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Listen to top LessWrong posts with The Nonlinear Library

I'm psyched for this!

I've listened to a couple posts already, and my main specific suggestion is to have some sort of tone or jingle between the podcast intro and post, and between the end of post and outro. That would more clearly indicate the transition, and would at least slight breakup the voice monotony.

The only other things I noticed are small issues with the TTS, which I assume you can't control. (Examples include reading "..." as the word "dots", and pausing after an initial as if it were the end of a sentence.)

I think there's a good chance that this significantly upticks my reading of these forums.

How does The Circle grow, exactly?

"How am I supposed to judge humanity?" is something I think about often. And indeed, a lot of what I do while thinking about it is think about what sub-questions I should dissolve it into, while also propagating the answers to those sub-questions back into the more general question (because I do believe that it will remain coherent to have an overall judgement of humanity, just like how it remains coherent to say "I like pie" even after you discover an entire sub-type of pie that you can't stand). Some sub-questions are;

  • What is the moral distribution of humanity?
  • Under what conditions do groups of humans act more or less good?
  • Are there specific ideas/parts of culture that cause those groups to be especially good or bad?
  • How often do tragic events result from the actions of a very small number of evil people?
  • etc.

I recently visited Mexico City and spent a lot of time reading about mesoamerican cultures, which inevitably included the Spanish conquest. Almost all of this content was new to me, so it was a good domain in which to test out my processes. I spent a pretty long time feeling spiteful toward the Spanish conquistadors for razing Tenochtitlan, by all accounts a fantastically beautiful city -- but that whole campaign was in no way endorsed by the Spanish crown, so I was really just mad at a few hundred men -- but also, they had recruited thousands of natives from a rival city state to help them defeat Tenochtitlan -- and it's not obvious that the people of Tenochtitlan wouldn't have done the same thing in reverse if they'd had the same opportunity for gain -- plus there's the whole human sacrifice thing, although it's unclear that that cause statistically more homicide than in any other culture at the time -- and small pox would have ended up causing the same immense death toll even if everyone had decided to be friends.

Anyway, I didn't let all these thoughts prevent me from taking great joy in the good parts of humanity and human culture, which was the dominant part of my learning experience. But it was a lot to think about.

What's the status of third vaccine doses?

Whelp, to answer my own question, this is above the fold on the NYT right now. 

The World Health Organization called on Wednesday for a moratorium on coronavirus vaccine booster shots until the end of September to help all countries vaccinate at least 10 percent of their populations, appealing to the world’s wealthiest nations to address dramatic disparities in global vaccination rates.


Scientists have still not come to a consensus on whether booster shots are necessary. But as worries emerge about continuing pandemic waves and future lockdowns, an increasing number of countries like Germany, Israel and France are preparing to give part of their population booster doses, or have already started.

Studies have indicated that the immunity generated by the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines is long-lasting. Researchers are still working to understand recent Israeli data suggesting that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine declined in efficacy months after inoculation.

(Granted, the WHO is not the CDC.)

What's the status of third vaccine doses?

Meta comment: You can leave comments on questions as well as answer, so since this is not an answer you could move it into a comment.

Saving Time

An agent is a mechanism through which the future is able to affect the past

I love this!

Rationalism before the Sequences

Similarly, for instrumental rationality, I've been trying to lean harder on putting myself in environments that induce me to be more productive, rather than working on strategies to stay productive when my environment is making that difficult.

Rationalism before the Sequences

As a note on terminology, I don't think that (Yudkowskian) rationalists use the word "rationalism" to describe our worldview/practice. It's a natural modification of "rationalist", and I've seen a few people outside the rationalist community use it to refer to our worldview, but e.g. no one ever comes up to me at a party and says, "Have any thoughts about rationalism lately?" We tend to just say "rationality" or "the art of rationality".

I'd also strongly advocate that we not start using the word "rationalism" for it. Mostly this is because I share your grumble about how the word "rationalist" already has a well-defined meaning to the rest of the world, and I don't want to extend that overloading and inevitable confusion by using the word "rationalism" alongside it.

I'm tempted to try to come up with better names for our worldview, but there are actually some advantages to not having a clear proper-noun-type name. One is that everyone immediately gets the gist of what "rationalists" are about. Stereotypes aside, it's an advantage over being called "the Frobnitzists" or something else inscrutable. Another is that, as described in the virtue of the void, we don't know exactly what the name is for what we want; we're trying to move toward that which cannot be named. If we give our current best-guess a proper noun like the Debiasers or the Bayesian Conspiracy, then we might be stuck with that even after we shift to a better understanding, or worse yet, we might think we've found the ultimate answer and become stuck to it through the name.

What are some beautiful, rationalist artworks?

It's someone peering under the veil of the celestial sphere to gaze at the underlying machinery of nature. It's a common image for depicting science.

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