This is false, there are a few genius mathematician who early in childhood proved it is easy for some humans.
Some outliers are hypernumerate. I’m hyperlexic, so attuned to words that I was able to teach myself to read before my childhood amnesia kicked in, so I never had to learn phonics. This doesn’t mean the vast majority of humans aren’t congenitally literate or numerate. OP’s statement may be nominally false, but the exception proves the rule.
As for teaching the aesthetic beauty of math, I would give each student their own blank copy of the 10x10 multiplication table (with a zeros row and column, making it 11x11) at the start of grade 2, and teach them how to fill it in themselves. After that, they can use it in any math class that semester, but they have to make a new one at the start of each semester after that.
The inherent laziness of humanity will drive them to “cheat” by copying from lines above: filling in half the 4′s from the 2′s, half the 8′s from the 4′s, half the 6′s from the 3′s, and so on. And while they’re doing that, they’re learning in an indelible way.
This is a beautifully articulated taxonomy. My first application is to addictions. At the top level, addiction “makes things okay” in a way that makes things very not okay.
Uppers can make someone feel like things are okay. This reduces stress until they wear off and the “not okay” can be seen more clearly, assuming the time spent “up” wasn’t used to actually make things okay.
Downers can make someone feel like being “not okay” is okay. This reduces stress by taking away the onus of responsibility for a time.
Psychedelics can induce states of A or B.
Codependency is an addiction to trying to make things okay, in any sense of the word. Individually, it’s a pathology. En masse, it’s a driving force behind politics.
Shakespeare was the Joss Whedon of his day: high concepts and raunchy humor executed with total dedication to the world being created, with witticisms and new phrasings that hit the zeitgeist just right.
We now have a Philippines strain to worry about, there will be more until we solve this globally, yet there is no sense of urgency whatsoever.
The urgency went away with the restaurants, the jobs, the summer protests and the winter elections. “Two weeks to slow the curve” became “Let’s make sure the poorest people with the most vulnerable relatives still have to ride the NYC subway to work because a city survives on its underclass, and hey let’s stick COVID patients in nursing homes.” The pandemic became the one thing that’s poison to a news cycle: boring.
Not the existence of a God, but the actions of specific Gods.
The book of the Christian God promises eternal existence to all instead of oblivion, and a really good eternal existence to those who follow the Way of love and choose to accept that God’s offer of redemption.
The book of the Muslim God promises a similar pair of eternal destinations.
Those are just the two most famous promises of infinite lifetime tied to interpretations of the holy books of religions which focus on specific Gods. They’re extraordinary claims, and so they require extraordinary evidence, but any decently plausible promise of an infinite lifetime is worth enough investigation to falsify it.
You could simplify Machi Koro:
just use the one-die cards requiring a roll of 1-5
remove the first goal card which allows the second die, and the last goal card which requires 22 coins
first step of complexity is to re-add the cards requiring a roll of 6 and the last goal card.
It actually (didn’t) show up in one of the final (and best) novels of the old Star Wars canon, Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor by Matthew Stover.
It also (doesn’t) show up in the Elder Scrolls series as Sithis, the Void.
Much of contemporary spirituality, I think, aims at a certain type of unification or “non-duality.” It aims, that is, to erase or transcend distinctions rather than draw them; to reach the whole, rather than the part. Indeed, to the extent that an “existential” attitude aims, ultimately, to encompass as much of the “whole picture” as possible, some aspiration towards unity seems almost inevitable.
But as we raise the level of abstraction, but wish to persist in some kind of existential affirmation, we will include, and affirm, more and more of the world’s horror, too (until, indeed, we move past what the world is actually like, to what it could be like, and to horrors untold).
Here’s another riff on this theme: I performed a thought experiment once, which I return to regularly. A “three O” (omnipotent, omniscient, omni-benevolent) God would imply six opposite qualities:
nonexistent or omni-failing/entropic
omni-unknowing or omni-stupid
omni-uncaring or omni-malevolent
(We’ll forego the partlys here: partly stupid, partly malevolent, etc. for simplicity.)
