What would a world of widespread statistical numeracy look like? 2020-11-18T16:23:41.613Z
My default frame: some fundamentals and background beliefs 2020-11-10T00:04:46.519Z
Pontor's Shortform 2020-11-03T01:43:01.936Z
Which headlines and narratives are mostly clickbait? 2020-10-25T01:19:29.361Z
Reflections on Arguing about Politics 2020-04-13T17:33:19.281Z


Comment by Pontor on AllAmericanBreakfast's Shortform · 2020-11-28T17:54:26.272Z · LW · GW

Her podcast is really good IMHO. She does a singularly good job of challenging guests in a friendly manner, dutifully tracking nuance, steelmanning, etc. It just picked back up after about a yearlong hiatus (presumably due to her book writing).

Unfortunately, I see the lack of notoriety for her podcast to be some evidence against the prospects of the "skilled & likeable performer" strategy. I assume that potential subscribers are more interested in lower-quality podcasts and YouTubers that indulge in bias rather than confronting it. Dunno what to do about that, but I'm glad she's back to podcasting.

Comment by Pontor on Matryoshka Faraday Box · 2020-11-28T17:38:25.254Z · LW · GW

Dude this was pretty good, please consider posting more fictions.

Comment by Pontor on What Would Advanced Social Technology Look Like? · 2020-11-27T19:52:50.570Z · LW · GW

Well in practical terms, libraries produce much less reward for creators than movie theaters do. In a movie theater, you pay for one movie and that is the movie you are allowed to watch. The money you pay for a ticket is in part the reason that people dedicate time and effort into creating the movie. What I hope for is an incentive mechanism that causes more good books to be written.

Comment by Pontor on Pontor's Shortform · 2020-11-27T19:45:01.820Z · LW · GW

Schelling talks about “the right to be sued” as an important right that businesses need to protect for themselves, not because anyone likes being sued, but because only businesses that can be sued if they slip up have enough credibility to attract customers.

-- Scott Alexander

I think about this every couple of weeks. Seems deep and underappreciated.

Comment by Pontor on Evading Mind Control · 2020-11-25T23:35:18.186Z · LW · GW

Are you writing your own fiction too? If so, I commend and encourage you. If not, what do you get in exchange for quitting fiction reading?

Comment by Pontor on Evading Mind Control · 2020-11-25T23:18:02.233Z · LW · GW

This is why rationalists so often get accused of reinventing the wheel

I've heard that criticism too, but it's hard for me to come up with specific examples that I agree with. Do any of these count as reinvented wheels?

EDIT: On second thought, whether or not rationalists already do reinvent the wheel, I strongly claim that they should reinvent wheels at least sometimes. Seems like really good practice for inventing novel things.

Comment by Pontor on Final Babble Challenge (for now): 100 ways to light a candle · 2020-11-25T00:11:13.998Z · LW · GW

I did a text-search and found your #56. Good to see some culture in here!

Comment by Pontor on Final Babble Challenge (for now): 100 ways to light a candle · 2020-11-24T22:32:46.862Z · LW · GW

I didn't follow the rules...but I did walk around the house holding a candle and muttering to myself. Can't wait to see where I converged with others.


insert wick into your mouth (or your anus) for a minute. Pull it out, verify that it is emitting blackbody radiation at human internal body temperature. Declare it to be "lit" in the sense of "nontrivially emitting light"

simply de-identify with any version of yourself living in an everett branch in which the candle does not spontaneously combust. (you can use a similar anthropic trick to win the lottery)

put the candle in the heating chamber of your drip coffee machine

stick some slivers of tin foil into the wick and microwave the candle. or something. man, there's gotta be some household method of abusing microwave ovens to make fire.

bury the candle in Centralia, Pennsylvania.

rub your hands faster and faster and faster until they catch on fire. light candle with finger.

put the candle close but not too close to [contemporary icon of sex appeal]

hallucinate the candle being lit

wait for heat-death

define "lit" to include quark-gluon plasma, whether highly dense or highly sparse. wait for the Big Crunch, or the Big Rip.


