Do Primarily Easy Things – Increasing The Productivity Of Your Intellectual Labor Vs. Consumption

When you do productive labor (like at a job), you are able to use what you produce (or some negotiated amount of payment related to what you produce). How you use your income can be broadly viewed in two ways: investment and consumption.

Investment fundamentally means capital accumulation – putting your income towards the accumulation of capital goods which raise the productivity of labor and thereby create a progressing economy which offers exponentially (like compound interest) more and more production each year. The alternative is to consume your income – spend it on consumer's goods like food, video games, lipstick, cars, etc.

People do a mix of savings/investment and consumption. the proportion of the mix determines how good the future is. A high rate of capital accumulation quickly leads to a much richer world which is able to support far more consumption than before while still maintaining a high rate of investment (the pie gets larger. Instead of consuming 80% of the original pie, one could soon be consuming 20% of a much larger pie which is also growing much faster, and that 20% of the larger pie will be more than 80% of the smaller pie.)

For more info on the economics of this, see the diagrams on pages 624 and 625 of George Reisman's book Capitalism: A Treatise on Economics and read some of the surrounding text.

The situation with your intellectual labor parallels the situation with laboring at a job for an income. Your intellectual labor is productive and this production can be directed in different ways – towards consumption, towards increasing the productivity of intellectual labor, or a mix. The more the mix favors increasing the productivity of your intellectual labor, the brighter your future.

Consumption in this case refers to things where you aren't investing in yourself and your education – where you aren't learning more and otherwise becoming more able to produce more in the future. For example, you might put a great deal of effort into writing a book which you hope will impress people, which you are just barely capable of writing. It takes a ton of intellectual labor while being only a little bit educational for you. Most of your intellectual labor is consumed and the result is the book. If you had foregone the book in the short term and invested more in increasing your productivity of intellectual labor, you could have written it at a later date while consuming a much smaller proportion of your intellectual output. This is because you'd be outputting more and even more so because your output would be more efficient – you'd be able to get more done per hour of intellectual labor (one of the biggest factors here would be making fewer mistakes, so you'd spend less labor redoing things). A good question to ask is whether you produced an intellectual work in order to practice or if instead you put a lot of work into polishing it so other people would like it more (that polishing is an inefficient way to learn). It's sad when people who don't know much put tons of effort into polishing what little they do know instead of learning more – and this is my description of pretty much everyone. (If you think you already know so much that you're largely done with further educating yourself, or at least ready to make education secondary, please contact me. I expect to be able to point out that you're mistaken, especially if you're under 50 years old.)

Consumption (rather than investment), in the realm of intellectual labor, primarily relates to going out of your way to try to accomplish things, to do things – like persuading people or creating finished works. It is possible to learn by doing, but it's also possible not to learn much by doing. If you're doing for the sake of learning, great. If you're doing for the sake of an accomplishment, that is expensive, especially if you're young, and you may be dramatically underestimating the expense while also fooling yourself about how educational it is (because you do learn something, but much less than you could have learned if you instead studied e.g. George Reisman's Program of Self-Education in the Economic Theory and Political Philosophy of Capitalism or my Fallible Ideas recommended reading list.)

Broadly, I see many people try to produce important intellectual works when they don't know much. They spend a lot of intellectual labor and produce material which is bad. They would have been far better served by learning more now, and producing more output (like essays) later on when they are able to make valuable intellectual products with a considerably lesser effort. This explains the theme I've stated elsewhere and put in the title of this piece: you should intellectually do (consume) when it's relatively easy and cheap, but be very wary of expensive intellectual projects which take tons of resources away from making intellectual progress.

Some people doubt the possibility of an accumulation of intellectual capital or its equivalent. They don't think they can increase the productivity of their intellectual labor substantially. These same people, by and large, haven't learned speed reading (or speed watching or speed listening). Nor have they fully learned the ideas of great intellectuals like Ayn Rand and Ludwig von Mises. Equipped with these great ideas, they'd avoid going down intellectual dead ends, and otherwise create high quality outputs from their intellectual labor. Even if the process of increasing the productivity of one's intellectual labor runs into limits which result in diminishing returns at some point, that is no excuse for stopping such educational self-investment long before reaching any such limits.

In the long run, the ongoing increase in the productivity of one's intellectual labor requires the ongoing creation of new and improved intellectual tools and methods, and supporting technologies. It requires ongoing philosophical progress. I believe philosophical progress can be unbounded if we work at it (without diminishing returns), but regardless of the far future there is massive scope for productive educational self-investment today. Unless you've exhausted what's already known about philosophy – that is, you are at the forefront of the field – and also spent some time unsuccessfully attempting to pioneer new philosophy ... then you have no excuse to stop investing in increasing the productivity of your intellectual labor (primarily with better and better methods of thinking – philosophy – but also with other things like learning to read faster). Further, until you know what is already known about philosophy, you are in no position to judge the far future of philosophical progress and its potential or lack of potential.

Note: the biggest determinants of the productivity of your intellectual labor are your rate of errors and your ability to find and correct errors. Doing activities where your error rate is below your error correction capacity is much more efficient and successful. You can increase your error correction effectiveness by devoting an unusually large amount of resources to it, but there are diminishing returns on that, so it's typically an inefficient (resource expensive) shortcut to doing a slightly more difficulty project slightly sooner.

The article is itself an example of what I can write in a few minutes without editing or difficulty. It's the fruits of my previous investment in better writing ability in order to increase the productivity of my intellectual labor. I aim primarily to get better at writing this way (cheaply and efficiently), rather than wishing to put massive polishing effort into a few works.

Update (2018-05-18):

What I say in this post is, to some extent, well known common sense. People get an education first and do stuff like a career second. Maybe they aren't life-long learners, but they have the general idea right (learn how to think/do/problem-solve/etc first, do stuff second after you're able to do it well and efficiently).

What goes wrong then? Parenting and schooling offer a bad, ineffective education. This discourages further education (the painfulness and uselessness of their education is the biggest thing preventing life-long learners). And it routinely puts people in a bad situation: trying to do things which they have been educated to be able to do well, but in fact cannot do well. The solution is not to give up on education, but to figure out how to pursue education effectively. A reasonable place to start would be the books of humanity's best thinkers since the start of western civilization. Some people have been intellectually successful and effective (as you can see from the existence of iPhones); you could look into what they did, how they thought, etc.

FI involves ideas that are actually good and effective, as against rivals offering similar overall stuff (rational ideas) but which are incorrect. FI faces the following major challenges: 1) people are so badly educated they screw up when trying to learn FI ideas 2) people are so badly educated they don't know how to evaluate if FI is working, how it compares to rivals, the state of debate between FI ideas and alternative ideas, etc.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (12)

I Liked Edward Thorp's Book: A Man for All Markets

Comments on A Man for All Markets: From Las Vegas to Wall Street, How I Beat the Dealer and the Market, by Edward Thorp. Bold formatting is added by me.

The professor, the son of a famous physicist, was himself a mediocrity. Because he was insecure and afraid of questions from the class, he copied his lectures from a stack of note cards onto the board, turning his back to the class to discourage interaction. Then we recopied them into our notebooks. He had been doing this for years, and the content seldom changed. This seemed stupid to me. Why not just hand out copies so we could read them in advance and come to class with intelligent questions? Of course, he was afraid someone might ask him a question he couldn’t answer.


By the time I met with the professor in his office to apologize [for criticizing his bad teaching], I realized I had behaved stupidly and rudely, and told him truthfully that what I did was improper and I regretted my actions. But there was still the more serious matter of what I had said about his teaching. I had damaged his self-esteem. He would never forgive this unless he felt I retracted what I had said. My own values and sense of self-worth made me unwilling to grovel and tell lies, despite the personal stakes. I had to find another way. I explained that I had come to realize that his teaching methods were unique and that students, though they may not always appreciate it, rarely encounter a professor of his caliber. What I said was true but allowed more than one interpretation. He picked the one I expected him to choose. He was beaming when I left, my career was saved, and I would become a better-behaved and somewhat more mature person.

Misleading people while making technically true statements is a silly game. I don't think it's honest.

Dominique Francon does something similar in her columns praising Howard Roark in The Fountainhead (the public reads them negatively).

While I was at UCLA, my PhD thesis adviser, Angus Taylor, suggested that I send some of my mathematical work to a well-known California mathematician for his comments. I got no response. But eleven months later at a Southern California meeting of the American Mathematical Society, Taylor and I heard the great man talk. The subject was my discovery, in detail, presented as part of his original work, and it was also about to appear under his name in print, in a well-known mathematical journal. Both of us were stunned. Taylor, who would later become academic vice president of the entire University of California system, was an ethical and experienced mathematician to whom I looked for guidance, but he didn’t know what to do. So neither of us did anything.

Academia is full of frauds.

When the screening committee received my abstract, their near-unanimous reaction was to reject it. I learned this later from John Selfridge, a number theorist whom I had known at UCLA and a member of the committee. For a while, he held the world’s record for finding the largest known prime number. (A prime is a positive whole number divisible only by itself and one. The first few are 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13…) Fortunately, Selfridge persuaded them that I was a legitimate mathematician and that if I said it was true, it likely was.

Why would the committee reject my talk? Professional mathematicians regularly receive claims that the sender has solved some famous problem, claims that almost always turn out to be from cranks, from the mathematically uneducated unaware of what’s already been done, or that include proofs containing simple errors....

... obviously, if the casinos could be beaten they would either change the rules of the game or go out of business. No wonder the committee was inclined to reject my abstract. Ironically, their reason for doing so—that mathematicians had apparently proven that winning gambling systems were impossible—was my strongest motivation for showing it could be done.

The academic screening committee was full of frauds. They didn't review the ideas, they just assumed there were simple errors. And they never changed their mind about judging math by reputation, they just changed their judgement of Thorp's reputation after Selfridge vouched for Thorp.

This trip taught me that while playing well, even with experts to warn me of dirty dealing, I could no longer openly win a significant amount. On future visits, I would need to change my appearance, be low-key, and generally avoid drawing attention to myself. Mickey MacDougall told the gaming control board that he saw more cheating in Nevada casinos while watching my eight days of play than he had seen in all his previous five years of working for the board. After his damning report he was never again asked to consult by them.

The Nevada gaming control board was full of fraud (in 1962). They turned a blind idea to casinos defrauding customers with methods like using dealers who cheat when shuffling and dealing. In one case in the book, the cheating dealer made a mistake with her physical dexterity and accidentally made it plainly visible that she was dealing the second card from the top to Thorp. An agent supposed to police cheating casinos was present, but pretended not to notice.

Karl Pearson (1857–1936) discovered that the roulette numbers being reported daily in a French newspaper showed exploitable patterns. The mystery was resolved when it was discovered that rather than spend hours watching the wheels, the people recording the numbers simply made them up at the end of each day. The statistical patterns Pearson detected simply reflected the failure of the reporters to invent perfectly random numbers.

Some newspaper employees committed fraud too.

In fifty-five and a half years of marriage I don’t ever remember her [Thorp's wife, Vivian] bragging. The closest she came was when I would admire the way she matched the hues of her outfits or furnished our household with a designer’s eye. She would look at me and matter-of-factly explain, “I have a good eye for color.”

It's common that women believe they're good at that, but aren't. It takes skill, but people who have done nothing to develop any serious expertise often think they're good at it. Maybe Vivian is a rare exception (or read books and took classes, which Thorp didn't mention). But I doubt it. I think she's bragging because it's culturally acceptable for women to think they're good at this without seeming arrogant (and this cultural situation, not actual skill, is the key factor). Thorp himself seems to be pleased that his wife wasn't arrogant in general – and also be OK with her bragging about this (which he refuses to even say is bragging, he says it only came close to bragging).

the Math Department [at the University of California at Irvine] was headed for serious trouble. Both the levels of grant money for research and funds from the state of California to support the university had declined. This led to fierce struggles among various factions in the department for what was left. To mediate the infighting, an outsider was brought in as a chairman. He was forced out after three turbulent years. For want of anyone else who might be acceptable to the warring groups, and against my better judgment, I was persuaded by the administration to act as temporary chairman.

The assignment was worse than I thought. I found that one assistant professor had stopped showing up to teach, dividing his time between his girlfriend four hundred miles to the north in the San Francisco Bay Area and the casinos in Reno and Lake Tahoe. A card counter, he even called me with blackjack questions! Another assistant professor was running up departmental phone bills of $2,000 per month versus a total of $200 for the other twenty-five professors combined. When I confronted him he claimed it was mathematical research. A review of the bills showed almost all the charges were for calls to two numbers in New York City. I dialed each, speaking in turn to his mother and to a store that sold musical recordings. He was enraged at me and not at all embarrassed when exposed.

Meanwhile, a full professor had stolen the confidential employment records of another full professor from the department files. When I discovered this and confronted him, he refused to return it. It turned out that the file contained a very nasty letter that he had written about his enemy. He feared that if I, as chairman, learned what he had done, I would expose him. When I asked the administration to initiate disciplinary action against these incorrigibles, they declined to act. I was stunned and stymied.

One problem in large bureaucracies is that many of the members decide it is better not to cross people, instead of standing on principle. I asked a good friend, whom I had helped to get an appointment in our department, to become my vice chairman and help me. Although he was now a full professor with tenure, he declined, saying, “I have to live in the same cage with these monkeys.” I did understand his point. On the other hand, I was not confined to the cage. I had PNP [Thorp's hedge fund]. I thought, Why try to fix this if no one will even back me up? I was in the Math Department by choice, not by necessity. It was time to move on.

This is a good indication of how bad academia is.

To my astonishment, I found that XYZ Corp was offering to sell me options at less than half my expected payoff! After I collected financial statements from my friendly salesman and examined them, I discovered that when XYZ Corp sold an option it counted the proceeds as income, but did not set aside any reserve to pay off the options if and when they were cashed in by the buyer. Since the correct reserves on each option they sold should have been more than twice what they were being paid, proper accounting would show their net worth becoming more negative every time they sold another option.

It was clear that they had to sell more and more options, using the increasing cash flow to pay off any early “investors” who might cash in. Classic Ponzi, and bound to end badly. What to do?

I decided on a little educational experiment. After reviewing the scanty information available on sales, options outstanding, and early redemption rates, I estimated the company would survive for at least eight more months. It turned out to be ten. Buying $4,000 worth of six-month options, I doubled my money in four months and cashed out. A few months later the offices were shuttered, the operators gone, and another fraud investigation was under way.

This time, Thorp profited from a fraud.

I figured out a solution. I called our head trader, who as a minor general partner was highly compensated from his share of our fees, and gave him this order: Buy $5 million worth of index futures at whatever the current market price happened to be (about 190), and place orders to sell short at the market, with the index then trading at about 220, not $5 million worth of assorted stocks—which was the optimal amount to best hedge the futures—but $10 million. I chose twice as much stock as I wanted, guessing only about half would actually be shorted because of the scarcity of the required upticks, thus giving me the proper hedge. If substantially more or less stock was sold short, the hedge would not be as good but the 15 percent profit cushion gave us a wide band of protection against loss.