The God that does not exist is, by definition, also omni-unknowning and omni-uncaring. (This opposite God, in not existing, would not be capable of failing, misunderstanding, or hating.) This is the un-God of strong atheism, the zero to the Christian God’s infinities. Other religions posit other combinations, including finite partly-gods and alternative Three O’s.
By existing, a three O’s God implies the nonexistence of the no-O un-God. But the un-God would also not-exist in any universe without God, or any universe with partly-gods. The un-God is not falsifiable because there is no conceivable universe in which it does not not-exist; any existence thereof (or super-nonexistence) would be a deviation of the attributes of the un-God, which would make it no longer the un-God.
And so, any being which acts in entropic, stupid, or malevolent ways serves the un-God, which cannot act because it does not exist, but which can be imagined as an open maw, ever-devouring but never fillable. Thus “Moloch,” entropy in every aspect, the “all is vanity, and a chasing after wind” of Ecclesiastes.
If one or more exist, then our time is not 100 years but infinite, and our reach not limited to our arms. Worth as much ink as the heat-death of the universe or the eventual extinction of Man, which both rely on the false vacuum not popping before then.
This is the frustrating thing about the culture war. People seem to assume that the sides are clearly delineated in black and white. Just because some activist shouts that you have to call hispanics “latinx” now doesn’t mean it’s true, and trans issues are no different. The actual people who are supposedly being represented are much more diverse than you might think.
Much of the activism I hear about on the news falls into both the legibility trap and the movement trap. While allies are trying to simplify the issues to build steam for building an institution to work on creating an expert class who can manage the organizations that will obtain the workers who will provide integrated solutions to the impacted people, the impacted people are living the problem and finding their own grassroots solutions.
For Italians in early New York City, the grassroots solution to racism was the Mafia and political machines, and now Italian-Americans are now considered white by pretty much everyone in America.
It sounds like this is the book that inspired the setting and details of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. Philosophy aside, it’s a dystopian novel about the science of railroads and steel and the capitalism of continent-wide industry, with a few bits of sci-fi tossed in to make her points.
This is especially relevant in 2021, when Easter and Passover both fall on the same weekend.
I remember looking this up and thinking, “If I ever get trapped in a nonhuman universe, I’ll just celebrate it on the weekend of the first full moon of spring.”
If nothing else, I hope this essay will leave you feeling grateful that you no longer have to do a decades-long bootstrapping process the way Eliezer and Nancy and I and others like us had to in the before times. I doubt any of us are sorry we put in the effort, but being able to shortcut a lot of it is a good thing.
Thank you for introducing us to those who built this basilica. Just in looking up General Semantics, I’ve learned more about the culture wars that preceded the ones we now fight, and I learned who a few of the generals were on both sides.
Would a module on how to overcome the deficits of autism without losing its strengths or becoming a different person be useful for the Character Sheet section of this project, or useful to Rationalist-aligned autistic people in general?
Philosophizing from the beginning: what makes something real? What even is reality?
Something is real to something else if it can affect it. My desk is real to my fist because it absorbs the energy and brings my hand to a stop, also causing a noise from the air particles disturbed en masse. El-ahrairah is real to Fiver and Bigwig as a mythopoeic hero / rabbit celebrity, and Fiver and Bigwig are real to my imagination as well as to my list of well-written fictional characters.
A reality is an arena within which some things are mutually real. Our physical reality is a shared nonfictional physical reality. Our logical realities and emotional realities are often treated as if they’re consistent with a universal underlying logical reality or emotional reality too, when in fact they’re just inside our own minds.
But hearts and minds affect other hearts and minds through communication, and so they are real to each other (in large measure).
