So if culture (and probably 20 IQ points due to better health and Flynn effect) can make the difference between Boko Haram and the Culture War in US
I would also add institutions (arguably part of culture), and maybe laziness (if Boko Haram members spent their whole days arguing on Twitter, they wouldn’t have time left for killing people).
Maybe the actual way to world peace is to give everyone an online connection, and channel their destructive instincts into upvoting and downvoting.
I suspect that the only way out is to provide a solution that has all the advantages of e.g. Facebook, without most of the disadvantages. Because there are advantages, especially for people who are less tech-savvy. Facebook allows them to communicate online with many people, and requires only minimum technical knowledge.
Before social networks, I usually communicated with people by e-mail. It was nice, but it required me to install and set up an e-mail program. (This problem was also solved by GMail.) Instant messagers were also nice, but again required installing and setup. Plus there were multiple instant messengers, and then you had some open-source client that could connect to all of them, but you still had to create the accounts, and configure the contact lists. Using these programs required some technical skills, or having someone with these skills in your family. I also visited all kinds of web forums.
Facebook is like GMail + instant messenger + web forums, all in one, and requires minimum setup. And although I hate the policy of providing your actual name and photo, it makes maintaining the contact lists easier. You do not have to install anything, which among other things means you can access Facebook at work from the company computer (unless it is specifically blocked); but there is also the optional smartphone app.
Blocking users solves the problem of spam. (Although you get ads, which are another form of spam.)
Multiple applications are, on one hand “yay competition” and less vendor lock-in, but it also makes maintaining contacts difficult in long term. If I have someone’s ICQ number, but the person already moved elsewhere, how am I supposed to know, and how am I supposed to contact them again?
A possible way out would be to make a non-evil (or maybe just less evil) application that provides all of these services. And then somehow convince everyone to switch over. And if it isn’t just as easy, people are definitely not going to switch over.
I prefer to have things sorted by topic, like one Reddit forum for this, and another Reddit forum for that. But from the perspective of a lazy publisher (or a publisher with near-zero technical skills), throwing everything on the wall is the easy way. So we need to allow this, at least as a default. (But of course, Facebook also supports joining groups, and writing on group walls.)
Maybe Facebook has already all figured out (they do spend lot of money on research), and the non-evil alternative would be surprisingly similar, only with more options and fewer ads.
Now another question is how to pay for the costs. Suppose you are not a profit maximizer, but you are not going to generate yourself a loss. And most people are not willing to pay something they can get for free at Facebook. Oops, are we stuck? Maybe not. Maybe we could allow advertising as a default alternative… and if you pay, dunno, $5 a month, the ads get turned off. Also, the ads would be less annoying, because we are not trying to generate profit, only to cover the costs of non-paying users.
Then we have the problem of policing content… you may prefer free speech, but at some moment the government is going to hold you responsible for something. We probably need to address users impersonating real people… first because it goes against the value of simple maintenance of contact lists, second because at some moment the impersonated people will sue you for libel. (That means, using a pseudonym would be ok, but using another real person’s or organization’s name would not.)
Sounds like a lot of work.
Advertising is the reason why more addictive is more profitable.
If instead you had a model where users pay a monthly fee, it would not matter how much time they spend at screen. Actually, less would be somewhat better, because running the servers would cost less.
You make a good point, that some people who drop out of weight-loss studies might have experienced health problems caused by the study, and quiting was the right decision for them.
But I believe that the average obese person in general population is not this case. There are many situations where people eat refined sugar not because they have a strong craving, but simply because it is easily available or there are even habits built around it.
To give an example, in my family it was for some reason considered a good idea to drink tea with sugar at breakfast. As a child I didn’t have an opinion on this, I was given the breakfast and I consumed it. But as I grew up and started making my own breakfast, out of sheer laziness I starting drinking water instead. I didn’t fall into coma and die. Actually it made the breakfast better, because when you drink tea with sugar first, then everything you eat afterwards tastes bland, but if you drink water, you discover that some things are surprisingly delicious. Recently my kids spent one week with my mother, and then reported to me that they had “cereals” for each breakfast (in this context, “cereals” refers to those cheap hypermarket products that contain the word on the box, but consist mostly of refined sugar with some added fibers; the advertisement tells you to pour milk on them and pretend that the result is healthy somehow, because, you know, milk and cereals). I am not making a big deal out of it, one week is not going to hurt anyone, but sigh, of course most people in my family are fat.
