My question was mostly about the transition from conquest to occupation. How did they get from the point where native armies had been defeated to the point where natives would accept their rule? That’s the transition we’ve failed spectacularly at in Iraq and Afghanistan, so it’s a matter of considerable practical importance.
I get your points, but I think you may be underestimating the sheer technological advantage enjoyed by the British at that time. This was the age of “we have the Maxim gun and they have not”. Between the power of its guns and the wealth of its factories, Britain at the time had nigh-insurmountable advantages; its war against the Zanzibar Sultanate brought decisive British victory within 45 minutes.
I honestly don’t know much about the British conquest of India, although I’m pretty sure that the power differential between the West and the rest at that point in time was near its peak. Does anyone know how they did it?
Epistemic status: probably not as reliable as it claims to be, but a useful rule of thumb for planning purposes.
Don’t forget major problem (c), which is that we’re not willing to make the decades-long investment that statebuilding takes. A good rule of thumb is 50 occupiers per subject-nation citizen; our recent occupations have had nowhere near that number. They have to stay long enough become fully integrated with the local culture so that they can change it, violently when necessary (think British Raj or 1945 occupation of Japan). The US military is not designed to do this, and our politicians are not willing to redesign it as an occupying force (e.g. by making postings semi-permanent instead of brief rotations and teaching all our troops the local language). Therefore our attempts at colonization-style outcomes consistently fail.
The short version is that we already have the technology to destroy anything, but the resulting power vacuum consistently leads to civil war.
Personally I’ve found that analytical chemistry is a good discipline for learning the scientific method. You’re using the same theories as everyone else, but the specific composition of your particular unknown sample has to be figured out by testing, guesswork, and induction.
our possibilities are endless
Who told you that? If the answer involves science fiction authors, politicians, or religious leaders, then you might want to think about their credibility.
Air molecules can do impressive things (mostly destructive things) when enough of them start moving in the same direction, but mostly they just bounce off each other and collectively don’t do much. People are much the same.
We’re only human. A solid 49.9% of us are below-average humans. Most people are trying pretty hard, in our limited way, to accomplish goals that may or may not have been good ideas in the first place. Don’t be too hard on them, or on yourself.
If you want to see Ra in its purest form, look to advertising. It’s positive affect free of information. Olive Garden is not your family; not all who eat Doritos are bold. Ra is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. It is also often encountered in celebrities and politics (what is Kim Kardashian famous for, exactly?).
The opposite of Ra is the question “What have you done for me lately?”.
I would say something like “There’s no point in judging the world. It’s much vaster than you are, and your opinion of it doesn’t really matter. There is often value in understanding it, though.”
Could we get a Romanization of #5? Some of us are modestly familiar with Chinese history while simultaneously baffled by a written language that appears to consist mainly of several thousand subtly different drawings of sheds.
I suspect that “outsiders” form a bigger part of the overall demand than you think, and that the business transfers considerable(1) amounts of currency to the inner cities from places like Wall Street and Hollywood (and other more affluent areas). Which isn’t to say that it’s not part of the structures keeping the underclass down(2); it’s possible to be dependent for one’s livelihood on things that are bad for you.
(1) considerable by inner city standards, much less so by Wall Street standards
(2) I’m not sure to what extent we should view society as “keeping the underclass down” vs. “trying, and mostly failing, to lift the underclass up”. Your points about the Nixon-era policies are taken, but that was 50 years ago and only part of the story.
I wonder if the drug war isn’t the hidden subsidy that keeps the American underclass alive. Because drugs are lucrative and illegal, there is a significant section of our economy reserved to people who are desperate enough to sell drugs. If everyone could get quality cocaine at Walmart for $2.99 a hit, I’m concerned that the inner city poor would lose the only viable business they have. Sure it’s a crappy business, but it’s not like they’re drowning in other attractive options.
Desktop GUIs are simple, but a click or three can open software that’s complex enough not to annoy me. Part of it is the screen; you can fit much more information on a large screen (obviously). Part of it is the input; keyboard and mouse gives you many more potential actions at any time than a touchscreen (given realistic limits). I will admit I disliked the Windows model at first, but I quickly realized that it worked pretty well.
Personally I avoid smartphones and tablets. I had a tablet briefly, but it just felt incredibly shallow. Instead I use a blackberry-style phone for calls and texts and a desktop computer for everything else. Also a Kindle Paperwhite, which is basically a tablet optimized for the sorts of content I prefer to consume (books).
I need to start off by saying that I strongly encourage those who can to achieve fluency with the techniques of rationality. They’re often very useful, and not knowing them is often crippling.
Having said that, if reason is the only tool in your toolkit you’re not likely to get far. Empathy, charisma, confidence, psychology, and physical attractiveness are often even more useful. You are surrounded by seven billion apes who are smart enough to invent nuclear weapons and stupid enough to use them; they are by far the most important part of your environment and Donald Trump is better at manipulating them than Eliezer Yudkowski.
Beyond that there are the insights of meta-rationality. If you think of rationality in terms of optimization, meta-rationality is the art of choosing what to optimize. If rationalism is like climbing stairs, meta-rationality is deciding which staircases are worth climbing (there’s a lot more to it than that.).
What I’m trying to say is- don’t be so proud of your rationalism. It’s only a part of what you need.
I would start with the ideas that natural behavior is typically adaptive, and that society is built for people who behave naturally. Rationality is highly effective at the margins, but tends to cause issues if used without restraint. Don’t go overboard. If you do one thing at professional quality, it’s okay to be normal everywhere else.
In a related note, we all have meta-preferences that are different than our preferences; there are many things that we want to have done but don’t actually want to do. And often our preferences are wiser than our meta-preferences; spending your youth studying and self-improving is not always a better use of your time than getting drunk with attractive people. You don’t have to be superhuman, which is good since it isn’t an option. Have some compassion for yourself; it’s okay to be merely okay.
Note that this is the opposite of the advice that I would give to an underachieving slacker. Some people need to learn to act with intent, and some people need to learn to chill. You seem to be the second type.
People vary considerably in which habits stick, which habits don’t, and how much work any specific habit takes. To the extent that there is a “self”, I’d say it involves not how you are at any given moment, but the range of modifications accessible to you over time.
I got that; I just don’t think most people have identifiable meta-preferences. I don’t. I expect less than half of Americans would quickly understand the concept of “meta-preferences”, and I’m pretty sure that God features prominently in the moral reasoning of most Americans (but perhaps not most Californians).
OTOH, I’m sure that many people have identifiable preferences and that some people are smart enough to work backwards. Somebody’s going to figure out which meta-preference leads to a lower tax rate and tell Fox News.
Voting relies on human judgement, which gets increasingly shaky the farther it gets from the humans’ concrete concerns. I think your approach magnifies the problems of democracy rather than solving them.
I expect that this system, like democratic processes in general, would have problems because nearly all people, even on an individual level, don’t have clearly defined ideas of what they want to optimize. I’d expect a relatively small number of people to develop some understanding of the various choices and their effects, then the emergence of various political campaigns to promote one or another preference (for reasons idealistic and otherwise). I’d expect tribalism to set in rather quickly.