Comment by Vanilla_cabs on How can there be a godless moral world ? · 2021-06-21T16:26:08.914Z · LW · GW

I feel like there is objective truth about why killing is bad, but I don't understand why.

I think here lies the crux. If you mean "my feelings tell me there is objective truth about why killing is bad", then the answer is clear: your feelings don't get to decide what is the objective truth. Rationality requires to see the world as it is and not as you wish it were.

Though your wording might just be a way to say "I believe there's an objective truth about why killing is bad, but I'm confused about my reasons for believing that". In that case, we should focus on clearing that confusion, and you're gonna have to help us doing that. Can you name a personal argument for that belief? When did you start believing it? etc.

Comment by Vanilla_cabs on How can there be a godless moral world ? · 2021-06-21T15:28:10.690Z · LW · GW

Just to be sure we're on the same page, by a "moral world" you just mean that the world has a morality system dictated from the upper echelon (God), correct?

Also, do you mean that an amoral world is impossible, or just that our current world is moral?

I'm asking because I just don't think in those terms on my own.

Edit: I got a partial answer from your reply to another comment, and I continued there.

Comment by Vanilla_cabs on How can there be a godless moral world ? · 2021-06-21T14:52:47.844Z · LW · GW

I introspected and realized that not only did I not believe on a gut-level that there could be such a world, I also couldn't think of any convincing argument to imagine it intellectually at least. I also realized that even though it may not be sufficient to convince me of the inexistence of God, it would be a strong blow to my faith nonetheless, and it's almost definitely a necessary argument to atheism.

The phrasing is a little ambiguous. Just to confirm:

  • you don't believe that there can be a godless moral world
  • if there could be a godless moral world, that would go towards convincing you of the inexistence of God
  • proving the existence of a godless moral world is necessary to atheism

Are those your points? Just curious. I can't give arguments for a godless moral world, because I don't believe in a moral world. And (therefore) I disagree with point 3). Atheism doesn't need to prove the existence of a godless moral world because our world is not a moral world (by your definition).

Comment by Vanilla_cabs on Covid vaccine safety: how correct are these allegations? · 2021-06-18T08:21:56.211Z · LW · GW

Aaaand the video's gone.

Edit: Available at either,-Robert-Malone,-Steve-Kirsch,---Bret-Weinstein:5

Comment by Vanilla_cabs on Covid vaccine safety: how correct are these allegations? · 2021-06-13T13:03:56.542Z · LW · GW

there are time marks in the description on youtube

As timestamps go, I found these ones to be well-made and more useful than the usual:

00:00 Introductions
02:20 This must be discussed
03:13 Will herd immunity be reached?
07:58 Spike protein is very dangerous 
13:45 FDA knew it could be toxic if it didn't stay stuck
18:09 Vaccine sufferers censored
23:26 Reviewing the FDA data package 
26:41 Corners were cut
27:52 Steve looking at VAERS
32:37 Robert's friends at the FDA and the emergency use authorisation
37:38 Risk benefit and quality life years
40:18 Alternative to vaccines
44:19 Mask wearing RCT
45:28 Three anomalies around vaccines
46:05 Fluvoxamine trials
51:00 Two million dollar offer and the NIH
52:13 Robert's view of the NIH
53:00 Regulatory capture
54:41 Fauci's emails
56:30 Merck on Ivermectin
59:24 Emergent phenomenon
01:01:42 Vaccine deaths
01:03:24 Tess Lawrie's vaccine safety data
01:04:43 Difference between the gene therapy vaccines
01:06:40 Self reported deaths from vaccines
01:09:18 Adverse reactions
01:17:12 Robert on V-safe database
01:19:30 Social media censorship
01:22:20 Steve's experience with denial
01:24:17 Two teams
01:28:20 "Don't come back until your lips are blue"
01:30:52 "Treat people early with drugs"
01:32:11 Ignoring frontline doctors
01:35:39 Financial incentives
01:37:28 Response to demand for RCT on ivermectin
01:38:39 Robert's personal experience with repurposing drugs
01:40:52 Mink and ferrets lab research
01:43:53 Robert on animal model for COVID treatment
01:46:33 Ivermectin works
01:49:13 Repurposing drugs
01:52:17 Doctors ignoring treatments
01:55:31 Effective treatments for long haulers
01:56:45 Robert's response on incentives and hospital liability
02:01:42 Additional antiviral and Gilead overlooking it
02:03:13 Communication is forbidden
02:04:53 Using antivirals as soon as virus presents
02:06:41 Multiple drugs at once and Dr Drew
02:11:02 Trials with drug combinations
02:13:53 Criticism of Fauci and mechanisms of action for ivermectin
02:17:35 Pfizer data on where the vaccine spike protein goes
02:20:42 Spike protein in the ovaries and bone marrow
02:22:12 FDA signals of risk from vaccines and auto-immune issues
02:27:41 Bret summarises and discusses additional harms
02:28:31 Vaccines possibly causing escape mutants
02:31:56 Antibody dependent enhancement (ADE)
02:38:19 Why did Robert and Steve get vaccinated?
02:40:54 Summary of risks including coagulation problems
02:42:41 FDA, thalidomide, and reproductive toxicity
02:48:12 Vaccinating adolescents
02:50:00 Steve on vaccinating his children and the response he receives
02:56:38 Don't be a pioneer, you'll get arrows in the ass
03:00:01 Extended regulatory capture
03:01:10 Can Elon Musk save the planet?
03:05:17 Pharmaceutical industry offshore
03:08:59 Steve's solution, plea to big tech employees, and vaccine long haulers
03:13:41 Robert speaking to big tech employees
03:15:55 Wrap up

