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Be advised; this thread is not for serious in depth discussion of weighty topics, this thread is not for anything Culture War related. This thread is for Fun. You got jokes? Share 'em. You got silly questions? Ask 'em.

We have somehow survived another move.

I feel like a broken record here, but, seriously, good job everyone, and thanks. While the moderators of a community are important, the community simply doesn't exist without its members. Y'all came over here and kept on posting, and that's exactly what we needed.

With luck, this is going to be the last move we ever need to make; we have our own domain and servers, we're no longer really existing with any specific other person's permission.

We are, however, not out of the woods.

I mentioned during some of the original Reddit-exodus posts that I had a serious medium-term worry about userbase. We've cut ourselves off from the Reddit pipeline and that means we're in danger of slowly eroding away; people will always leave the community and right now we don't have a good way of getting new users. We wouldn't be the first community to do so! Every community needs an influx of people, and now we need to figure out the right way to manage that.

So I now have a few requests, ordered roughly by how comfortable I am asking it.

First: Send links to people that you think will be interested. If you know someone looking for political discussion, send them a link to the site as a whole; if there's a specific post you think they'll be interested in, link that. Remember that we have The Vault, which has unfortunately gone a bit neglected while I worked on this changeover. Please don't spam anyone - I don't want anyone just posting links to our front page on a hundred subreddits - but if you have a good opportunity, either regarding friends or communities that you're an established member of, take it.

Second: Propose places that might be willing to do a link trade. I'm planning to reach out to a bunch of subreddits shortly and see if they're willing to crosslink, especially places that are serious-political-discussion-adjacent in the hopes that we can draw off that section of their population and both be better off for it. If you have personal connections you can bring it up to them yourself, otherwise just let me know and I'll see what I can do. I expect a low success rate but even a low success rate might be pretty dang valuable.

(And don't limit this to subreddits! There's a number of good communities out there that aren't on the big social sites.)

Third: If you have time, help out. We have a dev server that you can join if you want to work on a huge number of pending issues, and it's thanks to the people on this server that we've had such a constant flow of updates, fixes, and tweaks. If you're less programmery but more editorial, we do have a lot of Vault-related editing that we'd like to get done; this goes faster than you might think. If there's some other skill you have that you think might be valuable, hop on the dev server and send me a message.

And finally, fourth, which is the one that I really hate to ask, but I'm doin' it anyway.

I've set up a Patreon to take donations. If you have spare cash and think this is a worthy destination for it, please chip in.

I'm not sure what this whole "money" thing is going to end up looking like. At the very least this will pay for server costs; any income above that will go into making the site better, in whatever way seems most valuable. I've been thinking about taking out ads in an attempt to pull more users here, for example, and that isn't cheap.

This is going to be very experimental and will probably involve false starts. I'd love to hear suggestions on good ways to spend money on the site - if you have any, let me know - but note that in order to hire programmers we would need a lot of money.

For those who are more crypto-minded, I'm also taking donations via Ethereum (0xa97e126DCEcC7Ea3AF05d252B49c03ae35547dD9) and Bitcoin (bc1qnj0mvg90dfawjq3kxq4wdvcq0ejksgyf2m0xnq). All of these links are on the new (and very primitive) Support page.

I know there's going to be people who think that we left Reddit just so I could cash out. I frankly suspect that even if I just pile all of the results into a giant sack with a dollar sign on it and walk off while cackling evilly, I still won't be making minimum wage, so this would be a terrible plan :V No, I do actually like this community a ton, and want it to keep going, but I can't fund an indefinite amount of stuff on my own. And part of this push is to figure out just how useful this site is to all of you, in order to see what can be justified and what can't be justified.

So there's the ask! If you have connections, use them; if you have time, contribute it; if you have money and want to put it towards this, please provide financial support so I can figure out how to keep the new-user pipeline going.

If you don't, that's cool! Keep on posting and I hope you enjoy your time here.


Finally, this is the new Bugs/Suggestions/Small Comments thread. If you have feedback, post it here! A lot of the stuff in that Pending Issues link up above was submitted by users, and we're getting through it slowly.

This weekly roundup thread is intended for all culture war posts. 'Culture war' is vaguely defined, but it basically means controversial issues that fall along set tribal lines. Arguments over culture war issues generate a lot of heat and little light, and few deeply entrenched people ever change their minds. This thread is for voicing opinions and analyzing the state of the discussion while trying to optimize for light over heat.

Optimistically, we think that engaging with people you disagree with is worth your time, and so is being nice! Pessimistically, there are many dynamics that can lead discussions on Culture War topics to become unproductive. There's a human tendency to divide along tribal lines, praising your ingroup and vilifying your outgroup - and if you think you find it easy to criticize your ingroup, then it may be that your outgroup is not who you think it is. Extremists with opposing positions can feed off each other, highlighting each other's worst points to justify their own angry rhetoric, which becomes in turn a new example of bad behavior for the other side to highlight.