I went through a detailed explanation of my outside-the-box analysis of why this trade was a windfall opportunity. But this day was beyond anything our trader had ever seen or imagined. Gripped by fear, he seemed frozen. He refused to execute the trades. I told him to do it for PNP and do it now, or else I wanted him to do it for my account. If that was his choice, I told him I would later tell all the other partners how the profit I made would have, but for him, belonged to the partnership rather than to me.

Here was my reasoning. If, because of the uptick rule, only about half the shorts got off, then we would be properly hedged and make about $750,000. If none got off (extremely improbable), we were buying the futures at an enormous discount—the index itself would have to fall more than another 13 percent before we began to lose. At the other extreme, especially in a market panic, there was virtually no chance all the shorts would go off. Even if all the orders to sell short were completed, the market would have to rise more than 14 percent for us to lose money. To protect against this possibility, I told my head trader that when we filled close to half the short-sale orders, he should cancel the rest. After he finally complied with my request and completed the first round, I ordered a second round of the same size. In the end we did get roughly half our shorts off for a near-optimal hedge. We had about $9 million worth of futures long and $10 million worth of stock short, locking in $1 million profit. If my trader hadn’t wasted so much of the market day refusing to act, we could have done several more rounds and reaped additional millions.

Thorp's hedge fund lost millions of dollars because their stock trader didn't do his job. It's interesting to me how much dealing with people played a role here. Thorp couldn't just decide what to buy and sell, he had to persuade someone to do it (by threats, because explaining why it was profitable didn't work), even though the trader would not be affected by the outcomes of the trades and it was his job to make the trades Thorp chose.

I also found it interesting how little control Thorp had over what he bought. He ordered twice what he wanted figuring it wouldn't all happen. Why not just tell the trader to keep going until he gets to the amount Thorp actually wants?

See also my previous post on the book, School Mistreated Edward Thorp.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)

Philosophy Discussion


I remember in one one your blog posts you said your the best philosopher in the world, Which would then mean you are also like the smartest person in the world right?


depends what you mean by “smart”.


I’m not sure what I meant either, but right now I will define it as: ability to learn/think about things good. I think that’s a ok definition?


ok, i think i’m the best adult at that.


So do you think there are probably better children and/or old people than you at thinking?


old counts as adult

it’s really hard to compare to a 2 year old. idk

little kids learn lots of stuff, often with really crappy help. some of them are exceptional and there are a lot of ppl in the world.

i have surveyed things like books, blogs and academia to look for good ppl.

this finds adults but not young kids


And so would they be better at thinking cuz they don’t have any anti productive memes you may still have?


something like that. some of them aren’t broken yet so they can compete with me at being good at learning even though they don’t have some specific skills and knowledge i have.

ppl do so much to destroy kids. it takes a lot of work

u can’t really compare directly to little kids, they are a different thing

i’m smart but a better way to think of it is honest and reasonable. other adults don’t have that, but some would be called smart. ppl think they are honest but they aren’t being honest about that.


Do you think that destroying kids minds is a more recent trend? (The last 400ish years or so) or a little longer like a few thousand years, or since the beginning of humanity?


since the beginning of humanity

it’s gotten a little better, not worse.

it’s gotten worse in some noticeable ways but overall it’s better

like modern school stuff is really bad

but overall ppl are less harsh with kids, less controlling, less punishing. they hit kids less, scare kids less.

care more about being nice

feel bad or guilty when they are cruel to kids

the reason they don’t want to be mean to their kids is b/c it’s incompatible with other improvements in the world. they are nicer overall to everyone, think fighting and violence are bad in general, etc. these positive trends apply to kids less. ppl make exceptions and excuses when it comes to kids. but it still applies to kids some.


How much were you destroyed as a kid?


50% as much as normal? 1%? idk. who knows. i tuned school out a lot. i didn’t do social conformity or reject logic or accept vague stuff and being confused as if it were answers

tons of kids are curious but it gets destroyed. i stayed curious lots. but it could be lots more IMO

ppl make exceptions to logic and start rationalizing it and being biased in convenient ways (like to be more acceptable to their peers) and it destroys them. i didn’t do that.

u just have to blind yourself to one truth, choose to believe what’s easier to get along with others instead of trying to understand, and you are on a really bad path

basically everyone does that.


I do that a lot of times when people ask me if they want to play games with me


it escalates. if u won’t think honestly and rationally and truth-seeking about one thing, then u have to also avoid thinking about related stuff or you will run into contradictions


I try to be socially normal and kinda try to indirectly turn them down or just play a bit with them


it spreads to all your thinking as you find out how all types of ideas are related to each other


Then not play for a week


like if u do that kinda social stuff, u have to not learn about society’s social dynamics in order to find that acceptable instead of hating it.

and to avoid learning that stuff, u have to be uncurious or bad at learning. u have to avoid looking at material with explanations, or be able to misunderstand it accept dumb excuses for why u think it’s wrong.


It’s really dishonest and mean of me to be like that way right?


it’s dishonest. idk about “really” – there are lots of more dishonest things ppl do. it’s not particularly mean, it’s normal and expected and it’s not like punching someone or insulting them just to try to hurt their feelings. it’s possible to come up with a perspective where u can see it as mean some.

u aren’t doing it for the purpose of hurting them.

the main way to be mean is if u do something with the actual goal of making someone feel bad or hurting them.

it counts if you have that goal but you rationalize it and pretend you don’t.

but what you are talking about, you actually have a different goal. you’re avoiding conflict.

you’re trying to avoid bad reactions from them

and not deal with it

i think




that’s really common. my best friend growing up did that a ton.


Did you realize it or confront them about it?


he had a kid around a year ago so now he won’t speak to me b/c he doesn’t want to be reminded of TCS stuff and how he’s hurting his kid all the time.

he knew some of that stuff but now he has to try to forget it

and be dishonest about it

cuz his wife isn’t TCS and his kid isn’t going to be raised that way

it doesn’t even matter if i talk about it or not

if he talks to me he can guess what i would think b/c he knows enough about TCS to know my opinions

he didn’t want to change and have conflicts with ppl like i do


And then it would be ultra socially un acceptable to say mb they shouldn’t have married that person, right?


he decided to have normal friends and wife.

he married her on purpose.

he knew what he was doing, though i doubt he knows it anymore. i think he must have put it out of his mind.

he really wanted a girlfriend and stuff.

he put up with lots of sacrifices

she doesn’t like video games

he used to play them a ton. he cut it way down for her.

he quit college. he went back and got a useless degree b/c she thinks college is good.


Sounds like she might impose screen time limits on the kid, that would suck


probably will … after not providing kid with a screen at all for years.

kids should have ipads by 6 months old, but i bet this kid doesn’t get one until … god who knows. could be age 7. could even be worse.


It would be best to get a kid like an iPad ASAP right? So they can learn and play with tech and be good with it immediately?


yes and also forget learning tech, ipads are useful.

u can watch youtube and use kid apps that are fun or educational

there are tons of them. there are flaws but it’s still pretty good compared to regular physical toys. should have both.

screen time would have ruined my life

i grew up b4 that was so common. no parental controls on computer.

had computer and internet stuff early when they were newer and lots of ppl didn’t have yet

b4 smartphones


People use age as an excuse to get out of arguments a lot

They will say something like “oh your just young your young mind will grow up and realize you were wrong “


they also try to use whether u have kids if u every say stuff about parenting

they are like “u only think that cuz u don’t have kids”

they also assume u don’t have kids if u believe stuff they disagree with

it’s all just dishonesty


Why do people want girlfriends and boyfriends so much?


it’s one of the biggest pressures in our culture

they are raised to want that. they see it everywhere.


I wonder how that hasn’t effected me then


my guess would be it probably has.


Cuz like I really don’t care about getting a partner


maybe u will care in 5 yeras

if u don’t learn philosophy


So I assume philosophy is a thing where it’s always better to learn it sooner than later?


usually it’s a thing where you learn it sooner or never

it also makes you more efficient at life, so the sooner the better

like learning to type fast instead of slow is good to learn sooner so u don’t waste lots of time typing slow. but philosophy is about thinking and making good decisions.

lack of that means making mistakes, being wrong … that costs more than time.

lots of what ppl do is counter productive and destructive, not just ineffective

waiting does not make learning philosophy easier. there is basically never a better more convenient time later. it just gets harder and worse as u make excuses and put it off

if u won’t do it now, why would later be better? pretty much it’s not

have u read any Paths Forward stuff?


Yeah that’s what I was thinking about but I feel like it’s putting me off of learning it cuz I’m like “if I think it’s better to learn it now rather than later, and I’m not learning it now, doesn’t that mean I just won’t ever learn it”

I’m not sure

I rad at least one blog post on it



But I think it was a short kinda summary on it?


there’s other links at the bottom of the first one

i think this is the best way to explain what’s wrong with the world intellectually

“intellectuals” – like professors and authors – have wrong ideas and there’s no way to correct them

they won’t answer critical arguments

they just lie about it and say they are intellectually honest, value feedback, etc

but none of them do.


Also, would it be fine to read a book without making comments on it the first time I read it, and then re-read it and make comments? I feel like I would put on an audio book from the FI reccomended reading list if I didn’t feel like I had to mention when there’s something in the book I disagree with, and I’m pretty sure I would be fine re-reading it

Disagree with/ am not sure about


you could do that. i think it’d be better to take some notes as u go, save the parts u have thots about

but better to try reading than do nothing


If it was just disagreements then I think I would be very fine just writing those down as I encounter them actually

It seems fun talking about disagreements I have with books now that I think about it


u can get text copies of books and copy/paste parts u have comments on

about best philosopher: most ppl flame me for saying that. i ask who is better or even close. i’ve never gotten a name out of anyone.

also i specified living


I want to put them in voice dream reader


yeah i like that. then u can highlight the text in it to save parts

it connects text to audio

i’m not trying to compare to Socrates (totally different intellectual situation) or Ayn Rand.


Yeah it seems like a big claim to me as well but if someone’s going to be really smart then it has to be in philosophy cuz it’s the one that covers everything


yeah and i just said best philosopher anyway. i said the field.

i didn’t say best thinker. but if u agree philosophy deals with methods of thinking then it’s kinda implied.

there is no one who can win arguments with me, out-discuss me.

i passed David Deutsch by a lot

i went around to all the online forums

they are so bad

the other intellectuals don’t even want a forum or gave up on trying to make one or something

they refuse to debate and deal with FI arguments


What happened to David deutsch? I see you saying some negative stuff about him in Horowitz and your blog sometimes, did he stop caring as much about making the world better or something?


they deal with the social world instead. so they are frauds. they just impress their peers, network with fancy ppl, put on a show to look smart, etc

it’s just standard career advancement stuff, making friends, building a reputation and being popular, etc, and they just do that in philosophy or something.

instead of actually thinking

u suck up to the ppl in charge of publishing stuff and get published and then say ur better than ppl cuz ur published in a fancier journal

DD stopped having philosophy discussions and started trying to suck up to ppl with fans and reputations.

to play the normal game. he’s not very good at it. it’s not his thing.

he started being more left wing so they’d like him better, too.

and stopped saying much TCS stuff.

or anti-marriage stuff

or other things he thinks are true that ppl don’t like

he’s trying to fit in more cuz ppl wouldn’t listen to him

but if u set aside ur ideas to get ppl to like u more … u get them to listen by saying what they already want to hear … wtf is the point?

(and he’s not being very successful anyway. it’s very competitive to be a fraud intellectual who tries to be popular and doesn’t have serious critical discussions. he gave up his advantages of being smarter and having good ideas.)

lots of his competition devote their whole lives to the social contest and DD started late.

ppl normally won’t even have conversations like this with me b/c they are avoiding thinking about certain things


Why does culture value children’s lives more than adults but also treats them worse?

That definitely seems like a question I could ask on FI or read something someone else posted on FIA


our culture is inconsistent on a million things


i am satisfied with that answer. And think I already know why our culture is inconsistent (irrational memes)


being consistent takes work. u have to do it on purpose, put in effort. the default is just something comes up and u believe X and then something else comes up and u believe Y for that and u don’t compare or connect them

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Overwatch Learning Discussion


We swapped off of zarya to Orissa even tho zarya had 75% ult charge on oasis 3rd point we also had nuke, blade, and barrage

We then lost the game

We managed to take first point with no main tank tho

And our reaper on first point convinced people to do dva zarya with no main tank.

Had a leaver in numbani right after we capped all 3 points with 4 min left, the enemy team managed to cap all 3 points but i JUST managed to get them into overtime so they couldn’t do another offence


how do u like mercy in solo queue?


We then capped first point numbani in 3 minutes, a lot of people were switching hero’s a lot so I was worried we weren’t gonna have ult

Haven’t done mercy yet


you keep switching!



