A little meta-advice... you're in a weird community – not nec bad, but quite unusual – and one that is far from guaranteed to have a high level of experience and expertise with childrearing. But yet also, one that is quite likely to confidently express numerous opinions on the topic.
I understand your point. Probably I'm overestimating. Which quotes were hard? I'm guessing that e.g. “the commandement, or example of our superiours” and “grant [sin] but her little, and this little will quickly come to a great deale” are relatively clear.
Reading C17 English isn't hard to learn: it's modern English (not Middle or Old) but just in an antiquated style and sometimes words have different shades of meaning. By "not hard" I mean you can teach yourself, simply by reading stuff and picking it up as you go along - I did Shakespeare at school, then ... (read more)
There are definitely differences. One is that NNs are trained on training data and then let loose on real world (or testing) data. Markets are always training online. Another is that NNs (are supposed to) approximate a true hidden function, whereas markets are adapting to changing conditions not necessarily to a single underlying truth. But markets do adapt to inputs they haven't seen before, and there are economic theories describing that process, like adaptive expectations and tatonnement. I suspect that markets are more likely to adjust quite quickly, and also to "forget" old data quite quickly.
Thank you! Yes, this guy adds details.
Also, the nuclear family is absurd and unnatural, and we evolved to be raised by entire communities, not just by one mother and maybe one father. With too few adult caretakers, of course outcomes will be far worse.
Citation needed. Parents are biologically related to their children. Entire communities are not. Is there any evidence that humans have any evolved characteristics which make the nuclear family worse than community upbringing?
I think almost everyone (who isn't daft) accepts IQ is partly genetic - and the author does too. But the question is whether there's a gene-environment interaction in parenting styles, which is slightly different.
So the argument is based on substitutability. If you don't do (global good thing X) - and if it is truly important - someone else probably will.
That is true, but I also think journal editors will internalize that. And it's easy to fetishize this stuff – electronic formats die out, so let's engrave all our journals on stone tablets! – but arguably, any important article exists in 50 versions on the web, and will eventually be preserved, so long as anyone cares about it. At least, that seems to have happened so far.
I think that's a weird take. A cooperation game typically has actions where you lose, but others gain more (whatever actions others take). Prisoner's Dilemmas and public goods games are simple examples. The only wrinkle is "what counts as more" if you take seriously the idea that utility is non-comparable across persons. But a weaker criterion is just "everyone would be better off if everyone cooperated", which again the PD and public goods games satisfy.
You're right. I didn't distinguish between the two concepts, because I think cooperation in the colloquial sense – working together for a shared goal – typically involves elements of both.
At its simplest, the internet makes communication easier, especially public communication. That should certainly help to solve coordination problems. It'll also help solve cooperation problems insofar as (1) communication shapes preferences; (2) people are susceptible to social norms, and communication helps to spread norms, clarify them and make them salient; (3) p... (read more)
For social science, here are some I'd throw in:
The best social science follows George Orwell's dictum: it takes huge effort to see what is in front of your face.
The Scheidel review is worth reading, though it's rather hurried. Their argument is quite complex and sometimes a bit fuzzy, and the book has a lot of detail; I think it'll take some time for academics to chew through it and understand exactly what's at stake.
Other academic reviews I've read haven't been great - the typical stuff has been "how can they ignore [my narrow narrow subfield]".
You might be interested in the concept of "license", which was widely used until about the 18th century. License was like liberty, but license was bad, liberty was good, and the difference was that liberty presupposed self-restraint. So, liberty would be in the middle of your line, license on one end of it, and on the other maybe "tyranny".
Sure, I find that take on moral intuitions plausible. But if society has to make a real choice of the order of "how much to tax carbon", I think that collectively we would not want to make the decision based on people saying "meh, no strong opinions here, future world X just seems kinda prettier". We need some kind of principled framework, and for that... well, I guess you need moral philosophy!
