site banner

This is the Quality Contributions Roundup. It showcases interesting and well-written comments and posts from the period covered. If you want to get an idea of what this community is about or how we want you to participate, look no further (except the rules maybe--those might be important too).

As a reminder, you can nominate Quality Contributions by hitting the report button and selecting the "Actually A Quality Contribution!" option. Additionally, links to all of the roundups can be found in the wiki of /r/theThread which can be found here. For a list of other great community content, see here.

These are mostly chronologically ordered, but I have in some cases tried to cluster comments by topic so if there is something you are looking for (or trying to avoid), this might be helpful.

Quality Contributions in the Main Motte









Contributions for the week of August 28, 2023



Contributions for the week of September 4, 2023






All Moderators Are Bastards




The Aliens Have Landed Gentry





Contributions for the week of September 11, 2023





Will the Real America Please Stand Up?




Contributions for the week of September 18, 2023





The Best Offence is a Good Defense




Who's Cheating Whom?




Contributions for the week of September 25, 2023





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.

Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Google Podcasts, Podcast Addict, and RSS.

In this episode, an authoritarian and some anarchist(s) have an unhinged conversation about policing.

Participants: Yassine, Kulak, & Hoffmeister25 [Note: the latter's voice has been modified to protect him from the progressive nanny state's enforcement agents.]


About the Daniel Penny Situation (Hoffmeister25)

Posse comitatus (Wikipedia)

Lifetime Likelihood of Going to State or Federal Prison (BJS 1997)

The Iron Rule (Anarchonomicon)

Eleven Magic Words (Yassine Meskhout)

Blackstone's ratio (Wikipedia)

Halfway To Prison Abolition (Yassine Meskhout)

Defunding My Mistake (Yassine Meskhout)

Recorded 2023-09-16 | Uploaded 2023-09-25 I was drunk in rdrama/motte BotC server one day and promised to write up a post-level critique of the American middle class. Of course, the "project" kept getting bumped for the sake of far more important things, such as drinking joylessly while reposting telegram posts on shitty drama discord servers, this being a far less effort-intensive way to anger people. However, today I suddenly felt bored enough to actually remember my prior commitments, so here it is:

Lawns are fucking moronic. Just think about it - if you put like 20% of Cook County lawns together and combine all the land, money, and effort that goes into their maintenance into something actually useful - you'll have a fucking Disneyland with a Champs-Élysées annex. But nooooo, this isn't good enough, because that would be public and not MINE, MIIIINE, MOOOOOOOOOM, HE'S USING A TOY THAT'S MIIIIIINE!!!

Worse yet, if I were to personally decide "fuck this, this is retarded, I don't need this shit, there's a perfectly good park like three fucking blocks away - I'll just grow potatoes or something else actually productive on this plot" - a formless, permanently scowling creature - the dreaded bored HOA housewife - is sure to be crawling out of the woodwork in seconds, with a clipboard and her trademark Karen-y bangs. And she'll instantly begin to shrilly preach about how something so unbelievably ludicrous could not possibly allowed under any circumstances, because, god forbid, other Karens looking for a place to live will drive past and certainly think "waah, waah, this is proposterous! Potatoes?! I can't even! I need everything to be exactly uniform!", leading to her pride and joy, the land value of the lawn containing her shitty cardboard box with fancy beige siding - will go down. Un-acc-ept-ab-le!

This isn't really my main point - it's just an absolutely phenomenal illustration of why the American middle class is the worst fucking socioeconomic group to ever live. They are petit bourgeois to an extent (primarily in their deeply rooted insecurity and precarious status), but their sensibilities are worse than that - they see themselves as some sort of smaller-scale genteel manor lord, whose lifestyle they so artlessly attempt to ape - but they lack the taste, the resources, or the confidence to actually do that. So instead, they ape the simplest bit - a manicured lawn that said gentleman would use for playing cricket or going on mid-afternoon horseback rides or whatever the fuck it is that those inbred bastards do there - but without the space to realistically be usable for that or really anything else outside of serving as a glorified litter box for the family dog.

