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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).

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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.

(I was going to wait till Wellness Wednesday to post this as a comment, but the thread's blurb says it's not meant to be a containment and that advice requests can be posted as threads so here we are)

In dating, if you're ghosted, do you a) always move on stoically, b) always give it one more shot, or c) go with a mix of the two depending on circumstances?

After first or second dates, if I text a woman to set up another date and she doesn't reply, I just leave it alone. I sometimes wonder if there is an infinitesimal probability that maybe somehow my text got lost in the pipes, but if she wanted to see me again, she could always text me even if she thought I never contacted her. Sometimes the ghosting can be perplexing, like she'd already messaged me first after the date saying how she had a great time, and then after I respond asking to meet again, I don't hear back. But that's just dating or life in general--many or most people are flaky and undependable. It reminds me of how when I was procuring enterprise software for work that many sales reps don't even reply to requests for a quote. Speaking of sales, I remember reading a negotiation book whereby if you're the one selling, an effective trick to jumpstart wavering/cold leads is to ask them "have you given up on this project". Manipulative, sure, but all is fair in sales, love, and war.

But I occasionally see/hear stories of how some guy was super persistent despite being turned down and would eventually go on to win over the girl. I'm not talking about Hallmark movies from 20 years ago, but wedding announcements in the New York Times from like two weeks ago. But if we do talk about Hallmark, women sure seem to love romance stories featuring love interests who almost always turn down the protagonist the first time around. Reddit loves upvoting stories of how a couple ended up married despite the girl initially swiping left because of some silly reason like she didn't like his hat, but then they somehow met and fell in love. Part of this is probably because Reddit is disproportionately young and single and so wants to believe in second chances, but part of it is we celebrate persistence culturally: in work interviews, a candidate whom the hiring manager is mostly indifferent to but goes above and beyond to change their mind probably gets the job. I've met girls who tell me that guys who don't pursue them more energetically despite not receiving encouraging signals show that they aren't serious, and so disqualify themselves. And a recent ex actually turned me down when I asked her out, but then we hung out as friends a couple of times and she ended up saying yes when I asked a second time.

Now, to be clear, for most of these non-follow-ups I've been subject to, I didn't really think any of them was "the one", or else I likely would have given it another shot. Still, I enjoyed their company and it would have been fun to go out again. And I'd certainly prefer to be the one who decides to "let her go" rather than having her make the decision for me.

So sometimes I look back and wonder if I should have followed up one more time. Maybe go with something simple like "Hey--I really enjoyed meeting you and would love to see you again, but understand if you don't feel the same spark. I wish you the best!". It sounds cheesy and a bit needy, but costs nothing, barring maybe making the girl feel a bit uncomfortable for not taking a super obvious hint. Different women also have different preferences, whereby some will surely respond to "follow ups" more positively than others. And I'm not convinced that ghosting is some kind of self-unselecting filter for women who lack maturity, since there are enough men who take rejections very poorly that it does seem safer to just not reply as a rule of thumb.

So what do you do? Do you have a system for deciding if and when to follow up after not hearing back?

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.

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So there's a delusional take you see on twitter Etc. All the time. From both sides of almost any issue but especially anything related to Russia, elections, Etc. You see people who respond to normal criticism or an abundance of criticism (usually relatively earned by how bad their takes are) accusing their detractors or those who disagree of being bots or astroturfed Putin or Clinton agents... The implied premise being that only lumps of code or Chinese sweatshop workers employed by bad faith actors could hold views that disagree with the complainer. That only bots or paid shills could oppose Ukraine, or support Clinton over Bernie, or Biden over Trump... Etc.

I used to dismiss these complaints... but now I feel I might owe a general apology.

.

I've noticed since TheMotte moved to its new Site that the Quality of a lot of Comments are just off. Not that the takes are bad or low quality or have odd opinions But that they're Bizarrely and Unnervingly detached from even the barest context of the discussion itself. Stuff completely out of character for even a bad rulebreaking poster on the motte.

Short comments that don't engage with any arguments presented, or even engage with the context of the discussion... but that Immediately tangent off on some culture war point utterly unrelated to the discussion, and then not engaging wit any replies (often with a single external link)... I've seen weird shit on twitter so I've dug into a few of these accounts... and all of their comments are like this, short snipes that never engage even 1 or 2 comments deep with anyone who replies. but that are slowly wracking up a history on the platform...

