All of Srdjan Miletic's Comments + Replies


I find this super interesting, but as always I worry about selection effects.

There are many famous, successful and influential people in history. My question would be what % of those people had tutoring, cognitive apprenticeships etc...

This post chooses a number of famous people. Presumably the selection process goes something like this:

  • look at a list of famous people
  • look which ones have something written about their education
  • writes about those one

The problem is that those with unusual educations are more likely to have written about them. What if there are many famous/successful people who mostly had normal education

1Henrik Karlsson4mo
There are selection effects, for sure. The process wasn't as bad as you describe, but it was pretty bad as I describe in the post. I made the list of names (before looking up what they had written etc). I also actively looked for counterexamples to add to the list later. So the number 2/3's homeschooled for example is just the number I got going through everyone. About a third did go to schools, Jesuit schools being most common - for my sample. The post itself uses a lot of colorful examples, because, that's pretty much what I'm doing. Getting an impression.

Your question seems like it should be the other way around. We don't really care about P(tutoring | success) directly when choosing actions, but we do care about P(success | tutoring) versus P(success | not tutoring).

Unless the relevant base rates P(tutoring) and P(success) are known, P(tutoring | success) by itself tells us little.

I think the general claim this post makes is

  • incredibly important
  • well argued
  • non obvious to many people

I think there's an objection here that value != consumption of material resources, hence the constraints on growth may be far higher than the author calculates. Still, the article is great

IMO, I disagree here. I do think nearly all the value came from material consumption, IMO.

I'm in two minds about this post.

On one hand, I think the core claim is correct Most people are generally too afraid of low negative EV stuff like lawsuits, terrorism, being murdered etc... I think this is also a subset of the general argument that goes something like "most people are too cowardly. Being less cowardly is in most cases better"

That being said, I have a few key problems with this article that make me downvote it.

  • I feel like it's writing to persuade, not to explain. It's all arguments for not caring about lawsuits and no examination of why y
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I think this post does two things well:

  • helps lower the internal barrier for what is "worth posting" on LW
  • helps communicate the epistemic/communication norms that define good rationalish writing

I think this post presents a plausible explanation for why Europe colonised the world. I think my problem is that there are numerous other explanations with a great deal of supporting literature and argumentation and I don't see much if any engagement with the alternative explanations in this post. In other words, I feel this post is trying to convince me of a certain answer without acknowledging the existence of other answers.

A few more specific thoughts:

Your model of why Europe wins:

  • Europe could choose when to fight by virtue of having long range ships
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You can add Black Death to the list. Popular theory is that disease killed so many people (around 1/3 of Europe's population) that few remaining workers could negotiate higher salaries which made work-saving innovations more desirable and planted the seeds of industrial development.  
I think I did address this point. While not "halfway around the world", China did "devote enough resources to fight and win wars half way around the world" first. The Portuguese exploratory voyages started at the end of the 15th century. The much bigger Ming treasure voyages started in the beginning of the 15th century.
Other explanations include things like the superiority of the Aryan race and the divine right of kings. There are too many bad explanations to refute. In my personal experience, it's more productive to only engage with explanations I think actually make sense. You make good point about how "European states [including Britain] without empires also industrialised rapidly". I think this has to do with their proximity to the centers of power of European empires. I do agree that the European powers still would have set up trading posts in the Indian Ocean if it wasn't for America. I think the discovery of America was like pouring gasoline on a fire that's just getting started. Was it necessary? Maybe not. But technology is a race and I think the American colonies helped European power a lot. You list four popular explanations (not including mine). Which ones do you think are true and why? I think this theory explains the rapid advancement of European weapons technology and the consolidation of European nation-states. It also explains the advancement of weapons technology in China prior to the consolidation of Ming power. It's an interesting theory. This certainly helps explain the lack of commercial development in Japan. (Though commercial and technological development still happened (albeit slowly) in Japan despite the Tokugawa Shogunate's best efforts.) I am skeptical there has ever been a strong trader/merchant class without a large degree of influence on government because wealthy merchants can often buy their way into the lower aristocracy. The European invention of limited liability companies is especially interesting, not least because of how it sets Europe apart from the Muslim world. But Muslims have invented many imaginative workarounds to escape their religious restrictions. I don't think they'd suddenly draw the line at corporate financial structures. I think this theory is backwards. Europe had fewer natural disasters but its population density is way

I don't think the conclusion "stateless societies are not in a Hobbesian state of constant war" is warranted here. With stateless societies or those in a weak state, the war isn't between members of the group/family/clan/tribe. It's between different groups. Within a group people are still subject to rules, sanctions for bad behaviour etc...