How important is it to just play 1 character a bunch in a row?


it’s easier to make decisions if you have goals like to try mercy and see if you like her or not

then try some brig to compare

duo queue is not representative so u need to try them solo queue too

it’s also much better to learn a character initially if you play 80% or more that hero for 10-25 hrs

so you really get a solid idea of how to play them which you can remember

like that is what i had to do to get used to sombra’s gameplay stuff

it’s how i initially learned widow, tracer and ana too. i played mostly the one hero for a while.

once you know them better, it’s easier to swap around.

some heroes are easier to pick up than others, especially if they have similarities to heroes you already know, or you know a ton about the game. i’ve watched winston streams and played over 40 hours of dva, and understand a lot about the game, so i’ve been picking up winston easier/faster.

he’s also low mechanics and reasonably simple abilities

i picked up moira and orisa super fast cuz they fit stuff i already understood. but based on trying a few games, i’m trash at rein, hanzo and hog. those heroes don’t fit my existing knowledge that well.

my genji is trash too. i’ve watched lots of genji so that might be mostly mechanics

i’m good at supports. their style fits my pre-OW knowledge the best and i played ~125 hours of ana in comp.

you are bad at supports, so you can’t pick up mercy easily.

you understand tanks more. i think your rein knowleddge helped your winston a lot for knowing when you can jump in which is similar to when rein can charge in

so your winston was already doing half the things well very quickly (but you still don’t know some other winston stuff)

your orisa is more questionable b/c she’s more of a different style

u need to understand ranged positioning stuff for her, which actually makes her fit my skills more than yours in a way

make sense?

note: for the maps where rein is really bad (like sanctum and well), monkey is totally fine in terms of map layout. monkey handles the environmental kills stuff and highgrounds fine (2 rein weaknesses). monkey isn’t bad there like rein. orisa is only rly important if u wanna play spam wars (like how ppl usually play junkertown). it’s hard to play monkey vs orisa with low SR teams that pick random heroes and don’t coordinate a dive very well, especially on the really good orisa maps like junkertown. it can be done though. rein vs. orisa if u play long range spam is just super frustrating/stupid (ur way worse than her) tho. if u get rein vs orisa u have to play a corner and then go in hard like monkey, rather than do poke war.

for my heroes, tracer/sombra and widow/ana have good overlap (some similar aim stuff, like i was killing that pharah with my ana on sanctum b/c of my recent widow practice, even tho i didn’t practice ana, some positioning similiarity, and recall/translocate buttons are kinda similar to GTFO), and it gives me the ability to do long range or short range gameplay to fit the situation. winston/dva also have significant similarity (both being mobility tanks who can jump in/out on similar cd, can dive ppl and context highgrounds). my other hero, brig, is easy mechanics and i found her easy to play and so far i like her more than the other healers or offtanks and she’s really useful in terms of flexibility to make team comps work (cuz she can be 2nd or 3rd support, 2nd or 3rd tank).

i find sniping and mobility fun, and they also let you do stuff with limited teamwork so you aren’t bored and waiting for your team to stop feeding.

e.g. if team is stuck at choke, widow can still play the game some (it’s harder to snipe anyone if ur team doesn’t do anything, but u can still play). tracer and sombra can go in back and play by themselves.

those are the dps. dps have a high bar for how fun they have to be b/c dps are too popular. so if i’m gonna be dps, it has to be AWESOME or it’s not worth trying to get a dps slot.

my non-dps have less ability to do things by themselves but still some. the tanks can go in and out, can dive someone for a solo kill sometimes. ana can do some sniping, or just practice aim while healing your own team.

brig has things i don’t like: low range + low mobility. she can’t flank much (no mobility to get out). so in spam wars u r helpless and waiting. but i’m liking her ok so far and finding her ez+useful. i like that she can play mini reinhardt after ur maintank feeds – i find teams often need more tanking. she can save ppl some (her E is kinda like a zarya bubble mid combat, but it also heals them if they get out of being short, and u don’t have to worry about coordinating ppl actually taking dmg on purpose to charge u.) she has some self-healing. u can save ur team from flankers. i find it interesting with her to figure out how aggro i can play, like running up and whacking enemy tanks and getting away with it.

it’s kinda like reaper where what i found fun about him was figuring out when i can walk my slow ass character into the fight without everyone shooting and killing me.

but with the benefit of not being a dps slot.

i wouldn’t wanna play that all the time tho

brig and ana also have good ability to 1v1 ppl who flank u

unlike mercy

mercy just flies away, kinda helpless on her own. which is ok but a bit team reliant for me.

i like heros with the ability to outplay ppl

sniping and mobility both offer that. u outplay with snipers by getting a good sightline they didn’t expect (or a basic one if they are bad)

u outplay with mobility by showing up at places they don’t expect, chasing htem down when they thought they could get away, finding the best place to be and being able to get there to be rly effective, dodging stuff, etc

other heroes have some ways to outplay ppl but that’s how i see it. in general mobility enhances the ways u can outplay, e.g. by reducing the risk of flanking, opening up more of the map u can go to without dying

or like u can beat someone in a 1v1 to a healthpack with any hero. that outplay is available to everyone but it’s more available to mobility heroes.

the less mobility u have, the more u need to stay with ur team so u dont get caught far away and can’t get back

why aren’t you talking?

staying with team limits your options on what u can do in the game. makes u somewhat at the mercy of what they do, just following them around.

so u can see a good opportunity but u can’t take advantage of it cuz u have to play with team.

or u can see a danger, like a reaper who is gonna jump down and blossom everyone, but on some heroes u can’t fix that problem by yourself, all u can do is talk on voice and hope ppl listen

mercy for example can’t do much about a reaper ambush even if she sees it coming. all she can do is fly away personally (but if 3 other ppl die, it doesn’t even rly matter whether u died or not) and call it out

ana can sleep it. that’s big play potential where u aren’t helpless. brig can stun reaper ult, it’s actually sad how easy it is (sleep is great but hard, high skill). brig u just put up ur shield and u aren’t taking dmg from blossom and then u stun him and just lol. ur shield is 600 hp, it takes the entire 3 seconds of blossom to do 600 dmg.


I got called a “fucking retard who shouldn’t play comp” cuz I asked for a main tank

And cuz I essentially in voice chat





I then told him that people like him were why I don’t join voice chat

But then I joined voice chat and fake apologized to him and then he was really calm and chill

And thankfull at the end of the match


i don’t like manipulating assholes and i don’t want to develop those skills




b/c it makes u part of that world and those bad ways of living and thinking about life


I have not really done/thought about it befor

How so?


cuz ur trying to understand their mindset and have it be intuitive to you

and ur interacting with it, trying to figure out what ideas will make sense to him, get different reactions from him


It seems useful if someone’s being mean to you to calm them down and be able to talk to them


ur letting him define reality and ur reacting to that and living in his world and trying to make that work

if someone makes u jump thru 50 hoops to calm them down, it’s bad to learn how to jump thru those hoops and do it, better to just ignore them.

you aren’t seeing all the hoops b/c they are normal in our culture, on TV, etc, but they are still there.


I only noticed the 1 hoop of fake apologizing


ppl are very picky about what calms them down and what gets them to flame you more


So it would be very different for different people?


they are picky about the words you say, the tone, how quickly you respond, body language and facial expressions irl, and whether everything you say before and after fits with the statement (if they detect any kinda inconsistency and catch u being fake in some way, things can go really bad)

it varies somewhat by person and the results can be a bit random (sometimes they are having a bad day and just want to yell at someone). but also there’s just lots of stuff that’s standard hoops


What’s wrong with letting them define reality? And living in their world trying to make it work?


their reality sux, it’s a world of misery, and also don’t u want ur own life with ur own ideas? why let them be in charge and adapt yourself to them? be ur own person.

this asshole held your game hostage. he said basically: he will be toxic and cause a loss unless you put on a show of pretending you were the problem (you apologized to him). he said he wasn’t willing to play and try seriously unless you obeyed some orders from him about making certain statements that publicly announce he’s better than you and higher social status than you. this is all very nasty and aggressive.

(the good news is they are frequently bluffing, and if u ignore them they just play somewhat badly instead of throwing on purpose.)


Can’t I be my own person while pretending they are right?


realistically, no.

it’s hard enough to be your own person if that’s all you do. it’s much, much harder if you have a dual life.

ppl mostly FAIL at being their own person. u have to take it seriously and really try or you will fail at it too

can’t just make compromises and half-assed effort and expect it to work out anyway


And so being your own person means thinking for your self? Instead of just being like “Elliot said X so I’m not gonna think about X and just agree with what Elliot said”


btw the books which explain these things are called Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead, both by Ayn Rand. but to understand them you have to think a lot about what you read and discuss it (realistically that means FI posts).


I feel like I agree with you and [someone's name] a lot without thinking about stuff on my own, or asking questions about stuff I’m not sure about


yes, thinking for yourself, making our own decisions, living according to your own ideas (e.g. that you didn’t do anything wrong in that OW game)

if society thinks u are wrong to do X, but u think ur right … it’s much harder if ur also lying to everyone that u agree with them that X is bad.

u gotta stand up for your values and make them a visible part of your life or they will not be much of your life.

this is easier for the ones society agrees with and harder for the unpopular ones

I feel like I agree with you and [someone's name] a lot without thinking about stuff on my own, or asking questions about stuff I’m not sure about

i know u don’t do enough to learn it yourself

the way to judge competing ideas is to

  • figure out what the alternative ideas are

  • figure out what the issue is (what are the ideas for)

  • get all the ideas clear, so u know what they say

  • criticize them, look for problems

in other words, judge ideas by how they do in argument. the ones that lose the argument are wrong. (why? cuz of the reasons the arguments said about why they are wrong. what’s wrong with them gets explained in the argument.)

doing all this thinking takes time/effort/etc. it can be fun.


I’m kinda tired right now so I’m finding it harder to think about these things, but I feel like I might be using that as an excuse to not think about them


did you sleep?


But I am actually tired I’ve been awake for like 20 hours or more


you can maybe tell if it was an excuse by whether you continue the discussion later

did u read msgs about overwatch heroes?

that is an easier topic


Which ones about hero’s? The one about which ones we play the most or a different one? An is it in this chat?


i wrote like 30 messages in chat and you didn’t respond

and i asked why you didn’t respond and you didn’t respond

right before the stuff about that toxic guy


Oh I did not read all of those messages but I thought I did


why did you think you did?


I think it made sense but Im not sure about how the playing 1 character a lot in a row is more helpful than playing 2 different kinds of characters an equal amount


b/c u get in the mindset of the one character

and remember things and build on it

u can think “i did X wrong. next game i will try to fix that”

if ur swapping all the time u have way more things to think about, so it’s way harder to learn. the other heroes are distractions


It makes sense to me that playing 1 character in a row a lot would better but I don’t know exactly why it makes sense

Ok those follow up messages make me realize why it makes sense


and when u get used to a hero enuf

u can do advanced stuff

u have to get the basics really solid – so u can do them without thinking much – and then u can refine some details and add extra stuff

if u play a hero enuf to get the basics good, it’s easier to go back to them later and still do fine. but when ur first learning the basics it’s hard to switch, it disrupts the process of creating habits

if ur trying to improve with a hero that u already know – add some new things to ur gameplay – then it also helps to play them a bunch in a row

but the amount of games can be shorter

like to first learn a hero to get the foundation, maybe u need 30 hours. but to add one little thing later, maybe you just play them for 12 games in a row (~3 hrs).

it’s easier to learn heroes u can pick every game

rather than the situational ones

i talked about why i like particular heroes and think they’re fun and stuff

do you have any thoughts about that or any ideas about why you like heroes?


A reason I like genji is cuz blade is fun and I have to be very careful about who I dive, how I dive them, and when.


ya genji gets to press lots of buttons and each button is a decision about what to do, and if u make good decisions u have a big effect like winning a teamfight


Cuz like if there’s a more near the person I dive he could roll towards me the. Flash bang be befor I kill someone to get a swift strike reset



he can play forward cuz he has 3 mobility abilities + deflect to get back to team with. and he has one of the two hardest ultimates in the game i think (blade and pulse are hard to use, all the rest are a bit ez)

what about other heros


With rein getting charges are really fun, cuz it’s risky if I go to deep cuz I could like die instantly if they have like mccree reaper

And also I have to predict movement to get charges

And finishing people off with long range fire strikes is super fun

Or predicting where someone will be then fire striking there


how aggressive to be is a skill thing which is rewarding if you get it right. too aggressive = dead, too passive = don’t control objective. but if u go in hard without dying, u can have a big effect. it’s a lot like monkey i think.

it’s also the thing i think is most needed at lower SR – someone to lead the way so ppl aren’t just sitting around passively.

in plat most ppl need someone to follow

and most of the main tanks don’t know what to do and wait for something to happen instead of making it happen

rein and genji seem like ur clearest hero picks that u will keep

what about the other ones?

why aren’t you responding? is this hard?




what’s hard?

just take the next hero and say ur thots?

is ur answer “i don’t know” for all the other heroes?


No, i have some thought but I’m not saying them




Thought like : hanzo is fun to 1 shot and 2 shot people with

But I didn’t say that

I guess I thought it was to low quality? But even if it was its better to start somewhere than no where


there are other heroes which do that, like widow, mccree, and basically doomfist. even ana is 2 shots + nade, or 3shot.

if u prefer hanzo, what’s the difference?




zen has 1shots with orb volley

those are projectiles

pharah and junk have 2shots

and with junk, u do grenade + mine and u can kill someone almost instantly


Junk rats seem to slow


what is slow


His projectiles

The grenades



he has to flank for 1shots

or get dived or something


Maybe I would like pharah more than hanzo tho


i think the big difference with hanzo is headshots

which in the past it seems like u didn’t aim for headshots much


Cuz getting direct hits with pharah rockets seems super fun


also hanzo just got rework/buff and u didn’t start playing him a lot which i thought might mean u don’t care about him much

pharah is a very high mobility hero, like tracer and genji. if u watch pros play pharah, they use it really well. they hover around tall buildings and stuff.

but they only play her on maps with the right terrain to give them cover up in the air.

cuz at higher SR she gets shot down too ez without cover

the two things i don’t like about pharah (besides my own lack of projectile aim) are the situationalness and the need for healer support

u can probably play her on every map in plat and diamond if u have some heals

and u can outplay hitscan heros by using your mobility to sneak up on them from a way they weren’t looking, and then u can beat them


I probably want to stop playing hanzo and do pharah instead

The main thing I’m worried about thonis the situational thing


u can try it. my concern is you will go back and forth like you have with healers and some others.

i think forcing pharah on all maps is less hard than widow

at least if you aren’t GM

i used to force widow everywhere

i think u can predict things less so u have to play more to see. also cuz u figure less out from streams.

compared to me.

but the amount of swapping u’ve done overall is a lot. like u used to play tracer zarya for ur first 100+ hours and u don’t play either now.

the main heroes i dropped are 76 and zen. i think they are the ones i had over 20 hours on and stopped playing.

and zen is partly just cuz ana came out and i like her more.

i’d prob play him if ana didn’t exist

for tank i can’t tell if u actually wanna play orisa or not

i tried her and she’s relatively ez+good but i decided i don’t like her spam gameplay

i think u actually like monkey?


I prefer rein but I think monkey is necessary some times


for healers u’ve done lucio zen mercy and now brig is out too (i thot u would like her, and i think u did too but u haven’t played her much yet). u also played roadhog a while. and some bastion, torb, a few dva games, various things at different times.

yeah i think rein just doesn’t work well at all times

but if u don’t want to play monkey or orisa u can potentially just pick a different hero on those maps

u don’t HAVE to play them

there are maps where swapping in the middle is good. ppl have done that on hollywood. rein on 1st, monkey on 2nd for the big buildings. but u can just try to make rein work now and then, take elevator up, walk up stairs for gibralter 2nd, etc. also new sym will be able to teleport u up!

also i like monkey ok so we could hero + role swap sometimes maybe

he’s my preference of the main tanks and i want to have a main tank i can play

cuz games can be boring when u have no main tank and ppl just feed


Yeah that sounds like it would work


and going main tank can save the game

so do u actually not want to play monkey or orisa?


I would really like to just be able to rein all the time for main tank


if u can’t, do u want to play monkey or orisa some or just not main tank?

like i think u shouldn’t play rein on well or sanctum, but u could switch in spawn


Probably just not main tank.


or the oasis one with the thing in the middle

and the jump pad

rein is god awful there

where ppl run in circles around point

and sombra or whatever stands on the highground in the middle of the point or the highground by jumppad and shoots u

or hacks u

ok so then

off tanks

do u prefer

road zarya dva brig?

or none

also do u appreciate this? i hope it’s helping u organize how u practice and getting u onto the heroes u want + good at them more.

rather than e.g. u feeling pressured to play or not play stuff.