And yet they do see themselves as above everyone else. They are aggressive about it, too! “Look at me, I have made it, I have my lawn. Mine! MINE! I won't live in a pod like those disgusting city-dwellers, ugh!.. I'm a real American. This is real America! I like my Bud Light Coors Light, my pickup, my Jesus, and my Red Lobster! Oh, and my vastly superfluous rifle collection! My office plankton job makes me inherently superior to those dirty poors, who just lack my good, old-fashioned work ethic, or they’d be able to file regional shrinkage dynamics reports just like me and become productive members of society!”

To sum it up, the only real question is... Why are they like this? Who hurt them? What possible calamity has caused them to become these incredibly shallow, yet exceptionally vain shells of something vaguely resembling human form? Perhaps we’ll never know.

I am, however, interested in your guys’ opinions on the subject!


Changing someone's mind is very difficult, that's why I like puzzles most people get wrong: to try to open their mind. Challenging the claim that 2+2 is unequivocally 4 is one of my favorites to get people to reconsider what they think is true with 100% certainty.


Hi, I'm a long time reader of Slate Star Codex and I used to post on the Reddit forum until I got banned. There are a few reasons that I believe I got banned.

  1. Uncharitably claiming that Leftist censorship was a threat to the rationalist community

  2. Advocating for violence

  3. Not being kind

I understand why all of these things could have been a problem on the Reddit community, but I would like to know if they're still going to be a problem here, since I don't want to invest a lot of time creating a profile and having good-faith discussions with people if I'm only going to be banned again. Here are the reasons that I think these three issues shouldn't be a problem anymore.

  1. I was right, and everybody who disagreed with me was wrong. The fact that the community had to move here proves it. I'm not expecting an apology but I think that time has proven me correct on that score.

  2. Violence is a completely justifiable response to tyranny. While calls to violence may be against Reddit rules (and the community was right to ban me from Reddit because my rhetoric could have caused problems for the mods) there are no such rules here. In fact, rdrama (which helped set up this offsite community, and whom you should all be grateful to) actively encourages calls to violence. If a rational and logical case can be made for violence then I think there is no good reason not to hear that case out. If you're forced to censor people you disagree with because you're unable to make a stronger case for pacifism over violence in the open marketplace of ideas, then you should question whether your pacifism is actually a worthwhile philosophy.

  3. Kindness and truth are different terminal values. If you optimize for kindness then it is self-evident that you will have to sacrifice truth at some point. Obviously the Reddit community has chosen kindness as its terminal value, but I'm hoping that this offsite community is enlightened enough to choose truth.

I'm linking to a few articles from my Substack here so you have a few examples of my style of writing and can make a better judgement about whether I would be a good fit for the offsite community. I'm also on rdrama where my username is sirpingsalot. If you think I'm not a good fit for the offsite either, then no hard feelings - I'm happy to take my ideas to more sympathetic communities instead. I just don't want to put in the effort of investing time and energy here if I'm only going to get banned again for the same reasons.


There is no such thing as ambition, what does exist is contentment/personal satisfaction. I have a theory about what determines a person’s ‘ambition’ as regards work they do. I don’t have a great description of it yet, but roughly:

What is referred to as ‘ambition’, how challenging work one does is, is only one part of several factors making up a total personal satisfaction of a person. I refer to total personal satisfaction as their sweet satisfaction zone (SSZ) which exists on a spectrum of satisfaction (SoS). Everyone’s SSZ, to which several factors contribute, determines an individual’s mental state in the long term.

Among the factors affecting where their SSZ lies on the SoS are things like the challenge of the work they do, their relationships with friends, their romantic relationship(s), their status in the hierarchy of their local community etc. Everyone requires different levels of satisfaction from each of these different factors depending on their personality, but each of these factors contribute to the SSZ.

When some people work on what seems ‘ambitious’ to some others, it may just be work that feels sufficiently challenging to them, as they require a huge amount of satisfaction from interesting and high-impact work to contribute to their SSZ. And when a person one thinks to be clever and capable of more works on what one thinks to be below their intellectual ability, it may be that how challenging work they do is doesn’t rank on factors they demand huge amounts of satisfaction from to make their SSZ. The golden handcuffs are in fact personal satisfaction.

So ‘ambition’ doesn’t exist in the sense people like to talk about it. You cannot really be more ambitious or less. It is based on personality.


Why people think Ads are bad:

— The cached thought¹ that ads are bad.

1.Two things:

(i) The regular use of words within certain contexts biases their meanings e.g 'impregnating' a girl.

