Links

These links are interesting for building world view. In general, it is good to be nuanced and have many types of models to avoid being bad at prediction, however being able to ground your models of the world and arguments in a few simple things like physics, evolution, logic, and probability theory can be very useful, since that which you can derive from a solid base of understanding is unlikely to be wrong if you don’t make mistakes. Furthermore, simple models of reality are easier to use, so you’ll be faster at thinking.

Neurons Gone Wild
: an article about agency and the structure of the mind which I think is accurate enough to have useful implications about improving your own mind and aligning your impulsive desires with your long term goals.

Germ Theory of Democracy, Dictatorship, and all your most cherished beliefs: an article about how due to the selective pressure of disease on evolution, humans have all sorts of truth distorting biases that were historically effective at keeping us alive, and how these biases vary with time and area due to changes in disease burden.

There’s nothing wrong with neoliberalism is a rant which debunks a lot of common criticism about the semi-libertarian policies of the past few decades. Though the article has a clear ideological bias, its arguments are strong and hard to contest.

The Unilateralist’s Curse is a paper about situations where people each have the ability to start initiatives that significantly effect the others. Even if each person is altruistic, if each person acts on their own judgment as to whether to start, then the initiative will occur more than it should. This helps explain the value of coordination, and why biases like bystander effect1 aren’t always bad.

Against Murderism is an article about how commonly used ambiguous and stigma loaded words (such as “racist”) cause confusion and prevent people from addressing the core of problems (such as unfair discrimination) via confusing cause and effect, making policies that exacerbate the problem, and undermine the effectiveness of liberalism as a social technology of peace.

Keep Your Identity Small is a blog post about the value of being careful about how you construct your identity, so that you don’t become attached to having wrong beliefs or easily fixed flaws.

13 Articles that might change your life is a list of articles that are fairly representative of the world views of the rationality and effective altruism communities. Its articles cover topics like extending moral concern,  efficient charity,  impacting the far future, cause selection, animal welfare, existential risk, artificial intelligence, and value destruction from competitive pressure.

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Notes:

  1. I once got pushed out of the way by an Eagle Scout who insisted on an incorrect treatment for a friend’s injury: they had learned to be assertive and authoritative to help people. While this works when everyone else is being a bystander, it isn’t helpful when your aren’t listening to the EMT explaining in simple terms why you are going to cause more damage. It can make sense to exercise agency when others clearly have a bias not to, but once there are actors who are more competent than you, it may make sense to step aside or help them, rather than to start your own project doing the same thing. Return to article
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