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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. 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.


Tyger Tyger, burning bright,

In the forests of the night;

What immortal hand or eye,

Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

William Blake.

Our modern society is in love with Darwin. Our ideas about nature, evolution, society and ourselves have been shaped by this man. It seems like every reasonable person in the world agrees that Darwin’s theory is correct and useful. Darwin’s theory aims at explaining how species evolve and become new species through the means of what he called “Natural Selection”, which was defined by him as follows: “This preservation of favourable individual differences and variations, and the destruction of those which are injurious, I have called Natural Selection”. In other words, traits that benefit the individual tend to be preserved over time, while injurious traits tend to disappear. Traits that are not beneficial or detrimental are not affected by Natural Selection.

The accusation that this definition is tautological is nothing new and is well known, but it is generally ignored. A tautology is a statement that is true in every possible case. For instance, a statement like “The car is red because it’s not green” can’t be false because everything that is red is, by definition, not green. This statement is true but it’s useless as an explanation because it doesn’t give any information other than what is implied by its terms. Darwin’s critics accuse him of crafting a tautological statement because in his definition “favourable” or “beneficial” traits are defined as those that are preserved, and traits that are preserved are of course those that are favourable or beneficial. In other words, what Darwin says is that traits that are preserved are preserved. For instance: A Darwinist would say that human thumbs exist because they provide an advantage for the survivability of the species, so humans with thumbs have always been more successful at being alive and passing on their genes than human species without them. But if humans had no thumbs we could make the exact same argument, mutatis mutandis. Because of course what already exists has a higher chance of continuing to exist than things that no longer exist or that have never existed. Another example: Individuals who are born with healthy reproductive organs are more likely to pass on their genes than individuals who are born infertile. In both cases we can see “natural selection” in action. Both “explanations” are obviously true, but they are tautological, they don’t add any new information.

So the theory of Natural Selection explains nothing, and while scientists and biologists may admire Darwin and “believe” in Natural Selection, especially in opposition to creationist explanations, the truth is that Darwin’s book On The Origin of Species is an artifact of the past and university curriculums hardly devote any time to it. If people were to suddenly forget all about Darwin our understanding of evolution would remain roughly the same - although we would lose his contributions in other fields. Nowadays people seem to think that “evolution” and “natural selection” are synonyms but that’s not true at all. Evolution wasn’t a new concept to educated people back in the XIXth century, and everyone grasped the concept of heritability. So why was it so important, or why was it considered important, and why did it cause such a revolution in our understanding of nature? The answer is: Because of the concept of struggle for existence. People have always known that animals and humans change throughout the generations, but Darwin’s theory asserted that everything in nature, both animal and human, is determined by a struggle for scarce resources, that is, by an economic problem. Again, this is something that everyone who has felt hunger or desire to reproduce has understood to some degree, but before Darwin nature was much more than simply being alive and reproducing yourself. It was a divine creation, it had meaning, it had truth, it spoke in a rich language understandable to humans. Darwin’s theory made this language unintelligible, because it showed that an economic mindset was enough to understand nature for the purpose of fulfilling our needs. If a car is red, we don’t need to know the owner’s preferences or the manufacturer’s motivations in order to know that it is not green, and this knowledge is enough to use it. The fact that humankind descends from apes was polemic only because it showed that humans and apes have the same needs and aspirations, even if they had different evolutionary strategies to acquire them. But this is the conscious part, the part that everyone acknowledges. There’s also an unconscious consequence of the theory of natural selection: That nothing exists outside the struggle for existence.