Comment by Vanilla_cabs on Covid vaccine safety: how correct are these allegations? · 2021-06-13T07:34:14.041Z · LW · GW

Could you make a digest of their main points? That might help get everybody on the same page to start the discussion.

Edit: Ok, TBH, I just don't feel like watching a 3-hour long video ATM. But others might prefer to have the original debate in full rather than a digest.

Edit 2: Thanks for listing noteworthy points. I'm in the process of passively listening to the video bit by bit.

Comment by Vanilla_cabs on The Moon is Down; I have not heard the clock · 2021-06-13T06:23:57.708Z · LW · GW

Thanks, I actually never had noticed any of the points you make!

Comment by Vanilla_cabs on Qria's Shortform · 2021-06-08T07:56:22.946Z · LW · GW

Any goal you'd have would be achieved better with sufficent longevity.

That is false for a lot of goals, including goals that have a deadline.

Comment by Vanilla_cabs on [Book Review] Blueprint for Revolution · 2021-06-07T21:09:46.250Z · LW · GW

To concur with this article, the french Resistance started with kids and teenagers graffitying and parading during the national holiday in cities remote from centers of power. Then some adults started printing alternate news in the form of pamphlets. Only after a period came sabotaging, then armed resistance.

This is why it's so incredibly important to enforce nonviolence on the side of the revolutionaries.

There's a hidden assumption here. It's important to appear nonviolent. Enforcing nonviolence is only useful insofar as it contributes towards appearing nonviolent. Information sources that are government-owned/sympathetic will paint you violent no matter what. Sources that are revolution-owned/sympathetic will paint you nonviolent no matter what. In an increasingly polarized world, what actually happens matters less and less to reputation.

Comment by Vanilla_cabs on Often, enemies really are innately evil. · 2021-06-07T19:57:05.821Z · LW · GW

"good", "evil" and "responsibility" are terms that are hard to agree on a definition.

A fact that everyone should agree on is that each event has multiple causes, defined as previous events that are necessary for the event to happen. In the case of a person's behaviour, some causes are internal and others are external. What is relevant depends on what you can leverage. I don't see how saying "some people are good, some are just evil" can be leveraged to reduce bullying. But I believe making school less prison-like would.

Also, an "unconstrained wild west environment" is neither a common nor natural environment. Humans have evolved to live in a network of constraining but flexible relationships, personal debts and cultural items.

Comment by Vanilla_cabs on Often, enemies really are innately evil. · 2021-06-07T13:54:07.843Z · LW · GW

It seems to me this article would gain a lot of quality by refocusing around bullying. Bullying's definition is more clear-cut and uninamously accepted than evil and good definitions are. I find the title especially misleading, since nothing in the article applies more to anyone's enemies rather than their allies, or themselves.

When talking about school bullying, my pet theory is that it has the same psychological causes as prison bullying. There's a form of violence that arises from being constrained for too long, like when battery chickens end up pecking each other to the death.