Similarly, if you buy things in a hypermarket, check how many of them contain added sugar. So people eat this sugar not because they had a craving, but because they bought a processed food in a shop, and someone added the sugar for them. (There is often no easily available sugar-less version.) They probably add sugar to your food in a restaurant, dunno.
If you are curious what would it be like to not eat any refined sugar, probably the only solution is to cook for yourself from scratch. Even things like mustard or canned vegetables typically contain refined sugar. So we regularly eat lots of sugar without deciding to, often without being aware of it. (And then we drink coke on the top of it. But hey, the advertisement said that coke had zero sugar now, could they possibly be lying?)
So, avoiding lots of extra sugar is technically possible, but it is a lot of work, and some people cannot afford it, or have never learned the necessary skills. Because of course they don’t teach cooking at schools anymore; why would anyone need such useless skill in the modern economy, where you can buy anything (but have little control over the content).
Are there ways you could build a community to share what you write with?
Most importantly, to procrastinate less with the writing, so that there is more than 1 article. :D
The personal activities available during the 8 hours monitored by instant messengers involve mouse and keyboard.
Possible: reading a blog, commenting on a blog, writing a blog, watching YouTube videos, reading a book in PDF, doing an online course that does not require installing anything, etc.
Not possible: taking a nap, exercising, taking a walk, cooking, etc.
The thing I find sad is that all healthy activities seem to be in the latter group. For someone who wants to spend most of the day browsing Reddit and watching cat videos, work from home is a complete blessing. For someone who wants to take care of their health (maybe damaged by years of sedentary work), there are still many advantages (e.g. freedom to choose a chair or standing desk, plus all the useful things in the former group), but the 8-hour block still remains an obstacle to some activities.
Then the solution could be to surround the entire forest by one firebreak, or perhaps for extra security make it two concentric ones with a narrow belt between them.
A creative (i.e. crazy, and probably not working in real life) solution could be to make the firebreak a spiral, so that technically the whole forest remains connected and the fire still spreads everywhere, but it spreads slowly, because it has to go in circles. People caught in the burning forest might even get a chance to outrun the fire. On a second thought, the same would be true for many animals.
Anyway, the problem in real life is that sooner or later someone will somehow build a house in the forest, no matter the law. It’s just a question of time. Then more people will join, and then they will all cry on camera when their houses start burning. -- So you need strict law enforcement, where all houses found built in the forbidden zone are destroyed immediately.
(There is a somewhat similar situation in Slovakia, than once in a few years there is a flood around the Danube river. The banks of the river are reinforced at some places, and at other places there are locations where it is forbidden to build houses. But of course, during the years between the floods, there are always many houses built in the forbidden places, either illegally, or someone influential somehow gets an exception… and then, quite predictably, once in a while we get an exceptionally large flood, and people are crying about their homes being destroyed.)
This was awesome!
Thinking about productivity at job, I wonder whether there is a trade-off for the company, of a similar type like when you have a trade-off between short-tem productivity and long-term productivity. Maybe what is most productive (long-term) for the employee is not what is most productive (long-term) for the company. Like, maybe if you get too good, then the rational choice for you would be to leave (perhaps to start your own company). On the other hand, if you are perhaps less productive but more easy to replace, the company gets less value from you, but it can keep going if you leave for whatever reason, which also gives you less of a leverage in negotiation.
I think about this because you write about power of specialization, but in the software development I think I see the opposite trend: specialists being replaced by “full-stack developers”, who are later unified with system administrators into “DevOps”, who later become “DevSecOps”, and god knows where this will end, maybe one day we will see a “DevSecOpsManagerAccountantSalesmanJanitor” and I sincerely hope I will be retired by then.