This last idea is what makes Darwin’s theory so apt for the modern world. Science can overcome Darwin, modern society seemingly cannot. And even though biologists don’t pay much attention to him, Darwin is still quite popular in politics, philosophy, and social sciences. Because if there’s something at which modern society is particularly good, it’s at providing the means for existence and reproduction. So a theory of nature that asserts that this is all there is to it it’s bound to be popular, because it justifies the current state of affairs and exalts it as the best possible outcome of a long evolution towards an efficient society. All other possible alternatives are overcomed, and any possible development can only follow its example. Politically, liberals love it because it justifies and naturalizes their belief in the free market, and marxists love it because it promises future and exciting developments when men conquer the course of the evolution of their species with their own hands. Philosophically it solves the problem of how living creatures were created out of lifeless things, and it solves it in such a way that is comprehensible for human cognition. But the most peculiar development comes from the social sciences. First, came the social Darwinists who tried to apply the principle of survival of the fittest quite literally, but after WWII this became impossible for political reasons. We now have evolutionary psychology, a field that instead of trying to control human behavior creates a mythology around it, providing panglossian theories for human behavior that explain nothing and are therefore impossible to prove or disprove, but that provide a common ground between the general public and solicitors, drivelers, quacks, pickup artists - in a world, charlatans of all kinds. Everybody wants the secret to “hack” human behavior. There’s a particular internet subculture of men who are frustrated with modern society and with the changes in gender roles, and who look in evolutionary psychology for mating strategies to end their loneliness, believing that the atavistic caves where man supposedly learned to be man are like the rooms in which they spend most of their lives, without realizing that it is the selfishness of modern society that created this idea of the primitive caveman and that erodes human connections by reducing them to a mere survival strategy.

But it is clear that man became man not by surviving or by conquering the means to preserve and reproduce himself, but by the conquest of the unnecessary. As Gaston Bachelard(1) puts it: “Man is a creation of desire, not a creation of necessity”. Furthermore, there’s no evidence for the existence of a “survival instinct” anywhere in nature. We believe ourselves to be smarter than animals because they risk their lives in pointless endeavors, they are mostly unable to plan ahead and to cooperate for their survival as we do. But who said they needed to? If everything life needed is to survive, then asexual organisms would be the pinnacle of evolution, everything that has come after it is useless and inferior by this standard. While it is true that a struggle is necessary to exist, if existence were its only goal, if one could not risk even existence itself in exchange of something else, this struggle would be meaningless. Sexual reproduction is an example of a struggle where individual existence is put into question, because it bridges the gap between two individuals and creates something new. It is luxurious and exuberant, as life itself. This is something that has always been quite clear for humans since the dawn of time, but that seems incomprehensible now. Biology can progress through Darwinism but only by obscuring the mystery of life, turning it into something miserable and petty, like human economy. This progress is nothing but a change of perspective, focusing one thing and ignoring another. But as all perspectives are, in principle, equally valid, it’s only desire what moves us towards something else and something better than our trivial everyday existence and its meaningless struggles. Is it not, as Georges Bataille puts it, the tiger’s fruitlessness what makes it the king of the jungle? By predating on other animals, that eat other animals, that eat plants, and so on, the tiger splurges a huge amount of the jungle’s resources. Some would say that it serves the purpose of maintaining the balance of the ecosystem, but couldn’t this balance be imposed by the tiger itself? Its existence would then be more than a struggle for existence, it would be a struggle to impose its own norm, its own will, its right to splurge. This struggle would be unintelligible without the base of mere existence, because individual existence imposes a period of activity and silence, a discrete grammar for the tiger’s individuality to express itself, but the meaning of the tiger’s behavior can only be confused with its grammar by a fool. The tiger itself is but an echo of something infinite.

(1)Gaston Bachelard, The Psychoanalysis of Fire.

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

There has been a lot of CW discussion on climate change. This is an article written by someone that used to strongly believe in anthropogenic global warming and then looked at all the evidence before arriving at a different conclusion. The articles goes through what they did.

I thought a top-level submission would be more interesting as climate change is such a hot button topic and it would be good to have a top-level spot to discuss it for now. I have informed the author of this submission; they said they will drop by and engage with the comments here!


The so-called "scientific method" is, I think, rather poorly understood. For example, let us consider one of the best-known laws of nature, often simply referred to as the Law of Gravity:

Newton's Law of Universal Gravitation: Every object in the universe attracts every other object toward it with a force proportional to the product of their masses, divided by the square of the distance between their centers of mass.

Now here is a series of questions for you, which I often ask audiences when I give lectures on the philosophy of science:

  1. Do you believe Newton's Law of Universal Gravitation is true?
  2. If so, how sure are you that it is true?
  3. Why do you believe it, with that degree of certainty?