I'm not sure I agree.

Some class of errors/problems are due to taking the wrong approach. Trying harder here is indeed not effective and is bad advice.

Another class of errors are due to giving up too early, not putting in enough effort or not really caring about doing something well/properly. For this class of errors, "try harder" is legitimate feedback because the problem is indeed the amount of effort being put in.

An example from my time at secondary school. Some people would try to study but take the wrong approach and as a consequence not do that well. ... (read more)

3Steven Byrnes1y
Thanks for your comment! I think "Next time don't give up so quickly" or "Next time keep working until you've produced something you're proud of" etc. is often useful advice in a way that "try harder next time" is usually not. It's a specific thing to do, not just a generic cranking up the motivation dial. I think "You weren't trying at all. Next time you need to try." is also frequently useful (but only if it's in fact true, from their own perspective, that they weren't trying at all) (and also only if accompanied by a reason that is likely to convince them, or better yet discussion / debugging of why they weren't trying at all). I imagine that there are people who have already mentally replaced the common definition of the words "try harder" (i.e. "crank up the motivation dial") with an enlightened alternative definition of the words "try harder" (i.e. "strategize about how to improve results, and then execute that strategy"). For those enlightened individuals, "try harder next time" is probably fine. Although I still think that it's often wise to do the strategizing part right now rather than waiting for next time. Then you can have a plan / advice which is more specific: "Do X next time." I agree that "try harder next time" is not bad advice / bad plan in every conceivable situation. I would say "there is frequently a much better option for advice / plan", especially if "try harder next time" has already been attempted unsuccessfully.

Are you already committed to a specific person to have children with?

The reason I ask is that who you have children with will have a drastically larger impact on the quality of children you get vs even 100% accurate polygenic screening. If waiting 10 years gets you better polygenic screening but makes finding a good partner (genetics + character/culture etc...) somewhat less likely, then the tradeoff may not be worth it.

(It's still smart to freeze eggs/sperm anyway)

Good point. (No I'm not. I'm also considering using gamete donors anyway.)

Agreed but it seems to me that agreeableness/conflict-avoidance makes you far more susceptible to frame-control. Not that it's the only factor which matters or that a disagreeable person is immune.

Here is why I think that agreeableness/conflict-avoidance is a useful but not complete defense against "frame control." I think there are two types of frame controllers: * Assertive controllers * Receptive controllers For assertive controllers, think of the egotistical expert, eager to smack down ideas he thinks are bad, even when he's thought about them for 3 seconds and is getting his facts mixed up. The assertive controller will insult, neg, and raise his voice. He demands not just respect, but deference. Other people find him intimidating. They lack the expertise, confidence, or power to take him on. He's a good candidate for real leadership in his area of expertise, but he'll also claim territory beyond his true area of competence, and he's as invested in keeping his position in the hierarchy as in driving beneficial results for others. People make fun of him behind his back, but that may just reinforce the fact that nobody makes fun of him to his face. I think Aella is talking about "receptive controllers." These people don't do the active, obvious turf-defending that you see with the assertive controller. They don't necessarily have an area of real, recognized competence. What they attract is incompetence. They surround themselves with people who know very little, sell vague personal growth nostrums, and keep their cohort engaged not by bolstering the perception of their own expertise, but by reinforcing their followers' self-perceptions of worthlessness. Offering them just a shred of worth or fake-status is only collateral, and will be used as a threat in the future. Assertive controllers are frustrating, but often they seem to genuinely be necessary and net-beneficial. Being disagreeable or conflict-oriented won't necessarily let you "win" against these people, or poke holes in their hierarchy. It will create an open, ugly power struggle that will just leave you both feeling resentful most of the time. Receptive controllers are just revolting people

