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.
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.
We also had the problem with the database earlier this month, so some of these comments aren't available in their original context. However I am reposting the comments themselves below; it's not a perfect solution, but in various ways it beats the alternatives I could think of. That said, if you find any errors in need of correction (misattributed comments, for example) please feel free to @ me. The number of copy/paste errors I made in the process of trying to put this together is... not small.
Contributions Outside the Main Motte
Contributions for the week of January 29, 2024
- "But for us Germans, the state was never truly a democracy; the most we ever managed was to be handed whatever form of democracy our betters thought suitable for us, by the state and against the people."
Contributions for the week of February 5, 2024
- "No, I don't think that captive animals, except perhaps those taken from the wild, have any idea what they're missing. But that doesn't mean they're not missing it."
- "'Bob/Alice posts a public photo or video on a social media platform, and a bunch of people who don't know Bob/Alice create edited versions of said photo or video without Bob's consent' describes hundreds if not thousands of viral memes throughout the history of the internet..."
- "The modern era is best understood as a massive, distributed search for ways to hurt the outgroup as badly as possible without getting in too much trouble."
- "If we suddenly lost access to fossil fuels tomorrow, that would be an existential threat to civilization, perhaps even humanity."
- "A good egregore teaches us eudaimonia instead of hedonism. It saves us, and since we are its substrate, it saves itself."
- "Rationalism's core flaw, in my opinion, is that you're trying to debug the firmware with the firmware."
- "Speaking as a former minor local government minion, I recognise this person. No, not the blankface..."
Contributions for the week of February 19, 2024
- "The reason talking about HBD is important is that so much policy is based on the false premise that not-HBD."
- "I think trying to prove a black-white IQ gap just via the existing income gap is a mistake, anyway."
- "Mencken defined 'Puritanism' as 'the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy,' but a better definition might be 'haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be doing wrong.'"
- "I think national businesses have correctly gotten the message that Seattle now lacks the consistent political will to create a good business environment."
- "The real danger will be when Gemini and other Generative AI become so good at generating cultural images and motion pictures, with their output influenced by this latent anti-White alignment which is called 'AI Safety', that the agenda behind the underlying alignment will be nearly imperceptible."
Contributions for the week of February 14, 2024
- "When enough such incidents accumulate, as I observe they did in both the 2016 and 2020 elections, I think it is reasonable to conclude that the democratic process is not only threatened, but has in fact been compromised."
- "As I've tried to explain in some of your earlier 2020 election threads I feel like you are either misrepresenting or fundamentally misunderstanding the nature opposition's objections."
- "Presumably the first 1,000 were selected basically at random and showed a 9.5% voting rate among people that had been deemed mentally incompetent and weren't allowed to vote."
- "In Hungary, the biggest political scandal in years has been unfolding over the last two weeks, and has included the resignation of the (ceremonial) president of the republic, Katalin Novák."
- "From a utilitarian perspective, I am better off minimizing the changes of unilaterally disastrous event, than trying to get billions."
- "There is a process for laundering such leaks or rumors into consensus reality, often quite literally via the New York Times."
Contributions for the week of February 26, 2024
- "There are always a small number of people that would have their lives radically improved if society rearranged towards their preferences. That still leaves everybody else."
- "So I might be projecting, but when I hear someone say that 'maybe the religious doomsayers were on to something', it speaks to me."
- "I cannot imagine five members of the Court will sign off on saying that the Constitution guarantees GMail the right to refuse private communications service based solely on their dislike of an individual's politics."
- "Probably we're again going to rely on godlike AI designing new methods for manipulating gene expression on broad scales, or maybe some Kwisatz Haderach breeding program over generations as we slowly introduce the changes we need."
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Profile of Patric Gagne, sociopath. Caucasian, 48, married, two children, dirty blonde hair. Occupation: therapist, writer. What makes one a sociopath?
Traits may include lack of remorse, deceitfulness and a disregard for the feelings of others as well as right and wrong.
Sounds pretty bad.
But that only tells part of the story. The part that’s missing is you can be a sociopath and have a healthy relationship. You can be a sociopath and be educated. That’s a very uncomfortable reality for some people. People want to believe that all sociopaths are monsters and that all monsters are easy to spot.
I’m relieved sociopaths can still get degrees. What’s the subjective experience like?
Just because I don’t care about someone else’s pain, so to speak, doesn’t mean I want to cause more of it. I enjoy living in this society. I understand that there are rules. I choose to follow those rules because I understand the benefits of this world, this house where I get to live, this relationship I get to have. That is different from people who follow the rules because they have to, they should, they want to be a good person. None of those apply to me. I want to live in a world where things function properly. If I create messes, my life will become messy. I think [transgression] feels good because it feels free. To do something bad, it’s like, I don’t give a [expletive]. The consequences — be it internal guilt or getting thrown in jail — happen after. In this moment, I’m going to do this because it feels [expletive] great to just not care. That is what the sociopath experience is almost all the time.