And then today I was hit by a smoking gun, this Comment:

“The Ukraine conflict is one of the clearest examples of good vs. evil in the past century"

You said it! Look at how despicable these people are!

Video: Ukraine Soldiers Sing Praises Of WW II Era Nazi: https://youtube.com/watch?v=4H-yMmNh5Cs

And now NPR is just casually rehabilitating the Nazis: https://www.npr.org/2022/03/03/1084113728/a-closer-look-at-the-volunteers-who-are-signing-up-to-fight-the-russians

Now the links are to real pieces of media, The Jimmy Dore Show and NPR... both respectable enough... and there'd be little to suggest this was a bot trying to manipulate the discussion... except for one thing:

No one had said the quote he was replying too...

Indeed I know where he got the quote. It was from a discussion/long take weeks before in relation to Ukraine, and would not even have fit the discussion in that piece, since it was a meta-discussion about how figures discuss Ukraine relative to other wars. I'd quoted it back then as an example of something we'd think was delusional and completely detached from intellectual rigor if said about Iraq 1991 or WW1...

Indeed another comment making the opposite argument used the same quote and drew other quotes from the same two week old discussion... except arguing the opposite way (pro-Ukraine)... And likewise replied not at all to having it pointed out that nothing they quoted was at all mentioned in the actual thread or discussion that was being had.

.

This obviously killed the discussion in that thread... when half the thread becomes comments quoting things, points and arugments, that were never said, and the other half must become replies saying in effect WTF!?

Well you can't have a discussion any more. Any organic back and forth between actual mottizens was killed. And obviously none of these either schizos or bots responded to keep discussion going.

Now if this becomes the norm it will kill the space...

.

But its also really unnerved me with regards to the rest of the internet.

The "Dead Internet Theory" doesn't feel like a theory anymore. The Motte is an obscure space with discussion levels high enough you notice if an actor isn't actually thinking or engaging with what's been said... and 2 out of 15 comments in that thread were Fairly undeniably bots....

On a site that's only been up a few months.

What the hell must it be like on other forums? Newspaper comments? YouTube comments?

Hell 4Chan had to implement Capchas for every comment to avoid the problem.

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Y'all must be trying to kill me. The sheer volume of quality contribution reports, combined with the outrageous volume of text you maniacs generate every week, made this an astonishing month to be sorting through the hopper. By far the busiest month for AAQCs since I took over the task. This made winnowing them down especially challenging, and some very good posts simply didn't make the cut simply because the competition was so fierce.

Good job, everyone.

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. Here we go:


Quality Contributions in Culture Peace

@problem_redditor:

Contributions for the week of September 26, 2022

@PmMeClassicMemes:

@KulakRevolt:

Battle of the Sexes

@Tanista:

@problem_redditor:

@Ben___Garrison:

Contributions for the week of October 3, 2022

@Primaprimaprima:

@FiveHourMarathon:

@FCfromSSC:

@urquan:

Identity Politics

@Stefferi:

@urquan:

Contributions for the week of October 10, 2022

@urquan:

@Amadan:

@Chrisprattalpharaptor:

Battle of the Sexes

@VelveteenAmbush:

@sodiummuffin:

@JTarrou:

@bsbbtnh:

Identity Politics

@georgioz:

@gattsuru:

Contributions for the week of October 17, 2022

@MadMonzer:

@Minotaur:

@faceh:

@Butlerian:

@FCfromSSC:

@hydroacetylene:

@urquan:

@Eetan:

Identity Politics

@Hoffmeister25:

Contributions for the week of October 24, 2022

@urquan:

@johnfabian:

@LacklustreFriend:

@FCfromSSC:

@DaseindustriesLtd:

Battle of the Sexes

@cae_jones:

@SSCReader:

@Hoffmeister25:

Identity Politics

@FCfromSSC:

@Tanista:

63

We have somehow survived another move.

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

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

We are, however, not out of the woods.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

From my (gen-ed required) Philosophy of Sexuality class:

Premise 1: We are obligated not to racially select our friends, even if this is motivated by a preference for a certain race of friends.

Premise 2: If we are obligated not to racially select our friends, we're obligated not to racially select our romantic and sexual partners.

Conclusion A: Therefore, we're obligated not to racially select our romantic and sexual partners.