don your eye protection and reflective armor and walk around a hall of mirrors while holding out the candle and waving around a high-powered laser

start injecting steroids, grow a mustache, and keep buying merchandise from The Art of Manliness until your grip strength reaches superhuman levels. Replace the wick with a high tensile-strength metamaterial. remove the wax, grip each end of the wick with max strength, and pull apart.

wait for nanotechnology to become commonplace. go out into the neighborhood while parents are still at work but kids are home from school. follow the yelps of teenagers burning themselves on rapidly assembled sex dolls. pick a still-hot assembler array and press the wick against it.

just--idk put it underwater...

finally drop that single you've been incubating for the last five years. place candle in front of speakers. play.

undergo a self-esteem character arc, let go of your self-consciousness, consult a fashion advisor, put your chin up, let your hair down, and flash your best Blue Steel. Yes, YOU :D

forget everything you know about evopsych and find your soulmate. fall in love. show them your special, secret, inner life. bask in their loving acceptance release your emotional restraints, look them in the eyes, and let your chest swell with energy as you give into the heat of the moment. press the wick to your heart. ♡( ◡ ‿ ◡ )

arc flash

disable your fire extinguisher. bump your housemate's hand while they're cooking so that a grease fire starts. tell them to go get the fire extinguisher from the other room. close the door and don't let them back in until the candle has caught fire. divert all blame to another housemate.

wait for lightning to strike the candle

stop waiting and put the candle at the top of a lightning rod.

run a simulation which contains an identical world to our own except the candle is pre-destined for glorious candescence. run the simulation a bunch of times so that your version of events gets more of the magical reality fluid than the version that happens in your own layer of reality.

Make a little man out of clay, breathe life into him, and when he asks what you want of him tell him to light the candle.

swallow the candle

replace one arm with a cigar lighter and the other with a spark plug. Ask your friend to light the candle while you are recovering from this unholy cyborg surgery.

chew on it until it catches on fire

just beg the gods to light it

steal fire from the gods, and blame it on prometheus.

pump a bunch of oxygen into the room, wrap both hands in sandpaper, and clap

flint, steel, and a ripped up $100 bill for tinder


potassium and water

stick both ends of the wick into an electrical outlet?

squeeze a ziplock bag of water into a convex lens and focus sunlight onto the wick

rub chocolate onto the underside of a soda can to turn it into a concave mirror and focus sunlight onto the wick

become twitter famous. befriend elon musk. get him to put the candle on a spaceX landing pad "as a joke"

sniff candle to identify chemical composition. get chemistry textbook. find the relevant reaction with the lowest possible reaction energy. light candle really efficiently.

hang out with contrarians who smoke, and smugly announce that your candle is unlightable

stick it into the most chemically unstable layer of your disgusting, caustic laundry pile

use a cattle prod or a branding iron to light the candle. pivot into becoming a rancher. promote minimum-cruelty meat.

make your friend really mad and stick the candle in his ear

get into a fiery car crash while holding the candle (but sign up for cryonics beforehand, obviously)

post a gif of your unlit candle on r/UnnecessaryExplosions

conduct a psyop on world leaders, incite nuclear war, store the candle in or near the highest-risk target

Seduce....Apollo? Yeah, I think he's the right one. God of fire and...some other stuff. Then go ahead seduce his sister. She's purdy.

use one of those super-heated steam guns

put it next to your fireplace and keep poking the logs to make sparks fly out

turn the lights on and off really fast...

cover it in peanut butter

scan the news for grain silo explosions and haul ass over to the next one that happens in your area

build a network of dyson spheres and use them to broadcast "bring it on, weaklings" in english on the hydrogen line along with a corpus of english words. the aliens will probably figure it out. ehhh, but they might not set us on fire... okay, just use one of your dyson spheres to light the candle directly.

move to australia and just wait for a good firestorm (avoiding dropbears and other large, venomous animals in the meantime)

move to somewhere on the pacific rim and continually blaspheme pele-honua-mea until your house is swept away by a lava flow. obviously, you'll need to keep the candle in your house for this to work...

steel wool + battery

fresnel lens

Katon, Goukakyuu No Jutsu!