The point is whether they exist conditional on us taking a particular action. If we do X a set of people will exist. If we do Y, a different set of people will exist. There's not usually a reason to privilege X vs. Y as being "what will happen if we do nothing", making the people in X somehow less conditional. The argument is "if we do X, then these people will exist and their rights (or welfare or whatever) will be satisfied/violated and that would be good/bad to some degree; if we do Y then these other people will exist, etc., and that would be good/bad ... (read more)
Now I hear the Life of Brian playing in my head: "Always look on the bright side of life! De-duh, de-duh de-duh de-duh!"
Hume didn't always take his own rhetoric or ideas too seriously. He said he couldn't prove that his friends even existed, but when he played billiards with them, these doubts vanished.
Here's another thought experiment for those convinced by this gloomy view... suppose you find a large red switch marked "Universe: on/off". Flipping it will cause the immediate painless non-existence of everyone everywhere. Do you flip it? Think how mu... (read more)
Yes, I wouldn't say suicide is the be-all and end-all indicator, though it is quite suggestive. I'd also lay weight on simple common sense and intuition here. Most people today like life. If you read about ordinary people from 200 years ago or before, it doesn't seem like unremitting misery. (Piers Plowman, the "rude mechanicals" in Shakespeare, the peasants in the Georgics or in medieval Books of Hours, the ordinary people in the Old and New Testaments. Maybe these were just elites idealizing peasants? Hmm... up to a point.) Reporters and anthropologists who live with peasants and the poor today similarly paint a picture with light as well as shade.
Saying "it's good to be alive" is not the same as saying people have a moral imperative to bring children into the world. It would probably improve human welfare if I gave all my assets to the poor and starved to death, but I don't have a moral imperative to do it. Judgments of overall welfare are ways of deciding what to do collectively, but no individual has an absolute duty to maximize overall welfare at the expense of his own basic desires and life choices.
(This is my personal view, not especially carefully thought-out. Some people probably do th... (read more)
Well, he says he does. I think it would be very sad if he acted on the idea, and I bet you agree.
I don't know about population sizes either. Maddison (cited at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Estimates_of_historical_world_population#By_world_region) says that in 1500, Americans were only about 4% of global population, with 20% being in Europe and 68% in Asia.
Yup, definitely true that I haven't considered the effect on non-humans. I think you'd have to be very pessimistic to say that agriculture was a mistake from this perspective. That might be true (1) if agriculture involved so much animal suffering that it outweighed the human good involved. Or (2) if from agriculture on, humans were set on a path that inevitably led to the destruction of life on earth, e.g. by runaway global warming or nuclear war. I think (1) might be true of modern factory farming, but is less likely true of traditional farming. (2) is as yet unknown, but I hope that it will not be so.
I don't think this argument makes sense. Of course the people who will be born are "imaginary". If I choose between marrying Jane and Judith, then any future children in either event are at present "imaginary". That would not be a good excuse for marrying Jane, a psychopath with three previous convictions for child murder. More generally, any choice involves two or more different hypothetical ("imaginary") outcomes, of which all but one will not happen. Obviously, we have to think "what would happen if I do X"? It would be silly to say that this question i... (read more)
As a basis for purely personal morality that may be fine, but as a way of evaluating policy choices or comparing societies it won't be enough. Consider the question "how much should we reduce global warming"? Any decision involves alternative futures involving billions of people who haven't been born yet. We have to consider their welfare. Put another way, the word "imaginary" is bearing a lot of weight in your argument: people who are imaginary in one scenario become real in another.
Well, that's true, but I think it's less a problem for me than it is for a lot of people here, because I don't think there's any respectable moral/ethical metric that you can maximize to begin with.
Ethics as a philosophical subject is on very shaky ground because it basically deals with creating pretty, consistent frameworks to systematize intuitions... but nobody ever told the intuitions that they had to be amenable to that. All forms of utilitarianism, specifically, have horrible problems with the lack of any defensible way to aggregate utilities. There ... (read more)
The argument isn't that simply having more people alive is better. That's why I spend time arguing that people's lives are worthwhile.