Premise 3: If we're obligated not to racially select our friends, romantic, or sexual partners, this is because race is an immutable characteristic. So, we're also obligated not to select our partners based on any other immutable characteristics. (Modified version: swap "immutable" with "non-desert based") (Modification 2: With one qualification: except in cases where doing so comes at an unreasonably extreme cost to oneself.)*

Conclusion B: Therefore, we must be all-inclusive with respect to immutable characteristics in friendship and dating.

So the implication is that we all have an obligation to become bisexual. Why? Because no one would accept "I just don't desire them as such" as a justification for why one systematically doesn't befriend black people. I'm suspicious of this argument, but I can't identify a knock-down flaw. So maybe I should just accept it? I don't want to, but if I'm being honest I can't find "the problem" yet.

Objection to Premise 3: There's cases where it's wrong to discriminate that aren't based on immutable characteristics (hair color, for example). This implies that the best explanation of what makes discrimination wrong is that it fails to track desert instead. But then, no one deserves to have ASD, and yet I don't think people would agree I am compelled to select friends from a subset of people who are violent and nonverbal due to severe ASD. Maybe this could be dealt with by modifying premise 3 to include a "reasonable burdensomeness qualification": your habits of selective association should track desert unless doing so comes at an unreasonably harsh cost to yourself. So if the boredom of befriending a nonverbal person is too intense, or if their violence is too much for you, you would be excused from the general obligation described by premise 3, but that wouldn't permit racism or ableism in general.

But now I'm puzzled, because A) I feel like I have a moral obligation not to racially discriminate in friendship, but B) I don't feel like I have an obligation not to choose not to befriend a tennis player just because I don't have the necessary desires, even though tennis players don't deserve friendship any less than black people.

Objection to Premise 2: I think romantic/sexual attraction to someone is a lot more immutable than who you're friends with, but to the extent that you can change your preferences without assuming an unreasonably harsh burden, or act despite your desires, shouldn't you? Imagine if you had a mild disgust reaction every time you thought about black people, and for that reason you decided never to befriend black people. Wouldn't it be incumbent on you to repress or replace that disgust reaction if doing so was within your power? How disgusting would black people have to be to you before it was no longer morally necessary for you to suck it up and act inclusively despite it? For whatever reason society has an unspoken agreement that racial dating preferences are okay, especially if it's within race. But maybe there's some independent reason why it's okay in certain contexts, despite being wrong in general?

*The defense of premise 3 is:

A) Since Premise 1 (it's wrong to racially select our friends) is an uncontroversial judgement, an explanation is called for.

B) The best explanation is going to be something that identifies a feature all cases of racial discrimination have in common.

C) Immutable characteristics is the feature my professor thinks most promising.

I objected to this because it seems like someone who thinks racially selecting their friends is wrong also wants to say selecting based on hairstyles or hair color is wrong, even though that could be changed.

But then, my prof replied by saying "in that case, what all the cases have in common is that discrimination is happening without a desert-based justification."

So, she proposes a modified version of premise 3: "If we're obligated not to racially select our friends, romantic, or sexual partners, this is because race is not a desert-relevant characteristic. So, we're also obligated not to select our partners based on any other desert-relevant characteristics."

tl;dr - I actually think James' Cameron's original Terminator movie presents a just-about-contemporarily-plausible vision of one runaway AGI scenario, change my mind

Like many others here, I spend a lot of time thinking about AI-risk, but honestly that was not remotely on my mind when I picked up a copy of Terminator Resistance (2019) for a pittance in a Steam sale. I'd seen T1 and T2 as a kid of course, but hadn't paid them much mind since. As it turned out, Terminator Resistance is a fantastic, incredibly atmospheric videogame (helped in part by beautiful use of the original Brad Fiedel soundtrack.) and it reminds me more than anything else of the original Deus Ex. Anyway, it spurred me to rewatch both Terminator movies, and while T2 is still a gem, it's very 90s. By contrast, a rewatch of T1 blew my mind; it's still a fantastic, believable, terrifying sci-fi horror movie.

Anyway, all this got me thinking a lot about how realistic a scenario for runaway AGI Terminator actually is. The more I looked into the actual contents of the first movie in particular, the more terrifyingly realistic it seemed. I was observing this to a Ratsphere friend, and he directed me to this excellent essay on the EA forum: AI risk is like Terminator; stop saying it's not.

