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The Library of Scott Alexandria

45 Post author: RobbBB 14 September 2015 01:38AM

I've put together a list of what I think are the best Yvain (Scott Alexander) posts for new readers, drawing from SlateStarCodex, LessWrong, raikoth.net, and Scott's LiveJournal.

The list should make the most sense to people who start from the top and read through it in order, though skipping around is encouraged too. Rather than making a chronological list, I’ve tried to order things by a mix of "where do I think most people should start reading?" plus "sorting related posts together."

This is a work in progress; you’re invited to suggest things you’d add, remove, or shuffle around. Since many of the titles are a bit cryptic, I'm adding short descriptions. See my blog for a version without the descriptions.

 


I. Rationality and Rationalization


II. Probabilism


III. Science and Doubt


IV. Medicine, Therapy, and Human Enhancement


V. Introduction to Game Theory


VI. Promises and Principles


VII. Cognition and Association


VIII. Doing Good


IX. Liberty


X. Progress


XI. Social Justice


XII. Politicization


XIII. Competition and Cooperation


 

If you liked these posts and want more, I suggest browsing the SlateStarCodex archives.

Comments (26)

Comment author: Document 14 September 2015 06:27:58AM 10 points [-]

Any chance of a combined ebook version?

Comment author: nino 05 October 2015 11:07:51AM 7 points [-]

I made epub and mobi versions. Download here. They contain links to all original posts, so anyone who wants to look at comments can click on the title of each post to do that.

Do let me know if anything's massively broken.

Comment author: jaime2000 06 October 2015 04:10:02AM *  1 point [-]

Thank you! The book is fantastic. Combined with The Sequences ebooks that are already floating around (Eliezer Yudkowsky Blog Posts, 2006-2010: An Unofficial Compendium, Rationality: From AI to Zombies, and The Hanson-Yudkowsky AI-Foom Debate) it is now possible for someone to get most of the insights of the rationalist community distilled into extremely efficient book formats.

Do let me know if anything's massively broken.

A large number of posts have extraneous > characters. The affected posts appear to be either SSC posts in which the > character appears at the start of a blockquote and LiveJournal posts in which the > character appears after and in between paragraphs. Examples of the former include "Meditations on Moloch," "Misperceptions on Moloch," and "Book Review: Red Plenty," while examples of the latter include "The Meditation on Creepiness", "The Meditation on Superweapons," and "The Meditation on the War on Applause Lights."

Also, the title of "We Wrestle Not With Flesh And Blood, But Against Powers And Principalitiebs" should be "We Wrestle Not With Flesh And Blood, But Against Powers And Principalities". I normally wouldn't report a typo, but this one appears to have been introduced by the ebook process; the mistake is not in the original article, nor is it on the list of titles RobbBB provided.

Comment author: nino 06 October 2015 08:47:16AM 5 points [-]

Well that's embarrassing. Thanks for the info! Should be fixed now.

Comment author: jaime2000 06 October 2015 09:19:36PM 1 point [-]

Everything looks fine now. Thanks once again!

Comment author: jaime2000 30 May 2016 06:07:14AM *  0 points [-]

I have noticed one more issue. In "Efficient Charity: Do Unto Others…" the symbol "£" is twice corrupted into "ÂŁ". This is not an ebook-wide problem, since "Searching for One-Sided Tradeoffs" and "A Modest Proposal" both use the correct symbol. Apparently this is simply a problem with the source; the copy of the post at the Effective Altruism Forum has this error, but the copy of the post at LessWrong, has the correct symbol.

Comment author: Document 12 November 2015 04:10:51AM *  0 points [-]

Thanks! Downloaded; I don't know whether I'll actually read it (it being apparently over 476,000 words), but it's great to have.

Did you use the method RicardoFonseca described?

Comment author: nino 16 November 2015 05:58:01PM 3 points [-]

I actually went through every post and manually copied out the relevant part of the html code. Then I pasted everything into my text editor (fun fact: vim got quite slow handling the >3mb html file, but emacs handled the task really well) and cleaned it up, replacing all <br><br>'s with </p><p> and such. Then I put all the pictures into a folder and changed the references to point to my local files. Then I put it into calibre to create the epub and mobi versions.

In retrospect, I should have just written a script to do all that because it took way too long. The script would have had to handle the different sites differently (especially the livejournal stuff is pretty messy), but it would have been so much faster. Like seriously.

Comment author: RicardoFonseca 15 September 2015 10:47:05PM *  4 points [-]

All right. Someone tell me if this is decent enough, please. I only did the first section: "Rationality and Rationalization".

Dropbox folder

How I did it:

  • Created an account at Instapaper and used their bookmarklet individually on each article.

