The Apprentice Thread

I suggest that we have a call so you can figure out whether you generally agree with my model of child development and my approach to parenting. I guess that informs the resources recommended.   

Best time to have a call is after 9 PM CEST. 

The Apprentice Thread

[MENTOR] Parenting. Pragmatics of real-life parenting (four boys, the oldest now 17, the youngest 9) from crying in the night, changing diapers to troubles at school, and conflicts of interest. Also a lot of ideas about what goes on in their brains while they develop. We write a weekly development diary and over time you spot patterns. If you want to know my style you may have a look at some of the parenting posts I did here (and the comments in the other posts in that category). 

The Apprentice Thread

[MENTOR] I can mentor on the technical and partly on the organizational side of bootstrapping businesses. I created the technical infrastructure of a fintech startup from scratch (I'm the CTO, we have ~50 employees right now, tripling every year). I have a systematic plan for what to do when in IT and a rough idea in all other areas. I understand that you know how to provision and deploy web services but you might want to have an idea of what else you need and in which order. 

About analyzing marked and demand I suggest you have a look at Paul Graham's Twitter. The main suggestions he comes back to being 

"Build something you yourself want" is to startups what "Write what you know" is to writing.


When startups think a partnership with some big company will be the silver bullet that makes them grow, they're usually mistaken. What makes you grow is building amazing things and making customers love you.

This is an instance of the more general rule that when startups think anything other than building great things and engaging with users will make them grow, they're usually mistaken. 

The Cult Deficit: Analysis and Speculation

I made a prediction/formulated a hypothesis very early into the post: 

The idea that you could intentionally create a cult was discovered early in the 20th century and many cults formed. The problems resulting from this type of social structure were discovered over time and people started to know about then and develop memetic antibodies (or what you want to call it). Thus creating cults became less promising/successful or other ways to be recognized as a cult were found/used.  

The post didn't make any significant points in this direction, thus I leave it here. 

Alcohol, health, and the ruthless logic of the Asian flush


[It] is just a "nudge", which is often enough to prevent alcoholism from forming in the first place, but not strong enough to displace alcoholism once it's taken root.

then it would work best early on or in combination with someone helping you, e.g. your spouse

Some studies show great results for people who are married but not for single people.

Or your parent. Could parents give it to their teenagers before they go to a party: "You can go but take this pill first."

People who lie about how much they eat are jerks

Thank you for following up. 

I think your answer is somewhat orthogonal to the original post. Do you still think people lie about it? 

Selection Has A Quality Ceiling

I like that you are using math to model the problem but I think you have to argue a bit stronger on this assumption:

In practice, skills are not independent, but the correlation is weak enough that exponentials still kick in.

IQ is known to correlate significantly with all skills for example. And with N skills you have 2^N sets of skills that could be correlated with each other. I think you have to consider this to argue your point. Note that I think your point likely still holds.

Which animals can suffer?

Maybe. Chimps and gorillas for sure have some consciousness. They can recognize themselves and they have social cognition. They can express frustration. I am not sure they can represent frustration.

Though arguing about whether that is required to call it suffering is haggling over the definition of a word. I don't want to that. I want to defend the claim 

The ability to suffer is determined in an anthropocentric way.

We may disagree on where to draw a line or how to assign weight to what we call suffering but the key point is not about the is but about the ought. And at least the ought is anthropocentric: Whether some structure in nature ('suffering') compels us to act in a certain way to it ('minimize it') is a social construct. It results from empathy and social expectations that are generalized. 

Note that just saying this doesn't make it less so. I do have empathy with chimps and other animals. I would do (some) things to reduce it. For sure if everybody around me agrees that reducing suffering is the right thing to do I would take that as strong evidence in its favor. I'm just aware of it

PS. Thank you for continuing to discuss a controversial discussion.

Which animals can suffer?

For sure chimps perceive pain and avoid it. But there seem to be quite significant differences between pain and suffering. You mention this yourself:

It even disconnects from the sensation of pain: e.g. I suffer much less from painful experiences which I believe are healing compared to ones which I believe are harmful, even if the raw sensation feels the same. Another strange thing about suffering is that it increases the more attention I pay to a constant pain signal.

This and also my personal experience seems to imply that suffering (but not pain) depends on consciousness and maybe even social identity expectations.

Which animals can suffer?

Upvoted for being a great reply with opinion, argument, example, and context.

I disagree though. I think a functional approach is ultimately the most likely to be adopted in the long term - being the only feasible one. But I think the correct answer is

The ability to suffer is determined in an anthropocentric way.

There is no natural category of suffering outside of humans. And that mainly because what is meant by suffering is no longer just something that goes on in the brain but also to a significant degree a social construct. A linguistic concept and a political agenda. Probably we will factor it into multiple clearly defined sub-parts earlier or later. One of them being a functional part like Adele seems to mean. But at that point that cuts out most of what is actually going on.   

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