Yes I do very much


or finding decisions hard/stressful

ok good

i have been working on it a lot myself b/c i have 7 heroes currently which is kinda a lot

and i was trying others in the past and also recently to compare

and try to get it right

i kept playing 76 cuz he was useful and stuff but finally decided to stop

and i especially kept trying all the tanks to find one i liked


I prefer zarya the most as off tank but I feel like the maps I could play zarya are also the ones I could rein


and recently decided monkey is ok (originally i thought he was boring cuz u just run at ppl without aiming)

yes that’s true that zarya is bad on the maps where rein is bad

at high level, currently zarya is only used if u have rein

not used with orisa or monkey

in the past there was monkey+zarya, but now they just do dva instead


I don’t think I like dva


this is partly a meta thing, and u should try not to chase the meta

zarya is gaining in meta and dva losing cuz brig

2 rly good comps now are

rein zarya brig zen hanzo + healer (mercy, ana or lucio)

orisa brig zen mercy junk widow

b4 brig patch dva was played so much, always with monkey (so most of the time) + reasonably often with other tanks too

but u gotta try to pick by the hero design, not current meta

so u aren’t changing everytime there is a patch

do u like road or brig more?

did u try brig enuf to see?

zarya hog and brig are also similar maps to rein. which is actually most maps if the meta favors them. if they are strong, then they can be OK on most maps, just not some with the most highground and environmental kill stuff.


I don’t like brig that much but I have tried her that much either


u should try her more b/c she’s sorta similar to rein


I would like just rather play rein than brig


with shield + melee weapon


She’s not as big and clunky as rein


u can play brig when u have a different main tank


And she doesn’t have charge


u don’t wanna rein+monkey or rein+orisa generally

also u can play her when u need 2nd healer

so those are upsides

ok what about healers

mercy zen lucio? any ideas?

i guess not ana or moira?

in the past whatever ur healer was, u never played them that much and never played them enuf to get good at them.

too on and off


I’m slightly interested in Ana but it’s about as much as I am with lucio and zen


and healer is ur least played type

ana is the hardest healer by a lot cuz of the aim stuff


So it would be better to not have that hero conflict I think


how did u like mercy yesterday


I liked playing her but idk if I will continue to like playing her


FYI what’s fun about moira is she has the mobility to play forward and then get back. i’m not a big fan of her. she’s reasonably ez. lucio and brig can also play up. ana zen play back, and mercy flies around.


I like the guardian angel, and trying to get tears while not firing


ana and zen need help if they get dived. no mobility. the other healers have more chance to take care fo themselves



Trying to get rez while not dieing*


ana and zen can fight some flankers tho. not monkey or dva very well tho

ok so let’s summarize

rein: yes. genji: yes.

pharah: try her and compare to hanzo (play him a little if u need to compare) and see how u like her.

zarya: try playing her a bit when rein isn’t a good option (someone already took a main tank)

mercy/zen/lucio/ana/brig: try them all and figure out at least one u like play (being unable to pick healer sux and throws games)

moira hog dva monkey orisa: no

other dps: is there anyone u would really love if you were great at? or just no to the others?


I might be fine with prods if we are doing like a full on spam/shield war comp






what an autocorrect lol

ok add orisa with zarya, to play sometimes when rein is a bad option.


I’m gonna blame my self for those auto corrects and not the software


but no monkey, right?


No monkey


also “fine with” doesn’t sound good. u should actually like heroes


I like seeing the enemies all die slowly from a sustained spam


spam wars are a bit boring for most heroes IMO. but some of the heroes are more fun for it, like roadhog has high shield damage + chance to hook something. dva has high shield dmg + matrix + chance to fly on someone once some ppl die.

orisa the most fun part i think is halt




u can halt ppl so ur widow can shoot them or hog hook them or something

i am going to try the sym rework

she may be good in spam wars + i like her utility

ok anyway u should prioritize playing the heroes u need to figure out

and play the decided ones only if u need to fill with them

and then when u decide some, e.g. a healer, u should play them a bunch to get basics (fill with ur good heroes when ur team rly needs it)


I’m gonna do 1 more genji game to see if I can get into diamond on internet

I’m 21 Sr away




T Mains: rein, genji
T Flex: zarya, orisa

Choose 2nd dps: Pharah?
Choose 1-2 supports

now let’s analyze this to see how well u cover situations


This seems really fun I want to get good enough at life so I can do this kinda stuff on my own in an organized manner


spam war: rein zarya genji pharah are all kinda bad. so u would have orisa or a support (only some supports are good at this. zen has best spam, mercy has dmg boost on ur best spammer. ana can shoot. brig lucio moira can’t do much)


i’m glad

i have been telling ppl u can learn life stuff from video games

if u try to get rly good u need to organize and think and stuff

and also learn from criticism

we did that b4 when we analyzed our deaths and stuff after each game

and that helped us climb


I realized recently that I was getting tilted from losing cuz I was focusing on my wins and losses more than my personal skill

So now I’m just focusing on my skill and how well I’m doing mid game and I got a lot happpier


situation: your team wants to dive: genji and pharah great, but what if u can’t dps? zarya is playable but not rly a dive tank like dva monkey. also u maybe ur support could work with dive

yeah u need to play to learn


Mid game will text more later


situation: enemy team diving u: rein is pretty good here. zarya orisa genji pharah are all ok.

situation: sniper killing ur team. genji is great option, only problem is if u can’t swap to dps.

there’s rly not much u can do about sniper if ur support and can’t swap off. for tank that can’t swap roles, monkey and dva help. otherwise the best u can do is try to help ur team with rein or orisa shield, which can work.

situation: enemy team has pharah

(and the pharah is doing well, probably has mercy pocket)

rein, genji, orisa, pharah, zarya are all bad here. they do not solve the problem. the dps at least can try to fuck the enemy team as hard as the pharah fucks ur team and it’s hard for the pharah to kill u ( u have mobility, she will probably shoot someone else like ur supports)

the supports that help vs pharah most are zen (discord her helps ur dps handle it, assuming they go hitscan and try) and ANA (helps a ton if u can aim, plus u can sleep her barrage)

the other 4 can’t do anything

the list of heroes that are best at fighting pharah: ana, sombra, mccree, 76, widow. some others help some: zen discord, hog hook, dva fly+shoot can actually do good dmg to pharah, if she doesn’t have mercy pocket or someone else is shooting pharah then it does a lot (and matrix pharah’s stuff). tracer can do pretty well vs pharah if u catch her low enuf. hanzo with new rapid arrow has a decent chance against pharah i think.

also u can just stick up orisa shield, pharah isn’t very good in orisa spam wars, has to flank or just be a lower dmg junkrat.

oh i forgot BASTION, also a pharah killer.

pharah is interesting cuz half the heroes are pretty useless against her.


I have had some success against pharah as genji


u can do SOME but it’s not very good

it works better if they are bad.

there’s other notable counters in the game. like it can be hard to play flanker like tracer, genji vs. a torb who puts turret in back. u have pharah to spam down torb turrets from out of their range tho.


If you like wall climb, swift strike to the pharah, double jump, you get like 1.5 seconds to do damage to her


or like what if ur team is feeding to bastion, what do u do?

genji can spam shuriken from good angles if there is no shield and has deflect. pharah is pretty bad tho if u get long enuf range + no shield u can spam the bastion, but realistically if ur team is feeding both of these usually won’t work great

zarya maybe if u get charged up u can do something

rein u can play a corner and then go in hard. orisa buys ur team some time but if they aren’t on spam heroes it can be useless.


With genji I could try to get blade then attack the bastion, depending on how good the bastion is they will expect me to deflect so they won’t be shooting me very heavily



that is like a plan to salvage the situation if ur already genji

just like fighting pharah with genji

u can try. don’t give up.

but it’s not a very good play if u could pick any hero


I really like fighting pharah with genji and hanzo


i see how doing that aim is fun

ur at disadvantage tho

(unless new rapid arrow is super OP)

what about supports vs. bastion? mercy boost helps if someone else is actually being effective (common theme with mercy that someone else has to do good to make her good)

sleep is great if his shield breaks

lucio can help ur team rush him


Woah we could do like a lucio speed boost to rein charge on the bastion

Cuz speed boost increases charge speed


zen can spam his shield i guess. moira brig pretty useless.

the bastion is usually on the cart so u can’t charge him

anyway rein isn’t so bad vs bastion if u can just get ur team to hide around corner and then take a close range fight

and orisa good if ur team has proper spam heroes


If you can angle a price of high ground (like first point Route 66) then you can



another thing to look at with ur heroes is synergy

like skill overlap

like brig/rein have a lot

for me, monkey/dva, tracer/sombra and widow/ana have significant overlap on how to play them

genji and pharah are commonly heroes someone is good at both. some aim similarity (hanzo and junkrat go with them some too for that reason, some of those ppl also like zen for the projectile shots)

and they also have some similiarity with mobility (both vertical and horizontal)

and in wanting to flank and kill supports

and having some long range poke that is OK and lets u play with team, but not amazin

and they have ability to shoot from various good angles, not just straight on like a 76

so there’s solid similiarities there

rein zarya have a bit of similarity with positioning (both lack much mobility, especially vertically) and understanding how aggressive u can be without dying.

they have very different aim tho

which is also different than genji and pharah.

rein aim is pretty ez, not a big concern. zarya requires good tracking tho + her balls are a projectile but a slow arcing one so it’s quite different

u will note the only projectile on my heroes is ana non-scoped.

i have lots of hitscan overlap

orisa is projectile aim so that’s a positive for you. however she plays pretty differnetly than the others.

if u play mercy, u get to play and see both sides of the pharah/mercy combo. that’s an upside. u will be extra familiar with it and understand it more, like as pharah u will know what actions will get ur mercy killed or when to expect her to go help others. as mercy u will know when ur pharah really needs u to stay or not.

lucio zen have projectile aim. moira aim is similar to zarya. ana is mixed + harder aim.

brig is just big rein overlap

overlap gives u less stuff u have to learn. if my heroes were all super differently i would definitely have to pick fewer.

u r looking at 6-7 heroes (given 1-2 supports)

also my policy is i don’t play other heroes like at all, period. this helps me play a bigger number cuz i don’t use the others. i will never swap orisa/zen/moira/76 to try to win the game.

i currently won’t even swap lucio on a point stall. if i have to get off ana i can sombra/tracer/dva/monkey, good enuf.

i will only ever play other heroes on purpose, e.g. i tried hanzo after rework.

for like 4 games in a row

to understand him more and see if i liked him

it was good to help me see his strengths and weaknesses a bit more

i noticed it’s easy for him to shoot a specific location, like if someone is peeking a specific corner

and ez to shoot ppl who aren’t moving

even at longer ranges

but if someone is moving around and u can’t predict where they will be in 1 second, it’s rly hard to shoot them at long ranges

so being in open can be safer than predictably by corner


Would it be fine to swap between hanzo and pharah allot to see the differences better?


(plus they will sonic the corner)

yes try them both now to compare

as temporary learning thing

do like 5 in a row of pharah first

to get back into her

another way to look at heroes is how hard they are in what ways

i have a lot of heroes with hard mechanics

tracer and widow are SUPER hard. sombra and ana are hard, like genji. dva, winston, brig are easy, require way less aim and reaction time, like rein, orisa. however there’s also strategy, which i’m good at personally so it’s easier for me to put a low mechanics hero on list, i want to have some of them for when i’m tired or rusty or whatever.

for supports, if u play ana or zen they are a really BACKLINE hero, very different than ur used to on other heroes. they will have less strategy overlap, take more learning.

brig, lucio, moira can play up more instead of u needing to learn long range positioning. and mercy is her own thing with flying around to teammates (kinda her own skill that u have to learn separately)

also some supports are more voice chat heavy to be effective. zen, ana u can do good by shooting stuff. lucio u really need to talk and get ppl to work with u, him the most.

cuz of speed aura + grouping for heal aura and ult

lucio requires a lot of paying attention to ur team and figuring out who to help. this is something u don’t know a lot about from non-supports. big separate thing to learn

u get it a little with saving ppl with dva matrix or zarya bubble

also a bit with just everyone, like a tracer tip is look for what teammate needs help and go blink over there.

and u can do that somewhat with everyone, esp ppl with mobility

genji can do it. find ur teammate in a 1v1 and go make it a 2v1. or rush in front of them and deflect. it’s not that common tho

mercy also has a lot of watching team, knowing what they are doing, who needs help. moira does it too but for her it’s a bit more obvious what to do. she can reposition less than mercy and she wants to heal tanks, that’s kinda her thing

zen has a lot less watching allies. harmony orb is limited attention. he plays the most like a dps of the supports.

ana has limited mobility to choose who to help outside her sightlines. has to understand who will make a big play to nano, and who to heal first.

and when to go in close and follow someone around instead of staying back

another thing with supports is tracking enemy ults and trying to see their dps ults coming and prevent wipes or warn team

and watching for flanks

supports generally have the most chance to do these things

dps too busy and tanks are in front and able to see overall view of fight less

as u’ve noticed from my ana callouts when ur holding up rein shield and i’m telling u what’s going on and what to do

so with supports it depends on what skills u want to learn and how much effort u want to put there. since u seem to like support the least, maybe u should try brig+mercy for now. reasons:

don’t have to learn backline positioning like ana/zan/76/etc

don’t have to try to organize team like lucio

u seem to like mercy more than moira.

brig and mercy will be relatively easy to learn

mercy doesn’t overlap a ton but she’s considered pretty ez

brig u can just have as a backup hero who doesn’t take much work due to rein overlap

and u already like that style (just not as much as actually being rein, which u can’t always be)

but try them all some. understanding backline ranged hero positioning is a good thing to know if u want to. significant part of the game.

i think mercy will be less frustrating than lucio with teams not listening or being bad.

lucio really needs teamwork to get good value from speed aura since nerfing its range

but u should just pick the ones u’d be happy with if u were good at them

and then make it work. u can learn any hero.

even if ur bad at one early on, it’s better to start getting practice on them rather than playing a hero u care about less. (this assumes u will keep playing OW longterm, which i think it’s a promising game for)

can i post this chatlog to FI?

from today

i’ve looked at the heroes i’d most like to be good at thing. i might like mccree and hanzo, but i like widow more, so i’d rather be a god at her.

i might like being a great zen, but i like ana more, so i don’t need him.

the ones i’d like most that i don’t play are genji and maybe pharah.

plus i’m interested in sym rework. we don’t know anything about torb rework yet but i predict i won’t be that interested.

i don’t like building a turret which is way better against bad players than good players.

with sym, i rly like the new teleporter as regular ability for moving around within a fight, rather than longterm building. the giant shield ult and 3 stronger turrets sound ok. and her guns sound good for a dps that’s less mechanics and can do well in spam wars.

i see significant outplay potential there.

looking at ur heroes for outplay potential: genji, and pharah have lots. rein has great outplay potential as long as u actually get heals and ur team follows u some (pretty low bar on this, they don’t have to do this great, they just have to do at some) so u can do stuff.

orisa i consider pretty low outplay potential, u just do ur gameplay (shield+shoot) and the results are pretty consistent instead of being able to make high skill decisions to win.

she does have some outplay with halt


45 direct hits in 5 min

Full held first point Hollywood then took it in 1 push


idk how good that is but i remember u had pretty good pharah when u didn’t play her much, u seemed to already know how to aim her

i tried pharah a little and my aim sucked

i don’t have prior FPS experience and only learned to aim with widow and then tracer

zarya outplay is on lower end. u just play good and stay alive and plz dear god use grav quickly. i had game the other day, zarya held grav for 3min. i asked him to use it after he held it for 2 fights and he said he was holding it cuz enemy zen had trance. so he was just gonna never use it T_T

he only used it cuz after hearing that i killed zen :D

he didn’t seem to be trying to kill zen himself and no one else was either

@pharah note u should pick the heroes u wanna be good with longterm, not the ones that come more naturally. but if ur more of a natural with someone and u like them, great!

