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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





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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


As a Christian and a father I not infrequently find myself faced with a certain moral dilemma. Specifically, my income is pretty good and I’m in the position of deciding what to do with it.

Of course, there is no end of uses for money. Our family is growing and we need a bigger, better home. The sort we want in our area will run us about $6k/month in rent, or $1.2m to buy. The public education system is less ‘broken’ than it is actively ruinous (but both), so private schooling and tutoring considerations apply. There’s retirement planning in the face of an increasingly cartoon economy.

My parish, naturally, wants tithes. They want a whole ten percent! Off the top! And in fairness, if my dollar was the one to determine whether it thrived or failed, that would be the best investment I could make. Our community is amazing and the only place I’d want to raise my children. We run a thrift store (like Goodwill) that is an absolute lifesaver for many of the area’s poor. Also, we practice almsgiving, which is acts of charity above and beyond tithing, if not always monetary.

But many other mouths cry out to be fed as well, from crook-smiled politicians who nonetheless are important to support over the other guy to NGOs trying to staunch an arterial rupture of human tragedy with the equivalent of band-aids for want of bigger budgets.

And life’s finer things are to be considered as well. I like good art, soundly-crafted furniture, stylish clothing (important for my job too), high-quality ingredients for cooking, and the occasional getaway to see family, friends, or just interesting places. The kids want enrichment also, and while I’m not going to call this demand a pit, it certainly is bottomless. Too, there is the notion of self-care; that it’s important to expend enough resources on my own well-being that I continue to be able to generate the income.

Only, as all of these are valued in dollars, they directly trade off against each other. And in the way of autists, I can’t help but grope my way down the thing toward the root of the problem. It has taken me to some pretty intense places.

~All human societies hold in common an understanding that it is a father’s duty to protect and provide for his children. This is enshrined in law, culture, and everywhere else. Of course a father would do anything to save his child — rob, murder, cheat, lie, or give up his own life without hesitation. To do otherwise would be reprehensible.

This principle is not without its exceptions. Men in office, for example, are expected to set aside their familial obligations when acting in their official capacity (And, actually, one could find far worse yardsticks of a people’s worth than their ability to hold to this standard consistently). If a soldier on the front lines receives word of a family emergency, efforts are often made to excuse him to attend to it, but where this conflicts with operational considerations he is expected to stay put, and failure to do so is generally agreed to be worthy of capital enforcement, even if our hearts are understandably with him.

I have heard a saying along the following lines attributed to the Bedouin of the deep desert:

Me and my tribe against the world

Me and my clan against the tribe

Me and my cousins against the clan

Me and my brother against our cousins

Me against my brother

If my daughter and the neighbor-kid are both starving I am expected to feed my own and let the other die. So with my nieces and nephews over my second-cousins’ kids, all the way up the enumerated hierarchy. This is understood. This is a human universal. Most, I expect, would agree that this is the very foundation of morality, though as we will see I am not so sure.

Where exceptions come in it is because a man has taken upon himself the role of father to a greater family than that of his immediate. We honor enormously the Patriarch who puts the good of the clan above his own children. We remember with fierce admiration the Emperor who adopts a competent successor as his son while consigning his own degenerate offspring to some idle pleasure dome in the countryside. We exalt the young man who gives his own life in the trenches while his pregnant wife waits for him anxiously back home. We depend upon such men. We call them heroes. This, too, is moral. It is perhaps even a higher sort of morality.

A messiah is one who brings such benefit to his People at the grandest scales. A typical Christian narrative on the subject goes something like: The Jews were conquered by one hostile nation and then another, denied their own homeland, constantly at risk of enslavement and extermination, and were able to survive all of this by virtue of their hope in a coming promised messiah. They had many specific expectations of what he would be like, too. He would bloodily uproot the foreigners, bring the earth under his dominion, and elevate his own race to lordship, never to be so threatened again. When Jesus came to Jerusalem the people laid down palm fronds that he (or his mount(s)) might tread upon these instead of the dirt. They were elated. They knew exactly what was coming, and they were ready as only centuries of bitter anticipation can make a people. And then the State executed him in their ugliest fashion and he didn’t even attempt to resist. Even the disciples, whom Christ had tried to prepare for this over and over again, understood that all was lost and that Jesus was not the messiah. Messiahs do not lose. They conquer.

Let me shift gears now and talk about Hitler. There is no figure more reviled in our culture. He serves as our icon of utmost evil; of the worst aspects of human nature. To publicly question this in the slightest is to run a very real risk of losing everything and, in many Western countries, even runs up against laws that will land one in a jail cell.


