality gets supercharged compared to the a... (read more)

Saving the refugee kid is emotionally appealing and might work out OK in small numbers. You correctly note that there might be a threshold past which unselective immigration starts creating negative utility. I think it's easy to make a case that Britain and France have already hit this point by examining what is going on at the object level. European countries with large Muslim populations are moving towards anarchy: * Rule of law is declining due to events like mass rape scandals like Rotherham, the Charlie Hebdo massacre, and riots []. Here's a video [] of a large riot which resulted in a Jewish grocery store being burned down. If you watch that video or skip around in it, you will see what looks like a science fiction movie. Muslim riots are a common [] feature in Europe, and so are sex gangs (established in previous comments). * Sharia Patrols [] are becoming increasingly common in Europe. * Muslim immigrants form insular enclaves that are dangerous for non-Muslims, or even police (aka "no-go zones" [] or "Sensitive Urban Zones"). And these are only a few examples. How much more violence does there have to be before something is done? Muslims and Europeans are not interchangeable. Muslims have distinct culture and identity, and it’s unlikely that socialization can change this on an acceptable time-scale. * The attitudes of most Muslim population on average are really scary. Muslims in Europe, especially France, have very radical attitudes that are supportive of terrorism []. According to Pew Research [],
Yep :-) That's why GlaDOS made an appearance in this thread :-D
I'm not so sure you should distrust your intuitions here. I mean, let's be frank, the same people who will rave about how every left-wing idea from liberal feminism to state socialism is absolutely terrible, evil, and tyrannical will, themselves, manage to reconstruct most of the same moral intuitions if left alone on their own blogs. I mean, sure, they'll call it "neoreaction", but it's not actually that fundamentally different from Stalinism. On the more moderate end of the scale, you should take account of the fact that anti-state right-wing ideologies in Anglo countries right now are unusually opposed to state and hierarchy across the space of all human societies ever, including present-day ones. POINT BEING, sometimes you should distrust your distrust of certain intuitions, and ask simply, "How far is this intuition from the mean human across history?" If it's close, actually, then you shouldn't treat it as, "Something [UNUSUAL] is wrong with my brain." The intuition is often still wrong, but it's wrong in the way most human intuitions are wrong rather than because you have some particular moral defect. See, the funny thing is, I can understand this sentiment, because my imagine-great-worlds function is messed-up in exactly the opposite way. When I try to imagine great worlds, I don't imagine worlds full of disciplined workers marching boldly forth under the command of strong, wise, meritorious leadership for the Greater Good -- that's my "boring parts of Shinji and Warhammer 40k" memories. Instead, my "sample great worlds" function outputs largely equal societies in which people relate to each-other as friends and comrades, the need to march boldly forth for anything when you don't really want to has been long-since abolished, and people spend their time coming up with new and original ways to have fun in the happy sunlight, while also re-terraforming the Earth, colonizing the rest of the Solar System, and figuring out ways to build interstellar travel (eve
On some level, you do need a motivation, so it would be foolish to say that anger is a bad reason to do things. I would certainly never tell you to do only things you are indifferent about. On another level, though, doing things out of strong anger causes you to ignore evidence, think short term, ignore collateral damage, etc. just as much as doing things because they make you happy does. You think that describing the society that will make you feel happy makes people run screaming? Describing the society that would alleviate your anger will make people run screaming too--in fact it already has made people run screaming in this very thread. Or at least, it has a bad track record in the real world. Look at the things that people have done because they are really angry about terrorism.

Ooh, yay, free knowledge and links! Thankyou, you're awesome!

The linked study was a fun read. I was originally a bit skeptical - it feels like songs are sufficiently subjective that you'll just like what your friends like or is 'cool', but what subjects you choose to study ought to be the topic of a little more research and numbers - but after further reflection the dynamics are probably the same, since often the reason you listen to a song at all is because your friend recommended it, and the reason you research a potential career in something is because ... (read more)

I think you have the right idea by studying more before making up your mind about open borders and immigration. It’s really hard to evaluate moral solutions without knowing the facts of the matter, and unfortunately there is a lot of political spin on all sides. In a situation of uncertainty, any utilitarian policy that requires great sacrifices is very risky: if the anticipated benefits don’t materialize, then the result turns into a horrible mess. The advantage of deontological ethics and rule/act utilitarianism is that they provide tighter rules for how to act under uncertainty, which decreases the chance of falling into some attractive, world-saving utilitarian scheme that backfires and hurts people: some sacrifices are just considered unacceptable. Speaking of utilitarian schemes, British colonialism to the Muslim world would cause a lot of suffering, but so does current immigration policies that bring in Muslims. Why is one type of suffering acceptable, but another isn’t? Utilitarianism can have some really perverse consequences. What if British-ruled Pakistan of 2050 was dramatically lower in crime, lower in violence towards women in both countries, and more peaceful, such that the violence of imposing that situation is offset? What if the status quo of immigration, or an open borders scenario would lead to a bloodier future that is more oppressive to women in both countries? What if assimilation and fixing immigrant isn’t feasible on an acceptable timescale, especially given that new immigrants are constantly streaming in and reinforcing their culture? My point about British vs. Muslim rape survivors is about responsibility, not sympathy or worthiness as a human being. As a practical matter, people who live nearer each other and have shared cultural / community ties are better positioned to stop local crime and discourage criminals. Expecting them to use their local legal system to arrest imported criminals will stretch their resources to the point of fa
Let me try to briefly convince you of why there should be a state's duty to citizens from a utilitarian perspective, also corresponding greater concern about internal than external crime: 1) A state resembles a form of corporate organization with its citizens as shareholders. It has special obligations by contract to those shareholders who got a stake on the assumption that they would have special rights in the corporation. Suddenly creating new stock and giving it to to non-shareholders, thereby creating new shareholders, would increase the utility of new shareholders and decrease the utility of old shareholders to roughly the same extent because there is the same amount of company being redistributed, but would have the additional negative effect of decreasing rule of law, and rule of law is a very very good thing because it lets people engage in long-term planning and live stable lives. (There is no such problem if the shareholders come together and decide to create and distribute new stock by agreement - and to translate back the metaphor, this means that immigration should be controlled by existing citizens, rather than borders being declared to "mean nothing" in general.) 2) A state is often an overlay on a nation. To cash those terms out: A governing entity with major features usually including a legal code and a geographically defined and sharply edged region of influence is often an overlay on a cluster of people grouped by social, cultural, biological, and other shared features. ("Nation" derives from those who shared a natus [].) Different clusters of people have different clusters of utility functions, and should therefore live under differing legal codes, which should also be administrated by members of those clusters whom one can reasonably expect to have a particularly good understanding of how their fellow cluster-members will be happiest. 3) Particularly where not overlaid on nations, separate states func
Wait a minute. You don't want them, or you do want them but shouldn't rely on what you want? And I'm not just nitpicking here. This is why people are having bad reactions. On one level, you don't want those things, and on another you do. Seriously mixed messages. Also, if you are physically there with your foot on someone's toe, that triggers your emotional instincts that say that you shouldn't cause pain. If you are doing things which cause some person to get hurt in some faraway place where you can't see it, that doesn't. I'm sure that many of the people who decided to use terrorism as an excuse for NSA surveillance won't step on people's toes or hurt any cats. If anything, their desire not to hurt people makes it worse. "We have to do these things for everyone's own good, that way nobody gets hurt!"