We would like to avoid these negative dynamics. Accordingly, we ask that you do not use this thread for waging the Culture War. Examples of waging the Culture War:

  • Shaming.

  • Attempting to 'build consensus' or enforce ideological conformity.

  • Making sweeping generalizations to vilify a group you dislike.

  • Recruiting for a cause.

  • Posting links that could be summarized as 'Boo outgroup!' Basically, if your content is 'Can you believe what Those People did this week?' then you should either refrain from posting, or do some very patient work to contextualize and/or steel-man the relevant viewpoint.

In general, you should argue to understand, not to win. This thread is not territory to be claimed by one group or another; indeed, the aim is to have many different viewpoints represented here. Thus, we also ask that you follow some guidelines:

  • Speak plainly. Avoid sarcasm and mockery. When disagreeing with someone, state your objections explicitly.

  • Be as precise and charitable as you can. Don't paraphrase unflatteringly.

  • Don't imply that someone said something they did not say, even if you think it follows from what they said.

  • Write like everyone is reading and you want them to be included in the discussion.

On an ad hoc basis, the mods will try to compile a list of the best posts/comments from the previous week, posted in Quality Contribution threads and archived at /r/TheThread. You may nominate a comment for this list by clicking on 'report' at the bottom of the post and typing 'Actually a quality contribution' as the report reason.

Do you have a dumb question that you're kind of embarrassed to ask in the main thread? Is there something you're just not sure about?

This is your opportunity to ask questions. No question too simple or too silly.

Culture war topics are accepted, and proposals for a better intro post are appreciated.

Posted because I didn't see Zorba post one today. Feel free to delete if that's an issue.

For various reasons, I follow Brian Leiter's blog--if you're not familiar, Leiter is perhaps most famous as the originator of a law school ranking website (not updated in some time), and a philosophy graduate school ranking website (since handed off to others). He is an outspoken, sometimes abrasive Marxist, but also decidedly anti-woke. He occasionally cites mostly-approvingly to Freddie deBoer, but is much older and better educated, so it is helpful to read Leiter if you want a sense of what very old school, very leftist academic thinking looks like today.

Anyway a recent entry on Leiter's blog piqued my interest, because I am a word nerd, but not an academic linguist. In it, Leiter appears to be airing his annoyance at the way the word "reification" gets used in its literal sense (making the abstract concrete)--he's praising NYT for using the word "correctly," in its Marxist sense, while also offering further correction:

"Some social scientists have a term--'reification.'" Actually, the terms [sic] comes from Lukacs, one of the few useful concepts from his History and Class Consciousness...

Now, it is true that contemporary Marxists using the term as a term of art are indeed channeling Lukacs. However, the term itself most assuredly does not originate with Lukacs. Etymonline traces it to 1846 (the relevant Lukacs' text arrived in 1923). Wiktionary provides some further context, suggesting that the word is "a macaronic calque of German Verdinglichung." The only other source I've found suggests that the term "emerged in the English language in the 1860s" but no supporting evidence is provided for the claim, and the rest of that blog sticks to Marxist exposition.

That is where my Google-fu caps out. I know that the term today gets used in programming contexts (e.g. LISP) so certainly the word has been genericized whether Leiter likes it or not. And of course Marx himself was writing in 1846, so I can't dismiss the possibility that Marxists did coin the term (either in German, or by being the ones to calque it from German), in which case it might even be a mistake to credit Lukacs for the concept. But neither can I dismiss the possibility that the term itself had no Marxist implications for several decades before Lukacs came along, in which case the term has been co-opted by Marxists to the extent that they (like Leiter) assert the "correct" use as a Marxist one.

Either way I suspect Leiter's annoyance re: "incorrect" use is not justified by linguistic history, except to the extent he is complaining about people talking about reification in Marxist contexts without using the term in Lukacs' sense (which doesn't appear to be the case, from this blog entry, but I am doing a lot of reading between the lines). Some of you speak German and some of you read Marx and some of you have access to fancy corpus databases... any chance one of you knows, or can find, the first English or German print instance of "reification?"

The Wednesday Wellness threads are meant to encourage users to ask for and provide advice and motivation to improve their lives. It isn't intended as a 'containment thread' and any content which could go here could instead be posted in its own thread. You could post:

Requests for advice and / or encouragement. On basically any topic and for any scale of problem.

Updates to let us know how you are doing. This provides valuable feedback on past advice / encouragement and will hopefully make people feel a little more motivated to follow through. If you want to be reminded to post your update, see the post titled 'update reminders', below.

Advice. This can be in response to a request for advice or just something that you think could be generally useful for many people here.

Encouragement. Probably best directed at specific users, but if you feel like just encouraging people in general I don't think anyone is going to object. I don't think I really need to say this, but just to be clear; encouragement should have a generally positive tone and not shame people (if people feel that shame might be an effective tool for motivating people, please discuss this so we can form a group consensus on how to use it rather than just trying it).