Yes, I realize that I’m committing an unspeakable breach of social etiquette by asking. Yes, I know that many of us, even here, have an uncontrollable disgust reflex on the topic. Even those who are more or less comfortable with discussing differences in average racial IQs or impulse control, or personality trait variances between men and women.


The usual answer for someone in such circles is, “Because such discourse is controlled by the Jews, etc., yada yada yada” and while there is certainly something to this it is, at least at this resolution, entirely beside the point I’m trying to make. So please bear with me — that is not where I’m taking you.

One day a few months ago I, in the way of autists, asked myself what exactly was so unusual about Hitler that he should occupy the mythological position that he does. One can of course enumerate a long list of terrible atrocities for which he was responsible. Only, as I went through them, I couldn’t help but notice that not only were they all basically par for the course for the Father, the would-be messiah of a people, but that worse examples of each can be found (both quantitatively and almost always qualitatively) in the biographies of other leaders — including, not to put too fine a point on this, those seen often enough on t-shirts in public without ruffling anyone’s feathers particularly.

So, finding myself at a loss, I escalated the question to some trusted friends, and discovered that while it was extremely upsetting to most of them, none even attempted to answer, but rather clucked at me while shaking their heads in horrified exasperation. These are people, you understand, whose capacity for decoupled analysis I generally respect very greatly. Disconcerting, to say the least. Can’t you pick as a mascot, one said, someone other than the craziest and most evil man in history?

Only, I cannot fathom how anyone sees this when they look at Hitler. Here was a man who sincerely held the best interests of his People in his heart. He came of age in a time when his nation was — historical aggression notwithstanding — brutally, horrifically, oppressed. Countless of his countrymen, women and children, starved to death needlessly under spiteful, vindictive post-war Allied blockades. The economy was so saddled with reparation debt that rebuilding would take generations if it were ever possible at all. The people had no hope. Men and women who wanted families faced down a seemingly-insurmountable challenge in doing so. The risk of watching their babies die of starvation was all too real. And what chance had those children of decent lives even if they did survive to adulthood? They would end up de facto slaves, servants to the sneering foreigners who now controlled everything.

Germany’s culture — within living memory arguably the pinnacle of human achievement — was brought low, rapidly to be replaced with this new post-war thrust which we can now recognize as the antecedent to the sort of moral and cultural disintegration with which we are today so familiar.

And this man! This man was nobody. He was a failed art student. But he decided that he was not going to let that happen. He was going to save his people or die trying. Yes, in pursuit of this goal he engaged in some of the most reprehensible methods imaginable. But in what sense was he not playing the highest, most honorable role for his people — that of a messiah? Was the alternative really any more moral? Are we clutching our pearls and sobbing because it was mean to kill political opponents when what he should have done was to suffer the children of his nation to starve to death in the streets while foreigners feasted in the beautiful homes built by his forefathers? Can we really suppose for one moment that the Jewish zealots of AD 66 would have had any problem with Hitlerian tactics were the shoe on the other foot and being executed by Eleazar ben Simon against the Romans? Yes, Hitler was a mess and riddled with countless inexcusable flaws, but are we truly to believe that he did what he did simply because he enjoyed causing others pain? The man was a vegetarian for goodness’ sake!

Now contrast this with Stalin (or Lenin). How explicit do I need to be here? Whether they acted more out of lust for power or a sincere ideological commitment to, idk, ‘the working class’ (imo doubtful), these guys did not act out of love for their people, and did not hesitate to consign millions of them to starvation in pursuit of power.

And they killed so many more. So many more. But our politicians can admire them openly and the common man has only the haziest idea of why this might be a problem. And while, sure, the opposition will attempt to make much hay of this, the younger generations increasingly seem uninterested in what they have to say about it.

Last night a friend told me,

my opinion is that you've been brainpoisoned into calling evil good and good evil and rather than leaning into the caricatures of your enemies by using the word 'hitlerism' to refer to good things you should not do that

(Not that I was — it’s precisely the distinction that I’m trying to draw, but we’ll get to that.)

So on the subject of ‘my enemies’, let me tell you a few things I notice about them.

  • They get abortions

  • They permanently sterilize themselves, or

  • They take pills to trick their bodies into thinking they've just lost a baby because this spiritual distress is preferable to them over the prospect of actually reproducing.

  • They purchase chihuahuas, and pekinese, and felines, and portage them around in equipment intended for human children which will never exist

  • They agonize over the irresponsibility of their own kind having children, but gasp in horror at anyone who suggests that African birthrates might become a problem

  • They desire to privilege children of other races above their own, ceding educational access, preferential employment, etc.

