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Small-Scale Question Sunday for April 14, 2024

Do you have a dumb question that you're kind of embarrassed to ask in the main thread? Is there something you're just not sure about?

This is your opportunity to ask questions. No question too simple or too silly.

Culture war topics are accepted, and proposals for a better intro post are appreciated.

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How do get google forms data sent to Scott Alexander survey? Asking for a friend

I think it'd be easier to answer if you elaborated.

I submitted data to SA survey using google forms (without saving a copy locally). How to get I so I can show it to other person (or vice versa)

Go into the .xlsx file of public results, search by the most identifiable answers you gave (I used diagnoses) to work out which row is you, read off that row.

I don't know another way, or how to get the private answers (other than straight-up asking Scott to email you the row that includes your email address).

I thought google forms has its own way to do so

Maybe it does, but if so I don't know it.

This is an interesting thread. Climate change is a hot button topic. So you can see in the comments as to the prevalence of various people having trouble rationally challenging the author, as highlighted by this sub-thread:

So it seems you're operating on a mind-already-made-up, prejudiced basis and are interpreting what I'm writing via feelings, emotions, and pre-existing beliefs rather than sensible facts and clear-headed evaluation of what I'm writing here.

If you were to choose, what would be your top comment/discussion from that thread that most reflects the rationality principles of The Motte?

Not to be rude, but this feels like an ad, with that last sentence an attempt to make it fit this thread.

According to this Twitter thing, race-IQ is the most taboo topic. It's more taboo than "are pedophiles harmful or not?"

In general, I find the outrage over this topic a lot more interesting than whether or not blacks have lower IQ than whites.

Speaking of which, what are the implications if blacks have lower IQ than whites? That doesn't tell you about the IQ of any individual standing in front of you. For that, you would just test them?

What's important about this finding? What policy would we change? Is this actually a proxy for acknowledging IQ exists and that improving society through education won't work in a meritocracy because some people will never be doctors no matter how hard we try?

Stated another way, I can't think of any policy we would change to address low IQ blacks that wouldn't also apply to low IQ whites. Race is almost irrelevant.

That doesn't tell you about the IQ of any individual standing in front of you. For that, you would just test them?

Sure, if you have the time and individual in the question agrees. But if you are a business owner considering opening a new branch and you need, to know, say if workers or buyers will do something complex or buyers attempt to steal from you, you cannot test all of the neighborhood beforehand.

If you doing hiring interviews and you have 3 applicants, one of them from lower achieving group and you're short on time, it might make sense to reject one from lower achieving group immediately and use gained time to do longer interview with others. Determining race white vs black takes 1 second, IQ test takes 1 hour. By criterion of information gained by time consumed looking at race is very efficient. Unless, of course, you beforehand know that you are dealing with sample where blacks would be matched for IQ.

I can't think of any policy we would change to address low IQ blacks that wouldn't also apply to low IQ whites.

We can stop trying to forcibly desegregate schools. We can stop rallying with "end racial profiling" and just catch criminals.

But if you are a business owner considering opening a new branch and you need, to know, say if workers or buyers will do something complex or buyers attempt to steal from you,

Business owners already suspect this and want to act on this. We call this behavior racist. Why would the general acceptance of race-IQ change this dynamic?

That is, racism doesn't necessarily stop being racism just because some of the stereotypes are true.

The number one de facto policy this would change is that proportionate representation by race in jobs that are heavily IQ dependent wouldn't be the goal which, if our society fails to reach, gets deemed White supremacist. Instead, greater emphasis would be placed on removing any extraneous barriers for all individuals from all races, including unfair discrimination, and may the chips fall where they may in terms of the racial proportions.

https://www.wsj.com/us-news/oklahoma-skyscraper-americas-tallest-eaae69d2

OKLAHOMA CITY—Scot Matteson’s team came before this city’s planning commission last week seeking to tweak a development he plans to build in a parking lot hard up against a railroad track and wrapped around two sides of a U-Haul storage facility.

Instead of capping the buildings at the Boardwalk at Bricktown at 345 feet, he’s now thinking one should top out at 1,907—more than twice the height of the tallest building in town, and the biggest in the U.S.

Take a look at this graphic comparing the two tallest buildings for other cities:

https://s.wsj.net/public/resources/images/7a9acbd4-04f0-4a22-b15b-974c516f33c7-OKTALL-_700px.jpg

It seems a bit stupid for the official heights to include the spire. There is obviously a vast difference between another 10 livable stories vs. 120 ft of a metal pole. Surely there is economic value in claiming the title of tallest in city/state/country, so why isn't there a race to the bottom top whereby the moment one dev adds a large pole, another raises the existing pole by another 10 ft at a trivial cost? I guess local zoning could hamper this slightly?

I solicit psychoanalysis. There are some behavioral patterns that bug me a lot! But I have a hard time articulating what exactly. And why exactly.

Read: Failures in Kindness, The Asshole filter. The aforementioned articles capture some of them, the class of behavioral patterns I am talking about.

Both the articles describe 5 distinct behavioral patterns that I can best describe as sloppy. What they have in common are:

  • They achieve the opposite of what they intend.
  • They are female (low agency, low assertiveness) coded.
  • You can make the case they betray a lack of social awareness or how people work in the abstract

Note that these patterns are not negligent, malicious or particularly difficult to oppose.

Nevertheless, my flight or fight response kicks in when I even imagine someone doing any of these things. Why? I am not big on trying to introspect why I feel the way I do, afterall my brain is a mushy piece of shit running caveman software, and I am best of ignoring what ticks off the lizard.

But seriously why? Why do I feel such scorn, revulsion and anxiety at even the mere thought of these behaviors ? Like I literally think you are a lesser being if you ever committed any of these things.

But seriously why? Why do I feel such scorn, revulsion and anxiety at even the mere thought of these behaviors ?

I think it's the indirect manipulation, no? There's an expectation there that you will read, understand and even change your behaviour. And if you don't, you're "the problem".
There are also elements of attempted mind-reading and meta-planning (not just what will happen but in what way to manipulate the events so that the correct ones take place).

I dunno, my attitude whenever I come across this type of thinking is "Just be a reasonable person and spend time with reasonable people."

We have any actually qualified psychiatrists here? Or at least someone who completed their training? (I know Scott has an account, but god knows the last time he used it)

Oh well, guess I don't have competition.

The thing is, from a place of love, LessWrong is a place made by the autistic, for the autistic. And I say that someone who identifies with them and has an account with a decent amount of karma. Half their shtick is formalizing and exploring situations that are naturally/intuitively handled by neurotypicals.

Which is not a knock against it, evidently that's highly valuable to a lot of them.

Leaving aside autism, you're drawing from a pool of very intelligent, highly conscientious and somewhat anxious people. Most of them are nice, and the thought of even accidentally imposing on someone fills them with instinctual revulsion. Nice to a fault even, given that they're busy arguing with how attempts at being kind might be accidentally unkind.

The second post, it's far more universally applicable. If you make it so that all the people who aren't assholes feel like they have to assholish to make it to you, then you're filtering for assholes.

Or people who don't give a shit, at the very least.

If I had to guess, you're also intelligent, hard working, conscientious, considerate of others, and hate feeling like you're coercing them. If that's a psychiatric condition or amenable to psychoanalysis, well I couldn't find it in the DSM-5. Do a lot of coke or become a meth head if you wish to change it, caveat emptor.

That'll be $7250 and change please. Thanks!

Wait, Scott has an account?

He does. I don't remember the exact name, but it was ScottA or something. It's obviously not active right now, or everyone would know. Last interaction I can personally recall was a year or more back.

You're right, he is ScottA. It looks like he only commented in that one thread.

I mentioned this before, but I again recommend you read "Psychoanalytic Diagnosis: Understanding Personality Structure in the Clinical Process" by Nancy McWilliams.

Easy to grab a copy on the high seas, you'll find it will expand your view of human behavior outside just the DSM (see: neurosis) and it's written in basic enough English that anyone clinical will get a lot out of it. Hell, I've tossed it at some of my big business family members to help them understand toxic behaviors in finance.

Previously I would have hit you with "no you'll have these patients in every field and it is going to help." Now I am very pleased to hit you with "bruh it's your field, get a bit ahead of it."

I'm already digging into Fish's Psychopathology and the Oxford Handbook, but I certainly will visit libgen again to pick me up a copy!

Now I am very pleased to hit you with "bruh it's your field, get a bit ahead of it."

Talk dirty to me daddy, I still can hardly believe it myself lol.

It seems likely you've had some bad relationships or experiences with people who behave in that way, and haven't completely gotten over it.

The scenarios in the Kindness article, especially, strike me as weird.