The most common answers to these questions are "yes", "very sure", and "because it has been extensively experimentally verified." Those answers sound reasonable to any child of the Enlightenment -- but I submit, on the contrary, that this set of answers has no objective basis whatsoever. To begin with, let us ask, how many confirming experiments do you think would have been done, to qualify as "extensive experimental verification." I would ask that you, the reader, actually pick a number as a rough, round guess.

Whatever number N you picked, I now challenge you state the rule of inference that allows you to conclude, from N uniform observations, that a given effect is always about from a given alleged cause. If you dust off your stats book and thumb through it, you will find no such rule of inference rule there. What you will find are principles that allow you to conclude from a certain number N of observations that with confidence c, the proportion of positive cases is z, where c < 1 and z < 1. But there is no finite number of observations that would justify, with any nonzero confidence, that any law held universally, without exception (that is, z can never be 1 for any finite number of observations, no matter how small the desired confidence c is, unless c = 0). . And isn't that exactly what laws of nature are supposed to do? For Pete's sake it is called the law of universal gravitation, and it begins with the universal quantifier every (both of which may have seemed pretty innocuous up until now).

Let me repeat myself for clarity: I am not saying that there is no statistical law that would allow you to conclude the law with absolute certainty; absolute certainty is not even on the table. I am saying that there is no statistical law that would justify belief in the law of universal gravitation with even one tenth of one percent of one percent confidence, based on any finite number of observations. My point is that the laws of the physical sciences -- laws like the Ideal gas laws, the laws of gravity, Ohm's law, etc. -- are not based on statistical reasoning and could never be based on statistical reasoning, if they are supposed, with any confidence whatsoever, to hold universally.

So, if the scientific method is not based on the laws of statistics, what is it based on? In fact it is based on the

Principle of Abductive Inference: Given general principle as a hypothesis, if we have tried to experimentally disprove the hypothesis, with no disconfirming experiments, then we may infer that it is likely to be true -- with confidence justified by the ingenuity and diligence that has been exercised in attempting to disprove it.

In layman's terms, if we have tried to find and/or manufacture counterexamples to a hypothesis, extensively and cleverly, and found none, then we should be surprised if we then find a counterexample by accident. That is the essence of the scientific method that underpins most of the corpus of the physical sciences. Note that it is not statistical in nature. The methods of statistics are very different, in that they rest on theorems that justify confidence in those methods, under assumptions corresponding to the premises of the theorems. There is no such theorem for the Principle of Abductive Inference -- nor will there ever be, because, in fact, for reasons I will explain below, it is a miracle that the scientific method works (if it works).

Why would it take a miracle for the scientific method to work? Remember that the confidence with which we are entitled to infer a natural law is a function of the capability and diligence we have exercised in trying to disprove it. Thus, to conclude a general law with some moderate degree of confidence (say, 75%), we must have done due diligence in trying to disprove it, to the degree necessary to justify that level confidence, given the complexity of the system under study. But what in the world entitles us to think that the source code of the universe is so neat and simple, and its human denizens so smart, that we are capable of the diligence that is due?

For an illuminating analogy, consider that software testing is a process of experimentation that is closely analogous to scientific experimentation. In the case of software testing, the hypothesis being tested -- the general law that we are attempting to disconfirm -- is that a given program satisfies its specification for all inputs. Now do you suppose that we could effectively debug Microsoft Office, or gain justified confidence in its correctness with respect to on item of its specification, by letting a weasel crawl around on the keyboard while the software is running, and observing the results? Of course not: the program is far too complex, its behavior too nuanced, and the weasel too dimwitted (no offense to weasels) for that. Now, do you expect the source code of the Universe itself to be simpler and friendlier to the human brain than the source code of MS Office is to the brain of a weasel? That would be a miraculous thing to expect, for the following reason: a priori, if the complexity of that source code could be arbitrarily large. It could be a googleplex lines of spaghetti code -- and that would be a infinitesimally small level of complexity, given the realm of possible complexities -- namely the right-hand side of the number line.

