Less Wrong is a community blog devoted to refining the art of human rationality. Please visit our About page for more information.

Comment author: Vulture 30 August 2014 11:16:15PM 1 point [-]

First media piece on x-risk reduction that I've read which makes not just the ideas but the work itself sound high-status. The article seems to have gravitated towards the clichè "tight-knit cabal of wealthy, sophisticated geniuses quietly saving world from destruction", which it seems to me is probably one of the best ways that it could be spun. I'm certainly no PR person, though.

Comment author: Leonhart 30 August 2014 10:53:57PM 0 points [-]

These make me sad, but not in an objectionable way. Liked and Follow'd. Good Night seems specifically optimised to chill EY, was it your goal?

I am a bit puzzled by one aspect of Good Night, but that may be because I don't understand the tech level that the characters are operating at. In Twilight's place, it seems that the obvious thing to do would be to znxr n pbcl bs urefrys jvgu gur nccebcevngr oberqbz-erqhpgvba arhebzbqvsvpngvba, naq yrnir vg gb xrrc Pryrfgvn pbzcnal. Vs guvf vf cbffvoyr va gur frggvat, V qba'g frr jul guvf vfa'g n pyrne jva; fvapr Gjvyvtug rkcyvpvgyl qbrf abg jnag gung shgher sbe urefrys, fur gurerol fubhyq abg vqragvsl jvgu n ure-jub-qbrf-jnag-gung-shgher, be srne fhowrpgvir pbagvahngvba nf gung pbcl. Lbhe Gjvyvtug vf bs pbhefr serr gb abg-jnag guvf fbyhgvba, ohg vg ohtf zr gung fur qvqa'g guvax bs vg gb erwrpg vg.

Comment author: DanArmak 30 August 2014 10:28:28PM *  0 points [-]

"The stronger must dominate and not mate with the weaker, which would signify the sacrifice of its own higher nature. Only the born weakling can look upon this principle as cruel, and if he does so it is merely because he is of a feebler nature and narrower mind; for if such a law did not direct the process of evolution then the higher development of organic life would not be conceivable at all."

Strip away the slightly overblown rhetoric, and you're left with Social Darwinism: the idea that desirable traits, or "fitness", is strongly heritable on the individual and therefore also the societal level. And racism: the idea that humans can be grouped into discrete categories the differences between which are much greater than the differences between individuals within each group.

Hitler and other Nazi thinkers made a lot of factual errors: mixing genetic/biological and memetic/cultural evolution together and even declaring them inseparable, greatly overstating the discreteness of races, and going against psychometric facts in declaring Jews to be vastly intellectually inferior. But scientific errors, which were not all that glaring given the 1920s state of knowledge and its popularization, and committed by a poorly educated non-scientist, do not make one "deranged" (i.e. crazy in some sense). And very many people in all nations in the 1920s, including some very smart ones, would have agreed with most of his statements, if not necessarily with the specific racial hierarchy he proposed.

The elevation of social Darwinism and racism into an ethical code was also not really unique and certainly I wouldn't call it "deranged", when contrasted with some other popular ideologies and ethical theories of the time (e.g. Communism through revolution, or Anarchism by Propaganda of the Deed, or even the divine right of kings, which only really died in Europe in WW1).

"the personification of the devil as the symbol of all evil assumes the living shape of the Jew."

I don't know whether to call it "deranged" or not. We would need to taboo the word. I do know it is far from original and was a common sentiment among many Christians.

"For how shall we fill people with blind faith in the correctness of a doctrine, if we ourselves spread uncertainty and doubt by constant changes in its outward structure? ...Here, too, we can learn by the example of the Catholic Church. Though its doctrinal edifice, and in part quite superfluously, comes into collision with exact science and research, it is none the less unwilling to sacrifice so much as one little syllable of its dogmas... it is only such dogmas which lend to the whole body the character of a faith."

I really don't see what's wrong here; it's a sound instrumental prescription. Is the entire Catholic Church "deranged" for following this rule?

Comment author: IlyaShpitser 30 August 2014 10:20:35PM 0 points [-]

<p>

http://lesswrong.com/lw/ase/schelling_fences_on_slippery_slopes/

You are quite right, there is a slippery slope here!

</p>

Comment author: IlyaShpitser 30 August 2014 10:17:27PM 0 points [-]

<p>

Ok, but his platform then logically includes taking the former Baltic republics, probably big chunks out of central asian republics, and depending on the reading parts of Brooklyn also.

There are lots of Han Chinese in all sorts of places.

There are lots of mexicans in California.

I guess they didn't like it.

You treat the local opinion as monolithic, your analysis is superficial.

</p>

Comment author: AnnaLeptikon 30 August 2014 10:15:02PM 0 points [-]

Since I will not be able to attend "the rational ritual retreat" I will just post my thoughts on this topic here :) I already talked about this with some of the people from LessWrong Vienna, but I will write it down for the whole community, too:

What do you think about "rational alternatives" to important conventional events (but of course not exactly on the official dates - because people probably meet their families then) or creating "rational annual events"? I personally don't experience big meaning in official celebrations, but I actually enjoy celebrations, even more with smart people who in general share my interests :) Also all the official celebrations probably had an important purpose in the wheel of the year - for me they all lost their purpose over time (because not believing in it or not taking part in it) so at least the rational alternatives should deliver it.

Some vague ideas I had:

  • rational alternative to christmas: We could have a talk or invite someone to speak about effective altruism (I personally associate christmas with "giving") and then reflect about which projects we would love to support monetarily and collect money or something like that (maybe someone of you has better ideas?)

  • rational alternative to New Year's Eve/Day (doesn't have to be exactly on this day) : coming together, celebrating the old/new year with good food (maybe cooking together or something like that) or whatever you like - but instead of just mention some new year's resolutions making it a huge part of the evening/day -> exercises for reflection about the last year and wishes/plans for the next (+ use Alex Vermeer's guide), defining new goals, sharing background knowledge about goal setting and motivation, publicly announcing goals for social control/pressure (I would offer to have some talks about the topics)

  • rational alternative to the fasting period: I think fasting is not a stupid idea - there is also research that shows that reducing the daily intake correlates with a longer life in general (yeah, I know, correlation...) and I experienced that eating far less can really help to "free your mind". However: Also to just reflect about our diet, have some healthy cooking events together, trying soylent collectively or something like that would be an option. Or to do a lot of sport!