Sure, it's pretty lame to just be vague and open about what to do with a friend when they visit. But it's also kind of weird for the friend to just kind of passively expect you to play tour guide, rather than just asking about a good restaurant or museum or something, and if you want to join. When I've shown up places with vague expectations, I'm not at all surprised if we just have tea and I'm left to wander around the city or follow them on a grocery trip or something.

The second one is also odd. A man has gone to a woman's house, is there late at night, just the two of them, and is planning to stay until she kicks him out? So he's, what, going to either fall sleep or make a move, but it basically indifferent as to which? Or he likes her so much, but as a friend, he'd be interested in staying up all night together platonically? None of that has much to do with "kindness" or lack thereof on his part. And this is in the same category as lighting up a cigarette in a group of people, as long as you ask how annoyed they'll be first? Isn't the convention to announce you're going around the corner to smoke, and offering one to anyone who wants to join?

I'm pretty sure the convention for gas is to wait until they stop for gas, and then buy the gas?

Umm... giving game. Right.

Anyway, everyone described sounds so foreign that interacting seems like it would be an interesting cultural experience.

My guess, extrapolating from my own similar albeit weaker feelings, is that it's something along the lines of corruption of virtue. Taking what should be positive qualities and wasting them or subverting them. Similar to a beautiful delicious barbecued pig falling into the dirt and feeding the flies and germs instead of a person. Turning from something nourishing and healthy to people into something that only feeds rot and disease.

That is, kindness has the potential to do good things and have value and make the world a better place. But misplaced kindness that rewards bad behavior will incentivize them and make them more prevalent. The vast majority of toxic behaviors we see in society are there not because the people who do them are stupid people who can't figure out how to be kind, but because they have been systematically rewarded for those behaviors in some way or another. Being toxic works, at least on some level for some people. To the extent that toxic behaviors are analogous to disease, systematically feeding them with misplaced kindness is comparable to someone going out and feeding expensive high quality meat to a wild rat colony, or a beautiful woman allowing mosquitoes and hookworms to feast on her blood. Not only are they wasting something good, but they are actively allowing badness to reproduce for everyone else to have to deal with. It's disgusting.

I feel less scorn and revulsion for people who do this accidentally than I would for someone doing this on purpose. And less for people doing this on a social level than with literal diseases. But it's still gross in a similar way.

Question for Americans: how important is housing space to you?

I am quite aware that Europe is considerably poorer than the US, a topic that comes up frequently in US-Europe discussion, other through Americans triumphantly explaining this fact to Europoors. There are quite a few indicators that can be used to show this, from incomes to wealth levels to various owned appliances.

However, one of the most common things to come up is something that seems less important than all those: Americans consider Europeans to live in pitifully cramped houses with little space. Take this tweet and its reactions, for instance.

I, personally, live with my wife and two kids in an apartment that's a bit smaller than the average size of housing for Finland. If I had the choice I'd take those few extra square meters and put them in the kitchen, since I like to cook and a bit more space for appliances and shelves would be nice. Other than that, I don't really have a problem with the size: there's four rooms and a kitchen, enough for the kids to have their own rooms and for me to work quietly in the bedroom when I'm working from home.

When living in America for a few months in 2008, I visited ordinary American houses, and it was of course evident already then that the house sizes are indeed bigger than here. However, this particular difference aroused no envy in me; I mostly remember thinking that it's just more room to vacuum and mop. There are, of course, people who bitch about how houses are too small, but they are mostly concerned with the amount of rooms, i.e. "Why are they building all these two-bedroom places where you can't fit a family?", rather than the square meters, as such.

Is it one of those things where if you are used to comparatively compact houses, the bigger houses don't really seem that different, but if you are used to bigger housing, the compact houses and apartments immediately come off as hopelessly cramped?

I lived for a bit with my wife and kid in a smallish apartment. It was just for a few months while moving and finding a house to buy. It was very hard to find a house given the wild housing market. It is so vastly better to be in a big suburban house rather than an apartment. We were cramped in that apartment.

Also many apartments are excessively dark and have low ceilings. It is so open and bright in my house.

In my very American opinion personal space is valuable and I'll bear slightly more time spent sweeping than floor in order to get more space.

It depends. There are times when having a larger house is really nice. Like, you can host the entire extended family to sleep over on holiday vacations (which require a lot of long-distance travel). Much better than making them stay in a hotel or filling up the floor like a flophouse. It's also nice if you have hobbies that need a lot of space.

But yeah, too often the space just is either filled up with junk by hoarders, or not used for anything at all. A lot of people end up low on cash because they're paying for a much larger house than they really need, and stressed out from having to clean and maintain it all. Also a lot of houses are designed only to maximize space, so they end up with kind of an awkward layout and thin walls. In @f3zinker's example of "why not rent out the basement," well, it would probably be very awkward. You'd be stuck sharing the kitchen and maybe a bathroom with these strangers, and there's only one door to the house, and you'd fight over garage space because you all need your own car, and you'd have to agree on what temperature to set the thermostat, and you'd hear all the noise they make in the basement because it's not well insulated, and yadda yadda yadda.

It's certainly possible to have too little space. My first daughter was born in a 500 sq ft section of duplex, and that was too small. My current house is something like 2,000 sq ft, and that is larger than necessary. 1,000 sq ft seems like an alright amount of space for a family of four if it's well designed. All else equal, I would rather a slight smaller place with thicker walls, a better layout, or architectural details than a larger space built as cheaply as possible, but when house searching in America, all else was never equal.

I have trouble telling other people's preferences because all else has never been equal for anyone I've ever known well enough to ask -- there's always a school they want to go to, something about the yard or neighborhood, a subsidy, or something else involved that's more important than the square footage.

It’s not super important, but it is quite nice to have space for extra stuff.

A lot of what you are seeing is that big houses are a status/wealth symbol in America. That’s why it was so easy for the banks to get people to sign up to buy mortgages they couldn’t afford.

It does seem to matter less now that everything is online.

As a non American I am absolutely shocked at the size of the suburban houses everytime I visit. You can fit an entire goddamn apartment in basements. I always ask why don't they just clean up the place and rent it out and it's always a "eh, I guess I could do that, but eh, Im fine".

Anyways, I don't relate to your last part at all. I lived most of my life in a rather cramped apartment sharing a room with my brother. When I got my own room, it felt like I became royalty. Perhaps, you are just not cramped enough.. It absolutely makes a big fucking difference both ways. Losses always hurt more than equivalent gains because that's how human brains are, but the gains do feel good.

I always ask why don't they just clean up the place and rent it out and it's always a "eh, I guess I could do that, but eh, Im fine".

My wife and I have looked into finishing our basement. We don't have the skills to do a good job of it ourselves, so we would need to hire a contractor. We found out that it would cost us about $40,000 to hire a contractor to do that project. That's not an insurmountable amount of money, but it's not easy to come by either. So our basement remains untouched.

Basements are stupidly expensive to retrofit, and there are loads of hidden variables that can make the job even harder. Guys tend to quote 40-60k sight unseen.

For example, when you work on someone's basement you have no idea of the drainage situation, and that makes everything else precarious.

One of my friends has a finished basement that flooded twice. Not fun, not easy to fix, very frustrating for both the contractor and home owner who each can't tell if the other is retarded or trying to scam them.

I always ask why don't they just clean up the place and rent it out and it's always a "eh, I guess I could do that, but eh, Im fine".

Being a landlord in the US generally seems somewhat high risk and high responsibility. Better not to if you don't need the money.

Eh, renting rooms out of your house is very much a working class thing in the US- and renting those rooms is very much a poor person thing.

Letting poor people live with you comes with problems, so people prefer to avoid it. Landlording isn’t the issue; I can go on Craigslist and find people wanting to share an apartment with a random stranger right now if I want to, and that has even more headache. It’s not wanting to be around poor people.

Perhaps cramped was the wrong word, I absolutely do understand how different having one's own room is to not having one's own room. I was strictly talking about the square meters/feet as a metric here.

Area is a good enough proxy. I do think room layout is a very underrated metric, I've been in 1500 ft^2 homes that feel larger than 2000 ft^2 homes.

How is "Hannity" still on tv? In 14 years I don't think I've heard him have a single original or interesting thought. Maybe that's his secret. Everyone else on Fox prime time has been literally cancelled. He knows he can just play it safe and outlast everyone.

Well, until now. We're about 6 months from being able to completely replace his show with AI.

His personality and charisma are appealing to the BoomerCon demographic, while he's never going to go off script and upset Roger Ailes (Fox News President).