Comment by Vanilla_cabs on Rules for Epistemic Warfare? · 2021-06-06T08:22:31.051Z · LW · GW

If you keep the analogy of war, historically in-group rules have not been the driving force behind deescalation, inter-group treaties have. So I would be much more interested in a draft of rules that would be applied simultaneously to all sides with the goal to deescalate in mind.

Comment by Vanilla_cabs on The dumbest kid in the world (joke) · 2021-06-06T08:07:12.900Z · LW · GW

The guy is leaving town and will not come back. He's paying the kid ten bucks to know.

Comment by Vanilla_cabs on Swiss Political System: More than You ever Wanted to Know (I.) · 2021-06-03T12:09:49.235Z · LW · GW

Or, for that matter, recall the Brexit referendum and the political chaos it plunged the UK into.

I think there's a need to distinguish between two types of referendums here.

Tensions preexited the referendum. Indeed, the referendum was a bid to solve an explosive political situation. Therefore, the ensuing chaos is less of a surprise and therefore doesn't say much about referendums.

This is often the case in representative democracies where referendums are triggered and formulated by the government rather than the citizenship. In addition, in such crisis-time government-issued referendums, all actors understand that the legitimacy of the issuing government is tied to the result, which pollutes the debate around the actual matter, making it less about the policy and more about the individuals. On top of that, when there's hardly 1 referendum every 10 years, the citizenship use their votes to express old grievances that also have no relation with the matter at hand.

All these flaws don't happen when there are regular, citizenship-issued referendums, which is why I think it's important to make the distinction.

Comment by Vanilla_cabs on Is anyone else frustrated with 'un-informative' post titles? · 2021-05-28T20:57:14.116Z · LW · GW

You can hover over the title to have a preview showing the first lines of the article. It's usually sufficient to dissipate ambiguity, and even ignoring uninformative titles, I use it often to get a feel of an article when I'm not sure whether it's worth reading.

Comment by Vanilla_cabs on If individual performance is Pareto distributed, how should we reform education? · 2021-05-26T06:21:25.427Z · LW · GW

The easiest way to deal with the smart outliers is to remove the speed limit as you suggest.

I can't find the american report I read years ago about acceleration, but the conclusion was that grade skipping's benefits almost always overwhelmed the drawbacks. In particular, socialisation does not always degrade after skipping, it might actually improve. Grade skipping has the advantage of being totally free (actually saving money for everyone involved including taxpayers) and applicable today.

TL/DR: Grade skipping is a low hanging fruit.

Comment by Vanilla_cabs on Re: Fierce Nerds · 2021-05-24T07:39:26.867Z · LW · GW

That's one possibility, but I see others.

  1. in my personal case, my ego was inflated in childhood by words such as "you can do anything" ("if you focus and work hard enough", but my child brain conveniently ignored the last part). That ego still plays a large role in my dissatisfaction. I think it's mostly a good thing, though, insofar as it aligns with my other values.
  2. there is genuine, deep joy and happiness to be found in living the life of a 'loser' in the terms of the Gervais principle as summed up here: That is, people who work in the lower strata of a hierarchy, but whose real life is in the time outside work: friends, family, activities... Maybe there's a high variability here, so that some people skilled enough to speak up as you say prefer not to because they have amazing friends or an amazing hobby.
Comment by Vanilla_cabs on The Reebok effect · 2021-05-22T06:15:59.194Z · LW · GW

Honestly, since only a small group intersection of logic-savvy and ad-watching people is ever going to notice such a glomarization, it's not worth it, even if the coordination problems between advertisers was solved.

Comment by Vanilla_cabs on Bayeswatch 5: Hivemind · 2021-05-22T05:57:21.946Z · LW · GW

As I understood, her keeping 1/6 of her personality was not a technological limitation but a part of the contract. Since they broke the contract, I assume they erased however much they wanted, possibly all.

Also, the 'they' is another assumption that comes from their discussion only. For all we know, 'they' is a single mind puppeteering all the other bodies.

And since this series is about AGIs gone rogue, I assumed it likely that the puppet master was a rogue AI, or a human agent/associate of one.

Comment by Vanilla_cabs on Bayeswatch 5: Hivemind · 2021-05-21T09:51:20.092Z · LW · GW

You mean it's not a typo? I still don't get the hidden meaning.

