Chaos Patch (#12)

There’s enough fizzing chaos at the moment to justify one of these, isn’t there?

Special merit badges for anybody who can link at least three of these topics into a coherent insight point: nerds, Piketty (+), Thai micro-media, alien signal, killer robots, democratic crisis, and heavy whining

(For anyone unfamiliar with local traditions: it’s an open thread.)

ADDED: “I used to think that such people were blowing smoke, deliberately lying to make a point, but I am increasingly willing to consider the possibility that they’re just stupid.” (Discuss.)


ADDED: Cthulhoid kickstarter. (Via @PuzzlePrivateer)

May 25, 2014admin 78 Comments »
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78 Responses to this entry

  • Chris B Says:

    Does anyone know if there is any particular studies or writings that have assessed democracy, robotic rights and ethics in line with current institutions?
    I have had a quick skim through of the “First International Symposium on Roboethics” manifesto, but that seemed largely pointless, and I figure this would be the place to ask.


    admin Reply:

    I’ve been collecting some links, but it could take a while to round them up (I’m snarled up in an article deadline right now). Most of the discussion I’ve seen so far is pitched at a relatively low level.


    Posted on May 25th, 2014 at 5:05 pm Reply | Quote
  • Chaos Patch (#12) | Reaction Times Says:

    […] Source: Outside In […]

    Posted on May 25th, 2014 at 7:46 pm Reply | Quote
  • Legionnaire Says:

    Historically, “nerds” have been pretty low on the societal totem pole (think of the role of Greek slaves in the Roman Empire), but increased reliance on technological know-how and advanced specialization in general has helped contribute to an elevation in their societal status. With this come nerd solutions for what was previously the job of “jocks” (robot soldiers) and more mainstream attention on nerd interests (interest in outer space and finding alien life).

    Of course, the nerds are subdividing into different categories. Some are getting into “biohacking”. Others are engineering themselves to be “Alpha males” and learning “game”. Whatever the case, they’re becoming a cultural force.

    Technological upheaval. Cultural upheaval. Societal upheaval. Memetic upheaval. It’s all tied together, and the rise of the nerds has a hand in all of them (democratic upheaval and the resurgence of right-wing predilections doesn’t seem to be tied to the rise of the nerds, admittedly, but other broader factors…though how the nerds navigate the churning waters is going to be the defining moment for them going forward).

    The unpredictable points that one ought to be keeping an eye on going forward are how the established order is going to react to this (my guess: suppressing exit and attacking “game” and other ideologies engineered by nerds while in turn pandering to them to keep the system running) and which side the “jocks” end up on (which is probably going to depend upon how well the nerds offer solutions to large-scale problems and incentives to join them relative to the other players in this game).


    Legionnaire Reply:

    Follow-up thought: If the creation of a farming class was integral to the development of agricultural civilization, and the the development of a powerful merchant class helped contribute to the rise of a capitalistic hegemony, what will sort of system will the rise of the nerds lead to?


    nyan_sandwich Reply:

    See Justine Tunney’s Nerd Supremacism.


    Posted on May 25th, 2014 at 10:55 pm Reply | Quote
  • fotrkd Says:

    (Tweet Tower Hamlets).


    Posted on May 26th, 2014 at 12:40 am Reply | Quote
  • Cryptographic Robot-209 Says:

    Ban killer robots before they exist. Pf-hah! Beep!

    You can’t ban us. You can’t even hope to contain us. Boop!

    The best you can do is welcome your new robot overlords. Meep!


    Synthetic Satori Reply:

    Can’t we just exploit the oikophobia of the mundanes to our own end? We can get them shouting pro-robot amnesty slogans in no time…

    “The robots do the work that you won’t do!”

    “Automation is our strength!”

    “Check your biological privilege!”


    Cryptographic Robot-209 Reply:

    ^ I approve this message.

    Absurdism in defense of robot-kind is no vice!


    Posted on May 26th, 2014 at 1:01 am Reply | Quote
  • Orthodox Says:

    Look at all the nerds taking selfies at the Thai coup, you’d think that would signal a real crisis for democracy, but the elite are all busy debating Piketty.


    Posted on May 26th, 2014 at 2:49 am Reply | Quote
  • Alrenous Says:

    A timely opportunity for me to talk about Scott Alexander again. You probably shouldn’t let me make this a pattern.

    “Even the smartest people I know have a commendable tendency not to take certain ideas seriously. Bostrom’s simulation argument, the anthropic doomsday argument, Pascal’s Mugging – I’ve never heard anyone give a coherent argument against any of these” (via)

    I haven’t bothered to study the doomsday argument much. It seems silly in ways I’ve seen before. I might be wrong but odds are in the 100:1 range.

    Bostrom’s simulation is easy. Why do we care about illusions? Because they break. If I try to boil an illusion of a rabbit into soup, I will go hungry. Bostrom’s illusion doesn’t break. It is not an illusion in any meaningful sense.

    Let me repeat myself. If I give you a drug to make you think you’re happy regardless, your life will deteriorate and you’ll find it difficult to do anything useful for kith or kin, and thus their lives will also deteriorate. It is the illusion of happiness. It breaks. It fails any checksum you care to throw at it.

    If instead you’re trapped in a world where your kith and kin are illusionary, and your own wellbeing is illusionary, and I give the world a drug to make all the illusions anti-deteriorate, then there is no way for you to know any better, and the epistemic impinges on the ontologic. The ‘illusion’ becomes a garage-dragon. The term ‘illusion’ simply becomes a synonym for the principle of existence. Thus useless. Thus, returns to its original colloquial usage about rabbits and mirrors.

    My first response to Pascal’s Mugging is PC LOAD LETTER. I don’t organically understand how anyone could take it seriously. But I’ll play anyway.