How does a social progressive respond to the Amish Question, namely that the Amish have a better quality of life according to nearly all objective indicators? (Including but not limited to: lower suicide risk, greater longevity, lower female depression risk, greater sense of purpose, greater community, lower cancer and diabetes risk, negligible drug and alcohol use, lower carbon footprint, and lower income inequality)

I've lived and worked around Amish and Mennonite communities my entire life. I admire their lifestyle, their community, and their philosophy. I think the world has a lot to learn from the Amish, especially in terms of the communal decision to adopt technological standards. I buy my produce from Amish farms whenever possible, I have worked alongside Mennonite contractors, I grew up around scoutmasters and farmers and distant uncles with PA dutch accents, I would guess that my interactions with Amish-and-adjacent folks is probably top-5 on this forum at the very least. I know and admire the hell out of the Amish, I highly recommend Knock's essay Utopia in Pennsylvania. That said, the refutation to the Amish question is pretty thorough and not particularly difficult:

  1. They're essentially parasitic on the USA. The Amish have no defense policy, they don't even really have a police force or a court system. They rely on the English for any of those things when they become necessary. Their safety from external threats is entirely dependent on the broader American nation. It's not really a scalable solution. Somebody needs to do all the things that allow the systems to exist by which Amish communities are protected, allowed to function.

  2. As a comparison they suffer from the Private School problem: private schools can expel students more or less at will for behavioral problems, while public schools have to educate every student. Amish communities don't have lots of drug use because if you start using drugs, you're cruisin' for a shunning. Assuming that the kind of person who wants to do drugs wouldn't simply leave the Amish community of his own accord. If you allowed any town to simply exile anyone who refuses to obey social rules, the statistical outcomes for the remaining residents would improve.

  3. The whole theological concept of Anabaptism is built on the core idea of informed adult choice, they reject infant baptism because they believe that people should choose to enter the faith in a fully informed way. All Amish have total free choice to stay or leave at any time, the only thing holding them there is social pressure. Statistics show that between 90-97% of Amish kids return from Rumspringa and join the church. ((I haven't dug into the statistics deeply, but I'm told that the stricter the community the more kids tend to leave permanently)) Imagine what NYC or SF or Seattle or your nightmare modern progressive hell-hole of choice would look like, if the bottom 3-10% of worst-behaved least socially adapted kids just left town at age 18 and never came back. Short of a federal prison, if you took the 3-10% of people who were most prone to choose something other than a peaceful happy life, whether in a slothful or a Faustian fashion, and removed them from the population, you would see massive improvements. Being Amish isn't just a status one is born into, it is also a set of choices one has made. If you narrowed the subset of the population in your statistics to people who have chosen to remain in the religion of their forebears, chosen to remain in their hometown, gotten married and had kids, had solid employment, I would bet the statistical gap narrows significantly.

  4. @f3zinker 's frank The Grand Inquisitor style elitism is probably not all that uncommon. Yes, all these things might be bad for the population but not for me. This is visible in the fact that there are very few converts. While it would be difficult to enter some of the more strictly closed communities, there are Mennonite churches where outsiders are welcome to worship, and over time if one bought a nearby farm converts are welcomed to join the community over time if they show good faith. We don't see that happening at scale. People, who have the option to live this way, mostly don't.

  5. From a progressive perspective: what about the oppressed within Amish communities? I've never met a gay affirming Amish community, though they'll deign to sell a gay couple some pies or quilts they're not about that kind of life. So what's a gay amish kid to do? The Amish are a community founded on religious dissent, but how does the religious dissenter fare? Where does the beaten Amish wife flee? Amish life is a mold by which most people who fit can be made happy, but some people by bad luck will not fit. What do they do? Where do they go? Well the answer in a world where the Amish community is parasitic upon the English community is: they leave the Amish. In an Amish world, that question may be more difficult to answer.

On 1) this is quite literally the historical default relationship between peasant communities and their lords. Peasants pay taxes, generally don’t have much say in the decisions of the lords but are entitled to protection and a certain amount of justice enforcement, and the two otherwise mostly ignore each other. This isn’t parasitism, and it also isn’t an argument against a 90% Amish country either- a country that’s 90% Amish and 10% modern American could in theory survive and still protect the Amish and enforce justice- although it would take heavy conscription from that 10% to fill the ranks of the military and police. That arrangement is the historical default of governance(although probably cushier for both sides).

The Amish are not parasitic for the simple reason that they pay more than they take out. This makes them less parasitic than other groups. They pay taxes, except social security, because they do their own thing for that, and they pool money for healthcare expenditures. They don’t really need roads in perfect conditions, they don’t spend a lot of time in jails, they don’t require a lot of policing, they don’t go into troublesome college debt, etc. They have solved the criminality problem without need for the military or police. And what makes them much less parasitic than normal American culture is that they don’t wastefully spend resources on fleeting pleasures. When a normal American makes a lot of money they might waste that money for their own pleasure; when an Amish makes a lot of money more of it goes into their community because they don’t do a lot of consumerism or debauchery.

The military point misses something important. There’s something called IW alternative service where conscientious observers aid the country in non-violent ways and the Amish used this during the Korean/Vietnam war. So the labor they would have spent as soldiers may be spent as factory workers. The economy does not stop when war occurs, even the deadliest wars need people to work factories, which the Amish work without committing to crimes or vice — possibly the best possible factory worker profile.

I found this study on Amish criminality and genetic selection . It argues that the Amish criminality rate is too low to be explained purely by criminal gene outflow and that there is also an element of cultural transmission. Another way we can measure this (which I don’t think has been done) is to search for homicide offenders in Ohio and filter for Amish-associated first and last names, as well as birthplace location. My intuition is that there are not a lot of formerly Amish homicide offenders.

Note that the question of gene outflow must answer to how America receives criminals. The Amish ostracize their criminals; were they the only people in America, the ostracized criminals would have to live in a makeshift criminal colony far away from Amish areas. If America lacks a solution to criminality like the Amish solution, that’s not an Amish problem, that’s again an America problem.

This is visible in the fact that there are very few converts

This is entirely explained by the lack of knowledge about Amish QoL. People don’t move to countries without knowing the job market and quality of life, neither do they buy kale without information about its health benefits. The average American might find the Amish quaint and cute, but they absolutely do not know how successful they are in terms of generating a high quality of life. (I, a 99th percentile Amish aficionado, was myself greatly surprised when I began checking all the metrics of Amish QoL. For instance, that the women are quite happy, feminism not included.)

Re: 5, I imagine the gay Amish can’t have sex and instead have to rely on loving platonic friendships with their male friends. Even so, we can imagine an Amish possible world where the gays get to form couples. My post is not intended to imply “let’s copy Amish 100%”, but rather to imply that all of our social progress since 1710 has not allowed us to live as good as our friends stuck in the past. In fact, it makes us and our progress-worshipping seem pretty silly and backwards. How much money and talent has been wasted on feminism when this does not appear to be a requirement for female happiness?

were they the only people in America, the ostracized criminals would have to live in a makeshift criminal colony far away from Amish areas.

if population density was allowing it, but if not, they would pretty soon get the need to have a prison system.

Yes but who's really 'full Amish'? Many Amish (and similar communities like Hutterites) won't forgo obvious modern medical treatment, they won't starve themselves if a harvest fails to yield, and they share all of the other benefits of living in a modern society, like a police force etc. Of course some are more adherent to the lifestyle than others, but when crisis strikes all bets are off...

More power to them of course, but they're enjoying the benefits of the wider organized society.

I think I am a social progressive by virtue of being a libertarian? In that I know X,Y,Z is good for the individual and society and yada yada, but the state shouldn't stop you from doing !X,!Y,!Z either. Or do I actually have to believe X,Y,Z is bad and actively oppose them?

Anyways, because I am not average. Whats good for the 100 IQ bugman isn't good for me. I can handle more freedoms. You can make cheating on your partner the most socially acceptable thing in the world, and I still wouldn't do it. You can hand out heroin like candy at the grocery store, I won' t take it.

I greatly enjoy large cities with cuisines from all over the world, with things to do, and places to be. I enjoy my career in Machine Learning and not buggy making or quilting or marmalade making. You get the point.

Why do you expect people to hold policy positions they themselves as individuals don't want?

I know this doesn't answer your question, but there is no "minimize all types of errors and maximize all the metrics" ideology out there. You actually have to pick and choose your metrics, and choose the distributions. Its all aesthetics anyways.

I wonder what % happiness increase is due to eating ethnic food. I can’t imagine it ever being a prescription for depression (“patient is to the one plate of Chinese, two plates Indian, and one Cambodian weekly”). If ethnic food and the big city were instrumental to happiness we should see young urban white collar people in cities happier. My intuition is they are not, at least not in such a way that is expected given their social status. There’s probably a study on that but I’m too lazy to look right now.

Why do you expect people to hold policy positions they themselves as individuals don't want?

Does the patient want to swallow the bitter medicine because he enjoys the taste or because he knows the results are superior? So it would be for the Amish. Consider: by raising your kids Amish you are vastly decreasing their risk of depression, suicide, drug use, and violence.

Consider: by raising your kids Amish you are vastly decreasing their risk of depression, suicide, drug use, and violence.

