Monastery and Throne

This part:

People read the Times not to find out what happened where and when, but to find out who is to be comforted and who afflicted. People just want to be on the same page as their peers.

reminds me of Scott Alexander on the phatic:

Consider a very formulaic conservative radio show. Every week, the host talks about some scandal that liberals have been involved in. Then she explains why it means the country is going to hell. I don’t think the listeners really care that a school in Vermont has banned Christmas decorations or whatever. The point is to convey this vague undercurrent of “Hey, there are other people out there who think like you, we all agree with you, you’re a good person, you can just sit here and listen and feel reassured that you’re right.” Anything vaguely conservative in content will be equally effective, regardless of whether the listener cares about the particular issue.


my best guess of the typical experience is being in social reality 99.9% of the time. The 0.1% are extreme shocks, cases when physical reality kicks someone so far off-script they are forced to confront it directly. These experiences are extremely unpleasant, and processing them appears as “depression and anxiety”. One looks at the first opportunity to dive back into the safety of social reality, in the form of a communal narrative that “makes sense” of what happened and suggests an appropriate course of action.

Really? Shouldn't "typical experience" include small business owners running sales forecasts, truckers navigating new environments, and a contractor building a staircase? It seems to me that lots of normal people contend with novel situations in objective reality on a regular basis. What really seems noteworthy to me is how domain-specific that mode of thought tends to be. A guy who builds houses can tell when some new construction regulation is not reality-based, but he will not think twice about questionable statements from the CDC.

Logan Strohl on exercise norms

Yeah, this seems like an important point. For me the difference between jogging and badminton is like night and day. Asking me whether I like "exercise" would be like asking me if I like "food".

In general, I think most people should put a lot more resources into shopping around for enjoyable exercise. I got really lucky that my friend talked me into taking a badminton class with him in high school; if not for that, I might conceive of myself as "not a cardio person".

 All that being said, I still do force myself to jog when my preferred cardio alternatives are unavailable.

mike_hawke's Shortform

Sometimes I scroll social media (because I am yet weak) and I see rationalists raising Concerns about various news topics and current events.

Here’s a list of concerns and potential actions, including those I see as inadequate.

  • Our institutions are losing trustworthiness and competence
  • Freedom of speech is under attack! Gatekeepers! Reality czar! The Narrative!
    • Take traditional political action
    • Less twitter, more substack
    • Research and post about the economics and logistics of running your own servers.
    • Experiment with ring signatures?
  • Social media is harming mental health, undermining individual & group epistemics, and enabling horrible actions in meatspace
    • Complain about it on social media in between dunking on your outgroup.
    • Await humanity’s inexorable slide down the fitness gradients toward memetic collapse.
    • Promote more group activities in your group house. Establish device-free zones.
    • Coordinate to stigmatize doomscrolling, hate-reading, and contempt addiction. While we’re at it, let’s stigmatize using Twitter at all.
  • Large, free, liquid prediction markets cannot exist, supposedly due to the global influence of burdensome US trading regulations.
    • Traditional political action
    • Pay a competent YouTuber to make a really good explanatory video (series) about prediction markets.
    • Write a postmortem on Augur to help future attempts avoid the same pitfalls
    • Research and post about why prediction markets haven’t gotten big even where regulation is looser
    • Start up a competitor to Kalshi, and launch before they do
  • Ongoing Uighur atrocity
    • Share an article about it once in a while
    • Take traditional political action, push for substantial international response
    • Make fewer purchases from companies that profit from the abuse of Uighurs
Some blindspots in rationality and effective altruism

we also reinvent the wheel more.

Could you elaborate on this? Which wheels are you thinking of?

Resolutions to the Challenge of Resolving Forecasts

Hm okay. And is this a problem for prediction markets too, even though participants expect to profit from their time spent? 

The way I imagine it, sloppier traders will treat a batch of nearly identical questions as identical, arbitraging among them and causing the prices to converge. Meanwhile, the more literal-minded traders will think carefully about how the small changes in the wording might imply large changes in probability, and they will occasionally profit by pushing the batch of prices apart.

But maybe most traders won't be that patient, and will prefer meta-resolution or offloading.

I still feel like I'm onto something here...

Change My View: Incumbent religions still get too much leeway

None of this seems cruxy to me--I could grant that all of your claims here are true and it wouldn't much affect my argument. I'm not advocating that everyone abandon their church communities and throw out their bibles.

Don't these religions (the large incumbent ones of the western world) need to reform in light of new opportunities and challenges of the 21st century? (Not least of all anti-aging, gene editing, space colonization, psychedelic research, neuroscience, and powerful AI). 

Don't the inertia and epistemic standards of incumbents like Mormonism pose an obstacle to more modern religions Mormon Transhumanism? And isn't that bad?

Resolutions to the Challenge of Resolving Forecasts

Here's an idea I've been ruminating on: create a bunch of nearly identical forecast questions, all worded slightly differently, and grade with maximum inflexibility. Sometimes a pair of nearly identical questions will come to opposite resolutions. In such cases, forecasters who pay close attention to the words may be able to get both questions right, whereas people who treated them the same will get one right and one wrong.

On average, wouldn't this help things a bit?

Pre-Hindsight Prompt: Why did 2021 NOT bring a return to normalcy?

Okay, now that we're a few months into 2021, I feel like updating a bit.

Most notably, there was the insurrection at the Capitol. Political violence of this reference class was mentioned in a couple other users' answers, and I wish I had explicitly mentioned it in mine. I remain perplexed by the weak response to the insurrection by law enforcement--I certainly would not have predicted that aspect. I think there might be a couple more incidents of this sort, but probably less intense--the peak of organized fervor has passed. More likely is a continuous "low grade smouldering domestic insurgency" as supposed by CellBioGuy.

If Glenn Greenwald is to be believed, there is an impending new surveillance paradigm aiming at domestic threats like the insurrectionists and affecting all Americans--a successor to the Patriot Act from the previous war on terror. This paradigm is supported and advanced by the publishers of The Narrative, who warn that "unfettered" communication leads to radical Trumpism. I don't think I would have been able to predict this very well in advance. But I also think this will probably not end up as bad as Greenwald supposes. It is more likely that impositions against privacy and free speech will remain politically difficult, and domestic security will be pursued using more narrowly targeted (and less constitutionally questionable) means. But I might put something like 10% on the strong form of Greenwald's concerns, and moderately higher on a weaker form.

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