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.
It’s interesting that you choose dividing by zero as your comparison to infinity, because there are infinite possible solutions to x/0.
It seems to me that by introducing infinites and infinitesimals to mathematics, mathematicians did something similar to how algebra made addition and multiplication “live together” despite their incompatability. By giving definition to something that sometimes can and sometimes can’t work with other parts of math, mathematicians brought the outside in, and fenced the universe.
I also find myself wondering if anyone thinks giving zero a name was a mistake. Zero is the reason there’s an x/0 asymptote.
As someone who read the book, you can answer this question: how often was zero (or nothingness) included in the paradoxes in the book? Without having read it, I’m guessing all of them hinge on some weirdness of 1 (unity), zero (null) or infinity.
I’m Dale Udall, a self-taught GenX philosopher and Grey-tribe quokka. For twenty years, I’ve been living my life informed by an original naive philosophy I call Triessentialism. I plan to start making it public under this persona on this site, to distance the philosophy from all the other footprints I’ve left on the Internet.
Triessentialism is a fractal ontology. It can be used for philosophical realizations and reorganization. I’ve applied it to ethics, erisology, AI safety, economics, music theory, marketing, sociology, self-help psychology, and more.
I believe it could revolutionize the field of teaching people like myself on the autism spectrum how to thrive in society, and not just fail at passing as normal.
I believe it could bring some balance to our public discourse through greater inter-tribe understanding, for those willing to listen and think.
I believe it exists as the hidden bedrock of all solid, time-tested institutions and systems, and I consider myself a paleontologist of philosophy, finding the bones of the past, not an inventor.
My favorite fiction authors from my youth are Isaac Asimov and C.S. Lewis, and my favorite fiction authors in adulthood are Matthew Woodring Stover, Robert Heinlein, George Orwell, and comic book writer Joe Kelly. I’ve read and enjoyed HPMOR, Worm, The Last Unicorn and Watership Down. I’m an idealist and a romantic in the colloquial senses of those terms.
When boxes A and B hold your sister and a thousand people, respectively, it becomes a classic Trolley Problem instead of a Prisoner’s Dilemma.