Comment by Vanilla_cabs on Re: Fierce Nerds · 2021-05-20T06:36:38.764Z · LW · GW

Normal people can life normal lives. A fierce nerd following the rules is like a wild animal in a zoo. If you don't do daring things you'll go nuts.

That resonated strongly, in both ways. I've always wondered how most people I knew (ordinary people, for lack of a better word) could unquestioningly accept society rules and life as we are expected to live it, or even keep a facade of accepting it. For some time I've even been jealous of it. But I've given up, that acceptance is completely out of reach for me.

Comment by Vanilla_cabs on Spock's Dirty Little Secret · 2021-05-19T19:55:16.901Z · LW · GW

While I agree with the gist, I'm looking forward to a more detailed vision of emotions. This current post gives the false impression that emotions are neatly symetrical and one-dimensional (good-bad). In reality there are multiple dimensions to emotions (desirable-undesirable, pleasurable-displeasing), and they're not clearly symetrical. If fear is the symetrical of desire, then what is disgust?

Emotions are action triggers and regulators that existed way before cognition did. We might mistakenly believe that they help our cognition by sorting stimuli in good/bad categories, while in reality it's the opposite. Cognition is just a computer that's been added on top of our emotional brain to serve (allow me that one emphasis) as an assisting tool.

Comment by Vanilla_cabs on Spock's Dirty Little Secret · 2021-05-19T19:41:46.441Z · LW · GW

For the embodiment of pure rationality, why not simply a computer? Everyone knows one, we can all see that you put whatever you want on one end depending on your goals and values, and it very rationally obeys those commands to the letter, without taking initiatives. Well, that used to be that way at least.

Comment by Vanilla_cabs on Why Democracy? · 2021-05-14T21:06:15.482Z · LW · GW

I'm sorry I couldn't get into this post. It felt just too theoretical, except for the historical part.

Comment by Vanilla_cabs on Small and Vulnerable · 2021-05-07T20:22:57.204Z · LW · GW

This reminds me, it's been years since I last checked the progress of laws against corporal punishment of children.

It brings me back to another period of my life. I would talk about it a lot around me, but ended up having very little impact.
AFAIK, it's an other class of problems than the ones EA solves. EA tends to focus on consensual and scalable problems where money has an obvious way of being used. Because money has more impact in poorer countries, the typical problem is something like "we need money to build wells in Sahel", as opposed to "we need to pass this controversial law in the US".

Comment by Vanilla_cabs on Let's Go Back To Normal · 2021-05-06T08:12:28.142Z · LW · GW

I have no idea of the situation in the US. I would expect the lockdowns to have a tremendous negative effect on mental health. I mean, even ignoring social isolation, lockdowns have a tremendous negative effect on the economy, and the economy has a direct impact on mental health. In France, I've read that there's a visible increase in student depression, and while the suicide rate was normal in 2020, it started to rise in 2021 possibly as a delayed effect.

Border closures: Shouldn’t be a legal mandate or recommended, except in extreme circumstances

Vaccine passports: Probably fair, seems fantastic for public health and, while highly abusable, not at all an abuse in this actual case

You seem to think that since the context that triggered vaccine passports is the right one, then the measure is not an abuse. But what matters is the use that's made of the measure.

Asking additional precautions from people who are not vaccinated when traveling could be understandable, as long as the virus is considered a big enough threat. But outright forbidding travel for people who are not even sick would be, for most western countries, a new precedent of unseen human rights breach.

Seeing the way my country has favored coercive measures to fight the pandemic, regardless of the efficiency and cost, I can confidently say that such a measure as vaccine passports will be abused. At least here.

But hey, as a major contributor on the topic here once said, I'm just a European concerned for "muh freedom".

Comment by Vanilla_cabs on Death by Red Tape · 2021-05-02T05:59:02.561Z · LW · GW

While I fully agree with your general point that you have to compare your costs not with the current situation, but the counterfactual where you would not have incured those costs, in the TSA case, I wonder whether more regulation might also have an effect of increasing attacks chances by signaling that you care about attacks, therefore that attacks are efficient at hurting you.