Do you have a dumb question that you're kind of embarrassed to ask in the main thread? Is there something you're just not sure about?

This is your opportunity to ask questions. No question too simple or too silly.

Culture war topics are accepted, and proposals for a better intro post are appreciated.

Be advised; this thread is not for serious in depth discussion of weighty topics, this thread is not for anything Culture War related. This thread is for Fun. You got jokes? Share 'em. You got silly questions? Ask 'em.

The phrase "light only comes from heat" sounds so judicious. Who wouldn't want a pleasant, decorous argument where everyone respects everyone, no one's feelings are hurt, and plenty of light is generate, but no nasty heat.

Yet, if you think about it, where else does light come from but heat? Things that are very cold give off no light, yet everything that emits light will also be hot. If you don't like heat, you've no desire for light. If you want light, you musk risk heat.

Speaking from my own experience, it is the forceful, honest and clear arguments that have persuaded me, or have at the very least lodged the seed of doubt in my own mind, not those who argue by endlessly trying to flatter me, or search for middle ground, or who pretend to respect my argument more than they actually do.

All truth seekers should expunge this silly cliche from their vocabulary.

I end with the immortal words of John Milton:

I cannot praise a fugitive and cloistered virtue, unexercised and unbreathed, that never sallies out and sees her adversary, but slinks out of the race where that immortal garland is to be run for, not without dust and heat

The Wednesday Wellness threads are meant to encourage users to ask for and provide advice and motivation to improve their lives. It isn't intended as a 'containment thread' and any content which could go here could instead be posted in its own thread. You could post:

Requests for advice and / or encouragement. On basically any topic and for any scale of problem.

Updates to let us know how you are doing. This provides valuable feedback on past advice / encouragement and will hopefully make people feel a little more motivated to follow through. If you want to be reminded to post your update, see the post titled 'update reminders', below.

Advice. This can be in response to a request for advice or just something that you think could be generally useful for many people here.

Encouragement. Probably best directed at specific users, but if you feel like just encouraging people in general I don't think anyone is going to object. I don't think I really need to say this, but just to be clear; encouragement should have a generally positive tone and not shame people (if people feel that shame might be an effective tool for motivating people, please discuss this so we can form a group consensus on how to use it rather than just trying it).

Scrolling trough window sort of works with great marking of new comments but is quite absurd.

Also, if new comment is hidden in some "show more comments" branch one will not spot it.

30

Internet addiction is something that I've struggled with for well over a decade now. Innumerable days, weeks, probably years, lost to aimless scrolling with no goal in particular. My interests are more "intellectual" than the average social media addict who only looks at TikTok and Instagram, so perhaps my habits are more defensible in that regard, but I think it's still had a significant negative impact on my life and has prevented me from spending more time on things that I actually care about.

I wanted to see if anyone struggles with the same issues, and also share some of my recent thoughts on the nature of internet addiction.

  • First, it has to be recognized that the internet can be both a force for great good and a force for great evil. Unlike hard drugs, total abstinence is neither possible nor desirable. The internet made me the person I am today, and gave me so many wonderful, unforgettable experiences. I can't just repudiate it entirely - rather I have to learn to live with it, and take better control of my relationship with it.

  • I don't support the use of strategies like apps that automatically cut off your access during certain times of the day. Nietzsche once said something to the effect of, "only the weak man wants to pluck out his eyes to avoid looking at lustful things". It's a sentiment I agree with. Any solution that "forces" you to reduce browsing time is just putting a band-aid over the problem. The goal is to fundamentally reconfigure your desires and dispositions so they're more naturally aligned with your actual goals.

  • A key factor in understanding internet addiction is understanding the need to accept boredom. Before smartphones, people used to get bored way more often. Sometimes you'd just have to sit there with literally nothing to do, not even anything to think - you won't always want to read a book, or entertain yourself with your own thoughts. Smartphones permanently cured boredom - scrolling the web is infinitely entertaining, and takes zero effort. It's like a liquid that seeps in through the cracks furnished by boredom and gradually fills up all available space, taking over every second of time that you have. I think that one of the biggest keys to reconfiguring my relationship with the internet, for me anyway, is accepting and embracing that there will simply be times where I am bored and I just sit there doing literally, absolutely nothing. But that's not an excuse to resort to web browsing in those cases.

  • I'm currently trying to take an organic approach where I accept that the internet is extremely fun and beneficial, and I will browse it multiple times a day, but I try to consciously remind myself to limit it and make time for other things as well. For example, making short-term plans like "I won't look at my phone until I'm back from my morning walk, at which points I will check websites X Y and Z, and then I won't look at my phone again until after lunch". We'll see how it goes. The unfortunate thing about addiction isn't that any one mitigation strategy is difficult to implement and stick to, but rather that I seem to have little control over exactly what person I'm going to be next week. I always seem to wind up back in a place where, on a meta-level, I simply no longer have a desire to control my web browsing at all and I no longer see it as a problem, so I ditch any prevention strategy and I just go back to unrestricted scrolling. I'd really like to fundamentally reconfigure myself so that doesn't happen anymore. But I don't know how to do that.