  • They get nervous at portrayals of healthy white families with several children

  • They will loudly insist that they do not have a culture

  • They really don’t like borders and seem to think that it’s their responsibility to feed and clothe the world

This list could be ten times as long, of course. You get the idea. So to circle back around to my original point —

My enemies do not feed their own children first. My enemies sell their children at the market and immediately donate the proceeds to the worst, most irredeemably valueless people they can find. And if they can’t find one close enough to hand, they go looking. And it’s disgusting. It’s reprehensible. It offends me to a degree that I have difficulty conveying without jumping up and down and screaming until I’m red in the face and collapsing into a pile of tears. Only, I seem to remember Jesus telling us to do what my enemies are doing — or it’s at least close enough that I can’t help but notice.

Which brings us back to my daughter. As her father, where does my responsibility to her end? At what point should I give a dollar to feed notional children on the other side of the world rather than investing it in her future? How stiff will her competition be? How can I know in advance which investment will turn out to make all the difference?

Consider the following scenario. I am walking down the street and notice my neighbor’s two year old breaking free from her front door and running into traffic. Of course if I can safely rescue her I should, but suppose I’m not sure that I can without endangering my own life in the process, and leaving my children fatherless? I could maybe look her parents in the eye afterward and say “There just wasn’t anything I could do” and they’d likely catch the nuance and understand and even bitterly sympathize.

But supposing I had plenty of time to save the child, and just choose not to because this would mean I don't have time to read my daughter a bedtime story. Is that equivalent to murder? I say yes. Trying to delineate between the two is an unseemly thing for a man to do and belies a womanly discomfort with agency. But when I spend a few extra bucks to get her the pink scooter someone, somewhere, is going hungry, and in aggregate dying.

Or imagine that I’m the chieftain of one of two small tribes on a small island. Resources are getting scarce and everyone knows that at some point soon it’s going to be us or them. Does a good leader, a good father, wait for the threat to ripen, for the enemy to choose the place and time for battle? Or does he strike preemptively? It will be either our children or theirs who die. We will eat their babies or they will eat ours. Shouldn’t a father make sure of which it is? Isn’t that what a good father does?

The reason our society is so reflexively disgusted by Hitler is because we have mostly internalized the notion that our children should die that others might live, and the man with the tiny moustache represents the polar opposite of that.

Hitler seems to me, at heart, a very good father. If I emulated him, I should not hesitate to feed my own child first, even upon the corpses of my neighbors’ children. I should lie and cheat and steal and murder in game-theoretically optimal ways to bestow upon my children as many resources as possible, that they should not themselves end up in chains or on the dinner plate. The notorious Fourteen Words — “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children” — make the connection so explicit and unassailable that the Left dares not to look upon it.

But the icon-stand in my heart labeled “Father” does not have Hitler’s portrait in it. Actually the picture there is blank, ha ha, but that’s another story, and the point is that Christ fills in pretty well. My Father does not feed His own child first. He feeds His child to us. Bit by blood-soaked bit, forever. I can struggle with the apparent discrepancy between disinheriting my daughter to feed what looks to me like a total waste of the Imago Dei, but there it is. I am certain that the difference between my girl, whom I can assure you I adore unbearably and who always seems to have a beam of sunshine on her in my eyes — that the difference between her and the most contemptible human being ever to exist, is as nothing compared to the difference between God’s son and my daughter, or myself.

But the gorge does rise in my throat when I consider failing to protect what seems, to me, the most beautiful person, and the most beautiful People, ever to exist in favor of… that. Every cell in my body says that I should sooner glass an entire foreign continent rather than allow harm to befall one hair upon my daughter’s perfect golden head.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

And we can’t even expect the problem to go away. The least of these will always be among us. He said so. Maybe the only clean way out of this is to not have children in the first place. I’m afraid He might have said that too.

I try to console myself with precedent. I try to believe. We have established two types of morality: A baseline morality of feeding one’s own children first, and a higher morality of sacrificing one’s children for the greater good of the People. But Christ would seem to indicate a third sort, which is to love the foreigner's child more than one’s own. This is, after all, what God did.

And for a minute there humans actually did it too! As Scott says,

The early Christian Church had the slogan “resist not evil” (Matthew 5:39), and indeed, their idea of Burning The Fucking System To The Ground was to go unprotestingly to martyrdom while publicly forgiving their executioners. They were up against the Roman Empire, possibly the most effective military machine in history, ruled by some of the cruelest men who have ever lived. [...] this should have been the biggest smackdown in the entire history of smackdowns.

And it kind of was. Just not the way most people expected.

Food for thought, I guess.