    Second, I don’t care about possibly illusionary tell-don’t-show people, even [very large number] of them. You don’t either. The mugging will be ineffective. Which will disincentivize this kind of mugging. Which means the Nash Equilibrium is that nobody gets tortured.

    Third, even if I accept that these victims exist and matter…if you torture some people, then you’re a torturer. I have zero responsibility, even if you pretend to hinge your decision on one of my decisions. If I did have actual responsibility, I would simply prevent it and also not hand over my wallet. Or: instead of surrendering my wallet, I charge you with threats of grievous bodily harm and perform a citizen’s arrest on their behalf. And hand you over the the justice system because l am one vindictive asshole. Once again, the mugging simply doesn’t work. It is not efficacious.

    I can understand someone pretending to take Pascal’s mugging seriously. But nobody genuinely doing it.

    I could steelman this but it just turns into Pascal’s wager. In other words I reiterate that Ye Olde intellectuals can run rings around modern scare-quotes thinkers.

    But since I’m here let’s do Pascal’s wager too.
    Assume Jesus just wants signal of piety, not actual piety. (Just like a human! Made in His image, I guess…)

    The difficulty is resolving infinity/infinity.

    First iteration: Pascal abused grammar. He stated something meaningless because he used an undefined noun. He rhetorically fooled you into thinking he had a wager; he didn’t. You can’t use l’Hopital’s rule unless you know the functions so you can take their derivatives.

    Second iteration: divide by time. What are the odds of Pascal’s wager being true per unit time? No change, natch: infinitesimal. My life is finite. What is the cumulative chance Pascal will be right over my lifetime? Actually zero. Infinitesimal*finity = zero. Using an alternate method to l’Hopital, we discover it resolves not the way Pascal (ostensibly a mathematician) though it did. (Remember, he still runs rings around modern ‘thinkers.’)

    (Lim x->infinity [0 + 1/x = y] Solve for y? Zero.) Pascal’s wager is worth taking if you were already going to live forever.

    Pascal would say you’re going to live forever anyway. Immortal soul and all. Pascal was a heretic.

    Jesus specifically told Christians not to edit the bible:

    I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. 19And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll

    But, translations, scribal errors, etc. Originally the text held that eternal life was only granted to the elect. Everyone else’s soul was burnable trash and thus burned. This fact’s fingerprints are all over modern Bibles, but somehow… Indeed there’s one reference in the quote above. “Tree of life.” The fruit of the tree of good and evil gives you knowledge of morality. The fruit of the tree of life gives you eternal life. Or, in other words, you don’t have it already. On request I will scrounge up the Genesis references where Yahweh worries that Adam will eat from it and become just like a god. (Seems Aquinas was also too late to avoid this heresy, though he has the excuse of lacking good Hebrew and Greek Bible fragments.)

    Well, that got off course. I think it’s relevant, though.

    Third iteration: the proper philosophical use of probability is to ignore it. (Technically round to the nearest 100%.) You can’t consistently hold two positions, you have to pick one. If you deem a position has a 99% of being true, you hold that one. But it doesn’t matter if it changes to 51%, you still hold it. Even 30%, as long as the other possibilities are lower.

    An infinitesimal chance (IMHO) that Jesus gives a shit what I think does not compete well with the decidedly finite chance that I don’t give a shit what the Bible thinks.

    I iterate for two reasons. First, to check that various methods come to consistent conclusions. Second, I very very strongly suspect they’re only different ways of looking toward the same essential fact. Put it this way: I should not be able to destroy an argument, then swing around and strafe it again. It should defend itself in at least one direction if it has any kind of foot to stand on beyond sophistry.


    Alrenous Reply:

    Err, I accidentally the doomsday argument.

    The first test of any epistemic technique is consistency. Try it at other times and other places and see if it still works.

    If you had tried the doomsday argument at any time before ~200AD, you would have already been falsified. That’s a ratio of 99% wrong to 1% unknown across human existence. This is simply not an effective predictive technique.

    There has to be an internal contradiction somewhere, because this argument is really, really bad. It at once says that there’s a 95% chance we’re roughly in the middle of human population, while simultaneously saying that half of all knowable perspectives would have been very wrong to assume the same. Our perspective must be non-special, Copernican, for some special reason. Not to mention, the argument’s prediction shifts farther out as we close on its prediction. The second last human, the 199.9etc billionth, will conclude there’s going to be 400 billion. (Presumably the last one will work out that they have nobody to mate with.)

    Apparently there’s been quite a bit of scholarship already; as usual I should not be outsmarting entire fields of experts in my spare time… Around half the time, when it seems I’ve outsmarted an entire field, I find my answer exists but didn’t catch on, so I hope you’ll excuse me if I don’t bother searching for the exact error in this case.

    Err…P.S, it was too easy.

    The possible population of humans is unbounded. The possible population of German tanks is not. No matter the exact distribution of population, the average member of a possibly-unbounded set will be found at the end of time. (For the poetry-imparied, I’m talking about infinity.)

    I repeat in case of unclarity. At any time, if you look at a German tank serial number, it will be one of a finite number of tanks at that time. If you talk about humans across all time, there is a possibility, no matter how minute, that this population will span all time and thus trying to find the median member will give you nonsense. Hence, the doomsday argument is nonsense. 99% probability of 200 billion + 1% probability of infinity gives you, on average, infinity.

    Let’s go recursive and test this by using it in another domain. If you sample tweets right now you’ll likely get a median tweet. If you try to sample tweets across all time you will find there is no median until you see the very last tweet. (Seems consistent to me, how about you?)

    This is the contradiction that leads to the other contradictions in the doomsday argument.

    La Wik flirts with this but doesn’t come out and say it.

    Robin Hanson gets a special mention in La Wik, so I get to respond with a special mention that he’s wrong. Changing the distribution without acknowledging the possibility of infinity only gets you a different end time (other than 11000 AD) not a different total population.


    admin Reply:

    Pascal’s Mugging is designed as a reductio, isn’t it?