Comment by Vanilla_cabs on What are all these children doing in my ponds? · 2021-04-04T08:58:52.553Z · LW · GW
  1. Then next week, as you are saving your nth child, you notice that this is the first child you saved. That child fell into the pond again!
  2. Years later you meet a child you saved. That child is now a grown adult. They kept living near the pond in a dire condition. As a consequence their whole life has been miserable, and they made people miserable around them.
  3. That child is now an adult. They had 10 children. 5 of them fell in ponds and drowned.

I'm not saying that that's what happens in real life. Just that the analogy never considers those cases (same disclaimer as OP).

Comment by Vanilla_cabs on Notes from "Don't Shoot the Dog" · 2021-04-03T12:13:10.369Z · LW · GW

Concise, to the point, love it.

Comment by Vanilla_cabs on How do we prepare for final crunch time? · 2021-04-03T07:26:40.689Z · LW · GW

There are probably a class of people for whom working on AI alignment is not worth it/optimal/their concern before crunch time, but becomes their main focus once crunch time is officially declared. Something akin to sleeper agents, if you will.

There should be a network ready to tap on these people's assets/skills when the signal is launched.

Comment by Vanilla_cabs on Why Selective Breeding is a Bad Way to do Genetic Engineering · 2021-03-05T09:48:49.351Z · LW · GW

The right to reproduce is fundamental.

It might be that creating new consciousnesses is a fundamental right, but merely stating it is just sweeping a (tricky) subject under the rug. And even rights have limits when they collide with other rights. Imagine someone has a genetic trait that condemns their offspring to constant excruciating pain. How about the right not to be born just to suffer?

Selective Breeding is Cruel

For myself personally, this is the most compelling reason to not use selective breeding: it is a cruel judgment upon those who, through no fault of their own, happen to draw the short stick in the genetic lottery.

How about people who are not attractive then?

Though we may recognize that certain genes confer advantages to an individual, we must not confuse human ability with human value.

Differences in ability already lead to different opportunities for breeding offspring. Should we correct that too?

Comment by Vanilla_cabs on Good brainteasers for children? · 2021-03-03T11:02:43.632Z · LW · GW

There's one that's hard to guess, but easy to test if you have a small pool or even a kitchen sink (from Aha! by Martin Gardner).

In a pool there's a boat with heavy gold in it. You throw the gold at the bottom of the pool. Of course, the boat rises, but what about the level of the water in the pool?

Comment by Vanilla_cabs on Good brainteasers for children? · 2021-03-02T11:05:57.630Z · LW · GW

One I haven't seen anywhere:

I go hiking on a mountain. When I start, the water makes up half the total wieght of my backpack. When I reach the summit, I have drunk half the water. What proportion of the backpack weight does it make up now?

Comment by Vanilla_cabs on “PR” is corrosive; “reputation” is not. · 2021-02-15T14:11:59.976Z · LW · GW

At quick glance it seems just a slightly more complicated example of always telling the truth (a la Kant) VS lying strategically. But lying can be useful. Likewise PR can be useful.

Comment by Vanilla_cabs on Killing the ants · 2021-02-08T09:30:15.434Z · LW · GW

I have a strong feeling of déjà-vu. I witnessed a similar discussion happen a few years ago, but was it here?

Comment by Vanilla_cabs on Is the world becoming better? · 2021-02-07T14:51:05.271Z · LW · GW

If you talk about the progress of (un)happiness in rich countries over the last decades, you should say a word about the progress of unemployment in rich countries over the last decades.

Comment by Vanilla_cabs on What is up with spirituality? · 2021-02-04T15:10:31.973Z · LW · GW

Spiritual feelings are often associated with awe and the word ‘transcendent’

After being born, at the crucial stages of the development of our being, we are left in a stage of utmost dependency. We own nothing, we are helpless, and the world is full of obvious but unnatainable meaning. At this stage, every growing human needs the percievable world to be fairly well-intended to even survive through infancy, let alone thrive. So evolution hardwired us to seek bonding with our caretakers. That wiring manifests in the form of an intense feeling of fullfillment when we reaffirm or strengthen that bond.

I suspect that transcendence and spiritual awe are more common with people who feel helpless in their life, as an attempt to recreate that feeling of being helped and supported by a powerful entity beyond understanding. Monotheistic spirituality, with the figure of the loving father-god, goes as far as to explicitly state that the believer should forgo understanding and be a helpless child in the hand of the benevolent god.

