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u/btown-begins · 17 pointsr/slatestarcodex

Vernor Vinge's Hugo Award-winning novel A Deepness in the Sky is a must-read if you're interested in this. TL;DR it actually engages with the question of how we'd deal with literal giant spider aliens... and it dives deeply into the ethical and epistemological implications of xenolinguistics and cultural presentation. I've been drafting a review/academic analysis of the book to share elsewhere, but might as well share my early draft below! (Please do not repost.)

Vernor Vinge's "A Deepness in the Sky" and Max Weber's Antipositivism

I recently completed Vernor Vinge's Hugo Award-winning A Deepness in the Sky, and it has quickly jumped to the top of my all-time favorites list.

The setting is hard sci-fi, with zero FTL travel but reliable cryogenics; therefore, it takes centuries for fleets and even information to travel between star systems. What might society look like when coordination can only happen so infrequently? What tools might people develop to ensure cultural and social control over millennia; what happens if someone subsequently "munchkins" said tools? How do you preserve the integrity of your schemes when you might be asleep for decades, oblivious to changing dynamics, knowing that the allies you think you have on the outside are self-thinking agents themselves? When you're confronted with not only new facts, but entirely new paradigms for thinking about power in this context, how do you adapt?

On top of this, the story presents not just a clash between human ways of life, but a first encounter with an incredibly foreign alien civilization as well: a planet of giant spider-like beings who have progressed to atomic-age technology. How does one communicate with beings so different? How does one translate an alien language? Does the nuance of translation become a power structure itself? Is it possible to tactically deploy empathy in situations like this?

That Vinge is able to weave these questions into a cohesive and intensely suspenseful narrative, with a solid conclusion, and with more than a dozen interweaving human and alien point-of-view characters (all of whom constantly plot and reason about how to adapt their plans should other characters discover certain facts) is nothing short of mastery.

I would go so far as to say that the story is rationalist at a metafictional level. If you begin reading the alien "spider" point-of-view chapters and become disappointed that they seem too perfectly anthropomorphized, even Westernized, with recognizable automobiles and a town called Princeton... consider that not only the narrator, but the entire narrative framework itself, may be unreliable, and that this may have resounding implications for the plot. Separately, while trying to minimize spoilers, a variety of human characters think in ways very different from others. For both alien-human and human-human interactions, then, Vinge challenges both his characters and readers alike to consider whether it's even possible to fully appreciate (and empathize with) the rational thought of beings wholly different from you, without reinterpreting their thoughts in language and description that's familiar.

This concept is surprisingly close to some ideas of Max Weber, the German sociologist and rationalist. This article provides a relatively succinct overview of his thoughts on Verstehen and antipositivism. In Weber's own words:

> All interpretation of meaning, like all scientific observations, strives for clarity and verifiable accuracy of insight and comprehension. The basis for certainty in understanding can be either rational, [...] or it can be of an emotionally empathic or artistically appreciative quality. [...] Empathic or appreciative accuracy is attained when, through sympathetic participation, we can adequately grasp the emotional context in which the action took place. [...] On the other hand, many ultimate ends or values toward which experience shows that human action may be oriented, often cannot be understood completely, though sometimes we are able to grasp them intellectually. The more radically they differ from our own ultimate values, however, the more difficult it is for us to understand them empathically. (Weber 1978, pp. 5-6)

We can tend to think that the only way to be rational(ist) is to accept facts as absolute mathematical truths, to try to divorce them from our prior assumptions and biases. But Weber would say that this is often a losing battle - in order to understand an individual or a society, we must recognize that we can never fully understand an individual or society independent of our own values through which we view the world.

Thomas Negel's oft-cited 1974 article on "What Is It Like To Be A Bat" (wiki article here) takes a similar line of inquiry:

> We appear to be faced with a general difficulty about psychophysical reduction. In other areas the process of reduction is a move in the direction of greater objectivity, toward a more accurate view of the real nature of things. This is accomplished by reducing our dependence on individual or species-specific points of view toward the object of investigation... Experience itself, however, does not seem to fit the pattern. The idea of moving from appearance to reality seems to make no sense here. What is the analogue in this case to pursuing a more objective understanding of the same phenomena by abandoning the initial subjective viewpoint toward them in favor of another that is more objective but concerns the same thing? Certainly it appears unlikely that we will get closer to the real nature of human experience by leaving behind the particularity of our human point of view and striving for a description in terms accessible to beings that could not imagine what it was like to be us. If the subjective character of experience is fully comprehensible only from one point of view, then any shift to greater objectivity -that is, less attachment to a specific viewpoint-does not take us nearer to the real nature of the phenomenon: it takes us farther away from it.

It's a question that by its very nature may be impossible to answer objectively! But, again in a metatextual way, Vinge's attempt to answer these questions with a narrative framework, to attempt to build meta-empathy towards the question of how to build empathy towards alien modalities of thinking, feels to me to be a worthwhile contribution to this line of thinking. If any of this makes you curious, or if you're interested implications of this type of thinking on political power structures and public and international affairs, I highly recommend reading this book.

P.S. Vinge also raises questions of whether one still has free will if one's utility function is modified without one's consent - a really tricky question. A trigger warning for mind-control is in order here.