(ii) Deliberate framing: death tax vs inheritance tax, pro choice vs pro life, undocumented immigrants vs illegal aliens.

— They may hinder ideal UI/UX.

— Often bear a weak relevance.

What Ads are:

— Ads are tools that aid problem-solving by matching people to tools that solve their problems. People are notoriously bad at solving their own problems, or even realizing they have solvable problems.

Ads should be a net positive for consumers since they (consumers):

(i) are getting a product for free.

(ii) have an opportunity to passively discover solutions to some of their problems.

The only way they might not be is if ads are either poorly designed, or bear a weak relevance to a user. The solution to which isn't castigating ads as being bad; the solution is making better ads by:

— Destroying the cached thought that ads are bad.

— Designing ads that do not disrupt UI or UX, but instead align with the default context within which they exist. Cc: Reddit and Quora's native ads.

— Better data collection to improve relevance.


Privacy is overrated. The problems with the discourse around privacy are framing¹ (cached meanings of words in the minds of the populace) and pre-conceived guilt, resulting in secrecy by the data-collecting party.

  1. Two things:

(i) The regular use of words within certain contexts biases their meanings.

(ii) Deliberate framing: death tax vs inheritance tax, pro choice vs pro life, undocumented immigrants vs illegal aliens.

Surveillance by the state, and data collection by big orgs are means to information gathering. In the case of the state, to ensure security — of all kinds, and of all things within its territory. In the case of big organizations to (i) learn about the user so as to improve the product, and (ii), learn about the user to recommend better ads.

So, if the intentions are good, why is everyone wary of data collection by central organizations? The problem people have with constant surveillance or collection of data is creepiness, in three parts:

  1. Collection methods

  2. Secrecy of the fact of collection

  3. Abuse of collected data

Any organization surveiling/data-collecting needs to re-define the discourse and attempt to shift the framing. They cannot admit to surveillance/collection of data. 'Admitting to' a thing already frames you as guilty. They need to get in front of the inevitable leak to the general public by:

(i) Explaining what they do and why they need to do it. They cannot call it 'surveillance'. The cached meaning of 'surveillance' in the minds of the people is ... erm ... not good. They need to invent a new phrase. Cc: 'global warming' needed to be jetissoned for 'climate change'.

(ii) Designing only non-creepy data gathering methods.

(iii) Doing whatever they need data collection for greatly, building trust from the get-go, and never deliberately violating it.

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 popular reason pure software companies have great profit margins is for marginal investment in providing the product/service to more users, given software's replicability. That's the reason everyone likes to repeat.

The true reason is that they price similarly to physical goods companies, without the same recurring costs. The difference between physical raw materials costs and total expenses which goes into reproducing the product/service for each new additional user, which software coys do not have deal with, is what makes up "high software margins".

But pure software products/services shouldn't be priced like their counterparts with recurring costs. They have an abundance quality.

Software companies would probably argue with you if you questioned their pricing, given the relatively low marginal recurring costs they incur, probably throwing terms like "capturing the value you create" at you.

But that isn't how price works. Price isn't determined by value created. Nor is it determined by supply/demand.

So the trick has been pricing at similar rates as regular physical goods companies. At a closer look, one could decide that is wrong. Unlike what most people think, the price of a product/service isn't determined by demand/supply. Price is determined by scarcity/abundance, so that demand/supply only come to matter in the face of scarcity.

"Capturing value" is a bogus concept which shouldn't exist.

Think about air. Air is pretty cheap to the average human. Sure, there are other factors surrounding its existence like its quality in certain places based on gases dumped into the atmosphere by natural or human activity, or other things like geographical altitude. But no average healthy human pays a dime to afford air, important as it is to them. Ergo, air is very very cheap, even though it is of enormous value to each human.

The reason air is cheap is that there is an absolute abundance of it. This abundance exists in multiple dimensions, including:

(i) absolute abundance: there is so much being produced that compared to amount used up, the ratio of amount used up is completely negligible, hence never any scarcity (ii) its natural existence and recycling: there are no factories managed by certain companies who need to buy raw materials to produce and sell air as a good, or recycle used air for re-use (iii) It is 'plumbing' free i.e getting it to users is free. No one needs to build an air supply chain.