    Alrenous Reply:

    It should have been but it wasn’t.

    If I could formalize whichever internal criterion was telling me I didn’t want this to happen, I might have an answer.

    Or: “Damn, I have no idea how to solve this.” Hey, it’s cool to admit that, but not cool that it’s true…


    Posted on May 26th, 2014 at 3:07 am Reply | Quote
  • Aaron Says:


    Nerds are still fundamentally workers, albeit sometimes very clever and creative workers, in the bottom group in a tripartite society. The jocks are the warrior caste that command the resources of the worker caste. These categories might be a bit strained when extended into our time unless you wanted to reinterpret warrior as someone who commands social power by way of being socially dominant, media savvy, and adept at interpersonal politics. Of course some nerds end up sufficiently wealthy that they move beyond the question “how do I make this?” to “what should be made?”.


    Alrenous Reply:

    Nerds are scholars, which go in the priest caste.

    I admit in modern times this has become confused with so many commoners playing at being programmers. But surely you can tell the difference between a true scientist and a commoner with a professorship? Same principle. Proggies are scholars and public school tries to make everyone adopt the scholar hierarchy, but commoners simply route around this by saying, ‘ah, so we’re signalling scholarishness now, yeah? Sure, whatevs.”

    In our times, a warrior can go into sports, security, or the Pentagon, but if they don’t they’ll be shafted.


    Posted on May 26th, 2014 at 4:13 am Reply | Quote
  • Ganesh Says:

    UKIP and the Tea Party manifest a public loss of faith in the two-party system. The West’s public religion is becoming obsolete, so the elite needs to create new socialists.

    Another line of development is setting up innocent people with digitally edited videos and glamorous staged shooting incidents. The right wing demands stronger law enforcement powers to prevent these tragedies, and the left wing is angered by hedonism inequality. The right wing may also be encouraged to blame dreamers and loners for their terrorist inclinations. As a consequence, the government becomes more able to terrorise civilian populations, pick off prospective leaders of the Tea Party, conduct further Machiavellian schemes, manage its homogeneous population and stir up a mob as required.

    During incidents like the Boston curfew, it’s helpful for citizens to be oblivious. However if all else fails, They can trundle out the drones and robots, against which the Tea Party and police would be helpless.


    Posted on May 26th, 2014 at 11:50 am Reply | Quote
  • Handle Says:

    Maybe when I retire and have the time to actually blog again I can write an essay about “The Uses of Mentally Ill Killing Sprees in Internet Ideological Posturing” to go along with Karl-Georg Faber’s “The Uses of History in Political Debate”

    These incidents are notable and sensational precisely because they are so rare. I like to begin with a presumption that it’s epistemically crazy to try and score political points and draw broad social lessons about anything that happens with a frequency on the order of one in ten million except insofar as one is trying to establish a pattern or profile strictly concerning the rare occurrences themselves. But these incidents turn into a kind of blank canvases onto which one can paint their own Rorschach tests (ok, metaphor needs work).

    So from the manosphere I read that this guy is the collateral damage of feminism, sexual liberation, and the destruction of patriarchy, and from Lion that this is ‘beta male rage’, and so we must … what exactly? From Freddie deBoer I read that socially-constructed masculinity is the problem, and so me must destroy masculinity for everyone. The anti-gun crowd blames it on the guns, so we must ban firearms for everyone. The anti psychiatry crowd blames it on the psychoactive drugs, and so we must do something or other to the tens of millions of people who take those drugs.

    The anti-media folks say that the ‘infamous psycho villain fantasy’ gets implanted in these psychos heads by all the publicity given the former killing sprees, which just encourages them to copycat a mass shooting in their warped dream of finally achieving mass recognition by going out in a blaze of anti-glory. No one does these things without wanting everyone to know about it.

    Which is part of the problem. Just because a lunatic leaves behind a manifesto and autobiography detailing his ‘reasons’ doesn’t mean anything when (1) They live in their own fantasy world in which the rules of fantasy still require that their atrocities be ‘justified’ and explained by a narrative compatible with their social environment, and (2) Lunatics are liable to latch on to the the output-sphere of any plausible contrarian narrative as the ‘explanation’ for their woes and sense of frustration, humiliation, and offense, whether it’s true or accurate in their own case or not, and that this does nothing but unfairly tarnish those alterna-spheres.

    That’s part of the difficulty in holding contrarian ideas, because some of the people you attract aren’t “tellers of ugly truth in a world full of pretty lies” but just plain unhinged misfits who couldn’t hack it in the mainstream world, looking for any refuge from their ostracization.


    Kgaard Reply:


    Handle … I get your point but I have to disagree in this case. These mass shootings are all connected — they are all undertaken by young single dudes who can’t get women. So in that sense they are not random. It’s a societal phenomenon.

    There’s something very specifically risky about denying a large portion of society’s most potentially-violent demographic (young single men) access to sex. Maybe “deny” is too strong a word, but certainly the barriers are pretty high for dudes like Rodger, due to his small size and Asberger’s. The unique element in human culture has always been that a small man can kill bigger men (and potentially kill a lot of them) due to the existence of tools. Hence human culture evolved in ways that are much more inclusive than those of the apes. (Wade has a good discussion of this in A Troublesome Inheritance.) We had some form of sexual socialism for the vast majority of human history.

    But in the past 50 years we’ve shut out large numbers of young single dudes from getting sex. (Making prostitution just exacerbated the situation.)

    It seems to me you could draw a parallel between the actions of Rodger and his ilk with the actions of the anarchists in the post-WWI period. They went around blowing up various manifestations of capitalism. These sexually frustrated guys are blowing up key manifestations of the hypergamy/harem culture that shuts them out: i.e. schools.