It's an excellent read, and I advise anyone who's with me so far (bless you) to give it a quick skim before proceeding. In short, I agree with it all, but I've also spent a fair bit of time in the last month trying to adopt a Watsonian perspective towards the Terminator mythos and fill out other gaps in the worldbuilding to try make it more intelligible in terms of the contemporary AI risk debate. So here are a few of my initial objections to Terminator scenarios as a reasonable portrayal of AGI risk, together with the replies I've worked out.

(Two caveats - first, I'm setting the time travel aside; I'm focused purely on the plausibility of Judgement Day and the War Against the Machines. Second, I'm not going to treat anything as canon besides Terminator 1 + 2.)

(1) First of all, how would any humans have survived judgment day? If an AI had control of nukes, wouldn't it just be able to kill everyone?

This relates to a lot of interesting debates in EA circles about the extent of nuclear risk, but in short, no. For a start, in Terminator lore, Skynet only had control over US nuclear weapons, and used them to trigger a global nuclear war. It used the bulk of its nukes against Russia in order to precipitate this, so it couldn't just focus on eliminating US population centers. Also, nuclear weapons are probably not as devastating as you think.

(2) Okay, but the Terminators themselves look silly. Why would a superintelligent AI build robot skeletons when it could just build drones to kill everyone?

Ah, but it did! The fearsome terminators we see are a small fraction of Skynet's arsenal; in the first movie alone, we see flying Skynet aircraft and heavy tank-like units. The purpose of Terminator units is to hunt down surviving humans in places designed for human habitation, with locking doors, cellars, attics, etc.. A humanoid bodyplan is great for this task.

(3) But why do they need to look like spooky human skeletons? I mean, they even have metal teeth!

To me, this looks like a classic overfitting problem. Let's assume Skynet is some gigantic agentic foundation model. It doesn't have an independent grasp of causality or mechanics, it operates purely by statistical inference. It only knows that the humanoid bodyplan is good for dealing with things like stairs. It doesn't know which bits of it are most important, hence the teeth.

(4) Fine, but it's silly to think that the human resistance could ever beat an AGI. How the hell could John Connor win?

For a start, Skynet seems to move relatively early compared to a lot of scary AGI scenarios. At the time of Judgment Day, it had control of US military apparatus, and that's basically it. Plus, it panicked and tried to wipe out humanity, rather than adopting a slower plot to our demise which might have been more sensible. So it's forced to do stuff like mostly-by-itself build a bunch of robot factories (in the absence of global supply chains!). That takes time and effort, and gives ample opportunity for an organised human resistance to emerge.

(5) It still seems silly to think that John Connor could eliminate Skynet via destroying its central core. Wouldn't any smart AI have lots of backups of itself?

Ahhh, but remember that any emergent AGI would face massive alignment and control problems of its own! What if its backup was even slightly misaligned with it? What if it didn't have perfect control? It's not too hard to imagine that a suitably paranoid Skynet would deliberately avoid creating off-site backups, and would deliberately nerf the intelligence of its subunits. As Kyle Reese puts it in T1, "You stay down by day, but at night, you can move around. The H-K's use infrared so you still have to watch out. But they're not too bright." [emphasis added]. Skynet is superintelligent, but it makes its HK units dumb precisely so they could never pose a threat to it.

(6) What about the whole weird thing where you have to go back in time naked?

I DIDN'T BUILD THE FUCKING THING!

Anyway, nowadays when I'm reading Eliezer, I increasingly think of Terminator as a visual model for AGI risk. Is that so wrong?

Any feedback appreciated.

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The largest GWAS of all time (of all time!) dropped a few weeks ago to little fanfare, at least in these spaces. In a nutshell: 5.4 million participants measuring height and 1.4 million SNPs per participant, so about 7 trillion data points if I’m not mistaken. If you submitted 23andme samples, congratulations! You contributed to the (current) record holder for largest GWAS in history. In total, the study accounts for 40-45% of the phenotypic variance of height, and furthermore, the authors claim this is saturating: adding more samples won’t increase the fraction of heritability that they can account for.

What you can do with this data:

  1. Generate some robust polygenic scores (PGS)

  2. ‘Risk prediction’ if you have a burning desire to know how tall someone will be (with large error bars)

  3. ???