Water, which is also naturally existing, in comparison, is far more expensive than air. (i) It needs refining (production managed by people) for certain uses. (ii) It needs actual plumbing to get to users.

Not to talk about the same factors like pollution affecting it which also affect air.

So air is pretty valuable. The only reason for its cheapness is its absolute abundance, not the value it creates. Granted, air is entirely naturally-occurring, and then some people might argue that it is what is responsible for its cheapness. How about water then, which does require some work to become usable to end-users?

Why doesn't water have high profit margins?

And software is abundant not quite in the same way that air is, but like water is. Sure it does need some 'producing', but it is virtual and easily copy-able. New work done in making it available to one more user is very low. That factor is what gives it its abundance.

Why do software companies have high profit margins then? Why aren't Google and Facebook ads a lot cheaper than they are since it's all built on dirt-cheap software?


Apple could be the first of FAMGA to die. Die, in the same way Nokia and Blackberry are dead. The one thing Apple does is sell personal computing devices (and accessories to them), the unique and most valuable part of which is the OS.

There has been a continuous abstraction of things by the cloud, beginning with files.That, and the fact of cloud storage becoming a commodity has resulted in reasonable prediction by some people of the impending death of companies offering personal cloud storage as a service.

Video gaming is already being experimented on. Cc Google Stadia.

I think at some point in the near future, mobile OSes too will either be abstracted away — with apps streamed in real-time, like we currently stream music on Spotify or TV on Netflix — or completely die, giving way to the web (which we already 'stream' in real-time) as the only platform.

If mobile OSes die, then Apple probably dies. Everything else Apple does is appended to personal computing. Other tech coys have lock-in with some of their products and services. Apple is a big company; a bureaucracy like any other. When the change happens, no one who will be at the company will have enough consolidated power to perform a re-founding of the company. Reed Hastings' founder re-founding of Netflix is a famous success. There is no Reed Hastings at Apple.

If mobile OSes are only abstracted away to the cloud, then Apple's OS would be in competition with the web, which has more 'content'. Accessing the web on Apple's devices would require an additional level: Physical device —> Cloud mobile OS —> Web browser in the cloud. Compared to the web as the platform, in which things only move from Physical device --> Web.

Aside the difficulty of the specific problems of founding and re-founding, there are also other related, general systemic reasons to be pessimistic about their chances of surviving this inflection point:

(i) The fact that functional institutions are the exception.

(ii) Success is really really difficult to achieve; a ton of things have to go exactly right.

Love it. But I'm convinced it is closer to: everything that does not survive, dies for a reason.

Survival demands a multitudinous harmony; ruin, only one sour note.

— Joe Norman (@normonics) February 16, 2018

Success is never due to one thing, but failure can be.

Sleeping well won’t make you successful, but not sleeping enough will hold you back.

Hard work is rarely enough without good strategy, but even the best strategy is useless without hard work.

Necessary, but not sufficient.

— James Clear (@JamesClear) November 4, 2019

SS: Americans are rather ignorant about history. Moral reasoning by historical analogy is bad. Historical examples can be misleading for making predictions. These facts suggest that the utility of history courses is overestimated. In fact, they are mostly useless.

The death penalty has various serious problems and lifetime imprisonment is really really expensive.

I guess we should be happy every time someone so thoroughly bad we want them out of society forever (like a serial murderer) does us the favour of killing themselves. Nothing of value is lost, and the justice system saves money. Right?

It seems to me it logically follows that we should incentivize such suicides. Like: 5000 dollars to a person of your choice if you're dead within the first year of your lifetime sentence, wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

It feels very wrong and is clearly outside the overton window. But is there any reason to expect this wouldn't be a net benefit?

PCA did not produce correct and\or consistent results across all the design schemes, whether even-sampling was used or not, and whether for unmixed or admixed populations. We have shown that the distances between the samples are biased and can be easily manipulated to create the illusion of closely or distantly related populations. Whereas the clustering of populations between other populations in the scatter plot has been regarded as “decisive proof” or “very strong evidence” of their admixture, we demonstrated that such patterns are artifacts of the sampling scheme and meaningless for any bio historical purposes. Sample clustering, a subject that received much attention in the literature, e.g., Ref., is another artifact of the sampling scheme and likewise biologically meaningless (e.g., Figs. 12, 13, 14, 15), which is unsurprising if the distances are distorted. PCA violations of the true distances and clusters between samples limit its usability as a dimensional reduction tool for genetic analyses. Excepting PC1, where the distribution patterns may (e.g., Fig. 5a) or may not (e.g., Fig. 9) bear some geographical resemblance, most of the other PCs are mirages (e.g., Fig. 16). The axes of variation may also change unexpectedly when a few samples are added, altering the interpretation.