I do think that some kind of organisational cooperative structure would be needed even if everyone were friends - provided there are dragons left to slay. If people need to work together on dragonfighting, then just being friends won't cut it - there will need to be some kind of team, and some people delegating different tasks to team members and coordinating efforts. Of course, if there aren't dragons to slay, then there's no need for us to work together and people can do whatever they like.

And yeah - the tradeoff would definitely need to be considered. I... (read more)

We don't need the state to organize. Look at all the private organizations out there. The cause might be something created artificially by the FAI. One idea I had is a universe with "pseudodeath" which doesn't literally kill you but relocates you to another part of the universe which results in lose of connections with all people you knew. Like in Border Guards [] but involuntary, so that human communities have to fight with "nature" to survive.

You make me suddenly, intensely curious to find out what a Reynolds number is and why it can make streamlining increase drag. I am also abruptly realising that I know less than I thought about STEM fields, given I just kind of assumed that astrophysicists were the official People Who Know About Space and therefore rocketry must be part of their domain. I don't know whether I want to ask if you can recommend any good fluid dynamics introductions, or whether I don't want to add to the several feet high pile of books next to my bed...

Okay - so why do you thin... (read more)

The best non-mathematical introduction I have seen is Shape and Flow: The Fluid Dynamics of Drag []. This book is fairly short; it has 186 pages, but each page is small and there are many pictures. It explains some basic concepts of fluid dynamics like the Reynolds number, what controls drag at low and high Reynolds numbers, why golf balls (or roughened spheres in general) have less drag than smooth spheres at high Reynolds number (this does not imply that roughening always reduces drag; it does not on streamlined bodies as is explained in the book), how drag can decrease as you increase speed in certain cases, how wind tunnels and other similar scale modeling works, etc. You could also watch this series of videos on drag []. They were made by the same person who wrote Shape and Drag. There is also a related collection of videos [] on other topics in fluid dynamics. Beyond that, the most popular undergraduate textbook by Munson [] is quite good. I'd suggest buying an old edition if you want to learn more; the newer editions do not add anything of value to an autodidact. I linked to the fifth edition, which is what I own. I'll offer a few possibilities about why fluids is generally seen as less attractive than QM, but I want to be clear that I think these ideas are all very tentative. This study [] suggests that in an artificial music market, the popularity charts are only weakly influenced by the quality of the music. (Note that I haven't read this beyond the abstract.) Social influence had a much stronger effect. One possible application of this idea to different fields is that QM became more attractive for social reasons, e.g., the Matthew effect
"I am an old man now, and when I die and go to heaven there are two matters on which I hope for enlightenment. One is quantum electrodynamics, and the other is the turbulent motion of fluids. And about the former I am rather optimistic." (Horace Lamb) (Indeed, today quantum electrodynamics makes correct predictions within one part per billion [] and fluid dynamics has an open million-dollar question [].)
If you are "procrastinate-y" you wouldn't be able to survive this state yourself. Following a set schedule every moment for the rest of your life is very, very difficult and it is unlikely that you would be able to do it, so you would soon be dead yourself in this state.
There are reasons to suspect the tests would not work. "It would be nice to think that you can trust powerful people who are aware that power corrupts. But this turns out not to be the case." [] (Content Note: killing, mild racism.)
No, because you don't know (now) in which direction will you change your mind (in the future). As a general observation, you expect to learn a lot of things in the future. Hopefully, you will update your views on the basis of things you have learned -- thus the change. But until you actually learn them, you can't update.
Redistributing the world's rapists from less developed countries into more developed countries with greater law and order to imprison them? Is that really what you're suggesting? I find this perspective truly stunning and I object to it both factually and morally. Factually, it's unclear that this approach would indeed reduce rape in the end. While many Muslim women are raped in Muslim countries, there are unique reasons why some Muslim men might commit sexual violence and harassment. By some [] Muslim standards, Western women dress like "whores" and are considered to not have bodily sovereignty. To use the feminist term, they are considered "rapable." Additionally, if British police fail to adequately investigate rape by Muslim men, whether due to chauvinism or fear of being seen as racist, then the rapists won't actually go to jail in a timely fashion. The Rotherham authorities couldn't keep up with the volume of complaints. I have no idea whether the Rotherham sex gangs would have been able to operate so brazenly in a Muslim country, where they would risk violent reprisals from the fathers and brothers of their victims. So the notion of reducing rape by jailing immigrant rapists is really, really speculative, and I think it's really careless for you to be making moral arguments based on it. Even if spreading around the world's rapists actually helps jail them and eventually reduce rape, it's still morally repugnant. I'm trying to figure out what your moral framework is, but the only thing I can come up with is naive utilitarianism. In fact, I think redistributing the world's rapists is so counter-intuitive that it highlights the problems with naive utilitarianism (or whatever your framework is). There are many lines of objection: * From a deontological perspective, or from a rule/act utilitarian perspective, inflicting a greater risk of rape up
I'm not sure I would class myself as a conservative, but I can understand your assumption that conservatives are idiots, in that there was a time when I would have said that anyone who is against gay rights is a fascist theocrat. Now I realise, on a more intuitive level, that just because many arguments for a position are idiotic doesn't mean that there isn't a somewhat intelligent argument out there. Oddly enough, IRL I mostly meet fairly intelligent people with opinions that amount to "anyone who disagrees with my left-wing politics is evil! That person supports a right wing party, I'd like to burn their house down!" My theory is that facebook and twitter have ruined discourse because people can't fit opinions more complex into 140 characters. You're new here, I guess you'll get used to the karma system in time? In the meantime, have an upvote :)
I seriously doubt this. Rather I suspect you're, either intentionally or unconsciously, replacing opinions disagreeing with yours with ones that are easier for you to dismiss.
Thanks for the extended answer. If I may make a couple of small suggestions -- first, in figuring out where you views come from look at your social circle, both in meatspace and on the 'net. Bring to your mind people you like and respect, people you hope to be liked and respected by. What are their views, what kind of positions are acceptable in their social circle and what kind are not? What is cool and what is uncool? And second, you are well aware that your views change. I will make a prediction: they will continue to change. Remember that and don't get terribly attached to your current opinions or expect them to last forever. A flexible, open mind is a great advantage, try not to get it ossified before time :-)

