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Comment author: drethelin 18 December 2014 12:18:38AM 3 points [-]

I believe one phrase for it is the Machiavellian Intelligence Hypothesis

Comment author: taelor 19 December 2014 04:28:25AM 0 points [-]

The less dramatic name for it is the Social Brain Hypothesis. It was originally proposed by R. A. Dunbar (of Dunbar's number fame).

Comment author: dxu 16 December 2014 03:43:17AM *  1 point [-]

For an after-the-fact rationalization, that's actually not bad. On the other hand, I think Martin might actually push it a little too far; reality isn't as pretty as most fiction writers make it out to be, true, but it isn't actively out to get you, either. The universe is just neutral. While it doesn't prevent people from suffering or dying, neither does it go out of its way to make sure they do. In ASoIaF, on the other hand, it's as though events are conspiring to screw everyone over, almost as if Martin is trying to show that he isn't like those other writers who are too "soft" on their characters. In doing so, however, I feel he fell into the opposite trap: that of making his world too hostile. Everything went wrong for the characters, which broke my suspension of disbelief every bit as badly as it would have if everything had gone right.

Comment author: taelor 18 December 2014 06:31:41AM *  1 point [-]

His reputation as a "bloody minded bastard" aside, Martin has creznaragyl xvyyrq bss n tenaq gbgny bs bar CBI punenpgre va gur ebhtuyl svir gubhfnaq phzhyngvir cntrf bs gur NFbVnS frevrf fb sne (abg pbhagvat cebybthr/rcvybthr punenpgref, jubz ab bar rkcrpgf gb fheivir sbe zber guna bar puncgre). Gur raqvat bs gur zbfg erprag obbx yrnirf bar CBI punenpgre'f sngr hapyrne, ohg gur infg znwbevgl bs gur snaqbz rkcrpgf uvz gb or onpx va fbzr sbez be nabgure. (Aba-CBI graq gb qebc yvxr syvrf, ohg gur nhqvrapr vf yrff nggnpurq gb gurz.)

Comment author: drethelin 21 November 2014 09:26:09PM 2 points [-]

Imagine you're choosing which species to try and be 450 million years ago. You could try and be a mammal, or you could try and be a horseshoe crab. If you become a mammal, maybe one day you'll go to the stars! Or maybe you'll wind up like most kinds of mammals, and go extinct. But if you're a horseshoe crab, you'll still be around, pretty much the same, 450 million years later!

I personally would rather be a bipedal ape. But I don't think it's totally unreasonable to want to be the crab.

Comment author: taelor 21 November 2014 10:56:06PM 1 point [-]

As an aside, can someone please explain what the deal with reactionaries and crabs is? I feel like there's some context here that I'm missing.

Comment author: drethelin 19 November 2014 02:36:40AM 3 points [-]

I think the basic argument is that our society has existed for maybe 1 or 2 hundred years, whereas kings and patriarchy have been around for 5000+, which implies that they have some selective advantage.

Comment author: taelor 20 November 2014 07:55:25PM 3 points [-]

kings and patriarchy have been around for 5000+, which implies that they have some selective advantage.

This implies that they represent a stable equilibrium. Stable does not imply optimal (though depending on your time-prefernces and degree of risk-aversion, optimal may imply stable).

Comment author: polymathwannabe 06 November 2014 06:07:12PM 2 points [-]

For most of my life, I've heard weather forecasts in the news be described as infamously unreliable. Has there been any serious advance in this field? Is the unreliability of weather forecasts just another of those too-popular memes about things we love to hate?

Comment author: taelor 07 November 2014 03:41:47AM 3 points [-]

Nate Silver's The Signal And The Noise has a chapter about this. The short answer is yes,, weather forcasting has gotten better, but comerical forcasts have a known "wet bias" in favor of predicting rain. The reason for this is that people get more upset at forcasters when they say it won't rain and it does than when they say it will rain and it doesn't. Acording to Silver, the National Weather Service's forcasts are the most reliable, followed by various large comercial services (e.g. weather.com. etc.), with local news forcasts being the least reliable.

Comment author: advancedatheist 02 November 2014 12:30:13AM 5 points [-]

Progressives hold that stereotypes promote arbitrary, random and generally false beliefs about groups of people. But then why do these stereotypes remain stable across generations? And why don't people ever get their stereotypes mixed up?