Specifically, in analyzing real populations, we showed that PCA could be used to generate contradictory results and lead to absurd conclusions (reductio ad absurdum), that “correct” conclusions cannot be derived without a priori knowledge and that cherry-picking or circular reasoning are always needed to interpret PCA results. This means that the difference between the a posteriori knowledge obtained from PCA and a priori knowledge rests solely on belief. The conflicting PCA outcomes shown here via over 200 figures demonstrate the high experimenter’s control over PCA’s outcome. By manipulating the choice of populations, sample sizes, and markers, experimenters can create multiple conflicting scenarios with real or imaginary historical interpretations, cherry-pick the one they like, and adopt circular reasoning to argue that PCA results support their explanation.


Indeed, after “exploring” 200 figures generated in this study, we obtained no a posteriori wisdom about the population structure of colors or human populations. We showed that the inferences that followed the standard interpretation in the literature were wrong. PCA is highly subjected to minor alterations in the allele frequencies (Fig. 12), study design (e.g., Fig. 9), or choice of markers (Fig. 22) (see also Refs.57,68). PCA results also cannot be reproduced (e.g., Fig. 13) unless an identical dataset is used, which defeats the usefulness of this tool. In that, our findings thereby join similar reports on PCA’s unexpected and arbitrary behavior. Note that variations in the implementations of PCA (e.g., PCA, singular value decomposition [SVD], and recursive PCA), as well as various flags, as implemented in EIGENSOFT, yield major differences in the results—none more biologically correct than the other. That the same mathematical procedure produces biologically conflicting and false results proves that bio historical inferences drawn only from PCA are fictitious.

I highly recommend reading the entire article. It is quite detailed. They do PCA analyses with a toy model using colors with admixture and show that choice of inputs can yield an admixed population (the color Black) arbitrarily close to any of its component mixtures (Blue, Green, or Red) on a scatter plot of their principle components. They also go through data sets of some other population genetics studies and show how using those data sets can generate conflicting PCA results depending heavily on the researchers choice of inputs.


In many discussions I'm pulled back to the distinction between not-guilty and innocent as a way to demonstrate how the burden of proof works and what the true default position should be in any given argument. A lot of people seem to not have any problem seeing the distinction, but many intelligent people for some reason don't see it.

In this article I explain why the distinction exists and why it matters, in particular why it matters in real-life scenarios, especially when people try to shift the burden of proof.

Essentially, in my view the universe we are talking about is {uncertain,guilty,innocent}, therefore not-guilty is guilty', which is {uncertain,innocent}. Therefore innocent ⇒ not-guilty, but not-guilty ⇏ innocent.

When O. J. Simpson was acquitted, that doesn’t mean he was found innocent, it means the prosecution could not prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt. He was found not-guilty, which is not the same as innocent. It very well could be that the jury found the truth of the matter uncertain.

This notion has implications in many real-life scenarios when people want to shift the burden of proof if you reject a claim when it's not substantiated. They wrongly assume you claim their claim is false (equivalent to innocent), when in truth all you are doing is staying in the default position (uncertain).

Rejecting the claim that a god exists is not the same as claim a god doesn't exist: it doesn't require a burden of proof because it's the default position. Agnosticism is the default position. The burden of proof is on the people making the claim.

Note: I could not find any studies that estimate how many heavy metal bands are atheistic, so "most" is nothing more than a personal observation.

Chances are good that if you go to church, you sing. Most churches around the world; be it Anglican, Catholic, Orthodox, or Protestant; have singing as a part of worship. Every Sunday they meet, greet, sing, preach, share personal stories, and some then sing some more. Why?

