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Friday Fun Thread for February 17, 2023

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.

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I'm trying to figure out what I should be thinking about AI (largely in attempt to get away from rat-sphere's alarmists and their uncomfortably plausible arguments), so I started by doing the first obvious thing: looking for notable AI skeptics.

Here's the punchline: I used chat GPT for that purpose. Not without mistakes, but on cursory look it seems like the answers are largely correct, most of these are actual people matching the criteria. It gave me five, then I asked "give me some more" and it gave me more. Few months ago something like that would take me a lot more effort in googling, unless I lucked out and someone already did the job for me and I could find it somewhere on internet's surface.


Skeptics in what way? They don't think it's going to displace midwit bit pushers anytime soon ?

They don't think human level intelligence is close ?

Latter. I just think that the times I live in are sufficiently interesting

I think they're just overestimating people, tbh.

Hate to put out the AskReddit tier question. But what did you find to be grossly overrated?

I'm a Chinese food enthusiast and shop far and wide for authentic ingredients to recreate dishes at home. Once I found out that a 'chili oil with beef 'is a thing that exists and is apparently delicious, I immediately hit the Asian grocery store and got some. It was even more enticing to me because said product is not available in North America, well I don't live in a communist country (joke) so I got my hands on some fairly easily.

It was meh. Really did not live up to the hype from the linked video. Regular chili oil with fried minced beef, that's it. Maybe the American who made the video just finds it to be better because he knows there is a forbidden quality to it and his subconscious mind does the work. Obviously, not everyone's tastes are the same. Mildly regretting driving 45 minutes each way to the Asian market for one product.

My understanding is that the couple behind the Chinese Cooking Demystified channel live in Shenzhen or Guangdong.

In any case, this is unfortunate, but also a little bit expected; you’re just recreating a commercial chilli oil sold in China and not elsewhere - it’s not really a full thing, in my opinion. They may have oversold it a bit, yes.

This thread is probably dead at this point, but here's another one.

Yeast raised donuts.

They aren't bad, but they just don't impress me. I've learned over time that many people don't share that opinion and love them.

Before Krispy Kreme was available in Canada I had a few situations where people would drive to the US to get them, bring a box back to the office, insist I try them, then get upset when I wasn't impressed. One person retorted "Well they're a lot better than Tim Horton's!" Which was certainly true, but that is a low bar.

Now I live near a fancy donut shop, so I often have to make polite excuses for not being interested.

If we're talking about Texas BBQ, non-fried pickles (usually at least cucumbers, onions, and jalapenos, sometimes other things like carrots or okra) are a normal accompaniment.

Pair it with greens like a A kebab platter that comes with fattoush, greek salad & tabbuleh.

Mustard greens or collard greens are also a typical BBQ side.

Pair it with dry wines to cut the richness like France.

Iced tea or beer are common BBQ drink pairings.

Serve with digestives like western India (kokam saar, kadi).

This is the role played by the BBQ sauce or mop sauce.

I want to try a bit of everything, but why the fuck is half-pound the minimum order size for everything ?

Because you're meant to eat it family style.

Your responses make me think you've never had Texas BBQ.

Collard Greens are simply too underwhelming for me as a critical green in the dish. In comparison, I have had Tabbuleh that still comes to me in my dreams.

Personal preference, I guess. I like both Tabbouleh and Greens. Both can be transcendent when done right.

IMO, iced tea is too sweet and beer is too heavy on the palate. A crisp beer or a minty seltzer would work here.

Unsweetened tea is always available, and the typical BBQ beer is a crisp, light lager.

BBQ sauce is too sweet too.

Not in Texas it's not. It's acidic and spicy. Primary ingredients in TX BBQ sauce are vinegar, soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce, chili powder, paprika, cumin, onion, garlic, mustard, and often coffee or espresso. Wouldn't surprise me if some variations included pickled ginger.

I remember a cookout with a keg of Belgian blonde that was just perfect for the food. 7% did make for a pretty lively party, though.

Well, depends on the beer. A light lager is anything but heavy. Don’t drink Bavarian beer with BBQ

At least for me it's vinegary and hot green beans that are must include on a bbq platter.

Most BBQ joints offer collared greens as a side, which fits your criteria.

Equally hot take: balance within a meal is vastly overrated and not at all required. There's no need to balance out something very rich in fat with something acidic (for the most part, I have found exceptions). Chefs and food authors talk it up as if it's one of the ten commandments, but it's not actually a big deal.

It very much is.

The purpose of balance in a meal isn't to please Thanos or Chefs with indefensible arbitrary notions. It's to make the meal enjoyable for the longest amount of time. So that when you integrate the time-series plot of taste, you get the largest area.

A Korean-bbq meal would be much inferior without all the banchan because after eating a few fatty slices of meat, your tongue will be coated in fat and you won't be able to taste the other meats as well. The pickles reset that so the meal is most enjoyable in its duration and not only the beginning.

It's not required for a good meal, but I'd be hard-pressed to find a great meal that lacks balance.

I understand the theory, I simply don't find meals with that balance any more enjoyable than those without. Thus, I consider it overrated and not something which is required.

As a non-American, I say American BBQ is uniquely American. And a worthy contender for its biggest culinary achievement. Definitely not overrated.

All other American foods have foreign counterparts. Fried Chicken is just about universal, So is pizza, Cajun food has a similar flavor profile African food (obviously), etc.

Most grilled meat dishes around the world are cooked using high heat and the dominant flavor profile is the char, not the smoke. Southern American BBQ is unique because it relies on slow cooking (totally different choice of meats) and smoke as the primary flavor. The closest counterpart is maybe Argentinian Asado or Brazillian Churrasco, but they are still closer to char based than smoke based.

I do agree that Southern American cuisine in general does suffer from a lack of balance. BBQ is good, mac and cheese is good, They don't need to go together. Southern BBQ should take a page from Korean BBQ which comes with 15 different kinds of pickles/pallete cleansers. Or even Brazillian Churrasco of which the salad bar is a crucial component.

I do think most other food items are not uniquely American but forms of food are. NY style pizza is I think distinctly American (it was a change to a historic method that has since gone global).

Also the cheeseburger is a rather unique American food.

Which is why I specified flavor profile. The cajun paprika, pepper,coriander and garlic forwardness is also present in West African cooking, which is immediately obvious to anyone who has tried both cuisines broadly. Look up the list of spices in Old Bay seasoning and see if those spices look American or French.

Cajun is African flavor with French techniques (roux,mirepoix (holy trinity), etc).

Old Bay the Chesapeake Bay spice blend named after a Chesapeake Bay steamer; why would that be expected to have a French influence?

I'd say the biggest American culinary achievement is the great advancement in the general art of sandwich-making, with a wide definition of sandwiches (hot dogs, burgers, sloppy joes etc. included).

I find Jewish deli food to be even more limited compared to BBQ (which has a lot of variety). Doesn’t make I don’t like a sandwich but…there isn’t that much variety in deli food and it can be heavy.

I do like the others you mention. But BBQ done right is amazing.

I tried various American foods when I was over there, generally things I've seen online & in movies and such, but never tried. The most memorably bad one was pop-tarts. Insanely dry, with a synthetic cloyingly sweet flavour. I get that it's for kids, but god damn it's bad.