Yup, playing status with accounts would be kinda stupid. (That's why you should stop doing it.)

You know what would be especially stupid? If we lived in a world that accorded me higher status than you because of my general level of aggression, and I could end this entire argument with "I'm high status, you're low status, I'm right, you're wrong, shut up now".

Now, wouldn't that be a really stupid world...?

So tell me again why giving status and prestige to aggressive people is a great idea?

Um, how exactly do you want to preserve older things while I want to tear everything down and build it back up again? I don't want to tear things down. I want the trends that are happening - everything gets fairer and more liberal over time - to continue. To accelerate them if I can. (To design a whole new State if and only if it seems like it will make most people much happier, and even then I kinda accept that I'd need to talk to a whole lot of other people and do a whole lot of small scale experiments first.) None of those trends are making society end ... (read more)

Here's at least one that isn't: [] This is also complicated by the fact that views that go out of favor tend to be characterized as not liberal regardless of whether they actually were liberal. Eugenics is one of the better known examples. Saying "I don't have a study, but I predict that if I do a study I will see X" is no better than just asserting X. Also, "women and men are equal" is vague. Do you want equality of opportunity or equality of outcome? Even "violence against women" is vague. ISIS likes to kidnap women, but they also like to kill all the men at the time they are kidnapping the women. So ISIS causes the absolute amount of violence against women to increase, but the relative amount (compared to violence against men) to decrease.

Acty, a question. What are you information sources? This is very general question -- I'm not asking for citations, I'm asking on the basis of which streams of information do you form your worldview?

For example, for most people these streams would be (a) personal experiences; (b) what other people (family, friends) tell them; (c) what they absorb from the surrounding culture, mostly from mainstream media; and (d) what they were taught, e.g. in school.

You use phrases like "I cannot see any evidence" -- where cannot you see evidence? Who or what, do you think, reliably tells you what is happening in the world and how the world works?

I'll like to start by backing up a bit and explaining why I brought up the example of Rotherham. You originally came here talking about your emphasis on preventing human suffering. Rotherham is a scary example of people being hurt, which was swept under the carpet. I think Rotherham is an important case study for progressives and feminists to address. As you note, some immigrants come from cultures (usually Muslim cultures) with very sexist attitudes towards consent. Will they assimilate and change their attitudes? Well, first I want to register some skepticism for the notion that European Muslims are assimilating. Muslims are people with their own culture, not merely empty vessels to pour progressive attitudes into. Muslims in many parts of Europe are creating patrols [] to enforce Sharia Law. If you want something more quantitative, Muslim polls [] reveal that 11% of UK Muslims believe that the Charlie Hebdo magazine "deserved" to be attacked. This really doesn't look like assimilation. But for now, let's pretend that they are assimilating. How long will this assimilation take? In what morality is it remotely acceptable that thousands of European women will predictably be raped or tortured by Muslim immigrant gangs while we are waiting for them to get with the feminist program? Feminists usually take a very hardline stance against rape. It's supremely strange seeing them suddenly go soft on rape when the perpetrators are non-whites. It's not enough to say "that's wrong" after the fact, or to point out biases of the police, when these rapes were entirely preventable from the beginning. It's also not sufficient to frame rape as purely a gender issue when there are clear racial and cultural dynamics going on. There perpetrators were mostly of particular races, and
And yet, they were remarkably uninterested in this story when it came out.
And how would we define "Pakistani culture" in such a way that it doesn't necessarily include patriarchy? Cultural evolution in response to moral imperative is a thing.
Do you think that anyone who is against multiculturalism is a neoreactionary? I.e. the immigrants adopt the culture of the host country. Are you sure you don't mean 'We don't need to get rid of multiracialism'?
No, I'm fairly confident the neoreactionaries, for whatever reason you brought them up, would happily join in the plan to strip out the objectionable bits of Pakistani culture and replace it with something better. Also, demanding more integration and acculturation from immigrants. What they probably wouldn't listen to is the apparent contradiction of saying we don't need to get rid of multiculturalism, but we do need to push a certain cultural message until it becomes universal.
The problem of studying people in the first villages is not only that their problems don't map directly to today. It's also that it's get's really hard to get concrete data. It's much easier to do good science when you have good reliable data. With 10,000 people you can solve a lot via tribal bonds and clans. Families stick together. You can also do a bit of religion and everyone follows the wise local priest. Those solutions don't scale well. You are likely becoming like the people that surround you when you go into university. You also build relationships with them. Going to Cambridge is good. Cambridge draws a lot of intelligent people together and also provides you with very useful contacts for a political career. On the other hand that means that you have to go to those place in Cambridge where the relevant people are. Find out which professors at Cambridge actually do good social science. Then go to their classes. Just make sure that you don't get lost and go on a career of digging up old stuff and not affecting the real world. A lot of smart people get lost in programs like that. It's like smart people who get lost in theoretical physics.