This article gives me a strange feeling of looking through a mirror into a very different kind of world. I'm highly disagreeable. Vulnerability to frame control seems to stem from being agreeable/conflict-avoidant/unassertive. I personally find many of the situations where person A tries to frame control person person B and person B just silently takes it and doesn't say anything (at least in the initial stages) really weird and hard to imagine myself doing. Further, while rationally I know people behave like this, I really can't put myself in their shoes ... (read more)

1Going Durden2mo
I have exactly the same feelings about it as You do, and I think this makes us the Frame Controllers as well. In both of the examples you gave, your reaction would be a purposeful wrestling the Frame Control away from the abuser, and blatantly presenting your Frame. From the OG post and your comment, I cannot think of a way out of such problems without the "victim" doing a stronger version of Frame Control than the abuser, because trying to solve such issues with nonFC means just means playing into the abuser's hands. More importantly, I do not agree with Aella's implied assertion that people differ much in how much they Control the Frame. Everybody, or near everybody tries to Control it as much as they can. The bigger difference is in the robustness of the Frame they hold. If the Frame is strong (internally consistent, close to objective reality, high-status) then it is relatively easy to Control it, resist the control from others, and even control them in return. I assume that in the examples you gave, your response would not be caused by you being particularly cantankerous, but simply your Frame being strong enough that you can "get away with" either blatant or subtle Frame Control Jujitsu against the assailant, without losing social status yourself or even feeling particular anxiety.
3mako yass2y
That you are this way is suggestive that you were not victim to a frame controller in your formative years. (or maybe another way of putting that is, that you were raised by a benign frame controller who gave you a critical frame that you have never needed to question. I'm confused though. What's control? Is it control if I engineer something grow up to do things I don't expect?)

Yeah, instinctive accepting of other people's frames seems like an important part of "agreeableness".

Which is different from the skill of switching to different frames intentionally, which is generally useful for everyone (it allows one to consider a situation from multiple perspectives, and understand the thinking of other people), but agreeable people need to learn this as a self-defense skill -- to switch away from other people's frames and maintain their own frame when necessary.

4Matt Goldenberg2y
Fwiw I think it's entirely possible to just get frame controlled by them using all the "right conversational moves" to push their frames. I don't think there's a set of communication norms that are fully protective against frame control.

Counterpoint: Sometimes you don't have a clear title because you don't have a clear understanding of what you want to say. Starting by writing and iterating can help you clarify your thoughts and eventually lead to a clear title & article once you're clearer on what you're thinking/want to say.

Hard agree with the potential negative effects. Debating is essentially learning to be good at motivated reasoning. That can be very good if you choose to apply said motivated reasoning skill to deeply understand all positions on a topic, even those you disagree with. It's usually bad because most people just use their superior motivated reasoning skills to engage in confirmation bias more effectivley.

I think there are two parts to being good at philosophy: argumentative skill and cached knowldge.

Cached knowledge is knowing a given topic, the arguments around it and so on. Without cached knowledge you can't engage in a real discussion because you have to reinvent the wheel while other people are discussion the best design for a car. Getting cached knowledge is largely a matter of reading existing work and discussion with people who know the field

Argumentation is being able to argue well. This means spotting flaws in arguments, being able to distinguish ... (read more)

4Lance Bush2y
I'm worried that competitive debating and argumentation could lead to developing some negative habits.  The ability to adopt a scout mindset, listen to and process opposing views, be receptive to criticism, engage in counterfactual thinking effectively, know how to handle thought experiments, employ intuition and other tools characteristic to philosophy judiciously, be able to switch between level of complexity in speech for different audiences (e.g. avoiding technical jargon with non-specialists, using examples that resonate with the audience, etc.) are all skills that can operate well both within and outside an argumentative context.  While being good at arguing may be the most central skill to cultivate, the specifics are going to matter!