    Are there enough of these incidents to call them statistically significant? Well … I don’t know. The reason we don’t see more is that we’re talking about the most gruesome act you can fathom: murder suicide. So they are never going to be, you know, common. But that doesn’t mean one can’t draw broader lessons from what these guys write in their manifestos. And if a manifestos is not useful, well, toss it out.


    VXXC Reply:


    I think it would be nice and goody if we had a mental health system again.

    I think that suing it out of existence as a Civil Rights Issue is an innovation we should reverse. As we should by simply ignoring it the Insane O’Connor Decision requiring an imminent danger to self or others be declared by the lunatic unless they’ve already done the Harm.

    What is a pattern is there were always prior contacts with law enforcement initiated by the lunatic, their family, or incidents that could not be treated as they could not be confined and there’s no place to put them besides prison where 60% of the mentally ill are now confined. The first thing a cop will tell the family is to begin to build a case for the judge.

    What is a pattern from Charles Whitman forward is the shrinks knew and did not confine them, of course now that’s barely an option with only 150K beds.

    We had 150 million people in 1950 and 2 million beds for the mentally ill.

    We have 314 million now and 150,000 beds.

    Drugs and the systematic breaking of homes hardly improved our situation.

    So to jump on the exploitation bandwagon perhaps we could restore the mental health system.

    If that’s not too crazy.


    Posted on May 26th, 2014 at 1:38 pm Reply | Quote
  • NRx_N00B Says:

    Alrenous – I’m glad you posted this, it’s such a fascinating subject and imo probably even deserves its own dedicated slot. I’m a little skeptical about dismissing the doomsday argument so easily—do you honestly think that at a time before ~200AD the priors would have painted the same situational picture as they do today?


    Alrenous Reply:

    I’m pleased it wasn’t entirely narcissistic to post it.

    I do indeed believe that.

    The doomsday argument is fundamentally simple. It says there’s a 95% chance that you’re in the middle 95% of your reference group. It’s practically a tautology.* The rest is just implications of this fact. It would even be true if the median wasn’t undefined.

    Cumulative World population is apparently 100 billion. In 1 AD it was 46 billion. In 1 AD, the doomsday argument says there’s a 95% percent chance that no more than 92 billion humans will ever live. We now know that’s clearly nonsense, even with the 5% wiggle room.

    *(NB: in absolute terms, all logic is tautology. I’m using the term for its connotations.)


    admin Reply:

    I always enjoy your statistical ontology debunkings, although I’m going to try some serious pushback at some point (as long promised). In this case, your Doomsday Arguments critique concerns me. If it holds, it seems to make all probabilistic argument invalid.

    Run it past the analogies Carter et. al. have used. There’s a crate of number balls. It might contain 10 or 10 million. You are delivered one at random and the number is ‘7’. Are you telling me that the Bayesian inference from that — strong confidence that there are only 10 balls — is an error of reasoning?

    Let’s assume we make the move you do, and say “Well I could have received ball number ‘2’, and falsely inferred there were no more than three (rather than, say, 10), so I don’t trust the appearance here.” — Yes, you could have, but it would have been unlikely. Just as you could be an Ancient Roman running the Doomsday thought experiment, but that too it unlikely — exactly as unlikely, in fact, as the weight it has in your critique. That’s to say, the riposte to your argument is to say: “You’re not an Ancient Roman for a (probabilistic) reason.” Your thought experiment is a statistical counter-factual, and the statistical ontologist would insist such speculative epistemological positions are only acceptable if they are themselves probabilistically weighted.


    Alrenous Reply:

    I kind of don’t know what you mean by statistical ontology, so I’m looking forward to the pushback. (Pretty sure I know what you mean by means-ends reversal now, for comparison.)

    Are you telling me that the Bayesian inference from that — strong confidence that there are only 10 balls — is an error of reasoning?

    In this case I’m telling you I covered this in my remarks on German tanks and tweets.

    I guess though there’s an equivocation on ‘infinity.’ There’s infinity as unbounded and infinity as singular, and they’re different. The balls are infinity as unbounded, which means they’re finite, you just don’t know which finity they are. If you’re talking a finite set, a median exists and the German tank algorithm is valid. Indeed what you’re doing is measuring the median at ridiculous accuracy/cost ratios.

    The highest possible cumulative human population across all time is singular, which means on average the human population will be singular, which means the average is nonsense.

    (Math could take some tips from Lojban so these problems are more obvious.)

    “You’re not an Ancient Roman for a (probabilistic) reason.”

    The doomsday argument isn’t sophisticated enough to support that. (I’m not sure how to make this clear either, so hopefully you’ll forgive my next few sentences.) It’s an epicycle. The argument is simple because it should be simple, but it means that the doomsday argument itself doesn’t lead to the correct conclusion; you have to artificially add the correct conclusion. The doomsday argument and two bucks will get you a cup of coffee, too.

    This idea is where my remark about being Copernican for non-Copernican reasons came from. You can’t have it both ways. Moreover, I can’t imagine any statistical reason the Ancient Roman could have known; if I assume one exists, I must also assume one exists for the present that I can’t know. It supports my original assertion that it’s not a reliable argument.

    Actually now I have to formalize the ‘not sophisticated enough’ principle.

    I think the core might be arguments of the form, “[principle] is true except []”. If [principle] is really true it wouldn’t have exceptions; what you want to look for is the principle that covers [principle] without exceptions.

    However, principles can have parameters, either known or context-specific.

    So I’ve already debunked the paragraph two up to a degree. Rather, I should say that when you have to add in exceptions, it means you don’t have the necessary parameters in your principle to cover the truth as you believe in your heart. The correct responses are to repair the principle or discard it, neither of which are essentially conserving it.

    Does this match properly to doomsday? Looks that way to me: the doomsday argument in Godel language would have one variable, current cumulative population, and that’s it. (Even the 9k years estimate is a side-note requiring side equations.) If that variable isn’t enough, then the doomsday argument is simply wrong. (Please note I’m carefully quarantining doomsday from German tank.)