I found that all of them are 5% signal and 95% noise and their most important messages could have been summarized on 5 to 10 pages respectively. Ironically, a book that supposedly tells you how to save time inflates its content by out-of-context quotes, analogies that don’t even support their point, personal stories that also don’t support their argument, pseudo-scientific explanations which broadly support their claim, and incredibly lengthy descriptions of ideas that can be entirely described in one short sentence (maybe they had to hit a page count).
Yeah, I have seen books that had less content than this post. I suppose you have to produce a certain minimum amount of pages, otherwise people would not pay for the book (or would even read it in the book shop for free).
No actual answer, because I know little about history. Just some thoughts:
I would assume that the impact of religion on science is mostly indirect, but quite important. Do you believe in a god who wants to be known and has set up the rules of the universe as a puzzle for the believers to solve? Or do you believe in a whimsical micromanaging god who makes arbitrary decisions about everything, so the very idea of laws of nature is a heresy? More practically, are kids supposed to learn about secular subjects, or just memorize the holy scriptures? Are girls allowed to learn? Do your holy scriptures make specific (wrong) scientific statements; and are people who contradict those statements treated as heretics, or can we settle for “it’s just a metaphor anyway”? Does your faith even allow the concept of human learning and improvement, or is everything important already written in the holy scriptures and trying to invent anything new is naive at best, and a heresy at worst?
The answers to these questions will depend on the religious community, and may change over time. But you may get stuck with something that was written in the holy scriptures so clearly that it is almost impossible to pretend it is not there, or there may be a culture war in the history of your church that makes certain type of ideas immediately associated with certain historical heresy.
You mention the underperformance of Orthodox Christianity and Catholicism, but Protestantism is also a part of Christianity, and seems to have quite good results. Looking at the map, could the explanation for different performance of different branches of Christianity be explained by the geography? I mean, maybe Christian countries surrounded by Christian countries perform better than Christian countries next to non-Christian countries? (Why would that be? Dunno, maybe if you are next to non-Christians, you spend too much time talking about Jesus; if you live next to Christians, you already agree about Jesus, so you focus on other things?)
The success of Jews in Christian countries should be attributed to both, right? Perhaps Christians are good at creating a good environment, but are not so good at exploiting all the opportunities it provides?
You compare ancient Greece with medieval Europe, but what about ancient Greece vs ancient Rome (which didn’t start as Christian)? Maybe to do good science you need either independent city states or universities, and the era between ancient Greece and Renaissance was simply the era when cities were no longer independent, but universities were not invented yet.
Renaissance and reading classical texts, I suppose that after centuries of poverty following the fall of Rome, there was again enough food to feed everyone so some nerds could afford to have hobbies, which restarted science, and then some of the nerds found that reading ancient masters and stealing their forgotten knowledge is more profitable than inventing your own science. So it’s a combination of economics allowing you to do things not immediately needed for survival, and having an ancient treasure of knowledge buried right under your feet. (Similarly, there was an explosion of science in Islamic countries, when they were economically successful, and had lots of knowledge available because of conquest and trade.)
Seems to me that intellectual development is a consequence of economic growth (you need to feed all those nerds), and the economic growth probably depends a lot on geography, and who won the recent wars.
I guess the failure to avoid is the conclusion “I have already done this successfully once, no need to pay attention to this ever again, because I am already good at it”.
Practicing it is one option, doing something related and then revisiting it later seems like even better option, because it can give you a different perspective.
By the way, in the linked article, I can confirm that this little known thing is true for most teachers. It may sound weird if you had good math education, but that is an exception, not the rule:
the people who teach in elementary schools are not mathematicians. Most of them are math-phobic, just like most people in the larger culture.
I wish that instead of giving up on math, we could find a way to teach the teachers. Technically it should not be difficult (we only need to teach them the elementary school math, but in a way they will understand), the main problem would probably be admitting that “teachning elementary school math to elementary school math teachers” is a thing that needs to be done (to avoid the situation where the teachers are ashamed to participate, because that would mean admitting that they actually suck at their jobs). Perhaps redesigning the math curriculum, and then teaching math to math teachers under the pretense that we are “preparing them for the new curriculum” could be a solution.