In this light, if the human brain is better equipped to discover the laws of nature than a weasel is to confidently establish the correctness an item in the spec of MS Office, it would be a stunning coincidence. That is looking at it from the side of the a priori expected complexity of the problem, compared to any finite being's ability to solve it. But there is another side to look from, which is the side of the distribution of intelligence levels of the potential problem-solvers themselves. Obviously, a paramecium, for example, is not equipped to discover the laws of physics. Nor is an octopus, nor a turtle, nor a panther, nor an orangutan. In the spectrum of natural intelligences we know of, it just so happens that there is exactly one kind of creature that just barely has the capacity to uncover the laws of nature. It is as if some cosmic Dungeon Master was optimizing the problem from both sides, by making the source code of the universe just simple enough that the smartest beings within it (that we know of) were just barely capable of solving the puzzle. That is just the goldilocks situation that good DM's try to achieve with their puzzles: not so hard they can't be solved, not so easy that the players can't take pride in solving them

There is a salient counterargument I must respond to. It might be argued that, while it is a priori unlikely that any finite being would be capable of profitably employing the scientific method in a randomly constructed universe, it might be claimed that in hindsight of the scientific method having worked for us in this particular universe, we are now entitled, a posteriori, to embrace the Principle of Abductive Inference as a reliable method. My response is that we have no objective reason whatsoever to believe the scientific method has worked in hindsight -- at least not for the purpose of discovering universal laws of nature! I will grant that we have had pretty good luck with science-based engineering in the tiny little spec of the universe observable to us. I will even grant that this justifies the continued use of engineering for practical purposes with relative confidence -- under the laws of statistics, so long as, say, one anomaly per hundred thousand hours of use is an acceptable risk. But this gives no objective reason whatsoever (again under the laws of statistics) to believe that any of the alleged "laws of nature" we talk about is actually a universal law. That is to say, if you believe, with even one percent confidence, that we ever have, or ever will, uncover a single line of the source code of the universe -- a single law of Nature that holds without exception -- then you, my friend, believe in miracles. There is no reason to expect the scientific method to work, and good reason to expect it not to work -- unless human mind was designed to be able to uncover and understand the laws of nature, by Someone who knew exactly how complex they are.

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.


I've thought about writing this for a long time. It started with a telegram post by Bronze Age Pervert. I don't follow BAP but I saw Zero HP Lovecraft mention the post in a tweet so I found the telegram and read it. I also don't follow ZHP but I'm not saying that to get ahead of anything, I don't dislike him and his "she could lose weight" bit is pretty funny. This is BAP's post:

That is poltard "take your meds schizo" rambling that I won't talk a bit about other than how reading it made me realize the animosity BAP has toward eminently black music would spread through his devotees into the rightist sphere. It has, now it's at a simmer.

I'll give a bit of a primer but I figure a lot of you have some familiarity with Hip-Hop. It's more than just music, it's a subculture of fashion, art, music and dance, but I'm only talking about the music. As the genre developed, inside baseball is its variation into East Coast and West Coast Hip-Hop. East Coast where emphasis is on hard lyricism: artists like Biggie, Jay-Z and Run The Jewels. West Coast where emphasis is on the vibe: Dr. Dre, Tyler the Creator, Anderson .Paak. Subgenres people should be familiar with conceptually are Alternative and Progressive. Alternative about deviating from mainstream sound: A Tribe Called Quest, the Roots, BROCKHAMPTON. Progressive, about incorporating whatever sounds good as complexity is developed within the form: Outkast, Kanye, Kendrick Lamar.

I think most people I see in those threads who criticize "Rap"--and some elaboration will follow--don't really know it. They haven't listened to much and what they have is the weakest examples of the genre in performers like Drake and Jack Harlow. In polite terms they call it Rap. Rap isn't wrong but it's imprecise, rapping is what the vocalist does on the track, Hip-Hop is the rap-to-and-the-beat, and the production is equally if not more important. I'm not doing a pedantic gotcha thing, if you respond to this by calling it Rap I'll know what you mean, and when I call it Hip-Hop you can mentally shortcut Rap if it's easier.

I think most of those Xers would enjoy it if they were shown its best, but there is the minority. Those who didn't originate the thought but they are its loud propagators, so BAP, who are filled with the kind of racial hate where they dislike Hip-Hop solely because of its blackness. I know they'd yeschad me calling them racist but that's not my angle. I'm not criticizing them for being racist, I'm criticizing them for allowing their supposedly great intellects to be subjugated by their racism; to be made retarded by hate as they showboat their inability to appreciate beauty. A failing never more obvious than when they inevitably cope with their flaw unrealizing by saying "No, it really is bad."