P.P.S. Some will recommend reading this after reading its earlier-released sequel, A Fire Upon The Deep - which raises its own questions about rationalism, about the stability of rational planning in a group mind whose membership is fluid. I personally recommend reading Deepness first, as Fire relies much more on deus ex machina revelations, and IMO Deepness actually benefits from the reader not knowing anything about the characters and their moral compasses going in. That said, both books make me want to read more of Vinge's ouevre - he has a fascinating way of thinking about thinking.

u/jplewicke · 9 pointsr/slatestarcodex

> If this goes on for days, I progressively end up in a more depressed/helpless state. Making decisions gets difficult, even something as simple as picking an item off a menu. Confidence at work or with any other hobbies gets low enough that I stop doing or achieving much of anything.

This is a very classic "freeze" response, also known as dissociation. Basically, if you're pushed into fight/flight long enough or persistently enough, you'll start freezing up. That makes it difficult to concentrate, difficult to connect to other people, and even difficult to take concrete actions like picking something up. It's one end of trauma-related emotional disregulation, with the other being fight/flight/anxiety/anger. It's very common for unchecked verbal aggression to put people into a state like that. It's also decently likely that you have some form of trauma history that made you more vulnerable to freezing up like that, and that made it difficult for you to get angry enough to push back when she becomes verbally aggressive with you. I'd suggest reading In An Unspoken Voice to learn more about how we get stuck in these fight/flight/freeze responses.

> The only consistent recommendation I see, besides medication, is DBT. What does that mean, for someone without good access to medical care? Buy her a workbook and tell her to read it?

You could try to do that, but it doesn't sound like she has either a lot of insight into how her behavior is harmful or a strong motivation to change. Most likely the best thing that you can do is to focus on improving your own ability to advocate for yourself, to understand what's happening in this situation, and to get clarity about your own conscious and unconscious patterns of thinking and reacting that keep you stuck in this situation. This is unfortunately a "put your own oxygen mask on first" kind of situation.

On another note, DBT might actually be really helpful for you. One area it covers is emotional regulation, or learning to work on your emotional responses so that you can respond in a way that fits the situation. That includes learning about the different basic emotion types (Anger/Shame/Fear/Guilt/Envy/Happiness/Sadness/Love/Jealousy), learning when they fit the facts of a situation, and also learning to recognize when you're skipping past the appropriate emotional reaction and jumping to another one. For example, it sounds like when your wife gets angry at you over nothing, you skip right past anger and into fear/shame/sadness. If you can afford it or are covered, it might be worth finding a DBT therapist to help you work on that. If you can't, this is the workbook that my therapist used with me.

> What can a person like me do to be more resilient to verbal aggression/abuse?

Learning to set boundaries for yourself is probably the key skill to get started with. There's a lot of confusion about boundaries out there. Sometimes it sounds like it's something that other people are responsible for ("they should respect my boundaries"), or that they're responsible for enforcing them once we communicate them. Instead, a boundary is an action that we commit to take ourselves in order to maintain our self-respect and ability to function. It could be something like "If someone is yelling at me or calling me names, then I will leave the area." Frequently, it's helpful to have a series of planned boundary-maintaining actions so that you don't have to take drastic action off the bat -- so in that example, you could plan to first ask the person to stop yelling, then leave the room if they won't stop, then leave the house if they follow you and keep yelling, then stay somewhere overnight if they keep yelling when you come back, then move out temporarily if they won't stop when you come back, then end the relationship if you can't come back without being yelled at.

Other times when people talk about boundaries it sounds like we should just already know what our boundaries are, when in reality it's a really messy difficult heart-breaking process to discover first that something is unacceptable to you and then that you're willing to enforce a boundary to prevent it. There may be significant new emotions or memories of past situations that you have to become comfortable with in order to -- for example, you may be deeply uncomfortable with the idea of being alone or seeing someone else suffering when they claim that it's your fault, and it may be related to difficulties in your childhood or past that seem similar.

There's also a significant chance that you've internalized at some level that you're responsible for your wife's emotional reactions, or that you've done something wrong, or that this is normal. So there's a significant ongoing rediscovery aspect where you'll revisit past relationship conflicts and go "Wait, that's not my fault at all!"

The other thing you can do is to look into whether you might be exhibiting codependent behaviors or in a trauma bond. No More Mr Nice Guy is a decent guide to working on this, although it's a little bit much to handle if you're still in the thick of it emotionally. You can also read When I Say No I Feel Guilty.

> What's the healthy approach towards me getting some kind of support system/network?

Keep on posting here regularly, for one. You can also take a look at /r/Divorce (I've been assuming from the comments from your friends that you're married -- apologies if I'm getting that wrong). I assume you've seen /r/BPDlovedones/ , but it might be worth reading their recommended resources. Work on exercising regularly, see a therapist or couples therapist if you can, try talking to any friends you have that haven't been dismissive before. A light 10-20 minute/day meditation practice might be helpful with learning about your thoughts and emotions, but there can be complications with large amounts of meditation if you have a trauma history or are in a stressful situation (see this book and this guide if you want to pursue that route).

Also just spend time with friends and social groups even if they're not resources for talking about your relationship. It can be important to remember that social relationships can just be fun/light and to provide a counterbalance.

> So... is there any healthy middle ground between "suffer through it, don't talk about it, relationships take work" and "run away, AWALT, borderlines are crazy"?