For whatever reason the kinds of sweet potatoes that are actually good (i.e. the yellow variety used as a staple food for centuries by Asian farmers, not the orange ones usually relegated to a single cloyingly sweet side dish at Thanksgiving) can often be hard to find outside of international stores.

Yeah tbh pop tarts aren't great. Like you said, they are for kids who will appreciate the sugar level. They aren't too dry if you have them will a glass of water or milk, but they are very sweet and nothing can really change that.

You need to cook/toast the pop tart.

As a non American I had a great time eating around the US while I was there. But I avoided trying out foods from the movies and headed straight for yelp or eater/zagat reccomendations. I knew some of the shit from movies would be ass, it doesn't take much imagination to figure out that a twinkie is going to taste like cardboard.

I did get bamboozled with American chinese food though. That shit is literally as sweet as candy. Orange chicken, never again. There were some excellent non American chinese restaurants in NYC and Boston though.

You need to cook/toast the pop tart.

I did! It made it even drier, if anything.

Sampling the candy and processed stuff was more for the experience, not to get something that I expected to be genuinely enjoyable. The US for sure had some very good food and drinks as well; the craft beer is especially good compared to the naïve opinion of the Americans as shitty-beer drinkers.

Craft beers in the US push the boundaries on what beer can be. At the same time, it doesn’t scale all that well.

Americans shitty beer reputation is purely based on the big brands major products, which are impressively consistent, but otherwise pretty mediocre (nice to drink on sunny days at the ballpark though).

I actually find authentic Chinese food to be overrated. Particularly wheat dishes.

A lot of people I know just love Bao and dumplings, but I find them meh. And eating wet dumplings with plastic chop sticks is just not worth it.

There's certainly enough variety in Chinese food to accommodate most palates. If you don't like wheat dishes, you can try southern Chinese or Taiwanese food. There is a northeast to southwest gradient in terms of spice level (i.e. with Manchurian and Shanghainese food being the most bland and Sichuan and Cantonese food being more heavily spiced), depending on your preferences. And if you don't like soggy dumplings, try the pan-fried ones.

i.e. with Manchurian and Shanghainese food being the most bland and Sichuan and Cantonese food being more heavily spiced

Cantonese food being more heavily spiced…? I haven’t heard of this before.

On the whole I find that the inner and more northern provinces are more spiced and hearty, while the coastal and southern provinces tend to be more delicate.

I suppose I should have said "more strongly flavored." In the case of Cantonese food this is more from soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, and oyster sauce rather than chilis or powdered spices, and taken to an extreme it becomes Americanized Chinese food. I find Northeastern food to be hearty, but in a meat and cabbage soup with steamed buns sort of way quite similar to Irish or Polish cuisine.

I still think Cantonese is not really that heavily sauced in my opinion compared to the other cuisines of China. Things like steamed fish (which is steamed with only ginger and scallion, then more fresh ginger/scallion sizzled on top with hot oil and soy sauce placed on the side), steamed pork ribs (with douchi), blanched shrimp (literally just shrimp put in boiling water for a minute, no condiments until dippings) and the way Cantonese cuisine often prepares vegetables (blanching then frying with minimal sauce), for example, are really quite “bland”, in that they’re pretty sparing with the sauces and spices.

I do think there are other Chinese cuisines (Zhejiang and Huaiyang come to mind) that are similarly “bland”, but I would put Cantonese pretty up there. That’s not to say the “blander” Chinese cuisines are flavourless and second-rate; Cantonese can be very flavourful, just mostly relying on the flavors of its main ingredients.

Anecdotally, I’ve had more success getting Indian (and occasionally white) people to eat food from the inner provinces than Cantonese food, precisely because it’s more spiced and heavy-tasting.

My issue is that I actually really like westernized Chinese food. Also I can't make decent egg fried rice at home.

But fried rice and chop suey isn't considered high enough class these days so when I suggest it people insist on going for "real Chinese food".

Based and General Tso's chicken–pilled.

China is a big country so I wouldn't just blanket dismiss all "authentic Chinese food".

I am partial to Xi'an cuisine. Very beef and lamb heavy, spicy (chili and other silk route spices), and not as oily. They also tend to have the best wheat dishes. I recommend you try out 'Lamb cumin noodles'. Or try out any Xi'an "hand pulled" noodles, the texture is much much superior to the ubiquitous chowmein egg noodles noodles.

Speaking of noodles, Lanzhou lamian! Very bouncy when made well.

I had xi’an chili noodles from a hand/pulled shop once, and it was great. I remember it being oily but in a good way. Maybe I can find a decent place near me…

Kraft mac and cheese. Most processed foods aren't as good as the real thing but are still ok in their own right. Kraft is actually disgusting. It's borderline inedible, it's so bad. I have no idea how anyone actually likes the stuff.

Oh yeah, I couldn't eat that stuff even as a child. My son tried it at a friend's house and also wasn't having any of that slop.

A few years ago they changed the recipe because of some vegan blogger. The quality noticeably declined, from an ok side dish for a quick meal, to absolute trash. Barely any cheese taste, and it seemed the pasta basically turned to mush when cooked.

I switched to another brand (I think President's Choice, in Canada; though I've heard Annie's is the best). But the other day they were out, so I picked up some KD, and it was more like its old self, but I didn't notice any major changes in the ingredients. Maybe it's psychological? But the pasta doesn't turn to mush anymore, so maybe not completely psychological.

Still doesn't come anywhere close to making the stuff from scratch. But cheese prices in Canada have always sucked, so it's more of a treat.

vegan blogger


Something isn't adding up. Don't tell me kraft mac and cheese has no diary whatsoever.

I may have been wrong about that. It looks like it was the 'Food Babe' who pushed for it, and she only claims to be (as far as google tells me) a 'vegetarian at home', though she does advocate for vegans by bullying companies to remove non-vegan ingredients (and for some reason companies seem to comply?)

With Kraft Dinner, she pushed for them to remove artificial colours. She seems to be against 'chemicals'.

Going to go totally off-topic but, On the topic of babes, I'll give it to Food Babe over SciBabe. STEM isn't sending their best to fight the important wars.

Bubble tea. Don't understand the hype at all. If given the choice between bubble tea and an iced latte I would always pick the latter.

Boba is a form of social gathering and an alternative to booze, that's where most of the love comes from.

Sure. Coffee also serves both functions, and I love coffee. Cannot say the same for bubble tea, at least the variety of it that I've consumed.

First I've heard of fruit bubble tea, I'm intrigued.

Bubble tea.

Not a big fan of sweet dairy drinks so I dodged that psyop.

It's something fun that, for the most part, I can't make at home. For a while when my wife and I were living with my parents while we were shopping for a house, we drank a lot of bubble tea from a little local place. Because it was a non alcoholic non heavily caffeinated way to get out of the house, that felt special enough to justify going without being more than a few bucks or being a whole meal. We'd each get one, get in the convertible on a nice day, and just drive and chat.

or being a whole meal

Look up the number of calories in a typical (American) serving of bubble tea and you will change your mind about that.

I second this. This was like 15 years ago, but I remember trying it and wondering what all the fuss was about. It wasn't even good, much less great enough to be worth the hype. And I normally love sweet drinks.