@support outplays: brig is limited, u just stay alive and do ur stuff like zarya. play good and it’s rewarded but u don’t get BIG plays besides boops or stun a tracer/sombra/blading-genji etc

ana has them. sleep. 2shot+nade. big offensive nades. big defensive nades + mass burst healing. 1v1 a flanker. shoot down pharah.

mercy doesn’t have much. u can 1v1 ppl with battle mercy for an outplay, esp in valk on enemy sniper. she’s more stay alive and play consistently with good strategy and it helps ur team a lot overall.

u can dodge flankers who are putting effort into killing u

so they waste their time

u can get off a big rez

lucio has outplays esp with speed aura and boop

moira has very little

u can catch and 1v1 ppl with moira

but mostly that’s from them being bad

u do fixed 50 dps with ez aim

i’m not a moira fan

lucio has has outplays iwth sound barrier at key moment to save ur team from a barrage or something

zen outplays are orb volley kills, beating a flanker who comes at u, and building trances fast enuf to have it rdy for blade/barrage/grav/etc

for comparisons, in general the dps heroes have lots of outplay potential to go get lots of kills, and also hog has it with hook. other heroes tend to have more limited amounts, e.g. monkey and dva can solo jump and kill someone sometimes but have less ability to make things like that happen.

another way i analyze heroes is how much fun they are, or how helpless, if team is being dumb

brig is bad here, the rest of my heroes are specifically chosen to be good at that.

the tanks aren’t ideal there but at least have mobility, more options with low team support

compared to rein orisa zarya

and i also look at just plain “is it dps?” cuz teams really want non-dps more

so like if reaper is a little more fun than brig, brig wins cuz if i get a dps slot i can play tracer, and i need some non-dps

i don’t just wanna force dps and throw games all the time, tho i will sometimes and having a smurf is good there

actually i’d like to blog this rather than just FI post. is that ok? i can remove ur name or only put Internet Rules


Yeah just having my name as internetrules is fine

I’m fine with you posting it


another idea i had about my heroes is if i practice tracer and widow, then i can play the rest pretty easily

something interesting is we might not play any of the same heroes

another thing about supports is it’s good to be able to play a MAIN support, cuz teams need one of those. 2 supports with low healing is a problem, also u can solo heal with a main support if u have to. main support means the ones who can put out strong heals on a single target, like they are capable of pocketing a tank: mercy, moira, ana

similar to how i wanted a MAIN tank on my roster

not just dva

with double off support, u see tanks feed way too much, don’t know what to do or how to deal with the low heals.

it can be worse than solo strong healer. (the thing with solo healer is enemy team can focus them and if they die u have NO heals)

but if solo main healer stays alive it sometimes works better than double off healer

if i had to cut down my roster i’d probably go: tracer, widow, monkey, ana (so i have main tank and main heal).

sombra i just don’t wanna cut. brig and dva are currently pretty easy for me without needing to practice them, and are very useful sometimes

sombra is fun

and shares aim with tracer anyway

and recalling b4 u die

so i feel ok keeping both

i’m trying to figure out if i would drop brig if she was nerfed tho.

not sure if i should play her

she’s still in maybe mode

i kinda like having a strong short range person with low mobility. winston and dva have to be balanced for the fact they have jumps.

it’s interesting to me to play different styles.

my other issue is i’m trying to figure out how to make my widow aim easier for me and more consistent

with tracer, i can now aim OK without it feeling hard

and when i took a break i kept a lot of my tracer aim

but my widow is more of a problem

a lot of it is headshots. i actually need to aim for the head more with tracer.

headshots are hard

another thing about hero choices is to have someone good and fun for FFA

and 3v3 and stuff

i got tracer, and on some maps widow

u got genji. i not sure about pharah.

mccree is pretty popular in deathmatch and u don’t get heals

other major DM heroes are doom, junk, hanzo, hog. sometimes moira, brig

if it’s not a sniper map, then pharah is pretty good vs non-mccree so she might work pretty well.

she’s great in 3v3 and 6v6 and stuff cuz u get a healer + they might not pick hitscan that round

is a bit unfair how pharah can matchup vs some heroes there, lol

they go rein reaper lucio, u go pharah, lol rekt

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)

Goals & Purpose

whatever you do, have goals and be purposeful. have criteria of success and failure. and write them down. put them into words, don't just think them vaguely in your head and assume you know what you mean.

if you play video games, have goals. you can try to get highly skilled. other goals are possible too. you could collect all the things, or complete all the achievements, to see what that's like and then evaluate if you think it's a good goal to use in the future.

if you watch TV, don’t watch random TV shows. don’t just watch whatever's on. be selective. how do you select which things to watch? according to some purpose.

if you read non-fiction books, you should often read in a targeted way: skim them, use the index, read a particular chapter in search to knowledge about a specific issue you’re currently dealing with.

if you have a romantic relationship, have some idea of what you want from it. and make it your own idea, that you think about, not just a cultural default. even if you agree with 80% of the cultural default, still customize it and make your own version of what you want. think about it. at least decide which parts of the cultural default you want to emphasize, and which you want less of. decide something. have some purpose to it.

purpose makes success possible and purpose also makes failure possible. it’s a risk but it’s so necessary to a worthwhile life.

How far ahead of a soft [poker] table does "I have read one book and have done whole hours of directed practice" put you ahead? A staggering, staggering amount, even if the average participant theoretically has years of practice and is not, strictly speaking, unintelligent.

reading one book and practicing for a few hours is purposeful, goal-directed behavior where you’re aiming at success. this can beat years of non-purposeful activity. the quote is about poker tables, but this applies to tons of other stuff too. people manage to spend hundreds of hours playing poker, over a few decades, and never get good. other people read a book and practice with a goal of getting better (not great or top level, just to gain some skill) and outcompete the non-purposeful people.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comment (1)

Philosophy Side Quests

People get stuck for years on the philosophy main quest while refusing to do side quests. That is not how you play RPGs. Side quests let you get extra levels, gear and practice which make the main quest easier to make progress on.

An example of a side quest would be speedrunning a Mario or Zelda game. That would involve some goal-directed activity and problem solving. It’d be practice for becoming skilled at something, optimizing details, and correcting mistakes one is making.

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Accepting vs. Preferring Theories – Reply to David Deutsch

David Deutsch has some misconceptions about epistemology. I explained the issue on Twitter.

I've reproduced the important part below. Quotes are DD, regular text is me.

There's no such thing as 'acceptance' of a theory into the realm of science. Theories are conjectures and remain so. (Popper, Miller.)

We don't accept theories "into the realm of science", we tentatively accept them as fallible, conjectural, non-refuted solutions to problems (in contexts).

But there's no such thing as rejection either. Critical preference (Popper) refers to the state of a debate—often complex, inconsistent, and transient.

Some of them [theories] are preferred (for some purposes) because they seem to have survived criticism that their rivals haven't. That's not the same as having been accepted—even tentatively. I use quantum theory to understand the world, yet am sure it's false.

Tentatively accepting an idea (for a problem context) doesn't mean accepting it as true, so "sure it's false" doesn't contradict acceptance. Acceptance means deciding/evaluating it's non-refuted, rivals are refuted, and you will now act/believe/etc (pending reason to reconsider).

Acceptance deals with the decision point where you move past evaluating the theory, you reach a conclusion (for now, tentatively). you don't consider things forever, sometimes you make judgements and move on to thinking about other things. ofc it's fluid and we often revisit.

Acceptance is clearer word than preference for up-or-down, yes-or-no decisions. Preference often means believing X is better than Y, rather than judging X to have zero flaws (that you know of) & judging Y to be decisively flawed, no good at all (variant of Y could ofc still work)

Acceptance makes sense as a contrast against (tentative) rejection. Preference makes more sense if u think u have a bunch of ideas which u evaluate as having different degrees of goodness, & u prefer the one that currently has the highest score/support/justification/authority.

Update: DD responded, sorta:

You are blocked from following @DavidDeutschOxf and viewing @DavidDeutschOxf's Tweets.

Update: April 2019:

DD twitter blocked Alan, maybe for this blog post critical of LT:

DD twitter blocked Justin, maybe for this tweet critical of LT:

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (7)

School Mistreated Edward Thorp

A Man for All Markets: From Las Vegas to Wall Street, How I Beat the Dealer and the Market, by Edward Thorp, begins with some horror stories about school (bolds added):

Just after I turned five I started kindergarten at Dever Grammar School in northwest Chicago. I was immediately puzzled by why everything we were asked to do was so easy. One day our teacher gave us all blank paper and told us to draw a copy of an outline of a horse from a picture she had given us. I put little dots on the picture and used a ruler to measure the distance from one to the next. Then I reproduced the dots on my piece of paper, using the ruler to make the distance between them the same as they were on the picture and with my eye estimating the proper angles. Next, I connected up the new dots smoothly, matching the curves as well as I could. The result was a close copy of the original sketch.

My father had shown me this method and also how to use it to draw magnified or reduced versions of a figure. For example, to draw at double scale, just double the distance between the dots on the original drawing, keeping angles the same when placing the new dots. To triple the scale, triple the distance between dots, and so on. I called the other kids over, showed them what I had done and how to do it, and they set to work. We all handed in copies using my method instead of the freehand sketches the teacher expected, and she wasn’t happy.

A few days later the teacher had to leave the room for a few minutes. We were told to entertain ourselves with some giant (to us) one-foot-sized hollow wooden blocks. I thought it would be fun to build a great wall so I organized the other kids and we quickly assembled a large terraced mass of blocks. Unfortunately my project totally blocked the rear door—and that was the one the teacher chose when she attempted to reenter the classroom.

The last straw came a few days later. I sat on one of the school’s tiny chairs meant for five-year-olds and discovered that one of the two vertical back struts was broken. A sharp splintered shard stuck up from the seat where it had separated from the rest of the strut, so the whole back was now fragilely supported only by the one remaining upright. The hazard was obvious, and something needed to be done. I found a small saw and quietly cut off both struts flush with the chair’s seat, neatly converting it into a perfect little stool. At this, the teacher sent me to the principal’s office and my parents were called in for a serious conference.

Then, during high school, he was cheated:

With ten weeks to go before the American Chemical Society exam, as I practiced taking old tests, I was scoring 990 or more out of 1,000. I told Mr. Stump I was ready to try the ten he had held back. I got over 99 percent on the first two of these as well, so we went directly to the exam from the previous year, on which I did equally well. I was ready.

On the day of the exam my father drove me twenty miles to the El Camino Junior College, where I followed the crowd among the one-story barracks-like buildings to the test room. We had been told that slide rules would be allowed for the first time this year but that they weren’t necessary. As an afterthought I brought along a ten-cent toy slide rule—all I felt I could afford—thinking I could always do a quick rough check of my calculations if I had any extra time.

As I worked through the test I knew every answer. But then the last section of the test was distributed. This part of the exam required many more calculations than I could do by hand in the time allowed. My cheap tiny slide rule was worthless. Out came the full-sized well-machined slide rules all around me. Surprise! Slide rules were not merely optional—they were necessary for anyone who wanted to win. There was no credit given for showing the correct method, only credit for a numerical answer, to a specified level of “slide rule accuracy.” I was sickened by the realization I would likely not place high enough to get the scholarship I needed and unhappy with myself for not preparing by purchasing a hard-to-afford top-of-the-line slide rule. It seemed so unfair to convert a test about chemistry into one about slide rule arithmetic.

Then in college, at U.C. Berkeley, he was cheated again:

The [chemistry] course was taught by a famous professor, and we were using his book. As he was then preparing a revision, he offered 10 cents per misprint to the first student to report it. I set to work and soon brought him a list of ten errors to see if he would pay. He gave me my dollar. Encouraged, I came back with a list of seventy-five more mistakes. That netted me $7.50 but he wasn’t happy. When I returned a few days later with several hundred he explained that they needed to be errors, not mere misprints. Despite my objections, he disqualified nearly all of them. This unilateral retroactive change in the deal, which I would later encounter often on Wall Street, done by someone for their benefit just because they could get away with it, violated my sense of fair play. I quit reporting additional corrections.

And again, in the same class:

As the semester wound to a close, I had missed only a single point out of the hundreds given out for the written exams and the lab work, ranking me number one. After my unfortunate experience with the chemistry exam in high school, this was vindication. Part of our grade came when we were asked each week to chemically analyze a sample that was not known to us. After hearing that some students might sabotage others by secretly changing these unknowns, I made a practice of holding back part of mine so that, if this were done to me, I could prove that I had correctly analyzed whatever I had. On the very last sample given us to evaluate that semester, I was told I got it wrong. I knew better, and to prove it I asked that the part I had saved be tested. The decision on my appeal was left to the teaching assistant for my lab sections, who refused to act. The points I lost caused me to end the term in fourth place rather than first. Outraged, I did not enroll in chemistry the second semester and changed my major to physics. Thus I missed organic chemistry, the study of carbon compounds, and the basis for all living things. It is fundamental for biology.

My own experience in school was similar. For example, in college, I got a math problem correct on a test. The professor marked it wrong because he wasn't very clever and didn't understand the steps of my solution, and he apparently ignored my final answer which was correct. I met with the professor and taught him how to do the problem my way. He agreed that my method worked and my answer was correct. He then refused to award me any points for that problem, claiming he had a policy against changing grades retroactively (regardless of his own errors, apparently). He told me that losing points didn't matter because, if I scored high enough on the rest of the course, I could still get an A. (Of course it mattered: losing the points increased how well I'd have to do on future work to still get an A, and put me at greater risk of a lower grade.)