The middle ground is to work on asserting your boundaries, understanding and accepting your emotions, building a healthy set of activities and friends, and getting clear on what's acceptable to you. If it turns out that you have a trauma history, then something like somatic experiencing or EMDR can help you start to heal from that and become more confident. As you become more confident and assertive, set more boundaries, and work for the kind of relationship that you want, then you'll see w

Do you have kids together? If you don't, the standard answer to just go ahead and leave is probably "right" -- there doesn't sound like there's much good happening for you here. But the problem with "just leave" is that it's all or nothing, and doesn't provide you with an incremental path to building the skills and self-knowledge that will allow you to actually leave.

If you do have kids together, then "just leave" is definitely a bit tougher. This sort of situation can be a kind of crucible that allows for immense personal growth, or can just beat you down.

A couple resources that may help with clarifying the stay/leave question are:

  • Too Good To Leave, Too Bad To Stay. This is a workbook with diagnostics for what relationships can be fixed vs should be ended. If you read it and your answers come out as overwhelmingly leave, then do your utmost to just leave, even if you have to move out while she's not there, text a breakup note, and ask your friends to help you.

  • Wired For Love discusses attachment theory and adult relationship dynamics.

    Good luck and we'd love to keep on hearing how you're doing!
u/BarnabyCajones · 76 pointsr/slatestarcodex

I find arguments like this exasperating and a bit willful.

For me, it brings to mind the moment, during the election cycle of 2012 and the debates, of Mitt Romney making his "binders full of women" gaffe.

Even the tiniest bit of charity would suggest that what Romney said was roughly like Clinton's coal thing here. But holy hell, the nice well-educated partisans I spend time around reacted like he had acknowledge that he beat his wife regularly, had no particular compunction about it, and planned to do it again. They recirculated that statement to the heavens. They made memes and snarky Facebook posts about it, and would not shut up. I didn't hear the end of it, the binders full of women.

But you know what? On reflection, I think it was Mitt Romney's fault. And it was his fault because, regardless of how good he would be as a technocrat, he's bad at being a retail politician and leader, he's not charismatic, he's awkward, he said things in awkward ways, people aren't inclined to like him, and when he messed up, people didn't want to react charitably.

He was like a 5'2" guy being the starting center on an NBA team somehow. He shouldn't be there. Nature has strongly suggested he shouldn't be there.

And that's how I feel about Hillary Clinton. Maybe it's unfair, and maybe it's partially because of sexism, but at the end of the day, being liked and treated charitably is a major part of the job.

One consistent thing I've seen about relatively successful presidents in my lifetime (and here I'm thinking about Reagan, Bill Clinton, and Obama) is that there's a constant voicing of frustration from their partisan foes that they're made of Teflon, that stories that would drag anyone else down somehow just slide off of them. And this is repeated as though it's something inexplicable.

But it's not, not really, or I don't think so. It's just a major part of being good at the job. Being President in a democracy like ours has a very large element of popularity contest to it. That's just in the nature of the job.

Frankly, this is part of what is so interesting about Trump, if you can emotionally take a step back. He is obviously very, very, very bad at a whole range of things that go into the actual day-to-day presidential job description. I think that's clearly true as much to people who want his agenda to pass as to people who don't. By most metrics, he should not be where he is. And yet, he had that one thing; somehow all of the (often very reasonable and well-sourced) attacks just aren't sticking to him correctly. I mean, look at this article from a few days ago:

Crazy, right? This is still happening.

It brings to mind the famous Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. statement about Franklin D. Roosevelt that he had "a second-rate intellect, but a first-class temperament."

And all of this is why I find pieces like this Vox one kind of exasperating and willful. Because I get this strong sense that they really, really, really want to live in a world where being Lisa Simpson is the right qualification for being in charge of things. And Lisa Simpson would probably make a marvelous technocrat, conscientious and knowledgeable and hard-working. I am fairly sure all those words apply to both Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney, and... well, let's just say fewer of them apply to Donald Trump.

But Lisa Simpson is annoying. And democracy is a popularity contest.

(And I understand that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by 2 percent or so, but she still managed to lose the election to Donald Trump - let's not normalize this. For any politician with even a modicum of political talent and instincts, it shouldn't have been even vaguely close)

I'm reading the book "Illiberal Reformers" right now (, about Progressive Reformers around 1890-1920, say, and one thing that is interesting about it is it really emphasizes the extent to which the people who gave rise to the social sciences in universities and the modern expert-run administrative state really, really did not like, trust, or value democracy. They considered it a popularity contest that involved catering to uneducated people's worst impulses, easily demagogued, at odds with the efficient administration of expert-run government programs that could help more people and make a strong state. In short, they noticed that democracies were popularity contests that selected against technocratic Lisa Simpson's, and so their solution was to abandon any real trust in democracy - better to neuter it and let the administrative state, full of Lisa Simpsons, do its thing. Think of the Federal Reserve as an example, say.

And I think that's a possibly coherent place to end up, intellectually, and I understand the argument. But you have to be ready to actually name democracy and its elevation of charisma as the actual problem if you want to adopt that position.

I think writers like the ones here at Vox are not ready to accept that logic for obvious emotional / moral reasons, but not because of a flaw in the logic. They still want, somehow, for being Lisa Simpson to be the qualification for success in democratic leadership, and if it isn't, then there needs to be some sort of remedy in our institutions and press that makes being Lisa Simpson somehow popular.

u/yashkaf · 3 pointsr/slatestarcodex

Hey, I'm the author :)

I really appreciate your comment, it's both insightful and charitable. But, I will only admit to half the accusation. Everything I write about dating is 100% true as far as I can see it, but it's not 100% of the truth.

