May 2020 Newsletter

Personal

Rebuilt my personal website

Wrote Signaling: Why People Have Conversations

Built a procedural music generator with cellular automata

Rationality / Probability

Bayes Theorem
Explains why Bayes’ Theorem is useful, how to visualize it, and why it’s true

Epistemic Learned Helplessness
Defer to expert consensus in a subject where a false argument would convince you

Techniques for probability estimates
How to translate your vague feelings of probability into more accurate estimates

Confidence levels inside and outside an argument
Your confidence in a belief should factor in the odds that the argument or model is flawed

Beware The Man of One Study
Every viewpoint has research both for and against it

Social Status

Social Status: Down the Rabbit Hole
Good overview of what social status and prestige hierarchies are, and their evolutionary origins

The Economics of Social Status
Status examined through the lens of microeconomics. Highlight: communities are defined by a common status currency

Status as a Service
Analyzing the growth and fall of social networks through the lens of social status

Status, masturbation, wasted time, and WoW
If an activity doesn’t increase your status, it is seen as wasted time. Activities that gain you status outside of the “real world” are in many ways masturbatory

The Melancholy of Subculture Society
The internet allows small subcultures to form, and they are appealing because they allow one to have more proportional status and influence over the group they identify with

Politics

A Thrive/Survive Theory of the Political Spectrum
Rightism is optimized for surviving, while leftism optimized for thriving

Reactionary Philosophy in a Planet-Sized Nutshell
Outlines beliefs held by neo-reactionaries

The Anti-Reactionary FAQ
Argues against common beliefs held by the neo-reactionaries by showing how the present politically progressive ideology is measurably better to the past

AI

How sure are we about this AI stuff?
There are no decisive arguments for prioritizing AI safety work

Misc

MLP: Immanetizing The Equestrian
My Little Pony developed a relatively old fandom because it depicts a utopian capitalist perspective on self-actualization

Death Note: L, Anonymity & Eluding Entropy
Using information theory to quantify the magnitude of Light’s mistakes in the anime Death Note and considering fixes

How to Be Happy
Overview of the research on things that have a causal relationship with happiness

The Doomsday Argument and the Number of Possible Observers
The anthropic principle implies that humans are a long-lived species

Books

Nonfiction

The Elephant in The Brain
Argues that many human behaviors such as conversation, charity, and laughter are rooted in evolutionary psychology, specifically signaling of status / prestige

Fiction

Never Let Me Go
“You don’t escape or rebel against your reality if it’s part of who you are, and all you’ve ever known. This is what makes the novel so tragic, the theme of lives that are never what they could be.” - The Guardian