No, I'm not. My life expectancy, suicide likelihood, and propensity for violence are all far, far below both the general population and the Amish. I'm also much richer and simply prefer my lifestyle to either the general population or the Amish. Shifting from being an addled junkie or criminal lowlife to being Amish would be an improvement on these metrics, moving from my own life to Amish would not be.

This is the same kind of silly stuff that makes people say that owning a firearm makes you more likely to commit suicide. No, I actually know myself, and I simply won't kill myself. I understand the objections to this and they are simply wrong in my individual case.

No I am not! That's my whole point. What works on aggregate populations doesn't necessarily mean it works for the non average.

My kids are not going to be average. They will most likely inherit my +2sd IQ and >90th percentile trait openness and <20th percentile trait neuroticism. Subjecting them to the Amish life would be abuse.

I can also vastly decrease all the problems you discuss by not giving them a smartphone till they are pre-teens, making them play sports and feeding them good food, etc, etc.

If you don't understand the notion that you can't craft individual prescriptions from group aggregates, I don't really know what to tell you. You are also maximizing the likelihood without the conditional priors.


Also if those things are the only things you want to optimize for, then sure go Amish and argue for it. But I think having Internet, supply chains, cars, airplanes, and technology is also something to optimize for.

I will go as far as to say, optimizing for all things considered, cities are probably the best place to live. Especially if you are high performing and highly agentic. You can have all the things the Amish have and a thousand more things. The high performance and highly agentic part is load bearing though. Not all people fit into that category, but I am not them, and don't care for them.

I’m not sure if you can craft any advice for outlier cases, but as someone so preternaturally predestined for success as yourself, you would have to compare to the most successful Amish lifestyle. This would include:

  • Overseeing a huge tourism industry, one of rhe largest Amish businesses, or even directing the Amish to a new industry

  • Acting as an elder to your clan, advising their political and social concerns with loving patriarchal tenderness

  • The formation of a dynasty, which you oversee like a medieval King, sending your Sons to various parts of America to operate and enhance your family name

It is not without its own glories and rewards.

I don't think I am that successful yet but I do think I can't thrive to the extent I can in a city in an Amish community. Do note that doing many of the things you suggested, they wouldn't remain Amish for long.

The Amish can greatly increase their yields using modern farming equipment...

Consider: by raising your kids Amish you are vastly decreasing their risk of depression, suicide, drug use, and violence.

This is like the advice to not own guns because you'd be decreasing the odds of encountering gun violence. The effect of following such advice is vastly decreased if you're already the kind of person who would follow such advice.

Besides, I can also reduce all risks my children would face to 0 by not having them. This is an exaggeration, but in my (admittedly very distanced) view Amish exist more so than live. Even the context they're mostly discussed in betrays that - that their largest/only advantage is their demographics, not their lifestyle but its robustness. I'm reminded of the "roaches will survive a nuclear war" factoid - sure, but that doesn't endear me to be a roach. They may have their simple joys but they're way too simple for me.

If you mean, “the kind of person who follows advice regarding raising children well will already reduce all problems in their children such that their QoL indicators are as optimal as the most optimal community in America”, that is so unevidenced as to constitute magical thinking. It’s not as if children of the upper class stave off all depression, drug use, etc in their children. Or parents who read parenting guides. I know children of upper class who have had such problems. Jeeze, my (randomly assorted) first roommate in college was a literal heroin addict yet from a 0.01% income household. And if we are comparing top 5% normal households to top 50% Amish, that’s also a bit silly because even though there is less Amish stratification there is still going to be differences in QoL according to income.

Amish exist more than they live

If this were so we would we see more suicides, at the very least depression, and we would see a high amount of leavers during mandatory Rumspringa. They haven’t exactly built a Berlin Wall around Berlin, Ohio.

Amish exist more than they live

If this were so we would we see more suicides

Without commentary on the Amish specifically, this isn't true. Animals don't really kill themselves much. Lacking introspection is a good start for not killing yourself.

Certainly the quality of living well would protect against the desire to cease living. This is historically considered one of the benefits of introspective philosophy, and IIRC there’s even a study showing that reading philosophy leads to a happier old age. If your introspection leads to a desire to stop living, that means you are neither living well nor introspecting well.

As for whether the Amish lack introspection, I’m pretty sure they have a practice of introspecting their sins.

Probably that it's not super relevant to other groups, like noticing that Bhutan is doing well on some indicators. It's not like either joining the Amish or replicating their community structure is a real possibility for most people at this point.

It’s not a feasible possibility in the short term, but there’s no reason to assume it isn’t feasible in the longterm. If Real Progress actually consists in going back to an ananaptist 1710 and incorporating such things into modern life, that’s important to know for policy prescriptions, voting preferences, and political theory. I mean, otherwise we don’t really care about progress (making human life better), right?

Everyone would have to do it all at once or the Amish are going to get crushed by people who retain modern technology. It's not stable for some people to retain modernity and some to go without.

Uh, then how have the Amish managed to survive so far?

A relatively tiny enclave of Amish can survive and keep their ways of living under the protection of a country like USA. Perhaps a relatively tiny country like the Switzerland or Monaco could survive being Amish while living under the protection of modern EU (and USA). Can anyone bigger do it and not become thirdworldized? Doubt.

A couple of points. First, although I suppose it wasn’t clear, I was responding to RandomRanger’s last sentence, which I do think is wrong. I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a group that is more stable than the Amish, even though they have opted to go without modernity to some extent (the extent varies by Gemeinde).

Secondly, going back to coffee_enjoyer’s comment, I didn’t take him to be saying that we would need to adopt the Amish life wholesale, but instead that we could carefully pick and choose which parts we wanted to adopt (“incorporating such things into modern life”), just as the Amish carefully decide which parts of modernity they want to adopt. Some kind of synthesis between the two cultures would probably be a net gain over the current state of the modern West. If nothing else, I think the average modern person would benefit massively from the strong sense of community that the Amish have.

My understanding of the progressive position is that it isn't necessarily the case that the same social constraints will make different groups happy, hence the stuff about "white culture" like following strict schedules and reading a lot or whatever the things were, and that it isn't necessarily a good idea to pick the most stable happiness producing white Christian social system and try to get everyone else to progress towards it. Hence, tossed salad theory replacing melting pot theory.

That doesn't seem completely unlikely. I'm basically willing to believe that different groups have slightly differentiated teloi. I realize that isn't necessarily compatible with Disparate Impact, but I would also strongly prefer a telos oriented way of thinking about social groups to an Equity based one. Everyone knows it's silly to ask why Amish aren't producing their fair share of programmers, and I would prefer a world where we talked less about demographically proportionate FAANG jobs, and more about who the best adjusted, happiest, best liked members of a given group are, and how to get more of that.

While I am not a progressive, I kind of suppose that they'd start with the same answer I would - neither of us wants to be Amish, so it doesn't really matter if some Amish outcomes are quite good. At most, one could learn a couple lessons, but if you're not actually willing to replicate the lifestyle those are going to be limited.

My other answer is going to hinge on this:

Start with lifestyle. Amish communities are agrarian, with no modern farm equipment, meaning all the work has to be done by hand. In 2004, the American College of Sports Medicine fitted Amish volunteers with pedometers to determine how much physical activity they performed. The results were dramatic. Amish men took 18,425 steps a day and women 14,196 steps, compared with non-Amish people who are encouraged by doctors to shoot for at least 10,000 steps–and typically fail. Including other forms of manual labor–lifting, chopping, sowing, planting–the Amish are six times as active as a random sample of people from 12 countries.

I would recommend that everyone do the same. When it comes to health outcomes, I would want to start with just moving around more before I gave much consideration to wearing old-timey clothes, growing a beard, and scrapping electric. I would expect marriage and community to be incredibly helpful as well, but from an individual perspective, my suggestion would be to just go ahead and start moving around more and see where you wind up. If you pick a decent movement-based hobby, you're apt to discover some community and improve your marriageability along the way anyhow.

They’d probably argue that the aspects of Amish society that work (being out in nature, strong multigenerational families living in close proximity, interactions with friends and neighbors, walking instead of driving everywhere, community responsibility, recycling and reuse instead of buying more stuff that gets dumped in landfill) are progressive goals against the impersonal urban capitalist wage slave nuclear family that they hate.

Amish are far group for libs, they may not like aspects of the trad lifestyle but there are a lot of things they’d at least conversationally agree with.

I live near Amish and the amount of genetic deformities in them is quite higher than normal. I've seen a guy with a messed up hand, and a guy who walked really funny with one nearly useless arm along with a contorted face. This is more of a minor point, but they're always buying ice cream and paying for rides from non-Amish and borrowing people's generators and phones and other various modernities that they apparently need, despite their religion forbidding them for their own personal ownership.

That's not to diminish their successes, which are numerous. But genetic deformities, hard work, genuine faith, and voluntary (sometimes hypocritical) giving up of modern pleasures is a high price to pay.