For example, if some said that he didn't mind having registered sex offenders as neighbors because their presence wouldn't hurt property values and his community's reputation, you wouldn't praise this guy for his lack of stereotypical thinking. Instead you would question his judgment.

Ironically progressives don't have a problem at all with promoting stereotypes which put rich people and businessmen in a bad light. The popularity of Ayn Rand's alternative humanism pisses them off because she got some market share in reversing these stereotypes, and again in defiance of progressives' central planning to reshape the human mind like clay,.

Comment author: taelor 02 November 2014 09:39:00PM 7 points [-]

But then why do these stereotypes remain stable across generations?

Rational expectations equalibria are a thing. To take a somewhat exagerated example, if everyone thinks that girls suck at math, so no one teaches girls to do math, then no one will ever find out whether or not girls actually suck at math.

Comment author: Nornagest 24 October 2014 11:10:07PM *  2 points [-]

If we were to decide that local homogeneity of values is something we wanted to encourage -- which I'm not sure of -- a subsidy for moving costs would probably help, but I don't think it's sufficient to overcome the inertia that keeps e.g. Texans with Californian values in Texas. People have lots of ties to a place besides the purely financial: moving implies leaving friends and often family, finding a new job and new housing, probably learning a certain amount of new cultural content, etc.

Comment author: taelor 25 October 2014 04:01:45AM 3 points [-]

I wouldn't expect such a subsidy to overcome inertia in all cases. I expect it would help on the margins, though.

Comment author: DanielLC 25 October 2014 02:51:07AM *  0 points [-]

Correct me if I'm wrong, but explicit mercenaries (like Blackwater) give worse results for vastly more money than normal volunteer (paid) soldiers.

I find this unlikely, though I haven't seen any evidence either way. Where did you learn this?

Not being able to conscript more soldiers limits our ambitions to smaller wars against inferior powers.

We can conscript as many as we want if we pay them enough. If we're willing to draft people, then why wouldn't we be willing to raise taxes?

Comment author: taelor 25 October 2014 03:52:00AM 1 point [-]

We can conscript as many as we want if we pay them enough. If we're willing to draft people, then why wouldn't we be willing to raise taxes?

Taxpayers are generally better organized politically than potential conscripts.

Comment author: Daniel_Burfoot 24 October 2014 10:14:20PM 3 points [-]

I wrote in "Federalist". I believe Texas should be governed by Texan values and California should be governed by Californian values.

I wouldn't suggest that this principle is the highest principle, but it seems obvious that it should be somewhere high up in the ranking of principles (say, #3). People often try to argue that because we can't make federalism the highest principle, it shouldn't be a principle at all. That seems totally wrong to me.

Comment author: taelor 24 October 2014 10:50:45PM 0 points [-]

In general I agree with this. However, I am also in favor of government subsidy on moving between jurisdictions (though, not a full subsidy, as that would cause moral hazard problems). Uprooting your life and relocating to a new location is costly, in time, money, effort, and social ties. These costs will be disproportionately borne by people with values far from the mean of their cultural/geographic locale. Without a subsidy to help Texans with California values and Californians with Texan values relocate, Federalism will essentially develve into a large welfare redistribution to individuals with values close to their jurisdiction's mean from individuals further from that mean.

Comment author: Ixiel 09 October 2014 09:53:30PM 1 point [-]

This seems like an obvious enough thought experiment there is probably a literature on it, but I have not found any: how much vacation would it be ethical for a superhero to take? The kneejerk reaction seems to be first none. Assuming even one life saved per hour, he'd be "killing" a handful of people even going on a date (beyond or assuming away a bare psychological minimum for sanity or cetera). The next kneejerk reaction is that the first one is nuts. Thoughts/references?

And despite involving superheroes, I am seriously interested.

Comment author: taelor 10 October 2014 06:54:27PM *  0 points [-]

Exit: looks like someone beat me to this .

Worm addresses this in a somewhat round about way: Cnanprn'f srryvatf bs vagrafr thvyg sbe rirel ubhe gung fur fcraqf qbvat guvatf bgure guna hfvat ure cbjref gb urny crbcyr jrer n znwbe pbagevohgbe gb ure zragny oernxqbja naq fhofrdhrag vzcevfbazrag va gur Oveq Pntr.

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