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2017 on Grand Unified Crazy

Since I’ve been blogging pretty consistently again for about a year now, a “year in review” post seems like the thing to do. 2017 has been by far the most active year for my blog in terms of traffic: over 1100 page views on over 700 visitors. This is substantially more than even 2014 when I was posting full-steam-ahead on my core philosophical roadmap.

Unsurprisingly, the largest single chunk of that readership comes from Facebook links (hi friends) but that still accounts for less than a third of total page views. Search engines are next (~150 views) and then we’re down into the weeds.

Perhaps also unsurprisingly, far and away my most popular post this year was that one on Donald Trump. It got more than three times the views as anything else I wrote, and it certainly has had the longest shelf life; it’s regularly getting 5-10 random hits a month nearly a year after I posted it.

From a geographical perspective most of my readers are from Canada (surprise) but still barely half. The U.S. counts for another third or so, and the remainder come from a smattering of places. Germany, U.K., and India all show up semi-regularly; at the bottom of the pack are places like Romania (3 views), Columbia (2 views), and South Africa (1 view) among others.

In terms of what I’ve actually written about this year, it was rather scattershot. The first third or so of the year was anchored by my series on atheism but included a bunch of random stuff too (notably that Trump post). The second third (starting with Pessimism and Emotional Hedging and running through Charging the Self-Trust Battery) was an collection of essays which I am rather proud of. In hindsight they collect around two distinct themes: feminism, and our search for fulfillment.

The final two months of posts (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) have been an exploration of anxiety and love, somewhat more poorly structured and poorly written than my earlier essays, but also a little more personal.

As for my favourite post from the year? Our Need for Need. Something about it still rings true.

I have no specific plans for 2018 right now, so we’ll see what starts showing up in my brain in January. Onwards.


More Wrong (AKA Oops)

It’s not as close as I thought. I should know better than to broadcast a blanket statement like that while I’m still reading through material.

This isn’t to say I disagree with the Less Wrong consensus on everything, of course; it still matches my belief system more closely than your average random blog. But still.

Caveat: the chunk below is not-well-thought out and kind of ranty. Take with salt.

There is a certain kind of intelligence which seems to lead people astray, particularly on the internet, particularly amongst the technically-inclined. You will find these people writing long screeds on matters of philosophy, science, and Truth, often on high-falutin blogs like this one (I consider myself a recovering member of this class of people). They tend to self-identify as (techno-)libertarians, neoreactionaries, “rationalists”, or other similar terms. They tend, on the whole, to be individually extremely intelligent.

This does not prevent them from making idiots of themselves.

The pattern, as it seems to go (from observation of myself as well as popular occurrences like Yudkowsky, Moldbug, Thiel, Graham, and Rhinehart) starts with the demanding of consistency from their value system. It is intolerable, to a mind so capable of understanding how the world works systematically and predictably, that ethics, and other matters of axiology, do not follow the same mold.

Of course the obvious way to achieve ethical consistency is to declare one moral principle higher than any other, and then follow it through to every insane-but-logical conclusion. Sometimes the principle itself is a generally well-regarded one (preference-utilitarianism for Yudkowsky, libertarianism for Thiel and to a lesser extent Graham) while sometimes even that is questionable. Moldbug seems to be working off of some bizarre notion that natural selection somehow grants moral status, and Rhinehart has taken on efficiency as an end in itself.

Regardless of the chosen path, the principle is rigidly and rigorously applied (what else would you expect from highly intelligent systemic thinkers?) until it becomes a self-defeating ad absurdum. And then some. Every bit of it neatly internally consistent and evidence-backed, if you accept the initial axiological premise. And every bit of it defended by an intellect whose identity is tied up in *being* an intellect.

Throw in a tendency to speculate on things they/we know nothing about and you end up with some really scary-weird worldviews, in people who are *absolutely* convinced of both their epistemic correctness and their ethical virtue. Fortunately it’s not like most of these people end up as cult leaders and/or billionaires, right?

Less Wrong

In the time since my last post, while trying to solve interesting problems and wandering around the web reading, I stumbled upon two related websites:

As it turns out, while I do not agree with everything word-for-word they promote, it’s *really* darn close. Close enough, as it turns out, that there isn’t much point in writing the remainder of this blog. The occasional tidbit might come along which demands a post, if there’s something I strongly disagree with or some factual or philosophical matter which falls outside the scope of Less Wrong’s mission. However, if you want to know what I think on some matter, start with the Less Wrong consensus. The odds are pretty good 🙂

As for what you should do instead of reading my blog now that I’m no longer even keeping up the pretence of intending to post: read HPMOR and Less Wrong. Just go read them, right now, you’ll thank me.

For those curious what I *do* disagree with them on, it is mostly quibbles on philosophical axioms (moral, and some metaphysical/epistemic). This doesn’t much affect models-of-the-world as much as it affects how I respond to that model, and what my preferences are.