19 – Political Pitfalls

Note: Oops! We accidentally used a crummy laptop microphone. Audio is lower quality for this episode. 


Politics is the Mind Killer on Less Wrong

Chimpanzee Politics“: A book about two chimpanzees competing to run the “club of chimpanzees” featured on HPMoR

Predictive power of party politics: one position can predict 85% of other, unrelated positions.

Elizabeth Edwards, a New Hampshire State Representative. The first(?) LessWrong oriented politician elected to high public office. 

Five Case Studies on Politicization on Slate Star Codex

Anti-genetically modified organism sentiment by party affiliation – scroll to the last section for relevant graphs. (Eneasz was right about greater-than-60% of Democrats being anti-GMO… but so are >60% of Republicans! /sigh)

Borders vs. Puritans? Scott Alexander’s post on the origins of America

Policy Debates Should Not Appear One-sided on Less Wrong, along with Are Your Enemies Innately Evil?

Brian Dunning’s three part Skeptoid episode on the moon landing hoax.  


Feedback Section:

Desirism moral theory.


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18 – Robin Hanson Interview

We speak with GMU economist Robin Hanson. (note that the audio improves significantly when we switch mics at ~20min)

Robin blogs at Overcoming Bias

We discuss his recent book, The Age of Em

Robin Hanson discusses prediction markets in greater length at Sintetia

Nate Silver & co. predict elections (among other things) at FiveThirtyEight

Wikipedia’s summary of The Malthusian Trap

Scott Alexander’s review of The Age of Em

You can (maybe) help science by doing protein folding as a game

What If cows were green?

Soylent – when you don’t have time to food

The Repugnant Conclusion – Julia Galef’s quick explanatory video, and the Standford.edu article

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17 – The Feels

Feelings – should we have them? The Conspiracy decides!

This American Life episode about Testosterone

Julia Galef’s presentation on The Straw Vulcan. Also – a text summary of same

Less Wrong article: “Feeling Rational

Steven Universe is The Best!

Sam Harris speaks with Paul Bloom against empathy

Less Wrong article: “Scope Insensitivity

“One death is a Tragedy, a million deaths is a Statistic” – Eneasz attributed this to Joseph Stalin, but modern research casts this into doubt. It was first attributed to him by a third-party in 1947, but it’s possible/probable he never actually said those words.

Nonviolent Communication

Kaj Sotala on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Less Wrong article by FiddleMath: “Handling Emotional Appeals“, wherein they ask (among other things) – Can you postpone being moved by an emotional appeal until after making a calm decision about it? Can you somehow otherwise filter for emotional appeals that are highly likely to have positive effects?

The Christian orphanage that wouldn’t accept money from atheists.

Don’t take money from The Templeton Foundation

Eneasz’s brief recap of The Sad/Rabid Puppies vs Worldcon. Also – Salaris’s briefer recap of the same issue received twice as many upvotes, so maybe their’s is better.

Eliezer Yudkowsky’s novella “Three Worlds Collide” (also available in audio form)

Small Pox: 500 Million, But Not a Single One More

It was Andrew Jackson who reportedly said “John Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it!” Here’s a fascinating More Perfect podcast episode about the story behind that quote (as well as the US Supreme Court’s ascent to power)

Andrew Jackson beat up his would-be assassin with a cane at 67 years old.

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16 – Animals Again

We addressed a couple things that we missed last time, and got carried away.

Katrina referenced the book “Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?

Chimps have amazing flash-memory

AIs can fly our fighter jets better than we can

A partial list of animals by neuron-count.

OpenWorm – Building the First Digital Lifeform

The Valley of Bad Rationality

Ozy re: Rationalist Culture. Eneasz’s fav quote (edited for length) – “LW Tumblr tends to view rationality not as a set of beliefs but as a set of topics. So if you post “the Singularity is the rapture for nerds”, rationalist Tumblr as a whole will conclude that you are a rationalist and trying to be friends, and will behave accordingly. (“Behaving accordingly” involves reblogging you with long-winded rebuttals)

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15 – Animals

Katrina referenced the book “Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?” Wiki page about the author. See also, wikipedia on animal cognition.

About the crow facial recognition and warning study.

Prairie dog language study.

The thought experiment of Torture vs Dust Specks.

The Machiavellian Intelligence Hypothesis. Also, like most good things, discussed in Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality.

SMBC: Who’s cloning all of these Hitlers?!

Peter Singer’s essay All Animals Are Equal.

Archerfish face recognition study.

Summoning Elder Gods can be a risky proposition – be glad that breeding aggressive chickens was the worst that happened (that time)

The anti-CAFO organization is called Socially Responsible Agriculture Project.

Steven insists on linking to Neil deGrasse Tyson talking about intelligence since he really doesn’t feel like he did any justice in his paraphrasing.

Katrina’s self-corrections and comments:

  • I said that there isn’t much of a difference between social and solitary animals in terms of modeling other individuals. That is false. There is a difference. I just don’t want to discredit other forms of cognition.
  • I used terms like “intrinsic value,” but I don’t actually think that anything has value other than what it’s assigned by itself and/or others. I DO think that non-humans can confer value.
  • “Insects are the equivalent of moving rocks,” is quite a thing to say to an entomologist, guys.
  • We were negative about hunting. On its face, hunting animals with healthy wild populations for food is probably preferable to consuming an equivalent amount of factory farmed animals.
  • I meant “legislation” regarding condensed animal feeding operations (CAFOs), not “litigation,” although that has its place as well.
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14 – Street Epistemology

Steve (@youngidealist on twitter) talks to us about Street Epistemology

The Street Epistemology website, which has been significantly updated and expanded since we recorded this episode. Looking nice!

The Street Epistemology book – A Manual For Creating Atheists

Short text interview with Peter Boghossian by Sam Harris

Practice and/or learn at blab.im (none of the Conspirators have used this, we’re taking Steve’s word for it 🙂 )

Is That Your True Rejection?

Steve’s mother may have been practicing the art of Epistemic Learned Helplessness (better than it sounds)

Clifford’s The Ethics of Belief. Summarized in one sentence: ““It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone to believe anything on insufficient evidence.”

Steve’s Top 4 recommended Street Epistemology videos:
What is Street Epistemology?

Kari | Examining Cardinal Beliefs

Nerville | An Alarming Realization

Kiana | Karma and Concrete Facts

From the Feedback section:

Affective Death Spirals

Things Probably Matter (re: happiness)

Scrupulosity, and Scott’s argument for the Giving What We Can pledge

Giving What We Can itself

Mad Props to Jess Dickey for the new logo! Thanks!

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