Bubble tea is warm, it's loaded with sugar, and it's not coded as low class.

If you put that much milk and sugar in a regular tea from a coffee shop people would make fun of you.

I like bitter rich tastes. I don't like the gross sickly sweet taste of sweetened coffee. Call it an affectation if you must, but I take my coffee black.

It definitely feels like a reaction against the Starbucks "breakfast milkshake" rather than a genuine preference much of the time.

I've been pegged incorrectly as a coffee snob several times by co-workers due to my preference for black coffee, which I find humorous since I actually am neutral at best about its taste. I've just found it the best low calorie caffeine delivery system.

Kind of like steak. Yes I order medium rare. But honestly why do we care if someone order medium well? Status only

I tried watching that channel for a while, and bounced pretty quickly for some reason. Not sure why: the methods are decent and the presentation is high quality.

I watch that channel without feeling any noticeable sense of repulsion. But if I were to choose something that bugs me on a subconscious level, it would be the presenter's dweeb voice, It's a perfect "well akkshually" voice 🤓. On another note, I don't know why is that voice so widespread on youtube. Voice is a big thing for me, I just about can't watch foodwishes because Chef John uptalks more than a 13-year-old valley girl, absolute torture for my ears.

I just about can't watch foodwishes because Chef John uptalks more than a 13-year-old valley girl, absolute torture for my ears.

Chef John has become a self-parody at this point. He's already made every dish that was worth it, so the new videos are 95% catchphrases and 5% content.

He put out too many videos, and should have rate limited his uploads a while back. There are only so many things to cook. I stopped watching a long time ago once I realized that his new recipes are starting to become combinations of his previous recipes with slight modifications.

Watched a few, it's fine (other than the way he says longyau every goddamn time). Guess it wasn't the sort of food I was interested in--they haven't done much lamb, although that one northern cumin one really helped me figure that method out.

On your original question, it sounds like you might have hyped it up a bit yourself on the hour and a half drive lol. I suffer a lot of that with curries--getting frustrated because it's good but not anything special.

What kind of curries are you struggling with Indian or Thai?

Indian. (But I'd love to try thai, since the only restaurant within a hundred miles just microwaves all their stuff.)

Think I've got it though. I'd switched from a standard slow cook that was giving wonderful roasted-flavor to the faster and easier to batch-cook base gravy method, and it wasn't nearly as good for a while.

Finally figured out the point of layering spices so you get both fresh flavour and the slow-roasted taste. The one tonight was excellent, just blew my head off a bit too much. Last things I need are that smoky flavor and a few missing whole spices.

Every time I butcher an animal now all the bones go in the pressure cooker with some old onions and veg, to make either a base gravy or a stew base (do the indians not use bones except for one-pot bone-in stuff?). 2-3 shoulders get diced & pre-cooked immediately rather than wrapped, then put in freezer portions along with the gravy.

Makes it much easier to do big batch cooking without having way too much of one curry, and keeping it flexible for flavour and heat level.

(But I'd love to try thai, since the only restaurant within a hundred miles just microwaves all their stuff.)

You must really live in the middle of nowhere. Thai restaurants are usually subsidized by Thailands government as a part of their "Gastro Diplomacy program". Which is one of the reasons that Thai food is usually more consistent in taste/quality and so numerous relative to other foreign ethnic restaurants (having accounted for population ratio).

Thai curry is much easier than Indian curry imo. Less technique is required. And if you start off with a good curry paste, coconut milk and fish sauce; you are more or less all the way there. All those things can be ordered online.

Think I've got it though. I'd switched from a standard slow cook that was giving wonderful roasted-flavor to the faster and easier to batch-cook base gravy method, and it wasn't nearly as good for a while.

The base gravy is a technique not from Indian cooking but British Indian cooking. Some Indian restaurants have also adopted it because it makes cooking restaurant food a lot easier, but it's not a necessary component to good curries.

And also all curries cooked with the base gravy taste kind of the same. In India they start every different curry from scratch, and they don't all taste the same as they often end up doing in Western Indian restaurants.

do the indians not use bones except for one-pot bone-in stuff?


Using Meat/bones or base ingredients like onions/carrots for a baseline flavor is a Western (French) tradition. Indian cuisine mostly relies on spices and East Asian cooking on condiments/sauces.

However, Indian curries are improved using western techniques such as using stock instead of water, browning meat, etc.

Finally figured out the point of layering spices

This is the key.

You also need to fry the initial batch of spices in the pan a lot longer than you think. Usually something wet like onions or tomatoes or coconut paste is there to prevent things from burning, that gives you the roasted flavor and prevents you from ruining your curry with the overwhelming taste of raw spices.

The goal isn't for a curry to taste spicy, but balanced.

I'm trying to compile a list of movies that would be useful in an overview of 20th Century History. I have two versions of the list, one with about 90 movies and a longer one with about 130 movies. I feel like I've covered most key events and themes, but the 1950s and 1990s feel a little thin. I probably have most of the obvious choices covered, but am likely missing some key outside-the-box options.

If you could pick 10 movies to show, say, a teenager to supplement their understanding of the century before they existed, what would you pick?

Edit: I've uploaded my long list to Letterboxd here:

Edit 2: To be clear: This not meant as a list of "important movies in movie history," or "the best movies of the last century," but rather as a list of movies that can be used to inform discussions of real world history, even if through fictional treatment of or adjacent to its subjects. What was important in/about the 1900s, 1910s, 1920s, etc.: what key events happened, how did people live, what were the thematic currents that for you summarize key times and places in the 20th century?

Days of Heaven for a movie that kind of quietly shows a lot of aspects of the 1910s around a personal romantic story. One of the great Malick films so it's one of the most beautifully shot (and edited imo) movies of all time. (oh I see you have it, nice)

I was also thinking if you wanted to use a Herzog film, Lessons of Darkness could be a good 90s one, as it just brings an interesting visual understanding towards an aspect of modern war (burning things)

Midnight Cowboy might be a good one, it's been a while since I've seen it

I think the Untouchables should be on the list. Prohibition was a big deal in American history.

It didn't seem very realistic, and pushed a view of the FBI that was rather.. romantic.

Not sure what'd be a better film - but there's probably something similar but less well known.

  1. Metropolis Labor vs Capital was an important debate in the 20th century and I think that film does a better job than others at touching it without being too preachy. Honorable mentions: There Will be Blood and Grapes of Wrath

  2. Casablanca is my guilty pleasure WWII pick. Honorable mention Saving Private Ryan, Das Boot, Patton. I say guilty pleasure because it's my favorite film so I'm sticking it as the pick over more represetative options that show people fighting in the actual war.

  3. It's a Wonderful Life is my first tech boom film. Honorable mention The Aviator and Citizen Kane. The first tech wave is radio/mass communication, autos and planes dramatically changing how people lived.

  4. An Affair to Remember is my flattening world film (honorable mentions Mr Mom, Titanic, Roman Holiday, and Charade).

  5. French Connection is my midcentury crime film. Honorable mentions to Godfather I and II, Goodfellas, American Gangster, and me insisting the Wire should be here).

  6. Forrest Gump is my Boomer film. No film hits as many Baby Boom culture touchstones. Honorable mentions to Love Story, Apocalypse Now, Platoon, and the Right Stuff.