  • rational alternative to Easter: since it's officially about "Jesus who overcame death" we could make a event about longevity and immortality and share scientific research on the topics

  • summer/winter solstice: someone who is into this topics could teach the rest more about astronomy/astro physics

Of course I'm aware that there is no need to have any connection/correlation to official christian celebrations (and that some even might think it's contraindicated) - we can of course invent our own things independently (designed for a special purpose)

Comment author: AnnaLeptikon 30 August 2014 10:07:37PM 0 points [-]

Skype conferences and private talks spreading the know-how in a pyramid scheme should be as effective as flying there - and it's a lot cheaper!

Comment author: Gunnar_Zarncke 30 August 2014 10:05:43PM 0 points [-]

I'm inspired to morph our usual years end come together into a rational ritual thingy. And I'm curious what comes out of Raemons retreat.

Comment author: Gunnar_Zarncke 30 August 2014 09:59:20PM 0 points [-]

Thank you. An interesting read. I found your treatment very thorough given its premises and approach. Sadly we disagree at a point which you seem to take as given without further treatment but which I question:

The ability and energy to set-up infrastructure to exploit interplanetary resources with sufficient net energy gain to sufficiently mine mercury (much less build a dyson sphere).

The problem here is that I do not have refereneces to actually back my opinion on this and I didn't have enough time yet to build my complexity theoretic and thermodynamics arguments into a sufficiently presentable form.

http://lesswrong.com/lw/ii5/baseline_of_my_opinion_on_lw_topics/

Comment author: Sean_o_h 30 August 2014 09:40:58PM *  1 point [-]

Thank you! We appear to have been successful with our first foundation grant; however, the official award T&C letter comes next week, so we'll know then what we can do with it, and be able to say something more definitive. We're currently putting the final touches on our next grant application (requesting considerably more funds).

I think the sentence in question refers to a meeting on existential/extreme technological risk we will be holding in Berlin, in collaboration with the German Government, on 19th of September. We hope to use this as an opportunity to forge some collaborations in relevant areas of risk with European research networks, and with a bit of luck, to put existential risk mitigation a little higher on the European policy agenda. We'll be releasing a joint press release with the German Foreign Office as soon as we've got this grant out of the way!

Comment author: Gunnar_Zarncke 30 August 2014 09:35:57PM 0 points [-]

MCT oil is an intersting suggestion, but I will likely not try anything new here in combination with fasting - that is bound to create confounding which I wil be unable to unentangle.

Comment author: AlexMennen 30 August 2014 09:34:40PM *  1 point [-]

I agree that there are better articles to direct people towards. I doubt this piece does much damage just by existing, though; it seems more likely that it's either net neutral or slightly net positive.

Also, from the article,

After a two-year gestation, the CSER gets properly up and running next month.

Congratulations.

Comment author: Gunnar_Zarncke 30 August 2014 09:34:12PM 0 points [-]

If I don't eat breakfast in the morning I don't develop any pronounced hunger until midday. But I notice that cycling or brisk walking without breakfast makes me feel somewhat weak (not that I'd develop hunger because of it).

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 30 August 2014 08:54:55PM 0 points [-]

Well, someone needs to fly there and copy all their know-how. Are we rational enough to coordinate at this?

Comment author: Sean_o_h 30 August 2014 08:54:54PM 0 points [-]

Nearly certainly, unfortunately that communication didn't involve me so I don't know which one it is! But I'll ask him when I next see him, and send you a link. http://www.econ.cam.ac.uk/people/crsid.html?crsid=pd10000&group=emeritus

Comment author: V_V 30 August 2014 08:45:15PM 0 points [-]

All remaining German WW1 reparations were cancelled in 1932, and were under moratorium since before then.

Didn't know that, thanks.

Could you point out what was deranged about it, exactly?

"The stronger must dominate and not mate with the weaker, which would signify the sacrifice of its own higher nature. Only the born weakling can look upon this principle as cruel, and if he does so it is merely because he is of a feebler nature and narrower mind; for if such a law did not direct the process of evolution then the higher development of organic life would not be conceivable at all."
"the personification of the devil as the symbol of all evil assumes the living shape of the Jew."
"For how shall we fill people with blind faith in the correctness of a doctrine, if we ourselves spread uncertainty and doubt by constant changes in its outward structure? ...Here, too, we can learn by the example of the Catholic Church. Though its doctrinal edifice, and in part quite superfluously, comes into collision with exact science and research, it is none the less unwilling to sacrifice so much as one little syllable of its dogmas... it is only such dogmas which lend to the whole body the character of a faith."

And so on.

Comment author: lukeprog 30 August 2014 08:34:21PM 0 points [-]

Is the paper mentioned and apparently quoted in the Guardian article, which Dasgupta described as "somewhat informal," available anywhere?

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 30 August 2014 08:33:34PM *  1 point [-]

Better.

To taboo the SJW-like words, here is what I mean: worship of physical power, enthusiasm about war, emphasis on reproduction of purebloods, agression against people different from the norm.

Comment author: V_V 30 August 2014 08:31:20PM 0 points [-]

Above all, we should acknowledge that the collapse of the Soviet Union was a major geopolitical disaster of the century. As for the Russian nation, it became a genuine drama. Tens of millions of our co-citizens and co-patriots found themselves outside Russian territory.

Without condoning, I think I understand his point: Soviet Union was a multi-ethinic country dominated by a Russian ethnic majority (partially due to deliberate ethnic cleansing and genocide).
When Soviet Union collapsed, it was precipitously broken up along administrative or historical internal borders, without giving much thought to the ethnic compositions of the countries that were formed. Russians who found themselves cut off from Russia went overnight from being the dominant ethnicity to being an ethnical minority. I guess they didn't like it.

Putin has a platform based on Russian nationalism, hence catering to the plight of the "co-citizens and co-patriots found themselves outside Russian territory" is natural to him. It panders to his electorate and, should he indeed succeed to annex them, he could probably count them as his supporters.

All of this seems consistent with Putin wanting to annex Russophones, as I said in my comment upthread. He certainly isn't ranting about a divine mission to destroy "the Jew" and reclaim the Lebensraum for a Thousand-Year Empire.

Comment author: DanArmak 30 August 2014 08:18:23PM 0 points [-]

Maintaining trade relationships with other European countries wasn't really much beneficial for 1938-era Germany, and in fact it could be argued that it was actively harmful, given the huge foreign debt from WW1 reparations.

All remaining German WW1 reparations were cancelled in 1932, and were under moratorium since before then. They had nothing to do with the beginning of the war in 1938.

The German economy through the 1930s was suffering from a foreign trade imbalance - it relied on crucial imports while not having enough exports to earn the trade balance to pay for them. This remained true even after the annexation of Austria and parts of Czechoslovakia. If Germany had not conquered such a large territory in 1938-1940, if the war had merely become another stalemate with trenches and mostly stable fronts (as many military thinkers predicted), Germany would have run out of supplies in less than half a year and collapse. (This was why much of the German army leadership quietly opposed Hitler's plans until the Battle of France.)