I try not to call music bad, it's too subjective. I'll happily comment to the side, like Jack Antonoff probably does all the real work in his collabs with Taylor Swift, Swift's popularity is far more memetic than musical, and/also for Olivia Rodrigo who is a stunningly obvious industry plant; Jack Harlow grew up on a horse ranch, enough said. I still won't call their work bad. I have friends who love their music, why would I want to diminish that? But if I called Swift or Rodrigo or especially Harlow, or pulling back to the albums out of pop, rock and alt-rock of the last 25 years (country ignored for obvious reasons), with few exceptions--Viva La Vida counts and it's pretty good but a lot of its strength is the title track and I like X&Y more; Toxicity is superb; In Rainbows likewise--if I called the best of those genres bad relative to Hip-Hop's best, I would be right.

The best writers of lyrics is a long list of black artists. Ed Sheeran, who seems like a right proper lad, had song of the year 2017 with Shape of You (the link is the lyrics.) It might seem unfair to compare it to Outkast's Bombs Over Baghdad as it's the song of the millennia so far, but it is fair because BOB came out about 17 years earlier, as in pre-Iraq, pre-9/11. This is also where production matters so much, the lyrics are good but made best in context of hearing them in the song. So production, the best producers are many of those same lyricists--Kanye, Jay-Z, Pharrell Williams--or they work with those black artists. Nolan's Oppenheimer was beautifully scored by Ludwig Gorranson, Gorranson broke out on the strength of his production work with Donald Glover/Childish Gambino. He could do things he couldn't anywhere else because there is no genre that allows creativity to flourish like Hip-Hop. Shit Kanye was figuring out 25 years ago dominates the sound of modern pop. I anticipate a certain cope: "Yeah, because it's 2024 and we worship blacks." There is sardonic truth in ascribing a religious reverence to some of the leftist establishment's treatment of blacks but production techniques made prominent by Hip-Hop are now in pop because it makes it better. Carly Rae Jepsen's Emotion (2015) is one of the best pop albums ever recorded and it could hardly be more white. White girl from Canada spending 25 tracks (super-deluxe + B-Side EP) singing about her broken heart. Its production techniques, the samples, the synths, yeah that's the stuff Kanye was doing over a decade before, reaching a degree of culmination in his 2008 album 808s & Heartbreak. Easily the most influential album since its release, past all the Hip-Hop it impacted, down the line we have Scooter Braun and Jepsen, we have Lorde, Lana Del Rey, Dua Lipa, Rina Sawayama, Spellling (though The Turning Wheel calls way harder to Kate Bush's The Hounds of Love), Billie Eilish and the biggest and whitest T-Swift.

The only genre with that level of willingness and brilliance in total experimentation by arena acts, aside from the artist-that-is-the-genre of Tyler Joseph's Twenty One Pilots, is electronic music. Those Frenchies dominate it, and you know what? Game recognizes game. Daft Punk working with Kanye and then Pharrell, then later coming out of their soft retirement to work with the Weeknd. Outside of France there's Ratatat and MGMT with Kid Cudi, Moby with Public Enemy, DJ Shadow with Run The Jewels, and Calvin Harris with a bunch of artists.

Funny, I never see the righties complaining about what should surely be "height-of-degeneracy" raves. Heavy light shows where white girls take molly and get fucked by strangers in bathroom stalls. What, do they see blond blue-eyed DJs and it's easy to ignore? Must be they see a white girl dancing to a good beat with a black guy rapping and their miscgenic hackles raise. Funnier still since I'm certain those guys know by heart or else have desktop folders with charts of online dating message/response rates-by-demographic just ready to slam on a /pol/ troll's slide thread.

A tangent, but it follows. I watched Demolition Man a few nights ago. I'd seen pieces over the years but never watched it start-to-finish and it's free on Sling. Sly Stallone as the classic 80s (though 1993 release) action hero cop and the fantastic Wesley Snipes as the villain. After Snipes' big plot at the opening, he and Sly are cryo-imprisoned for decades, during which their "destructive behavioral patterns" will be conditioned away. When Snipes is revived for his parole hearing and jailbreaks, he emerges in an idyllic but Huxleyan-dystopic society. The cops are totally unprepared for a man of Snipes' criminality and martial prowess. Sly is revived to stop him; action comedy ensues. A recurring joke is in the control of language, Sly's frequent profanity is met with computer chime, chastisement and fine for violating the "verbal morality statute."

