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This is a blog on why we believe and do what we do, why we pretend otherwise, how we might do better, and what our descendants might do, if they don't all die.

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I See Stylists Everywhere

Cole: I see dead people. Malcolm: In your dreams? [Cole shakes his head no] Malcolm: While you’re awake? [Cole nods] Malcolm: Dead people like, in graves? In coffins? Cole: Walking around like regular people. They don’t see each other. They only see what they want to see. They don’t know they’re dead. Malcolm: How often do you see them? Cole:...

Earth: A Status Report

In a universe that is (so far) almost entirely dead, we find ourselves to be on a rare planet full not only of life, but now of human-level intelligent self-aware creatures. This makes our planet a roughly a once-per-million-galaxy rarity, and if we ever get grabby we can expect to meet other grabby aliens in roughly a billion years. We see that our...

Where You Stand Versus Sit

While this blog is called “Overcoming Bias”, I don’t recall explicitly addressing biases in a while. So let me revisit a bias which, though it is pretty clearly visible, most people don’t even bother to hide: where they stand depends on where they sit. For example, their position on feminism and gender relations is predictable from the gender. Their...

More Data On The Sacred

To learn more about the sacred, I tried a few more Twitter polls. And one interesting meta datum I learned here is that few are curious about the sacred; when I asked for suggestions for more questions to ask, I got only one suggestion. Seems most are embarrassed by the sacred, and would rather pretend it doesn’t exist. I asked about 16 sacred areas,...

On-Demand All-Topic Courts

There is not a natural alliance of contrarians. Instead, each contrarian group claims that it has been unfairly lumped in with the others. Sure, they say, most contrarians are wrong, but if you look carefully at our case, ours isn’t like those others; we happen to be right. So contrarian groups don’t like to associate with each other. Each group wants...

Status App Concept

In my last post I suggested that we prefer institutions of this form: Masses recognize elites, who oversee experts, who pick details. However, our ways to do that first step, masses recognizing elites, seem rather primitive so far. Our oldest method is to just inherit a social consensus that particular markers, such as wealth, birth family, test scores,...

Elites Must Rule

While I’ve spent much of my life doing institution/mechanism design, I’ve only lately come to see that, at least on prestigious topics, most people want relevant institutions to take the following ideal form: Masses recognize elites, who oversee experts, who pick details. While experts are known by other experts to be knowledgeable and skilled regarding...

Less Talk Context

Here’s a long-term trend I don’t recall hearing much about: over time, talk has been losing its non-talk context. That is, over time listeners have known less about the context of speaker talk. Though animals have quite limited languages, they often manage to say what they need to say. And shared context helps with that. For example, each animal may...

We Sweat Big Stuff Badly

“Don’t sweat the small stuff; and its all small stuff” Compared to unimportant decisions, for moderately important decisions we tend to do more thorough practical decision analyses. This is mainly because we try harder. Yet when we get to our most important decisions, our decision analyses tend to be less explicit, thorough, or practical. This is in...

Who Owes Who What?

One of the reasons I’ve always shied away from moral questions is that I’ve lacked a relevant analysis system like those I rely on in many other areas. My thinking has always relied heavily on intellectual systems. Oh sure, one can ask what social norms might evolve culturally or biologically, and which norms might individuals deeply internalize. But...

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