For example, I don't talk a lot about demonstrating high status to women even though it's a critical part of relationship success and somewhat unfashionable to talk about openly. When I express skepticism about things like pick-up and "game" I'm not lying, I actually think that while those approaches work on some women and for some form of relationships, they're counterproductive for people like me.

On the other hand, I did stand up for a while and performed at comedy festivals. And I always brought women I was dating to those, because making a room full of people laugh is a powerful demonstration of my intellect and status.

The reason I don't write about it isn't that I'm afraid of "mass society" so much as that those subjects are actually much harder to write about, and I'm less confident in what I think I've figured out about them. I think that the simpler advice that I'm giving is more immediately useful to a lot of people, even if it's incomplete.

One day I'll read The Mating Mind and write the post you're looking for :)

u/veteratorian · 5 pointsr/slatestarcodex

Not g (maybe?) or gap related, but it seems education improves IQ generally.

Stuart Ritchie, intelligence researcher and author of Intelligence: All That Matters has a paper here the abstract of which I will quote below:

>Intelligence test scores and educational duration are positively correlated. This correlation can be interpreted in two ways: students with greater propensity for intelligence go on to complete more education, or a longer education increases intelligence. We meta-analysed three categories of quasi-experimental studies of educational effects on intelligence: those estimating education-intelligence associations after controlling for earlier intelligence, those using compulsory schooling policy changes as instrumental variables, and those using regression-discontinuity designs on school-entry age cutoffs. Across 142 effect sizes from 42 datasets involving over 600,000 participants, we found consistent evidence for beneficial effects of education on cognitive abilities, of approximately 1 to 5 IQ points for an additional year of education. Moderator analyses indicated that the effects persisted across the lifespan, and were present on all broad categories of cognitive ability studied. Education appears to be the most consistent, robust, and durable method yet to be identified for raising intelligence.

u/EnigmaticPM · 10 pointsr/slatestarcodex

Scott Adams calls this the 'Moist Robot Hypothesis'. Like a dog being trained, he views people as machines (or moist robots) responding to stimuli. Instead of fruitlessly trying to motivate yourself he advocates changing your environment to reinforce the behaviors you desire. I think this is the basic idea that Perry is advocating. And they both recognise that you act as the 'owner' setting the incentives and the 'dog' being trained.

A related idea that both Perry and Adams touch on is that it's more effective to be systems driven not goals driven. Don't focus on "I'm going to run a marathon", focus on incentivising yourself to go running four times a week. Focus on "I'll write blog posts every Tuesday and Thursday" over "I'm going to make Scott Alexander look like an amateur." Perry describes this as the difference between “getting things done” from “doing things.”

The practical implications will be different for everyone however it means acting as the owner to understand the reactions to stimuli (diet, incentives, sleep routine, emotional states, etc) and then setting up processes / systems that reinforce the positive behaviours and disincentivise the negative. The general idea Adams words:

> Take a volunteer and ask him all of his favorite sensations. This could range from the taste of his favorite food, to foot massages, to sexual stimulation, to warm baths, to his favorite song. Then spend a few weeks showing the volunteer a particular and not-too-common object whenever the positive sensations are applied. For example, you might pick a sock monkey as your object because you don’t see them often, and they don’t carry with them any sort of special association beyond generic fun. After two weeks of intensely associating sock monkeys with favorite sensations, the volunteer’s brain would make a permanent connection. Thereafter, any time he wanted to turn a bad mood into a good mood, he would look at his sock monkey and his brain would execute its happiness subroutine. It’s safer and quicker than pharmaceuticals. The only risk is that the volunteer might fall in love with his sock monkey. But I’m not judging.

This has high cross over with the ideas of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) which is considered pseudo-scientific by many. NLP practitioners call this 'anchoring'.

If you're interested Adams goes into some detail on what this practically means in his book 'How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big'.

u/doctorlao · 1 pointr/slatestarcodex

Maybe (i.e. absolutely-definitely) yes imho. But not necessarily in 'rational' ways implied by the question as worded, read thru my coke bottle lens.

That perfectly intelligent laymen of sound heart and mind can end up with flawed understanding of something like disease causation (or whatever else), even as scientifically informed, seems - rational enough. Doesn't beckon dispute, or sail right past some target - like a pass thrown in the wrong direction.

On one hand. On the other - how close to any bulls eye such concern hits could be a whole 'nother magilla. The needle on my Led Astray Meter barely twitches at 'uh oh someone doesn't accurately understand something in scientifically-informed light.'

Especially where rationality encounters motive. Goodness of intent itself is a seemingly rational disposition (perfectly reasonable). But for limits of rationalism - the ground of deeper darker question I find about how rational it is, really, to be so rational "sometimes" - is a far murkier zone of human relational scope. Whatever makes wonderful sense as construed by whomever - the testing ground for rationality's limits in application that I find is where the rubber of human relations hits the road of human reality, way down on the ground - about far from heights of abstract intellect or rational reflection as one could get.