I think there's also definitely a prestige/coolness factor which isn't correlated with difficulty, applicability, or usefulness of the field.

Quantum mechanics is esoteric and alien and weird and COOL and saying you understand it whilst sliding your glasses down your nose makes you into Supergeek. Saying "I understand how wet stuff splashes" is not really so... high status. It's the same thing that makes astrophysics higher status than microbiology even though the latter is probably more useful and saves more lives / helps more people - rockets sp... (read more)

To be honest, I found QM to be the least interesting subject of all physics which I've learned about. Also, I don't think the features you highlighted work either. Fluid dynamics has loads of counterintuitive findings, perhaps even more so than QM, e.g., streamlining can increase drag at low Reynolds numbers, increasing speed can decrease drag in certain situations ("drag crisis"). Fluids also has plenty of esoteric concepts; very few people reading the previous sentence likely know what the Reynolds number or drag crisis is. Physicists, even astrophysicists, know little more about how rockets work than educated laymen. Rocketry is part of aerospace engineering, of which the foundation is fluid dynamics. Maybe rocketry is a counterexample, but I don't really think so, as there are a lot more people who think rockets are interesting than who know what a de Laval nozzle [] is. Even that has some counterintuitive effects; the fluid accelerates in the expansion!
No. The problem of building a state out of 10,000 people who's fasted way of transport is the horse and who have no math is remarkably different from the problem of building a state of tens of millions of people in the age of the internet, cellphones fast airplanes and cars that allow people to travel fast. The Ancient Egyptians didn't have the math to even think about running a randomized trial to find out whether a certain policy will work. Studying them doesn't tell you anything about how to get our current political system to be more open to make policy based on scientific research. I think cognitive psychologists who actually did well controlled experiments were a lot more useful for learning about biases and fallacies than evolutionary psychology. Most people in political science don't do it well. I don't know of a single student body that changed to a new political system in the last decade. I did study at the Free University of Berlin which has a very interesting political structure that came out of 68's. At the time there was a rejection of representative democracy and thus even through the government of Berlin wants the student bodies of universities in Berlin to be organised according to representative democracy, out university effectively isn't. Politics students thought really hard around 68 about how to create a more soviet style democracy and the system is still in operation today. Compared to designing a system like that today's politics students are slacking. The aren't practically oriented. If you are interested in rationality problems, there the field of decision science. It's likely more yielding then anthropology. Having a good grasp of academic decision science would be helpful when it comes to designing political systems and likely not enough people in political science deal with that subject. Are you aware that the American Anthropological Association dropped [] science from

Thankyou - this statement of the idea was much, much clearer to me. :)

It seems like the solution - well, a possible part of one possible solution - is to make the social science research institute that everyone listens to have some funding source which is completely independent from the political party in power. That would hopefully make the scientific community more independent. We now need to make it more powerful, which is... more difficult. I think a good starting point would be to try and raise the prestige associated with a social science career (and... (read more)

Opponent is a word. Here, it refers to the person advocating the opposite view to mine. If you would like, I can use a different word, but it will change very little. Arguing over semantics is not a productive way to cause each other to update. Though to be honest, I ceased having much hope that you were in this discussion for the learning and updates when you started using ad hominem and fully general counterarguments. (Saying that your opponent is defensive and emotional and "opponentist" is also a fully general counterargument and also ad homi... (read more)

This is getting more interesting now. To sum the history of things, you had this discussion with VoiceOfRa and you stressed primarily you want to save people from getting killed. I butted in and proposed you don't have to redesign the whole world to do that, it is possible in a traditional setup as well. Turned out we are optimizing for different things, I am trying to preserve older-time stuff while also changing them to the extent needed to address real, actual complaints of various people and work out compromises (calling it moderatism or moderate conservatism would be OK), while you are more interested in tearing things down and building them up. OK. But I think there are more interesting things here lurking under the surface. An offer: retreat a few meta levels up, and get back to this object level later on. IRL I discuss pretty much everything with people inside my age range (30-60), which means we rely not only on our intelligence and book knowledge (you obviously have immense amounts of both) but on our life experience as well. That is a difficult thing to convey because it is something that is not even learned in words (so there are no good books that sum it up, to my knowledge) but non-verbal pattern recognition. Yet it is pretty much this thing, this life experience that makes the difference between your meta level assumptions and mine. What can one do? I will try the impossible and try to translate it into words. Don't expect it to go very well, but maybe a glimpse will be transmitted. Also my tone will be uncomfortably personal and subjective because it is per definition something happening inside people's heads. When I was 17 I assumed, expected and demanded the world to be logical and ethical. I vibrated between assuming it and angrily demanding it when I found it is not the case. University did not help - it was a very logical and sheltered environment. When I started working (25) I had to realize how truly illogical the world is, and not because

Oh, I definitely have some kind of inbuilt ideology - it's just that right now, I'm consciously trying to suppress/ignore it. It doesn't seem to converge with what most other humans want. I'd rather treat it as a bias, and try and compensate for it, in order to serve my higher level goals of satisfying people's preferences and increasing happiness and decreasing suffering and doing correct true science.