It's not necessarily clear that disaster relief is better handled by the government. A few things to keep in mind:

  • It's not a choice between markets or government. You can have both. (e.g: The army and rescue services organizing huge logistics efforts to resupply effected regions/clear roads. At the same time supermarkets are allowed to sell goods at inflated prices, incentivizing them to store a surplus in future cases where disasters may happen as they can make a profit large enough to offset the cost of keeping excess stock in inventory.)
  • The same ince
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I recently finished reading the book with a small group of friends. One thing we all thought was that the micro half of the book was far better written then the macro half. We all came away from the micro half with a clear, intuitive understanding of most of most of the concepts explained. On the other hand the macro explanations seemed to be both more complex and also less persuasive. There were a number of times we thought up obvious objections to a macro explanation, expected the book to cover it only to find that it moved on.

I think you may be confusing utilitarianism and consequentialism a bit. Your arguments for accepting utilitarianism past a certain scale (e.g: would you kill one person to save the world, no logical basis for act/omission distinction) are more arguments for consequentialism generally than they are for utilitarianism specifically. Your objections on the other hand are specific to utilitarianism.

Have you considered that you may be a consequentialist (you think the best principled course of action/universe is one where we maximise goodness) but not a utilitarian (consequentialism + the only thing we should care about it utility. No weighting for desert, justice, knowledge, etc...)

Yeah, I probably could have been more specific there. I'm slightly torn on pure utilitarianism. Like it seems very hard to assert that it is equally good for one person to have a thousand utility and 999 to have zero, than for a thousand to all have one utility. But I don't really feel a need to include a weighting for knowledge or desert.

I think these are all good examples of language reforms. I guess my issue is that I was over-fixating on english.

I agree that there are many metrics on which you can judge a language. My post above was meant to be more about writing systems specifically than languages generally. (Sorry for the lack of clarity). Given a set language with a certain vocabulary, grammar etc.. I don't why a phonemic system of writing would lead to less communication bandwidth, expressiveness, ambiguity etc... than a non phonemic one. Ditto for logogramatic writing systems.

In essence my mental model is that you can say certain things in certain ways with a given language. Which writing sy... (read more)

Two questions:

  1. Do you think there are significant things other than how phonetic/whether it's logogramatic that make a writing system significantly easier or harder to learn/use?
  2. In terms of language difficulty more generally, what do you think are the most important factors which determine difficulty?
4Dave Orr2y
I think characters via alphabets dwarfs everything else for written language, but here are a few other factors: * how phonetic it is if you want to learn the writing system. * how regular it is -- English is full of exceptions (because of its 3 language family history). Spanish is very regular, Russian also has a ton of exceptions. * how complicated the morphology is (Finnish is tough because of the super complex morphology, see also Russian). Mandarin is very easy on this dimension. * whether there's a phoneme distinction that you didn't learn as a child -- so for a Japanese speaker, l vs r is hard in English ("Engrish"), and for an English speaker, o versus ō is hard in Japanese. In general, of course, the more similar it is to your native tongue, the easier it is. Tones are hard to learn if you don't speak a tonal language, but if you do then they are super intuitive. Similar with lots of morphology, fixed versus fluid word orderings, etc. The other angle is spoken versus heard. Portuguese (especially) and French are much easier to speak than understand because of the various ways that sounds are elided or mushed together with fluent speakers. So you can get basic sentences out before you can understand something at full speed -- generally true but much more so for some languages.

I think a fair bit of the confusion here arises from the difference between judging an act or package of acts as good/bad vs judging a person as a whole as good or bad.

Judging acts is simple. Are those actions or that combination of actions permissible and or desirable under your moral system.

Judging people is harder. Do we judge a person by their actions? Do we judge them by the actions they would have taken in a variety of hypotheticals? (Almost no one will steal/kill/rape when doing so is socially prescribed and likely to be harshly punished. The fact t... (read more)

Thanks for this. This is the kind of post which seems obvious in retrospect but I didn't think/know beforehand.

It's worth noting that assessing your own learning is far easier in domains where there are practical tasks gated by knowledge. E.g: When learning.a programming language, I can measure the learning by my ability to do tasks of increasing complexity with it.