use your charisma to trick the candle into eating a ghost pepper

invite your friends over for a bbq. flex your status as grillmaster and alpha male by sticking your candle into the coals. Make sure not to be the first to break eye contact or else they become the grillmaster (and more importantly for the task at hand, you'll have to hand over the candle).

buy a set of identical candles and sneak them into your friend's petrov day ritual kit

same as above but for חֲנֻכָּה

discontent and radicalize the candle. convince it to self-immolate in front of parliament or city hall or wherever

take a vow of silence, open your third eye, and unlock combustionbending. combust candle.

pipe all your neighbors' air-conditioning exhaust into a chamber containing your candle. Have one wall of the chamber be a piston. Drop an elephant on the piston.

realize that "Danger: High Voltage" is just italian for "Free Sparks"

rub two candles together until one or both catch fire

shoot an arrow so that it passes through a torch before it hits the candle

ingratiate yourself with elon musk and bro it up with him while on drugs. get him to put the candle in space and drop it back to earth "as a joke"

Comment by Pontor on My default frame: some fundamentals and background beliefs · 2020-11-23T02:14:48.440Z · LW · GW

Alright, I think it'll make me a more responsible intellectual citizen if I try to distinguish these items a bit based on how I expect to view them in a decade or two. Let's do it.

Well overall, I expect that my current attentional foci are substantially influenced by current news, political narratives, and intellectual fads. I look back at what things I was saying and paying attention to in 2010, and I see few major differences and hard reversals, but I do see a lot of noteworthy omissions, changes of emphasis, and different compressions.

I think (34) will be fairly obsolete in 15 years. I dunno how remote learning and telemedicine have impacted things in the wake of covid, but it's plausible to me that the signaling equilibria will change enough that (34) will at least sound like an outdated opinion.

(29-32) are fairly timeless, but I wouldn't be surprised if fads in news and politics change enough in 15 years that they seem like a questionable focus.

Gods, I hope (23-25) become less necessary to say in 15 years. How much of this incipient cyberpunk weirdtopia do folks need to experience before they expand their horizons a couple centimeters?

I anticipate (21) being painfully more relevant in only 10 years. Unless we somehow get a lot of lucky breaks in a row.

The toxic status quo around news and (social) media just seems entirely unsustainable to me. I expect (21) to be fully out-of-date in 10 years, for better and/or for worse.

It's hard to imagine changing my mind about (19) any time soon, but it's possible. Perhaps I'll want to change the list to include/exclude different works. Or maybe I'll update hard against the value of mainstream mindshare. I doubt it though. See my response to niplav's comment for the generator behind (19).

(To reiterate the disclaimer: items (1-18) were adopted unmodified from John Nerst's blog post)

I get the feeling that (5-9), (18), and maybe (12) and (16) will feel less relevant in 15 years than they do right now. I think their loading with certain culture-war-related valence makes them feel more relevant right now, which is probably partly why they are on Nerst's mind (and mine).

Okay, so that's the pre-hindsight about what I originally wrote. But what about things I omitted?

I could see a world 15 years from now where it looks utterly ignorant to not include a whole paragraph about privacy.

Developments around self-driving cars triggered a gout of Trolley Problem memes. This hasn't actually been such a big deal, but I could imagine some other technology requiring a deep examination and refactoring of our moral intuitions. I tried to keep it pretty broad, but it's possible this refactoring will make my current list look a little weird.

Maybe China will be culturally ascendant in the next 20 years and I will feel the need to explicitly say something about individualism vs collectivism or something.

I might eventually be compelled to put more focus on lifestyle stuff. For example, I might dedicate several bullet points to the importance of diet, exercise, contemplative practice, work-life balance, and writing.

Some number of my family and friends will perma-die in the next 20 years, after which I may be compelled to push the cryonics stuff harder.

In the age of automation, I may feel the need to express niche opinions about economics and political philosophy. I do not yet know what these niche opinions might be.

Echo-chamber awareness, bad-faith detection, the principle of charity, asymmetrical weapons, and so on may become even more important as tools in my everyday epistemic toolkit. In contrast to the more eternal, abstract epistemic principles.

I hope not, but the need to resist Dark Side Epistemology may become urgent and take up a few bullet points.