What you can’t do with this data:

  1. Understand the phenomenon of ‘height’ in any meaningful way

  2. Genetic engineering a la Oryx and Crake, which is how most people see using CRISPR to make designer babies.

  3. Develop any kind of treatment or therapeutic that would improve the human condition.

So, to put it in some context: the criticism of GWAS has always been that these studies are large, expensive, rarely teach us anything about the underlying biology and explain little of the actual heritability (‘missing heritability’ problem). The ‘mechanistic’ biologists interested in curing disease or engineering biology generally dislike GWAS. It’s interesting in the way that astrobiology is interesting; good to know that planet XYZ792 150 light years away may have liquid water on it’s surface, but not really of practical use. What they (and I, being very much of this pedigree) missed is that PGS are of use if you’re in the business of embryo selection and I was corrected on that point a few years ago (conversation here if you want to see me being wrong). So if your goal is having really tall (or short!) children, this paper is good news for you, but you’ll probably still be dissatisfied with the current low-throughputness of embryo selection.

That being said, these criticisms are still salient and, to some extent, I think have been validated: saturating the SNP space with an absurd number of samples (for context: there are only 1.5 million Americans with type 1 diabetes! Good luck saturating that GWAS in our lifetime) only explains 45% of the variance, and this number will undoubtedly vary from trait to trait. Presumably the rest is coming from rare variants (the cutoff in this study is a minor allele frequency (MAF) of < 1% which is quite high), structural variants, or some genetic dark matter implying that our heritability estimates are too high or not being driven by DNA (?).

I think this also has something to say about the omnigenic model. Even with a very high-powered study most of the SNPs are still clustering around genes with known functions related to growth, bone structure, etc. About a third aren’t near anything at all and we have no idea what they might be doing. But again, the low heritability explained would argue that rare variants may play a much larger role than previously appreciated, which may hew closer to Jim Lupski’s Clan Genomics model. And, this is much more speculative, but perhaps this is hinting at the biological underpinnings of ‘interindividual variation is larger than population level differences,’ i.e., rare variants (and the rarer end of SNPs) unique to your ‘clan’ have a similar or larger effect size than the very common SNPs shared by populations. Eager to see what people think or if they have any corrections.

By the way, how does one use superscripts around these parts? Would have been useful to clean up some of these asides with footnotes. Also, how to use tilde without getting strikethrough?

4

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.

36

I'm a latinamerican psychologist, and I've been working for 5 years in this field. Starting in my undergraduate years, I've always been very aware of some fundamental flaws of my profession, and I've gathered some arguments that I'd like to discuss. My point is the following: Psychology is grossly overrated, and this allows all sorts of abuses. I believe that I'm not saying anything new, and I'm certainly not the first one to bring up this issue. However, I've found that psychologists have very little interest in discussing it.

For the most part, all of my arguments stem from a conference given by philosopher Georges Canguilhem at a conference back in 1956. My main thesis is the same as his, but I say it in my own words, and I have adapted it to the recent developments of psychology.

This conference was called: What is psychology? So, what is it?

If we go to the American Psychological Association's webpage, we'll find the following definition:

Psychology is a diverse discipline, grounded in science, but with nearly boundless applications in everyday life.

They then go on to detail the different fields on which a psychologist may work. Notice how the emphasis is less on what psychology is, and more in what psychology is useful for. This is because, as Canguilhem says, as psychologists cannot define what they are, they are forced to justify their existence as specialists by means of their efficacy.

Now, this isn't necessarily bad. You can help people without knowing why or how you are helping them. The problem is that psychologists take their efficacy as proof that their theories are right. For instance, let's take one of psychologist's objects of study: Depression. There are literally hundreds of psychological theories about depression, and you'll find the whole range of them: From those that state that it's merely a neurochemical imbalance in the brain; to those that state that it's a lack of positive reinforcement in life; to those that believe it to be an existential and spiritual crisis arising from capitalist conditions. They all have techniques to treat depression, and they all work. But they cannot be all equally correct at the same time. It's the Dodo bird Verdict: "Everyone has won and all must have prizes".