I imagine that for textbook learning you could try exams. That certainly works for maths although it has a failure mode in that it only verifies that you've memorized passwords whereas what you want to do is to develop a deep and intuitive understanding.

In many domains you could answer StackExchange questions as a practical task and you will likely get feedback when you get something wrong.
  • Wholeheartedly agree that having the capacity to cause good outcomes is important. I'm not sure it's part of being a good person. Let's say you have two people. Both have the same personal amount of Wisdom and Courage. Both choose to do good. One person is born poor and the other is born with 100 billion dollars in inheritance. The richer person is undoubtedly more powerful and can do more good but does that mean they're a better person?

  • Maybe "ability" or some other word is better here than power. For me power implies being able to force other agents to do/not do things. Ability suggests being able to do something, even when that something doesn't involve other agents.

I do think pursuing opportunities to increase your capacity to do good is an important part of being good as a person. Ability works too, definitely, as in my book power is not much more than ability to carry out an action, whatever that may be. A transition that is possible to you, but maybe not others. I suppose I would also swap the binary idea of being or not being a good person, for a continuous measure of "goodness". In fact, instead of saying that a person is good or bad to some degree, I think it makes sense to evaluate the morality of each act individually - how good or bad was that act of yours? As all people carry out good and bad acts each day. And if we evaluate the moral value of acts, then having an ability to carry out these acts in the first place becomes even more important. We are all born under different circumstances, with different abilities. But it is also true for many of us (perhaps most) that we can develop ourselves, increase our capacity to help others.

Putting it forward as a religion-substitute would probably turn people off

I agree this is a risk. Both due to culty vibes and people not wanting a religion. I'm not sure in practice whether growing rationalism as a core identity would lead to less or more rationalists. I'm also not sure how far non-core and core identity rationalism are mutually exclusive. (Just like a lot of people are vaguely christian without belonging to a church, so maybe a lot of people would be vaguely interested in rationalism without wanting to join their local temple)


... (read more)
Agreed; finding a way for multiple levels of involvement to coexist would be helpful. Anecdotally, when I first tried attending LW meetups in around 2010, I was turned off and did not try again for many years, because the conversation was so advanced I couldn't follow it. But when I did try again, I enjoyed it a lot more because I found that the community had expanded to include a "casual meetup attendee and occasional commenter" tier, which I fitted comfortably into. Now we could imagine adding a 3rd tier, namely "people who come and listen to a speech and then make small talk and go for a picnic afterward" (or whatever). Could this be considered a "temple"? Maybe, but I'd guess that most prospective members wouldn't think of it that way and would be embarrassed to hear such talk. "Philosophical society" might be closer to the mark. It's fun to imagine a Freemason-like society where people are formally allocated into "tiers" and then promoted to the next inner tier by a secret vote, perhaps involving black and white marbles. But at this point, such a level of ritual would probably be a waste of weirdness points []. I'm uncertain about this, but there is something I suspect and fear may be true, which is that rationalism (as exemplified by current LW members) is not actually helpful for most people on an individual level (see e.g. []). There are some people, like me, who are born in the Uncanny Valley and must study rationalism as part of a lifelong effort to climb up out of it. But for others, I would not want to pull them down into the Valley just so I can have company. For example, I enjoy going to rationalist meetups and spending hours talking about philosophical esoterica, because it fills an intellectual void that I can't fill elsewhere. But most people wouldn't enjoy this, and it wouldn't be a good use of their time. That's no

I feel a similar way to you in that rationalism is part of my core identity. Why do you think talking about rationality/rationalism will make you loose social status? I've often broached the topic with people in work, my friendship groupm, debating etc and have never had any problems.

Hm. Perhaps I'm concerned over nothing then. I was specifically afraid of standing out, of cult associations, and my general feeling is that rationality is seen as this cold, inhuman thing. Like I once had a girl tell me she was glad I didn't see things in terms of winning like everyone else does... and that's exactly how I see them. I just include nice things under my definition of victory.

Wonderful. Thanks for creating this. One small tip: when doing remote interviews consider sending your guests a cheap mic or headset. Even a $30 mic/headset can drastically improve sound quality and would really improve listening experience for some of your episodes.