  7. Robocop is my 80s/corporate satire I think it hits better on themes of corporatism, crime, and policing than the others in ways that become more important in the following decades. Honorable mentions to Terminator, Running Man, Predator, Alien, and making them watch a filmed RUR.

  8. WarGames is my cold war 2nd tech boom film. Honorable mentions to Dr Strangelove, Planet of the Apes, Hunt for Red October, Real Genius, and if you'll let me cheat, Tinker Tailor, Soldier, Spy (A 2011 film of a 1974 novel).

  9. Logan's Run included only as the winner of the 1976 Aademy Award for visual effects.

  10. Star Wars: A New Hope should immediately follow Logan's Run as the 1977 winner of the same special effect award.

Nine is something of a joke entry, and should realistically be Ben Hur or the Ten Commandments as an inclusion to show the importance of religion in the century (hit films were made with enormous budgets about Bible stories) and how rapidly that changed as a cultural touchstone.

My goal was to make a list that hits a variety of different types of films while not picking exclusively from a 100 best films/best films of the 20th century. I'm sure I'm missing some great foreign films but stuck with American studio films intentionally as the century saw American cultural domination emerge.

Good list, but missing some big ones, especially from comedy. His Girl Friday, Some Like it Hot, Dr. Strangelove, Die Hard, Tootsie, Network, Star Wars IV, Airplane!, Rambo, Gone with the Wind, and I’d throw in some Marx bros. and James Bond.

I tried to stick to movies that depict the actual times of the 20th Century, so no Star Wars or Gone With the Wind. And I tried to avoid -- with the exception of the first movie, which is a bit of a thematic gag to start it off -- obvious fantasy elements. My object was to pick movies that reflect mostly real-ish events and lifestyles. In that vein, Le Carre is a more apt type of spy storyteller than Fleming. I think I did a poor job of outlining parameters. But it's interesting to see how others interpret the prompt.

‘Realism’ is an aesthetic as artificial as absurdism in many (most?) cases IMO. Le Carre seems more ‘real’ because of his tragic tone but his MI6 was just as fantastical as the shark tanks Bond swings over using his wrist-watch grapplehook. But jokes and fantasies are often better than serious drama to grok the spirit of a time. Contemporary films about the past always carry with them modern concerns, no matter their fidelity in set dressing, so we can’t come to a true meeting of minds across time. But stuff like this or this can let us peek across that chasm, if only to realize how big that gap is.

In no particular order, without repeating the other commenter (+1 for matrix), and trying to get 50s/90s

  1. Forrest Gump

  2. Back to the Future

  3. Boyz In The Hood

  4. American Graffiti

  5. Cool Hand Luke

  6. Baz Lurhman Romeo and Juliet

  7. Quiz Show

  8. The Apartment

  9. Manhattan

  10. The Big Lebowski

Prioritizing for cultural impact/relevance would have my list looking something like this:

  1. The Dirty Dozen

  2. The Matrix

  3. Full Metal Jacket

  4. Apollo 13

  5. Terminator 2: Judgement Day

  6. Who Framed Roger Rabbit

  7. Mary Poppins

  8. The Great Race

  9. Good Will Hunting

  10. Any of Steven Seagal's earliest works, Above the Law or maybe Marked for Death (this can also be swapped for Death Wish)

Why does there not seem to be much progress with AI in the field of music? I am loving all the AI art and chatGPT stuff coming out but I'm really looking forward to AI implementations in music that are interesting. As a layperson it seems like it shouldn't be too difficult, as music is really rather formulaic at its most basic form.

Most of the AI music stuff I've seen so far has been music generated completely from scratch by AI but that isn't very interesting to me. How far away are we from convincing style transfer for example? I'd love to be able to convert a song into another style of music.

A few years ago I found this soundcloud account but the music is pretty garbled and prone to overfitting. Just seems like miles away from AI in other domains so I'm wondering if anyone has any insight into why AI music seems to be lagging behind AI in visual art and chat.

One theory I've seen bandied about is that the recording industry has a long and storied history of being very trigger-happy with lawsuits about their intellectual property, which led to AI devs being a bit more hesitant about training models on professionally published music. This is in contrast with Stable Diffusion, ChatGPT, and GitHub Copilot, which were all trained on publicly published but copyright protected images/text/code as well as public domain works. I don't know how much of an impact this actually had, but I imagine it's something at least on the back of the minds of devs. That said, there's no shortage of public domain music out there, and I wouldn't expect an AI trained only on classical music to be particularly bad - just limited.

Also, perhaps data size is an issue. A typical 3 minute song, even compressed, is far bigger in filesize than a typical image or text file. Sheet music could be used, though I'm also not sure how easy and cheap it is to get huge databases of sheet music. Scraping the internet for songs is also likely a bit more complicated than doing so for images and text, since generally music tends to be streamed by services which try intentionally to make it annoying to download the actual files, versus images and text which are trivial to right click + save.

There was, a couple months ago, some Stable Diffusion enthusiasts who developed what they called Riffusion which made use of the Stable Diffusion architecture to generate music. It involved training a model on image representations of sound waves, making the model generate new images of them and converting them back to sound. They got surprisingly decent results but the state of the tech then didn't seem like it could be used for much more than a toy, due in part to how short each output was. There are obviously workarounds to such limitations, but I don't know how far the development has come since then on actually bringing those workarounds to reality. Given that using Stable Diffusion to generate music is a hack, I'm not sure it'd be particularly worth it for devs to keep following that thread, but it's still a really clever and fun application of the tech.

Google's MusicLM is the most advanced model that have been publicly demonstrated as far as I know.

I’ve been thinking about the concept of the Trinity in Christian thought. Is it just a boring piece of theoretical theology, divorced from the lived reality of the Christian? Is there anything to be gained from meditating on the concept? And I think there is something to be gained, as follows:

In every moment of a man’s life he knows that there is an ultimate judge of his conduct, which is the higher-order faculty of mind that sees the days and months in sum. This higher order faculty is not accessible when we’re in the slogs of work and chores and cares. It requires our whole cognition and usually appears in a designated hour where we consider our life with full attention, but also appears before we sleep. We can call this the Father. For most of our hours in this life we do not access the Father, but instead we do our best to serve him, and this takes the form of the Son. The Father knows with certainty the values of patience, hard work, sacrifice, love, right attention, and has a vivid picture of our desired life. The Son, on the other hand, must attend with whole cognition to the specific instantiations of living. The mind being limited, it can never be both Father and Son. The Father may say that the grain must be harvested quickly to obtain a bountiful harvest; the Son focuses wholly on sowing the field, simply obeying the Father’s command.

The Spirit, then, the trickier element of the Trinity, is this relationship of obedience or love between the Son and the Father, emanating from both the Father and the Son.

Modern theologians might have us believe that the highly theoretical understanding of the Trinity could not be such an immediate allegorization and dramatization of our inner life, but I think this is in error.

Couldn’t you write a similar analogy for all sorts of schema?

An obvious choice would be thesis/antithesis/synthesis from the Greek dialectic. That’d even be a plausible influence on the early Christian tradition. Though…I’m not sure it was widely framed as tripartite until Hegel. It also leads to some perverse comparisons to dialectical materialism.