Expanding trade and avoiding a French-British blockade and a US embargo seemed to be top economic priorities for Germany in 1938-1939. It turned out that making war was a bigger one.

My source: The Wages Of Destruction: The Making and Breaking of the Nazi Economy, Adam Tooze.

The US wasn't that much interested in European affairs back then. Certainly there wasn't anything comparable to the NATO.

The US withdrew from European affairs during the Great Depression. But by 1938 it was back and it was clear that in another European war, while it may not participate, it would supply Britain and France with arms, loans and everything else it could, if only to make sure they could repay their remaining loans from WW1.

I agree it was less clear that the US would enter the war. In fact Hitler declared war on the US for a reason that looks laughably trivial in retrospect. Then again, he believed war with the US was inevitable anyway; I don't remember right now what his reasons were for believing that.

Also, nuclear weapons didn't exist in 1938.

I don't think that makes such a big difference. Today several actors have nuclear weapons, which balances things out. In 1938 nobody did, but the US still had the biggest economy in the world (although it would take a few years to get up to speed for war) and could decisively tilt the balance in any war it intervened in at full capacity.

Except that he had written a book detailing his deranged political plan that he had then been following to the letter.

Could you point out what was deranged about it, exactly? (Parenthetically: It's hard to have a discussion when you use an emotionally charged term like deranged without making any actual descriptive statements.)

Comment author: V_V 30 August 2014 08:04:34PM 0 points [-]

The principle that we should not be moral cowards

I don't see this as a moral issue.

encapsulated in the famous "First they came for..." poem.

https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/slippery-slope

Comment author: Stuart_Armstrong 30 August 2014 08:00:48PM 1 point [-]
Comment author: ChristianKl 30 August 2014 08:00:38PM 0 points [-]

There's a lot of misunderstanding of science due to simplified reporting. Anders Sandberg and Avi Roy have a good article on this in health

I don't think the article you linked does demonstrate that reporting produces misunderstanding. You have to think about the alternative. How does the average person form their beliefs? They might hear something from a friend. They might read the horoscope.

Even when the journalist actually writes "scientists think we need to learn more about this, and recommend use of the precautionary principle before engaging" many readers will simply read "scientists say 'don't do this" or they simply ignore it. Especially when you focus on what they actually remember from reading the article.

Comment author: DanArmak 30 August 2014 07:55:25PM *  0 points [-]

It hasn't been practiced. If it starts being practiced, however, it may be as harmful as Ilya claims, so his argument deserves a response. But saying:

I'm saying we live in a world where a right to self-determination has been recognized for something like a century now, even if it does not come with an automatic invasion authorization from the UN Security Council. So far, I'm not sure if it's been all that bad

Is not evidence because it hasn't been really practiced so far.

Also:

do international abstractions have no force and no consequences

I'm not claiming anything about other abstractions, some of which definitely have force, just this one.

Comment author: DanArmak 30 August 2014 07:50:16PM 0 points [-]

The notion of self determination is that every people can govern themselves. It's a group right. Not one of individual persons.

I don't see how to reconcile this with your statement that:

The notion of self-determination is not primarily about referendums and plebiscites. A government that's backed by a home grown military coup doesn't violate the principle.

If a government doesn't have popular majority support, and so it would not win a referendum, but keeps power anyway through military force, how does this uphold a group right for self-governance? Wouldn't the group right argue in favor of anyone who doesn't support the government being self-governing and uncoerced by their military powre?

Party of self-determination means that a country can't remove a king of another country even if 60% of the population dislikes the king and would prefer another kind of political system then monarchy.

On that view, Russia was wrong in supporting Crimean separatism.

A bunch of smaller groups of native Americans got some form of autonomy that allowed them to start casinos in the desert and do a bunch of things that are otherwise illegal in the US. I'm okay with handling it like that.

I don't know anything about Native American rights and politics in the USA, but I expect that this autonomy is granted because the majority feels guilty over past conquest and oppression and is trying to make amends. A different group of comparable size (say, people of Chinese descend) would not be allowed to "do a bunch of things that are otherwise illegal" merely because they had a minority ethnic status and wanted self-determination.

Comment author: Mac 30 August 2014 07:46:55PM 0 points [-]

So the Great Filter (preventing the emergence of star-spanning civilizations) must strike before AI could be developed.

Maybe AI is the Great Filter, even if it is friendly.

The friendly AI could determine that colonization of what we define as “our universe” is unnecessary or detrimental to our goals. Seems unlikely, but I wouldn’t rule it out.

Comment author: James_Miller 30 August 2014 07:46:42PM 1 point [-]

Gut flora is really complicated and we don't know a huge amount about it. You should look into MCT oil as this purportedly positively effects gut flora. If you try it, however, go slow at first.

A good test as to your insulin reactions is to notice what happens if you don't eat until you have been up for, say, five hours. If you become consumed with hunger pains it's a sign of weakness. Your caveman body should be able to easily go this long without food unless your sugar-hungry gut flora have hijacked your brain to send you "feed us now!" signals.

Comment author: cameroncowan 30 August 2014 07:42:11PM 2 points [-]

I've worked in PR for the better part of 10 years and I've worked for sticky things like politics where context is everything and you are right, editors love to pull out something that "looks" very dramatic to get attention and the Guardian is notorious for this. However, I think the best thing to do is to fight fire with fire. Whatever media you do you should respond to the serious pieces with blog posts of your own. Clarifying things and making your side of the story known is just as important. I am also a believer in that you shouldn't leave your message in the hands of other people. I would then follow these stories up with awesome videos/blog posts of your own that people can interact with on a variety of platforms. That would allow you to get your message out in your way. That way when you do take that interview there is plenty to talk about. Its all about controlling the message.

Comment author: IlyaShpitser 30 August 2014 07:36:51PM *  0 points [-]

<p>

Except that he had written a book detailing his deranged political plan that he had then been following to the letter.

"Above all, we should acknowledge that the collapse of the Soviet Union was a major geopolitical disaster of the century. As for the Russian nation, it became a genuine drama. Tens of millions of our co-citizens and co-patriots found themselves outside Russian territory. Moreover, the epidemic of disintegration infected Russia itself." -- the famous 2005 speech.

</p>

Comment author: Benito 30 August 2014 07:33:37PM 0 points [-]

Or even Britain. It's irritating that those rationalists in America consistently refuse to fly over to Britain just to include me in everything.