It would be staggeringly difficult to try to engineer that sort of thing among normies. The genie is out of the bottle for genuine faith for most people, and once people have been raised up in the usual environment, they're not going to want to give everything up unless they're crazy. The Amish are an oddball group that arose organically. I don't think it's possible to emulate them in any meaningful way, and so it's useless to even pose The Amish Question in the first place. On a nation scale, why would you want to encourage it? Imagine if everyone went and became Amish.

While the Amish do have a higher genetic predisposition to certain birth defects, this is more than compensated for by their -50% resistance to cancer stat and their +10% longevity racial passive. In any case, nothing they are doing now is causing their greater risk for eg dwarfism, that has to do with the founder effect from their original colony, so it is only an aside to the question.

once people have been raised up in the usual environment, they're not going to want to give everything up unless they're crazy

But the studies show greater health and happiness and social life, which are terminal values (goods unto themselves). Certainly it would be difficult to adjust, but it appears to be the rationally preferred lifestyle.

I don't think it's possible to emulate them in any meaningful way

Patriarchy, gender norms, media restrictions, simplicity, social competition predicated on virtue, increased exposure to nature and an emphasis on tradition can all be emulated. Farming is really the only impossible thing to replicate for an entire population, but note that as much as 90% of Amish are not farming today.

Patriarchy, gender norms, media restrictions, simplicity, social competition predicated on virtue, increased exposure to nature and an emphasis on tradition can all be emulated

What if those aren't really what make the Amish special, and you've invested all that energy, but your daughter turns out to be Aella, or the lady who wrote Quivering Daughters, or Samantha? It's not like traditional, strict, "umbrella of protection" patriarchal Protestantism has not been tried recently.

I mean, to be clear, quiverfullism was very much a fad in fundamentalist Protestantism and isn’t necessarily a better representation than the Amish. Most Protestants who agree with the core theological points don’t identify as quiverfull- iirc the duggars fall into the category of being quiverfull in belief and practice but strongly disidentifying with the movement.

I suspect that you’d need need to compare proxies and/or better organized representative groups to get data on the fundamentalist Christian lifestyle. Last time I saw any data on religious stay at home moms with 5+ children they were extremely happy and reported a high percent of their children in the same denomination. Selection effects galore, obviously, but the same can be said for self-described quiverfulls.

Sure, I suppose I was mostly responding to the first two items on the list being "patriarchy, gender norms." I grew up in a conservative homeschooling community, and the families that were more serious about patriarchy and gender norms (also very heavy on "cheerful obedience") than about the other items experienced some poor results. The families that were more serious about the exposure to nature part through small agricultural operations run by the mother and children generally seemed happier.

I can believe that- I live in a conservative homeschooling community- although I’m curious what you mean by ‘other items’.

So I guess looking at Coffee Enjoyer's list:

  • media restrictions -- common and generally seems like a good idea. Even secular academics like Jonathan Haidt are now advocating for this. I'm unsure how much I want to apply it personally, though -- so far very little.

  • simplicity -- I'm not sure that I've seen this seriously attempted, or what exactly it means in most contexts. For instance, look at a grown up homeschooler Paula at the Cottage Fairy Youtube channel. In general, I like her, and she likes to talk a lot about simplifying her life and home, and about "simple living," but actually, she's always buying craft kits off of Etsy, filming complex shots from multiple angles, moving her artwork around, and dusting the bundles of dried herbs artfully decorating her wall space. I sort of get what she means (contrasted with a complex social and work life in a city, more or less), but also somewhat don't (contrasted with playing DnD with friends once a week in the city? Going to bars? I'm not actually completely sure) People in Bronte novels sometimes advocated for it seriously, and they seemed to mean only owning three dresses, all of them grey, keeping one's hair in the same basic bun every day, without curls or lace, and only leaving the house to go to church. This has been found undesirable and left untried in my circles.

  • social competition predicated on virtue -- I'm not very clear on this one, either. It seems to depend somewhat on the virtues that are most focused on. The people I most genuinely respect seem to be the "beauty will save the world" sorts. The ones who were eventually disgraced, their daughters prostitutes, their wives divorced, focused very hard on controlling other people in their household, to get them to act virtuous for social credit. Mostly, the men seemed fine and stable, but often boring and bored. There were a few years where several of them got really into Wild At Heart, with not only book studies and conferences, but also a salmon fishing trip and beating on drums in the forest. Our church bought the pastor a claymore sword. The men occasionally got a beer together, despite mostly not drinking. It seemed interesting sociologically, related to contemporary alienation. Several of these men worked a engineers at a missile company, and came home every night to their two to six basically fine children and an expectation to "give everything to God," but it's still important to provide for the children, so nothing too wild is on the table, really.

  • emphasis on tradition -- I suppose that the people I grew up with were mostly in the American Evangelical tradition, where it is traditional to talk a lot about the unimportance of following traditions of man, and then there are traditions like giving testimonies and going on mission trips. I did traditional to my family things like reading George MacDonald and complaining about Calvinism. Then I was Orthodox, so of course there are general traditions, much talk about Tradition vs traditions, and some people went around checking out the different cultural traditions and cobbling things together. This is all a worthy project, but fairly complex in America, in a way I don't think Coffee Enjoyer is representing realistically.

I mean, given what you’ve listed, emphasis on patriarchy and gender norms sounds like the norm and more emphasis sounds like an obsession that probably betrays mental illness or an unstable personality.

While the Amish do have a higher genetic predisposition to certain birth defects, this is more than compensated for by their -50% resistance to cancer stat and their +10% longevity racial passive.

Worth noting that this only applies to a specific, small subgroup of Amish, and even the group of Amish in the next county north don’t benefit from the same good genes. That aside, I agree that genetic issues are a red herring, since they have nothing to do with the Amish lifestyle itself.

Certainly it would be difficult to adjust, but it appears to be the rationally preferred lifestyle.

The doctor tells you that in order to live an extra 5 years, you need to give up beer, take up broccoli, and start jogging every once in a while.

What's many people's response? Hell no. They say they'd rather live fast and die hard than to give up all these things. I've seen people on this site echo similar sentiments last time I posted about coffee. And this is much more than just eating a piece of broccoli every so often, for once in your life. This is a fundamental upheaval of most people's styles of living. Even if there are benefits to your health, it's not rational to do it, because it would mean basically giving up your current personality and identity. A spiritual death.

Patriarchy, gender norms, media restrictions, simplicity, social competition predicated on virtue, increased exposure to nature and an emphasis on tradition can all be emulated.

But they aren't, and can't be, unless you happen to run a cult and get a bunch of broken dysfunctional people that are easily manipulated into whatever shape you desire. This is kind of like Esperanto -- all the aspects of human language can be emulated, so why not craft your own conlang and then it can be everyone's second language, or even first language, and far easier to learn? Despite all this, nobody learns Esperanto. No momentum. No natural evolution. No reason to take it up.

Another explanation is that beer and sedentary vices are a poor man’s substitute for whatever the Amish are doing. Because it’s not just longevity, it’s lower suicide rate and lower depressive scores as well, see this overview (and ctrl-f “lower” or “higher”). This is a compelling hypothesis, because we don’t just have more vices, we have more suicide and more mental illness and substance abuse is correlated to both. Does the opiate addict love opiates just that much, or is there also an element of his life missing something which would replace opiates? research suggests social ties and social identity are protective against substance use problems.

But they aren't, and can't be

Why not? We can certainly start government initiatives and charities with the express purpose of promoting this lifestyle. This may be the best choice for increasing the wellbeing of men and women, morally obligatory even. The hardest part would be to get the “social progress crowd” on board, who would be hindering… social progress.

For that matter, have you considered that The Motte is a poor man's substitute for whatever the Amish are doing? Have you considered joining them yourself? I hope you don't look at this as a sneer; I am asking in the hopes that you can potentially see the barriers or incentives to not join the Amish. Maybe one of them is that they would probably be pretty reluctant to let an outsider like you in.

Government initiatives seem to be pretty poor at getting people to make lifestyle changes. You can throw all the government initiatives you like at the obesity problem, with nothing to show for it.

Do I think I would be happy adjusting to an Amish life? Insofar as the adjustment is gradual, yes (any “clean break” from one life to another is extremely painful). Would I, if given the opportunity? My hesitancy would be that I’m forbidden from reading all day; I don’t want to give this up because I think it can actually promote greater happiness (for instance, the very question of why the Amish are happier may be verboten among the Amish, involving an atheistic framework). For that reason I would probably not join an Amish-like group, even if permitted to; but if I felt like I had done all the reading and sensemaking that I could already, then I would probably try to join.

There are also two significant problems with the Amish that are unrelated to their happiness: lack of military defense and scientific development. If those could be secured, it would be hard not to call the society perfect. I do think there are ways to incorporate Amish lifestyle without sacrificing defense or science. I don’t think they are fully mutually exclusive.