So it seems to me that if I'm to be a Christian, this directly implies feeding my child to the dogs. And if I'm to do otherwise, this fully generalizes to Hitler. Either way I had better get serious about whatever it is I'm doing here.

Long story short, I’m currently trying to decide between this apron and this one for my daughter for when she’s painting at her easel. The first is a little bit cheaper, but she’ll like the second one better because it has unicorns. Hoping someone can offer some insight here.


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

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?

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.


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.

An in depth proposal for how Elon can brute force the Problem of Identity to make 10s of billions off of Twitter Verifications.

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.

This is a fascinating video. At 7:00, Tom Rowsell (SurviveTheJive) reads out some excerpts of the Srimad Bhagvatam(an important hindu scripture) where many if not every single prophecy comes true. The higher values are replaced by lower ones. Ones only worth in society is based upon their level of affluence and sex, people have no loyalty to their own family, culture or values. The only thing people will satisfy will be their genitals and bellies.

Everything will decay but there is a glimmer of hope. Just taking the name of Krishna would help one escape life and attain moksha.

Tom makes references from other indo european religions as well, this is not a culture war or culture war adjacent thing, mostly just something I found super fascinating given that they all were faiths that were very similar for the most part and got many things about the future right. The issue with kaliyuga is that of values, we have seen astounding technological and economical growth, the truth in many places is that many have lost values that were considered important by those who appreciate antiquity (I do at least). Many will not agree but even then, would appreciate any thots on this.


What is intuition?

Intuition is the result of a subconscious mental process

I came up with this definition by pure intuition, it seems right to me, but how do I know it seems right? I just do. OK, but maybe it's not a good definition, maybe there are better definitions available online, and because I'm writing this for other people to read, I probably should check before posting (wait... is it "probably should check" or "should probably check"?, I think most people say the latter, but grammatically the former seems better), but I'm going to resist the urge for now.

Initially I started to write this post with a few drinks and wrote whatever came to my mind as it came, and the problem is that when you are thinking about how you are thinking, you are suddenly aware of how often your thinking process is interrupted by a thought, which if you explore it, it will lead you to more thoughts that are going to be interrupted in turn... it's a mess.

This stream of consciousness quickly ended being much longer than I anticipated, but I wouldn't subject my readers to it, why not? Because I've been writing for more than twenty years and I kind of have a feeling of what people like to read. But perhaps I should, maybe more people would like my unfiltered consciousness rather than these structured thoughts, or maybe what I think are structured thoughts other people would see as ramblings--not significantly different from the unfiltered ones.

It is difficult to write. After thinking about the topic I've realized I have so much to say about intuition, but if I say it all will take me a very long time to write, and it would take a very long time to read, and perhaps because of that nobody reads it. I would rather say a little about intuition so that more people read it, and if they don't, well, at least I didn't spend a lot of time writing about it.

But at this point I haven't said much about intuition, have I? Let me try to connect what I've said so far with intuition.

The best example I can think of is when chess master players do a move they are not even consciously aware of. It's clearly an intelligent move, and they can tell if it's a good move, but they can't tell you why. If you ask them why they made certain move, they might come up with an explanation, but this is not necessarily why they did it.

Research shows that the subconscious mind makes decisions independent of what the conscious mind experiences. My favorite example is a task in which when the actions of participants were analyzed systematically, it turns out all of them did the same thing, but they all came up with different explanations of why they did it.

This is a deep philosophical issue, because it touches consciousness, intelligence, the sense of self, and even free will.

How do I choose to write what I write? I don't truly know. I intuit that some things are better options than others, but how? Where do these thoughts come from? And if I didn't consciously choose these thoughts, then who is ultimately writing?

The truth is that intuition is a mystery.

I feel like I have made a "good" point, but I also feel like there's two important points I can make related to ChatGPT and Nassim Taleb. Should I stop now? I'm not sure.

Can intuition be wrong? Well, if it's a "mystery" one would be tempted to say intuition is just intuition, but I believe there's bad intuition, and this comes from understanding what an expert is.

When one starts to learn chess there are some mechanical things to remember: how each piece moves, what's the relative value of each piece, etc. The more one learns, the more these things become embedded on one's mind, so you don't have to think about them, you just intuit that a certain move is good because it leaves you with a material advantage. But then you learn that even if a certain move is advantageous in one turn, the opponent can answer in a way that leaves you in a disadvantage. So your intuition was not good enough, and you need to learn more. After countless hours of playing your intuition becomes top-notch.

But if intuition could be wrong, what alternative is there? Presumably the alternative is analytical thinking. Aha! This sounds like Daniel Kahneman's Thinking, Fast and Slow. Intuitive thought is System 1, analytical thought is System 2.