Control of language is a serious problem in modern discourse. It puts on the veneer with lies and thought-terminating clichés, it makes our speech inauthentic and our way of living becomes inauthentic in turn. I don't know if I'd give the film points for directional correctness, I will give it points for the crass, man's-man-at-the-time Stallone solving all his problems with a hammer. It's that language control--inauthentic discourse--has been a problem for this country since before cinema existed. Early American political discourse had a viciousness to it: Jefferson against Adams is the famous example, where Adams was described as with "hideous hermaphroditical character, which has neither the force and firmness of a man, nor the gentleness and sensibility of a woman," while Jefferson was described as a "mean-spirited, low-lived fellow, the son of a half-breed Indian squaw sired by a Virginia mulatto father." (There is some contention about whether these were actually said, I believe firmly they were.)

What changed? Elite WASPs, Boston Brahman and the like. Their values, their etiquette of "modesty" and "restraint" dominated elite institutions and those values trickled down, being inculcated in the masses and where we once had politicians showing their authentic animosity toward one another, now even lefties calling Trump "fascist Drumpfler" or whatever is somehow still only the patina over authenticity. Imagine that level of candor today: Trump calling Biden a "braindead retard whose only good son is dead" and Harris a "marabou cocksucker" while they retort by calling him a "smalldicked whorefucking bankrupt wannabe wop."

It'd be great. I love boisterous and loud, the most obnoxious political characters on all sides. We know you're thinking it, be authentic and say it! Who cares about pretense? whose standards are you appealing to? Yeah, WASPs from 150 years ago. Fuck off, it's a lie, it's the most inauthentic behavior. Trump will sometimes lie in really bad and obvious ways yet his character remains wholly more authentic than anybody else in politics. That fucking is Trump, that's the man himself, and I think it's a mark of great merit, in itself. I'd think every bit the same if AOC came out being her true self. I know there's a lot of digs at her actual competence vs if she's just a mouthpiece, I think she's probably more than competent enough to be a house rep, low bar as that is. I'd love it if she said what she actually thinks, authentic, absolutely no pretense (and to be appropriately crass, in a push-up bra with a tasteful top to show the goods.)

Would this cause future trouble? Would we move even closer to President Mountain Dew Camacho? I dunno, where's the impact? You're telling me American politicians have yet more character to sell? Or do you fear politics transforming into the final show, where the people are all but entirely removed from changing who stands at the levers of real power? Well I think the evidence is pretty good Biden isn't entirely running the operations of the executive so . . . who's there when he isn't?

Pretense, decorum, expected behavior; these are arbitrary and often worthless. Note often, not worthless for being arbitrary, worthless where they only exist to delineate class. Talk more properly, dress more properly, behave more properly, again I ask whose fucking properness? The culture-progeny of the blooded aristocracy we killed out of this country 250 years ago. That's who the WASPs were. They deserve credit for the spread of meritocracy America benefited from for so long, but they deserve scorn for that etiquette pushed post-war to post-war and then inertia did the rest. Profanity is nothing, it's sounds, use it or don't. (I do hate the thankfully unsuccessful practice of naming in things like "Slutty Cookie" recipes or putting "FUCK" very large on the cover of books.) Restraint is good to a point, modesty to a point, to speak in circles, restraint and modesty are good when they are good, but they are not good in themselves. "Modesty is a virtue" as it goes but I disagree, rather as with the proper understanding of "meekness", it is not modesty that is the virtue but knowing when to be modest that is the indicator of character. Frank Lloyd Wright said "Early in life I had to choose between honest arrogance and hypocritical humility. I chose honest arrogance and have seen no occasion to change." As the greatest American architect and the greatest in the world since the Imperial Hotel or Fallingwater, were he to practice "hypocritical humility" it would only serve to assuage those who correctly appraised themselves as inferior to him and lacked the character to persist. It's not like he could design every building.