Comment by Vanilla_cabs on Reflections on "Psycho-Pass" · 2021-01-22T14:34:03.675Z · LW · GW

I am neither evil nor a psychopath.

Shame really, we are still short of one for our Evil Psychopath monthly poker night! Let us know if you manage to acquire the evil of psychopathy you're missing before the end of the month! We've got smoothies!

That's one difference I regularly meet between western stories and anime. In the West, evil antagonists seem reduced to two qualities: they're bad, and we don't want/need to know about them. Evil here is like mysterious. Conversely, in anime, most villains have their motives explained as well as heroes. Sometimes, it's the same motive! Typically, loyalty to friends (the °1 motive for heroes and villains alike in shonen).

This makes villains much more interesting and relatable. Villains are not alien, of a different substance than us. They're like us, except they dare do what we don't, and in doing that they exemplify their values in a way that lets us explore counterfactuals and learn from that experience. They're so interesting that they can become more popular than heroes (Yagami Light).

A show that does it masterfully is Attack on Titan. It's excellent at circling a character's point of view in a few quick strokes and never making light of it. I can sympathise with really any character, however beef they have among themselves.

Comment by Vanilla_cabs on RationalWiki on face masks · 2021-01-16T16:08:36.007Z · LW · GW

All your points are correct, but they explain why censorship can be successful, which I don't doubt. My point was that it ends up not being for the greater good.

Comment by Vanilla_cabs on RationalWiki on face masks · 2021-01-15T18:10:00.357Z · LW · GW

Ever read history? Censorship has a really bad track record. I'm puzzled at why some people think it'll be for the greater good this time.

Comment by Vanilla_cabs on The True Face of the Enemy · 2021-01-13T17:26:12.204Z · LW · GW

Well I think as a general matter that a case against status quo is incomplete without the case for an alternative, because everybody can picture the status quo, but few will guess what your alternative looks like.

There's been a plethora of essays denouncing the school system already, and I haven't seen any major change except more restrictions on alternatives to public schools. A difficulty IMO is that good teaching is hard to scale. To keep motivated, young people need models to look up to, and the most relatable are the ones they can interact with IRL. An alternative would be teaching parents to be those role models, but your mileage would vary.

Have you heard of the monitorial system - bleh, this sounds carceral in English - ? When public education appeared, a lot of leeway was left to teachers. To manage large numbers of students, the school didn't batch students by age. Students who had learned a topic would teach it in return. This seems like a clever way to form role models, personalize learning, teach responsibility and reinforce the learnings, all with minimum investment.

My current best plan would be to get rich, fund multiple private schools based on alternatives, rate them, keep the best, open more. I'm far from milestone 1.

Comment by Vanilla_cabs on The True Face of the Enemy · 2021-01-12T22:04:41.560Z · LW · GW

Great writing, enthralling, whether or not one adheres with the message. The Enemy feels like it fits a very general pattern in my mind, like this article could be interpreted as a metaphor for many different struggles.

However I am sick and tired of the "we will eventually prevail" mantra (my gratitude for whoever finds if there's an actual name). I am starting to get old, and in my life I've seen countless of these claims about various causes, how group X is suffering unfairly now, but someday, just someday... you'll see. We'll have to change, the conditions will be different. The bad guys can't stay unpunished. The truth will triumph - when? They never achieve anything. A cheap hope, better than despair? I disagree. Hope can induce passivity as easily as despair, two ways of changing your perception of the situation without changing the situation. What we need is a plan, concrete actionable steps to a goal. Spare the motivational speech, cut to the strat if you've got one.

Comment by Vanilla_cabs on The True Face of the Enemy · 2021-01-12T21:50:39.213Z · LW · GW

When a person is incarcerated for 8 hours every day, it's previsible, and I'd say even fair, that they will make life harder for their jailors' accomplices in their free time. The point 'children are hurricanes' fits both sides of the argument.

Anyway, I don't believe that point to begin with. Sure, some children are like that, but nowhere near the majority.