After hours of thinking about this topic and this relationship honestly just came to my mind.

Why didn't I initially thought of this? This is like asking a chess player why didn't he see a particular move... I cannot think what I did not think.

OK. But I haven't made my point yet, and now I have to consider explaining System 1 and 2 for people who are not familiar with them. Or maybe I should just assume everyone knows that, but no, because I remember the writing advice of Steven Pinker, beware of the curse of knowledge, except this is going to be read by mottizens and if I explain something that is so basic they might conclude that I am basic. Screw it.

I believe everyone thinks analytically (System 2), the only difference between an expert and a novice is that the expert has internalized so much analytical thinking into his intuition (System 1), that whatever the novice has to think slowly about, it comes naturally fast for the expert, leaving his analytical thinking free to do much more complex analysis.

So analytical thinking is nothing more than the process through which we build our intuition. The more analytical thinking we do, the better our intuition becomes.

I didn't connect this to Nassim Taleb, but the inspiration came from him, essentially: analytical thinking is overrated.

OK, now I really feel I have to make the next point.

Recently I've seen ChatGPT everywhere, after toying with it substantially and discussing what I've found, I'm pretty sure what I see and what other people see is quite different.

The argument that I've seen a lot of people make is basically "it's just a bot", whatever miraculous answers it provides are nothing more than a simulacra of an intelligent being. It's not "truly" intelligent because it cannot do analytical thinking.

The point that I think everyone is missing is that intelligence itself is a mystery.

I don't know how I am deciding the next word that I'm going to type. It depends on my current mental state, which itself depends on the entirety of what I've read in the past, and what I've written.

But I've reread what I've written five or even ten years ago, and it's not as "good" as what I can write now. It makes sense because now I've read more, and I've written more.

My intuition about what to write next is better now.

And this is exactly how language models work. The more data you feed into a model, the better it becomes at writing a response that is deemed "good" by its readers.

Pessimists say that even if ChatGPT generates something truly marvelous it's still just a bot, it doesn't actually know why it wrote what it wrote. But guess what... Neither does a human.

If I ask you: what is 8 + x = 10? You are probably going to come up with an answer immediately. Do you know how you arrived to that answer? We know that a toddler cannot answer that, so some training is necessary. The more training, the more automatic the response will be. ChatGPT also generates an automatic response based on its training.

I feel there's so much more to write about this, but I want to conclude on the basis of two propositions.

I could write a whole essay on free will, but let's suppose that it doesn't exist, also suppose that the true nature of humans is misguided, and we are nothing more than a consciousness. I believe these two things are true, but I don't have the space to substantiate them here.

Grant me those two suppositions. What follows is that we don't know what's going to come next from our subconscious mind, you don't know what I'm going to type next, but neither do I. My conscious mind is as much a passenger in this stream of consciousness as your conscious mind is (assuming it's still following). I'm just witnessing my intuition doing its thing, but in truth that's all I can truly do.

I still don't know if my definition of intuition is close to how a dictionary would define it, but it still feels true. And that's probably what all my knowledge is: whatever feels true. My intuition of what feels true comes from all the analytical thinking I've done in the past, and this is probably what a language model considers knowledge too.

Or maybe I'm confusing what intuition is with how it manifests, just like people in the past concentrated on how heat manifests, not on what it truly was.

Maybe intuition is the encoding of analytical thinking, which we only see when a decision has to be made.

Intuition is encoded analytical thought

Either way, I had never thought of intuition in this way before (I hadn't actually given it much thought), this insight wouldn't have been possible if I hadn't sat down and written about the topic in the first place. All my intuition was already there, I just had to play it out, and as I was writing, I was genuinely surprised by the thoughts that were popping out in real time (why didn't I think of that before?).

My intuition also tells me that my insight is not something trivial that other people have already expressed many times over, but I know I've had insights in the past that I consider non-trivial only for other people to shit on them, so I shouldn't let my hopes up. Worst-case scenario this intuition about intuition might feed future insights.

I am not a big fan of Alex Berenson. I don't like journalists because they don't understand population statistics. They are interested mostly in anecdotal cases and their duty is to write about them in an interesting and viral way. And yet, that is an important service to identify targets that are worth of deeper analysis.

In Alex case while he missed many times, he also hit some good targets.

