Anti-tribalism and positive mental health as high-value cause areas

I think that tribalism is one of the biggest problems with humanity today, and that even small reductions of it could cause a massive boost to well-being. By tribalism, I basically mean the phenomenon where arguments and actions are primarily evaluated based on who makes them and which group they seem to support, not anything else. E.g. if a group thinks that X is bad, then it’s often seen...

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You can never be universally inclusive

A discussion about the article “We Don’t Do That Here” (h/t siderea) raised the question about the tension between having inclusive social norms on the one hand, and restricting some behaviors on the other hand. At least, that was the way the discussion was initially framed. The thing is, inclusivity is a bit of a bad term, since you can never really be universally inclusive....

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What are your plans for the evening of the apocalypse?

If everyone found out for sure that the world would end in five years, what would happen? My guess is that it would take time before anything big happened. Finding out about the end of the world, that’s the kind of a thing that you need to digest for a while. For the first couple of days, people might go “huh”, and then carry on with their old routines while thinking about it. A...

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Meaningfulness and the scope of experience

I find that the extent to which I find life meaningful, seems strongly influenced by my scope of experience [1, 2]. Say that I have a day off, and there’s nothing in particular that I need to get done or think about. This makes it easy for the spatial scope of my experience to become close. My attention is most strongly drawn to the sensations of my body, nearby sounds, tempting nearby...

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Nobody does the thing that they are supposedly doing

I feel like one of the most important lessons I’ve had about How the World Works, which has taken quite a bit of time to sink in, is: In general, neither organizations nor individual people do the thing that their supposed role says they should do. Rather they tend to do the things that align with their incentives (which may sometimes be economic, but even more often they are social and...

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To save the world, make sure to go beyond academia

There were several interesting talks at the GoCAS workshop on existential risk to humanity. The one that was maybe the most thought-provoking was the last one (video here), by Seth Baum, who discussed the difficulty of translating the results of academic research into something that actually does save the world. He gave two examples. First, climate change: apparently in the economics literature,...

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Debiasing by rationalizing your own motives

Some time back, I saw somebody express an opinion that I disagreed with. Next, my mind quickly came up with emotional motives the other person might have for holding such an opinion, that would let me safely justify dismissing that opinion. Now, it’s certainly conceivable that they did have such a reason for holding the opinion. People do often have all kinds of psychological,...

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The muted signal hypothesis of online outrage

Everyone, it sometimes seems, has their own pet theory of why social media and the Internet often seem like so unpleasant and toxic places. Let me add one more. People want to feel respected, loved, appreciated, etc. When we interact physically, you can easily experience subtle forms of these feelings. For instance, even if you just hang out in the same physical space with a bunch of other people...

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The parliamentary model as the correct ethical model

In 2009, Nick Bostrom brought up the possibility of dealing with moral uncertainty with a “parliamentary model” of morality. Suppose that you assign (say) 40% probability to some form particular of utilitarianism being correct, and 20% probability to some other form of utilitarianism being correct, and 20% probability to some form of deontology being true. Then in the parliamentary...

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Confidence and patience don’t feel like anything in particular

After doing my self-concept work, I’ve been expecting to feel confident in social situations. And observing myself in them or after them, I have been more confident. But I haven’t felt particularly confident. The thing is, being confident doesn’t feel like much in particular. I was pretty confident in my ability to open my laptop and write this post. I’m also confident in...

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How I found & fixed the root problem behind my depression and anxiety after 20+ years

I was nine years old and about to soon turn ten, when I announced to my parents that I didn’t want any birthday presents, because I didn’t think that I’d done anything to deserve them. This left my parents more than a little puzzled and upset, especially when I later also insisted I didn’t want presents for other birthdays – nor for Christmas, for that matter. I...

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Meditation insights: suffering is intrinsically bound together with pleasure

A principle which I’ve been gradually been able to observe and internalize, thanks both to meditation and some other mind-hacking practices, is that suffering is never about the pain itself. There are conditions in which people report pain but do not mind it; pain is just an attention signal. Pain does not intrinsically cause suffering: what causes suffering is experiencing the pain, and...

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Books that have had the biggest impact on my life/thought

In roughly chronological order: 1. J.R.R. Tolkien: The Hobbit / The Lord of the Rings 2. Eliezer Yudkowsky: The Less Wrong Sequences 3. Michele Boldrin & David K. Levine: Against Intellectual Monopoly 4. Olivia Fox Cabane: The Charisma Myth 5. Marshall Rosenberg: Non-Violent Communication 6. Eugene Gendlin: Focusing; Connirae Andreas & Tamara Andreas: Core Transformation Tolkien, because...

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Cognitive Core Systems explaining intuitions behind belief in souls, free will, and creation myths

A book I’m currently reading, Cognitive Pluralism, cites research suggesting that human infants as well as many non-human animals (particularly primates) are born with four “hard-coded” core reasoning systems: A Core Object System which identifies cohesive and continuous objects (as opposed to say liquids or heaps), enables tracking of such objects, and causes us to expect...

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Relationship compatibility as patterns of emotional associations

Much of relationship compatibility comes down to a fuzzy concept that’s variously referred to as “chemistry”, “clicking”, or just feeling good and comfortable in the other’s presence. This is infamously difficult to predict by any other means than actually spending time around the other. OKCupid-style dating sites, with their extensive batteries of questions...

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Fixing the 4X end-game boringness by simulating legibility

4X games (e.g. Civilization, Master of Orion, for this discussion I’m also counting Paradox-style grand strategy like Crusader Kings, Europa Universalis, Stellaris) have a well-known problem where, once you get sufficiently far ahead, you’ve basically already won and the game stops being very interesting. There have been various attempts to fix this, but the problem remains. (Extra...

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Chapman, Kegan & sosiaalinen ja moraalinen kehitys

Luin vihdoin David Chapmanin tiivistelmän psykologi Robert Keganin sosiaalisen ja moraalisen kehityksen mallista, ja totesin että tämähän on yllättävän kiinnostava kuvaus monista nykypäivän yhteiskunnallisista dynamiikoista. (Ainakin mikäli pitää paikkansa.) Mallin mukaan ihmisten moraalinen kehitys etenee viiden askeleen läpi. Askeleet 1-2 ovat relevantteja lähinnä vain lapsille,...

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Core Transformation

So I went to my head to ask myself: what is the one thing that I’ve been trying to get from all of my romantic relationships? What is the common theme that unites all of my fantasies? What is the thing that I desperately find myself craving for even now? That one “if only I could have that, then everything would be fine” thing? Initial associations: Trust. Safety. Someone who...

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Moving on

I expect this to be my last breakup post (about this particular breakup, at least :P). After having processed all the pains I’ve discussed in previous posts, there was just a final one left, one that’s in a sense the simplest. It’s that I have tremendous respect and admiration for my ex. She combines a brilliant intelligence, a fiery loyalty to her principles, and a stark...

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Re-interpreting meanings

After I made my last breakup post, siderea left me with some excellent thoughts about it. While there were a lot of good points, these were the parts that resonated the most. She started by describing the reaction that many people have to her:   … a lot of people, male, female and otherwise, fall “in like” with me very quickly, because for a lot of them, I...

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