Comment by Pontor on What would a world of widespread statistical numeracy look like? · 2020-11-18T17:10:08.247Z · LW · GW

For one, maybe the responses to various terrorist attacks might have been different? Any time a terrorist attack happens, I first wonder what the immediate damage was, measured in lives and money. Then I try to see how that stacks up against whatever benchmarks I can think of. If I really want to spend the attention, I might google for more info to help put it into perspective. (I basically endorse these habits--when it comes to sensational news events, perspective is precious and difficult to find.) I dunno, terrorism might be special. Unlike auto fatalities and heart disease, it comes from an enemy that is specifically signalling hostility toward you and trying to make waves in social reality. I think I got this idea when SSC wrote,
“I find it surprising that so many people, including myself, are able to accept the statistics about terrorism so calmly without feeling personally threatened. My guess is that, as per Part VIII here, we don’t primarily identify as Americans, so a threat deliberately framed as wanting to make Americans feel unsafe just bounces off us.”
So put me down for IDK on the effects of terrorism on a highly numerate population.

Surely this wikipedia article would end up looking different? But maybe not. Educated people already fight endlessly over stats like these, so maybe raising the numeracy waterline wouldn’t change much.

Fewer auto injuries/fatalities because people would trade car travel for plane travel? Probably, but I have no idea how big of an effect that would be. When I stop and look for personal anecdata, I can’t actually think of anyone I know who has died in a long-distance car trip.

Maybe wearing helmets in cars would catch on?

Maybe policymaking would host the biggest difference. Presumably, more statistically-informed policies would gain some political currency and be less likely to be defeated by expedient politicians using simplistic rhetoric. Again, I think this effect would be nonzero, but I don’t know if it would be huge. Nonzero, because I think I could find at least a few policies that would have been improved if only the electorate had been able to follow a really simple statistical argument. Not huge, because I think the effects of signalling, rope-pulling, and deal-cutting might each be larger.

Probably people would smoke less tobacco.

...Well, I hope your answers are more interesting than mine!

Comment by Pontor on How to get the benefits of moving without moving (babble) · 2020-11-14T18:23:08.754Z · LW · GW

Awesome lists! Those were both funny and inspiring.

I decided to mix the three prompts together. Here's my babble:

  • Entice your directionless, mobile, remotely-employed, twenty-something friends to move to your area. Practice radical honesty with regard to what it’s like to live there.
  • Find out how much of your regular diet you can replace with rice and beans before your quality of life drops too much. It might be a lot, and food is expensive.
  • Have a friend visit you for a week, and goad them into expressing opinions about your town/city. See with fresh eyes, vicariously.
  • Get some sweet genital piercings
  • Visit a bunch of places that you have been told are “nice to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there.”
  • Go for a long walk.
    • Longer than you just imagined.
      • Still not long enough. Think bigger.
  • Experiment with wardrobe changes and keep an eye out for changes in how people treat you.
  • Reread “The Intelligent Social Web” and pick one small thing to try to influence in your own web. (For example, if your family uses lazy insult-based humor as their default mode of relating, try imagining the conversation tree in advance and memorizing good retorts.)
  • Intentionally build up an appreciation of all of the little cosmic jokes around you. (Did you know that Netflix doesn’t let you watch any Captain America movies if you’re located in the US?)
  • Try calling a friend every day during lockdown.
  • Wear progressively more makeup every day until someone comments on it
  • Get into a friendly rivalry with your friends over who has the best home workout during quarantine
  • Boop your dog’s nose with your own nose. Heheh awww.
  • Set up a video conference room that lets you amble around with free hands instead of sitting at a desk or holding your laptop out in front of you.
  • Try Direct Primary Care (DPC) and supplement with high-deductible insurance
  • Squeeze your dog’s tail and see what they think about that
  • Get a dog for your dog
  • Get a health-share plan
  • Make your dogs wear diapers and treat them like precious little babies. When your friends express distaste for this, simply appeal to cultural relativism and ask them to leave.
  • Stay in an AirBnB for a couple of weeks with no easy internet access. Break your routines and rethink your life.
  • Pick some regional peculiarity or stereotype and try and lean into it. If you live in Berkeley, try lowering your Conscientiousness with drugs. Do some Hippy Flipping and then see how long you can talk about the trip without your friends trying to change the subject. If you live in Canada, start peppering in “eh” to all your sentences, until it stops feeling like a deliberate and ironic affectation. If you live in Oxford, dress up even more. If you live in the American South, try becoming a football fan. Try to set personal record for hours spent talking about football in one day. If you live in Michigan, buy a camo jacket, make a quarterly gun budget, and start hitting the range at least once a month. If you live in New York, start acting like an apprehensive, surly asshole...or an au courant and haughty élite--either way, stay focused on the negative. If you identify as a rationalist, do any of the above and put an awesome rationalist spin on it.
  • Start writing a novel featuring people like you and your peers. It worked for the protagonist of the 2002 hit comedy “Orange County”
  • Quit memes, cold turkey. If you’re already clean, start imbibing them in huge amounts.
  • Try babbling?
  • Put the dog in a headlock and give em a kiss on the snout.
  • Try actually using one of your rationality techniques for once. Start a journal, make a pro/con list, google it, write down a line of retreat, write your hypothetical apostasy, readdress the hamming prompts, generalize your financial budget, or so on.
  • Clean your damn room. Take pictures of it while it’s clean, frame them, and hang them up.
  • Trade some money and convenience for mobility and flexibility. Use the mobility and flexibility to have a summer home and a winter home.
  • Delete your twitter account, delete the app, and surround it with barriers and encumbrances in your browser.
  • No Dad, YOU'RE a disappointment!
  • Try an elimination diet.
  • Get some coordinated motion with your people. I hear this is one of those deep human needs.
    • Join a sports league. Or just somehow be playing a group sport on a regular basis, with people you like for non-sports reasons.
    • Dance parties. Dance classes?
    • Watch some action movie about an elite special forces unit pulling off some crazy extraction or something. Imitate what you see, except with paintball guns. (Real flashbangs though, obviously.)
    • Gnarly escape rooms that require human pyramids and shit.
  • Get vaccinated and go out for a karaoke night with your peeps.
  • Infiltrate your local MRA group and write an ethnography
  • Instead of shopping around for a "good school", try making your own rationalist homeschool. The teachers can help the students make and do real things that aren't forgotten 2 weeks after the exam.
  • Urban exploring
  • Toughness is a virtue. Don’t activate the heater and the long sleeves as soon as the first snowflake of the year hits the ground. Try cold meditation or something. Become worthy of the ancestors whom you sing about once a year at solstice. 
    • Same but opposite for hot summers
  • Grift all your friends into joining your niche fetish subculture by approaching each of them privately and telling them that all your mutual friends have already privately signed up for the next kink event. It’s like a Dominant Assurance Contract, except instead of putting money at stake, it’s your social capital and reputation for honesty. This is in fact how DomCon got its name*.
  • Less unethically: get your favorite friends to come visit you and intermingle with your local friends. Get your visiting friends to talk and behave in ways that look especially cool and enviable to your local friends. Get them to discuss/do things you wish your local friends would discuss/do.

*That’s not true, I just made that up. Puns like that just write themselves, I'm sorry.

Comment by Pontor on Pontor's Shortform · 2020-11-13T15:05:53.959Z · LW · GW

It seems like everyone can agree that Twitter is an awful platform and it makes people awful. I have a couple hazy ideas for solutions (maybe just bandaid solutions, but seemingly better than nothing):
I imagine an alternate world wherein one blue check can cast umbrage on another blue check by saying something like, "He's just logically rude. I will no longer argue with him without explicitly asking him to stick his neck out from the start" or "She's a cryptonormativist--notice that she hasn't spelled out her personal frame anywhere. Really, go look for it. I'll wait. [some kind of sassy emoji string]".
Maybe they could also accrue status more robustly and wholesomely by writing and then sharing their Line of Retreat or their Hypothetically Apostasy.

The concepts and tools linked here are not airtight against bad-faith tweeters, but I think they might really raise the bar a little if they became more common. And I think there is demand for raising that bar--not as much demand as for tribal affirmation and outgroup scandal--but enough demand that such norms might catch on in certain Twitter clusters, thereby making those clusters a little more visibly virtuous.