Lately I keep hearing about ethically questionable things my acquaintances do. Examples:
Driving in the bus lane to beat traffic.
Buying 5 TVs to take advantage of a sale, then returning four of them immediately.
Buying furniture from IKEA, using it, then returning it before the 180 day policy expires.
Using the carpool lane when driving alone.
Avoiding road tolls with illicit methods.
Raiding the office snack room and hoarding the best snacks for themselves, or even stocking their pantry at home.
I’m not going to browbeat these people to get them to admit that this stuff is wrong and antisocial. It’s not exactly the crime of the century. Depending on how well I know the person, sometimes I gently ask them why they think this is acceptable. The responses I get range from non-sequitur rationalizations (“I overpaid my taxes, why should I pay bridge tolls?”) to rules-lawyering (“if it’s not forbidden, why shouldn’t I?”) to blackpills (“it’s like India here, every man for himself”) to blank stares and changes of topic.
The people I’m talking about are high functioning. They have careers, relationships, educations. They make good money. The sociopath at least understands that there are rules that have to be followed, but Gagne’s understanding of “neurotypicals” doesn’t match what I see (maybe I don’t know enough affluent white female liberals?). I see people who see no connection at all between rules and benefits. I see people who don’t feel that they have to follow the rules, or even that being a good person entails following the rules. I see people who will do just about anything that gets them ahead if they can’t immediately see the harm. The notion that actions may have diffuse costs, that abusing policies makes things worse for people who follow the rules, that your coworkers might want to eat those snacks, is the furthest thing from their mind. They view these considerations with something between ignorance and contempt - you’re just a sucker if you aren’t looking out for #1.
But sociopaths use it out of necessity, and that’s a really important distinction. My decision to mask [adopting prosocial mannerisms] is not because I have some dark ulterior motive. It’s because you guys are interesting to me. Neurotypical emotions are so colorful and complex. In order for me to engage with you, you have to feel comfortable with me. In order for you to feel comfortable with me, I have to mask. I find that people are unnerved by me when I’m not masking… The bottom line is that I want you to feel comfortable, so I engage. I smile. I mirror. It’s not nefarious; it’s necessary.
Has it always been this way? I am not sure. I think that things have gotten worse. It seems that more people are adopting the perspective that they should just loot all the value they can out of the systems around them, systems that aren’t perfect (why do we W-2 employees need to jump through these tax hoops again?) but make our way of life possible. Burning trust and social capital by mainlining the remorseless sociopathic experience is not long-term sustainable. The people are the same as they used to be, but the mask is slipping, whether that means there’s more of this behavior or people feel emboldened to speak out about it.
Borges wrote a meta-fictional review of a book about how a knave got a glimpse of preternatural goodness in some scum-of-the-earth son-of-a-bitch and realized that he must have witnessed a glimpse, a shard of a great man.
All at once - with the miraculous consternation of Robinson Crusoe faced with the human footprint in the sand - he perceives some mitigation in this infamy: a tenderness, an exaltation, a silence in one of the abhorrent men. "It was asif a more complex interlocutor had joined the dialogue." He knows that the vile man conversing with him is incapable of this momentaneous decorum; from this fact he concludes that the other, for the moment, is the reflection of a friend, or of the friend of a friend. Rethinking the problem he arrives at a mysterious conviction:some place in the world there is a man from whom this clarity emanates; some place in the world there is a man who is this clarity. The student resolves to dedicate his life to finding him.
Even a man of the ‘vilest class’ can reflect a kind of holiness. Isn’t it possible that the mild-mannered white collar transgressors around me are reflecting a kind of damnation? Did these small-time bastards pick up their tendencies from some glancing contact, a ‘faint trace’ of a scowl or word in someone more pathological?
I think, inherently, neurotypicals are fascinated by sociopathy because it’s a relatable disorder. Everybody has that darkness in them. Everybody has those thoughts that they shoo away because of guilt. If more conversations between neurotypical and so-called neurodivergents were to occur, it would benefit both… I was sitting across from a man at a dinner party — this was like two years ago — and my diagnosis came up, and 30 seconds afterward he said, “You know, I have thoughts of killing my wife a lot.” Not to normalize that, but I was like, Tell me about that. And he goes: “I’ve really thought about it. I’ve reached out to people about hiring somebody to kill her.”
“The line separating good and evil passes… through every human heart.” There has to be a way to beat back the darkness and grow the ‘bridgehead of good.’ To refuse to reflect the damned darkness of the guiltless sociopathic id, in ways big and small.
But as for myself, with no clear villains to tilt with, perhaps the best I can do is to keep my mouth shut. Borges has the last word:
After rereading, I am apprehensive lest I have not sufficiently underlined the book's virtues. It contains some very civilized expressions: for example, a certain argument in the nineteenth chapter in which one feels a presentiment that one of the antagonistsis a friend of Al-Mu'tasim when he will not refute the sophisms of his opponent "so as not to be right in a triumphal fashion."