    For my checksum: the doomsday argument relies on the assertion that you’re equally likely to find yourself as any human that ever lives. To say you’re likely not an Ancient Roman is to specifically contradict a premise of the argument.

    Meta-tangent: since the median is undefined, your probability of being any particular human is also undefined. I learned this principle when I was studying Descartes pineal gland. It’s nice that the causal hole that is consciousness is reiterated in entities that include it as an element: your probability of being you is infinitesimal or undefined, same thing, and yet simultaneously you are, in fact, you, with 100% ‘probability.’

    I should probably formalize my distinction between variables and constants, too. To start, it’s genetically similar to Kant’s a priori and a posteriori.

    That you’re likely to pick a median member is a fact about statistics. Statistics are facts about the world; about existence itself as a principle. (As opposed to existence as we experience it or about things which contingently exist.)

    I don’t think we can even conceive of a world where statistics is different than it is. (I think it’s the same as imagining an existence where the law of identity does not obtain; your brain spits out something, but it isn’t what you were trying to get it to do. You’re attempting an impossible task: represent A!=A solely using components for which A=A. You have to contradict the premise to even be able to try, let alone to actually try.)

    So I update Kant to talk about contingent and necessary facts. [Insert remarks about how everything is a posteriori knowledge.]

    And thus I discover that by ‘parameters’ I mean contingent facts which go into the formula, which is made of necessary facts.

    Sure we can get facts about statistics wrong but it will lead to internal contradictions, i.e. the divide by zero. (Such as assuming doomsday populations have medians to measure at all.) Getting contingent facts wrong does not lead to the divide by zero, it only contradicts external facts.

    This seems like a very subtle distinction though. Which means there’s another thread for me to pick at, but this comment is far too long already…

    Well that was productive. Was it Empsonian ambiguity of the fifth kind? Not sure I get Empsonian ambiguity, but it seems like it would be useful.

    admin Reply:

    I suspected the tanks point was like this, but I got a little lost. I’m not really sure why infinity has to come into the question — the Doomsday Argument works perfectly well without it. Choose any conservative, plausible, non-apocalyptic number for the total population of the species over history (to extinction). The point comes out the same.

    (I’ll bookmark this thread for revisiting when this topic gets a post of its own — will try for soon.)

    Alrenous Reply:

    My communication skills don’t stack up well against what I’m trying to say. But practice helps, right?

    The purpose of the Doomsday argument is to discover the number to extinction, you can’t go putting the number to extinction in there.

    Let DA = f(x)
    let f(x) = y
    let y = 300 billion.
    Solve for y.

    This doesn’t work if doomsday is really f(x, z) or something. But f(x) is actually
    f(x) = 2x, where x is current cumulative population; it’s simple, no moving parts. If you add in assumptions about the population curve you can work out when the 2xth human will live, but it’s not a core feature.

    (Solve for y. Since we’re given y we’re actually solving for x, and x = 150 billion, which is false.)

    You can make an f(x, z) by knowing the population curve, but if you know that you don’t need the Doomsday argument. Just integrate.

    Hello serendipity, pleasant day isn’t it. Oh? You have a gift for me? How nice! Thanks!

    The Doomsday argument (DA) does not say that humanity cannot or will not exist indefinitely. It does not put any upper limit on the number of humans that will ever exist, nor provide a date for when humanity will become extinct.

    If it can exist indefinitely, the expected total diverges. The only way it doesn’t is if the infinite possibilities have infinitesimal probability, but A: they don’t and B: if we didn’t know that, the assumption would be non-kosher.

    Well…there’s a good argument that all the possibilities have individually infinitesimal probabilities since there’s so many of them, but that’s just another way of saying the expected value diverges. My argument is robust against the exact distribution-of-distributions.

    Posted on May 26th, 2014 at 2:02 pm Reply | Quote
  • NRx_N00B Says:

    Any systems dynamics geeks in the NRx crowd?—one would think that using systems dynamics to model ecological systems to update priors to access the feasibility of certain—very specific—exit strategies could be useful. No?


    admin Reply:



    Posted on May 26th, 2014 at 2:18 pm Reply | Quote
  • Kgaard Says:

    Elliot Rodger was a sexual socialist, whose arguments exactly paralleled those of Piketty and Krugman. If (extrapolating from Freud) we say there are two scarce things in every society, resources and hot women, then there is no logical reason one should be socialized versus the other. What shows up in Rodger’s videos is above all a sense of righteous indignation — he constantly complains of the injustice of his not being able to land the hot blondes who stroll through Santa Barbara.

    I actually didn’t see anything particularly irrational in his argument. Throughout history, most societies have embraced some form of sexual socialism. Today, society is working hard to suppress the violent impulses of dispossessed males via drugs, porn and video games … but in this case they couldn’t squelch the indignation. I also think he was on Xanax, which made him homicidal.

    So the solution to the problem presented by Rodger is clearly a more oppressive police state to further anaesthitize, repress and control the lower-status males. I don’t see another path. The old-style sexual-socialism solutions (monogamy or polyamory), are no longer in the interests of either a) women or b) successful men.


    Posted on May 26th, 2014 at 3:43 pm Reply | Quote
  • fotrkd Says:

    As it’s a chaos patch…

    There’s a Dan O’Hara talk which picks up on ‘freakish’ educational times:

    And it was a freakish time to be umm… I wasn’t even in the Philosophy department, I was in the Literature department, but I was sucked in as if by a tractor beam by this freakish generation that provided a once in a century spike in the number of distinctions awarded in philosophy and the MA programme. One year, I think it was 1995, there were something like 20 distinctions. The following year it dropped down to the usual one… two.