Comment author: ChristianKl 30 August 2014 07:33:33PM 0 points [-]

If the government of a breakaway region isn't backed by its population but relies on military force, is it self-determination?

The notion of self determination is that every people can govern themselves. It's a group right. Not one of individual persons. Party of self-determination means that a country can't remove a king of another country even if 60% of the population dislikes the king and would prefer another kind of political system then monarchy.

(Do you think Ukrainian is going to have minority language status in Russian-occupied Crimea?)

That depends very much about how the conflict plays out. I do believe that if things go according to Putins plan, that's the outcome. Neither the EU nor Russia wants to wage war against each other, so sooner or later they have to negotiate a settlement. Russia wants a settlement that gives Crimea international recognition and is probably willing to give the Ukrainians and Tatars in Crimea minority rights in exchange.

Putin makes moves so that he will have a settlement which is overall beneficial for Russia. Winter is coming and the EU needs gas. As long as the West doesn't want to settle Putin is going to take more territory in Ukraine. I don't completely understand what game plan Obama follows and what his goal happens to be in the conflict.

(Your comment doesn't seem to be a response to my question about minimum size)

A bunch of smaller groups of native Americans got some form of autonomy that allowed them to start casinos in the desert and do a bunch of things that are otherwise illegal in the US. I'm okay with handling it like that.

Comment author: IlyaShpitser 30 August 2014 07:31:38PM *  0 points [-]

<p>

The principle that we should not be moral cowards, and defend shelling points even if they do not involve us directly yet, encapsulated in the famous "First they came for..." poem.

</p>

Comment author: gwern 30 August 2014 07:30:55PM 0 points [-]

The right to self-determination seems to me to have been "recognized" as propaganda, but practically never practiced.

If it has not been practiced, then it cannot be harmful as Ilya claims. So which is it: do international abstractions have no force and no consequences, in which case it doesn't matter at all, Kantian or otherwise, which abstractions are mouthed? Or do they matter at least a little bit? In which case you don't seem to have demonstrated any harm from the abstraction - fighting bloody civil wars is not a new phenomenon.

Comment author: cameroncowan 30 August 2014 07:30:47PM 0 points [-]

I'm a big fan of "The Fast Diet" which advocates fasting 2 non consecutive days a week. I've lost weight on it and feel better.

Comment author: V_V 30 August 2014 07:23:24PM *  0 points [-]

it would at the very least be financially crippled by loss of trade with Western European countries

Maintaining trade relationships with other European countries wasn't really much beneficial for 1938-era Germany, and in fact it could be argued that it was actively harmful, given the huge foreign debt from WW1 reparations.

the conflict would likely excalate to a full scale conventional war with the US

The US wasn't that much interested in European affairs back then. Certainly there wasn't anything comparable to the NATO.
Also, nuclear weapons didn't exist in 1938.

Hitler may not be exactly a nice guy, but in 1938 he certainly doesn't seem crazy.

Except that he had written a book detailing his deranged political plan that he had then been following to the letter.

Comment author: cameroncowan 30 August 2014 07:20:01PM 0 points [-]

Yes I think in a different scenario the US would be more hawkish on Russia without War weariness and better economic conditions. This is basic war theory.

You are right, Putin could certain point at increased troops in Germany as the West getting ready for war and it might lead to mobilization, however, as Putin is in no mood and Russia is in no economic condition for a protracted war with the West I think it would have the correct provocative effect. I don't think Putin would slow down but it would make everyone at the Kremlin think twice. I would keep them there for about 3 months and then send them home.

The Fed has a few billion rubles because all global trade accounts must balance and the Federal Reserves keeps vast quantities of every trading partners currency so that trade accounts will balance, they can re-buy American debt in local currency, and for stability of global markets. So yes, you could dump a few billion rubles by re-buying certain amounts of American debt from China and paying for it in Rubles.

Comment author: cameroncowan 30 August 2014 07:15:39PM 0 points [-]

Thank you for proving my point.

Comment author: V_V 30 August 2014 07:09:35PM 0 points [-]

Well, that's a load off my mind! For a second there I thought he was rebuilding an empire using completely transparent Soviet-era pretexts in small enough steps that the West is unable to overcome its paralysis.

Does he want to annex another Chechnya or two?

Look, it's very simple. Putin is a predator, and Europe would rather have warm homes in winter than stand on principle.

What principle? Why should Europeans give away their worm homes and cheap electricity to defend the territorial integrity of countries which aren't even part of the EU or the NATO?

Comment author: Vulture 30 August 2014 07:01:39PM 0 points [-]

The point is to reduce selection bias.

Comment author: brazil84 30 August 2014 06:46:21PM 0 points [-]

I'm not sure whether I'm running cool, but usually I loose weight if I don't make sure that I eat enough. I don't feel hunger easily and on top of that I'm a picky eater. An enviable mutation in our society I guess.

Yes, there's a huge problem with people whose natural instincts lead them to regularly overeat.

I didn't mean the effect of my overall diet. I'm quite confident that it's healthy. I meant the effect of the fasting. To reliably detect if something goes wrong quickly or slowly.

I would include fasting in the concept of one's diet. That's what I meant anyway.

Comment author: AnnaLeptikon 30 August 2014 06:44:50PM 0 points [-]

I would love to attend at "The Rational Ritual Retreat" but I expect it will not be near Austria or Bavaria :(

Comment author: Gunnar_Zarncke 30 August 2014 06:38:03PM 0 points [-]

But from what I have read, sugar cuts against all of the reasonable goals of fasting such as getting better gut flora, improving insulin reactions, and becoming keto-adapted.

You might be right too. I didn't know that sugar negatively affects gut flora but I wouldn't be surprised. I'm not sure whether there is any need to improve insulin reactions. From my last consultation ('readings like a 19 year old') I'd guess that there is little room for improvement - but I surely wouldn't want to degrade my insulin cycle.

Im not clear whether the benefits of keto-adaptation outweight the disadvantages for me.

If your goal is to lose weight, paleo seems to work for lots of people, and a huge part of paleo is consuming very little sugar. I try to consume less than 30 grams a day. I started paleo when I was older then you are now.

It isn't. I'm lean and near optimum weight; I could just need a bit more exercise. My main goals are a) to learn how my body behaves under this regime and b) if possible to improve gut flora.