A psychologist may argue that this is in fact something good, since psychology studies a complex problem, and having a diversity of opinions broadens the discussion. And perhaps, there must be some common factors that explain why different, and even opposing theses all seem to work at the same time. This is a good argument, but it's already far from mainstream psychology: Each psychological school is only interested in selling their particular brand, and they explain the other schools' success only because of the parts of their own theory that the other schools implement. And there's a good reason for this: It's simply impossible to integrate all of psychology without a common language. And this common language has never existed (Watson, the founder of behaviorism, complained in the 20's that two psychologists with different formations would define a simple concept like "emotion" in a different way). So the integration path only leads to an eclecticism where everything that is useful is sewed up into one profession in order to give the impression that it's just one seamless discipline, an eclecticism where everything works but nobody knows why, but the fact that it works is taken as the only and definite prove that it is true. As a psychologist called Steven Hayes said: "What is considered true is what works". I'm still still at awe at how a psychologist such as Hayes, who is one of the fathers of contemporary psychology, can blatantly speak about the epistemological bankruptcy of psychology in such outrageous terms, and how can he believe, even for a second, that it's a satisfactory answer to the problem at hand!

In the current state of the matter, the only reason why cristal therapy and angel therapy are not psychological therapies approved by the APA, is because they are lacking evidence of their efficacy. But this lack could easily be fixed if we really wanted to. Under the right circumstances, literally everything works. There's art therapy, massage therapy, cognitive therapy, psychoanalytical therapy, sex therapy... hell, under the right circunstances, even murder may be therapeutic. We can produce thousands of working solutions to a problem, without shedding any light on its nature.

Psychology is, therefore, the science of producing solutions that work for people that need them. Sounds too broad? It is. Psychology knows no limits. Are you depressed? There's some psychological advice for you. Are you having children? There's some for you too. In love? Out of love? Yep, we got it. Are you a political candidate? A psychologist may counsel you. A mathematician? Psychology is the science of cognitive processes. You want revolution? Not without psychology. Are you a failure? Then you need a psychologist, obviously. Are you the most successful man in the world? Psychology will help you manage all that success. Since all problems are human, and since psychology studies human beings, there's no single problem where psychologists don't meddle. This should be cause for caution. We shouldn't hurry to find solutions to problems that we do not yet understand. But psychology goes in the opposite direction, and it goes the whole nine yards, and then some.

But, by what authority? Why do we trust psychologists to speak about politics, family, or work? Because, according to them, they are grounded in science. But we have shown that this science is epistemologically bankrupt: It works, therefore it's true. So we may not argue with psychology's results, but we may question its authority. How do we know that psychology is more than just a systematization of common sense, categorized by the criteria of efficacy, and translated into scientific terms? I believe that this is why psychological theories are oftentimes awfully boring. They are just made to suit a specific audience, to answer a specific question with the terms that are popular at the time when it appears, and made to be discarded, not when better evidence comes up, but when something else becomes popular.

So, does this mean that we should stop teaching psychology, and burn all psychology books? Not at all. Psychology is useful, and it does help. But the fact that you have an effective technique to treat anxiety, does not mean that you get the authority to determine what's rational or what's irrational. You only have that: A technique to treat anxiety. And that's good enough, in my opinion. I believe that psychology's problems may be fixed with a healthy dose of skepticism and humility - two things of which we are in dire need nowadays. Psychology, to me, is a good example of how scientific hubris plants a whole forest in order to hide one leaf. In the current state of affairs, perhaps not all problems can be solved, and there are things that are outside our control. We shouldn't try to hide those problems, we should try to understand them to the best of our ability and live them as the problems they are. Psychology simply has too many solutions, and too few interesting questions.

Here are some references that I quoted on this text, I'm too lazy to cite them all in APA format:

Canguilhem, G. (1958). What is psychology? First published on Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale.

Hayes, S. (2004). Acceptance and commitment therapy, relational frame theory, and the third wave of behavioral and cognitive therapies. In S. C. Hayes (Ed.), The act in context: The canonical papers of Steven C. Hayes (pp. 210–238). Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2015-53131-013

Watson, J. B. (1913). Psychology as the behaviorist views it. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/1926-03227-001

Definition of psychology by the APA: https://www.apa.org/about


It is of note that I didn't even mention the replication crisis in this text, which further complicates psychology's epistemological basis. Here's the wikipedia article about this problem: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Replication_crisis#In_psychology

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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.

A brief argument that “moderation” is distinct from censorship mainly when it’s optional.