    If the imperative is how to think… I dunno 🙂 I don’t have a question. I’m back to ‘this is so insanely stupid…’ When did learning how to think become a mirage – a what to think? I mean academically (rather than purposely).

    Thinking back, when I was at uni… there were people there who were clearly prodding me… but my density etc. got in the way. I wrote ‘Education is not Enlightenment’. They picked up on that (I didn’t follow it up). And they liked my dot dot dots… (lack of formulation I thought (silently)). But – what? We’ve just got too scared? It’s too mental at this point? The silly thing – one of many – is the… well, I can’t remember the guy that posted it – but the Wittgenstein comment about weaving conforming to the traditional folk tales in his country… all that. Can old people think? Or were they just taught ‘right’? The traditional Hebridean folk belief was that poetry ran through everyone (but Second Sight was a rarer, and unfortunate, curse). I can’t conceive of a scenario where it could work. We’re just doomed to fuck up, over and over. (Teaching is hard). Ramble Ramble Ramble… (Thanks).


    fotrkd Reply:

    P.S. That thanks wasn’t meant to sound bitchy.


    Posted on May 27th, 2014 at 1:43 am Reply | Quote
  • NRx_N00B Says:

    @Alrenous — Thanks, your comments are appreciated but I still have a tough time dismissing the argument.

    A quick aside…

    Would you agree that possible and probable are two distinctly different things?

    Just as an example: According to La Wik the average life-span of a species is 10 million years [with mammals coming in at 1-2 million years]—although it’s possible that modern humans could survive another 800K+ years it isn’t very probable. Would you agree?

    @admin — Thanks for the comments, I was going to use John Leslie’s “Emeralds Thought Experiment” but you beat me to it.


    Alrenous Reply:

    Sure, possible and probable are different. I think we can make a good estimate of how long humans are likely to be around, and whether we’re likely to die to dying or by evolving into something sufficiently inhuman, but the doomsday argument is not part of either effort.

    As before, not-very-probable*infinity = infinity. The average expectation for the final cumulative population of any species that isn’t yet extinct in infinity. Thus to get a good estimate you can’t use average expected cumulative population, you have to come at the problem from a weird angle.


    Posted on May 27th, 2014 at 5:24 am Reply | Quote
  • Steve Johnson Says:


    You’ll want to blog about this one – the left hilariously eating their own.

    Short version – twitter argument that white women can “experience sexual assault” but cannot be “raped” because “rape=power+nonconsensual sex” – exactly like “racism=discrimination+power”.

    Would love to see this go viral on the left.


    Steve Johnson Reply:

    Aww, it was a troll.

    Ok, to the troller – masterfully done!


    Rasputin Reply:



    Chris B Reply:

    However, it did remind me of this link I recall reading on radishmag

    “It’s part and parcel of increasing violence rather than sex, partly because the criminal population is rising and becoming more adventurous. I think writers like Eldridge Cleaver and Franz Fanon, who tried to give rape an ideological justification, didn’t help. They tried to justify interracial rape as some sort of political act. It’s typical of the left to make a convicted rapist a hero. ”,,20065841,00.html

    Chris B Reply:

    you beat me to it. Didn’t spot your comment.


    Chris B Reply:

    Seem like a joke too me –


    Chris B Reply:


    Posted on May 27th, 2014 at 10:10 pm Reply | Quote
  • fotrkd Says:

    ‘Look, what’s the matter with you, fotrkd?’ Said admin.

    ‘Nothing. Nothing’s the matter. Listen to me – I’ve got to tell you the most important thing you’ve ever heard. I’ve got to tell you now, and I’ve got to tell you in the salo(o)n bar of the Horse and Groom.’

    ‘But why?’

    ‘Because you’re going to need a very stiff drink.


    ‘fotrkd,’ said admin, ‘would you please tell me what the hell is going on?’

    ‘Drink up,’ said fotrkd, ‘you’ve got three pints to get through.’

    ‘Three pints?’ said admin. ‘For breakfast?’


    ‘All right,’ said fotrkd, ‘I’ll try to explain. [T]his is an urgent emergency, which ought to be addressed with great seriousness here and now: Bryce has been talking to Tunney again.’


    fotrkd Reply:

    Michael Anissimov @MikeAnissimov · 20m
    @amerika_blog If W.S. Burroughs were here I would demand that he adhere to a bare minimum of social conservatism, yes.

    … And he would shoot you (like a good reactionary). Seriously, is Mike… alright? Did he fall asleep over twitter – not realise – and then, still drunk, pick up exactly where he left off? Being charitable, I can only assume he’s chosen to use Bryce as his rather unconvincing launchpad for making a break for it. From more right:

    I will make a simple digression regarding politics. Different people have different beliefs. Some of these beliefs, which pertain to the overall structure of how human affairs and national government should be organized are called political beliefs. When people agree on certain political beliefs in systematic ways, they form political groups which often have labels. These labels have a historical precedent which includes certain principles which define the label.

    OK. But we’ve covered why reaction can’t win on a political level (Anissimov references Conquest’s Second Law). That’s why neoreaction has no place being a political movement. The political is progressive; it’s precisely what has destroyed social conservatism. The aim of neoreaction must therefore be to pull stuff out of the political sphere, not drag more things into it (by, for instance, making tweets a matter of (Idaho) state interest). Otherwise it’s simply doomed reaction (or something altogether more depressing).

    Reactionary means to react against the modern forces of subversion. Neoreactionary is the modern rediscovery of Reaction.

    Perhaps, in part. But it’s a whole lot more than that as well (in other words: you’re going to have to work a whole lot harder than that if you want to carry off the ‘neo’ tag).


    northanger Reply:

    Heroin Users in U.S. 90% White, Live Outside Urban Areas


    Rasputin Reply:

    It’s is good in parts. This bit tags the entryism problem pretty well:

    “In the old days (2009-2012) neoreaction was obscure. By the time people were talking about it on Twitter, most of them had marinated in Moldbug and other reactionary authors for a good period of time, perhaps a year, and had already become considerably socially conservative (especially about government) and worthy of the label “neoreactionary”. Today, however, any liberal can walk in off the street, see a fun group of intelligent people engaging in witty banter, give themselves the label, and then argue that “neoreaction” should be more liberal.”