For popular comic strip example - PEANUTS (provincial reference; with apologies to any non-USAns) Charlie Brown can exemplify a healthy rational purpose, 'only trying to get along with' his 'friend' Lucy. Of course people with common cause, whatever disagreements notwithstanding, can get along. But getting along with - some people - is where rationalism seemingly faces its hardest test, one more than just intellectual - relational. And - fails. Always, 100% consistent - Charlie Brown's rationally non-deceitful motive, and means (forthright honesty), backfire on him.

His 'friend' Lucy is ever willing to 'amicably' hold the ball for him, so he can play quarterback like he wants. And no matter "how many times we have to go through this" - she always gives him another chance to give her another chance - to 'be nice this time' (not pull the football away at the last moment). In the relational sequence PEANUTS portrays - can the 'rational' one (trying to be so reasonable with the other party) ever learn? Whence - rational?

For a professedly 'rational' case in point closer to real life, I'd nominate John Horgan (in rational Charlie Brown role). with that albatross around any neck Terence McKenna. as his Lucy - apropos of the latter's infamous Dec 21 Y2K12 'eschaton' - publicity/[brainwash] stunt. As Horgan ratiocinates:

\< Rational Scientific American readers surely scoff at claims ... that life as we know it will end this December [scoff? Scientific American readers?]. But many folks out there are reportedly worried [oh no Mr Bill!] Perhaps I can allay their anxieties by relating my encounter with a prominent popularizer of the 2012-doomsday meme, psychedelic guru Terence McKenna.\>

A nobly rational sentiment no doubt. If only and as one Beach Boy put it - "wouldn't it be nice." But does Horgan, as an exemplar of rational perspective (as self-construed) really not 'get it'? Those whose 'anxieties' can 'be allayed' by the kind of rational talk he offers - don't have those 'anxieties' and are already self-allayed (sounds a little kinky, didn't mean it to). Anyone 'under the spell' (of a thought control narrative like 2012ism) is pretty well beyond reach of help by whatever wondrous 'anxiety-allaying' rational talk Horgan has and offers - judging by the effects in evidence, readily demonstrable in plain view - no matter how wonderful his intention, 'trying to help.'

Too bad about conspicuous limits rational ways and means, of perfectly sound heart and mind, encounter in the nebulous realm of human reality, which just seems to get deeper the further one sounds its bottom. If one could harness the power of making good sense and being rational to convince the mckennically programmed not to worry about the big one dead ahead - maybe we could persuade violent jihadies not to be so fanatic, knock off all the deadly nonsense and be nice.

If only being rational especially with "some people" (depending on the crux of specifics) - had such potential as Horgan seems to imagine (not for himself, for those to whom he'd rationally minister) - what a world it'd be. :

\< (C)an anxieties Horgan cites be ‘allayed’ by the kind of rational talk he offers? I suggest no, which points like a finger toward the moon, at some subtle, disturbing aspects deserving further notice. \>

Or, sticking with the mckennical stimulus (a lively one) \< I bet rational, educated Romans, hearing a story from the fringes of their era about some miracle-working peasant rabbi - rolled eyeballs at such dismal rubbish, and gave it no further mind (thus avoiding any further annoyance to their rational sensibilities). Or cracked wise about it, "finding the humor" (to likewise ease insult as taken to personal reason). even intellectualized ['rationally'] - why people believe weird things etc. Good sport likewise minimizing the signal impact (psychologically). And if some prescient observer of that era had predicted, the 'dismal rubbish' story would be coming soon to the door of the Romans' empire, move in and take it over - they'd have been laughed or scoffed at \> [by the more short-sightedly 'rational' perspective, that doesn't perceive well beyond limits of being rational, or - trying to be).

{Begging whoever's pardon if this comes off dumb, boring, 'prolix' or otherwise too (insert adjective) for this sub.}

u/devinhelton · 18 pointsr/slatestarcodex

I'm happily paired off now, but used to follow this stuff more. For guys seeking women, I think the books The Married Man Sex Life Primer by Athol Kay and Models: Attract Women Through Honesty by Mark Manson are the books that best encompass the best advice that I accumulated over the years, and that has worked for me and other guys I know.

u/Doglatine · 14 pointsr/slatestarcodex

I'd pretty much agree with this assessment of how many people's opinions about China have changed (including mine). I remember a few years ago reading the widely-praised Why Nations Fail, which suggested that for China's growth to be sustainable, especially in more high-tech and service industries, it would have to embrace more inclusive forms of governance. Well, six years since the book was published, that prediction is looking a bit tarnished; we've seen the emergence of the BAT tech giants as well as a healthy startup sector, even as Xi Jinping is tightening the screws.

The non-realisation of these predictions - that China would need to liberalise to manage imminent political and economic transitions - is a big factor for me. I've also been impressed by some other factors. China's 'techno-utilitarian' government (to borrow a phrase from Kai Fu Lee's new book) seems stunningly good at the the kind of big infrastructure projects that the developed countries have seemingly lost the ability to do on time and on budget. China's government seems to lack the kinds of legal and ethical scruples that will hobble (or 'cushion', if you prefer) the adoption of disruptive and ethically complex technologies like driverless cars, genetic modification, smart cities (with integrated mass surveillance), and brain-computer interfaces. There's also been less political turmoil and unrest in China than I expected by this point. A familiar criticism of China's education system, that it was poorly suited to producing creative innovators, seems to have turned out to be bullshit, at least if we're going by China's success in domestic tech startups and growing academic clout. China also seems to have done a good job - so far - of weathering some of the disruptive technologies that were supposedly going to shift the economic balance of power to Western economies again; in fields like 3D printing, AI, and clean energy, China has done a great job of positioning itself at the technological cutting edge.