As for why Amish don’t recruit outsiders, it makes a bit of sense, they appear to be preoccupied at all times and have lots of kids. I don’t think this really affects the question though; even if Amish hated outsiders out of racism, we can imagine a non-racist Amish possible world.

So your idea is that Amish life is better than the median American life, but not the best lifestyle possible? Why not do government initiatives for something that doesn't self cripple by forbidding modern technology use (like tractors)? Maybe a government initiative for Motteposting.

I think the fact that they don't use anything invented in the last 200 years is also a significant problem with the Amish. America is America because of its tremendous industry. Amish people have their niche in this, but it would not bode well for the country if everyone was Amish.

No doubt another reason the Amish doesn't recruit outsiders is because no outsiders are interested. You have to be born into it to even want it in the first place. If that's not rational, then I'm sorry, because humans aren't rational (excepting us rationalists, who are very rational).

What’s the comparison between Amish and members of tech savvy high-demand religions?

Which ones did you have in mind?

Mormons are probably the easiest comparison, but my understanding is that aside from eschewing technology Amish have similar lifestyle rules and social organizations to other Christian fundamentalist groups in the US and Europe.

How much of it is technology vs how much of it is the lifestyle rules and community organization suggests a natural comparison.

This would seem like a question not only for progressives but pretty much every other ideology in society as well, considering that approximately none of them are striving to replicate the Amish lifestyle, and whatever back-to-landers there are tend to be eclectic enough to not fall into readymade progressive-conservative categories.

Accuse them of not providing honest data, or of being too brainwashed to meaningfully answer relevant questions, or of the data being somehow low-quality?

Or bite the bullet, admit that they're better on those metrics, but stand fast and declare that it's not worth the restrictive gender roles and religious indoctrination.

There were so many of you that told that The Hock guy to import some South American wife. I'm now going to ask all of you to go into scary detail on this. What are the best methods for Passport Bro-ing?

Let's take a few considerations here before beginning:

  • You only speak English
  • Your game probably sucks if you're considering this
  • You have at least a decent amount of money
  • You are trying to find a respectable woman, in addition to being attractive
  • You have to find someone quickly because your funds are not unlimited

And I predict there will be variations if you consider the following points:

  • What region? I predict some of the poorer LatAm countries will be popular choices, also central and eastern Europe, and of course, the classic Southeast Asia (though in my opinion Southeast Asia is probably not so preferable because the culture is very different and you're liable to get hit with a frying pan later in life, and if you're white, your kids won't look very much like you). Please state your choice for this Guide For Passport Bros, and why you picked it.
  • Does it matter if you're an atheist or of a particular religion?

In addition, I encourage you to name possible upsides and downsides of doing this. Seems like avoiding the slut culture that America has gained could be a positive, but it also seems like that culture has been successfully exported worldwide. Maybe I'm wrong! At least someone here knows more than me, I'm sure.

I like the idea that if I don't ever find success in the dating market, I can just chicken out and fuck off to Colombia and pick up some chick and fly back. But that sounds like so much effort. Maybe it will be my own Hock.

Just some scattered thoughts I have about passport broing.

The best way to passport bro is to go abroad for actual work, and end up doing it unintentionally. Being a foreigner (white) will still give you a sizeable advantage even if you are doing a boring PMC job and get paid the same as your local peers. But that is a whole load of fucking work and rarely ever makes sense if you are an American.

Stupid idea.. but, Why don't American men try passport bro'ing in.... Canada? You got a bunch of Europoors at your doorstep. The advantage you have might be minimal, but it's still probably material nevertheless given how poor Canadians are relatively.

If you do end up actually doing the real thing, make sure the woman you find is an absolute babe and a half in terms of looks and character/personality. I can tell you from experience that language,culture,intelligence barriers are some real fucking barriers.

Why don't American men try passport bro'ing in.... Canada?

Presumably because Canada, the UK, Australia, nice EU countries, etc are already relatively easy to move to the USA from, so women who want to do so badly enough to seek out marrying a foreigner have already done so.

It's not true (but often said) that the Canadian national identity consists entirely of 'don't be American'. This is however a major component, so I think your scheme would mostly fail due to lack of interest. We can visit whenever we'd like; why buy the cow when the milk is free only like a dollar a gallon?

You could probably convince some gunnuts to go gay over it, but that's probably not what OC is after.

Passport broing in Canada might be a little harder with a 109/100 sex ratio. The competition isn't high quality, but there's a lot of it.

Canada = India and Phillipines :)

A question, in the context of “national self-determination” (not just modern decolonization, but also 19th century European nationalisms — the Risorgimento, the German question — the WWI dismantlement of the multiethnic Habsburg and Ottoman realms, the Greek and Turkish population exchange, and so on):

Suppose we have two peoples, from two very different places, with very different histories and cultures. Let’s call the places Agbandwe and Berkhamland. Now suppose that, thanks to actions by some Berkhamlanders against some unwilling Agbandweans generations ago, we now find a group of Agbandweans living under a Berkhamlandish government — that is, a government structured according to Berkhamlandish culture and Berkhamlandish norms, staffed mainly by Berkhamlanders — with maybe some assimilated Agbandweans. With regards to how this situation runs counter to the “national self-determination” of these Agbandweans, does it really matter which of the two groups was geographically relocated to produce this situation?

If a kind fairy made you absolute ruler of your country, what batshit crazy out of left field ideas would you implement? We’re assuming that you can’t be overthrown or stymied by the deep state, but have only the normal powers of the government and other actors for your country’s coordination problems don’t necessarily listen to you.

As for me, a few ideas-

  1. declare that police racism is caused by angry confederate ghosts and that by appeasing them we can prevent police racism. To this end have sweet tea, Marlboros, fried chicken, etc left on confederate graves and monuments and put all of Dukes of Hazard in the library of congress. Trumpet anything and everything that could be considered improvement in race relations as a victory of this policy. This is because ‘hey, police shootings are actually nothing to worry about’ is simply not a narrative that will catch on, but an outlet of superstition can make intractable problems seem acceptable.

  2. Ban federal funds from supporting university education for anyone without an associates degree from a community college first, including by guaranteeing debt- most people who obtain student debt without a degree drop out in the first two years, so forcing people who would otherwise borrow to complete community college will minimize the amount of new pointless student debt.

  3. Pay already-canceled celebrities to go on racist rants using foreign racial slurs like ‘preto’ and ‘kafir’ so the n-word will lose its racial connotation as it morphs into a general very harsh swearword(which it kind of already is) similar to the c-word. This way future controversies caused by this use can avoid harming race relations.

  4. Require any school getting federal funding to give equal time to any gender, sex Ed, or civil rights lessons to curricula designed by popular boomercon figures like Mike Rowe and Dave Ramsey. Either the schools teach things the kids could stand hearing, or they stop teaching stupidity like what actually gets pushed in the former category. Win-win.

  5. Repeal Marbury v Madison to take the federal government out of hot button issues(which, let’s be real, are very rarely passed by congress).

If a kind fairy made you absolute ruler of your country, what batshit crazy out of left field ideas would you implement?

Strict sumptuary laws. Outside of special occasions, everyone wears clothes that specifically indicate their job in rough categories.

A pet theory of mine is that "capitalism" in the informal sense came to exist when conspicuous consumption became the only means of status signaling. The first two estates (clergy and nobility) got gutted, so bourgeois success became the ruler of social distinction: everyone jumped on a hamster wheel of ever increasing productivity/entrepreneurship to buy the next stage of luxury good, not because they wanted the luxury, but to distinguish themselves from the lower classes. This created an economic boom. However, the excess wealth has increasingly been funneled into a meaningless hedonic treadmill, with humans throwing out all other social goods in favor of keeping up with the Joneses. The destructive dual income household, for example, results from it being the only way to maintain "middle status" in society.

Make land acknowledgments legally binding. Microsoft says their campus is built on rightfully Suquamish land? Shame on you Microsoft! The county recorder has transferred the title to their tribal elders, please have all of your furniture out by end of day.

Honestly, I imagine what might happen then is that the tribes just rent out the land until they feel like they have enough money to justify clearing out the land, and maybe even going a step further and building something new on it like that one tribe in Vancouver(?).

People really need to quit with the whole "land acknowledgment" thing. According to a professor friend of mine, it's fairly common in the world of academia for things like panel discussions to open with them. Because they're not giving the land back, it's almost like they're rubbing their faces in it. It reminds me of the part in the Always Sunny in Philadelphia Christmas special where Mac learns that all his childhood Christmas gifts were stolen, so they take his robot toy to one of his old friends to apologize, but they don't give it back. And he says "so you brought something that you stole from me just to show it to me?"