Great points! In one small reply, you’ve explained a lot about Trumpism and the resulting reaction:
The red tribe was tired of being represented by blue-tribe meta-gamers who seemingly only cared about signals and not substance, so they hired a man whose meta was about smashing the meta.
The blue-tribe media realized they literally couldn’t afford a President whose substance matched his meta: ignoring the meta of politics and going for the meat of policy through consensus and win-win compromises. The only way to avoid that meta winning would be to prevent consensus and win-win compromises. So ensued five years of weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth, to convince the blue tribe hoi polloi that the prophesied Republican Hitler had finally arrived.
The result was a polarization that split Washington D.C. politics into two metas which no longer map to each other in even the ways they used to. And that’s scary.
The meme is trying to mind control you so it can replicate.
Ever since reading the book “Virus of the Mind” (Brodie, 1996), I’ve been wary of holding any opinion I don’t fully endorse or otherwise remember why I started believing in the first place. (This hasn’t been true of my opinion about politics in general until I typed that sentence, full disclosure.) I’ve been especially wary of using someone else’s phrasing to spread really sticky ideas. I guess I’ve got a good memetic immune system?
I think we should raise awareness of the concept of a memetic immune system.
The FairTax proposal of 1999 rapidly gained steam among the public due to Steve Jobs embracing it and touting how all sides would benefit, through a groundbreaking commercial campaign which made it obvious the income tax system benefited tax lawyers above all others. Politicians on all sides found themselves forced to support it or face the wrath of constituents. The bill passed, and America prepared for the century-old income tax system to be replaced with something modern and computerized.
Starting on Jan 1, 2001, every American citizen received a monthly tax rebate of the exact same fixed dollar amount instead of a yearly tax refund. (They also got their final income tax refund or made their final income tax payment around April.) Some people complained, but most people simply put it in their savings or checking accounts and hailed the end of the FICA payroll tax.
When the planes knocked down the World Trade Center towers on September 11, 2001, a recession started. But a marvelous thing happened: it didn’t hurt the underclasses as much as previous recessions. The monthly “prebate” acted as a guaranteed income stream for people out of work, and the burden on unemployment and welfare systems was substantially reduced. The tax burdens on small businesses were not as onerous, because the big companies that could pay for legislative loopholes in the past didn’t make out like bandits and leave small business to pay the tab. Used goods such as thrift stores boomed. Even as income inequality rose, standards of living rose for the lower classes.
As the country’s economy rebuilt, the startlingly positive outcome resulted in numerous books and papers hailing the FairTax’s success. The prebate had functioned as a “national dividend” which some called “universal basic income.” A side effect was noted: the national treasury had been decoupled from labor. The futurists who’d been warning of automation’s ills realized that half of the problem had been solved.
Another startling reform gained steam: universal welfare. The plan was to replace all means-tested welfare with a flat welfare check for all, spending on the people an amount that would have gone to bureaucrats to prevent those well-off from receiving public funds that had been extracted from their businesses by taxation.
It passed in 2006, and the income went through the same channels (paper checks and direct deposit) that people received the FairTax. Individual housing became more affordable for all families of every background.
There was no crash in 2008.
The foreclosures weren’t as severe, and the assets never became toxic. Instead, America started paying down its debt, as the more people spent on consumer goods and services, the more taxes the government collected. Other countries started adopting similar programs, and similarly thriving.
Income inequality began being seen as a good thing, because the “whales” paid for everything. The more the billionaires thrived, the more the people got.
Thank you. I’m currently playing with Excalidraw to create basic diagrams, since Venn diagrams are the best way to introduce the concepts. In fact, whenever I describe it with words, my goal is to simulate these Venns in my listeners’ minds, so I’m better off just plopping them into the post.
Now I just have to figure out the best way to include these drawings in the posts. SVG? PNG? Excalidraw native JSON? I’m lurking and reading the faqs to figure that out.
When I turn it into a blog, it might be best to have my own little wiki because of the way my content and terminology are interconnected.