Comment author: AnnaLeptikon 30 August 2014 06:23:36PM 1 point [-]

The general problem of fasting and extremely reduced intakes is that the metabolism slows down. Also you first lose a lot of muscles, then a bit of fat - when going on eating normal you burn less than before (because of less muscles) and therefore gain more fat. So for your body's composition I would say: Don't do it. (There is this great German book called "Die Physik des Abnehmens" = "the physics of weight loss" in which a physicist explains all this things very nicely)

However: I personally tried fasting for the mental effect, I was able to concentrate even better than normal, I liked the feeling of being "independent" from food and of being able to get through all of this things. (But I will not do it again because I try to get less body fat :) )

Comment author: satt 30 August 2014 06:23:23PM *  0 points [-]

Which are?

Which is that one can have many sexual partners over some time period (promiscuity) without having multiple sexual partners simultaneously (concurrency), and one can have multiple sexual partners over some time period (concurrency) without having many (promiscuity).

Suppose Person A abstains from sex through the even months of each year, but in every other month (i.e. January, March, and so on) they have sex with one (& only one) new person. (So for example in January 2006 they have sex with a first person; in February 2006 they have no sex; in March 2006 they have sex with a second person; in April 2006, no sex; in May 2006, sex with a third person, and so on.) In the course of 50 sexually active years, then, they have 300 different sexual partners.

Suppose person B has weekly sex with 2 other people for 5 years, then weekly sex with 2 completely different people for the next 5 years, then weekly sex with 2 more completely different people for the 5 years after that, and so on. In the course of 50 sexually active years, they have only 20 different sexual partners.

Person B is liable to be a more efficacious transmitter of HIV than person A, despite person A being far more promiscuous.

Your theory predicts that promiscuous heterosexual westerners should be getting HIV at rates similar to Southern Africa. Near as I can tell this is not the case.

One, you are still conflating promiscuity and MCPs.

Two, do uncircumcized (if male) Western heterosexuals with MCPs get HIV at rates substantially below Southern Africa? Taking the 2011 statistics on Southern Africans living with HIV from Wikipedia's table, summing them, and dividing by the total population of those countries, I get 8.7%. This is high by general Western standards, but it's not obvious to me that HIV prevalence is lower among the unusual subset of Western heterosexuals we're talking about.

I've tried looking for hard numbers on HIV prevalence among swingers and the polyamorous and not found much. (A 2010 article in Sexually Transmitted Infections reports on a convenience sample of swingers, 4%-10% of whom had various STIs, though the paper didn't report on HIV specifically. Another article, in Sexologies, reports results from interviews with Montreal swingers, but HIV prevalence doesn't seem to have been assessed. These are the kinds of paper I'm finding.) Do you have hard numbers on how many swingers and polyamorous people in the West have HIV?

Three, my(!) theory explains why Southern Africa is distinct from similarly broad aggregates of humanity like heterosexuals in the rest of Africa, or heterosexuals in Europe (since those were the levels of aggregation under discussion earlier). You're now trying to apply the theory to a finer-grained population, specifically uncircumcized (if male) Western heterosexuals with MCPs, and when you zero in on an unrepresentative subpopulation like that, the relevant causes of differences in HIV rates will likely change, however applicable the theory is to the wider population. So your alleged falsification is not as clear-cut as you imply.

Comment author: Risto_Saarelma 30 August 2014 06:14:11PM 0 points [-]

Good Night was really great.

Comment author: DanArmak 30 August 2014 05:57:07PM 1 point [-]

The notion of self-determination is not primarily about referendums and plebiscites. A government that's backed by a home grown military coup doesn't violate the principle.

Then I'm confused. If the government of a breakaway region isn't backed by its population but relies on military force, is it self-determination? If nation A conquers half of nation B and sets up a state where a minority rules by force, is that self-determination? I thought the answer was clearly no in both cases, but if a government backed only by a military coup (i.e. force majeure) counts as "self-determination" then I'm totally confused as to what you mean by those words.

Not every group of people is an ethnic group with the corresponding rights.

In this case you have a majority of Crimeas who speak Russian. You had the the government in Kiev who came to power as the president fled the city because armed Ukrainian nationals took power over the city. They continued to destroy buildings of communist party. Then they passed laws to remove the status of minority languages.

In that climate Crimeans have a valid interest to secede.

(Your comment doesn't seem to be a response to my question about minimum size)

Since their "referendum" passed under Russian commando control I have no idea what percentage of the population might be opposed to independence, let alone opposed to Russian rule. 58.5% of the population of Crimea are Russians, but 24% are Ukrainians and 10.2% are Crimean Tatars many of whom only recently returned from a decades-long exile originally imposed by Stalin. No matter how this plays out there is going to be a severely oppressed minority maybe as large as 34%. (Do you think Ukrainian is going to have minority language status in Russian-occupied Crimea?)

That a question about who sets the boundaries. In the case of Crimea the natural boundaries work quite well. In the case of Scotland the boundaries are also obvious.

For Crimea and Scotland this may be true. I was talking about generalizing the principle of self-determination.

Comment author: James_Miller 30 August 2014 05:54:15PM *  0 points [-]

We don't get to inject our priors onto the universe.

It is my understanding that if we have priors we absolutely must inject them onto the universe to formulate the best possible mental map of it.

Who knows why we exist so late. We just do. We don't get to extract information from that observation because we don't know the universe's priors.

But we do have lots of information about this. For example, the reason is not that earth is the only planet in our galaxy. And we have the potential of gaining lots more information such as if we find extraterrestrial life. I'm sure you don't mean to imply that if we do not have a complete understanding of a phenomenon we must ignore that phenomenon when formulating beliefs.

In response to comment by Jiro on Persistent Idealism
Comment author: kalium 30 August 2014 05:27:06PM 0 points [-]

I'd read it as a loss of motivation to the extent of making it hard or impossible to keep doing that demanding, high-paying job that you're doing so you can have more to give. Happens to plenty of people in demanding jobs even if they're giving nothing.

Comment author: Azathoth123 30 August 2014 05:26:18PM 0 points [-]

Your question blurs the distinction between promiscuity and multiple concurrent partnerships

Which are?

If your question is about something subtly different (e.g. if you're asking about HIV in general among those groups, not subtype C in particular), please clarify.

Your theory predicts that promiscuous heterosexual westerners should be getting HIV at rates similar to Southern Africa. Near as I can tell this is not the case.

Comment author: Azathoth123 30 August 2014 05:21:34PM 0 points [-]

Which memetic victory? Marxism/communism/Soviet ideology pretty much imploded after the fall of the USSR. Look at what China did. I think it was a total memetic loss for the Soviets.

And yet the current head of the EU is a not-quite-repentant former Soviet apologist.

Comment author: Sean_o_h 30 August 2014 05:21:11PM *  0 points [-]

"A journalist doesn't have any interest not to engage in sensationalism."