Nice idea, thanks for the suggestion!
3Michaël Trazzi2y
great idea! blue yeti [] used to be a relatively cost-effective option ($100) for US/Canada. For Europe, I'd recommend the t.bone [] which comes with a suitcase, pop filter and support for $70 (including shipping). for headsets I'd recommend any studio one for about $50, such as the Audio Technica ones.

So I think it's interesting that the market seem so expensive for these tasks. It makes sense for the carpenter case due to the information asymmetry but I don't see what there aren't more affordable moving companies in your nation.

As for markets vs trust a few thoughts:

  • You seem to be of the view that most consumers (irrationally) go to markets for most of their transactions when they could be relying on trust instead. Is that really true? Many of the goods I get, relationships, conversations, essay feedback, sex, childrearing, etc... I get through non-m
... (read more)
5Henrik Karlsson2y
Thanks for your non-market essay feedback! I don't know exactly why shipping companies are so expensive in Scandinavia. Part of it is of course high tax and insurance cost, but that can't explain the entire difference in cost compared to doing it your self. Maybe shipping is unattractive as a job for various reasons, so we have an undersupply of shipping companies? And you're definitly right that my post is cherry picking galore. I should have underlied that it was more of a hunch! I don't have data to answer the question whether people in general could gain by moving more of their consumption of the market (or vice versa: gain by moving things they now do with in their network unto the market). What I do have is my single data point, and I've been finding a lot of ways to reduce how much I need to labor to be able to satisfy my needs by growing my network at the expense of my salaried career. (After having the realisation I share in the post, I've also expanded my network to supply me with food, and I've set up so I can loan a car instead of buying it.) So the point I'm trying to make is a slightly different one than "trust is massively more effective than markets". Its that one can have a higher marginal return on ones time if one consciously explore if what one wants to consume can best be served by the market or by one's network. For me, I've been able to get higher returns by investing more in growing my network. (Though there are some things that I now do outside of markets that might be better served by the market!) But again, that's one data point, and one has to go case by case. My intuition though is that since that more people could gain, given that for example the shipping companies operate though one can easily beat them by a wide margin by having (cultivating) good friends. And I thought that could be useful to share.

So I think that the explanations for the gradual spread of ever more intense agriculture are:

  • The population growth explanation: people gradually adopted more intense agriculture because population density rose, meaning they had to or they would starve.
  • The technological diffusion model: intensive agriculture was highly complex and non-obvious. The tech for it was developed in a few places and then gradually diffused. The causal link between pop and intensive agriculture is that intensive agriculture caused higher, more concentrated populations rather tha
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This sequence was incredibly interesting while also being very short and to the point. Thanks a great deal for writing it.

Generally speaking i think your hypothesis is interesting and plausible.

A few questions

  • For the narrow vs wide glass metaphor for population, does it really line up with the multi-century timelines involved? If populations can grow 2x every 20 years in these societies, wouldn't europe have filled up with people much faster? Isn't the fact that it didn't down to a lack of technology (complex agriculture and settled states able to defend
... (read more)
Thanks a lot!  * In regards to your last point: I'll certainly concede that naval mobility must have been very helpful to the Greeks. As a Dutch person, I'm well aware how helpful sea-based trade was, historically :) * In regards to the third point: are you aware that early farmers [] were shorter and had significantly worse health than hunter-gatherers? I don't believe it was an amazing new invention, it's a thing desperate, hungry people do when 'wild' food resources run out. It allowed for sedentary life and higher population densities, and in the very long term that's crucial for 'civilization', but it was not an improvement for the individual.  I believe that trade-off didn't happen merely at the start, when the first hunter-gatherers switched to agriculture, I believe that trade-off to have increased gradually as agriculture became more intensive.  I'm going to be deeply unfair here and it's easy to criticize these emotional arguments, but look at this drawing of a Bronze Age farm [] versus Victorian London homes [], at the start of the Industrial Revolution. Victorian England had way more advanced technology, and as an empire, it had very impressive stats. But I doubt I wanted to live there as a middle-class or poor individual. (Not saying the Bronze Age was awesome, but day-to-day life may have been more tolerable).  I think Ancient Egypt must have been similarly terrible for individuals. Long hours of hard physical farm labor []in dense, crowded villages. It creates m

Out of curiosity, why a US tracker fund instead of a global one like FTSE all-world?