As for your second question, what could still go wrong with China's manifest destiny as global hegemon, well, a few possibilities. I still wouldn't rule out a major wave of popular or even elite rebellion in China, as existing governing structures creak and new interest groups see opportunities for power. China's history is absolutely full of extended periods of division and strife - "the empire long united must divide" - and it doesn't seem a foregone conclusion that the country will avoid similar power struggles in the next 10-20 years. If there is a major Chinese internal conflict, the West's response to it will be the most important geopolitical choice it's made in at least fifty years if not longer. I really hope the State Department and Pentagon have legions of brilliant planners who are considering all the contingencies.

If China can avoid major internal strife, however, then I don't see any lurking economic or geopolitical reasons why it wouldn't effectively displace the US as global hegemon in the next 25 years. That may not be an entirely bad thing from the point of view of things like stability (I can't see China pursuing expensive and bloody ideological agendas in far off countries a la Iraq), but it'll obviously be a disappointment for those of us who set great store by human rights and democracy and have enjoyed having the global superpower at least nominally committed to those ideals.

The other thing I wouldn't underestimate is the power of events (dear boy) to throw apparently ineluctable destinies off course, especially my uneasy suspicion that we're in sight of the end of the tech tree for human civilization in its current form. Maybe it'll be a good end, with superintelligence and/or fusion power ushering in a postscarcity era in which the old geopolitics looks irrelevant, or maybe it'll be a bad end, with malevolent AI, Cronenbergian genetic monstrosities, or plain old environmental collapse smashing us to the margins. Or maybe it'll be something smaller scale, but still disruptive to the old ways of thinking, like the emergence of virtual communities with their own ideals of citizenship that compete with older loyalties. So possibilities like these - both foreseeable and unforeseeable - could certainly flip the script on China's emergence as global hegemon, but whether or not they'd strictly preferable depends on uncertainties and unfathomables.

u/arikr · 7 pointsr/slatestarcodex

This is one of the most positively influential videos I've ever personally watched. Hope you enjoy it too!

A summary might be:

>If you do not know the steps to your goal with high confidence, then do the following:
>You can imagine that you're looking at a map, and your distant goal is somewhere on the map, but the map is blurry / not yet revealed all the way to your distant goal
>So then identify what options you *do* know the steps to (the ones that _are_ visible on the map), and then pick the option from those that is most novel
>This is because the more novel it is, the more likely it is to reveal large and unexpected portions of the map, potentially including the part that gives you a visible path to your distant goal
>So when uncertain, identify the most novel thing you know how to do/achieve, and repeat that, and that's likely the best (albeit very roundabout!) route for getting to your distant not-yet-visible-path goal.

Other things along the same lines:

u/Brass_Lion · 2 pointsr/slatestarcodex

Open offices suck. I'm in one right now. I don't have ADHD but I do have a neurological condition with some overlapping symptoms.

  • The best step you can take to improve the open office that requires no buy-in from anyone else is to buy and use noise-canceling headphones. I use these, they're great, with the sort of job you get from an economics PhD you can afford them: . I normally listen to music, if words are distracting to you, you can either use nothing and just cut out background noise, or some controllable background noise.
  • Get some drugs. Seriously. A a decent psychiatrist will work with you to find something that works and has few or manageable side effects. As an adult you have far more control over this process than you did as a teenager and your psychiatrist is likely to believe you if you say something isn't working.

    Other steps to improve an open office require buy-in from other people.

  • A culture of being quiet. Sounds like you don't have one, but ideally in an open office, people get close and speak softly. If you need to have an extended conversation or conversation with more than one person you go to a conference room. Assuming you have conference rooms you can at least suggest you do so when you start the conversation so there's less background noise.
u/guzey · 19 pointsr/slatestarcodex

Good self-help books are underappreciated. They can provide the push needed to us in critical moments of our lives, e.g. to overcome short-term pain / excessive risk-aversion when making an important decision, and let us change the fundamental frames / instill useful mantras into our lives, changing our trajectories significantly. These two self-help books definitely changed my life, providing both motivation and timeless advice:

How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life by Scott Adams

Can't Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odd by David Goggins

I recommend these to all my friends and everybody who read them so far loved them (note that for max effect probably best to space them out and to first read Adams and then Goggins a few months later).

u/Vivificient · 10 pointsr/slatestarcodex

> is because my ability to focus for non-trivial stuff has been completely shot by years of doing nothing but surf the web (literally), I'm having a hard time getting anything systematically done, even basic reading.

Here's a method that doesn't work very well:

  • Visuallize long-term goal for your life

  • Think of how much smarter you need to be to fulfill the goal

  • Collect large stack of books (or websites) with information you think should be in your head

  • Try to read and memorize all the books

  • Lament your lack of willpower

    Here's a better method:

  • Visuallize long-term goal for your life

  • Figure out specific short-term goals (not abstract self-improvement goals like "read a book", but specific accomplishments like "write a program to do x")

  • Aggressively search books (and websites) for the specific information you need for each step of the short-term goal, ignoring everything else

  • If you get curious about something else from your stack of books, go ahead and read it only until your curiosity is satisfied, then go back to your goals

    > rationalism is appealing both by virtue of the people I've been meeting and the practical effects it has been having for me on the occasions that I've managed to use it. But I'm more than a little intimidated by the SSC backlog: there's so much there! And that's just SSC. I have no idea where to begin.