Yes. Lazy shorthand in my last lw post, apologies. I should have said something along the lines of "in order to clarify our concerns , and not give the journalist the honest impression we though these things all represented imminent doom, which might result in sensationalist coverage" - as in, sensationalism resulting from misunderstanding. If the journalist chooses deliberately to engage in sensationalism, that's a slightly different thing - and yes, it sells newspapers.

"Editors want to write articles that the average person understands. It's their job to simplify. That still has a good chance of leaving the readers more informed than they were before reading the article."

Yes. I merely get concerned when "scientists think we need to learn more about this, and recommend use of the precautionary principle before engaging" gets simplified to "scientists say 'don't do this", as in that case it's not clear to me that readers come away with a better understanding of the issue. There's a lot of misunderstanding of science due to simplified reporting. Anders Sandberg and Avi Roy have a good article on this in health (as do others): http://theconversation.com/the-seven-deadly-sins-of-health-and-science-reporting-21130

"It's not the kind of article that I would sent people who have an background and who approach you. On the other hand it's quite fine for the average person."

Thanks, helpful.

Comment author: satt 30 August 2014 05:16:49PM *  0 points [-]

Though in the case of ITER the "steady progress" is finishing pouring concrete for the foundations, not tweaking tokamak parameters for higher gain!

Comment author: satt 30 August 2014 05:15:13PM 0 points [-]

Yeah, I'd add the word "Either" to the start of the post's title.

Comment author: Benito 30 August 2014 05:10:25PM 2 points [-]

I definitely tight it was one of the best pieces of X-Risk Journalism I've seen, in so far as spreading good information in a considered tone of voice.

Comment author: Azathoth123 30 August 2014 05:06:52PM 0 points [-]

Things like the Nashi movement,

Looking at the article, I don't see what specifically you're considering "racist". It would help if you stated your definition. Ok, it would help even more if you didn't through around words commonly used by SJW's to mean "anyone I disagree with".

and laws against LGBT people.

You mean like the laws every country had until maybe a couple decades ago?

If you take a typical Nazi, reduce his hate of Jews by 80%, and convert him using the chronophone to a post-Soviet culture, this is what passes as "left" here.

So are the Russian creating an overarching recreational organization and bringing all private clubs under its control?

Comment author: ChristianKl 30 August 2014 05:06:04PM 0 points [-]

Similarly, in a pre-emptive line to ward off sensationalism

A journalist doesn't have any interest not to engage in sensationalism.

Things that are v reasonable with qualifies can become v unreasonable if you remove the qualifiers - and editors often just see the qualifiers as unnecessary verbosity (or want the piece to have stronger, more senational claims)

Editors want to write articles that the average person understands. It's their job to simplify. That still has a good chance of leaving the readers more informed than they were before reading the article.

Explaining things to the average person is hard.

It's not the kind of article that I would sent people who have an background and who approach you. On the other hand it's quite fine for the average person.

Comment author: satt 30 August 2014 05:01:40PM 1 point [-]

The difference is that Newton also had plenty of right ideas.

What did you think of the four Freudian ideas Viliam_Bur suggested to you?

Comment author: satt 30 August 2014 04:40:52PM 0 points [-]

This brings us to a couple of additional reasons why Freud-bashing, or tarring Freud as irrational, could be unfair. Maybe he was a necessary step along the road to scientific psychology. Maybe it's an unfair double standard to bash Freud while ignoring the wrongnesses of (e.g.) Galileo & Newton.

I personally disagree with the first reason. True or not, I don't see it as justifying the wilful shoddiness from which a big chunk of Freud's work apparently suffers. I see no reason why a counterfactual Freud couldn't have come up with basically the same ideas without engaging in PR campaigns, unforced errors, and lies.

I'm more open to the second argument, but I'd want evidence that Galileo & Newton not only had "plenty of wrong ideas", but tried to further those wrong ideas by bullshitting & fabricating as much as Freud did to further his wrong ideas. Otherwise there's no real double standard.

As it happens, both Galileo & Newton have been accused of scientific misconduct. I don't really know the details about Galileo's case, but I know some for the case against Newton. In short, Newton used fudge factors to shift various estimates of physical quantities in his Principia. However, reading the rap sheet more closely, it sounds like Newton was quite explicit about making his adjustments, in which case he wasn't engaging in misconduct. I'd guess there's some similar subtlety in Galileo's case which people miss, but as ever I could be wrong.

There may be other similarly famous scientists who were crowned geniuses and really did use misconduct to defend substantially wrong beliefs. Mendel, Kepler, Ptolemy, Pasteur, Robert Millikan, and even Einstein are promising candidates, having all been accused of scientific misconduct.

I know little about the Einsten, Kepler, or Ptolemy accusations. As for the others, my lay understanding is that scientists still argue over whether the close match between Mendel's data and Mendel's theory is suspicious (and indeed whether it can be explained by unconscious bias rather than conscious fiddling); that Pasteur suppressed the results of experiments which seemed to contradict germ theory, and didn't cooperate with other scientists who wanted to run such experiments; and that Millikan lied about excluding his least plausible data points in his reports on his oil-drop experiments. So Pasteur & Millikan both lied about which results they were presenting, but the results themselves were all genuine, and both researchers were defending theories which were basically correct, not incorrect. Mendel, meanwhile, may not have committed misconduct at all! So I've yet to find a true parallel to Freud in the STEM pantheon.

Comment author: ChristianKl 30 August 2014 04:11:20PM 0 points [-]

Local people were not consulted by a referendum or plebiscite, and in no case that I'm aware of did previously multi-ethnic or multi-cultural states peacefully divide into nation states.

The notion of self-determination is not primarily about referendums and plebiscites. A government that's backed by a home grown military coup doesn't violate the principle.

What is the minimum size of a group that may secede (since no-one will recognize family or tribe-sized states in practice)?

Not every group of people is an ethnic group with the corresponding rights.

In this case you have a majority of Crimeas who speak Russian. You had the the government in Kiev who came to power as the president fled the city because armed Ukrainian nationals took power over the city. They continued to destroy buildings of communist party. Then they passed laws to remove the status of minority languages.

In that climate Crimeans have a valid interest to secede.

How much gerrymandering in the geographical boundaries do you allow?

That a question about who sets the boundaries. In the case of Crimea the natural boundaries work quite well. In the case of Scotland the boundaries are also obvious.

In the case of the Basque country or Padania I'm sure that you could find a way to set reasonable boundaries.

Comment author: Sarokrae 30 August 2014 04:05:48PM 0 points [-]

I wouldn't worry too much about the comments. Even Guardian readers don't hold the online commentariat of the Guardian in very high esteem, and it's reader opinion, not commenter opinion, that matters the most.