Freud’s id, ego, and superego are an even closer match. The set of worldly instincts, the moral authority, and the layer which mediates between them. I guess Freud was kind of copping from Plato’s logistikon, thymoeides, epithymetikon anyway.

Or consider the classic logic puzzle of the wolf, rabbit, and cabbage. As the puzzle-solvers, we are the Father, setting out a design to get all three across the river. Each item attends with whole cognition, such as it is, to its worldly role. Using a boat to get across, one item at a time, is the Father’s will expressed on the Son, and in that relationship is found the Holy Spirit.

In other words, I think it’s imposing your own pattern. That doesn’t mean you can’t gain something from meditating on it.


Something is telling me that this word, specifically, was central to a heresy or splinter group. But I can’t remember what.

Is it just a boring piece of theoretical theology, divorced from the lived reality of the Christian?

Yes, that's my position as a former Christian (and Orthodoxy is much more Trinitarian than American Protestantism). The Bible is fundamentally inconsistent about the nature of Jesus and his relationship with Jehovah. Arianism was an equally theologically valid doctrine.

I think you're approaching something close to the classical understanding. I'm going to quote from Dorothy Day's From Union Square to Rome, only because that is what I have read most recently and is easy to copy from (and she's quoting from someone else):

There are some paragraphs about the Holy Trinity which I read not long ago that point out an analogy between the soul and God. The soul is always one. It knows itself and loves itself. “I am conscious of myself, and it is this I that is conscious of this self, the I that is objectified to itself, and knows itself in itself. But once more, whist the principle that is the I is the principle that knows, the myself is the term that is known, and in virtue of this a distinction is established between I and myself, and this perception that I get of myself involves and implies a third term which is the love of I for self.

Whence result three imperfect but irreducible elements, co-existent in the undivided unity of my soul, three that are blended into one without becoming confused; one that radiates out into three without subdividing itself. Now in God there is the same law of activity and fecundity, but in the supreme degree of power and perfection. . . Although we are always capable of thinking and willing, we do not always exercise our faculties in practice, there are interruptions, moments when we feel powerless, when we are weary. A fly is sufficient to prevent a man thinking. In this we distinguish . . . and this is weakness . . . the capability to act and the action itself. In God this weakness does not exist. If we strive in vain to put into our thoughts the best of ourselves, or better still, if we labor, without succeeding, to make ourselves wholly and entirely the objective of our thoughts, to objectify ourselves in our thoughts . . . the Divine Spirit succeeds where we fail.” (Landrieux, Le Divin Méconnu.)

What's the point of having secret recipes if you are not cooking commercially? The fact people have secret recipes is mundane but it drives me insane as to why.

On the topic, being a programmer has me spoiled, people just open source hundreds of hours of work without thinking twice. Not all hobby groups are as generous on average. I am aware of certain amateur photographers that go to great lengths to obscure the locations of their shots so that others can't get the same photo... for no money!

I usually give away all my secrets, open-source all my code, share all my recipes, and give away my photography locations. However, I do not share details about excellent deals I find in local shops so that I can go and snag more later. That makes sense doing as there is a tangible resource on the line as opposed to only status.

The 'secret recipe' is like a game. "Oh, is that tarragon in there?"

I'm not going to do that whole dog and pony show. I will spend months recreating the exact recipe and improving on it and then just hit them with the fact that their secret isn't worth much anymore. Winning at parties is better than being fun at parties.

Hmm, yes, I can't figure out why people aren't more willing to divulge their secret recipes to you.

Seems like you understand the issue. They are trying to gain social status by being good at cooking / photography / etc. Social status in a group is often zero sum.

So if they share their recipes then their sister in law will tweak them and claim them as her own without any acknowledgement.

Programming is different because your success is strongly tied to the group's success.

A lot of software knowledge becomes more valuable if a large group of people know it. Easier to get your team to use it, easier to find a new job with it.

A person experimenting with recipes might have invested dozens or hundreds of hours in it and wants the prestige.

Alternatively, it might be something like it being the literal recipe on the box or in an ad works and there is modest shame in just using Betty Crocker or whatever (Always loved this on reddit- )

Mostly I think of this as a thing grandmothers do because their own memories of childhood are somewhat faded, but their (reconstructed?) memory of their own grandmother telling them a secret recipe at age 9 is sharp, happy and resulted in bonding moment. It's a nonconsequential responsibility you can give to a child.

I think it's just trying to maximize the IKEA effect; it doesn't just apply to the work of one's own hands, but the work of one's family as well.

It can also be used to cover up a dish being inferior in taste to the commercial examples ("ugly family heirloom item/furniture" is a meme, though it doesn't seem to be as popular these days).

Of course, my priors when I hear "Grandma's secret recipe" are "cheapest possible substitution of any ingredient that would have made the dish taste good + it's going to make the entire house smell horrible + you're expected to choke that down because it's a family recipe", though. People whose folks actually knew how to cook probably think more positively about the concept.

This week, I've learned the existence of pico balloon hobbyists.

What are pico balloons ? Well, very small and light balloons that fly rather high.

Launching high-altitude, circumnavigational pico balloons has emerged only within the past decade. Meadows and his son Lee discovered it was possible to calculate the amount of helium gas necessary to make a common latex balloon neutrally buoyant at altitudes above 43,000 ft.

It's a far less expensive hobby than e.g. flying stratospheric drone airships, which is a lot more expensive with what large carbon fibre truss structures, batteries and and various exotic valves.. The guys whose video link is in the previous sentence are ultimately interested in orbital-capable airships, which is a rather audacious concept of using staged airships to reach orbit in about a week's time.

A great rewrite of that conversation from MGS2, voiced by and all about generative AIs. How do you combat disinformation when anyone can generate infinite amounts of it?

that conversation from MGS2

Now in musical form

How do you combat disinformation when anyone can generate infinite amounts of it?

Nothing is stopping me from making up bullshit and typing it out right now. The truth uhh.. finds a way.

Language models will make the waters a lot muddier for sure, instead of a troll farm you can just have 1 PC doing all the work, but that just means more mud to swim through, the act of swimming through mud isn't particularly all that hard.

Nothing is stopping me from making up bullshit and typing it out right now.

Time and effort. “More mud” is a understatement

You ignore 99% of the internet now anyways. A subreddit full of bots and /r/politics is identical to me, I ignore both. Yes societal inpacts are up in the air, individually I dont think its much of a hurdle.

Nothing is stopping me from making up bullshit and typing it out right now. The truth uhh.. finds a way.

(wheezing helplessly)

How do you combat disinformation when anyone can generate infinite amounts of it?

By doing what we've been doing for thousands of years: collapse back to the time-tested heuristic of "what's in my class interest to believe, and what isn't" and what one's closer neighbors have gained through their networks. Technology (Signal and Whatsapp, if you trust that) already exists to verify users aren't artificial anyway.

It doesn't matter what is and isn't misinformation; the past 2 weeks of lockdowns should have made that clear enough considering how frequently the official sources actively lied about all manner of things. What ended up happening in the end is that it was in the class interest of the PMC to work from home when possible while banning all other businesses from operating, then encouraging riots to burn, loot, and murder the kulaks that remained.

