Former tech entrepreneur (co-founder of the music software company Sibelius). Among other things I now play the stock market, write software to predict it, and advise tech startups. I have degrees in philosophy.


Religion's Claim to be Non-Disprovable

Incidentally something like the defence at the end has actually been used. In 2006, a Northern Irish terrorist called Michael Stone, only just out of prison, was charged with attempted murder after trying to force his way into the Stormont parliament building while armed with a gun and home-made explosives.

It seemed an open and shut case, but in court his defence was that, despite having all the ingredients of an act of terrorism, this wasn’t one at all, but a work of performance art - a mere simulation of an act of terrorism for aesthetic purposes.

As it happens, Stone was indeed quite a noted artist, having taught himself during his previous spell in prison.

Nonetheless judges ruled his testimony to be ‘wholly unbelievable’, and sentenced him to 16 years in jail.

Ontologial Reductionism and Invisible Dragons

I think Balofsky deserves credit for writing a very detailed case (albeit tl;dr), and responding in detail to the many critical comments. And it’s a shame it looks like he left LessWrong thereafter, perhaps as a result.

(FWIW I only came across this because I just read EY’s original post, and on a minor point knew that the claim that ‘the Old Testament doesn’t talk about a sense of wonder at the complexity of the universe‘ ain’t true. As Balofsky points out, the Psalms are chock full of this, citing it as evidence of God’s all-round wonderfulness.)

Ontologial Reductionism and Invisible Dragons

And Stockholm syndrome evolved (says evolutionary psych). Because clearly it’s in the woman’s (and her children’s) best interests to comply with captors & survive rather than rebel & be killed.

Post-crash market efficiency 1696-2020

There were I believe only three major equities being traded back then - Bank of England, and a couple of others (can't recall - East India Company maybe), plus the South Sea Company soon after. The stock market continued to consist of a smallish number of large monopoly companies until the 19th century, when many more companies were listed.

What are objects that have made your life better?

True. Which? magazine (the UK product review magazine) did a test of mattresses a while back in which the most expensive mattress was one of the least comfortable, and the most comfortable was one of the cheapest.

Post-crash market efficiency 1696-2020

OK, well out of interest I've just done you a chart with grey lines averaging crashes before & after Bretton Woods. ('After' includes 2020 on this one.)

Not sure whether the difference is significant. The post-Bretton (dashed) line shows a bounce back for the first few weeks, but by year end they're much the same.

Post-crash market efficiency 1696-2020

UK from Global Financial Data (paid), US from Yahoo Finance (free).

Global Financial Data now provide *daily* FTSE 100 data from 1692 - remarkable. (The 1696 & 1720 lines above were from their earlier monthly data.)

Post-crash market efficiency 1696-2020

Indeed this analysis would be interesting, though I don't know if long-term enough data (e.g. a century's worth) is available in this level of detail.

I assume there might indeed be clearer patterns in how individual companies' prices react, perhaps depending on their size and liquidity. Though again I expect most, if not all, of any predictability has disappeared in recent decades.

What are objects that have made your life better?

I once heard excellent advice: spare no expense on buying the most comfortable shoes, chairs (eg work chair), and bed/mattress you can find. Because you spend almost 100% of your life standing, sitting, or lying down.

English Bread Regulations

In World War II the UK government banned commercial bakers from making white bread, and required them to use national flour to bake 'the National Loaf'. This was particularly unappetising and unpopular. I think that as in World War I it had to be sold stale; or in any case, it went stale quickly. I suspect in part it was intended to be unappetising to limit consumption.

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