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fw🫀Thinking about thinking

here’s your weekly dose of treats 💌
a weekly list of goodies, ideas, pieces of research, principles, models, and other random stuff curated by Robert

fiery stuff I've been ingesting
The advocates of the new science in the seventeenth century so reacted against the excesses of stylistic artistry that a reluctance to use any artistry at all seems to have prevailed ever since.
Maybe because writing is so often the final step in a research project (when we are exasperated and ready to be done with the damn thing), scientists tend to think of it as ornamental, akin to a peacock’s tail, and not as a core metabolic process in the cycle of scientific innovation. 
Individual scientists, then, must deliberately decide to value style. They must fight for their right to be playful, to be beautiful, to be wonderful. The life of science depends on it.
2. A new anti-schizophrenia drug of real potential
Innovativity - an economy’s ability to produce the innovations that drive total factor productivity (TFP) growth - requires both ideas and the ability to process those ideas into new products and/or techniques.
People of “none” religion are less likely than any religion except Jews to believe in Bigfoot. Somehow at the same time, the less often you go to church, the more likely to believe in Bigfoot you are.
We find a similar pattern. Agnostics and people with “no particular religion” are more likely than Protestants to believe in astrology, but outright atheists are much less likely.
Another possible explanation is that people with coherent worldviews already have strong opinions on what’s true, making them closed-minded against conspiracy theories. For example, if God created humans in the Garden of Eden, that doesn’t leave a lot of room for aliens and UFOs. Or, since atheists believe everything works through purely physical and natural forces, that doesn’t leave a lot of room for astrology.
Still, if someone tells you that people who don’t believe in God will believe in anything, please politely correct them that this is only true until the point where they 100% accept scientific materialist atheism, at which point they go back to mostly not being that gullible again.
The authors theorize that because smartphones are considerably more personal and private than PCs, using them activates intimate self-knowledge and increases private self-focus, shifting attention toward individuating personal preferences, feelings, and inner states.
6. All subcultures are, in a sense, status Ponzi schemes.
Good people start out working together, then work together a little less, then turn on each other, all while staying good people and thinking they alone embody the true spirit of the movement.
Google’s first employee became their Director of Technology and made $900 million. Jesus’s first follower became the Bishop of Rome; one in every thousand people alive is named after him. The first few people to make websites in 1995, blogs in 2005, or YouTube channels in 2015 got outsized followings that they were able to leverage into higher status later on. The first few people to get on board the New Atheist, woke, alt-right, dirtbag left, and intellectual dark web movements all had easy opportunities to become famous; the next few thousand at least had the chance to be well-connected veterans.
7. Thinking about thinking: People underestimate how enjoyable and engaging just waiting is
The ability to engage in internal thoughts without external stimulation is a unique characteristic in humans. The current research tested the hypothesis that people metacognitively underestimate their capability to enjoy this process of “just thinking.”
Effective altruism and longtermism are kind of a package deal. They tend to get discussed in the same places, by the same people, and there are logical connections between them that make this natural.
I personally think an underrated path is to make people better at shorttermism. Here’s my radical thought: The biggest existential threat we face—a kind of meta-existential-threat that keeps us from addressing the more commonly enumerated existential threats—is that humans aren’t good enough at shorttermism. If people were skilled shorttermists—if they pursued short-term interests wisely—our long-term problems, including the existential ones, would be manageable.
9. Popper was right about the link between certainty and extremism
“[A]bsolute certainty is the foundational component of totalitarianism: if one is sure that one’s political philosophy will lead to the best possible future for humankind, all manner of terrible acts become justifiable in service of the greater good.”
10. Ranking of Happiness based on a three-year-average 2019-2021
YouTube essays
If you are feeling overwhelmed...
If you are feeling overwhelmed...
tweets for thought
5 very close ones
10 close
35 fairly close
100 acquaintances
food for thought
Language is the connective tissue of science. Mathematics and experimentation are the heart, but words are what make it come alive.
My pencil and I are cleverer than I.
Once people stop believing in God, the problem is not that they will believe in nothing; rather, the problem is that they will believe anything.
war materials 🇺🇦
Where once the main sources of wealth were material assets such as gold mines, wheat fields and oil wells, today the main source of wealth is knowledge. And whereas you can seize oil fields by force, you cannot acquire knowledge that way. The profitability of conquest has declined as a result.
There is no such thing as unbiased news. You can call it “less biased news”. There are numerous other biases that can influence news reporting too.
Overt political bias is probably the least concerning aspect of a democracy because it is simple to identify and weigh. 
The more concerning biases in news reporting today are those that are more subtle, such as financial incentives and self-censorship of topics. Many topics are simply not covered, and the mainstream media does not question why.
Other places
(͡ ͡° ͜ つ ͡͡°) Telegram group for me to save & share random stuff that might be useful —
— Robert
Thank you for reading!
How’re you and yours doing this week? Any major changes to your status quo, or are things fairly locked-in and predictable at the moment? I respond to every email I get—consider sending me a message.
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Ro.bert @robsblanc

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