It seems like the most highly upvoted comments are pretty sane anyway!

Comment author: ColbyDavis 30 August 2014 04:02:50PM 0 points [-]

Has anybody suggested that the great filter may be that AIs are negative utilitarians that destroy life on their planet? My prior on this is not very high but it's a neat solution to the puzzle.

Comment author: byrnema 30 August 2014 04:00:03PM 0 points [-]

True. I linked the article as an example of the idealistic journalist, one that is disappointed that his motives are distrusted by the public.

Comment author: DanArmak 30 August 2014 03:59:35PM 2 points [-]

You're right. I don't know what came over me :-( Amended, and thanks.

Comment author: Sean_o_h 30 August 2014 03:56:29PM 0 points [-]

Thanks, reassuring. I've mainly been concerned about a) just how silly the paperclip thing looks in the context it's been put b) the tone, a bit - as one commenter on the article put it

"I find the light tone of this piece - "Ha ha, those professors!" to be said with an amused shake of the head - most offensive. Mock all you like, but some of these dangers are real. I'm sure you'll be the first to squeal for the scientists to do something if one them came true. Price asks whether I have heard of the philosophical conundrum the Prisoner's Dilemma. I have not. Words fail me. Just what do you know then son? Once again, the Guardian sends a boy to do a man's job."

Comment author: Sean_o_h 30 August 2014 03:52:15PM 4 points [-]

Thanks. Re: your last line, quite a bit of this is possible: we've been building up a list of "safe hands" journalists at FHI for the last couple of years, and as a result, our publicity has improved while the variance in quality has decreased.

In this instance, we (CSER) were positively disposed towards the newspaper as a fairly progressive one with which some of our people had had a good set of previous interactions. I was further encouraged by the journalist's request for background reading material. I think there was just a bit of a mismatch: they sent a guy who was anti-technology in a "social media is destroying good society values" sort of way to talk to people who are concerned about catastrophic risks from technology (I can see how this might have made sense to an editor).

Comment author: Sarokrae 30 August 2014 03:51:34PM 4 points [-]

I've read a fair number of x-risk related news pieces, and this was by far the most positive and non-sensationalist coverage that I've seen by someone who was neither a scientist nor involved with x-risk organisations.

The previous two articles I'd seen on the topic were about 30% Terminator references. This article, while not necessarily a 100% accurate account, at least takes the topic seriously.

Comment author: Skeptityke 30 August 2014 03:44:30PM 9 points [-]

I'd call it a net positive. Along the axis of "Accept all interviews, wind up in some spectacularly abysmal pieces of journalism" and "Only allow journalism that you've viewed and edited", the quantity vs quality tradeoff, I suspect the best place to be would be the one where the writers who know what they're going to say in advance are filtered, and where the ones who make an actual effort to understand and summarize your position (even if somewhat incompetent) are engaged.

I don't think the saying "any publicity is good publicity" is true, but "shoddy publicity pointing in the right direction" might be.

I wonder how feasible it is to figure out journalist quality by reading past articles... Maybe ask people who have been interviewed by the person in the past how it went?

Comment author: army1987 30 August 2014 03:38:56PM 1 point [-]

Not that unlikely, depending on what you mean by “recently”; for example, earlier stars had lower metallicity and hence were less likely to have rocky planets.

Comment author: satt 30 August 2014 03:32:28PM -1 points [-]

What about western groups that have many sexual partners, e.g., the swinger and polyamory communities?

Your question blurs the distinction between promiscuity and multiple concurrent partnerships — I assume that was an accident.

Which precise question are you asking? Are you asking why Western groups with MCPs and low circumcision rates don't have (much) subtype C? If so, I'd like some specific evidence that they don't — it's a good idea to establish a phenomenon occurs before trying to explain it, and I'm having trouble finding systematic evidence on the HIV subtypes found among Western polyamorous people & swingers. If your question is about something subtly different (e.g. if you're asking about HIV in general among those groups, not subtype C in particular), please clarify.

Comment author: someonewrongonthenet 30 August 2014 03:22:06PM 0 points [-]

And from up there you take it upon yourself to judge whether personal decisions are rational or not? I think you're way too far away for that.

Er...I think that's a little harsh of you. Overscreening is recognized as a problem among epidemiologists. When I say overscreening is a problem, I'm mostly just trusting expert consensus on the matter.

That's a different issue. In a post upstream you made a rather amazing claim that additional tests after testing positive for cancer on a screening would be irrational. Do you stand by that claim?

I stand by that a lot of smart people who study this issue believe that in actual medical practice, these screenings are either a problem in themselves, or that the information from the screenings can lead people to irrational behavior, and I do trust them.

But really, that was just an illustrative example used to steelman Michael. You don't have to except the actual example, just the general concept that this sort of thing can happen.

Comment author: Sean_o_h 30 August 2014 03:16:57PM *  7 points [-]

Hi,

I'd be interested on LW's thoughts on this. I was quite involved in the piece, though I suggested to the journalist it would be more appropriate to focus on the high-profile names involved. We've been lucky at FHI/Cambridge with a series of very sophisticated tech-savvy journalists with whom the inferential distance has been very low (see e.g. Ross Andersen's Aeon/Atlantic pieces); this wasn't the case here, and although the journalist was conscientious and requested reading material beforehand, I found that communicating on these concepts more difficult than expected.

In my view the interview material turned out better than expected, given the clear inferential gap. I am less happy with the 'catastrophic scenarios'' which I was asked for. The text I sent (which I circulated to FHI/CSER members) was distinctly less sensational, and contained a lot more qualifiers. E.g. for geoengineering I had: "Scientific consensus is against adopting it without in depth study and broader societal involvement in the decisions made, but there may be very strong pressure to adopt once the impacts of climate change become more severe." and my pathogen modification example did not go nearly as far. While qualifiers can seem like unnecessary padding to editors, it can really change the tone of a piece. Similarly, in a pre-emptive line to ward off sensationalism, I included "I hope you can make it clear these are "worst case possibilities that currently appear worthy of study" rather than "high-likelihood events". Each of these may only have e.g. a 1% likelihood of occurring. But in the same way an aeroplane passenger shouldn't accept a 1% possibility of a crash, society should not accept a 1% possibility of catastrophe. I see our role as (like airline safety analysts) figuring out which risks are plausible, and for those, working to reduce the 1% to 0.00001%"; this was sort-of-addressed, but not really.

That said, the basic premises - that a virus could be modified for greater infectivity and released by a malicious actor, 'termination risk' for atmospheric aerosol geoengineering, future capabilities of additive manufacturing for more dangerous weapons - are intact.