Ignoring something and working around a bias are two different things.

Different people learn in different ways. I'm really good at textbook learning and hate hands on learning (and suspect that is common among introverted intellectual people). Ideally, why not offer both a university course that qualifies you as a teacher and an apprenticeship system that qualifies you as a teacher, and allow prospective teachers to decide which best suits their learning style? We could even do cognitive assessments on the prospective teachers to recommend to them which program would be best for what their strengths seem to be.

Although, as s... (read more)

The job of being a teacher is not ideal for introverts. At the core teaching is about social interaction. You can't learn charisma through reading textbooks. Textbooks don't teach you to be a authority in the classroom and get the children to pay attention to what you are saying. They don't teach empathy either. Empathy is a strong predictor for success of psychologists in therapy session and likely also useful for teachers. "Learning styles" are a popular concept but there no good research that suggests that giving different students different training based on learning style is helpful. I agree. Get rid of the whole business of giving students grades outside of automatically graded tests to allow a teacher to focus on teaching.

Telling your opponent that they are incapable of arguing with you until they are older is a fully general counterargument, and one of the more aggravating and toxic ones.

Even if it wasn't a fully general counterargument, it would be fallacious because it's ad hominem. There are plenty of people 5-10 years older than me who share my ideas, and you could as easily be arguing with one of them as you are arguing with me now; the fact that by chance you are arguing against me doesn't affect the validity/truth of the ideas we're talking about, and it's very irra... (read more)

I am not your opponent, that is where it begins. Opponent means there is something to win and people compete over that prize. There is nothing to win here except learning, and this discussion quickly turned to be not conducive to it - you got all defensive and emotional instead of trying to understand use my models and see what you can do with them. Opponentism belongs to precise that kind of tribalism you are trying to want to overcome. Interesting, isn't it? Besides you keep being boringly solipsistic. Your strength instead of statistical strength differences, your idea of politeness instead of the social function of politeness... it seems you primarily subject you have useful information about is, well, you. Not interested. The first precondition to being interesting is to understand nobody gives a damn about you. I.e. to get out of the gravity well of the ego, to adopt viewpoints that don't depend strongly on personal desires. I am not even saying I would expect everyone to be able to do it, I am perfectly aware of how long it took for me, how much XP, read, suffering it took, so I don't even blame you for not having made it, it's just that it is seriously difficult to generate information interesting for others from that source. But if you think you can, then do it, say something genuinely interesting, try to offer any sort of a model or information from this utopian-progressivist school that is genuinely different and not the same stuff the mainstream media, BuzzFeed or Tumblr pouring on day and night. The only condition of interestingness is 1) it is not about you 2) it is not "done to death" a million times by the media or blogs.
Every system that works is covert or overt meritocracy. Social democracy works, so ....
"Greetings, Comrade Acty. Today the Collective has decreed that you..." Do these words make your heart skip a beat in joyous anticipation, no matter how they continue? Have you read "Brave New World"? "1984"? "With Folded Hands" []? Do those depict societies you find attractive? Exinanition is an attractive fantasy [] for some, but personal fantasies are not a foundation to build a society on. You are clearly intelligent, but do you think? You have described the rich intellectual life at your school, but how much of that activity is of the sort that can solve a problem in the real world, rather than a facility at making complex patterns out of ideas []? The visions that you have laid out here merely imagine problems solved. People will not do as you would want? Then they will be made to. How? "On pain of death." How can the executioners be trusted? They will be tested to ensure they use the power well. How will they be tested? Who tests them? How does this system ever come into existence? I'm sure your imagination can come up with answers to all these questions, that you can slot into a larger and larger story. But it would be an exercise in creative fiction, an exercise in invisible dragonology []. And all springing from "My intuitions say that specialism increases output." Exterminate all life, then. That will stop the suffering. I'm sure you're really smart, and will go far. I'm concerned about the direction, though. Right now, I'm looking at an Unfriendly Natural Intelligence.
Why do you call inhabitants of such a state "citizens"? They are slaves. Interesting. So you would like to be a slave. ...and do you understand why?
I think there's an implicit premise or two that you may have mentally included but failed to express, running along the lines of: The all-controlling state is run by completely benevolent beings who are devoted to their duty and never make errors. Sans such a premise, one lazy bureaucrat cribbing his cubicle neighbor's allocations, or a sloppy one switching the numbers on two careers, can cause a hell of a lot of pain by assigning an inappropriate set of tasks for people to do. Zero say and the death penalty for disobedience then makes the pain practically irremediable. A lot of the reason for weak and ineffective government is trying to mitigate and limit government's ability to do terribly terribly wicked things, because governments are often highly skilled at doing terribly terribly wicked things, and in unique positions to do so, and can do so by minor accident. You seem to have ignored the possibility of anything going wrong when following your intuition. Moreover, there's a second possible implicit premise: These angels hold exactly and only the values shared by all mankind, and correct knowledge about everything. Imagine someone with different values or beliefs in charge of that all-controlling state with the death penalty. For instance, I have previously observed that Boko Haram has a sliver of a valid point in their criticism of Western education when noting that it appears to have been a major driver in causing Western fertility rates to drop below replacement and show no sign of recovery. Obviously you can't have a wonderful future full of happy people if humans have gone extinct, therefore the Boko Haram state bans Western education on pain of death. For those already poisoned by it, such as you, you will spend your next ten years remedially bearing and rearing children and you are henceforth forbidden access to any and all reading material beyond instructions on diaper packaging. Boko Haram is confident that this is the optimal career for you and t
I don't know you well enough to say, but it's quite easy to pretend that one has no ideology. For clear thinking it's very useful to understand one's own ideological positions. There also a difference between doing science and scientism with is about banner wearing.

