Wiki Contributions



Blimey that's extensive, thanks a lot, I'll take a look.


Interesting, thanks for the recommendation. I've been thinking I should look what other services are available and come across some streaming and rental services too, though as I like listening while walking out and about streaming may not be as great an option.


Interesting, I'll have a look at that one and maybe add it to the wishlist if it's a bit pricey.

Yeah, it would be good to go over some of the sequences again, it's been a while since I read them and I know I missed a few.

I listen to the odd podcast if an interesting-sounding one pops up in the Dawkins foundation facebook feed but I don't listen to any on a regular basis. Should probably look into them.

Thanks for the suggestions.


Ah, I've already read HPMOR but might think about the spoken version. Might help clarify some of the examples I never quite understood to hear someone else speaking them. It's kind of odd how different the same work can feel when you read it the first time compare to when you read it again or hear it read by someone else.

Speaking of re-reading I really must re-read Worm one of these days, that was great, and maybe try Wildbow's new Pact story.


I'd say the same applies to Catholics' aggrandisement of the Virgin Mary. Catholics are supposed to try to emulate someone whose virtue was so great before she was even conceived that she was born free from original sin (something no-one else can claim according to the appaling original sin doctrine). She then receives messages from god, bears his child (becoming both virgin and mother, a combination of virtuous states no-one else can achieve) and is bodily claimed into heaven. Isn't a human being who actually struggles with temptation, someone who overcomes actual weaknesses and flaws a better and more useful role model and example than this super-powered, divine intervention-fuelled juggernaut of unmatchable virtue? What can those seeking how to be good learn from someone to whom the mere notion of being bad is completely alien?


Sounds good, I'll look forward to it.


Thanks for the feedback. I think you're right that a key omission here is failing to note that each step must be useful in itself, and provide a non-negligable boost to chances of survival on its own. It also implies a greater sense of purpose than exists in nature (there's no mind aiming for things, just more resilient creatures surviving).

I realise the model has many flaws and omits wider context such as competition, but I'm still tempted by the appeal of using such a common situation as the analogy. Talk of guessing passwords or rolling dice does make excellent analogies, but if you want to engage someone it helps to talk about something closer to their personal experience, and I imagine most people played hangman on a board or margin at some point at school.


On a similar subject, the boardgame Guess Who is a perfect illustration of the point in Burdensome Details. Each additional claim about Person X (do they wear glasses? are they blond?) leads you to knock down some possibilities.


Very interesting article, and a real "ouch" moment for me when I realised that all my escapism growing up had exactly this effect. By becoming engaged with fictional worlds through films, books and games you can start to disengage with the world, finding nothing so interesting and vibrant in it (this is a particular risk if you are young and haven't found activities and people you value in reality yet). The scary thing was when I was realised the characters in my books felt more real than people in reality. If you have trouble connecting with people books offer ready-made connections that can distract you from getting the social skills you need to form meaningful relationships in real life.

To an extent I think I am still prey to this, so does anyone have advice on ways to balance your escapist pleasures so you can still enjoy them without losing the vibrancy of real life?


I realise it is over a year later but can I ask how it went, or whether anyone has advice for someone in a similar position? I felt similar existential terror when reading The Selfish Gene and realising on one level I'm just a machine that will someday break down, leaving nothing behind. How do you respond to something like that? I get that you need to strike a balance between being sufficiently aware of your fragility and mortality to drive yourself to do things that matter (ideally supporting measures that will reduce said human fragility) but not so much you obsess over it and become depressed, but it can seem a pretty tricky balance to strike, especially if you are temperamentally inclined towards obsessiveness, negativity and akrasia.

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