  • Used calibre to download the articles from Instapaper and convert them to an ebook (instructions here).

  • Edited the title and other metadata in calibre to make the ebook more relevant and presentable and converted it to epub/mobi formats.

Note that I had to use the Instapaper bookmarklet starting from the last article and going backwards because calibre downloads the articles in reverse chronological order.

I don't think this is ideal, though, because the comment sections of some of these articles are good enough to be included in the reading but Instapaper only retrieves the article post, leaving out everything else. If anyone has a better suggestion, do share :)

Comment author: RobbBB 15 September 2015 11:37:16PM *  3 points [-]

Thanks, Ricardo! In MIRI's ebooks, we've tried linking to the comments section at the bottom of each article. Then people can click through to a website featuring the comments if they're interested; but the ebook itself isn't bloated by the size of the comments sections.

Comment author: Vulture 19 September 2015 09:49:15PM 2 points [-]

Woah, awesome! I would love to see something like this for the whole collection.

Comment author: Gunnar_Zarncke 14 September 2015 05:05:51PM 5 points [-]
Comment author: RobbBB 15 September 2015 09:38:13AM 8 points [-]

Mine is longer: 171 links vs. 111. Mine has more LW and less LJ content.

The lists are mostly independent: I started mine in December 2014. I decided to clean it up and post it now because casebash's version showed there was a lot of demand for something like this, and I wanted a version that was a bit more optimized for new readers to dive in and read straight through.

The two lists overlap quite a bit because so many of Scott's posts are objectively great. I also went through casebash's list and expanded my own list with five items that weren't originally on it: Revenge as Charitable Act, What's in a Name?, Epistemic Learned Helplessness, Approving Reinforces Low-Effort Behaviors, and Schizophrenia and Geomagnetic Storms.

Comment author: Benito 14 September 2015 07:51:35PM 2 points [-]

This one is better organised and I either like the ones I see, or discover gems; not true of the last one.

Comment author: John_Maxwell_IV 01 October 2015 09:29:57AM 4 points [-]
Comment author: John_Maxwell_IV 16 October 2015 12:57:18PM 2 points [-]
Comment author: [deleted] 14 September 2015 11:20:14AM *  3 points [-]

THANK YOU! Any chance for a brief summary of what each are (kinda like the LW Wiki does)

Comment author: RobbBB 15 September 2015 09:48:14AM 2 points [-]

Scott does tend to make his titles pretty cryptic. I could edit the LW version to include brief descriptions, leaving the version on my blog description-free for people who want a cleaner link list.

How much detail would be ideal? E.g., would 7 words per post be better than 20 words (since it'd be easier to skim such a list and spot quick keywords)?

Comment author: RaelwayScot 15 September 2015 08:18:30PM 1 point [-]

I would say be flexible as some topics are much more complex than others. I've found that most summaries on this list have a good length.

Comment author: RobbBB 17 April 2016 05:34:26AM 2 points [-]

I removed the second post (What's in a Name?) from the list because it's been... well, debunked. From a recent SSC link post:

A long time ago I blogged about the name preference effect – ie that people are more positively disposed towards things that sound like their name – so I might like science more because Scott and science start with the same two letters. A bunch of very careful studies confirmed this effect even after apparently controlling for everything. Now Uri Simonsohn says – too bad, it’s all spurious. This really bothers me because I remember specifically combing over these studies and finding them believable at the time. Yet another reminder that things are worse than I thought.

Comment author: gurugeorge 16 September 2015 03:46:19PM 2 points [-]

Great stuff! As someone who's come to all this Bayes/LessWrong stuff quite late, I was surprised to discover that Scott Alexander's blog is one of the more popular in the blogosphere, flying the flag for this sort of approach to rationality. I've noticed that he's liked by people on both the Left and the Right, which is a very good thing. He's a great moderating influence and I think he offers a palatable introduction to a more serious, less biased way of looking at the world, for many people.

Comment author: Raziel123 14 September 2015 03:38:33AM *  2 points [-]

that's amazing!, Great compilation. So many posts I didn´t know even existed.

Comment author: johnjohn 16 September 2015 07:35:28AM 1 point [-]

Is there a list of Scott Alexander's short stories somewhere?

Comment author: RobbBB 16 September 2015 07:18:44PM 4 points [-]

You can find some here: http://raikoth.net/fiction.html

Comment author: CAE_Jones 16 September 2015 09:38:03AM 4 points [-]

Not that I'm aware, but you might check the "fiction" tag on Slatestarcodex. (I remember finding a similarly useful tag on his Livejournal, but I don't remember what it was called OTTOMH).

Comment author: roryokane 19 September 2015 11:03:45AM *  2 points [-]

The LiveJournal tag is also named “fiction”. There are 10 posts under it.