Ooh, that's a good one. I wonder what the arguments people make against it would be. It seems obvious that nobody would want to be held to that standard, but of course the people making the land acknowledgements can't really say that without naked hypocrisy.

Ban on all tipping, punishable by death-by-torture on any chief executive of any company that implements any sort of tipping system. Customers gain the right to perform summary executions on any service provider who suggests any tips. Naturally, this would also mean no alternative minimum wage for people in previously tipping jobs.

Nationalize TurboTax and other similar services, to auto-file all taxes for everyone, with taxpayers having the option to check and change if they wish.

Ban on all viewpoint-based moderation, by 1st Amendment standards, of any forum beyond a certain size.

  1. Total compensation for the highest paying job at a company cannot be higher than 50x the total compensation for the lowest paying job at a company.

  2. Mandatory conscription for two years after high school, no exceptions for college. The default is Army Corp of Engineers, who will be tasked with maintaining and expanding infrastructure across the US. The only exception is for married and pregnant women. Unmarried and pregnant women can defer until their youngest child is 2, married women who become pregnant get to skip entirely.

  3. All new HOAs and ROAs are now required to maintain a clubhouse on HOA property. This clubhouse should be able to safely hold 25% of residents and contain some sort of kids' play equipment.

1 - does that extend to company chains? Otherwise they'd simply outsource the lower tiers of the company.

The spirit of it would. It might need to be written something like, "Cannot exceed 50x the total compensation for the lowest paid employee or contractor, or person who does work at a jobsite owned by the business." It would be difficult to get the spirit of the law into reality, but this thread is for Absolute Ruler territory, so I could just threaten to execute anyone I felt was going against the spirit of the law and see if that decreases chicanery.

Let me be clear here- you’re absolute ruler of the government. In America that means you control the executive branch, congress, and all federal courts. It does not mean the media has to like you, that corporations or unions or ngos have to listen to you more than they normally have to listen to the government, or that lower level governments March to the beat of your drum, but we’re going to rule out actual insurrection or armed resistance for the sake of the scenario.

I was going to say... don't you control the troops? Just Lincoln the media if they go against the party line, corporations can eat an Alex-Jones sized fine, unions can be nationalized.

Total compensation for the highest paying job at a company cannot be higher than 50x the total compensation for the lowest paying job at a company.

This just leads to outsourcing of low-level jobs to companies that are technically separate.

True. It would be very hard to get the spirit of that law conveyed into iron clad words, even if I had unlimited power.

I wish I could see a counterfactual world where every company was organized into a co-op like the Mondragon Corp and see what the downsides are, before gaining unlimited political power and imposing that on people.

From my understanding, Mondragon members have largely pulled the ladder up behind them (point 7 here).

  1. Automated voices on self-checkout gas pumps and cashier stations must be muted by a single clearly marked button press. If this makes it harder for you to run self-checkout, hire cashiers. Any time a store implements self-checkout, they must have a CostCo style cart-checker on the way out. It is unacceptable to me how easy it is to steal from Grocery stores, and that the grocers have decided that they'll just let dishonest people steal rather than hire someone. It makes me want to steal.

  2. On a related note, create a process by which jobs can be certified as "easy" by OSHA and thus eligible for lower-than-minimum wage. Such as the aforementioned cart checkers. It should be possible to hire someone for a job that isn't worth minimum wage.

  3. Abolish almost all police enforcement personnel. Police should function purely in investigative and administrative roles. Instead, a 2% flat income tax on all citizens will fund both detectives and a public militia consisting of all able-bodied individuals. Every male citizen will be expected to serve 20 hours of militia service per month, patrolling local neighborhoods on call for emergencies. Completing your service hours will entitle you to avoid paying the tax, if you don't serve you do pay the tax. Citizen militias will be on hand at all times, day and night, to respond to crime calls and other emergencies.

  4. Abolish DA and PD offices. Rather, the roles will be combined as State's Lawyers, and the same lawyers will be assigned randomly to prosecute or defend any given defendant. This will mean that defense attorneys and prosecutors will have the same experience, relationships, and access to investigative, police, and judges.

  5. All fitness and sport equipment will be tax-free.

  6. Significant encouragement towards mixed-income and mixed-use housing developments. The ideal layout is the classic American small town, where a series of small row-homes and apartment buildings border large corner homes where the local Doctor/Lawyer/Banker lived. There is significant value in having poor and rich Americans interact and form social bonds.

  7. No product can be marketed using any kind of patriotic or "American" theme unless it is owned, headquartered, and predominantly assembled in America.

  8. Strong encouragement for alternatives to graveyards. Graveyards are becoming increasingly sprawling, depressing eyesores of identikit headstones, poorly maintained because of bad finances, too large because of a system built for a much smaller population. A bitch and a half to move if development becomes necessary. Cremation, mausoleums, Tibetan Sky Funerals, go wild. But graveyards are a problem.

All fitness and sport equipment will be tax-free.

how would that work if almost everything can be claimed to be for fitness and sport?

Huh?

I guess running shoes are the edge-case that is most relevant here. But a treadmill, or a rowing machine, or a kettlebell seem pretty clear cases. Bikes I guess can go either way, but I also don't have a problem encouraging bicycle usage.

On #1: try the second button from the top on the right of the gas pump's screen. It's almost never labeled as such, but it's usually set up as Mute. I've heard of one pump brand that uses top right instead, but never encountered it myself.

Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't. But regardless, it should be clearly marked. Many of them seem not to have a mute button at all.

#3: if this citizen militia is armed, you're going to get a LOT of unjustified dead bodies. If they aren't armed, they will be ineffective. Granting general citizens a state-sanctioned license to kill is a very, very bad idea (I say this as a strong proponent of the 2nd amendment).

I would prohibit contact sports (football, basketball, rugby, field hockey, soccer, lacrosse, wrestling, hockey, boxing, futsal and martial arts with opponents) under the age of 18. Maybe team sports in general. Likely gymnastics, cheerleading, and figure skating.

I would prohibit the consumption of soda under the age of 18. Possibly.

Maybe require an hour of walking at school under the age of 18.

Basically I would try to prevent CTE, obesity, and unnecessary sports injuries. And try to save some children from their narcissistic parents.

I would immediately put trillions toward requiring citizens to participate in longterm studies. If you are a twin, you are going to be forced to participate.

  • Dozens of twin mothers, one of them works and one of them doesn’t, what are the health outcomes? Dozens more, one with physical contact with child all day and one not, what are health outcomes?

  • Corporations will be forced to hire some percent applicants who lack full or partial college education but appear intelligent from testing, so we can measure how important college truly is for employee quality.

  • Placing normal people around poetry and modern art so we can measure whether there is any benefit.

  • For twins, force one of them to masturbate frequently and the other not, what are outcomes of their children?

  • Feed all kinds of mammals on organic food and measure the fourth-generational effect compared to GMO

  • I read a study once that longterm fasting can cure schizophrenia. Force some schizophrenics to fast because I want the study to be replicated

Forcing people into studies and randomly assigning major behavioral actions sounds hellish in actual procedure and implementation.

But think of the data…

Give doctors the right to point firearms at their patient and tell them to take their fucking meds on the pain of death.

It's a good day at work, can you tell?

I think there's something deeply important about this issue which we haven't figured out yet.

I want to be productive. My dream is to be extremely productive. Maybe I'm lying to myself a little bit, but as far as I can tell, if I could press a button and make myself productivity-monster, a man who enjoys working and spends only perhaps an hour a day doing anything unproductive, I would. I'd like to switch all my current hobbies to more productive ones (swap reading for creative writing, for example) and spend my days accomplishing things.

That button exists, it's Adderall, and when I take it I temporarily do become very productive, and enjoy being productive. It's a great state of mind, quite pleasant to experience, and increases my overall wellbeing a lot. Emotionally I do better (because I get work done and am less stressed about it), and of course the work getting done is a big deal as well.

Before I take the pill, though, I have an aversion to taking it equal to my aversion to actually doing the work. My values are the same, I think--I want to get the work done--but on a base level it seems that my desire to do anything else is deeper than simple ADHD and has to do with base hedonism, or time preference, or something. In other words, I had thought that ADHD just means "you have a harder time focusing and getting work done", but it seems to be deeper than that. Despite deeply wanting to get work done, another part of me actively hates the idea of working in its own right. Even though I know that work under Adderall will be very enjoyable, it's still something I don't want to do. This can't be explained by simple hedonism or time preference; if it were just a case of wanting the happy chemicals, I'd be an Adderall abuser by now.

There's a phenomenon I'm sure you know more about than I do where some mental illnesses seem to involve wanting to be mentally ill on a level. Depressed people want to stay inside in the dark and avoid doing things which would snap them out of it. Some people of all types don't take their meds, even if they're capable of it, know the meds will work, and don't have any conscious reason not to take them.

