Jacob Falkovich

Writes Putanumonit.com and helps run the New York LW meetup. @yashkaf on Twitter.

Wiki Contributions


Jack Sparrow is clearly recognized as a man by me, you, and everyone we know. Maybe where you grew up all men were limited in their gender expression to be somewhere between Jack Sparrow and John Rambo, in which case you really wouldn't need more than two genders. But that doesn't begin to cover the range of gender expression we see, not in some abstract thought experiment or rare medical edge case but in our very own community.

Just as a data point for you: I made the conscious decision to spend 100 hours on Elden Ring the day I bought it, and have spent almost none of these 100 hours feeling conflicted or shamed. Writing this post was also fun — was writing the comment fun for you?

I don't want to go into a discussion of all the topics this touches on from self-coercion to time management to AI timelines to fun, just a reminder to be careful about typical minding.

>if you hung out talking to people at a random bar, or on a random Discord server, or at work

The difference is that the Twitter ingroup has much more variety and quality (as evidenced by the big LW contingent) than your local bar, since it selects from a huge pool of people in large part for the ability to come up with cool ideas and takes. It's also much more conducive to open conversation on any and every topic whatsoever in a way that your workplace clearly isn't (nor should be, you have work to do!) 

Of course, your local bar or server or workplace may just happen to be a unique scene that's even better, I'm not claiming that the Twitter ingroup is somehow ideal or optimal. But most people's local bars aren't like that, while Twitter is easily available for everyone everywhere to try out.

>Who do I follow, what buttons do I click...

Twitter shows you not only what someone posted, but also who they follow and a list of the tweets they liked. You can start from there for me or the people I linked to, find enough follows to at least entertain you while you learn the norms and see if you like the vibe enough to stay long-term. You won't find a clearer set of instructions for joining something as nebulous as the Twitter ingroup than what I wrote up here.

Yes. I think it ultimately wasn't a momentous historical event, especially in the short-term, but it was hard to know at the time and that's good practice for staying rational as history is happening (or not) as well.

Kind of a dark thought, but: there's always a baby boom after a war, fertility shoots way up. Putin has tried to prop up the Russian birth rate for many years to no avail...

I think it's extremely useful practice to follow momentous live events, try to figure out what's happening, and make live bets (which you can do for example by trading Russian/European stock indices and commodities). When the event of historic importance happens at your doorstep there will be even more FUD to deal with as you're looking for critical information to make decisions, and even more emotions to control.

I know this sounds kinda morbid, but I often ask myself the following question: what would I have done if I was a rich Jew in Vienna in 1936? This is my personal bar for my own rationality. I think it is quite likely that I will face at least one decision of this magnitude in my life, and my ability to be rational then will outweigh almost everything else I do. I know that life will only give me a few practice sessions for this event, like November 2016 and February 2020. I think it's quite worth taking a couple of days to immerse yourself in the news because it's hard to do right now.

This is a useful clarification. I use "edge" normally to include both the difference in probability of winning and losing and the different payout ratios. I think this usage is intuitive: if you're betting 5:1 on rolls of a six-sided die, no one would say they have a 66.7% "edge" in guessing that a particular number will NOT come up 5/6 of the time — it's clear that the payout ratio offsets the probability ratio.

Anyway, I don't want to clunk up the explanation so I just added a link to the precise formula on Wikipedia. If this essay gets selected on condition that I clarify the math, I'll make whatever edits are needed.

I feel like I don't have a good sense of what China is trying to do by locking down millions of people for weeks at a time and how they're modeling this. Some possibilities:

  • They're just looking to keep a lid on things until the Chinese New Year (2/1) and the Olympics (2/4 - 2/20) at which point they'll relax restrictions and just try to flatten the top in each city.
  • They legit think they're going to keep omicron contained forever (or until omicron-targeting vaccines?) and will lock down hard wherever it pops out.
  • No one thinks they're not merely delaying the inevitable, but "zero COVID" is now the official party line and no one at any level of governance can ever admit it and so by the spring they're likely to have draconian lockdowns and exponential omicron.

Ironically, if the original SARS-COV-2 looked like a bioweapon targeted at the west (which wasn't disciplined enough about lockdowns), omicron really looks like a bioweapon targeted at China (which is too disciplined about even hopeless lockdowns).

I was in a few long-term relationship in my early twenties when I myself wasn't mature/aware enough for selfless dating. Then, after a 4-year relationship that was very explicit-rules based had ended, I went on about 25 first dates in the space of about 1 year before meeting my wife. Basically all of those 25 didn't work because of a lack of mutual interest, not because we both tried to make it a long-term thing but failed to hunt stag.

If I was single today, I would date not through OkCupid as I did back in 2014 but through the intellectual communities I'm part of now. And with the sort of women I would like to date in these communities I would certainly talk about things like selfless dating (and dating philosophy in general) on a first date. Of course, I am unusually blessed in the communities I'm part of (including Rationality).

A lot of my evidence comes from hearing other people's stories, both positive and negative. I've been writing fairly popular posts on dating for half a decade now, and I've had both close friends and anonymous online strangers in the dozens share their dating stories and struggles with me. For people who seem generally in a good place to go in the selfless direction the main pitfalls seem to be insecurity spirals and forgetting to communicate.

The former is when people are unable to give their partner the benefit of the doubt on a transgression, which usually stems from their own insecurity. Then they act more selfishly themselves, which causes the partner to be more selfish in turn, and the whole thing spirals.

The latter is when people who hit a good spot stop talking about their wants and needs. As those change they end up with a stale model of each other. Then they inevitably end up making bad decisions and don't understand why their idyll is deteriorating.

To address your general tone: I am lucky in my dating life, and my post (as I wrote in the OP itself) doesn't by itself constitute enough evidence for an outside-view update that selfless relationships are better. If this speaks to you intuitively, hopefully this post is an inspiration. If it doesn't, hopefully it at least informs you of an alternative. But my goal isn't to prove anything to a rationalist standard, in part because I think this way of thinking is not really helpful in the realm of dating where every person's journey must be unique.

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