The first time that I sang was in college in voice class. It was the single most enjoyable and fulfilling experience that I have ever had. I was awful, but there was this intense sense of unity, this sense of belonging that I had never experienced before. There we were, a group of just 20 or so students, and together we all made a work of art for the sake of of making art. It was beautiful. I had never felt so connected to people that I did not know before then, and ever since I stopped going to that college I have not felt that sense of connection to others so intensely. I do not go to church. I have not gone since I was a little kid. Yet, almost every day I am consciously envious of the people who can believe in God because of how beautiful that singing, that sense of community, was.

I believe the reason why so many churches have singing is because of this sense of community. Singing is a readily accessible and simple way to bring people together. Churches that don't sing don't build a sense of unity with singing, and people will go to the closest church that they feel the most belonging in. If churches that don't sing don't have other ways to supplement this sense of unity, then Darwinism happens: Churches that are less able to create a community are less fit to survive.

What if you don't believe in God? What if you're a kid, a teenager, and it's Sunday and your friends are out playing and having fun and going to the arcade or playing football and your parents instead make you go to church? The Sabbath takes your day of rest and turns it into a day of work. Instead of getting to relax you get to be angry. Angry at your parents for keeping you from your friends and for not loving you if they were to ever find out that you do not see the world the same way they do. Angry at the church and the people within it for hating the nonbelievers and gays and anyone who just doesn't belong. Angry at God for being a convenient weapon for this community, that you do not feel a part of, to use against you. And you sing.

You get good at singing, as you sing every Sunday and have every Sunday for as long as you can remember. Your puberty goes by filled with stress, as all puberties do, and yours gets to be filled with an extra dose of anger and alienation. And you sing some more. But what do you actually want to sing about? What emotion do you have that has gone unexpressed that you want people to hear? How do you want to be heard?

And you get mad.

post thumbnail

I've noticed a trend among the rationalist movement of favoring long and convoluted articles referencing other long and convoluted articles--the more inaccessible to the general public, the better.

I don't want to contend that there's anything inherently wrong with such articles, I contend precisely the opposite: there's nothing inherently wrong with short and direct articles.

One example of significant simplicity is Einstein's famous E=mc2 paper (Does the inertia of a body depend upon its energy-content?), which is merely three pages long.

Can anyone contend that Einstein's paper is either not significant or not straightforward?

It is also generally understood among writers that it's difficult to explain complex concepts in a simple way. And programmers do favor simpler code, and often transform complex code into simpler versions that achieve the same functionality in a process called code refactoring. Guess what... refactoring takes substantial effort.

The art of compressing complex ideas into succinct phrases is valued by the general population, and proof of that are quotes and memes.

“One should use common words to say uncommon things” ― Arthur Schopenhauer

There is power in simplicity.

One example of simple ideas with extreme potential is Karl Popper's notion of falsifiability: don't try to prove your beliefs, try to disprove them. That simple principle solves important problems in epistemology, such as the problem of induction and the problem of demarcation. And you don't need to understand all the philosophy behind this notion, only that many white swans don't prove the proposition that all swans are white, but a single black swan does disprove it. So it's more profitable to look for black swans.

And we can use simple concepts to defend the power of simplicity.

We can use falsifiability to explain that many simple ideas being unconsequential doesn't prove the claim that all simple ideas are inconsequential, but a single consequential idea that is simple does disprove it.

Therefore I've proved that simple notions can be important.

Just wanted to wish you guys luck despite any little growing pains you're having! Have fun over here guys!

The goal of this thread is to coordinate development on our project codenamed HighSpace - a mod for Freespace 2 that will be a mashup between it and High Fleet. A description of how the mechanics of the two games could be combined is available in the first thread.

Who we have

I hope you don't mind I moved you to Consultants for now, @netstack. I'm always torn between keeping people in their originally declared roles as encouragement, and not wanting to harass them into contributing, when writing the contributor list. I'll be more than happy to re-add you as a dev if you're still on board.

Who we need

The more the merrier, you are free to join in any capacity you wish! I can already identify a few distinct tasks for each position that we could split the work into

  • developers: “mission” code, “strategic” system map code

  • artists: 2D (user interface), 3D (space ships, weapons explosions)

  • writers: worldbuilding/lore, quests, characters

A small note if you want to contribute:

Don't be afraid to ask questions however small, or silly you might find them. This is literally one of the primary functions this thread has. The Hard Light documentation is... there... but it's not great, and between that, the peculiarities of LUA, the FS2 scripting API, RocketLib, and other parts of FS2 modding, it really might not be obvious how to resolve issues you run into. I might not be able to answer all questions, but I've dabbled in all these things, so there's good chances I might be able to help.