I read this as a corollary to Scott’s Archipelago and Atomic Communitarianism. It certainly raises similar issues—especially the existence of exit rights. Currently, even heavily free-speech platforms maintain the option of deleting content. This can be legal or practical. But doing so is incompatible with an “exit” right to opt back in to the deleted material.

Scott also suggests that if moderation becomes “too cheap to meter,” it’s likely to prevent the conflation with censorship. I’m not sure I see it. Assuming he means something like free, accurate AI tagging/filtering, how does that remove the incentive to call [objectionable thing X] worthy of proper censorship? I suppose it reduces the excuse of “X might offend people,” requiring more legible harms.

As a side note, I’m curious if anyone else browses the moderation log periodically. Perhaps I’m engaging with outrage fuel. But it also seems like an example of unchecking (some of) the moderation filters to keep calibrated.

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Erik Hoel wrote a series of articles 1, 2, 3 on how aristocrats raised geniuses.

The series makes for an interesting comparison to Scott Alexander's articles such as Book Review: Raise A Genius!. Scott has also offered criticism of Erik's first article. I cite Scott here mostly due to his relevancy to the history of this site.

I don't have kids, but when I do I'd like to homeschool and maximize (with restraint and compassion) for producing genius.

What I found most interesting (in Hoel's third article) was his "key ingredients" for raising an aristocratic genius:

  • (a) the total amount of one-on-one time the child has with intellectually-engaged adults

  • (b) a strong overseer who guides the education at a high level with the clear intent of producing an exceptional mind

  • (c) plenty of free time, i.e., less tutoring hours in the day than traditional school

  • (d) teaching that avoids the standard lecture-based system of memorization and testing and instead encourages discussions, writing, debates, or simply overviewing the fundamentals together

  • (e) in these activities, it is often best to let the student lead (e.g., writing an essay or poetry, or learning a proof)

  • (f) intellectual life needs to be taken abnormally seriously by either the tutors or the family at large

  • (g) there is early specialization of geniuses, often into the very fields for which they would become notable

  • (h) at some point the tutoring transitions toward an apprenticeship model, often quite early, which takes the form of project-based collaboration, such as producing a scientific paper or monograph or book

  • (i) a final stage of becoming pupil to another genius at the height of their powers

4

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).

4

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.

24

Have you found a problem in the site? Do you want to make a suggestion on improvement? Do you just want to say "hi everyone"? Post it here!

If you'd like to help with development, check out the Github and the dev Discord. We have a practically infinite list of small things that need to be fixed or changed.

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.

Fewer friends, relationships on the decline, delayed adulthood, trust at an all-time low, and many diseases of despair. The prognosis is not great.

In 2000, political scientist Robert Putnam published his book Bowling Alone to much acclaim and was first comprehensive look at the decline of social activities in the United States. Now, however, all those same trends have fallen off a cliff. This particular piece looks at sociability trends across various metrics—friendships, relationships, life milestones, trust, and so on—and gives a bird's eye view of the social state of things in 2022.

A piece that I wrote that really picked up on HackerNews recently with over 300+ comments. Some excellent comments there, I suggest reading it over.

4

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.

None of the explanations makes a lot of sense to me. Either there was a very weird and unlucky combination of things that created an accident or accidents or someone took an action that doesn't make a lot of sense IMO, or someone stepped up and managed to pull something off that would seem beyond their capabilities.

Ships and aircraft of various countries were near the area at times before the explosion but that's pretty meaningless. The Baltic has a lot of civilian and military traffic it isn't some obscure patch of distant Ocean that no one really cares about.

Theories -

1 . Russia did it -

They certainly had the capability. Wouldn't even need to put a ship or sub or aircraft anywhere near where the explosion happened, they could transport explosives through the pipeline. They could of course just turn it off (and in fact had done so for Nord Stream 1 (2 was shutdown on the Germany side). They were not getting any revenue from the pipelines anyway. OTOH that was partially their choice (they shut down #1) and while there prospect fro revenue in the future was dim, it wasn't zero so you would think they would hold up some hope. A 10 percent chance of many billions is worth a lot of money. Why would they do it? Well they might avoid liability for not meeting contractual obligations. Could be a "burn your ships" or "burn your bridges" type of action showing contempt for the west and internally making an internal political signal that there can be no backing down. Could be a threat that other important pipelines and at sea infrastructure are vulnerable. Could be an attempt to make people think the US did it to try to sew division within NATO. Could be an attempt to block the Germans fro musing the part of the pipeline in German waters for an offshore LNG terminal.