I view this as a societal problem, not just an individual problem with me. I saw a family of three at a restaurant the other day, mom and dad and a young boy, and all three of them were glued to their phones, ignoring each other. That made me very sad. I hope that more will be done in the future to raise consciousness of internet addiction, and smartphone addiction in particular.

6

Recently it was widely reported that the – to use its lengthy official name - Monument to the Liberators of Soviet Latvia and Riga from the German Fascist Invaders was destroyed by local authorities in the Latvian capital. This is certainly not without precedent, as numerous Red Army monuments have been removed in the Baltic states and also in Poland, Czechia and other nations formerly in the Warsaw Pact, many of these decisions being clearly driven by events in the Ukraine since 2004. I think we on this forum are mostly aware of the talking points used to justify their removal so I won’t bother to repeat those here. Instead I’d make the simple assumption in this particular case that those Latvians who support this decision are clearly unhappy with the direction their national history took in the past, and ask the question what sort of past they’d have preferred to have. I suppose this is a relevant Culture War question in Eastern Europe.

Let’s suppose, for the sake of argument, that Operation Barbarossa begins as it did, and then history develops differently. From then on, I think Latvia had the following options:

A – Germany wins decisive victory in the East and incorporates Latvia directly into the Reich; it only remains as an administrative area, if that; presumably, local Jews and Russians are either deported/killed or used as slave labor, and German settlers move in

B – same as A, but Latvia is allowed to retain limited autonomy as a vassal state / protectorate

C – the war in the East concludes with a separate negotiated peace in 1941 or 1942, and Latvia remains an independent nation as part of some demilitarized neutral zone between Germany and the USSR

D – same as C, but Latvia remains under German influence and its autonomy remains limited in the practical sense, maybe the Germans even retain military bases in Latvian territory

E – the war concludes with decisive Allied victory, but Stalin recognizes the independence of the Baltic states and withdraws his troops from there; still, Soviet influence remains palpable

F – same as E, but the USSR incorporates Latvia into a new military and economic system of cooperation under Soviet hegemony, and maintains military bases on Latvian soil; also, the Soviets have enough influence, soft power and political mechanisms to ensure that Latvia cannot leave this sphere of influence

G – everything happens as it actually did, but the Baltic states get nominal independence after 1945 instead of getting turned back into Soviet republics. Basically, the Warsaw Pact and COMECON have 3 more members.

I assume hardliner Latvian nationalists would prefer B (even for them, A is too extreme), and more moderate nationalists would prefer C or D. For obvious reasons however, even in the current climate of general anti-Russian/Soviet sentiment, I very much doubt they’d be willing to say this out loud. After all, A, B, C and D all mean that Nazi Germany remains undefeated, and Latvian Jews get genocided and pogromed. For the same reason, I believe these 4 options are unacceptable for the Russian and Jewish minorities in Latvia. After all, even C entails the strong possibility that they get oppressed and ethnically cleansed.

Also, I cannot help but notice that the same very obviously applies to Ukrainian nationalists in general, no matter how much leeway they currently get in Western media.

I’ll make the guess that E is the most ideal option in the eyes of Latvian centrists/normies at first sight; however, it still means that, realistically speaking, Latvia never gets to join either NATO or the EU. It’s the same as Finland’s fate but worse, as the border region between Russia and Finland at least consists of dense forests and numerous lakes, practically impassable ground for Russians if they invade (again). Also, I think it’s clear that the Soviets would agree to something (in their eyes) so unrealistic only if the US agrees to the same in Western Europe. In short, this means that even if NATO is formed, it remains limited in its geographical scope i.e. West Germany never gets incorporated into it, in other words, either the two German states remain neutral or the German state never gets divided and remains neutral.

G is very obviously unacceptable for most Latvians, as the difference from what actually happened is negligible.

F is, I think, also something most of them would only begrudgingly accept. However, the issue with this is that it’s basically merely the local version of NATO, but overseen by Russians. If our position today is that this would be unacceptable and violates our political norms, we’d also have to say that it was not acceptable for the Americans to maintain hegemony over Western European states and station their military units and nuclear weapons on their soil. (I’ll make an expectation for West Germany, as it was a defeated enemy and no peace treaty was signed.) Alternatively, one can make an argument that “but it’s different when the Americans do it, the Russians have always been Mongoloid Ugric-Turkic savages”, but I don’t know how many normies would be willing to say this unironically.

Also, both F and G entail the very real likelihood that the Soviets still get to erect a huge monument in Riga. Even in the case of E it’s relatively likely.