You know what else is a good way to stop people being killed? Create a liberal democracy where people are equal. So far in history, that has kinda correlated... really strongly... with less people dying. There is both less war and less crime. Forget strength, give them equality and elections. (I don't actually think democracy is the optimal solution, I think I advocate more of an economics-exam-based meritocratic oligarchy, but it is a really good one to put in place while we figure out what the optimal one is. And I need to read lots more books before I a... (read more)

Um, if you want a society with less crime try Singapore or places like Shanghai. Hell, even Japan have much lower crime rates despite being more patriarchal then western liberal democracies. Yes, and that will help you so much when someone tries to punch/rob/rape you.
I think I will not discuss with you this for about 5-10 years, because you sound a lot like me when I was around 21, and I know how naive and inexperienced and entirely unrealistic I was. Ultimately you miss the experiences that would make you far more pessimistic. For example nobody talked about making Western liberal democracies like third-world hellholes, it was about making them like their former selves when crime levels were lower, violence was lower, people were politer, people were politer with women and so on. In fact, turning Western liberal democracies into third-world hellholes is actually happening, but through a different, asylum-seeking / refugee pathway, a perfectly idiotic counter-selection where instead of exercising brain drain, we drain the most damaged people and expect it to turn out good. But that is just a small part of how you probably need to get more pessimistic experience before we can discuss it meaningfully. I have no interest in engaging with angry rants, they are not able to teach me anything, they just sound like both people really sweating and trying to win something, but there is no actual prize to win. Being drunk on the idea of social progress and the improvability of human nature is just like other addictions, you really need to hit rock bottom before you see what is the issue, I think anything I would try to explain here would be pointless without such a wake-up happening. So I wish you luck and maybe re-discuss this again in 5-10 years where you maybe got influenced by more experience.
Let us consider them, one by one. This means that the goals of the people and groups will be more effectively realised. It is world-improving if and only if the goals towards which the group works are world-improving. A group can be expected, on the whole, to work towards goals which appear to be of benefit to the group. The best way to ensure that the goals are world-improving, then, might be to (a) ensure that the "group" in question consists of all intelligent life (and not merely, say, Brazilians) and (b) the groups' goals are carefully considered and inspected for flaws by a significant number of people. (b) is probably best accomplished be encouraging voluntary cooperation, as opposed to unquestioning obedience of orders. (a) simply requires ensuring that it is well-known that bigger groups are more likely to be successful, and punishing the unfair exploitation of outside groups. On the whole, I think this is most likely a world-improving goal. Alturism certainly sounds like a world-improving goal. Historically, there have been a few missteps in this field - mainly when one person proposes a way to get people to be more altruistic, but then someone else implements it and does so in a way that ensures that he reaps the benefit of everyone else's largesse. So, likely to be world-improving, but keep an eye on the people trying to implement your research. (Be careful if you implement it yourself - have someone else keep a close eye on you in that circumstance). Critical thinking is good. However, again, take care in the implementation; simply teaching students what to write in the exam is likely to do much less good than actually teaching critical thinking. Probably the most important thing to teach students is to ask questions and to think about the answers - and the traditional exam format makes it far too easy to simply teach students to try to guess the teacher's password. If implemented properly, likely to be world-improving. ...that's my thoughts on

I'm not trying to describe the people who disagree with me as wanting to bring back slavery or supporting burning down the whole Middle East; that isn't my point and I apologise if I was unclear.

As I understood it, the argument levelled against me was that: people who say they're really angry about terrorism are often idiots who hold idiotic beliefs, like, "let's send loads of tanks to the Middle East and kill all the people who might be in the same social group as the terrorists and that will solve everything!" and in the same way, people who sa... (read more)

There could be solutions to this, I'm sure, or at least ways of minimising the problems. Maybe an independent-from-current-ruling-party research institute that ran studies on all proposed laws/policies put forward by both the in-power and opposition power, which required pre-registration of studies, and then published its findings very publicly in an easy-for-public-to-read format? Then it would be very obvious which parties were saying the same things as the science and which were ignoring the science, and it would be hard for the parties to influence the social scientists to just get them to say what they want them to say.

I'm sure there could be. It's not an easy problem to solve - after all, right now, there are professors in social sciences, economics, and other subjects who can tell pretty quickly whether or not a given policy is at least vaguely sensible or not. But how often are they listened to? Also, it's not always easy to see which option is the best. If Policy A might or might not reduce crime but makes it look like everyone's trying; Policy B will reduce crime but also reduce civil liberties; Policy C will reduce the amount of crime but increase its potential lethality... then how can one tell which policy is the best? Having said that... there should be solutions. Your proposed institute is an improvement on the status quo, and would be a good thing to set up in many countries (assuming that they can be funded).

As advice for others like me, this is good. For me personally it doesn't work too well; my A level subjects mean that I won't be able to take a STEM subject at a good university. I can't do statistics, because I dropped maths last year. The only STEM A level I'm taking is CompSci, and good universities require maths for CompSci degrees. I could probably get into a good degree course for Linguistics, but it isn't a passionate adoration for linguistics that gets me up in the mornings. I adore human and social sciences.

I don't plan to be completely devoid of ... (read more)

While archaeology certainly seems fun, do you think it will help you understand how to build a better world?

