Things on my Mind #1

This week on things on my mind. The following is a list of things I am thinking about and would like more information, awareness, and thought.

  1. Crystallized intelligence is undervalued. It is difficult to see how it applies as we too often rely on youth, fluidity, the ability to adapt to changing landscapes and other sentences in this domain. Also, the returns to disparate interests show up too late. It is not obvious to me that there are short-run marketable returns to having disparate interests. I used to be fascinated by buttons, and now I am fascinated by martial arts and even participate in them. How marketable is dancing, fighting, love of buttons, writing, playing the drums, etc.? It would be nice to know how they all fit together.

  2. Writers figure out new and interesting ways to be redundant.

  3. Flexible borders: Be wary of ideas with flexible borders around them is a clean rule. Let your standards be rigid and your intellect flexible.

  4. Contrarian take on politicians: The one group in today’s society that everyone agrees sucks are politicians. The faux contrarian view on this is to claim that politicians do not, in fact, not suck and therefore defend everything wrong said about the politicians. A better contrarian approach is to support them conditionally. Supporting them when they do things well and condemning them when they do awful things. The nihilistic approach is to say every politician sucks. Due to the problem of logical opposition (TM? post on this incoming), this is almost always wrong. Studies show that although people see the broader category of politicians as icky, they view their politicians as trustworthy, which is inconsistent with their worldview. My contrarian view of politicians is, we should be relatively calm and mindful when politicians act in predictably self-interested ways. If they do things that contradict that, raise all the eyebrows you have and treat them with extreme skepticism. It is modified Tolkeinism. One should also be sufficiently Bayesian about their approach and attach weights to their views. A helpful metric is to begin to discount your certainty rating as soon as people start to gravitate to a politician and have undying loyalty towards them.

  5. Rationality: What does this even mean in practice? A community around rationality sounds fun but isn’t there madness in crowds, and as a result, rationality is scarce? That said, as an endeavor, I find it important. Edit: This was influential in answering some of these questions.

  6. What does it really mean to be open-minded?

  7. Persuasion verbally is simultaneously underrated and overrated. Persuasion through action is highly underrated. Part of living what you preach means one never stops preaching. Verbal persuasion is underrated because society lacks true persuaders at the moment. In most cases, I presume most persuaders have either become panderers or the “motivational gym bro.” It is also overrated because people seek out the feeling of being motivated without acting on that which motivated them. As a result, they get addicted to the feeling for which the drug is in full supply.

  8. Did blogs stop experimenting?

  9. What do you do with old ideas? Recycle!

  10. When pushed far enough, every conversation is (or becomes) philosophical, evolutionary, and cultural.

  11. Democratization and scaling of rationality: Be partial to institutions as they are the best and longest abiding evidence of the extent to which humans can scale rationality. The internet is also an enduring player in this; it democratizes that which institutions cultivate.

Certainty rating: Expected value of all certainty ratings attached to the each topic. 80%


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