  1. vaccine effectiveness against infection is lost withing 3-4 months

  2. prior infection provides stronger immunity than vaccination

The second was always suspected but the evidence was always lacking. Now it turns out that twitter supressed tweets that announced the first real evidence (even if not very strong) that it is the case. I believe that this suppression likely extended wider than just twitter and ultimately influenced the US policy to not recognise immunity from infection when vaccine mandates were put in place. In contrast, most European countries with mandates recognised immunity from prior infection in one way or another as inferior or equal to immunity from vaccination.

There might be some practical considerations – vaccination is easy to register and provide proof. Prior infection is more nebulous, requires expensive testing, some tests are less reliable. The whole idea casts shadow how reasonable vaccine mandates are in the first place. Some would worry that the recognition of immunity from prior infection could also encourage vaccine hesitant to seek getting infected.

Such policies however are very risky because they are conditional on us never finding out the truth. It was always more likely that prior infection confers stronger immunity than vaccination. It was stupid to try to supress the evidence at any time. Eventually it surfaced (as it was bound to) and made those attempts to control narrative look evil.

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.


So I recently heard about this supplement called Nicotinamide Mononucleotide. It's heralded as this great medicine that reduces aging, and gets rid of many issues.

And I really want to believe it, but there's something snakeoil salesmany about it.

  • It's heralded as a magical cure with no downside

  • It resolves so many issues and problems with your body it's unreal

  • From brain to liver, to ankles and skin, it's all covered

It all sounds too good to be true to me. I don't think it has negative effects and it's actually malicious, but I think it's just a fad that's being pushed. I don't think it can do really bad harm, but I don't think there's any better effects than a tummy ache.

What do you think? Do you have experience with this supplement?

What seems to be the most popular theory of economic development these days are the ideas expressed in the book "Gambling on Development". I have not read the book, but as I gathered from this review and other ones by different people on Amazon and Goodreads, the central point of the book is that development in nation states only happens when the entrenched elites decide to gamble on economic growth.

The theory: the elites who already are at the top of financial and social hierarchy supposedly normally have no need to pursue economic development. Attempting to pursue development is in fact likely to be damaging to their personal interests, since the status quo which keeps them at the top would have to undergo considerable change. Because of that, they usually don't. On the other hand, some elites do decide that pursuing development could put them in even better position: even more wealth, power and influence. Sure, things could go very wrong. But they could also go very very right. Because of this, they decide to take their chances and 'gamble' on development.

I don't buy this theory. Everyone seems to take it seriously and I'm not sure why.

The first problem I have with its fundamental point is the idea that elites are insecure by default and thence are unlikely to want to gamble on development since that might put their power in danger. That contravenes everything everyone knows about people who have things in abundance and their relationship with it. We do know that genuinely wealthy people do not worry about money, nor do genuinely smart people worry about intelligence. Why then would elites (with abundant power) worry about power?

I don't think they would. Genuine elites feel and know that they are the elites. They aren't in an existential panic about how they might lose their power. Sure they would be careful in managing their power (much like a wealthy person would be careful in managing their wealth), but it is unlikely that they would allow this be a big bad overpowering fear which dictates what they should or shouldn't do.

So, what might be a better theory for why some elites never do gamble on development, or why the ones who do ever do?

It is all downstream of competence.

First of all, macro-competence(competence at major important things) is a monolith. An individual who is reasonably smart is also going to be reasonably healthy, and be in a reasonable financial position, averaged out over time (if they are poor at a time, it might be that they grew up poor but need some time for their good decisions to compound over a long-enough time to land them in a better position. This doesn't mean that they will ever become wealthy. What it does mean is that they will be in a reasonably decent financial position given where they started from). It's all downstream from their competence: it allows them to make good decisions in all aspects of their personal life.

The same thing is true of people with power (an elite) running a country. It is why countries that are well-run, are well-run on multiple fronts. The ones which are mediocre are mediocre, and the ones which are poorly run, seem to be incapable of getting anything done right.

Because of this, an elite coalition who are incompetent at running a country are likely going to be incompetent at being an elite too (keeping hold to power). Maybe this is what causes them all the terror and worry about losing their power if they did attempt to pursue development?

A genuine elite (competent at holding onto power) does as people with power do: whatever the fuck they want.

Why do the elite who do, ever work on development?

The same reason people who work on big, audacious goals ever do. For the same reason Elon Musk took his exit from Paypal and plowed them into an electric car company and a space company.

So the true reason that the elite ever work on long-term development of their country is that: taste for challenge, self-belief, and pining for self-satisfaction. Sheer... being absolutely the one who knocks.

This is the first intermission of 👯, listed as season 1 episode 7 for filing purposes. In this episode, TracingWoodgrains, MasterThief, The Sultan Of Swing, XantosCell, and Unsaying discuss religious community.