I've heard bipolar people such as Freddie DeBoer describe the experience of taking meds as making them "not feel like themselves". Maybe this is true--he's certainly pretty bright, and seems to believe it--but connecting it with my own experience taking Adderall, I wonder if part of what they are going through has less to do with some vague feeling of "offness", disassociation, or feeling like their personality is being changed, and more to do with their actual subconscious values encouraging them to remain mentally ill.

It makes me wonder how much of mental illness is, at least in part, due to basic values and personality rather than anything actually wrong with the brain on a chemical or physical level. I would never have expected to develop an aversion to Adderall--it seems to solve basically all my problems--but to some small extent that has happened. My only explanation for why is that, unbeknownst to me, on some level I really did enjoy and value my hundreds of hours of playing videogames and stressing about the work I wasn't doing.

Anyways, sorry for the spew of words, it's a thought I haven't had time to explore in too much depth, but I think there's something to it.

Also, man, I always wondered how you put out so much content, but it's so easy on stimulants.

I had thought that ADHD just means "you have a harder time focusing and getting work done"

There are some researchers who believe ADHD primarily involves a defect in emotional regulation, working memory, and time projection. Which adds up to having a harder time focusing and getting work done, but the emotional regulation part is doing a lot more than that. If you have ADHD, you may have less capacity to make yourself feel something different than you are currently feeling, or to blunt the edge of a strong emotion. That could explain the strong desire not to do any work.

EDIT: Also, to your main point, I do find it interesting that you have an aversion to taking your Adderal. If I'm off my Dexedrine then I'm miserable. Irritable, unproductive, lethargic...mostly irritable actually, I snap at people a lot more when I'm off my meds, which is usually ever weekend because I don't want to build up a tolerance.

If downers like alcohol bring out the "real you", then uppers like adderall and coke bring out the "fake you". The real you genuinely just wants to laze around and play games, so even if it hurts being a depressive P.o.S., there's always catharsis in the fact you're doing what your brain wants you to do. And if you drank some booze instead of popping an adderall, you'd go, "Work? Who gives a fuck about work! I'm just gonna drink myself into a coma and die in a couple years" etc. Even if it's wrong, that is how you actually feel about things, and adderall doesn't solve that so much as cover it up.

Can you pop adderall every day to stay productive? Sure. Build a career from that if you want. But the underlying problem remains. Stop taking adderall and all the problems come back. So will you take it every day until you retire...? This drug which stifles your creativity, which makes things feel somehow phony?

When we feel extremely sad or whatever, there's a massive wave of catharsis which makes us feel oddly satisfied and complete. And every time a depressed person boots up League of Legends at 2 AM and sips another cup of coffee, there's a mini wave of catharsis. It's his version of what happy people get when they do happy people crap like take a stroll through nature. You take that away from him, and he doesn't really have anything.

If.

And if you drank some booze instead of popping an adderall, you'd go, "Work? Who gives a fuck about work! I'm just gonna drink myself into a coma and die in a couple years" etc. Even if it's wrong, that is how you actually feel about things, and adderall doesn't solve that so much as cover it up.

I genuinely feel many different ways at once. I think it's fair to say a part of me wants to simply laze about, while another part wants to work constantly and achieve things. Drugs seem to bring out one side or another, but both sides are equally real, if not equally strong.

If I quit my job and just coasted, the achievement-oriented side of me would get much more insistent on change, and I think I'd start thinking of that side of myself as the "real me."

So will you take it every day until you retire...? This drug which stifles your creativity, which makes things feel somehow phony?

It does seem to stifle creativity a bit but it doesn't make things feel phony. I still get incredible enjoyment out of my usual pastimes--in fact, I find both videogames and fiction much more enjoyable--but there's less of the creeping dread which fights to keep me from getting started with work.

I didn't think I had ADHD--certainly, I can focus for very long, intense periods of time on things I'm interested in without chemical intervention--but objectively, looking at how my life was going, I think I have a pretty severe case of it. Some of this was biochemical or neurological or whatever you want to call it, and some was due to bad habits compounded over years.

Previously, on a good day I was lucky to get 80 minutes of concentrated work in. The rest of my time was generally split between videogames and mindless doomscrolling, while stressing about all the work not getting done. Now I take 10 mg and get 200 minutes done (more than enough for my job), then spend time afterwards doing things I've wanted to do for ages such as build businesses.

I guess I'm saying--on Adderall, I enjoy the same things in the same way as my "true" self. In fact I enjoy them more. And I have other desires, which I'd argue are just as "true" to the "real me", which are now also being satisfied.

It's impossible to understand people at all without understanding that some of their desires are confused, contradictory, or even actively harmful. We have the power to excise such desires from our personalities with enough work and training. I've discovered in myself a desire along those lines which I didn't know I had--one which seems actively interested, not in basic time-wasting pastimes, but in harming me--and now that I know it exists, I can watch for it and reduce its influence over me.

Doing so is the basis of mortality and possibly the only decision we can make that really means anything.

Maybe I'm lying to myself a little bit, but as far as I can tell, if I could press a button and make myself productivity-monster, a man who enjoys working and spends only perhaps an hour a day doing anything unproductive, I would. I'd like to switch all my current hobbies to more productive ones (swap reading for creative writing, for example) and spend my days accomplishing things.

That button exists, it's Adderall, and when I take it I temporarily do become very productive, and enjoy being productive. It's a great state of mind, quite pleasant to experience, and increases my overall wellbeing a lot. Emotionally I do better (because I get work done and am less stressed about it), and of course the work getting done is a big deal as well.

Well, we differ significantly on this regard. I'm precisely as productive as I need to be (sadly quite a lot now), but I don't want to have be to super productive. I mean, maybe a little, but if I didn't have so many pressing concerns, I'd be content with just relaxing and enjoying my life.

And I very much do not like Ritalin. It certainly makes me more productive in the sense I actually can force myself to open textbooks, but the subjective sensation is unpleasant. It's a dirty feeling drug, like a combination of energy and anxiety, even at the lowest doses and with sustained release formulations.

Maybe I'd feel different on Adderall or other stims, but they're not available here in India, though I will try to get my prescription changed there.

I don't like Ritalin. I don't want to take it. I simply feel compelled to, if I want to make anything of myself. And I guess it's worked out?

I've heard bipolar people such as Freddie DeBoer describe the experience of taking meds as making them "not feel like themselves". Maybe this is true--he's certainly pretty bright, and seems to believe it--but connecting it with my own experience taking Adderall, I wonder if part of what they are going through has less to do with some vague feeling of "offness", disassociation, or feeling like their personality is being changed, and more to do with their actual subconscious values encouraging them to remain mentally ill.

Bipolar people alternate between mania and depression. But mania feels good. It feels fucking great. Not enough to outweigh the negative consequences from both itself and the subsequent depression, but I think that if I had to pick an ideal mental state for the rest of my life, it would hypomania. You know all the people famous for getting shit done? They're probably there or close. Or maybe just obsessed with their work.

If he's taking mood stabilizers, they're killing the buzz.

Then again, what do I know? I've been moderately depressed for most of a decade. Nothing I tried so far helped. But actually having achieved some of my career goals has genuinely helped, and there are better treatments I can look out for.

There's a phenomenon I'm sure you know more about than I do where some mental illnesses seem to involve wanting to be mentally ill on a level. Depressed people want to stay inside in the dark and avoid doing things which would snap them out of it. Some people of all types don't take their meds, even if they're capable of it, know the meds will work, and don't have any conscious reason not to take them.

You're correct. One example is them listening to sad music, which turns out, actually makes them sadder. But Scott has discussed that at length and I have nothing novel to add.

Depression feeds on itself and seeks to perpetuate more depression. Many people don't seek treatment of their own accord after all.

Also, man, I always wondered how you put out so much content, but it's so easy on stimulants.

Ever tried chronic sleep deprivation? I write best at 5 am when I'm dead tired yet sleep eludes me. It brings out the latent poet in me.

(And surprisingly enough, sleep deprivation can temporarily reverse depression, though it's hardly a sustainable method. Maybe that's one of the rare times when I'm not depressed. I still write plenty when I'm not on my meds. Most of what I write is, but it certainly helps.)

Well, we differ significantly on this regard. I'm precisely as productive as I need to be (sadly quite a lot now), but I don't want to have be to super productive. I mean, maybe a little, but if I didn't have so many pressing concerns, I'd be content with just relaxing and enjoying my life.

And I very much do not like Ritalin. It certainly makes me more productive in the sense I actually can force myself to open textbooks, but the subjective sensation is unpleasant. It's a dirty feeling drug, like a combination of energy and anxiety, even at the lowest doses and with sustained release formulations.

I've heard the same from virtually everyone. In my mind, these two things are connected. I feel a constant sense of anxiety over the many, many problems in myself and the world. It feels like morally bankrupt idiots are in charge virtually everywhe