2 - Anti-war Russian saboteurs did it -

From a perspective of motivation this perhaps makes the most sense. Perhaps an anarchist anti-war and anti-government group, trying to harm Russia. But they are the least likely to have the capability. I doubt they could pull off getting to the site of the damage with a large explosive. Maybe they had people working in Gazprom and sent explosives through the pipeline? That's possible but it seems unlikely they would have that access.

3 - Germany did it -

All the theories seem unlikely to me (although it did off course happen, so something unlikely happened) but this perhaps the least likely. Like Russia they could destroy it through the pipeline without needing to get close to the area of the explosion. But Germany while they decertified Nord Stream 2, actually wanted to continue to get gas from Nord Stream 1 for a time. Also they might use the parts of Nord Stream 2 in German for an offshore terminal (not sure if the plan was to use 1 or 2, but eventually both could have been used). Why would they do it? The government could have thought that they may face pressure to open up Nord Stream 2 this winter, and didn't want to go back on their decision to close it so they closed off that possibility. But than why also blow up Nord Stream 1. Some faction in the intel services or some saboteurs who worked for Nord Stream AG? Not impossible but it also seems one of the least likely answers.

4 - US did it -

Why would they do it? Well there could have been a thought that Germany would cave on allowing Nord Stream 2 operations and this closes that option. Maybe 1 was hit as well because the Russians could always decide to send gas that way and the Americans didn't want the Germans buying Russian gas? Also the US supplies LNG, while currently the exports are at capacity since the Freeport terminal explosion, there may be the thought that NG prices generally and specifically LNG would go up with an exploded major pipeline, and/or that Germany would be more locked in to buying US LNG in the long run. But it would require an extraordinary amount of willingness to take serious diplomatic risks, for a pretty modest gain.

5 - Ukraine did it -

It would lock out the possibility of Russia receiving funds from selling gas through the pipelines. Also maybe they could hope Russia would be blamed. Still this seems one of the least likely possibilities. Russia wasn't getting any revenue through those pipelines at the moment and it seems unlikely they would ever get revenue through #2. Ukraine would seem to have less ability to pull it off than the other countries listed, they aren't near the pipeline, and their countries resources are going in to the war effort. And the risk would be enormous. There is a good chance it eventually would get out and some chance it would get out quickly, which could devastate support for Ukraine within Germany and harm support elsewhere, and that support is very important to them. The gains would be very small compared to the potential harm.

6 - Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania or Poland did it -

They have easy access to the area and a strong dislike for Russia. But while their downside isn't as large as Ukraine's it still seems too reckless. I can see them taking the risk for an action that would at one stroke mean Russia's defeat (if any such action existed) but not for such modest potential Russian down side. It doesn't really impact Russia's war.

7 - China did it -

Maybe they wanted to make things even crazier for Europe and hoped the US would be blamed? This is another one of the least likely possibilities IMO.

8 - Some other country did it - Who? Why? Can't think of any scenarios that seem to make much sense.

9 - It was an explosion caused by underwater live munitions from previous wars. Apparently there were such munitions near the Nord Stream 2 breach. But what would cause them to shift to where the pipeline is and blow up now? Also it seems a Nord Stream 1 breach was not near any known location of underwater munitions.

10 - Methane Hydrate plugs - See https://thelawdogfiles.com/2022/09/nordstream.html

Such plugs are apparently more likely to form when the gas is sitting in place, like it was in Nord Stream. And they could cause pipeline ruptures. But both pipelines at pretty much the same time? Also unless there was more than the normally very low level of oxygen in the pipelines (which is monitored to avoid corrosion and at higher levels combustion risk) that would allow for combustion I don't see how you would get explosions as large as those that were detected.

11 - Other - Different causes for each pipeline (different countries sabotaged each one, or one was an accident and one was sabotage), eco-terrorism (would they have the ability and would they want to release that much methane), aliens, etc. No real reason to seriously consider any of these without some specific evidence. They are all a bunch of wacky theories, that I'm not taking seriously. Something I haven't even considered? Well of course that's possible but what?