Comment by Vanilla_cabs on Centrally planned war · 2021-01-07T11:37:05.341Z · LW · GW

If you look at wars during the Antiquity, barbarians would rush to combat in disorder. They would challenge each other to kill the most enemies to keep themselves motivated. And they were utterly decimated by the roman legion. Hierarchy replaces morale with discipline: centralised armies can push soldiers way beyond the point where they would give up and flee if they could. Therefore, trust is less an issue in centralised armies: each soldier can be assured that their neighbour will not leave their side at the worst moment. This in turn boosts the soldier's morale. Unorganised armies would rush to combat, but also break and flee easily, which made it easy for fast troops like cavalry to chase and slaughter them.

Also, strategy: sometimes, troops must be sacrificed to make a higher gain. Who would volunteer to be sacrificed?

Comment by Vanilla_cabs on Anti-Aging: State of the Art · 2021-01-07T08:58:07.274Z · LW · GW

I am not under the impression that physical comfort is what was opposed in Fight Club. After all, hunter-gatherers also accessed more resources than they could ever consume, like top-quality fresh air and sunlight. I think it was consumerism. Under consumerism, consuming is not driven by personal motivation, but by the external general goal of supporting the economy. Instead of being an end, the consumer has to be turned into a means to that single end, a slave to consumption, through ads and social pressure.

Comment by Vanilla_cabs on Intended enjoyment · 2021-01-05T12:29:45.235Z · LW · GW

I do not mean to intrude as the last (rhetorical) question seems to imply that you do not actually seek an answer, but let me be the one to state the obvious, you do not have to enjoy what others enjoy. While acquired tastes exist and it might be worth generally trying stuff,  letting the tastes of a group supersede your tastes will simply draw your awareness further and further away from yourself. You will end up vainly following fads and frustrated at having to fake the enjoyment that others express genuinely.

In the particular cases you cite though, it might be cases of selection bias: only positive appreciations are broadcast. And/or maybe you simply draw information from a group that does not share your tastes in chewy paper, but there exist other groups that do share that taste that you are not aware of.

Comment by Vanilla_cabs on I don't want to listen, because I will believe you · 2020-12-28T16:17:02.682Z · LW · GW

That we are unconsciously suggestible to information is a valuable point. Now, this begs the question: why do some people leave cultish beliefs after being raised in them? It seems we are not all equally suggestible in all circumstances. It then seems to me of the greatest importance to discover what prevents or accelerates unconscious validation of information: what circumstances, what character traits? What allows people to un-validate unconsciously validated information?

Note: Some readers might not get the half-joke if I include cosmology and nutritional epidemiology in the above list, so I refrained from doing so

Not to mention belief in the Egyptian god Apophasis.

Avoid discussions that heavily relate to sex and politics, because people tend to switch to full-on tribal-signaling and tribal-propaganda

These topics most of the time are a rational minefield with little to gain. Still, nothing says there isn't or won't be a time when it's worth going there. Maybe there will be a particularly strong incentive, maybe you will be trained enough in rationality so the costs to your sanity will be lower. In any case, there seems to be a risk if all the rational actors leave such important fields to everyone else.

Learn the "establishment" position and the arguments for it before learning the "wake up sheeple" position. On the whole, I think it's safe to assume establishment positions are better than random the alternatives.

Correction by me to avoid biased word.

Everybody can agree that there were historical situations in which this was the right thing to do, and others in which this was the wrong thing to do. So the question is: how to distinguish them?

Comment by Vanilla_cabs on Moral moralizing · 2020-12-23T10:44:41.821Z · LW · GW

Where do you get the opinion that slavery, genocide and rape are bad? Whatever the answer is seems to be a solid base for ethics in your eyes. And clearly that's not only professional ethicists who hold that opinion, and I doubt they even hold it in a higher proportion than other people.

Comment by Vanilla_cabs on Luna Lovegood and the Chamber of Secrets - Part 8 · 2020-12-19T09:22:59.126Z · LW · GW

Couldn't resist gushing about how There Is No Antimemetics Division is the most gripping, gut-wreching, haunting piece of SCP series. Must be a memetic side effect.

Comment by Vanilla_cabs on To listen well, get curious · 2020-12-15T14:52:31.393Z · LW · GW

Advice for absolute beginners: when in doubt, just shut up. Look at the person you want to help, nod a little, and shut your piehole. Unless you come from an Asian culture, you probably blather too much anyway. The cost of not saying anything helpful will probably be outweighed by the benefit of not saying something harmful.