I don't know, maybe because I was randomly listing some things that I'm angry about to explain why I'm motivated to try and improve the world, not making a thorough and comprehensive list of everything I think is wrong?

Could also fit under "war", which I listed, and "death", which I listed.


I think that there's a good chance in general that most people can be led into supporting policies with bad consequences. I don't think higher levels of idiocy are present in people who are annoyed about racism and terrorism compared with those who aren't. The kind of people who say "on average people with black skin are slightly less smart, therefore let's bring back slavery and apartheid" are just as stupid and evil, if not stupider and eviler, than the people who support burning down the whole Middle East in order to get rid of terrorism.

Caricatures such as describing people who disagree with you as saying "let's bring back slavery" and supporting "burning down the whole Middle East" are not productive in political discussions.
That compares racists to anti-terrorists, not anti-racists to anti-terrorists.

Well, "providing universal healthcare and welfare will lead to a massive drop in motivation to work" is a scientific prediction. We can find out whether it is true by looking at countries where this already happens - taxes pay for good socialised healthcare and welfare programs - like the UK and the Nordics, and seeing if your prediction has come true.

The UK employment rate is 5.6%, the United States is 5.3%. Not a particularly big difference, nothing indicating that the UK's universal free healthcare has created some kind of horrifying utility d... (read more)

Scandinavia and the UK are relatively ethnically homogenous, high-trust, and productive populations. Socialized policies are going to work relatively better in these populations. Northwest European populations are not an appropriate reference class to generalize about the rest of the world, and they are often different even from other parts of Europe. Socialized policies will have poorer results in more heterogenous populations. For example, imagine that a country has multiple tribes that don't like each other; they aren't going to like supporting each other's members through welfare. As another example, imagine that multiple populations in a country have very different economic productivity. The people who are higher in productivity aren't going to enjoy their taxes being siphoned off to support other groups who aren't pulling their weight economically. These situations are a recipe for ethnic conflict. Icelanders may be happy with their socialized policies now, but imagine if you created a new nation with a combination of Icelanders and Greeks called Icegreekland. The Icelanders would probably be a lot more productive than the Greeks and unhappy about needing to support them through welfare. Icelanders might be more motivated to work and pay taxes if it's creating a social safety net for their own community, but less excited about working to pay taxes to support Greeks. And who can blame them? There is plenty of valid debate about the likely consequences of socialized policies for populations other than homogenous NW European populations. Whoever told you these issues were a matter of scientific fact was misleading you. This is an excellent example of how the siren's call of politically attractive answers leads people to cut corners during their analysis so it goes in the desired direction, whether they are aware they are doing it or not. Generalizing what works for one group as appropriate for another is a really common failure mode through history which hurt

Eh, I'm not sure I'm an anything-ist. Socialist ideas make a lot of sense to me, but really I'm a read-a-few-more-books-and-go-to-university-and-then-decide-ist. If I have to stand behind any -ist, it's going to be "scientist". I want to do research to find out which policies most effectively make people happy, and then I want to implement those policies regardless of whether they fall in line with the ideologies that seem attractive to me.

But yeah, I do think that it is morally wrong to let people suffer and morally right to make people happy, a... (read more)

The correct term is social-democrat, actually. Among the different systems, social democracy has very rarely received full-throated support, but seems to have done among the best at handling the complexity of the values and value-systems that humans want to be materially represented in our societies. (And HAHAHA!, finally I can just come out and say that without feeling the need to explain reams and reams of background material on both value-complexity and left-wing history!) Oh, that's all well and good. I just tend to bring up socialism because I think that "left-wing politics" is more of a hypothesis space of political programs than a single such program (ie: the USSR), but that "bad vibes" in the West from the USSR (and lots and lots of right-wing propaganda) have tended to succeed in getting people to write off that entire hypothesis space before examining the evidence. I do think that an ideally rational government would be "more" left-wing than right-wing, as current alignments stand, but I too think it would in fact be mixed. Have some reading material! []
That would increase utility in the very short term, agreed. Of course, it would destroy the motivation to work, thus leading to a massive drop in utility shortly there after.
An excellent way to stop people from being killed is to make them strong or get them protected by someone who is strong. Strong in a broad sense here, from courage to coolness under pressure etc. Here is a problem. To be a strong protector correlates with having the kind of transphobic and so on, long list of anti-social justice stuff or bigotry, because that list reduces to either disliking weakness or distrusting difference / having strong ingroup loyalty, and there is a relationship between these (a tribal warrior would have all). Here is a solution. Basically moderate, reciprocal bigotocracy. Accept a higher-status, somewhat elevated i.e. clearly un-equal social role of the strong protector type i.e. that of traditional men, in return for them actively protecting all the other groups from coming to serious harm. The other groups will have to accept having lower social status, and it will be hard on their pride, but will be safer. This can be made official and perhaps more palatable by conscripting straight males, everybody claiming genderqueer status getting an exemption, and also after the service expecting some kind of community protection role, in return for higher elevated social status and respect. Note: this would be the basic model of most European countries up to the most recent times, status-patriarchy and male privilege explicitly deriving from the sacrifice of conscription. This is not easy to swallow. However there seem to be not many other options. You cannot have strong protectors who are 100% PC because then they will have no fighting spirit. Without strong protectors, all you can hope is a utopia and hoping the whole Earth adopts it or else any basic tribe with gusto will take you over. But I think a compromise model of not 100% complete equality and providing a proctor role in return should be able to work, as this has always been the traditional civilized model. In the recent years it was abandoned due to it being oppressive, and perhaps it

I am very angry about terrorism. I think terrorism is a very bad thing and we should eliminate it from the world if we can.