I mention two intuitions. The intuition that it's good to be alive is quite widely shared, no? Even people who claim to disagree often act as if they agree. (My uncle repeatedly said he didn't want to live any more, yet he carefully avoided Covid.)
The intuition that people's lives have value in themselves, and not in relation to what else is going on, isn't just a gut feeling. It relates to the idea that what has value... (read more)
The thing is that I don't give imaginary people equal weight to real ones. It seems obvious to me that somebody who doesn't exist anywhere in space or time doesn't get any consideration. And that means that I am under no obligation to bring them into existence or to care whether anybody else does.
As for agression, all I can say is that I processed it that way.
It sounds as if you have a number of political positions you want to get across, but I'm not sure how they relate to my argument, which is about how discursive conflict takes place. If you don't like my examples, of course you can just replace them in your mind with examples you prefer.
Sure. But the most interesting dependent variable isn't usually "how many standard deviations of Y will I gain", it's e.g. "how many years of education will I gain". In any case, on either scale, is there a PGS where a 1 s.d. change does something big? You might say the most recent EA is a candidate. In one dataset a 1 s.d. increase causes (i.e. within-siblings) about a 4.5 percentage point increase in the probability of university attendance.
I am not sure that "earlier is better". It's true that the biology favours early parenthood. But the sociology goes the other way: it's better to have children when you're high-income and worldly-wise. So there might be a trade-off between e.g. health and wealth.
There's a big literature on this, you could start with e.g. Powell, B., Steelman, L.C. and Carini, R.M., 2006. Advancing age, advantaged youth: Parental age and the transmission of resources to children. Social Forces, 84(3), pp.1359-1390; or for health, Myrskylä, M. and Fenelon, A., 2012. Ma... (read more)
I'm not sure what you mean by selective power. I suppose the natural question is "how many extra (e.g.) IQ points do I get for an extra standard deviation of a PGS?" In other words, you want the regression coefficient, where the dependent variable is on some meaningful scale. I stand by my comment, unless you can show a PGS where a 1 s.d. change currently does something big.
Genetic correlations: maybe, but we haven't looked at genetic correlations for many things, and indeed we don't have other polygenic scores to correlate them with for many things, and indeed we haven't collected questions on big enough samples to create those polygenic scores for many things, so again, we aren't there yet.
I stand by my comment, unless you can show a PGS where a 1 s.d. change currently does something big.
I stand by my comment, unless you can show a PGS where a 1 s.d. change currently does something big.
A 1SD change on a latent variable can have a big absolute risk effect for liability-threshold traits like schizophrenia depending on the pre-existing absolute risk / where one is on the latent spectrum.
(This is the nonlinearity of normal distributions and thin tails again - if the risk is ~0 SD, perhaps because there are 2 schizophrenic parents carrying a very high risk burden, then shifting a fraction of a SD drops the absolute risk down from 40% to 11% ... (read more)
In my opinion, as of 2021, no.
Scores typically have low predictive power. The R2 of scores for EA is IIRC about 10%. By definition, they will never go above the heritability of EA which is only about 40%. Unless you're prepared to pump out tons of eggs, test them all, and pick the best, you are probably not going to do much to change the phenotype. Again, with larger sample sizes this will eventually change.
The power of a PGS is more strongly related to the R than to the R2. So a PGS with an R2 of 10% corresponds to sqrt(10%)=0.32, which is sqrt(10%)/sqrt(40%)=half of the total selecti... (read more)
Re your first paragraph: polygenic scores that directly predict cognitive ability are also being selected against. Polygenic scores designed to predict very high intelligence also turn out to be good at predicting ordinary intelligence, so it doesn't seem likely that "Einsteins" work in some fundamentally different way .
I agree that ironing out "errors" could be risky, especially given the current state of our knowledge. But equally, that does not imply that it's no big deal if people's genetics are getting less healthy or smart. There are two risks her... (read more)
I'm not sure I understood all of your points. But overall, yes, we might just get rid of rare mutations, but I wonder if realistically people will stop there. (That is indeed a slippery slope argument.)
