nothing is mere

Category Archives: Uncategorized

Ditch the word “hypocrite”

I try to watch out for inconsistencies in my beliefs (and between my actions and my stated beliefs and goals). Yet I’m not a fan of criticizing people for things like “hypocrisy.” It’s obviously a personal attack, and personal attacks obviously make people defensive, and defensiveness is obviously boring and terrible. But I have four …

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Putting love into words

We’re not very good at love yet. Some of the most textured and complex pleasures people experience happen in physically and emotionally intimate relationships — i.e., in the kinds of relationships that occasion some of our most spectacular tragedies and failures. One reason we’re bad at love is that we lack a language, a culture, and an …

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Should we stop punching nerds?

In a December 14 comment on his blog, Scott Aaronson confessed that the idea that he gains privilege from being a man feels ‘alien to his lived experience’. Generalizing from his own story, Aaronson suggested that it makes more sense to think of shy nerdy males as a disprivileged group than as a privileged one, because …

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Rejigger triggers?

From tumblr: The reason why people on tumblr over-use the concept of “trigger” rather than just “thing I don’t like” or “thing that makes me angry” or “thing that makes me sad” is that, literally, in the political/fandom part of tumblr culture are required to establish your right not to read a thing, and you …

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Chaos Altruism

Impulse buying is a thing. We have ready-made clichés for picking it out. Analogously, ‘impulse giving’ is a thing, where you’re spontaneously moved by compassion to help someone out without any advance planning. The problem with most impulse giving is that it gives you the same warm glow and sense of moral license as high-impact giving, without …

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Inhuman altruism: Inferential gap, or motivational gap?

Brienne recently wrote that most LessWrongers and effective altruists eat meat because they haven’t yet been persuaded that non-human animals can experience suffering: Vegans: If the meat eaters believed what you did about animal sentience, most of them would be vegans, and they would be horrified by their many previous murders. Your heart-wrenching videos aren’t …

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Virtue, public and private

Effective altruists have been discussing animal welfare rather a lot lately, on a few different levels: 1. object-level: How likely is it that conventional food animals suffer? 2. philanthropic: Compared to other causes, how important is non-human animal welfare? How effective are existing organizations and programs in this area? Should effective altruists concentrate attention and resources …

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Loosemore on AI safety and attractors

Richard Loosemore recently wrote an essay criticizing worries about AI safety, “The Maverick Nanny with a Dopamine Drip“. (Subtitle: “Debunking Fallacies in the Theory of AI Motivation”.) His argument has two parts. First: 1. Any AI system that’s smart enough to pose a large risk will be smart enough to understand human intentions, and smart …

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Cards Against Humanity against humanity

Content note: anti-LGBT sentiment, antisemitism, racism, sexual assault Cards Against Humanity is a card game where people combine terms into new phrases in pursuit of dark and edgy mirth and pith. Like Apples to Apples, but focused on all things political, absurdist, and emotionally charged. A lot of progressives like the game, so it’s a useful place …

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Anglish, as it never was but totally should have been

Kate Donovan said of the above comic “This is the Robbiest xkcd I’ve seen.”, which is one of my favorite compliments of all time. I love discombobulating words; and recombobulating them; really, bobulating them in all sorts of ways. Though especially in ways that make new poetries possible, or lead to new insights about the …

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