They didn't need AI to get people to believe those things. It happened anyway, and 20% of the total wealth in the Western world was consumed by the fires stoked by the respective governments within 100 weeks. Sure, AI might make that easier, and the public might very well push for a solution like that given that you now know who exactly in your circle of friends will turn Nazi when the chips are down- but I don't think it's actually that much of a force multiplier.

20% of the total wealth in the Western world

Where does this number come from?

Star Trek: Picard season 3 has begun, and as a lifelong fan, having seen episode 1, I am truly excited.

The new series seem to have each picked out an audience, per this fan comment I'm paraphrasing from an io9 commenter:

  • Strange New Worlds for ST:TOS fans

  • Picard for ST:TNG fans

  • the upcoming Section 31 for ST:DS9 fans (probably)

  • Prodigy for fans of Voyager

  • Lower Decks for fans of the entire Star Trek canon including those rare gems who still adore The Animated Series from the 70's

  • Discovery for fans of the Star Trek 2009 cinematic series (original commenter said "for people who hate Star Trek" and another said "for people who love Star Wars".)

B5 is probably the best Sci Fi ever filmed (though certain episodes of TNG / DS9 are great, and Farscape is its own fun different show)

I hadn't even heard of half of these. Isn't Prodigy a drum and bass band?

Is there just a lot of studio money pouring into star trek after the movies? I always thought Enterprise dying early killed off the TV shows

Prodigy is a Star Wars: Clone Wars-style CGI cartoon airing on Nickelodeon and Paramount Plus. It's definitely, obviously for kids, somewhat twee, but the concepts and ethics are very Star Trek.

Paramount is desperately trying to make their streaming service impossible to give up before they have to start making a profit by raising their rates. Star Trek is the P+ cash cow.

Star Trek: Picard season 3 has begun, and as a lifelong fan, having seen episode 1, I am truly excited.

The new series seem to have each picked out an audience,

Huh? Did they have a come to Jesus moment with season 3? All the new Treks I gave a chance were unwatchable, and it feels vaguely blasphemous to even call them Star Trek. Just another example of how we let corporations hang on to copyright for way too long.

They seem to have. They've gotten tons of fan feedback, and S3 so far seems more like a new TNG movie in the vein of First Contact or Nemesis, and less like prestige streaming television.

Strange New Worlds is eminently watchable, a true delight and the only possible blend of the original series' ethos with today's dominant culture.

Strange New Worlds is pretty legit. Not my favorite Star Trek (still too much focus on pretty production values and not enough on the writing imo), but it's at least a legitimately good Star Trek. Which is a damn sight more than I can say for Discovery or Picard.

hello friends

this is your weekly marsey


My Intuition Essay contest, is concluded. Thank you to everyone who participated, I really enjoyed reading every entry! Voting is concluded. The winner is: @Pitt19802 with This Untitled Piece Comparing Statistical and Intuitive Approaches in Baseball and Politics. Mr. Pitt selected Stage Right Greensburg, a small local theater company in my home state of PA, to receive the $300 in prize money (I tossed in a little to cover fees). Mr. Pitt only threw his work in at the last moment, so let that be a lesson: never be discouraged, you miss 100% of the shots you don't take, shoot for the moon even if you miss you'll land among the stars, man in the arena, every dog has his day, gods stand up for bastards, even a blind squirrel finds a nut, etc. etc. ditto ditto.

Thank you to all of our participants, and I want to take one more opportunity to highlight their excellent work.

@TheDag entered Intuition in a Scientific Age

@f3zinker entered A Case For/Against Education, Intuition

@felipec entered My Intuition About Intuition

@Gaashk on a Jungian View of Intuition


@ryandv on Forming Connections via Similarity of Mental Models

@DaseindustriesLtd also wrote this piece on the topic but explicitly asked to be excluded from the competition, hoping to leave the field to the rest of us.

I want to take the opportunity to publicly thank @FiveHourMarathon for creating and running this competition.

In our era of user generated social media content, I think it's really easy to complain that what the internet strangers have put together isn't to your precise taste.

I think it's quite impressive to put your money where your mouth is and say, 'I'd like to see this space explore this particular topic, let's make it happen'.

I think this competition was very cool.

Thank you.

Can anybody who voted explain to me how the winner entry is superior to mine?

From what I can see this is what it said about intuition:

  • Grady Little may have made a decision based on intuition, Joe Maddon didn't

  • To improve intuition one must train

  • LBJ was intuitive, Obama wasn't

That's basically it.

This is what it didn't say:

  • What is intuition

  • What is the opposite of intuition

  • When is intuition helpful

  • When is intuition unhelpful

  • How complex intuition is

  • What intuition is comprised of

My essay at least attempted to answer these.

To me this is clear evidence of bias in this community.

And because Mottizens are very prone to commit converse error fallacies, I shall point out that this is not something specific to my essay, I also don't see how the winner is superior to this entry: Intuition in a Scientific Age, which also does attempt to answer some of the important questions, such was: what is intuition? I also would be interested in hearing why somebody who voted for the winner considered it superior to that one.

  • -12

So, I don't think I'm appropriately positioned to explain the rationale for why anyone voted the way they did, I'm not going to try to do that.

I think I agree that my essay did less to develop a mechanical working model of intuition than other entries.

What I was trying to shoot for was a somewhat more meta approach, how our culture values intuition, and perhaps devalues it in certain areas to our determent.

If you're of the opinion that I missed the mark on what I was shooting for, or just didn't care for it, you're certainly entitled to that opinion.

If you're of the opinion that other entries were more deserving winners, idk, perhaps you're correct.

Fwiw, I liked the essay you submitted quite a bit.

What I was trying to shoot for was a somewhat more meta approach

My essay was also a meta approach. I talked about the intuition necessary in writing, while writing about intuition.

If you're of the opinion that I missed the mark on what I was shooting for, or just didn't care for it, you're certainly entitled to that opinion.

No, my opinion is that your essay didn't touch the topic of intuition much. Which is why I wonder why the voters found it valuable.

But if you recall when I promoted all the participants I specifically said all the participants should be worthy of praise for attempting to write about such a nebulous concept, especially if they had never written about it before.

My feeling is that the people who attempted to write about the topic would have a different valuation of the essays than the people who just just read them. For example, what made you think of Grady Little and Joe Maddon when writing about intuition? I bet it was your intuition.

I also would be interested in hearing why somebody who voted for the winner considered it superior to that one.

You say in your submission you've been writing for over 20 years. I'm not sure how one could count that. I've started writing before my self-awareness kicked in, probably was 5, it was a fanfic for a book. But I guess you mean some professional capacity, in which case my career is shorter and my feedback will probably be deemed low-quality.

That's expected because your reactions to criticism here are self-absorbed – and not really conductive to high-effort feedback, which you ostensibly solicit. This post, too, opens with a combative, accusatory and embittered manner – or at least such is the impression it gives off – thus I am not very enthusiastic about reading on (having finished it: yep, no change). It's strongly reminiscent of JB/EB, who was so sure of his intelligence that yawns could only be evidence of the audience's inferiority, and who attempted putdowns of people getting warmer reception than himself.