What we have

  1. Capital ships

  2. Fighters

  3. A cruiser, loaded in-game

  4. Turntable render for a cruiser

  5. Turntable render for a destroyer

  • A proof of concenpt for “strategic” system map we jump into on start of the campaign. It contains a friendly ship and 2 enemy ships, you can chose where to move / which enemy ship to attack.

  • A “tactical” RTS-like in-mission view where you can give commands to your ships.

  • A somewhat actual-game-like workflow. Attacking a ship launches a mission where the two ships are pitted against each other. If you win, the current health of your ship is saved, and you can launch the second attack. If you clean up the map you are greeted with a “You Win” message, or “You Lose” if you lose your ship.


It was another slow month, but things are finally starting to move. Literally. I added a current time display (set to the very beginning of the universe for now), and time can be paused / started / fast-forwarded. I also added a side bar with some help text (I thought the controls were relatively obvious, only to realize that what seemed obvious depended on the game I was most recently playing). The planets are the only things that move on their own for now, but I should be able to extend that feature to ships pretty soon. I'm not sure if this idea will go anywhere, but I'm thinking of having ships be able to move through conventional and subspace drives, the former obviously only being useful for planet-moon type distances.

Other than that I spent a lot of time optimizing. Brute-forcing my way through "find me the ship under the mouse cursor" was fine for a proof-of-concept, but I was finding myself making more and more "get me the nearest X" queries, so it was time to shove everything into a spatial index. I'm quite happy with the result, but it's not really something you can show off visually (well, unless you really want to).

What's next

  • Getting the ships to move along an orbit.

  • Real-time ship movement (sub-space, and conventional)

  • Obstacle mechanics for the planets

The gap

This gap between the average male and female life expectancy of given population group is alternately labeled as Life Expectancy Gender Gap (LEGG) or Gender Gap in Life Expectancy (GGLE). Going forward I will be using the LEGG acronym.

The expectancy

There are basically two types of life expectancy. In historical context, we usually refer to the Cohort Life Expectancy. We track a group of people born in a particular year, many decades ago, and observe the exact date in which each one of them died. Then we can calculate this cohort’s life expectancy by simply calculating the average of the ages of all members when they died.

It is of course not possible to know this metric before all members of the cohort have died. That is why when talking about the present and the future we use Period Life Expectancy. This is an estimate of the average length of life for a hypothetical cohort assumed to be exposed, from birth through death, to the mortality rates observed at one particular period – commonly the previous year. Estimates of life expectancy of the current generation, which are also used in the calculations of indexes like the Human Development Index or Gender Development Index, are of this Period Life Expectancy type.

There is a corollary: because we are judging the existing generation based on mortality rates of the previous year only, whatever happened to that generation before that year is not taken into account. So let's say. if there was a recent deadly pandemic that affected one gender disproportionally, and this pandemic ended and is not affecting the mortality rates of the previous year, there will be little evidence of said gender disproportionally in the current life expectancy estimates.

The lost years

The first important thing to know about the LEGG is that its impact is, without an exaggeration, enormous. Let's take for example the US, with a LEGG of 5.8 years at the average predicted age for men and women 73.5 and 79.3 years respectively. Do you see the enormity? You don't, do you.

Ok, let's put things into perspective - how do you measure an impact of early death? With Years of Potential Life Lost (YPLL). This is an estimate of the average years a person would have lived if they had not died "prematurely". It is usually reported in years per 100,000 people and the reference, "mature" age should correspond roughly to the life expectancy of the population and is now usually given as 75 years.

Now, men and women in the US lose some 8,265 and 4,862 potential years per of life per 100,000. Given the population as 332 millions, men lose some 5,648,980 more years of potential life than women. Do you see the enormity now? Not yet?

During the roughly 3.5 years of WW2 the US lost 407,300 military and 12,100 civilian lives. With an average life expectancy back then 68 years, and a guestimated age at the time of death 21 years, every killed American lost some 47 years and the US as a whole lost some 5,640,000 potential years of life every year of the war. Do you see the enormity of the LEGG now? I think you do.