I also wrote more comments on the book.

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Sample Paths Forward Dialog

I read Made in Japan: Akio Morita and Sony by a Sony founder, Akio Morita. I liked it. But near the end were some comments about currency exchange rates which were incompatible with the capitalist, limited-government, free-trade viewpoint. (He's not a Marxist or anything. He's a mixed "moderate".)

Morita died in 1999, but let's suppose I could speak with him. The dialog below is what I would expect the conversation to be like. (Except I'd expect him to be less clear, direct, honest and patient.)

The point of this dialog is to summarize what Paths Forward is about. The same kinds of questions and comments can be used with most people about many topics. (You just replace "Mises" with a relevant, great thinker with published work who the person is contradicting.) This kind of issue comes up all the time.

curi: I saw some negative views on free trade in your book. Have you read Ludwig von Mises, the economist who explains why you're mistaken?

Akio: No.

curi: Will you read Mises now, and study him carefully, and learn all about the issue?

Akio: No. That sounds potentially interesting but I'm very busy.

curi: Will you refrain from making any comments about economics until after you find time to learn about it?

Akio: No. I don't know everything but I know a lot, and many people consider me a wise expert worth listening to.

curi: Can you refute Mises?

Akio: No. I haven't read him.

curi: Are you adequately familiar with the free trader school of thought, from other sources, to refute it? If you are, that should apply to Mises too.

Akio: No, I can't do that.

curi: Do you know of anyone else, in the whole world, who has refuted Mises, and written down the reasons Mises is wrong, who you can reference, endorse, and take responsibility for?

Akio: No.

curi: Then how did you determine that Mises is wrong, or should be ignored?

Akio: I didn't.

curi: Then why are you making public recommendations about economic matters contrary to Mises' published explanations of economics, if you don't know of the existence of any correct arguments that Mises is mistaken?

Akio: What I'm saying sounds right to me, based on what I do know.

curi: It's been refuted in books you've chosen not to read, and have no answer to. Will you change your mind or behavior now that you know this?

Akio: No I won't change. I already knew that there existed books advocating free trade economics, which I couldn't specifically refute or reference refutations of. I spoke anyways, ignoring that knowledge, and ignoring criticism and disagreement from people like you, because I don't care about rational truth-seeking.

If you make statements like these, some people will try to turn the discussion around and ask about your Paths Forward. They will ask you similar questions. Have you read Marx, Krugman, Pikkety, Keynes, or some other anti-capitalist? If not, do you know of any answers to them that you will use to speak for you? But the answer is yes, at least for me! Yes, for the topics I speak about, I do have answers to opposing thinkers, either personally or by reference.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (3)

Twitter Discussion About Anti-Depressants, the Mind, and More

This conversation, from Feb 11, 2018, relates to my video:

Scholarly Criticism: Jordan Peterson’s Sloppy Cite (+quotes, research)

The conversation was with the admin of Real Peer Review, which posts criticism bad scholarship in academia. They posted my video and we got into a discussion about a point of disagreement. It was a friendly debate and they thanked me for the discussion at the end.

Unfortunately, the admin account was banned the next morning (fuck Twitter) before I could save the conversation, which deleted all their posts. So here's just my side of the conversation. I think it's interesting enough to post even though there are parts missing. Most of it should still make sense.

Yes! I wrote JP a letter related to that! I particularly dislike JP's repeated comment, in multiple venues, that you can tell if anti-depressants work for you by taking them for a month. (That's anecdote, not science.)

If either of you can point me to a correct rebuttal of Szasz (who wrote The Myth of Mental Illness), let me know...

People have mind-related problems, but they are not illnesses, they are different things. It's a category error – which psychiatry has used to try to justify the use of force outside of the criminal justice system.

There are, of course, genuine illnesses of the mind, like Alzheimer's. Those are not called "mental illnesses", just illnesses. It's only called a "mental illness" when it's not a medical issue.

I agree they are medicalizing morality and this confuses the issues. What was Szasz wrong about, though? You said some of his points are valid and seem to suggest some are mistaken.

I think he was right about everything, all his books are wonderful, and no one has refuted what he said. Non-specific accusations of excesses, written down by no one, are not a serious way to figure out the truth of the matter – which I care deeply about.

"Mental illnesses" are "diagnosed" by looking at and judging behavior (including communication), not medically. Life problems, including (mis)behavior and genuinely self-destructive deviance, are not biology or medicine. Do you have a counter-example which refutes a Szasz quote?

It's hard to comment on everything claimed by any psychiatrist. For now, let's stick to: depression, schizophrenia, autism, anxiety. Hopefully we're on same page about major topics here. So what's the logical argument that depression or anxiety must be biological and/or genetic?

Szasz and I deny your premise and empirical claim. You could give a cite, but I'll reply that 1) correlation is not causation 2) you don't have a medical test to identify schizophrenia 3) you can't identify schizophrenics at autopsy ... 1/2

4) you can't even correlate ventricles to schizophrenia without a way to determine who has schizophrenia (but psychiatrists disagree about that b/c the diagnostic criteria are vague – schizophrenia is under-defined).

If you'd like to discuss the matter in detail, to a conclusion, on a real forum, I'll be happy to. You just changed the topic from your claim about current evidence to about potential future evidence. 1/2

I would rethink things if unexpected facts came up. I don't expect certain facts in future. Like we don't expect to discover that gravity stops in the year 2022, but we'll both update our thinking if that happens. What'd change my expectations is addressing the reasoning for them

Szasz and I have evaluated that evidence differently than you have. We have a different framework, a different way of thinking. That's the thing which is really at issue.

suppose i'm right that schizophrenia is (mis)behavior, deviance, unwanted behavior, etc. in that scenario, would you expect it to have any correlation with some other things, including medical problems? (answer: yes!)

For those who want to read more, @DM_Berger and I have continued the conversation at

can't fit my reply on twitter:

a few hardware bugs doesn't change the fact that many apps can be run on millions of different pieces of hardware, successfully. there is massive scope for hardware details (aka biology) to not matter to results.

if an adversary was programming something to take advantage of human brain hardware bugs, i bet they could come up with something. that doesn't stop most brain software from being best understood by looking at the software level rather than at hardware.

(i am a programmer too)

There are complex, poorly understood brain hardware glitches. But that's not what psychiatry is about. It's about stigmatizing, suppressing and controlling unwanted behavior with the authority of medical-scientific credentials. It's about social and moral issues.

Many medical interventions 4 life problems r unwise. Ppl use icecream 4 breakups, but that doesn't use reason to resolve issues. As long as it's 100% voluntary, whatever. Voluntary SSRIs merely fail 2 solve problem of getting better moral knowledge. Involuntary psychiatry is evil

For example, Rosemary Kennedy's unwanted behavior was living her life in a way that could potentially harm the family reputation. This was unwanted by Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr., who got her lobotomized. Unwanted is a moral value judgement, which can be mistaken in ways bugs aren't.

yes portability can take effort, but it does work well in many cases (e.g. different ios devices with different cpus). it's always possible b/c, key point, computation is a thing in and of itself, with its own properties.

you can write an idea in a book. this demonstrates some independence!

what things of the past? they do e.g. lobotomies and electroshock, today, slightly renamed and slightly modified.

U can't judge things by non-blinded anecdotes w/ sample size 1 & no rigorous methodology for tracking results. There are other interpretations of such experiences besides antidepressants work, e.g. ppl may try harder 2 get life together at same time they take antidepressants

twitter UI sucks. i put 3 links. third one turned into preview. u expected the last link to be the one previewed, but twitter had edited my msg text confusingly. Anyway, ECT is not problem solving. It doesn't use reason. And there's no good explanation 4 what it fixes.

I also believe many uses of ECT which are claimed to involve "full patient consent" do not actually involve full, voluntary consent. No problem if you don't want to get into that though, we can focus on genuine voluntary cases.

No I'm not. I just got one PDF linked. That's it.

Theres many causal mechanisms where antidepressants play role. E.g. makes u itchy, u enjoy scratching itches, cheers u up a bit, starts ball rolling 4 progress. Theres hundreds of stories like this, some plausible. Correlation can't differentiate these stories from standard story

No I'm not a dualist just cuz I said hardware and software are different.

There are good reasons for people to (classical) liberalize their religions. There are all kinds of connections between rational thinking and good life outcomes. People run into pieces of that – their current approach leads to problems – so they try to make some improvements.

Yeah those ideas were dumb and based on bad ideology such as ageism and anti-technology mindsets. If you could point to a falsification of anything I believe, I'd appreciate it.

Nasty, controlling memes don't control all aspects of life or thought, and there are transmission errors anyway. And over time human cultures have created some defense mechanisms, figured out some ways to use reason. That's a major part of what civilized society is.

I'm happy to extend criticisms. I don't like any of the talk therapies either.

Trials are inadequately blinded (if it actually works you can't do blind trials, ppl will notice being happier & an active placebo would be a treatment). & if you don't know causality you can't tell what differences in patient situation or societal environment will change results

Ppl like all kinds of things, including cutting themselves, so why not mind-affecting drugs? Some people do like other mind-affecting drugs! The reason the success rate on antidepressants appears higher is b/c of massive pressure, bias, selective attention, limited alternatives

Negative views of video games and porn aren't mainly coming from self-reports. & self-reports of children in particular – the main victims of screen time limits, TV and video game ratings, etc – are unreliable (often manipulated by others).

Yeah I think there's lots of scope to think outside one's culture, make objective progress, etc. Also plenty of room to be passive and irresponsible and coast, go with the flow, let cultural memes run your life.

We don't have the final, perfect explanations about those things, but we do have (flawed, partial) explanations related to the causal mechanisms. These explanations have some nice features like there's no known decisive, logical refutation for why they can't possibly work.

No, the blinding problems with various internal illnesses are not the same as the blinding problems with antidepressants. When the drug is supposed to cause a mental state, and that's the point, you can't blind properly.

People with certain problems are pressured to take antidepressants and pressured to make it work somehow (or appear to work). Both by friends/family and by "medical" authorities. You have to hide behavior people think signals depression or get pressured to do normal "treatments".

They are claimed to have noticeable effects before research outcomes get surveyed. Blinding is a big problem with pain med research. But not for all drugs.

Looks like what most people believe, and doesn't address what I believe.

Of course it's an issue worth resolving. Where is the contrary claim coming from? I expressed skepticism of a dangerous category of solution about which a lot of big claims are made, based on correlation research with little regard for good explanations of causes.

There are many, many possible interventions. What exactly is the argument that partially-brain-disabling drugs are a good intervention? People were told it would work by authorities and some of them then said it worked. Not good enough! Need to discuss causal mechanisms.

I'm in favor of rational problem solving – figure out actual problems in one's life and use reason to figure out things to do about them. But most people don't really like that – it requires e.g. criticism – so they get to muddle through life with whatever else.

The purpose/function of anti-depressants is to disable some aspect of normal brain functioning. That's why they have words like "inhibitor" in their names. No one has identified the problem at a hardware level, so have no clue how to fix it medically, even if that's possible.

It's crucial 2 figure out why someone is "depressed". What has gone wrong in their life? Typically there's a million problems & poor introspection & reasoning skills. Life is hard but ppl can get better at it. & they can tolerate most problems, as all antidepressant takers do

If someone wants a more spectacular or memorable change, they have many options. Which to use depends on their preferences. Many people want to put the problem in the hands of some experts instead of taking personal responsibility for figuring it out. That often means drugs.

There are many, many different ways of talking – and thinking. Most of them aren't very good. And I certainly don't expect people to magically change their values, preferences or habits the moment they become aware of them. That's not how reason works.

That is a narrative which many people currently find comfort in. But it isn't an approximate, incomplete model of the mind plus explanation of how antidepressants could possibly do what they are claimed to.

I have a (non-final) model and explanations. All the rivals including antidepressants do too! They couldn't have decided to try those drugs instead of random substances without some reasoning. But they mostly leave the explanatory models unstated to make it harder to criticize!

Other lifestyle changes were not tracked with scientific rigor. If you can state the model which is compatible with antidepressants working as claimed, I could point out why it isn't merely incomplete but can't possibly be right.

Look the standard model is "the brain has a bunch of different workstations which are specialized to different tasks. depression is when some fuck up. antidepressants cause some results in the brain which are similar to what the functioning workstations cause".

that is not a very good story about how antidepressants work. there are better ones. but they aren't the main focus. focus is correlation research instead of improving these stories to actually make sense and give a framework to fit research into.

to make progress on these things, one must consider tons of ways to improve that story, & subject them to meticulous criticism, esp 4 decisive flaws (e.g. logical issues). Also question incomplete parts for any story that could possibly fill in the gaps better than "idk, somehow"

one of the problems with the model is the different workstations part, which conflicts with certain epistemology ideas about universality and general intelligence. these can be considered independently and, if accepted, have consequences.

i don't think empirical research is the right way forward on this issue. research always takes place within an intellectual framework. there are framework problems in need of fixing.

whether they are singletons of modular depends on the level of abstraction you're looking at. same with brain. many ppl believe in e.g. language learning center of brain (high level of abstraction module).

"since you like the brain/computer analogy" this is why i stated: "Preemptively, because I always get the same reply about this: I am not talking about brains being metaphorically like computers, and human intelligence being analogous to software. I am speaking 100% literally."

single things or modular. "of" is a typo.

If you want to present a story without modularity, that's fine. Those exist. The story needs to be written and critically considered.

A key epistemology problem is: how can knowledge be created? The only known answer is evolution. Evolution as the method of human intelligence is a single general purpose method. Its form is: guesses and criticism. This has no built in topical limits.

No, most bad ideas are rejected without testing b/c they have internal contradictions, bad explanations, etc. Testing only makes sense when you have a coherent thing which survives other criticism and says testable stuff. Psychiatry isn't there yet.

In order to say they are being helped by drugs, you need to know what you mean – have a story of what the drugs do and how it could possibly help. Otherwise you don't know the meaning of the empirical data – haven't yet comprehended it.

All data sets are logically compatible with infinitely many explanations, including ones that contradict whatever your conclusion is. This epistemological problem has to be dealt with before one can move on to focusing on research.

What else could possibly account for the behavior of squirrels and wasps other than computation? Where are the alternatives? Computation is not a thing that has any rivals, it's a basic part of physics.

The correlation of the molecule and the positive reports is logically compatible with the molecule controlling reporting behavior, or doing so much unrelated harm that people have to develop robust coping mechanisms that often work for original issue too, etc, etc.

The solution to this logical issue is to look for good explanations and create criticisms of large categories of explanations of the data. But without stories about what's going on, there's no way past the basic logical issues.

The people in the field broadly don't know or ignore this, & therefore don't make progress. They aren't doing the required next step – serious explanatory story analysis – b/c of ignorance of epistemology – the field that says how to create knowledge of anything including science

Philosophy, including e.g. scientific method, is mostly not empirically falsifiable. It is criticizable though. Putting forward testing claims or actionable advice is not my goal here. My goal is to analyze the fundamental issues properly.

