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Interesting critique of British education by outgoing advisor (warning: some politics)

I agree that trans-disciplinary, integrative, complex systems thinking needs to become an important and respectable field in its own right. Nexialism anyone?

Advice for a smart 8-year-old bored with school

I became a trouble-maker. By the fifth grade I was doing advanced math self-study in a corner and hanging out with the class hoodlum, smoking pot at recess. The teachers feared me because I saw through their constructs. I was easily the best speller in school, but I used to intentionally spell words wrong in spelling bees just to spite them. I guess I've always been a villain.

Dark Arts 101: Winning via destruction and dualism

If there are three parties, why not employ Ernst Stavro Blofeld's strategy, which he illustrated with the parable of the Siamese fighting fish and applied at SPECTRE vis-à-vis the US and the USSR, whereby you incite the other two parties to fight each other, and when the fight is over you swoop in and attack the weakened victor?

Notes on Brainwashing & 'Cults'

My observation about cults, from personal experience leading them, is that they are a totally normal mode of human operation. People are always looking for strong leaders with vision, passion and charisma who can organize them for a larger purpose. What distinguishes a cult from a non-cult is that they are outside the norms of the mainstream society (as established by the dominant cults -- i.e. "the culture"). "Cult", "brainwashing", "deprogramming", etc. are terms of propaganda used by the dominant culture to combat competing memeplexes.

I think of cults as testbeds for new civilizations and new ways of life. In times of change, when the old ways are failing and the civilization is falling, cults may be well-positioned to expand and become the new normal. I suppose this is the memetic equivalent of marginal species who exploit mass extinctions to become genetically dominant -- cults provide memetic diversity. This is apparently what was going on in the declining years of Rome, and I see indications that something similar is happening today.

Artificial explosion of the Sun: a new x-risk?

An obvious rejoinder to this is that while a Boeing 747 could assemble itself naturally by chance, the fact that we don't see any 747's occurring naturally isn't evidence for their impossibility. Therefore doesn't your point about no sun-like stars going nova only carry weight if we assume that there is other intelligent life in the observable universe?

As a side note, I read somewhere that John von Neumann once had an epiphany in which he imagined that supernovas were the final acts of civilizations that had learned to harness the power of nuclear fusion. We could even imagine von Neumann probes being constructed with this purpose, destroying every star in their forward causal cone. You have to admit, it would be a funny old universe if it turned out that such a thing were possible!

Yet more "stupid" questions

Your argument is that we shouldn't be nihilists because we're "programmed" not to be? Programmed by what? Doesn't the fact that we're having this conversation suggest that we also have meta-programming? What if I reject your programming and want off this wheel of enjoyment and suffering? What is "normalcy"? I find your comment to be full of baffling assertions!

Yet more "stupid" questions

The usual suspects. What are you getting at?

Yet more "stupid" questions

Where do you get this strange idea that a nihilist must be gloomy or dress in black?

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