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You should read 17776 by Jon Bois! It is arguably one of the greatest works of science fiction to come out of the last decade, and it explores precisely the ideas presented in this post. If I were to summarize it in a sentence, it is a story about how humans might find meaning and satisfaction in future utopia and an attempt to understand why humans play sports in the first place.

It's definitely something that's best experienced completely fresh so I recommend that you avoid spoilers, find some spare time, click that link, and dive in!


I'm curious about your thoughts on what happens next. Where will this divided reality lead us, near and far?


Applying this to my own beliefs, I seem to be trapped in an affective death spiral around science and rationality. In fact, just as you described, this spiral has led me to seek out new opportunities to apply and engage with science and rationality, shaping not just my career but the entirety of my life in the process. I have a feeling most folks around here can relate to these statements.

So I wonder, are affective death spirals always a bad thing? More specifically, should they always be avoided? Do seemingly positive affective death spirals carry risk of negative externalities?

One place where my own obsession with science and rationality seems to get in the way of things is in highly emotional interactions with other people. Often, my attempts to apply science and rationality to statements made during a heated argument simply make matters worse. Same goes when consoling a friend or partner about something sad; few in such situations are actually interested in applying the scientific method.

Then again, I also used science and rationality to get out of this pattern. I noticed my default approach wasn't working, came up with new approaches, and tested them in different situations as they arose. After evaluating the results, admittedly with little in the way of statistical analysis, I landed on a robust system for dealing with highly emotional interpersonal encounters. (The biggest hurdle has been actually remembering to use it rather than defaulting to what feels right according to the affective death spiral around science and rationality which rules my life.)

Edit: I continued onto the next article in this series. I now feel surprisingly prescient and a little silly.


Do you do your own taxes? If so, how much more difficult do they become after all of this niche activity? How long did they take you to finish this year and last?


For precisely this reason, I'm fairly certain Bogleheads-style investing has the highest expected value for most people. The core philosophy of the approach seeks to minimize behavioral pitfalls while maintaining satisfactory outcomes. It's surprising how infrequently it's discussed here. (Perhaps it's because we're more a community of optimizers than satisficers?) On that note, the Bogleheads theory forum is excellent if you're looking to learn more and develop the ideas further.


I wonder how loop interpretation and things like anxiety and curiosity are linked. For example, I sometimes feel very anxious or excited, depending on the context, relative to others around me because I find myself interpreting loops as remaining open while others interpret those same loops as having been closed.


That's interesting! Would you mind saying more and/or linking resources on this subject?


Ah, how very guess culture of you!