People ask what the goal of the Rationalist community is. It’s to raise the sanity waterline. To flood the cities with sanity. To wash the streets with pure reason. To engulf the land in common sense. And when our foes, gasping for air, scream “this literally can’t be happening!” we’ll remind them that 0 and 1 are not probabilities.
In science we have standards for what qualifies as evidence. In increasing order of respectability, we have personal opinion, expert opinion, case reports, cohort studies, RCTs, and meta-analyses.
And then if none of those work, we use what’s known as an ‘SSC lit review’.
In an alternate universe: All the over-estimators, under-estimators, slow updaters will look up and shout, “save us!” And we’ll whisper “Bayes”.
To be honest, I’m somewhat skeptical of this aim. I suspect the timelines are too short for this to be a viable strategy. We need to find a way of winning regardless.
TL;DR: In Utopia, no one is Catholic.
Politics, business, technology, even rationality: many important things preoccupy us but leave the soul lacking. People crave connection, beauty, purpose, meaning, transcendence. These things can be found And so they turn to the many religions that seem to offer that.
Tim Urban noted that people in non-great relationships are twice as far from having relationships figured out as single people. They have two hard steps to take instead of just one: first to realize their current relationship is bad and break it up, then to find a great one. I’m starting to feel that today’s religions are the bad marriages of the pursuit of transcendence.
Religions were not optimized to uplift humans, they evolved to serve their priests and their memes. They offer pieces of the good stuff, but at the heavy cost of false beliefs. And how can the ideal state of your soul be one where you believe falsehoods?
I have seen glimpses of my soul’s ultimate goal. In poems, in woods, in cuddle parties. And I’m grateful that I could see them clearly, without the veil of one dogma or another obscuring my vision. I may or may not ever get there, but with religion I certainly won’t. And when I hear about rationalist friends becoming religious, I grieve for them having fallen off the path.
I think that this is Sam Harris’ core truth, which is why he’s so adamant about the benefits of individual spiritual practice and the horrors of organized religion. Each person’s path is their own, and while the wisdom and advice of others is indispensable, any person (or holy book) claiming to already know the destination is going in the wrong direction.
There’s been a lot of noise lately about affirmative consent, a standard of consent which requires explicit verbal confirmation for every escalation of romantic or sexual interaction. It has been adopted as a standard by many college campuses, and efforts have been made to turn it into actual law.
Most of the discussion has centered around the use of affirmative consent as a legal standard, and as such it is quite terrible: unfair, unjust, and impossible to interpret in a consistent way that stops bad behavior without criminalizing normal conduct. But, what I haven’t seen mentioned, is that adopting affirmative consent as a loosely enforced social norm is really good for nerds. If you’re not great at reading body language and subtle signs, the expectation that you’ll ask for verbal consent makes flirting much easier. You’re no longer an awkward geek, you’re hip to the times!
I’ve personally erred on the side of asking explicitly in the past, and I think it has worked out great for me. Most women were happy to give consent when asked, the momentary awkwardness of asking quickly forgotten. A few said “no”, in which case it’s a good thing I asked! And I doubt that even a single one was poised so evenly on the fence that asking for verbal consent turned her off me.
What do y’all think? And is this actually making life better or worse for women who date nerds?
Rules making human behavior more transparent would be good for nerds, if everyone followed them. Unfortunately, I believe this is not going to happen.
What is going to happen instead, in my opinion, is the usual: rules that high-status people can afford to break, and low-status people can either accept them as additional burden or get punished for breaking them.
The usual “he said / she said” of sexual violence investigation will remain, only the object of the debate will move to “they gave me an explicit verbal confirmation / no I didn’t”. The usual double standard will remain, too: when two people will have sex, with neither of them giving explicit verbal consent, only one of them will risk actual repercussions.
Also, many people love plausible deniability, so adopting the new rule will stimulate a lot of creativity in this new direction: how to say something that simultaneously could be interpreted as an explicit verbal confirmation, but also as something other than explicit verbal confirmation. And, as usual, nerds will be at a disadvantage at playing these games.
Right. I often suspect attempts to change social equilibriums are not attempts at Pareto improvements but instead trade-offs along the existing frontier that better serve some people that are currently underserved by the existing equilibrium. They are, of course, often sold as Pareto improvements by their supporters because it’s both not considered acceptable to argue for trade-offs that will make others worse (unless they are undesirable others) and because they may innocently but motivatedly confuse them for true Pareto improvements because they have blindspots that prevent them from noticing how the change would be bad for others when it’s good for them, such as via the typical mind fallacy.