So where does that leave us?

42

This weekly roundup thread is intended for all culture war posts. 'Culture war' is vaguely defined, but it basically means controversial issues that fall along set tribal lines. Arguments over culture war issues generate a lot of heat and little light, and few deeply entrenched people ever change their minds. This thread is for voicing opinions and analyzing the state of the discussion while trying to optimize for light over heat.

Optimistically, we think that engaging with people you disagree with is worth your time, and so is being nice! Pessimistically, there are many dynamics that can lead discussions on Culture War topics to become unproductive. There's a human tendency to divide along tribal lines, praising your ingroup and vilifying your outgroup - and if you think you find it easy to criticize your ingroup, then it may be that your outgroup is not who you think it is. Extremists with opposing positions can feed off each other, highlighting each other's worst points to justify their own angry rhetoric, which becomes in turn a new example of bad behavior for the other side to highlight.

We would like to avoid these negative dynamics. Accordingly, we ask that you do not use this thread for waging the Culture War. Examples of waging the Culture War:

  • Shaming.

  • Attempting to 'build consensus' or enforce ideological conformity.

  • Making sweeping generalizations to vilify a group you dislike.

  • Recruiting for a cause.

  • Posting links that could be summarized as 'Boo outgroup!' Basically, if your content is 'Can you believe what Those People did this week?' then you should either refrain from posting, or do some very patient work to contextualize and/or steel-man the relevant viewpoint.

In general, you should argue to understand, not to win. This thread is not territory to be claimed by one group or another; indeed, the aim is to have many different viewpoints represented here. Thus, we also ask that you follow some guidelines:

  • Speak plainly. Avoid sarcasm and mockery. When disagreeing with someone, state your objections explicitly.

  • Be as precise and charitable as you can. Don't paraphrase unflatteringly.

  • Don't imply that someone said something they did not say, even if you think it follows from what they said.

  • Write like everyone is reading and you want them to be included in the discussion.

On an ad hoc basis, the mods will try to compile a list of the best posts/comments from the previous week, posted in Quality Contribution threads and archived at /r/TheThread. You may nominate a comment for this list by clicking on 'report' at the bottom of the post and typing 'Actually a quality contribution' as the report reason.

Hey guys. Just registered, using the same account name as my reddit username. I thought it was interesting that we finally splintered off of reddit -- are there any other non-reddit forums you guys use? I know the nyc rationality group has a google group, but for the past 5ish years it's felt like every forum I use has been centralized on reddit, which has honestly been pretty convenient. Was just curious about other people's browsing habits.

Thanks.

Do you have a dumb question that you're kind of embarrassed to ask in the main thread? Is there something you're just not sure about?

This is your opportunity to ask questions. No question too simple or too silly.

Culture war topics are accepted, and proposals for a better intro post are appreciated.

18

So the move has been made. Potential shut down by Reddit has been avoided. Huzzah!

But people are still worrying about where new members are going to come from. And things are still being organized in the same terrible way as /r/ssc when they were trying to quarantine the culture war from the rest of the sub. And sprinkles around you have a few small threads for other weekly topics or talking about the new site.

A dedicated site deserves a nu start. Rather than purposely making quality writing harder to find, it should be highlighted. (I know the quality contributions roundup exists, but it certainly isn't exhaustive.) Seriously, have you ever gone back and tried to read an old weekly culture war thread with its thousands, potentially tens of thousands of comments? It is an unnecessary slog if you are looking for something and don't have a link. And sometimes you 'continue reading' and go back only to find that you've lost your place. It just makes you say, "I blue myself."

I do have some suggestions on some of the changes I'd like to see more that there is a dedicated website. First, I'd like to see a webpage highlighting quality contributions and other content from the forum. Something that I can easily link a friend to rather than a nested comment in response to some insane person ranting "There's a man inside me!" Or whatever.

Secondly, I think some editorial prompts for content for the sure would be good. Adversarial collaborations and whatever else. Just easier ways to find good writing from the site.

Highlights

I'd prefer comments or questions here on account of themotte.org site being pretty young. Long live The Motte!

10

We've had some custom CSS posts, how about userscripts for The Motte?

I've written a quick-and-dirty infinite-scrolling userscript for post comments:

https://pastebin.com/Ukm9wgvq

Anyone have more ideas for how to tweak the site's behaviour?

8

We don't have the bot, so let me step in: this thread is not for serious in depth discussion of weighty topics, this thread is not for anything Culture War related. This thread is for Fun. You got jokes? Share 'em. You got silly questions? Ask 'em.

Good morning.