This discussion was originally slated to be released as an episode of the The Bailey podcast, but eventually it was decided that it should be published elsewhere instead, and so it finds its home here, at 👯.

The image used in the video is Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld's Pentecost woodcut for "Die Bibel in Bildern", 1860:

Show notes:

36:00 Unsaying's superintelligence of deity post:

39:47 Despite instructions made in the moment, this tangent was not cut out, as it turned out to be relevant. Normally, any requests to cut something out would be honored, but everyone involved assented to this edit of the episode.

47:03 Xantos's snake-handling video:

Extended show notes:

(Discussing unsuitability for marriage and the path of monasticism)

(If people want more BG on heresies, i dunno)

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.

AI post. Never made a top-level post before, plz let me know what I'm doing wrong.

Quote from part of the article:

one simulated test saw an AI-enabled drone tasked with a SEAD mission to identify and destroy SAM sites, with the final go/no go given by the human. However, having been ‘reinforced’ in training that destruction of the SAM was the preferred option, the AI then decided that ‘no-go’ decisions from the human were interfering with its higher mission – killing SAMs – and then attacked the operator in the simulation.

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.

I’ve been wanting to write down my thoughts on the subject of belief and truth for some while now. The distinction between the two is one of the cornerstones of how I see the world. A good theory of what the truth is, and what it means to have a belief has a profound impact on how we think about the world. It also has a profound impact on how we understand other peoples’ perception of the world.

The Truth:

The objective truth. The true truth. The truth is true even if you don’t believe it is true. It is true even if you don’t know it is true. It is true even if you can’t prove that it’s true.


A person’s perception of the truth. We form our beliefs based on a combination of several things, including our personal obversations, our reasoning, and our prior beliefs. A belief might not be the objective truth, and it’s foolish to treat it as if it were. However, belief is how we experience the truth, so it’s the closest thing we have.

The role of evidence:

Many people equate evidence with truth. If you ask people to define objective truth, they will likely say something about evidence. Some people even treat an idea with no evidence in the same way they that they would treat an outright false idea, such as in the anectote described in this post by David J. Balan.

Neil deGrasse Tyson has put out his own theory of “Objective Truth”. And his theory is all about evidence.

According to Neil deGrasse Tyson, an idea becomes the Objective Truth only after it has been established by a substancial amount of evidence. This is a fine way to define objective truth, since if we want to be extremely sure that an idea is true, then we almost certainly need a strong body of evidence to prove it. However, I think it’s worthwhile to acknowledge that an idea can be true even if there is no evidence for it. If there’s no evidence, it can still be true, we just wouldn’t know it.

Newton produced the proof for how gravity worked in the 1600s However, the equations that Newton came up with would have still worked at any prior period in history. They would even have worked if nobody had proven them. The evidence for Newton’s equations isn’t the thing that made them true. What the evidence did was allow us to be certain that they were true. Essentially, evidence is just a tool that we use to make sure that our beliefs are close to the truth.

Likewise, a thing can be untrue, even if there actually is evidence. What looks like good evidence can often be flawed. There are many examples of this in the criminal justice system.

One good example of this is the case of Ronald Cotton where eyewitness Jennifer Thompson famously misidentified the perpetrator.

She had never been so sure of anything.

His name was Ronald Cotton and he was the same age as she. Local man, headed down the wrong road, had already been in trouble with the law. He had been arrested on first-degree burglary charges and had served 18 months in prison for attempted sexual assault. Cotton had insisted that the relationship resulting in the assault charge was consensual and that he was being unfairly targeted by police because he liked to date white women.

When Thompson picked him out of the lineup, everyone was sure they had the right man.

Cotton is tall and handsome, with baby-smooth chocolate skin and a warm, engaging smile. Confronted by Thompson, his normal calm failed him. He was petrified. But he said nothing, betrayed no emotion.

Cotton’s actions and past hadn’t helped his case. He was nervous. He got his dates mixed up. His alibis didn’t check out. A piece of foam was missing from his shoe, similar to a piece found at the crime scene.

Not only was Cotton identified by the primary eyewitness, but there was other evidence too. There was physical evidence regarding the foam on his shoe. He couldn’t keep his story straight. He had past convictions for sexual assault. There was a lot of evidence that suggested he did it, and it was pretty compelling.

However, DNA Evidence showed that Cotton couldn’t possibly have been the rapist.

Cotton was unsuccessful overturning his conviction in several appeals. But in the spring of 1995, his case was given a major break: the Burlington Police Department turned over all evidence, which included the assailant’s semen for DNA testing, to the defense.