In my experience I endorse affirmative consent as a *strongly* enforced social norm. Having sex or even kissing someone without explicitly asking first is something that I would reprimand friends if I knew they did.
I am probably in some very strongly selected communities but I like living in a world where affirmative consent is the explicit norm and I would not want to go back outside that.
I’m curious if you’d reprimand both friends if two of your friends kissed, escalated, and then had sex, both enthusiastically, but without any verbal consent in either direction. (Obvious conclusion I’m jumping to: that we generally mean that men must get consent, even if we state that it goes both ways.)
I certainly have the moral instinct to.
I don’t have a lot of experience with people within my friend group hooking up, or necessarily a lot of experience hearing about the details of hookups enough to have explicitly put me in that situation.
I have had several personal experiences where I reciprocated advances from women, then later been hit by the fallout of the lack of explicit verbal negotiation of what was going to happen. And I certainly reprimand friends (including women) for failing to communicate in their relationships at a broader level when I do know about it.
Here’s my best model of the current GameStop situation, after nerding out about it for two hours with smart friends. If you’re enjoying the story as a class warfare morality play you can skip this, since I’ll mostly be talking finance. I may all look really dumb or really insightful in the next few days, but this is a puzzle I wanted to figure out. I’m making this public so posterity can judge my epistemic rationality skillz — I don’t have a real financial stake either way.
Summary: The longs are playing the short game, the shorts are playing the long game.
At $300, GameStop is worth about $21B. A month ago it was worth $1B, so there’s $20B at stake between the long-holders and short sellers.
Who’s long right now? Some combination of WSBers on a mission, FOMOists looking for a quick buck, and institutional money (i.e., other hedge funds). The WSBers don’t know fear, only rage and loss aversion. A YOLOer who bought at $200 will never sell at $190, only at $1 or the moon. FOMOists will panic but they’re probably a majority and today’s move shook them off. The hedgies care more about risk, they may hedge with put options or trust that they’ll dump the stock faster than the retail traders if the line breaks.
The interesting question is who’s short. Shorts can probably expect to need a margin equal to ~twice the current share price, so anyone who shorted too early or for 50% of their bankroll (like Melvin and Citron) got squeezed out already. But if you shorted at $200 and for 2% of your bankroll you can hold for a long time. The current borrowing fee is 31% APR, or just 0.1% a day. I think most of the shorts are in the latter category, here’s why:
Short interest has stayed at 71M shares even as this week saw more than 500M shares change hands. I think this means that new shorts are happy to take the places of older shorts who cash out, they’re only constrained by the fact that ~71M are all that’s available to borrow. Naked shorts aren’t really a thing, forget about that. So everyone short $GME now is short because they want to be, if they wanted to get out they could. In a normal short squeeze the available float is constrained, but this hasn’t really happened with $GME.
WSBers can hold the line but can’t push higher without new money that would take some of these 71M shares out of borrowing circulation or who will push the price up so fast the shorts will get margin-called or panic. For the longs to win, they probably need something dramatic to happen soon.
One dramatic thing that could happen is that people who sold the huge amount of call options expiring Friday aren’t already hedged and will need to buy shares to deliver. It’s unclear if that’s realistic, most option sellers are market makers who don’t stay exposed for long. I don’t think there were options sold above the current price of $320, so there’s no gamma left to squeeze.
I think $GME getting taken off retail brokerages really hurt the WSBers. It didn’t cause panic, but it slowed the momentum they so dearly needed and scared away FOMOists. By the way, I don’t think brokers did it to screw with the small people, they’re their clients after all. It just became too expensive for brokerages to make the trade because they need to post clearing collateral for two days. They were dumb not to anticipate this, but I don’t think they were bribed by Citadel or anything.
For the shorts to win they just need to wait it out not get over-greedy. Eventually the longs will either get bored or turn on each other — with no squeeze this becomes just a pyramid scheme. If the shorts aren’t knocked out tomorrow morning by a huge flood of FOMO retail buys, I think they’ll win over the next weeks.
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I was a little unhappy with the implied intuition vs. cognition conflict in the “My gut feelings and intuitions are...” question. I would have preferred to say something like “I try to make my intuitions and cognition into a unified whole, using them to balance each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and I don’t have an experience of privileging either over the other”.
Agreed, I skipped that question because none of the answers matched my actual stance.