We are always talking about how the news cycle has grabbed the attention of the people and is constantly making us focus on things that do not matter or have little relevance to our actual lived lives, forcing us to be forever locked within the overton window while whoever is in power does whatever they want. So far all of us have missed the next step that comes after that realization, which is, what are those important things that the news is not mentioning that is relevant to our lives? Today, we shall look at a few such examples:

  1. The politization of science - remember when there used to be scientific controversies, some of which would get into the public sphere where there would be intense discussions about the same until the issue was finally resolved. Me neither. However, in the past at least within the academy itself, the scientists used to seemingly have more freedom in regards to the subset of topics they could get behind. It was a period of the science determining the truth rather than the social truth determining the results of science. Today, we find ourselves in upside down world, where the moment the science finds anything controversial in its results, or anything that does not match current social norms, it is shut down or completely forgotten. This isn't a new phenomenon, simply one that continues to grow in strength, until science no longer exists separate from politics. Nobody is any longer allowed to question a medical procedure, or doubt a doctor, or ask any questions about data relating to ethnicity. All of it goes under the rug whenever something wrong happens. Cultural blackpills are no longer permitted even within hard science departments.

  2. Memes and Propaganda acceleration - A meme can be pushed onto the public and spread to millions of people within hours. Today the most expensive department of a company is the advertising section. Millions of bots exist on every single social media site, and if you are starting up as a social media personality, it is recommended that you learn to build bots for your channel to spread further. Today people are being directed towards more ideas and narratives to control their beliefs than ever before. In the past centuries the Church or the state controlled the minds of the people and told them what was right or wrong, today it is whatever echo chamber they end up falling into, resulting in people who do not even share common values with the neighbor right next door. Today you have a strong opinion of things that you have not experienced yourself a single time in life nor have any risk of ever experiencing or any reason to care about. What's worse you are being told that is actually a good thing. You are caring about everybody else's problems before your own, isn't that great!

  3. The death of integrity - Everybody is out to win. Everybody is out to be the right person the moment they are interacting with anyone outside. Why shouldn't they be, this is what the system that caters to their every idea has taught them. This is what their echo chambers have taught them. You are right, they are wrong. If they are able to prove you wrong, they are assholes who did it the wrong way, and anyways you have a right to your opinion. The only time people need to interact with anybody else now is when they have an agenda, so now people only ever interact with anybody else when they have an agenda. There is no you they are talking to, you are just another notebook or audiobook for them to store their opinion and hope to have it repeated somewhere else. Nobody cares about standards anymore, there is no right or wrong, only the desired end goal to be reached and then if anything breaks apart along the way then "look at what you made me do!".

  4. Reality disconnect - Should you worry about not having any savings? Well nobody else around me is worried lmao. Should you care about higher education. Why, it doesn't even pay any real money. Should you try to hold a real job. No, the people are too mean and they hold the wrong opinions.

  5. Illegal actions of the state- All states commit atrocities or immoral acts. We always find out a century later with the present always promising that we are totally clean now guys. Any time there is a controversy in the world, the news cycle drowns it in all the noise, telling you what you should be caring about instead, until you no longer have any clue what was seriously wrong in the first place. Most people don't even know where the newest war broke out or when their own state wrongfully broke a contract or hurt people for questionable reasons. These are things that the state will do everything in its power to memory hole.

  6. Existential threats - Climate change will likely kill far more people than what the news lets on. The energy crisis turned out to be far worse than the news ever let on. The population collapse will almost certainly be far worse than the news lets on as the news keeps assuming an increase in fertility in between for no reason whatsoever. The news does not completely hide these things, because the common man is obviously not completely blind, but they will do all they can to hide the exact details, to hide any real insurmountable risk for the people, and when the blow hits, everyone will act surprised as to where it came from. Remember, in the case of climate change at least, there were reports about it since the start of the 20th century if not earlier. We simply have no capacity to get our heads around existential risks, and the news has no interest in reporting on real existential risk as people giving up or realizing they are completely fucked is not good for business.

You see the problem?

You aren't supposed to be determining the course of your life based on what the neighbor or friend a country away thinks. Your education is still going to give you a better job than no education. Holding a job has never been about being surrounded by people who love you. That's why you work 8 hours so you can do what you want with the other waking 8 and actually enjoy yourself with the money you make once you are away from work! People have become completely disconnected from how the societal system works at even the most basic level.

People now have zero conception of how the social contract works or why it was kept the way it was. Thinking the entirety of the social contract was about controlling people by the richest men and women. That was certainly a part of it but not 100%!! There was a whole bit in there about being able to live functional lives!

Conclusion - In a manner of speaking, outside of the overton window we are certainly in one of the decaying society phases where the people have lost complete connection with why we were living the lives we were in the first place and the understanding that the world runs on the basis of material input which is limited in supply. People have zero concept of the social contract and forgot one of the bigger chapters in the social contract was about how to utilize our resources and get the most out of the average individual in exchange for providing them the maximum resources possible without breaking or stagnating the system.

The overton window simply exists to keep whoever has free time on their hands still focused on issues that do not actually matter 9 times out of 10 so that they are never able to beat the system.