I think that's basically correct. Or maybe put another way: they act as if finding such genetic differences would plausibly legitimize racial discrimination.
That may not be nuts. Suppose there is real racial discrimination (not a big ask). Then if we discover substantively large differences between ethnic groups, it might be easier to "get away with" racial discrimination because someone can just claim "oh well, ethnic groups are different and that's why we see different outcomes". Similarly, non-deliberate (e.g. unconscious or "structural") discrimination might be harder to spot, if everyone just assumes that different outcomes between groups are the result of different genetics.
I should add that I use images to help make my point. The Teach A Man To Fish theory of argumentation: if someone sees something themselves, they understand it better than if you hold their hand through it. I'm guessing that Lesswrong readers can appreciate who Ataturk and Erdogan are and why they're relevant to the topic. Not sure that justifies Peepshow clips, though....
Thank you for the suggestion.
I did say "ultimately". I know about the possibility of horizontal cultural transmission, and I discuss it later in the article. I should read TMM, maybe there are great examples of horizontal cultural transmission beating out vertical transmission. In the case we're discussing here, I doubt it. I think the West's cultural infectivity will weaken as its economic dominance slips.
I'm not sure Kaufmann does making that mistake. He focuses on extreme sects within each religion, not on Islam as a whole, and mostly on Western countries rather than the Middle East. You could say I'm making the mistake, because I discuss the probability of non-Westerners buying into Western values. Yeah, that could be. But I also would distinguish between secularization (and other kinds of modernization) and Westernization. (Japan did the one but not the other, for example.)
You're right that marriage and family structure are "deep". A friend of mine sugg... (read more)
I think shared is too broad. You like Coke, I like Coke - we share that. But it's shared because we both have sugar-loving taste buds. To be cultural, you need something more. Hence the biologists' emphasis on the transmission mechanism via learning.
Does it matter? My argument is that a lot of what gets called "Western culture" is really just "stuff that is appealing to human taste buds", in a broad sense. So yes, it is spreading, but no cultural learning is required. Coca Cola sells Coke, people in India like it and buy it; but this doesn't have implications for things that are actually cultural, such as attitudes to gender, political values, etc.
I think there are two phenomena:
(1) General Westernization. That certainly still takes place, as you point out. The question is how deep that Westernization is - to put it crudely, is it at "Magna Carta" or "Magna Mac" level?
(2) The emergence of "hardened" subcultures which are resistant to Westernization and which have high birth rates. The evidence from Kaufmann is pretty persuasive about (2).
Here's a nice recent statement of what I take to be the mainstream view.
It's a hopeful story, but again I think this is a version of "in the best of all possible worlds". Sure, if everybody is in a long-run repeated game, then anything can be an equilibrium, including all possible efficient outcomes. That might be possible sometimes, but we don't see many firms pursuing a strategy of recommending their rivals' products.
So, if there are zero per-individual fixed costs from hiring, then it doesn't matter how many sales any salesperson makes. It seems reasonable to assume that fixed costs are non-zero, so that there is a breakeven below which hiring someone wouldn't be worthwhile. Here's some evidence on that which suggests that indeed fixed costs are large.
Right, if both salespeople agreed to swap customers they could cooperate and improve the equilibrium. Standard Coase theorem reasoning applies. But as in many other real-world cases, that kind of enforceable agreement may not be feasible. (What if the salesmen don't know each other? Or there's 1000 firms instead of 2? Note that the salesmen have to know each other. They can't just recommend the other firm's products, because then they're not worth hiring. They're only worth hiring if they are recommending your own products when appropriate, and also being ... (read more)
Can't believe nobody's mentioned Pascal's wager. Surely this is the simplest reason not to sell your soul.
The other reasons seem to me like the irrational tail wagging the rational dog. If you are sure you don't have a soul, then selling it for $10 is not a big deal, just as if someone offered to buy my Thetan and I'm not a scientologist.