    It is likely a mistake to think that rationality will be a philosophy that will change your entire life by virtue of reading things. There is a lot of very interesting material to read in the "rationalsphere", but most of it is not self-help material and you may be disappointed if you expect it will all be highly applicable to your daily life.

    What you will find is a lot of material that can help clarify your thinking and give you more knowledge about many intriguing domains. The "Sequences" (long series of blog posts collected into an E-book) by Yudkowsky are the standard resource that much of this community has read (or pretends to have read). If you have not studied science, probability, psychology, and philosophy, then it is pretty eye-opening stuff! Like taking a seminar course from a brilliant but highly eccentric professor. That said, some of it is boring or hard to read, so just skip around and follow the hyperlinks to the parts that interest you.

    If the main thing you have done for the past two years is to browse websites, then you must already know that reading good material is compulsive and so I am not sure what is stopping you from spending all your spare time reading the entire archives of LessWrong and Slate Star Codex. Either you are enjoying it and you keep reading, or you are not enjoying it and you stop.

    HOWEVER, if you are trying to force yourself to read through the annals of Rationality because you think it will fix your flaws as a person, or make you a genius, you will probably be disappointed.

    If you are really looking more for a self-help book of how to change your life with logic and rational behaviour, a decent one is How To Fail At Almost Everything by Scott Adams.
u/yumbuk · 1 pointr/slatestarcodex

I've gotten pretty good results by following The Mind Illuminated. The book recommends a 45 minute daily meditation if you have time for it, but I've had good results even with ten minute meditations.

With practice, you can train your brain to be better at not losing focus on whatever it is you were intending to focus on, but it does require establishing a habit to set aside time to practice.

On that note, I've found Beeminder to be an effective tool to establish such a new habit.

u/Rev_JulesWinnfield · 4 pointsr/slatestarcodex

I've been lurking on this sub for quite a while under a number of accounts and I'm constantly surprised that so few people here are familiar with Gigerenzer's work. He's made a lot of progress undoing the damage done by Tversky and Kahneman's Heuristics and Biases Program and I think anyone intrinsically interested in human rationality will immediately see the value of Gigerenzer's work in this regard. The paper I linked is a must read for anyone who is familiar with T&K's work and might be wondering how the narrative that they constructed could be described as "damaging" to society.

EDIT: Just hijacking my own comment to list a few book recommendations. From another comment:

>The first is a textbook, but mostly because of its density, rather than difficulty. The other three are a bit more tailored toward people with less background knowledge but you might still prefer one of those if the content sounds interesting. Lots of people enjoyed "Risk Savvy", but I'd choose the one with a table of contents that speaks to your interests.

Heuristics: The Foundations of Adaptive Behavior

Gut Feelings: The Intelligence of the Unconscious

Risk Savvy: How to Make Good Decisions

Rationality for Mortals: How People Cope with Uncertainty

u/Swordsmanus · 3 pointsr/slatestarcodex

> If I want to learn more about this stuff, where do I start?

Not sure if it covers all that you're asking for, but if you want to get a solid base on intelligence and the research on it, here are a few good starting points published in the last year.

160-page digest: Intelligence: All That Matters

Textbook: The Neuroscience of Intelligence (Cambridge Fundamentals of Neuroscience in Psychology)

u/RandomIncel · 1 pointr/slatestarcodex

Are all dating apps really that bad? I know there are a lot of scam web sites out that, but I know a few men who have successfully used dating apps. I know the odds are stacked against men on them, but they seem like they could work if you look okay and have a decent job. I am planning on trying some once I loss more weight and fix my appearance a bit.

You thoughts on PUA are largely the same as mine.

I am hesitant to suggest this, but I do like parts of the The Red Pill. They can be very misogynist and often have what I think is an exaggerated view of how things really are. I do like some of the self improvement aspect of the red pill.

Not sure how useful this would be, but I have been reading the Mating Mind by Geoffrey Miller. It is not a dating or PUA book, but I feel like it has helped me understad why women act the way they do.

u/adiabatic · 3 pointsr/slatestarcodex

> One of the primary predictors of obesity is the palatibility of a given food/diet of individuals and a population

I'd buy the following assertion: one of the primary predictors of obesity rates in a population is the consumption of hyperpalatable foods.

> As for the aforenoted Palatibility, it mainly interferes with the brain's hedonic circuitry and sets course for hypothalamic inflammation which eventually leads to both leptin resistance and compulsive reward behavior with respect to food.

Sounds about right. (I've heard of that Guyenet guy before, but I haven't read anything directly by him.)

> And let's say you were comparing an avocado to a cookie, for carbs vs fats - that merely demonstrates my same point about palatibility and snacking, which is what's so funny about all of the intermittent fasting and keto types. They (and probably you) systematically change to lower palatability, whole food diets with higher protein and experience lower hunger, and then claim it's the carbohydrates.