Hmmm. So I don't think more global exposure = more diversified. What you should be aiming for is investing in each country/region in proportion to it's share of the market.

Consider the following situation

  • The USA is 30% of global markets
  • A global index fund invests in world equities, putting 30% of it's money in the US market
  • The US market is actually also 50% invested abroad
  • Hence the index fund is really only putting 15% (30/2) in the US and is underweighted towards the US

I'm not sure I've ever felt anger in the way it seems to be described here. As in, anger as an uncontrolled emotional response to disliking something/someone. I have felt something close to violence-instinct where I thought that a person was a danger/bad and it was time to hurt them but that seems different.

While I tend to agree with you that anger is bad an should be avoided that seems like an extension of the general rule of "You should decide what you feel' rather than letting feelings just randomly happen to you as if they're something external to you ... (read more)

I think there are two ways to read this article. "Markets are inefficient and you can often beat them" or "most systems are fairly broken and you can usually outperform the average person a lot by just using your brain".

I think the second hypothesis is true. I think the first hypothesis is probably not. Most people can't generate market beating returns and are better off investing in index funds.

While I think there are some flaws with this proposal, my biggest question is "Why not do other things that are done abroad and we know work?"

The US system for deals is really strange. In the UK and many european countries there's no such thing as a deal. The police can charge you with a crime. The earlier in the process you admit guilt, the bigger % a sentence reduction you get. This seems to solve the overcharging problem, a prosecutor can't charge you with crime X and then give you a deal for crime Y, and aligns incentives better as prosecutors can't fe... (read more)

In Germany where I live a prosecutor has a legal obligation for prosecuting cases of crimes if he believes the defendent is guilty. A prosecutor is not allowed to say "Well this law is stupid so I won't prosecute people for breaking it" while in the US that's within the rights of a prosecutor. This right allows for plea deals to happen in the US. If you change this basic part about what the mandate of the prosecutor happens to be, you will suddenly get a lot of very bad laws enforced that currently aren't enforced. If laws against oral sex in some states suddenly get enforced that will create pressure to get rid of those laws but it's won't be pretty.  But even if the US would get rid of their current legal system and switch to the German one (which is obviously much better thought out and superior ;) ) and have a culture change to make American bureacrats as law abiding as German one's there's still a process whereby plea bargining could cut down on legal costs and time of the trial. There's a benefit in getting a verdict in a few days instead of years through plea bargaining.  In many situation a plea deal is about more then just getting the person to admit that they are guilty but also to reveal certain other information that's of interest to the prosecutor. Being able to make a deal to get the information can be useful for the government.

It doesn't cost that much. i put some funds in polymarket and my total costs were around 18$, Use metamask and wait for a low=price time of day to send money. Alternately, use matic or something similar to get fees which are less than a dollar

I think it's worth noting that there are often both fixed and percentage fees associated with crypto which it's important to be aware of/minimize in order for the trades you mentioned to be profitable. Specifically:

  • Most exchanges charge a hefty %fee on trades. To get around this you want to buy on the pro exchanges (coinbase pro, kraken etc...)
  • Polymarket charges a 2% fee

One argument is that the US stock market already contains a lot of global exposure as many/most large US firms are internationally diversified themselves. Buying global funds means you're actually under-investing in the USA relative to the world as 40% of your "US companies" are actually global companies.

I don't vouch for this argument, it's just something I've heard which sounds somewhat plausible.

I'm not a fan of this argument because even if you have some global coverage, why not get more and reap the benefits of diversification? It's like saying hey I already own 2 car company stocks, there's no point in owning all US car company stocks. Sure the stocks might move in tandem most of the time, but diversification allows you to reduce risk.

I think one thing to consider is that the two paths don't have an equal % chance to succeed. Getting a tenure track position at a top 20 university is hard. Really hard. Getting a research scientist position is, based on my very uncertain and informal understanding, less hard.