As a matter of logic, of course lying is possible. It's not the only mechanism but it suffices. You can't get around fundamental epistemological-logical issues without doing philosophy. More controls and reports for experiments can't fix this for you.

Sure that one is extravagant. That has no bearing on whether or not it demonstrates the logical point. I will be happy to discuss more plausible stories after basic logical issues are settled and we have some shared understanding of what kinds of stories we should even be seeking

rejecting it as non-falsifiable is the wrong level of analysis. i said any data set is logically compatible with infinitely many causal explanations, including ones that contradict your conclusion. this is true. that you can criticize some sample explanations is irrelevant.

i was giving examples of explanations which do not contradict the data. the point being the data doesn't do all the work for you. you need things other than data. which means you need to take steps like listing and analyzing them.

i agree. systematic lying is one of the many things best addressed using non-empirical arguments. that is, one needs an epistemology in addition to their science research. and it better be stated and subjected to critical scrutiny.

there's no way around this. & the standard thing scientists do is refuse 2 take personal responsibility for epistemology issues (not their field), & also refuse 2 outsource the matter 2 any specific philosophy experts/papers/claims. so theres no real way to debate it or fix stuff

they already know most philosophy is crap. they don't have the solution. they try to get on with their research anyway. but their research depends on epistemology, whether they state and consider the epistemological assumptions they make or not.

Self-reports can be used when you have an explanation of why they're an adequate proxy for the thing you want to measure. The explanation of what's going on must be written down and critically analyzed (e.g. for bias problems). It's an important source of error, not a side issue.

My proposal seems nebulous to you b/c it'd take millions more words to seriously explain the details of what I mean. And my goal here isn't to propose something.

I've been trying to make some fundamental logical points in epistemology. There ARE solutions in epistemology. I'm not saying there's no solution. I'm saying that those solutions are the right starting point, and they matter and have implications.

If you gloss over epistemology with common sense and pragmatism, you will go wrong. Epistemology matches current common intuitions in some ways and is very counter intuitive in other ways.

There are multiple epistemological approaches to addressing potential lying or magical explanations. Some are wrong, some have consequences or requirements other than simply letting you ignore the issue and move on.

If there was no solution besides a technology we don't have, we would be screwed. You are motivated to try to gloss over and ignore these issues b/c you think they are insoluble. I am not b/c I know Karl Popper (primarily) solved them.

Many issues cannot be settled scientifically. That doesn't make them hopeless. There are rational methods for considering ideas besides the scientific method. The short answer is: demand explanations and criticize them. Magic and arbitrary lying are short on good explanations.

This approach, once accepted, has consequences like using it to analyze everything including "SSRIs work somehow" (which is like "work by magic"). So either the explanation can be improved beyond "somehow" and then considered, or the idea can be rejected along w/ sapient gravity

heavy lying claims, outside of some exceptions (e.g. known biases), tend to contradict our explanatory mental model of what society is like and what people are like. it contradicts our overall understanding of the world. this sort of conflict with other knowledge is typical.

it could logically be that most things we think we know are mistaken. normally we don't question everything (too much work), but we can question any given thing. it's instructive to take questions and doubts further sometimes.

the scientific method is not falsifiable. empirical falsification has limited value when dealing with philosophy, logic, morality. falsification is not an intellectual starting place, it comes from epistemology which is prior.

the correctness of the method "demand all ideas be falsifiable or reject them" is not itself open to empirical falsification. that approach is self-refuting.

getting back to lying: you need an understanding of people. when and why do they lie? if you had zero understanding then you wouldn't have any way to judge if they are lying in reports. all kinds of background knowledge gets drawn in here to address the matter.

given various background knowledge about people, & various methods of thinking/reasoning, then you can reject "lots of lying" in many cases. e.g. ask where is the explanation of why they are lying or how they decide which lie to tell? this criticizes a naive "maybe lying" claim

i am not claiming they are lying, i am claiming that none of the research data is incompatible with them lying. it takes more than data – it takes philosophical method – to reject lying or magic. the point was then to pivot into discussing methods.

& to get from there to explanations mattering – which is the thing i opened with. you've now started to talk about some explanations related to depression. but without yet enough detail for careful analysis. got a reference which lays one out well which you see no refutation of?

i happen to think self-reporting is plagued by biases and lies, primarily b/c ppl lie to themselves all the damn time, but also b/c they commonly try to avoid communications to others that others disapprove of. (e.g. some ppl didn't want to say they are trump voters to pollsters)

however i have explanations of what people are like & why – mental models and stories – which are independently checked against many other things i know, fit many principles, etc. arbitrary "maybe lying or magic" stuff, without detail, is easy to criticize for lack of reasoning.

when more detail is added, then those details can be criticized. making up viable stories, while being wrong, is actually hard when every aspect is getting criticized.

Logical compatibility with data is not the proper standard for belief. Instead it's roughly: what problem does this idea solve? how does it solve it? any criticism saying why it can't work? any criticism that's a bad problem to solve?

all 4 of those things are explanation oriented. empirical falsification is less fundamental, it's governed by a prior framework. it comes up e.g. in a "why it can't work" reason. e.g. "your idea relies on X theory of physics to work, but X was refuted by experiment Y".

antidepressant research focuses too much on correlation – on finding some data that doesn't contradict their claims – which isn't useful. instead of on carefully writing out what causal mechanisms are imaginable (given, yes, existing science) & using logic 2 start ruling some out

Story: it's a culture where lying is highly stigmatized, so most ppl don't lie most of the time. So, unless special exceptions are brought up, it won't be 62% liars. Much less. This is independently checked in various ways, e.g. the infrequency of ppl being caught lying

where r carefully considered proposed mechanisms written down, good enough 2 survive non-empirical criticism & b worth testing? & every study of "we drugged ppl, they self-reported it worked" is finding some correlation data that doesn't mean anything without explanatory context

if you want a fuller answer to that matter you could read Popper and Deutsch or ask on the FI forum ("Discussion" link on top) which is more suitable than tweets.

is there one you don't see anything wrong with and can link to details of?

The appropriate thing to do in that case in write down what things from what columns, which is then itself an explanation, in its own right, which may or may not be any good.

This link doesn't address the basic issues: what is depression? what are the actual problems and observed human behaviors and symptoms? how do monoamines affect that? what is the causal chain to get from the chemicals to high level stuff? it doesn't lay that out.

brought about how? you're not giving any explanation of what's going on.

Yes. You can simplify some parts with unknown as long as the category of thing you're saying can account for the results and makes sense. But you need to actually explain it in order to have some context in which to interpret research data, and to provide a target for refutation.

The hardest part is how it gets from signals outside the mind to changes in the mind (in other words, how it crosses the gap from hardware to software). This is actually easy in general b/c you just program the software to check certain inputs and do things based on them.

But humans are trickier b/c they interpret all inputs according to changeable ideas. Different people interpret the same inputs in different ways. So the explanatory story has to get into culture, ideas, etc and relate them to the chemicals. Or deny that and give alternative.

It's logically impossible to interpret data without an explanation. Your choices are to try to state the explanation and make it not suck, or to hide it and assume it without analysis.

You're having trouble giving an explanation b/c you're focusing on certain difficult details which are not necessary to a simplified, bigger picture explanation.

maybe. but that's your problem, not mine. i'm not the one claiming biological explanations are the answer here. i think depression is ppl getting overwhelmed with life, having hard problems, getting stuck, that kinda thing. my explanation starts and ends in the mind.

no research refutes this, & it has no crucial explanatory holes where we can't figure out how it could work. meanwhile you want to claim some complicated stuff with brain chemistry, etc, etc. ok but then it's on you to figure out how that could work. (or on the experts saying it)

e.g. u could say: we aren't born with a blank slate. we have some preprogrammed interpretations of different inputs to the brain. we can change these, but most ppl are lazy and leave the defaults. they build up complex emotional-behavioral reactions on top of the defaults

depression is when there is a hardware malfunction that causes certain inputs to the mind which are viewed and reacted to very negatively. the complex interpretation was developed in the past when those signals were rare, and wasn't designed designed to be changeable.

the reason it works across different ppl semi-reliably is b/c so many ppl (not all) stuck to the inborn defaults. antidepressants get the brain hardware to stop sending the negative signal (or lack of positive signal, whatever).

there are various things wrong with this explanation, but at least it is an explanation. it's the type of thing needed at the very start.

I haven't tried to produce a method, let alone done testing, and I don't agree efficacy has been measured very well. Again: you cannot judge victory via mere correlation, it requires explanation.

You don't see any connection between unsolved problems + pessimism about solving them and being sad/unhappy/etc? People like success and dislike failure. A problem is an unwelcome thing; a solution is better by their own values. Basic stuff. I think you know this.

yes, making a viable explanation of depression involving biology is hard. i was just trying to demonstrate what an explanation looks like, not make a correct one. i don't know a correct one and i have theory reasons not to expect one ever.

where is the better one than the crappy example i wrote?

you literally don't even know what you did or didn't get – or should or shouldn't want – without an explanatory framework to interpret those things within. you are constantly using hidden, unstated explanations which are being shielded from critical discussion.

this is 100% the norm and is one of the reasons 90% of science is trash.

sure. lots of ppl don't get depressed so that doesn't contradict what i'm saying.

i wasn't trying to give an explanation of how things inherently must be, just of a somewhat common thing that comes up for some people in our culture. lots of people, for cultural reasons, take various kinds of adversity, failure, struggle, etc, quite badly.

OK. Not an issue for me. I don't think depression is due to inherent reasons.

it's not mysterious. you stated why. b/c they have a different attitude ("BANZAI"). some ppl interpret a problem like "oh no, now i'm gonna suffer" and some ppl are like "ok a challenge, i can do this, or at least die trying". different attitudes, different results.

this isnt exactly it. this is low resolution version of type of thing going on. this is a type of thing that could possibly have results like those observed. there is no gap here where you can't see any way it could possibly work at all. whereas biology story isn't that developed

ppl learn attitudes from parents, schools, books, tv, etc. also think of their own. result is: complex, varying ppl with some commonalities of attitudes across portions of groups. what's the problem? u know how this works. u cud easily tell example stories about ppl getting ideas

we could zoom into details about how Joe was bullied at school and didn't have control over his own life to solve the problem (e.g. stop going to a school which permits violence), and then what sort of rationalizations joe developed to cope with life.

life is so complex u need to look at overview and also survey some details. takes too long to cover anything. you can check any areas you suspect of being problematic though.

the results of people encountering certain ideas has significant variance, but it's not purely arbitrary and random either. the ideas have some content which can be evaluated using e.g. reason. the ideas can be more or less logical which affects uptake. can have some manipulation

ppl's paths vary. i can only give examples of the kinds of things that actually happen, not someone's full life story. u keep saying it doesn't have to happen that way. true. so what? that doesn't stop it from happening and doesn't prevent there being reasons for that to happen.

you're just refusing to take on board the logical issues with correlation and causation (you took X drugs and felt better at a later time – and you assume the drugs worked)

i think depression is cultural (an attribute of some but not all cultures), not an inherent thing about all minds. so no it doesn't have to be that way.

getting into where our culture's ideas come from, and why they are this way instead of some other way, is a big topic but there is a lot known about it, and it doesn't suffer from a retreat from explanation like the SSRI ppl.

some ideas contain persuasive arguments which persuade people. some ideas are backed up by pressure. do you understand these mechanisms for why a person might take on board an idea? do you see they are not arbitrary or random, even if not super consistent?

you can't tell me how they work in the most basic overview. just "it works somehow". no better than "god did it".

that is not a refutation of my position, nor an explanation of yours. so it doesn't matter. (and i meant logically possible cultures, not current ones on earth. and having an allele isn't cultural!)

we don't reliably know every detail of everyone's life. but there's no fundamental mystery here where we don't see how something could happen at all. that's a step up from having no explanation at all.

i did not make empirical claims about that. you're attacking stuff i already disclaimed. and why on earth would learning about violence make you violent? prima facie, the more you know about violence, the more you'll reject it! violence sucks.

you have to consider the mechanisms that will get someone to accept an idea. exposure to violent TV doesn't even present the idea "you should be violent" let alone e.g. give a persuasive argument or pressure ppl into it.

at low level, ppl do information processing of incoming ideas, and have some initial inborn (but changeable) ideas/algorithms/etc (which include some RNG). u can easily come up with pseudocode for how this stuff could work. not unimaginably mysterious.

at higher levels of abstraction we run into human concepts like logical analysis of ideas to see if they will work to accomplish our goals. so you can see, in the context of a person with certain understanding of logic, certain goals, etc, how they could analyze an idea.

you can drill down on the context and look at where they learned their understanding of logic, what alternatives they considered, etc. it's hard to track IRL but it's not mysterious to check what their teachers said, what ideas about it kept getting implied on TV, etc

overall, understanding the world takes effort and requires sophisticated tracking of different levels of abstraction and organizing the information. and we won't know everything, but that doesn't stop us from having some real understanding.

you're presenting a bunch of skepticism of understanding of much of anything about humans as a biased tool to defend the glaring lack of explanation for your favored ideas. but u don't really mean it. you deal with ppl and understand all kinds of things about them.

it doesn't require that. it's a shortcut b/c our culture knows a lot of stuff that is transmitted as common sense. you can replace particular pieces of common sense, if you want, with carefully thought out analysis. i've done this in various cases.

we know they're somewhat stable b/c approximately all the ppl have functioning general intelligence. this makes sense evolutionarily – the selection pressure was to get intelligence working.

you mean i related my ideas to existing knowledge which many ppl agree with and have thought about and failed to refute? yes that's a good thing.

while i don't know everything, i could spend literally months telling you how this stuff works in increasing detail. meanwhile you can't even get started with an initial explanation for your claims.

corporal punishment is not reason. it doesn't seek the truth about the right outcome and make that happen. it doesn't treat the conflict as a disagreement. all this stuff is irrational and is teaching the kid that irrationality is how life works and there's no escape

this gets into connections with epistemology, liberalism, and other major areas of knowledge. you can learn about all of them and put it together to understand what's going on and why. i have.

i am not claiming everyone is the same, so who needs "stable" (by which i think you meant the same for different ppl). biochemical is related to e.g. building the brain in the first place and setting up initial programming, and that is done based on genetic knowledge.

but that doesn't mean that genes are destiny. the genes program a flexible platform that allows for the creation of new knowledge – e.g. Critical Rationalism – that is not in our genes or chemicals.

all of those ppl are in different situations, not identical situations. of course you should expect variance, even if you don't believe in free will on RNG internal to the mind.

i think you're asking "why" at the wrong levels of abstraction (too low level). looking at higher level concepts is more enlightening here. low level matters you get answers like "b/c the laws of physics say so" (and why is physics that way? i don't know).