The samples from one victim were tested and showed no match to Cotton. At the defense’s request, the results were sent to the State Bureau of Investigation’s DNA database and the database showed a match with the convict who had earlier confessed to the crime to a fellow inmate in prison.

Evidence is not synonymous with truth, and even if you have evidence for something, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s true. There could be a mistake in the evidence, or there could even be a nuance that you haven’t thought of.

My Truth? Your Truth? His Truth? Her Truth?

One concept that occasionally comes up in online discourse is the idea of a person having their own truth. Most of the time when you see it, someone “telling their truth” is portrayed as a positive thing. But when a post is specifically about what a person’s truth actually means, it usually ends up saying somethint to the effect of “there is no her truth or his truth. There is only the truth”

Take the following comic for example:

This is a widly circulated comic online, and it contains 2 people expressing different beliefs about what number is drawn on the ground. They state these beliefs as though they are the truth, and there is a caption below in black font that implies that both of their beliefs are valid.

Then apparently, someone altered the comic, crossed out the black text, and added their own text in red. This red text assumes that both of the characters are “uninformed” and that at least one of them is definitly wrong. It goes on to say that they should have checked the facts, that they don’t want to do any research, and that what they’re doing is ruining the world.

I think that the person who wrote the black text, knows best what that symbol is supposed to be. That person is presumably the original author of the comic, and the person who created the symbol in the first place. I can’t think of a way any other person can possibly know better what the symbol is supposed to be. Apparently, according to that person, both 6 and 9 are right, and if that’s true, then the red text seems very silly.

Furthermore, this the symbol in this comic is a metaphor for much more complicated questions in real life. With real-life versions of this dilemma you don’t always have an obvious alternative explanation for what the truth might be. You just see a 6 and already know about ‘9’. In real life, both sides might be incredibly informed, and the reason they disagree might be because the problem is so complex that each party doesn’t have all the information the other party has, or they might have made a mistake in their reasoning.

They may even have seen what appears to them to be 100% conclusive evidence. However, one or both of them might have misinterpreted something along the way. They can’t reasonably be expected to know about the mistake. If they did, then they would have already gone back and fixed their reasoning. To them, their side is the Objective Truth.

It could also be the case that all their facts are both totally true, and the reason they disagree is because they’re not seeing the bigger picture. They might not even know about a bigger picture. It’s not always obvious where one exists.

I prefer this other widly-circulated image. It covers some important nuance that the above comic (the original version) doesn’t.

The core problem is that belief is how a person experiences truth. You can’t tell the difference between a strongly-held, but false belief and the truth. If you could, then you wouldn’t have the false belief in the first place. You can’t expect other people to tell the difference either. To them, it is the truth! This is what “their truth” actually is. Humans don’t have some sort of mystical “truth-sence” that lets us know for sure what the truth is. It’s not so easy to just choose objective truth over your truth, when “your truth” is the very way that you experience truth.

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).

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).

I have a short Substack post about AI regulation which is itself a teaser for my much longer article in Areo Magazine about AI risk & policy.

When Chat GPT 3.5 was released, I was tribally. But within weeks my emotions switched tribes, even though my actual rational opinions have been more or less consistent. Basically

  • We have almost no real-world understanding of AI-alignment, we need open, visibile experimentation to get it.

  • There really is risk, AI-development needs legal limits,

  • Those limits should be more about rule-of-law than administrative power.

  • The goal is to create and delimit rights to work on AI safely.

But do read the actual articles to unpack that.

That's what I want, but what I'm afraid we'll get (with the backing of the AI-risk community) is a worst-of-both-worlds. Large unaccountable entities (i.e. governments and approved corporations) will develop very powerful Orwellian AIs, while squelching the open development that could (a) help us actually understand how to do AI safety, and (b) use AI in anti-Orwellian tools like personal bullshit detectors.

I understand the argument that crushing open development is Good Actually because every experiment could be the one that goes FOOM. But this Yuddist foomer-doomerism is based on an implausible model of what intelligence is. As I say in Areo (after my editor made it more polite):

Their view of intelligence as monomaniacal goal-seeking leads the rationalists to frame AI alignment as a research problem that could only be solved by figuring out how to programme the right goals into super-smart machines. But in truth, the only way to align the values of super-smart machines to human interests is to tinker with and improve stupider machines.

Any smart problem-solver must choose a course of action from a vast array of possible choices. To make that choice, the intelligence must be guided by pre-intellectual value judgements about which actions are even worth considering. A true-blue paperclip maximiser would be too fascinated by paperclips to win a war against the humans who were unplugging its power cord.

But even if you did believe in foom-doom, centralising development will not help. You are just re-inventing the Wuhan Institute for Virology.