Nor will you ever be able to doubt the system. The system is perfect, and when its not perfect its your neighbors fault for choosing the wrong option. The state is the final answer. Always has been. Always will be.

Leave the overton window and realize the only winning condition is what you do at the individual level for 90% of the human population and then to do things for your community or your city once you reach the remaining 10%.

Not sure whether I'm allowed to post top-level discussion threads now that we're on the new site (yay new site!) but I'm giving it a whirl since this isn't CW. I want to share a very interesting essay about sorcery in hunter-gatherer societies. An excerpt to whet your appetite:

Sorcery beliefs can exist as a key component of interpersonal or intergroup conflict. Of the Azande farmers of north central Africa, anthropologist E.E. Evans-Pritchard notes that, “Death is due to witchcraft and must be avenged. All other practices connected with witchcraft are epitomized in the action of vengeance.” For the Yanomami forager-horticulturalists of the Amazon, Napoleon Chagnon says that, “New wars usually develop when charges of sorcery are leveled against the members of a different group.”

Accusations of sorcery can be both a cause of, and response to, conflict. Stewart and Strathern note that, in many cases, “While the witch or sorcerer is seen as the source of evil or wrong doing, it is the accusers who can be seen as playing the aggressive role.” They add that, “Rumor and gossip form the substratum from which accusations of sorcery or witchcraft may be made.” While the sorcerer is ostensibly a figure of great power, the accusation itself can contain far more hostile magic, as it may impel the group to engage in violent sanctioning of the putative magician. In The Scapegoat (1986), anthropologist René Girard writes that, “Magical thought seeks “a significant cause on the level of social relations,” in other words a human being, a victim, a scapegoat.” Girard adds that, “Those who are suffering are not interested in natural causes. Only magic makes “corrective intervention" possible, and everyone eagerly seeks a magician who can put things right.”

Accusations of improper sorcery can be used tactically by individuals to punish those they’re in conflict with, or to benefit themselves. Knauft notes that, “The opinion of spirits during all-night séances has been especially influential for finding and interpreting “evidence” of sorcery. Though spirit mediums should be neutral parties, the outcome of the sorcery inquest may benefit the spirit medium who conducts them.” Knauft tells the story of a spirit medium named Swamin, who redirected sorcery suspicions away from an accused woman named Sialim, and months later took her as his wife. Swamin had previously identified Sialim’s own mother, Mokoyl, as the alleged sorcerer responsible for killing his first wife, and he executed Mokoyl himself.

Among the Gebusi, individuals from families who fail to follow socially prescribed marriage exchanges were often accused of sorcery. Knauft writes that, “In this sense sorcery homicide is ultimately about male control of marriageable women. However, these statistically significant factors are neither publicly nor privately recognized by Gebusi as a cause of homicide against sorcery suspects, even by the closest kin of those killed.” Anthropologists Neil Whitehead and Robin Wright also note the strategic element of sorcery allegations in the Amazon, writing that, “sorcery accusations may represent forms of discourse about tensions in intervillage and interethnic relations, and may be structured by the idiom of kinship (consanguinity and affinity) and village hierarchy.”

The more things change, the more they stay the same! I saw Goody Such-and-Such with the devil...

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25

Mottizens sometimes use terms with obscure origins that can be confusing to newcomers. This is an attempt to provide a brief explanation of what these terms mean and where they came from to help anyone new to the community.

50 Stalins: A style of commentary which pretends to criticize something while actually praising it, e.g. “critiquing” Stalinist Russia by suggesting that it is not Stalinist enough and it should have even more Stalins. The term was coined by Scott Alexander in Reactionary Philosophy in an Enormous, Planet-sized Nutshell (2013).

Chinese Robber Fallacy: A dishonest argument that uses a generic problem to attack a specific person or group, even when the other groups have the problem just as much, e.g. complaining about the problem of Chinese robbers without providing evidence that Chinese people are more likely to be robbers than other groups. It was first described by blogger Alyssa Vance in 2015.

CultureWarRoundup / CWR: A splinter community of the Motte that lives at the subreddit /r/CultureWarRoundup, founded primarily by users who felt that the Motte's moderation policies were too strict. It has very little moderation.

Effective Altruism / EA : A philosophical and social movement that aims to use evidence and reason to do the most good possible. It has a lot of overlap with the rationalist community and LessWrong and experienced much of its early growth on LessWrong.

Human Biodiversity / HBD: A viewpoint that holds that there are socially relevant differences between groups of people that are genetic in origin. Most controversially, HBD advocates generally maintain that the observed differences between the average intelligence of people of different races originate in genetics.

Ideological Turing Test / ITT: An exercise where you try to pretend to hold an opposing ideology convincingly enough that outside observers can't reliably distinguish you from a true believer. It was first described by economist Bryan Caplan in 2011.