You are not entitled to have your stuff liked, or even to have reasons for liking something more than your stuff explained. If you want to be liked, you should write for your audience, and if you want constructive criticism, it's also on you to make your readers find it worth their while. This is a bit tragic, no doubt – it makes improvement harder. To be fair, criticism does come with a cost. When @… huh, [deleted] now – criticized me, when people call me out on lazy errors or ignorance, I recognize those as minor (or not quite…) hits to reputation; but I am always very thankful, precisely because it's not easy to get tips for improvement. And flattered, because it means someone engages with my output enough to do more than downvote and move on. In the world that's drowning in content, where filtering trash and meh time-wasters on intuitive autopilot is a life-critical skill, that's a big deal: it means you have a credit of trust, for whatever reason, and should use it well.

In this friendly spirit of a fellow auteur, I submit some feedback. Don't get pissed if you can.

@Pitt19802's piece was, first things first, better written on a purely technical level. Not exactly New Yorker material, in fact I find its baseball section a bit too thick with typical journo tactics, almost a pastiche of DFW's Roger Federer as Religious Experience. But close: casual yet slick language; hooking with an apparent intrigue; developing the theme from multiple angles, talking a lot about mundane matters, yet every section being to the point. It all serves to explain intuition as an imprecise mastery of a domain that is based on talent and experience and sometimes is made obsolete, even net negative with formal methods; but developing the meta-level intuition that you should fall back on formalisms when they are available could be perilous, for there are high-value domains where the real meat is still not captured by any statistics; we as a society may have been too impressed with the progress of statistics and committed that error. That's more nuanced than your dismissive summary.

His finish is kinda weak, but then again that allows the reader to draw one's own conclusion, like me and you both did.

Second, it is just more human. Your text feels narcissistic, basically all about intricacies of your conscious experience of writing a post and thinking a thought – meta, self-referential, savoring tangents. In the span of 1179 words and less than 10k symbols, you say «I» and «me» like 100 times total – a 10% of your words directly refer to yourself (count precisely if you want, since you argue that metrics help improve over using raw experience; and admittedly, my texts also suffer from self-absorbtion). Do you know what I-talk is believed to indicate? (Here's a less trustworthy source, but more grounded in common perceptions). It takes you 338 words to get to say «But at this point I haven't said much about intuition, have I?». No, you haven't. You are not Jonathan Goldsmith (or if you are, you haven't made that apparent). I hate hate hate baseball, but some dude's shower thoughts are even less enticing, and it is very much not obvious how your process of random-walking through free associations would help us learn anything about intuitions we don't yet know from having done the same when doing the dishes or falling asleep or whatever. I recommend reading the reddit link above – many of my persistent failings indicated there also apply to your submission! Always prefer external examples to your own mental constructs if you want to make a point for anyone else.

Put another way, you fail to write for your audience. This is an extremely male-dominated space, both demographically and «spiritually». Women care about people, they like sharing experiences, reading each other's dreams and such. Men are crude beings who care about things and processes, most are are proud to scoff at psychology until they get sent to gulag sensitivity training and/or find estrogen patches in their son's closet; most mottizens are not even here because they like to discuss Culture War, they just feel the heat. Look how this place livens up when someone spergs out on a technical, real-life issue! Only questions of sex and dating, and maybe wokes shitting up muh games/hobbies, are hotter. I contend that the very topic of «intuition» is already on the verge of what the community intuitively finds not worth discussing, and is mostly saved by its relevance to the metis/episteme debate and the technocratic aspect of the culture war – matters of external reality.

Third, people may disagree with your actual argument, or at least find it unpersuasive. I know I do: if intuition is «encoded analytical thought», that's only true for very loose definitions of all words used, and maybe it says more about your own philosophy than about the general case – both people's usage of the word and their relationships with their own intuition. Practitioners acquire intuition in highly atheoretical domains as well, and it's not clear how this encoding can happen if not through experience. Sure, analysis – when possible – might help guide and correct rote learning, but the acquired System-1 «intuitive» judgement is only a product of repetition, trial and error; it both makes predictions the same expert wouldn't necessarily be able to make through explicit reasoning, and fails in a way explicit reasoning does not. Since you talked about chess; consider such phenomena as Polgar memorizing the chess board only when it has a legal position. Even mental practice is still repetitive object-level experience! What are concrete examples in favor of your model? You provide loose associations that do not allow to distinguish a better model.

There is that theory about four stages of mastery, that progresses from conscious incompetence to unconscious competence (leaving aside the complete ignorance, which is mainly added for symmetry, I think). You could cite that in support of your vision. Also, since you bring up ChatGPT: this was a good place to talk of the difference between expert systems, which really were all about analysis encoded into if-then statements, and neural networks which acquire imprecise and uninterpretable skills through training. Actually now that I think of it, this is a fertile field for investigation. We could discuss the neuroscience here: intuition-as-random-walk powered by default mode network (which you devote like a 1000 words to), intuition-as-encoded-experience (mainstream view) and intuition-as-encoded-analysis; and the difference between slow and deliberate and expressly analytical thinking, i.e. one using some explicit scaffold of abstractions. You could have written on any of that, instead of your introverted musings about being able to write a whole book and reflections on how your submission be received by mottizens, but ironically those very reflections spoiled the dish.

And finally, there's the boring detail that the winner managed to secure the contest declarer's (what's the general word? AIs fail me) endorsement before the voting was over. Such things bias the outcome and are bad practice.

But it's fair that your piece was ranked below that of Pitt's. I won't go into comparing him with TheDag, but for what it's worth, that would be a tougher call.

P.S. Regarding your reception of criticism, I must say it's incredibly rich of you to defend your work with «my writing style works: it attacks the right people, and repels the wrong people» yet accuse the Motte of bias. Do you mean we are biased relative to «the right people»? Maybe give up on us, then?

I contend that the very topic of «intuition» is already on the verge of what the community intuitively finds not worth discussing,

This was the case with me. I do like writing contests, participating more than judging. But I found I had nothing to say on the topic, and then realized I didn't even care to read anyone else's. Your post here is the most I've read related to the contest.

That's expected because your reactions to criticism here are self-absorbed

Did you actually read my reactions? Because this is what I actually said in reality:

If you want to talk about my style, my tone, or why I wrote that particular sentence, I would gladly discuss that somewhere else.

This clearly shows I am open to criticism (provided the person is open to criticism of their criticism).

You are not entitled to have your stuff liked, or even to have reasons for liking something more than your stuff explained.

Straw man fallacy. I never claimed I'm entitled to that.

This is why criticism itself can and should be criticized: it's often wrong.

It all serves to explain intuition as an imprecise mastery of a domain that is based on talent and experience and sometimes is made obsolete, even net negative with formal methods

But this is obviously false, as my example of chess grand masters clearly show: they rely on intuition.

That's more nuanced than your dismissive summary.

Nuancedly wrong. And it's his essay the one that dismissed intuition without even considering it valuable: it's exactly the other way around.

Your text feels narcissistic

And if it feels narcissistic it has to be narcissistic, right? If it glitters there's no other option: it must be gold. Once again the converse error fallacy.

Put another way, you fail to write for your audience.

If my audience is not interested in the link between intuition and consciousness, that's on them.

Third, people may disagree with your actual argument, or at least find it unpersuasive.

All contestants used variations of the same argument (System-1/2 thinking), which suggests there's some obvious truth to it.