Being very angry about terrorism =/= thinking that a good way to solve the problem is to randomly go kill the entire population of the Middle East in the name of freedom (and oil). I hate terrorism and would prevent it if I could. In fact, I hate people killing each other so much, I think we should think rationally about the best way to eliminate it utterly (whilst causing fewer deaths than it causes) and then do that.

If you see someone else very angry about terrorism, though, wouldn't you think there's a good chance that they support (or can be easily led into supporting) anti-terrorism policies with bad consequences? Even if you personally can be angry at terrorism without wanting to do anything questionable, surely you recognize that is commonly not true for other people? It's the same for racism.
You do realize no one thinks that. In particular that wasn't the position Jiro was arguing against.

There is no connection. I'm not trying to imply a connection. The only connection is that they are both things possibly implied by the word "racism".

I'm trying to say that when I say "I oppose racism", intending to signal "I oppose people beating up minorities", and people misunderstand badly enough that they think I mean "I oppose IQ-by-race studies", it disturbs me. If people know that "I oppose racism" could mean "I oppose genocide", but choose to interpret it as "I oppose IQ-by-race studi... (read more)


I think that anger at the Bad and hope for the Good are kind of flip sides of the same coin. I have a vague idea of how the world should be, and when the world does not conform to that idea, it irritates me. I would like a world full of highly rational and happy people cooperating to improve one another's lives, and I would like to see the subsequent improvements taking effect. I would like to see bright people and funding being channeled into important stuff like FAI and medicine and science, everyone working for the common good of humanity, and a lot of ... (read more)

And these are all very virtuous things to say, but you're a human, not a computer. You really ought to at least lock your mind on some positive section of the nearby-possible and try to draw motivation from that (by trying to make it happen).
If you can simply improve the odds of people cooperating in such a manner, then I think that you will bring the world you envision closer. And the better you can improve those odds, the better the world will be.
False beliefs in equality are also responsible for millions of people being dead, and in fact have a much [] higher [] body-count [] then racism.
The same is true for terrorism, but if someone came here saying "I'm really angry at terrorism and we have to do something", you'd be justified in thinking that doing what they want might not turn out well. I'm sure we can agree that terrorism is bad, too. In fact, I'm sure we can agree that Islamic terrorism specifically is bad. So being really angry at it is likely to produce good results, right?
Well, right here is a nice example: Would you care to be explicit about the connection between IQ-by-race studies and genocide..?
If you stick around long enough, we shall see :-)

In my (admittedly limited, I'm young) experience, people don't disagree on whether that tradeoff is worth it. People disagree on whether the tradeoff exists. I've never seen people arguing about "the tradeoff is worth it" followed by "no it isn't". I've seen a lot of arguments about "We should decrease inequality with policy X!" followed by "But that will slow economic growth!" followed by "No it won't! Inequality slows down economic growth!" followed by "Inequality is necessary for economic growth!&qu... (read more)



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Don't mind Lumifer. He's one of our resident Anti-Spirals. But, here's a question: if you're angry at the Bad, why? Where's your hope for the Good? Of course, that's something our culture has a hard time conceptualizing, but hey, you need to be able to do it to really get anywhere.
There is a price to be paid. If you use fury and anger too much, you will become a furious and angry kind of person. Embrace the Dark Side and you will become one with it :-/ Maybe :-) The reason you've met a certain... lack of enthusiasm about your anger for good causes is because you're not the first kid who wanted to help people and was furious about the injustice and the blindness of the world. And, let's just say, it does not always lead to good outcomes.

"So what we really want is interventions that are very well-thought out, with a lot of care towards the likely consequences, taking into account the lessons of history for similar interventions."

That is exactly why I want to study social science. I want to do lots of experiments and research and reading and talking and thinking before I dare try and do any world-changing. That's why I think social science is important and valuable, and we should try very hard to be rational and careful when we do social science, and then listen to the conclusions... (read more)

You're ignoring the rather large pachyderm in the room which goes by the name of Values. Differences in politics and policies are largely driven not by disagreements over the right way to reach the goal, but by decisions which goals to pursue and what trade-offs are acceptable as the price. Most changes in the world have both costs and benefits, you need to balance them to decide whether it's worth it, and the balancing necessarily involves deciding what is more important and what is less important. For example, imagine a trade-off: you can decrease the economic inequality in your society by X% by paying the price of slowing down the economic growth by Y%. Science won't tell you whether that price is acceptable -- you need to ask your values about it.
I think you missed what I see as the main point in "What they might have considered, however, was that there was no valve in their pipe. Aiming to purify the American state, they succeeded only in corrupting the American mind." Not surprising, because Moldbug (the guy quoted about the Mugwumps) is terribly long-winded and given to rhetorical flourishes. So let me try to rephrase what I see as the central objection in a format more amenable to LW: The scientific community is not a massive repository of power, nor is it packed to the gills with masters of rhetoric. The political community consists of nothing but. If you try to run your new party by listening to the scientific community without first making the scientific community far more powerful and independent, what's likely to happen is that the political community makes a puppet of the scientific community, and then you wind up running your politics by listening to a puppet of the political community. To give a concrete relatable figure: The US National Science Foundation receives about 7.5 billion dollars a year from the US Congress. (According to the NSF, they are the funding source for approximately 24 percent of all federally supported basic research conducted by America's colleges and universities [], which suggests 30 billion federal dollars are out there just for basic research) The more you promote "Do what the NSF says", the more Congress is going to be interested in using some of those billions of dollars to lean on the NSF and other similar organizations so that you will be promoting "Do what Congress says" at arm's remove. No overt dishonesty needs be involved. Just little things like hiring sympathetic scientists, discouraging controversial research, asking for a survey of a specific metric, etc. Suppose you make a prediction that a law will decrease the crime rate. You pass the law. You wait a while and see. Did the crime rate go down? Well, how are you measuring crime
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