the original issue wasn't even why but how – what sort of mechanism enables it to happen at all? not "why did the mechanism get X result instead of Y result in this case?" but merely what is a reasonably typical scenario where X happens?

that's either incorrect or leaving out a dozen layers of abstraction and complexity which make all the difference to actual outcomes.

genetic evolution didn't program the way adults think. if that was in our genes, what would we have school for?

ppl create and refine methods of thinking, and use them to learn all kinds of things which they then factor into future thinking, in ways that are not determined by our genes. if u wanna think of it like a neural net, fine, but a generic general purpose one.

genetic evolution gives us the most basic API of function calls for thinking, on top of which we put dozens of layers. and our biology doesn't know how those layers work, so SSRIs can't control high level thoughts (thoughts in terms of layers near the topic of the complexity)

memes had selection pressure to figure out how to gain control of minds so they could control enough behavior to ensure passing on the memes to the next generation. in the past the world was full of static societies where ppl were controlled by memes, not genes.

hardware + initial OS installation doesn't have a chance at controlling much when there's very highly adapted software that is running on top of it, exploiting security flaws, calling whatever functions it wants, etc, etc

no they can't. that's like saying you could bias what my web browser does, without knowing anything about it, by changing some low level detail. you'd have no idea what to change to get what effect.

read "antidepressants" or "drugs" or whatever instead of SSRIs. same logic applies.

logic and good explanations have some level of stability to the kinds of variance you're talking about. there's convergence to truth, it's not all arbitrary.

genes can code for things like more/stronger pain signals when the butt gets a physical impact. but they don't know anything about higher level concepts like spanking or how to deal with parents. they can only affect basic stuff which has many layers of interpretation on top

you wouldn't be able to bias it in a designed, goal-oriented way if you couldn't read that code and figure out how it works. if you had to design your bias before the code was written, and you didn't even know what kind of app it would be, then you'd have very limited options.

genes are older than memes, let alone older than the 20th layer of memes. genes are so indirectly relevant, it's like an API you abstracted away so long ago you forgot everything about it. and the memes have code to handle gene variations and adjust the API to fit.

no good, you have to design everything before the browser has ever run. the vast bulk of gene evolution is very old.

converge to truth can increase without limit. we're making ongoing progress. but there are many open disagreements, unknown things, errors, etc, which limit convergence so far.

what really limits it is you only get to do things there is evolutionary selection pressure for, and once memes exist, very little of that (b/c they meet the selection pressures first). so basically you just get to exist, and then get pwned by memes, and that's it, no competition

why? which part?

the arguments for objective truth are not a matter of evidence. you can read books about them if you like.

i'm saying the right comparison involves you finalizing the CPU before the browser exists. of course you can exploit the browser, even through 50 intermediate layers, if you get to do a bunch of testing and use creativity to figure it out.

memetics as a field in general is utter crap, but that is not a criticism of what you get if you actually understand evolution and think things through logically, and read @DavidDeutschOxf

it's way too complex (& with too much variation in higher level software complexity btwn ppl) to realistically random walk to anything that works. would need a better dev and serious coding work environment to deal with the complexity level.

memes are within my expertise and are the kind of thing i've been making strong public claims about for over a decade which no one can/will refute.

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Social Dynamics & Mailchimp Broke A Link

In my newsletter today (sign up!), I wrote:

I enjoyed reading a different perspective on social dynamics. It is broadly reasonable and reaches lots of my conclusions in different ways than the ones I'm more familiar with.

Unfortunately, Mailchimp (the big email sending service I'm using) modified the URL and broke it. And this link currently has more than double the clicks of the second most popular link. So hopefully some people will see this post and be able to view a working link (above). And here's a separate backup link.

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Goldratt vs. Japan

I found out something really bad and disappointing about Eli Goldratt. He delayed translation of his books into Japanese for fear they'd be really successful, increase the trade imbalance, and generally help Japan get way ahead of the West. He delayed translation from around 1987 to 2000, by which point he thought Japan was stagnating and the West had caught up.

Goldratt's own words, from 4:04:45-4:07:45 in his 2005 audiobook Beyond the Goal (my emphasis):

For a long time, I didn’t allow my books to be translated into Japanese. Not because I don’t like them — the opposite is true — but because my opinion was that they are so much more advanced in production than the U.S. or Europe and the penetration of cost accounting is so much smaller in Japan (by the way, statistics show that they have one-seventh of the cost accounting people in their organizations that we have here in the states — one seventh) and they are in love with simple solutions rather than complicated solutions, sophisticated solutions, and that’s why the penetration of ERP [enterprise resource planning] for example in Japan is less than ten percent. I was afraid that if I will release my material into Japan, actively, they will go on it very quickly, they will increase the gap, and by that they will tilt even more the trade balance. If the trade balance will be tilted even more, the gap will become much bigger, I was afraid the whole economy of the world may go down the drain. Yes I know that these are maybe megalomaniac thinking, but I didn’t want it on my shoulders. So for a long long time, I refused to allow my books to be translated into Japanese.

About two years ago, I came to the conclusion that probably the gap had been closed. Now I am almost convinced that the gap is closed. So it’s about time to give this know-how. In June of this year, The Goal came out in Japanese, in Japan. They were waiting for it, because otherwise I cannot explain what happened. The first three months, 300,000 copies have been sold. The Goal is selling now in Japan more than Harry Potter! That’s not a joke, that’s a fact. And I got an article — translated article — from the number one business magazine of Japan two weeks ago about The Goal. By the way, The Goal appeared on the cover of that magazine. And in this article, there is a box of an interview with the President of Toyota. And he said he made The Goal mandatory reading to all his management. The mere fact that he came to this statement is another crack in the conformity. Now it’s allowed.

In what ways was Japan ahead? For big examples, think about how Toyota was beating Ford, and Japanese companies like Sony excelled in electronics. Not everyone is aware, but Japan today is considered the world's third largest economy, after just the U.S. and China. Japan was second until China's recent growth, and (unsourced on Wikipedia) represented 17.8% of the entire world economy at its peak in 1994.

The supposed harm of trade imbalances is junk economics. Apparently Goldratt never gave the matter much thought. That's disappointing because he's an advocate of win/win solutions and says there are no conflicts in reality. When you seem to see a conflict – e.g. Japanese people would benefit from your book but you think there'd be a negative result – then there's a mistaken premise somewhere. It's a mistake – in Goldratt's own view – to accept lose/lose solutions or compromises. But that's what he did!

Goldratt's goal was to teach the world to think. He betrayed his goal by withholding educational material from people specifically because he thought they would learn a lot from him. He intentionally blocked progress because he wanted the West to maintain a position at the top.

He could have been wrong. Maybe his books wouldn't have made much difference in Japan. But his intentions were gross. And I think his books could have changed the world if released promptly in Japan. When finally released, they sold very well in Japan, got lots of publicity, and promptly resulted in adoption by major companies (like Toyota) and parts of the Japanese government.

What if they were released earlier? They could have made a much bigger difference. They could have prevented the stagnation of Japan which Goldratt saw later. They could have given Japan a bigger competitive edge – exactly what Goldratt feared – and thus spread to the whole world. The West learned a lot from Japan while trying to catch up (e.g. Just In Time and Lean). Goldratt's ideas could have been part of that, and that way they'd have much better adoption worldwide today, making the whole world much better off.

Goldratt didn't just delay Japan's progress, he missed out on a timing window when Japan – the country where he could most successfully get adoption for his ideas – was acting as somewhat of a model for the rest of the world. And today software is super important, which lessens the relative importance of manufacturing, which is the area where Goldratt's ideas could most easily have a big impact.

The general consequences of a world with less wealth (due to lack of adoption of Goldratt's great business management ideas) include people dying due to less medical research and dying in many other ways. Wealth helps prevent deaths from heatwaves, cold, drought, tsunamis, hunger, inadequately funded police and much more. The specific, direct consequences of Japanese car companies being less successful include more Westerners dying in car accidents because they drive Japanese cars that aren't as good as they could be.

patio11 argued that Japan is part of Western society (I saw this later the same day I wrote this mini essay). I agree. Goldratt shouldn't have seen Japan as the other. Yes, there are some substantial differences between Japan and the English speaking countries that don't set us apart from France. But Japan Westernized and assimilated enough after World War II that I say to accept them, and I see the success of companies like Toyota and Sony as demonstrating the merit of Japan (rather than being exceptions). Goldratt himself was from Israel, another country I'm happy to credit as being Western, despite it having some differences from America. Anyway, Japan is certainly no threat. Japanese success should be celebrated without hesitation.

Sources and Details

Regarding dates, The Goal came out in 1984 and I found Spanish (La Meta), German (Das Ziel), and French (Le But) versions from 1987. (I also found a 1992 Italian version. I'm guessing the 1987 translations I found are the earliest years, but I don't know about 1992.) The Japanese version is from May 2001. (The English ISBN info saying 2000 seems to be incorrect.) The Japanese publication delay is 14 years from the first foreign language versions I could find, and 17 years from the English version.

I found some further discussion of the issue (emphasis added):

A Process Of On-Going Improvement (POOGI) – Part 36 by Dr. Lisa Lang (a TOC expert), 2008 or 2009, says:

For years, Dr. Goldratt refused to have his books translated into Japanese. He thought and felt that Japan was so far advanced that if it applied the improved processes of the Theory of Constraints, that the trade imbalance would further increase, threatening to destabilize the world economy. Six years ago, when the U.S. and European economies had closed the gap, and Japan had stagnated, he relented. In the first month of its release, “The Goal” sold a half-million copies. Since then, its sales are equal to the sales in the rest of the world.

Japan is adopting TOC at a much faster rate than the Western World. For example, last year Japan announced the requirement that all companies supplying infrastructure projects must use Critical Chain project management, the TOC methodology for managing projects (and delivering them in half the time).

Theory of Constraints is Gaining Awareness and Success in Japan. Is This the Quality Movement All Over Again? by Carol Ptak (Goldratt co-author and TOC expert), 2012, says:

Japanese adoption of the theory of constraints is growing at a rate that rivals the quality movement started by Dr. W. Edwards Deming. The founder of the Theory of Constraints (TOC), Dr. Eliyahu Goldratt, made several personal trips to Japan and allowed his books to finally be translated to the Japanese language. The most respected national newspaper in Japan, Asahi Newspaper (circulation 8M), runs a weekly regular article about TOC written by TOC expert Yuji Kishira....

The Theory of Constraints International Certification Organization (TOCICO) hosted the first international TOC conference in Japan in 2009 with a keynote from the Director General of the Ministry of Land Infrastructure, Transportation and Tourism on how TOC was used to complete infrastructure projects in less time and provide one day response to contractor requests. The impact of TOC on the country of Japan is so significant that immediately following the TOCICO conference a MLIT conference drew over 300 executives. Dr. Goldratt said, “Toyota changed factories in the world. In the future, people will say that MLIT Japan changed government management in the world. I want you to understand how important your activity is.”

Carol Ptak also quotes herself saying, "The United States could easily be trying to play catch up with Japan once again."

Book: Introduction to the Theory of Constraints (TOC) Management System by Thomas B. McMullen, Jr. (1998):

I recently had lunch with a manager in a large, well-known, brand-name Japanese company, a company recognizable both in consumer and industrial markets as a huge, powerful, and successful outfit, who has been translating TOC concepts into Japanese lately for use by his colleagues around the world. Dr. Goldratt, until recently, has said he was unwilling to assist in making translations of his TOC materials into Japanese due to a concern about balance of trade and power.

The Japanese Wikipedia for The Goal says (all translations from Japanese were done by a professional):

Due to the wishes of Dr Goldratt, permission for the publication of a Japanese translation of the novel was withheld until 2001.

It's sources are:

2014 article from The Goal's Japanese publisher:

At the time it was first published in 1984, Dr Goldratt is known to have said "if a Japanese version of the book were to be published, only Japanese companies will win and there will be great turmoil in the world economy". Given that it would be another 17 years before Dr Goldratt would give permission for the book to be translated into Japanese – it certainly has an interesting backstory.

2009 article from Nikkei Business:

“The Goal” was first published in the United States in 1984, but Dr Goldratt did not authorize a Japanese translation of the book until 2001.

The reason for the delay was that the international competitiveness of Japanese companies was far beyond that of most other countries and it was felt that there was a need to eliminate the trade imbalance by closing the gap. In other words, Japan was the goal of SCM [Supply Chain Management].

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (5)

Logic vs. 200 People

Production the TOC Way by Eliyahu M. Goldratt:

But it was an unfair fight; I had the logic and they were less than two hundred.

This is my favorite Goldratt quote so far. He, alone, thought he had the advantage because there weren't even 200 people against him, and he had logic on his side :D

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You're a Complex Software Project; Introspection is Auditing

(from this discussion)

you are a more complex software project than anything from Apple, IBM, etc.

your consciousness gets to audit the software and do maintenance and add features. the heart of the software was written in childhood and you don't remember much of it. think of it like a different team of programmers wrote it, and now you're coming in later.
you don't have full access to the source code for your audit. you can see source code for little pieces here and there, run automated tests for little pieces here and there, read some incomplete docs, and do manual tests for sporadic chunks of code.

and your attitude is: to ignore large portions of the limited evidence available to you about what the code does. that is, the best evidence of what the code says available is your own behavior. but you want to ignore that in favor of believing what you think the code does. you think the conclusions of your audit, which ignores the best evidence (your behavior – actual observations of the results of running code), and doesn't even know that it's a software audit or the circumstances of the audit, should be taken as gospel.

you find it implausible there are hostile software functions that could be running without your audit noticing. your audit has read 0.001% of the source code during the last year, but you seem to think the figure is 99%.

introspection skills means getting better at auditing. this can help a ton, but there's another crucial approach: you can learn about what people in our culture are commonly like. this enables you to audit whether you're like that in particular ways, match behavior to common code, etc. b/c i know far more about cultural standard software (memes) than you, and also i know what the situation is (as just described and more) and you don't, i'm in a much better position to understand you than you are. this doesn't apply to your idiosyncrasies, i know even less than you about those, but i know that and avoid claims about the areas where i don't know. on the other hand, i can comment effectively when you write down the standard output (as judged by category and pattern, not the exact bits) of a standard software modules, at length, and i recognize it.

for more info relating to intelligence, listen to my podcast about it.

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Expanding Our Limits

It must be that long before the technology was available we developed modes of behavior, measurements, policies, rules that helped us accommodate the limitation (from now on I’ll refer to all of them as just “rules” even though in many cases those rules are not written anywhere).

What benefits will we gain when we install the technology that removes the limitation, but we “forget” to change the rules?

The answer is obvious. As long as the rules that helped us to accommodate the limitation are obeyed the end result is the same as if the limitation still exists. In other words, we cannot expect to see any significant benefits.

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