Re: 'paperclip maximiser'. I mentioned this briefly in conversation, after we'd struggled for a while with inferential gaps on AI (and why we couldn't just outsmart something smarter than us, etc), presenting it as a 'toy example' used in research papers on AI goals, meant to encapsulate the idea that seemingly harmless or trivial but poorly thought through goals can result in unforseen and catastrophic consequences when paired with the kind of advanced resource utilisation and problem-solving ability a future AI might have. I didn't expect it it to be taken as a literal doomsday concern - and it wasn't in the text I sent - and to my mind it looks very silly in there, possibly deliberately so. However, I feel that Huw and Jaan's explanations were very good, and quite well-presented..

We've been considering whether we should limit ourselves to media opportunities where we can write the material ourselves, or have the opportunity to view and edit the final material before publishing. MIRI has significantly cut back on its media engagement, and this seems on the whole sensible (FHI's still doing a lot, some turns out very good, some not so good).

Lesson to take away: 1) this stuff can be really, really hard. 2) Getting used to v sophisticated, science/tech-savvy journalists and academics can leave you unprepared. 3) Things that are v reasonable with qualifies can become v unreasonable if you remove the qualifiers - and editors often just see the qualifiers as unnecessary verbosity (or want the piece to have stronger, more senational claims)

Right now, I'm leaning fairly strongly towards 'ignore and let quietly slip away' (the guardian has a small UK readership, so how much we 'push' this will probably make a difference), but I'd be interested in whether LW sees this as net positive or net negative on balance for existential risk in the public. However, I'm open to updating. I asked a couple of friends unfamiliar with the area what their take away impression was, and it was more positive than I'd anticipated.

Comment author: James_Miller 30 August 2014 03:15:59PM 2 points [-]

You might be right. But from what I have read, sugar cuts against all of the reasonable goals of fasting such as getting better gut flora, improving insulin reactions, and becoming keto-adapted.

If your goal is to lose weight, paleo seems to work for lots of people, and a huge part of paleo is consuming very little sugar. I try to consume less than 30 grams a day. I started paleo when I was older then you are now.

Comment author: satt 30 August 2014 02:58:53PM *  1 point [-]

significant group of states peacefully established along ethnic lines [...] in the post-USSR breakup of [...] Yugoslavia

?!

Comment author: Gunnar_Zarncke 30 August 2014 02:48:03PM 1 point [-]

They asked curious questions :-)

I mainly relayed what Christian Kamm had reported of his polyphasic sleep experiment during the Berlin meetup. And I tried to summarize what I knew about polyphasic sleep from the links and LW in general.

I also relayed that my second oldes son (8) my himself developed strongly segmented sleep with siesta during winter but fell back into mostly normal sleep after two weeks.

Comment author: Gunnar_Zarncke 30 August 2014 02:44:31PM 1 point [-]

Could you qualify your distrust? Fasting is quite different to regular diet, so different rules may apply.

Comment author: Gunnar_Zarncke 30 August 2014 02:42:35PM 5 points [-]

Maybe we could have a rule to up-vote meetup notes to encourage more postings. After all the meetups are the flesh or practical rationality. Whatever topis work or don't work as part of a meetup is important, or isn't it?

Comment author: DanArmak 30 August 2014 02:42:03PM *  1 point [-]

A lot of former colonies are now self-governed and a lot of them became independent without armed struggle. That was what the principle of self-determination was about. The British lost their empire over the principle.

Those colonies became independent states with borders decided by the accidents of previous colonial conquest, or drawn arbitrarily post-conquest without regard to local interests or ethnic, economic and cultural divisions (e.g. India and Pakistan).

Similarly, in the British-administrated post-WW1 mandate territories (which they divested during the same general political era when they lost their empire), they drew arbitrary borders and deliberately installed rulers who were foreign to the local population or represented minorities, because they knew these rulers would have to oppress the locals and so would depend on foreign support (e.g. Jordan, Iraq).

Local people were not consulted by a referendum or plebiscite, and in no case that I'm aware of did previously multi-ethnic or multi-cultural states peacefully divide into nation states. There is certainly a principle of decolonization and de-imperialization, but I'm not seeing any self-determination.

The borders of Ukraine changed frequently since the Hague Conventions was made

When the Hague Conventions were signed, Ukraine didn't exist as a sovereign state and hadn't done so since the 17th century. Its borders changed a lot after that, but always as a result of war and conquest, apart from Russia's gift of Crimea in 1954. It was partitioned and partially annexed many times over the 20th century by its more powerful neighbors. This history did not follow self-determination at any point.

I don't see a real reason why they should now be immutable when a majority of Crimeans doesn't want to belong to Ukraine.

Even if you accept it as a valid moral principle, the devil is in the details. How large a majority do you require before supporting separatism against a minority's wishes? How much gerrymandering in the geographical boundaries do you allow? What is the minimum size of a group that may secede (since no-one will recognize family or tribe-sized states in practice)? If people who secede take their privately-owned land with them to form their new state, what happens when the owners of the mine or oil field providing 10% of your GDP secede and then sell their resources back to you at a 500% markup? If the richest and best-educated 10% of your population all happen to live in the same few cities, and they secede to stop wealth redistribution to the other 90%, is that alright? If a group of people wants to secede and implement an fundamentalist state with no freedom for women, gays, or atheists, do you try to stop them as you would non-state actors in your country, or do you shrug and say "eh, we don't declare war on Saudi Arabia, either"?

The Soviet states also did became nations in a way that did violate the territorial integrity of the Soviet Union without a war.

The USSR (and the Warsaw Pact) was a union of separate republics to begin with; it chose to dissolve itself and they resumed their sovereignity. More importantly, I don't think anyone would argue that a state has no right to break itself up if a large majority of its citizens agree. It's a different matter if only the citizens in a particular region want to break away, and the rest want them to stay.

Comment author: James_Miller 30 August 2014 02:39:33PM *  2 points [-]

From what I know (but I'm far from an expert) having lots of sugar will undercut the goals you mention such as getting better gut flora and improving insulin reactions. I would strongly distrust any diet recommendations that include fruit juice.

Comment author: peter_hurford 30 August 2014 02:36:25PM 2 points [-]

What did people have to say about polyphasic sleep?

Comment author: peter_hurford 30 August 2014 02:34:27PM 1 point [-]

life, especially technological civilization, requires lots of heavy elements, which didn't exist too early in the universe, meaning only stars about the same generation as the Sun have chance to have it

Going off of this, what if life is somewhat common, but we're just one of the first life in the universe? That doesn't seem like an "early filter", so even if this possibility is really unlikely, it still would break your dichotomy.

View more: Next