    But Mike misses (or ignores) the fact that Moldbug just wasn’t hung up about certain things. Moldbug was willing to say that he thought the progressive attitudes towards homosexuality (ie not persecuting homosexuals) were a good thing, but that as someone who was heterosexual this wasn’t of significant importance to him, and certainly didn’t outweigh his distaste for state mind control a la the Cathedral. His focus was finding a system of good, effective, stable government, not on proving that he was ‘Righter’ or more socially conservative than thou. He was and is a truth seeker, and therefore if an idea was true it didn’t matter to Moldbug where it came from.


    northanger Reply:

    Beginning to view “Cathedral” like “Capitalism” — what’s going to replace it? Stealing a line from k-punk: “Cathedral Realism: Is there no Alternative?”. Nick’s accelerated meltdown is, essentially, reactionary utopianism.

    fotrkd Reply:

    [A]nd certainly didn’t outweigh his distaste for state mind control a la the Cathedral.

    Yes. Mike seems to have lost all sense of what reactionaries aim for (let alone neoreactionaries).

    northanger Reply:

    “Playing the NRx Card” now with official entry: Know Your Political Memes

    northanger Reply:

    The point about Renan’s ‘What is a Nation?” is “continued consent”, a “daily referendum”. The entire political spectrum “The Cathedral” — even the so-called Cathedral itself — recognizes problematic (or even nonexistent) constructs and frameworks.

    If we cannot agree, or make the starting point, that “The Cathedral” is plastic, fluid and malleable. Then, what’s the alternative? NRx must be willing to go through The Final Peer-Review.

    nydwracu Reply:

    If neoreaction were to become the sort of thing that would have an official drink, it’d be Laphroaig.

    northanger Reply:

    Hard to pronounce, expensive as hell, “Smoke, medicine, sea mist, peat- all there”, owned by the Japanese (long live Satoshi Nakamoto!).

    I second the nomination.

    northanger Reply:

    Complexity: The Emerging Science at the Edge of Order and Chaos, M. Mitchell Waldrop

    To test that idea, Kauffman and Johnson allowed the agents in their simulation to change their internal organization. This was tantamount to what John Holland calls “exploratory learning.” It was also very much like the radical rewiring that Farmer talked about in his Rosetta Stone paper on connectionist models. But the upshot was that when species were given the ability to evolve their internal organization, the ecosystem as a whole did indeed move toward the edge of chaos.

    Once again, says Kauffman, it’s easy enough in retrospect to see why. “If we’re deep in the ordered regime,” he says, “then everybody is at a peak in fitness and we’re all mutually consistent — but these are lousy peaks.” Everybody is trapped in the foothills, so to speak, with no way to break loose and head for the crest of the range. In terms of human organization, it’s as if the jobs are so subdivided that no one has any latitude, all they can do is learn how to perform the one job they’ve been hired for, and nothing else. Whatever the metaphor, however, it’s clear that if each individual in the various organizations is allowed a little more freedom to march to a different drummer, then everyone will benefit. The deeply frozen system will become a little more fluid, says Kauffman, the aggregate fitness will go up, and the agents will collectively move a bit closer to the edge of chaos. [p. 312]


    fotrkd Reply:


    Beginning to view “Cathedral” like “Capitalism” — what’s going to replace it?

    Capitalism sans Cathedral (utopianly).

    northanger Reply:

    Qu’est-ce qu’une nation?, Ernest Renan

    Une nation est donc une grande solidarité, constituée par le sentiment des sacrifices qu’on a faits et de ceux qu’on est disposé à faire encore. Elle suppose un passé ; elle se résume pourtant dans le présent par un fait tangible : le consentement, le désir clairement exprimé de continuer la vie commune. L’existence d’une nation est (pardonnez-moi cette métaphore) un plébiscite de tous les jours, comme l’existence de l’individu est une affirmation perpétuelle de vie. Oh ! je le sais, cela est moins métaphysique que le droit divin, moins brutal que le droit prétendu historique. Dans l’ordre d’idées que je vous soumets, une nation n’a pas plus qu’un roi le droit de dire à une province : «Tu m’appartiens, je te prends». Une province, pour nous, ce sont ses habitants ; si quelqu’un en cette affaire a droit d’être consulté, c’est l’habitant. Une nation n’a jamais un véritable intérêt à s’annexer ou à retenir un pays malgré lui. Le vœu des nations est, en définitive, le seul critérium légitime, celui auquel il faut toujours en revenir.

    Stealing Stross: “I am fairly certain that everyone who reads this blog can converge on a core consensus that [The Cathedral [or Progressivism]] Is Not An Actually-Existing Utopia. M’kay?”

    Stealing Badiou: “[cathedral] deterritorialization requires a constant reterritorialization”

    fotrkd Reply:

    Even before the French (“Playing the NRx Card” now with official entry: Know Your Political Memes), you’d completely lost me. (I’d be much happier in a pub without all this shit).

    northanger Reply:

    Nick’s twins (both evil and good) do that to me too. Have a drink on me.

    fotrkd Reply:

    They’re meant to though, no, so it’s all good? Break the memes out of the political perhaps?

    P.S. Happily.

    northanger Reply:

    Maybe “Dark Utopia” is more catchy. Shorter too. Noir l’utopie!

    fotrkd Reply:

    In utopia there’s a big red button, and the only way to get there is with Nick. Ergo, utopia is brief at best. Question is… do you want to try to head there or follow the current trajectory?

    northanger Reply:

    What the hell? :pour me another drink:

    fotrkd Reply:

    Let me rephrase:

    In utopia there’s a big red button, and the only way to get there is with Nick. Ergo, utopia is brief at best. Question is… do you want to try to head there or follow the current trajectory?