2Adrià Garriga-alonso2y
Also, you can try for a top-20 tenure-track position and, if you don't get it, "fail" gracefully into a research scientist position. The paths for the two of them are very similar (± 2 years of postdoctoral academic work).
This doesn't seem so relevant to capybaralet's case, given that he was choosing whether to accept an academic offer that was already extended to him.

That's a good point. I'lll update the post to mention it. There is another trump market offering 5% (so 3% after the fees) but it's far smaller.

1: Nuclear Power Currently we (the developed world except France) rely mostly on fossil fuels for energy with some usage of renewables. This has been the case since WW2. This is bad. It's bad because global warming and other kinds of pollution. It's bad because we rely either on coal, which is extra dirty, or oil and natural gas which largely comes from brutal autocracies and causes us to be needlessly involved in wars and influence battles. Renewables are coming but they're too inconsistent to be useful. until we have better energy storage tech.

None of th... (read more)

Just to point out that there are consequentialist arguments for first past the post, namely that it leads to stable majority governments and a small number of well-defined political parties.

I don't think that's the case. The US doesn't have well-defined parties but different wings of the same party that frequently vote differently on issues in parliament. That's different then German parties where usually the party first finds an internal position and then uniformly votes according to that position.  That happens because in the US a politican only needs the support of the constituents in his constiency and donor support (which can be gotten independently of party infrastracture even if the party sometimes helps with that). On the other hand German polictians need the support of their party beyond their voting district to get a place on the party list.  The US is politically a very gridlocked country.

20% over two months sounds extremely high to be close to risk free. I'd be very curious to hear more.

And over 30% annually on (or FTX.US for US residents) currently.
I wrote a little at the bottom of my post []. IMO probably the main "catch" is that a lot of what you're getting paid is in governance tokens that may not hold their value, and it's expensive in gas to be constantly claiming and selling them as you receive them.

20% annually on USDC vault at

Are you sure you can do it with no fees? I know you can do it if you deposit USD but I don't think it's possible with other currencies.

Yes, you need to deposit USD. If you don't have USD, you should convert using a non-crypto service, and you'll probably get lower costs, although I don't have experience with that.

That's a good point. I'm used to the free withdrawals. Didn't realize the costs until I looked at their blog just now.

Will update the article.

So I don't really think it's the price of risk. I think it's just the markets being shallow and inefficient and most casual players being uninterested in a 4% return and unable to exploit one even if they were interested as their transaction fees would erase that margin.

Why do you believe that proof-of-stake is a mirage? We know it's possible as some existing blockchains already use it. Do you believe that:

  • It's possible but has some serious flaw that most people don't recognize
  • The main crypto's of today (ETH + BTC) won't transition to it
  • Something else
3Jameson Quinn2y
#2. Note that even if ETH does switch in the future, investing in ETH today is still investing in proof-of-work. Also, as long as BTC remains larger and doesn't switch, I suspect there's likely to be spillover between ETH and BTC such that it would be difficult to put energy into ETH without to some degree propping up the BTC ecosystem.

Instituting rule of law in foreign policy. In many countries foreign policy is essentially at the discretion of the executive. Insofar as it is controlled by the legislature, it's controlled through committees and reporting requirements rather than actually courts and rules of conduct. Imagine if the prime minister could choose to kill whoever they wanted and was only contrainted by the threat of parliamentary sanction. That's basically the status qou for foreign policy at the moment.

Make nuclear our main source of power. It's green, safe, sustainable, cheap and reliable. We could have done this in the 60's/70's as France did but irrational fears of nuclear power and subsequent over-regulation and lack of gov support killed it in the US and UK.

2Gerald Monroe2y
It's not rational []to think it will happen.  I agree nuclear has advantages, but it doesn't come close to penciling in.

I'd heard of cryonics quite a bit but never brain scanning or preservation. The story of the young man is particularly poignant. It's is truly a tragedy that brain preservation is not more widely commercially available.

Fair enough. It's good to know that inspections are no longer pre-announced..

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