You're strawmanning (I never said that), but you raise a good point that's nevertheless not quite right. I certainly agree that it's easier to eat a half gallon of cookies than it is to eat a half gallon of guacamole. On the other hand, by lowering my net carbs to the ketosis-inducing range, I'm able to kill my cravings for cookies, ice cream, and shakes. Contrariwise, if I've been on a keto diet and I eat a large quantity of baked sweet potato fries, I'll be fighting off cookies/ice cream/shakes cravings for a few days to a few weeks unless I fast for 24 hours or more. It's on this basis that I claim it's the carbohydrates.

I think the discussion around (hyper)palatability is a bit muddled. In particular, I think "most people think this tastes good" is conflated with "most people can eat a lot of this without feeling full". My fathead pizzas are delicious, but I start feeling full 3/4 of the way in. If I were eating the equivalent volume (or weight) as a large cookie, I wouldn't have trouble finishing the whole thing in one sitting.

> > Avoid snacking, this spikes your insulin and ghrelin and makes you want to eat more.
> Citation needed.

I intended to claim:

  • snacking (eating just about anything other than pure fat) increases your insulin levels.
  • snacking increases your ghrelin levels (after looking at my resources, this claim seems to be in error: ghrelin seems to not respond quicky to food intake like insulin does)
  • ghrelin makes you want to eat more (Fung, referencing "Suminthran P. Long-term persistence of hormonal adaptations to weight loss. N Engl J Med. 2011 Oct 27; 365(17):1597–604.")
  • snacking when I'm hungry doesn't seem to relieve hunger for me; it seems to merely stoke my appetite.

    This could've been much less ambiguous. My error.

    > What's more likely is simpler, whole food diets have less variation, and snacks tend to stray from the primary meals and add palatable variation

    I think we might have different definitions of "palatable variation", but when I was eating a nuts-and-honey-and-a-little-bit-of-chocolate bar every day after dinner, that stopped my weight loss stone cold. At that point, it's just part of my diet, and not contributing to much variation.

    Nevertheless, I'd still agree that whole-food diets, especially if you're mostly cooking at home, tend to exhibit less variation than diets rich in fast food.

    > If you really want to lose fat mass

    I have fat-loss goals with a weak preference to preserve muscle mass. My fat amounts were pretty much stalled until I was able to cut my eating down to 7 meals/week or fewer. This sort of thing is made much easier if you're already fat-adapted, which you yourself advocate (although not quite down to keto levels).

    > Of course IF and Keto can be useful to some, but don't go around parroting bullshit about insulin and fasting as the holy grail, they are small tools and the reality with respect to weight loss and maintenance is much more complex than that.

    I only mentioned a couple things because I'm too lazy to condense every single tip I know into a five-paragraph reply.

    At any rate, lifting is probably the least useful thing one can do to lose weight, although it might help preserve muscle mass if you're worried about losing any.

    I'd love to see you post a review of The Obesity Code. It's helped me improve my weight-loss strategies. However, if Fung's off his rocker, I'd like to know. You seem like just the guy to do it.

    > You sound like one of those StrongLifts 5x5 dinosaurs doing GOMAD.

    (Translator's note for the audience: he's calling me a monomaniacal lifter who primarily does leg exercises and neglects upper-body work (imagine the arm/leg mass ratio of a T. Rex), drinks a gallon of milk a day, and thinks all other possible fitness goals are stupid.)


    Now then.

    I have no problems with a combative writing style, but Jesus H. Tapdancing Christ on a pogo stick, do you have a shrine to Walter Sobchak that you pray to for guidance and inspiration before you write comments on the Internet?
u/zsjok · 2 pointsr/slatestarcodex

inspired by but not the same.

Also Turchin expanded sdt but it was developed by Jack Goldstone

Basically he incorporated sdt into his analysis of historical societies and state breakdown and tested it with historical data.

The best book to start with Turchin in my opinion is this

Its a non math book which verbally lays out his theories and mainly focuses on historical empires but I think its necessary to fully understand Ages of Discord

Its easy to understand and absolutely profound, for me the most important book i have ever read

u/whenihittheground · 8 pointsr/slatestarcodex

Oh you would probably enjoy this book:
The Secret of Our Success

Also fun fact: The US dropped the A-Bomb on Japan and thus thrust the world into the atomic age before Watson and Crick discovered what our own DNA looked like. @_@

u/FutilitarianAkrasia · 8 pointsr/slatestarcodex

An anthropology professor at Harvard, Joseph Heinrich,
wrote a book on this topic (and others) that I strongly recommend.

Henrich, Joseph (2016). The Secret of Our Success: How Culture is Driving Human Evolution, Domesticating our Species, and Making us Smarter. Princeton University Press

Here is an interview with Tyler Cowen about his book.

Most people say that the change was pushed by the catholic church during and especially after the fall of the roman West, so it can't have much to do with roman law.

This theory is actually pretty popular in hbd circles. Steve Sailer used in early aughts to explain why american state building efforts in Iraq were doomed to fail.

HBDchick blogged a lot about this.

u/SomeGuy58439 · 5 pointsr/slatestarcodex

Recommended reading: Peter Turchin's War and Peace and War where he spends quite a bit of time discussing this idea originally from Ibn Khaldun.

I'd translate loosely as "socially cohesiveness" / "tribal loyalty".

u/Swag_Bro_420 · 6 pointsr/slatestarcodex

This book could be what you're looking for. It's more of a survey of IQ research in general, not HBD, but it does touch on racial differences.