But finally you might be on to something: the reason why this particular essay won is that Mottizens do not like intuition. So any essay giving any value to intuition was immediately dismissed.

Sure, analysis – when possible – might help guide and correct rote learning, but the acquired System-1 «intuitive» judgement is only a product of repetition, trial and error; it both makes predictions the same expert wouldn't necessarily be able to make through explicit reasoning, and fails in a way explicit reasoning does not.

You are ignoring the obvious counterfactual to your notion: what can a person do without System-1 thinking? The answer is nothing. Absolutely nobody is born with all that is necessary to do high-level "explicit reasoning".

Whatever important high-level "explicit reasoning" you have done of late, it would not have been possible without previous training.

You mentioned "mental practice" in this paragraph, why did you think that was related? Pure intuition.

You could have written on any of that

I could not have written about that before thinking about it. I only thought about it after writing my essay.

I could have deleted my essay and wrote a new one as you suggest, and I'll probably write that new essay at some point, but that would be more effort, effort that you yourself did not want to do, as you didn't enter the contest.

I find it rich that you criticize me for not doing something you yourself admitted were unable to do.

Actually now that I think of it, this is a fertile field for investigation.

And you realized that only after thinking about it, didn't you? So you realize it's not possible to think of something before you think of it.

This is one meta conclusion of my essay. And you finally see there's something interesting here, but that wouldn't have been possible without me first sitting down to write about it.

This insight is now going to be part of your future intuitions, whether you accept the value of my essay or not, or even the value of intuition. You cannot unthink what you already thought.

Maybe give up on us, then?

That's obviously the correct decision if you are completely unable to look at arguments objectively, which was the whole selling point of the community, but time and time again isn't realized.

I voted for TheDag, but, yes, this. It was very difficult to get through the shower thoughts introduction, it took me a few tries.

Mild disagree on this specific instance being gender coded in the way you imply. I like dreams and experiences posts as much as the next person, but the post in question did not hit any of the right beats for that. Descartes style exposition on how the writer was thinking some thoughts, and then had a few drinks, and thought some other thoughts, but then deleted them, and now is thinking some different thoughts isn't necessarily a bad essay (I enjoy Descartes), but doesn't describe any actual experiences or elicit any care. A feminine Connection themed intuition post would recount times the writer had used (or failed to use, despite an inner knowing) their intuition to make decisions and take actions that were important to them, and convey a sense of that importance through personal narrative.

Thanks for the vote! I thought my entry was rather banal honestly, I’d like to expand on the thought down the road with more research and a stronger tie in.


To clarify. I don't mean it's feminine – rather, it's not strongly masculine in the way that talking of baseball statistics and political baseball (or heat pumps) is. Men do consistently care more about data, facts, processes, things; cue Damore's memo. (And women are more interested in dreaming, which is perhaps why they remember dreams better). If you've ever been on a group therapy session, you know how awkward, terse and inarticulate a typical man is when pressed to «open up about his inner experiences». Girls are naturally enthusiastic, and take this failure to be cute or cringe (depending on attractiveness). I posit that you can do that inner monologue stuff better, but it still wouldn't be as well-received here as an essay about civil engineering.

Do you know what I-talk is believed to indicate?

Not disagreeing too strongly, but I typically use I-talk to better convey my own bias and uncertainty. "I think", "it seems to me", "IMO", etc. are all meant to convey something like "I'm no objective arbiter of truth, so feel free to call me out on these points and you might change my mind."

This is maybe a bad habit, since I notice reading your comment that such statements seem unnecessary. When you say "you fail to write for your audience" I intuitively understand that as an opinion, rather than a hard assertion that this statement is definitely the objective truth.

I intuitively understand that as an opinion, rather than a hard assertion that this statement is definitely the objective truth.


I go to some lengths to reduce I-talk. This has several uses. First, it allows me to see more clearly how much is being said on the object level, versus vague attentionwhoring and showerthought-posting (which I've been accused of in the past), or in any case reduce the appearance of the latter. But also, on the side of prefacing claims with disclaimers of subjectivity – it's something of a political act. I oppose the expectation that obviously subjective opinions are to be coached in caveats, which only inflate the perceived lack of confidence and help the message be dismissed as waffling or idle musing. If I have an opinion, that's because I believe to possess sufficient knowledge to have one, for the purposes of speaking on the matter at all, and welcome others to prove me wrong. Excessive «I think» and «It seems» and such are probably (probably/possibly/maybe are a better way to communicate uncertainty, unless you see good reasons to doubt your knowledge, judgement or faculties) a product of that ghastly «nonviolent communication» theory that was invented to protect oversensitive people from... object-level criticism and causes to improve themselves. And on the other hand: this practice allows one to unduly increase the weight of one's words by contrast, when caveats are suddenly dropped. «But the truth is that my writing style works: it attacks the right people, and repels the wrong people» – implying both to know the truth of it working and an objective judgement of people's worth.

More radically: people always express subjective opinions, we have no way of knowing objective truths. Of course some things are said with more conviction – claims about relations of mathematical objects or commonly knowable physical facts carry the implication that they are settled matters and should be incontrovertible for everyone, while «Shin Sekai Yori is more interesting than western animation» or «that theory is ghastly» are mere admissions of personal judgement with the tacit recognition of non-universality; but even this difference is not clear-cut, we can still be mistaken or disagree about STEM stuff (as Pascal Descartes argued, the Devil can befuddle him even about arithmetic).

In the Universe described from my perspective with my priorities, good taste is essentially objective and good writers can be established just about as solidly as large prime numbers, barring some strong cause to update. But that's the Universe inside my head, I cannot know its precise relation to the real one, nor authoritatively claim to know it – only share my own perspective.

Those caveats are redundant and support a bad communicative practice.

In my opinion.

I believe (oops I did it again) your attitude toward communicative caveats to be broadly correct but unfortunately on this particular site not including them is a good way to get modded more easily. Hopefully one day you can also convince the mods here that they are mostly worthless.

It was better written and more engaging, for one, and reading it made me think of more interesting questions than your essay.

Really? Questions regarding intuition? For example?

People aren't robots, all things being equal they'll vote for the person who's more sympathetic.

Which is obviously wrong. This is obviously a cognitive bias (halo effect), and it's the exact opposite of what a judge should be doing: be objective.

As a fellow loser, I say lets maintain sportmanship about it. No need to be salty.

To be honest, I do think my post is better than the winner too, because that post despite being good was too light on exploring intuition, the whole point of the competition. But I intuited that post will win by a longshot immediately upon reading it. TheMotte like all places has its tastes and our job was to cater to that taste.

No need to be salty.

That's specifically why I mentioned the converse error fallacy. Just because somebody appears to be salty doesn't mean that he is.

I am asking the people who voted for the winner if they could explain why. I am genuinely curious.

To be honest, I do think my post is better than the winner too

I agree as well.

TheMotte like all places has its tastes and our job was to cater to that taste.

No, our job was to write an essay about intuition, the price was the motivation, not the goal. Just like the goal of a newspaper is supposed to be to inform the truth, not to make money. Pandering to a specific audience wasn't supposed to be the goal.

Just because somebody appears to be salty doesn't mean that he is.

Judgment of saltiness is in the eye of the beholder, or the hearer.