LessWrong: A discussion forum founded by AI theorist Eliezer Yudkowsky in 2009. The forum focuses on cognitive biases, rationality, artificial intelligence, and other topics. It is the primary nexus for the so-called “rationalist community.” LessWrong could be considered an ancestor forum to the Motte, since Scott Alexander blogged there before founding Slate Star Codex and this community originated in the subreddit for Slate Star Codex.

Lizardman's Constant: The share of the population (around 4%) who gives absurd responses in opinion polls (such as saying that lizardmen run the world); perhaps a combination of trolls, people who don't understand the question, people who just want to agree with the pollster, and people who are completely apathetic to the poll. It was coined by Scott Alexander in Lizardman's Constant is 4% (2013).

Motte and Bailey fallacy: A dishonest form of argument where one conflates two positions, one easy to defend but with limited implications (the motte) and another hard to defend but with far-reaching implications (the bailey). The fallacy was named after a kind of castle. It was coined by the philosopher Nicholas Shakel in 2005 and popularized by Scott Alexander via Social Justice and Words, Words, Words (2014) and All in All, Another Brick in the Motte (2014). The motte-and-bailey fallacy is the namesake of the Motte; in this community, we would like people to only hold positions that they can defend.

Neoreaction / NRx: A right-wing political philosophy whose signature viewpoint is that monarchy is a better form of government than democracy. Its most famous advocate is the blogger Curtis Yarvin, aka Mencius Moldbug. The neoreactionary movement first grew on LessWrong, although they were always a very small faction there.

Prior: A term from Bayesian Statistics that essentially means one's belief about something before they take new evidence into account. To say that one's prior is X is essentially to say that one's belief is X. To say that one has "adjusted their priors" is essentially to say that one has changed one's mind to some degree about the topic at hand based on the evidence presented; in theory this is done by applying Bayes' theorem.

Quokka: A kind of Australian macropod. They have no natural predators and are therefore not particularly fearful. Some people, beginning with a 2020 Twitter thread by “Zero HP Lovecraft”, who believe rationalists are too trusting or naive compare rationalists to Quokkas.

Rationalist: An online community of people originally formed around the blog Overcoming Bias, founded in 2006 by economist Robin Hanson and AI theorist Eliezer Yudkowsky; the discussion forum LessWrong, founded in 2009 by Yudkowsky; and the blog Slate Star Codex, founded in 2013 by Scott Alexander. The rationalist community is generally focused on cognitive bias and reason. Because the Motte originated in the subreddit for Slate Star Codex, it could be considered part of a rationalist “diaspora.”

rDrama: A humorous forum about Internet drama. Originally the subreddit /r/drama, the community now lives at rdrama.net. The Motte forked the code they use to run their site when we moved from Reddit to this website in 2022 because it was a proven example of a Reddit community successfully moving offsite and had many of the features we wanted.

Red Tribe / Blue Tribe / Gray Tribe: Terms used to describe different cultural groups in America. The terms were coined by Scott Alexander in I Can Tolerate Anything Except the Outgroup (2014). They are sometimes used interchangeably with the concepts of Republicans (Red Tribe) and Democrats (Blue Tribe), but in their original conception, Red Tribe (or Blue Tribe) meant something more precisely stated as “the sorts of people likely to be Republicans (or Democrats), regardless of their actual political views.” For example, a vegan Harvard graduate who lives in Manhattan and loves musical theater is part of the Blue Tribe even if he is actually politically conservative. The Gray Tribe is a sub-tribe of the Blue Tribe characterized by things like working in STEM fields and often having libertarian-ish politics.

Scissor Statement: A highly controversial statement that reliably provokes arguments. Coined by Scott Alexander in Sort By Controversial (2018), a work of fiction in which scissor statements are generated by a machine learning system trained on Reddit comments.

Slate Star Codex / SSC / Astral Codex Ten / Scott Alexander: Scott Alexander is a psychiatrist who lives in the Bay

Area. He blogged from 2013-2020 at Slate Star Codex and since 2021 at Astral Codex Ten. The Motte was created as a subreddit in 2019 as the home for a weekly "culture war roundup" thread that was hosted on the subreddit for SSC until then. The culture war roundup threads were removed from /r/slatestarcodex at Scott Alexander’s request. Scott Alexander’s writings are a major influence on the norms of this community. His blog and the community around it are generally considered part of the rationalist community. Scott Alexander was a popular writer at LessWrong before founding SSC and the community around SSC has a lot of overlap with LessWrong.

SneerClub: A community of people critical of the rationalist community, including the Motte, that lives at the subreddit /r/SneerClub.

Steelman: The strongest possible form of an opposing argument; the opposite of a strawman.

TheSchism: A splinter community of the Motte founded in 2020 that lives at the subreddit /r/TheSchism.

Weakman: A weak argument that someone has actually made (so it’s not a strawman). A poor form of argument is to choose the weakest argument that someone has actually made in favor of a position and argue against that while ignoring stronger arguments for that position.