Not only Wright; the most effective wielders of power in this country's history dropped decorum wherever possible. Big Johnson, back to Teddy Roosevelt, whom I particularly like in this context because as the best member of the Roosevelt family his behavior spurned the etiquette of that mighty WASP dynasty. Back to Lincoln and of course Jefferson and Adams (Adams, whose descendants swiftly forgot the lessons of their sire.) Hate these figures if you want and where appropriate, their high effectiveness as political actors is not up for debate.

So Hip-Hop. Hip-Hop is more authentic to the founding spirit of this country than any other music. I don't mean it in the Project 1619 "blacks-built-literally-everything" pseudoacademic bullshit. I mean in its content, its lyrics, its successes. These are the most American stories. So hating on a guy rapping about all the bitches he fucks? It's called bragging, it's where the eponym "Casanova" comes from. Bragging about gang violence? To the Romanophiles (guilty), you've surely heard of Caesar's Commentarii de Bello Gallico. Odds are good Ceasar made some of that up or at least embellished to boost his image but that reinforces the point.

Not that I'm comparing Jay-Z rapping about hoes or about his life in the hood to Caesar, but a man famously talking about his wealth or his women or the horde he reduced unto the slaughter, the idea of these as in any way novel, which is necessary for saying Hip-Hop is uniquely degradative, is comical. As long as humans have told stories men have talked about rape, pillage and plunder. Thus authenticity.

Success stories are obvious. Yeah there are guys like Drake who have a negative amount of street cred but Jay-Z was selling crack, now he's worth billions and married to Beyoncé. (And second pic so you can see how little help she needs from staged shots.) There's a lot just there, the pathetic racists who would deny, or maybe really are so tragically incapable of recognizing beauty they miss that Beyoncé is one of the most beautiful women alive just as they miss the beauty of Hip-Hop.

I've talked so much about it, I should really talk about it. If you're unlearned, here's a progress in tracks.

I start with Mark Ronson's cover with Daniel Merriweather singing of the Smith's Stop Me that incorporates parts of the Supremes You Keep Me Hangin' On. This is Neo Soul, Merriweather's soulful singing with modern production techniques: synths, drum machine.

Next is Gnarls Barkley's Smiley Faces. At release, Crazy was the massive single off the album St. Elsewhere but the rest of the album had a sharp falloff in listening. As with Stop Me it's Neo Soul, but with Danger Mouse's production we're getting closer to a beat to be rapped to.

That's Madcon's Beggin. Pure Hip-Hop, not Sugarhill Gang pure, but pure. Taking The Four Seasons' Beggin' as the hook to follow into Tshawe's sing-rap verse, to Yosef's pure rap verse.

Next is the Pharcyde's Runnin' as remixed by electronic duo Philippians. The original is closer to Sugarhill Gang purity vs Madcon, in part of course because Pharcyde is old school. Their sample of Saudade Vem Correndo as the guitar riff is the big feel of the song, gets you that instant West Coast vibe. The Philippians remix preserves the sample, keeps the rapping at the front, and is an example, insofar as it's DJs remix, of Progressive Hip-Hop. Developing complexity within the form. If you haven't listened to much but you enjoy what I've listed and you're interested in more, the original is just as good but I'd say Pharcyde's Passin Me By, which is probably their most well-known track, is the next step.

Last is Kanye, Heaven and Hell. Ye starting off as usual with a sample he's put his spin on from the beginning of 20th Century Steel Band's Heaven and Hell is on Earth, and he also incorporates the refrain from the song as backing on his verse. I'd say this is pure progressive Hip-Hop, it would have been at the start of his career, but now this is just standard work for him.

Can't ignore Ye. Continued below.


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.

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.

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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!

Transnational Thursday is a thread for people to discuss international news, foreign policy or international relations history. Feel free as well to drop in with coverage of countries you’re interested in, talk about ongoing dynamics like the wars in Israel or Ukraine, or even just whatever you’re reading.

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 (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.

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.

Transnational Thursday is a thread for people to discuss international news, foreign policy or international relations history. Feel free as well to drop in with coverage of countries you’re interested in, talk about ongoing dynamics like the wars in Israel or Ukraine, or even just whatever you’re reading.