On the other hand...

Notable Serious Thinker Scott Alexander says in his Twitter bio: "I have a place where I say complicated things about philosophy and science. That place is my blog. This is where I make terrible puns." This seems like an optimal choice for him, and maybe for lots of other serious thinkers too. There is a decent case to be made that Twitter (at least in it's current state) ought to be treated like an internet ghetto...Superfund site...vice-business zone (...or something).

I think both views have merit, and I'm still pondering how to reconcile them.

Comment by Pontor on Pontor's Shortform · 2020-11-11T16:12:05.344Z · LW · GW

Giving a kid a chemistry set and helping them build a trebuchet is cool, but what if you saved up some money and gave them a ride on a zero-g plane too?

Comment by Pontor on What Would Advanced Social Technology Look Like? · 2020-11-10T22:45:58.407Z · LW · GW
  • Some way to publish a book as an excludable good. For example, you could have a movie theater, but instead of a movie screen, you have temporary access to a book. Someone watches to make sure you don't copy the book.
  • Here's a sci-fi-ish one: A system of safeguards and filters around your attention. A user scrolls the internet while advertisers, narrative-pushers, and propagandists try in vain to slip their subtle manipulations past the user's gatekeeper.
  • Where's my flying car? Get on it scientists! Where's my Conditional Proof of Stake Hashcash? Get on it crypto devs!
    • "The idea here is that we set up a smart contract mechanism where along with an email the recipient gets a secret key (the preimage of a hash) that allows them to delete some specified amount (eg. $0.5) of the sender’s money, but only if he wants to; we expect the recipient to not do this for legitimate messages, and so for legitimate senders the cost of the scheme is close to zero (basically, transaction fees plus occasionally losing $0.5 to malicious receivers)."
    • It's a way to price spammers out of your attention. Awesome.
  • Dominant Assurance Contracts?
Comment by Pontor on My default frame: some fundamentals and background beliefs · 2020-11-10T15:43:23.677Z · LW · GW

Thanks, good questions. I had originally written "every responsible intellectual citizen" but that didn't feel quite right. I didn't want so much to morally condemn people who haven't read what I find important, but to highlight the fact that news of general intellectual progress does not seem to move as fast as news of progress in science. So I could forgive someone for not knowing about Fun Theory calculations nowadays, even if they were a circumspect philosopher in the 1980s--they've let themselves fall out of touch, but news travels slowly and communication has changed so it's not totally their fault.

I also doubt that this is a productive method of raising the Sanity Waterline. We're here in a place where many people have had their minds pretty strongly changed by these texts, but reading e.g. the reviews of R:AZ on Amazon & Goodreads, I observe that many people read it, say "meh" and go on with their lives – a pretty disappointing result for reading ~2000 pages!

Yeah, you're probably right about the Sanity Waterline. I didn't know about those amazon reviews though :[


Furthermore, aren't sufficiently intellectual people already familiar with some of the ideas in the "rationalist canon", just by exposure to the scientific method?

Well to illustrate my motivation here, I've occasionally made bets with my most infovorous coworkers, but they would always insist on doing even odds. I tried to explain odds ratios, loss aversion, and the linear utility of small amounts of money, but of course that never worked. But when I'm hanging out with rationalists, this problem doesn't happen.

EDIT: Here's the same frustration from a different angle: suppose I have these three intellectual friends. Alice is a normal-ish physics student who likes to feed her extra-curricular curiosity mostly by reading and listening to Sean Carroll. Bob is a reddit junkie who watches Science YouTube and supplements with Sam Harris and Eric Weinstein's podcasts. Charlie is a tech worker who likes to read Vox for infotainment, and he's been exposed to a handful of EA ideas and a few SSC posts, all of which made him think "whoa, cool", but none of which made him slide down the rabbit hole. 
Maybe I can get Alice to make bets with me and to agree that anthropics is an important part of the frontier of philosophy, but for some reason she is still just so weak with futurism--she seems to still be leaning on Jetsons-style archetypes without realizing it. I can have serious, productive conversations with Bob about our coming cyberpunk weirdtopia, but when I bring up prediction markets, he--lacking the background knowledge about EV, odds ratios, and betting--doesn't really seem to get it. I'm arguing politics with Charlie, and I make reference to "the naive view of free will" and he asks me to stop and explain. Oh right, I think and start looking for an alternate approach to what I'm trying to say.
Alice, Bob, and Charlie are all getting some relatively high-quality exposure to the scientific method in action, but whenever I talk to one of them, I end up thinking, gods, when will this concept become more widespread?