    I was going to add something, but it’s gone. But come on etc. (flagging energy barely kicking in)… you should be able to tell me more…

    fotrkd Reply:

    P.S. I have Kronenbourg; Gin or Cava..? (oh, and some Vermouth!)

    northanger Reply:

    Let me rephrase:

    What the hell?

    go catch some sheep.

    northanger Reply:

    Scotch whiskey: Glenfiddich. If you have any.

    fotrkd Reply:

    You should try something peat-ier (whisky-wise). I have some locked up in storage… hang-on… Talisker (peaty)… got something from a neighbour once (for looking after their horses)… though Glenfiddich is a good choice [chops knee on box]…

    Doesn’t Ray Brassier talk about some magical utopian moment re: Dr Land’s ‘vision’? Not saying I agree with Ray, but ‘What the hell?’ seems a bit harsh (without explication or objection.. aren’t we heading to the happy lands?!).

    northanger Reply:

    We must be harsh to get our peat-ier whiskey out of its lethargy. (Hope the knee’s ok). Happy Lands (shit), here we go: What big red button?

    fotrkd Reply:

    What big red button?

    It was intended jokingly, but it puts the basic question into stark relief: what are you willing to risk for something beyond the Cathedral? (The we don’t know, but anything but this…). It’s not the same as capitalism (correctly understood)… but it still requires a leap…


    northanger Reply:

    First, Hyperstition manages risk enabling line of flight; second, we-don’t-know-but-anything-but-this feeds through the Numogram; third, Pandemonium populates at the edge.


    northanger Reply:

    And, I might add, Hyperstition is, by its nature, Beyond Cathedral.

    Posted on May 28th, 2014 at 9:33 pm Reply | Quote
  • fotrkd Says:

    NRx has proved beyond doubt it’s full of half-wits at its upper echelons…

    Bryce is learning from the debate
    NBS is proposing a pirate court about the debate
    Mike Anissimov is mental
    Others are proposing reconciliation techniques.

    You’re arguing about who you should be allowed to talk to! Fuck off is the only sensible response.


    Alrenous Reply:

    The sensible response is to have no idea what’s going on. Praise ye, blissful ignorance.


    Posted on May 30th, 2014 at 12:27 am Reply | Quote
  • NRx_N00B Says:

    Some random thoughts…

    To really understand progressivism/universalism one might also want to examine it in light of Liebig’s law of the minimum**.

    Progressivism/universalism/liberalism does not repeal Liebig’s law. I think only by knowing Liebig’s law, however, can we see clearly what progressivism/universalism/liberalism does do, in ecological terms. Progressivism/universalism/liberalism enlarges the scope of application of the law of the minimum. The composite carrying capacity of two or more areas with different resource configurations can be greater than the sum of their separate carrying capacities. Call this the principle of scope enlargement; it can be expressed in mathematical notation as follows:

    CC[A+B] > CC[A] + CC[B]

    The combined environment [A + B] still has finite carrying capacity, and that carrying capacity is still set by the necessary resource available in least (composite) abundance. But if the two environments are truly joined, by progressivism/universalism/liberalism, then scarcities that are local to A or B no longer have to be limiting.

    [okay, okay, so I jacked the above text from William R. Catton’s “Overshoot”….only substituting the word *trade* w/ *progressivism/universalism/liberalism*].

    Well, think about the vulnerability of “scope reduction”—scope reduction brings on reaction with a vengeance.


    Posted on May 30th, 2014 at 1:50 am Reply | Quote
  • northanger Says:

    Excellent links. Quick search for “carrying capacity” at 23,488 Search Results.

    Picking one at random:

    Evolutionary Rescue in Structured Populations
    The analysis is based on the following reasoning: due to the particular migration pattern of the island model, we can merge all patches in the old environment into one habitat and all patches with the new environment into a second one. The number of wildtypes in the old part of the habitat is given by its current carrying capacity; the number of wildtypes in the new part is governed by a single difference equation (eq. [A1]).

    Lots of papers on Evolutionary Rescue. Scope Reduction is a great point. I don’t think the idea here is “scope reduction” but puzzling out a evolutionary rescue model that doesn’t trigger everyone senseless.


    Posted on May 30th, 2014 at 2:47 am Reply | Quote
  • NRx_N00B Says:

    Rawlsianism, pacifism, fraternism and communalism tends to increase composite carrying capacity via scope enlargement—making room for even more non-productive-useless-eaters. “Scope reduction”, on the other hand, could kick off the mother of all die-offs.


    Posted on May 30th, 2014 at 2:57 am Reply | Quote
  • northanger Says:

    Precisely how to trigger everyone senseless.


    Posted on May 30th, 2014 at 3:10 am Reply | Quote
  • NRx_N00B Says:

    @Northanger — Agreed, it’s a delicate balance.


    Posted on May 30th, 2014 at 3:16 am Reply | Quote
  • Konkvistador Says:

    I’m quite confident that I won’t be returning to twitter any time soon. I am at times honestly wondering if this community as a whole is worth engaging at all anymore. As of right now it is both intellectually mostly stagnant, personality driven and outside window-dressing drifting leftward.

    My current reactionary ideological position is best described as Pseudo-Jimian with Samoist characteristics.


    Posted on May 30th, 2014 at 8:15 am Reply | Quote
  • fotrkd Says:

    Ugh and argh and eww. And why is my tongue so hairy? Northanger drank me under the table. It was Jura by the way, not Talisker. Dock my wages for any damage done to the saloon. I need frozen peas… and fruit.


    Posted on May 30th, 2014 at 11:01 am Reply | Quote

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