The causes

The second important think to know about the LEGG is that nobody seem to care. Biologists, statisticians, politicians, Wikipedians - not even men's rights activists - nobody seems to be franticly looking for the causes or proposing policies to stop this haemorrhage of men's lives. This is what Wikipedia has to says about it (paraphrasing): It is the life style, men drink more and smoke more and eat crap. And it is also the biology, men lack the double X chromosome, we see this across all mammalian species. End of story. Speaking of Wikipedia, it has dedicated pages for many things, including the Orgasm gender gap, but it does not have a dedicated page for the LEGG.

I knew from earlier, that boys in EU27 aged from 15 to 19 are 1.7 times more likely to die from diseases (cancer, cardio ,viral, gastro you name it) than girls. These are probably mostly biological differences, as there is not much tobacco and alcohol involved at this age. But the total numbers are small and hardly make a dent in the LEGG statistic. To my surprise I have not been able to find any further information, neither on biology forums, nor on Google Scholar. Studies usually divide the mechanisms into social and biological but there our knowledge seem to end - there seem to be no actual data.

At this point I was so intrigued that I decided to do some "research" myself. My first observation was that there is a great variance between developed countries with similar GDP and life expectancy, suggesting that a large part of the gap is not biological. Example:

  • 2021 Norway - LE: 83.16 years, LEGG: 3,0 years
  • 2021 France - LE: 82.32 years, LEGG: 6,2 years

Next, I knew where to find Eurostat data on causes of death - unfortunately only from 2010 - and I filtered out everything mechanical: suicides, assaults, accidents and drug and alcohol overdoses. The LEGG shrunk significantly:

  • 2010 Norway - all LEGG: 4.54 | non-mechanical LEGG: 3,51, decrease by 29.5%
  • 2010 France - all LEGG: 7.14 | non-mechanical LEGG: 6.19, decrease by 15.3%

Next, I did one more napkin calculation. Assuming that smoking reduces the life expectancy on average by 10 yers and smoking rate among French men and women are 0.349 and 0.319 and smoking rate among Norwegian men and women are 0.17 and 0.154, I reduced the LEGG further:

  • 2010 Norway - all LEGG: 4.54 | non-mechanical, non-smoking LEGG: 3,35, decrease by 35.7%
  • 2010 France - all LEGG: 7.14 | non-mechanical, non-smoking LEGG: 5.89, decrease by 21.2%

Of course this does not mean the reminder is caused by biological factors. There are drugs and alcohol, there is a meat consumption and overall life style. Man also do more paid work so there is work related stress and exposure. It should not be a rocket science to isolate these factors, actually, it would amount to a very cool paper with plenty of citations. So where is this paper?

Actually, I found one piece of information: Causes of Male Excess Mortality: Insights from Cloistered Populations, the abstract talks about 11,000 Bavarian monks and nuns living in "very nearly identical behavioral and environmental conditions" with nuns having only a "slight advantage" in life expectancy - whatever that means, I can't access the paper itself. This of course only applies to men and women who already survived into their teens or twenties, so the genetically weaker male child hypothesis is not refuted.

At this point I should really interrogate the Eurostat data about the impact of child deaths on the LEGG but it is getting too late and I am hoping some of you will provide more rigorous paper with actual analysis.

The bad and the ugly

FYI, about 80% of suicide victims are men and suicide is the second leading cause of death in middle aged men only after car accidents. Also, 90% of workplace accidents are men - constructions, mining, trucking, heavy industry, you know - and even though the total numbers are too small to meaningfully influence the LEGG it does not cover exposure to chemicals, hard labour or health impact of night shifts.

Some social and biological mechanisms out there are causing men to lose life equivalent to WW2 every year. We should be creating policies to reduce this loss but we don't. Why? Could it be the case of "you grow what you measure"?

UN's Gender Development Index that measures gender disparity in achievements between men and women very quietly removes 5 years from the LEGG in it's calculations, arguing that men living 5 years shorter is necessary biology. The Global Gender Gap Report published annually by the World Economic Forum does something similar, arguing that if women live at least 6% longer than men, parity is assumed - but if it is less than 6% it counts as a gender gap.

As a corollary, women is Norway living only 3 years longer than men is interpreted as oppression.

Be advised: this thread is not for serious in-depth discussion of weighty topics (we have a link for that), 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 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).