Comment by Pontor on Don't read news · 2020-11-05T17:40:50.323Z · LW · GW

Dunno if this trick will help anyone but me, but here it is anyway: go looking for Really Important news from a few years ago. The more sensational the headlines, the more portentous the tones, the better.

When I tried this, I got a mixture of boredom and disgust. This didn't replace the craving, but it did sort of overwhelm the craving and compelled me to put my attention anywhere else. I think I ended up going for a walk or something.

However, the only sustainable strategy I know of is to put together all the standard habit/addiction things in place. Find a decent replacement (maybe fiction or video games or just journaling), make a personal rule against opening anti-informative media, configure your devices to increase friction around news-reading and lower the reward, take an official break and maybe add some kind of mastbinding mechanism (a week in a cabin without internet access would count), and when you do decide to give in to the temptation, at least try to first spend a few seconds visualizing what it will be like.

Comment by Pontor on Pontor's Shortform · 2020-11-03T01:43:02.218Z · LW · GW

I just encountered the term "semi-intentional" in a post on Everything Studies.

I think it's a decent candidate for filling the apparent lexical gap written about on SSC in Against Lie Inflation and by Zack M. Davis in Algorithmic Intent.

Comment by Pontor on Notes on Honesty · 2020-10-28T14:31:50.237Z · LW · GW

Excellent post. I especially like how you stuck to a mostly neutral perspective throughout; it felt like you were aiming to inform rather than persuade. Most or all of the main points you covered are things that have been on my mind lately, but always in a piecemeal and disorganized way, so I'm really glad you made this overview. This is the kind of thing that makes me excited to share LW with others.

Comment by Pontor on Which headlines and narratives are mostly clickbait? · 2020-10-27T20:49:25.290Z · LW · GW

I think you're kind of missing the point of the question. Even if I avoid media, other people don't, so I get exposed to some of these topics anyway. Even if they're 95% noise, I think it might be worth asking the right people which 95% it is.

All of the topics you raised are distractions from living. That is your answer.

I'm curious if the most epistemically conscientious agree with you, and if so, whether they've made the case in explicit detail. Would you happen to be a superforecaster?

You don't even have to ask anyone else about that, just objectively look at your own life 20 years ago compared to today. Not how worried or hysterical you might feel, or how you feel about ideology or people you'll never meet, but your day to day life and your prospects for the future.

I'd say about half of the bullet points in the original post pass that test: 

The questions about migrations and WFH have implications for lifestyle decisions and investments. The WFH and awokening questions affect what kind of advice I might offer to a graduating high schooler. The misinformation and IRA questions affect how I think about the looting and Biden questions.

We'd all like that but I don't think it is truly possible. 

This is the genre I am looking for.

Comment by Pontor on What are some Civilizational Sanity Interventions? · 2020-07-12T02:02:52.009Z · LW · GW

Electoral reform: The proponents of Random Sample Voting make it sound pretty cool. Appendix 1 in this white paper gives an efficient summary:

Kickstartery things: Dominant Assurance Contracts (DACs) are similar to regular assurance contracts (including Kickstarter campaigns), except with tweaked incentives that attract pledges from otherwise indifferent parties. For explanation and discussion, I recommend these links:

Other: Vitalik Buterin wrote, "Conditional payments for paywalled content--after you pay for a piece of downloadable content and view it, you can decide after the fact if payments should go to the author or to proportionately refund previous readers". He also sketched out a mechanism by which mail recipients can price spammers out of their attention: I like these two ideas because they directly help individuals economize their own attention, even if they aren't exactly civilizational sanity interventions in the way you're talking about.