Maybe the first step you could do is invite someone for a long walk, and have them brainstorm about things they would enjoy doing. Remember those that are also interesting for you, or at least you don’t mind doing them, and you have a program for interaction with this specific person.
Welcome, and please try again under a different post with a different kind of comment!
You have a point, but you are taking it too far.
For an actually smart person with high IQ, there needs to be a moment when after correcting for DK and applying basic humility, the result still says “I am smarter than average”. Otherwise, how would they e.g. make the career choices?
If it is known that only smart people can succeed at some school or job, then following this rule only the dumb people should ever apply, because the smart ones would say “eh, everyone says that I am smart, and I even achieved a few awesome things and won a few competitions, but I also know that I am not perfect, there are many things I don’t understand, and stupid people are known to be overconfident… so, all things considered, I am probably just an average guy, so I don’t have a chance.”
Signaling. Any idiot can believe things that are obviously true, or mainstream truths that are already in the textbooks. And it takes time for a smart person to become an expert at something actually useful.
Doing difficult weird stuff is the obvious shortcut. The problem is, if you take this shortcut, you quite often get lost in the woods.
What other people think of me is none of my business.
Unless you want to actually achieve something with your words, I suppose.
What exactly is the greatest problem of the fire? Is it random people walking in the forest, caught by surprise by a quickly spreading fire? Or is it houses and other things that cannot be moved out of the way of fire, even if you get a warning in advance?
For houses, the solution would be to require an inflammable area of certain size around each settlement. (That is, not around each house individually; you can also surround the entire village.)
For people in the forest, some combination of a warning system (loud alarms in case of fire) and shelters to hide that are easy to find.
It might make sense to cut a few inflammable lines across the forest, so that it doesn’t burn all at once.
A browser extension AdNauseam clicks on all ads on the website (opening them in background, so you don’t actually see them), so that advertisers’ profiles of you become full of noise.
I agree that “varied diet” is a non-answer, because you didn’t tell me the exact distribution of food, but you are likely to blame me if I choose a wrong one.
Like, if I consume 1000 different kinds of sweets, is that a sufficiently varied diet? Obviously no, I am also supposed to eat some fruit and vegetables. Okay, then what about 998 different kinds of sweets, plus one apple, and one tomato? Obviously, wrong again, I am supposed to eat less sweets, more fruit and vegetables, plus some protein source, and a few more things.
So the point is that the person telling me to eat a “varied diet” actually had something more specific in mind, just didn’t tell me exactly, but still got angry at me for “misinterpreting” the advice, because I am supposed to know that this is not what they meant. Well, if I know exactly what you mean, then I don’t need to ask for an advice, do I?
(On the other hand, there is a thing that Soylent-like meals ignore, as far as I know, that there are some things that human metabolism cannot process at the same time. I don’t remember what exactly it is, but it’s something like human body needs X and also needs Y, but if you eat X and Y at the same time, only X will be processed, so you end up Y-deficient despite eating a hypothetically sufficient amount of Y. Which could probably be fixed by finding combinations like this, and then making variants like Soylent-A and Soylent-B which you are supposed to alternate eating. But as far as I know, no one cares about this, which kinda reduces my trust in the research behind Soylent-like meals, although I like the idea in abstract very much.)
I still disagree with your post that a coefficient of 0 for you in someone’s mind implies murder for pocket change.
I believe this is exactly what it means, unless there is a chance of punishment or being hurt by victim’s self-defense or a chance of better alternative interaction with given person. Do you assume that there is always a more profitable interaction? (What if the target says “hey, I just realized that you are a psychopath, and I do not want to interact with you anymore”, and they mean it.)
Could you please list the pros and cons of deciding whether to murder a stranger who refuses to interact with you, if there is zero risk of being punished, from the perspective of a psychopath? As I see it, the “might get some pocket change” in the pro column is the only nonzero item in this model.
Worth trying, but I am afraid that the likely outcome would be “I consume all the unsweetened chocolate, and then still go looking for something else”. Though recently I partially substituted sweets by peanuts (peeled, unsalted), which is almost healthy… considering the likely alternatives.