Elliot's Microblogging

Some evidence for pollution as major cause of cancer variation by state:
The maps leans toward the east being worse but California has some bad parts.


Air pollution (including indoor pollution) looks to be a significant driver of cancer.

There are a lot of cancer causing substances and it’s probably hard to account for their combined impact. That could make it easier to miss how big of an impact they combine to cause.

Some evidence against pollution as a major cause of cancer variation by state:

Variations in Populations and Health Behaviors

Some differences in cancer rates among states may be explained by differences in known risk factors among the populations of those states. For example, one finds higher rates of lung cancer and other tobacco-associated cancers in states with higher prevalence of smoking. Although environmental carcinogens are responsible for some cancer cases, a majority of cases appear to be related to lifestyle factors such as smoking, and geographic variations in cancer rates are thought largely to reflect variations in these lifestyle factors.

Ambiguous evidence:



YouTube added a podcast feature. It’s just a special type of playlist. I converted my existing podcast playlist to use the new podcast feature. I’m not sure if it actually does much but here it is:

Fallible Ideas Philosophy Podcast - YouTube


Einstein’s wife was a physicist who did some of the work and got basically no fame/credit primarily due to her gender!? I’d never heard of this.

@alanforr do you know anything about this?

I had heard that some people said Einstein’s first wife Mileva Maric made some contributions to his work, but I hadn’t looked into it. There is a detailed discussion of these claims in this book

It doesn’t look like she contributed scientific ideas, but she might have provided other kinds of assistance such as library research.

Einstein treated Maric quite badly in some respects, e.g. - the harsh note quoted in Chapter 3 of the book above.

I disagree.

4 posts were split to a new topic: Silent Spring

I’d be very interested in anything Ayn Rand ever said about Rachel Carson and Silent Spring. I’d be somewhat interested in quotes from Peikoff. If you can find anything, please share.

ARI today hates Carson but Rand was alive for 20 years after Silent Spring came out. If she didn’t attack it, why not? It was prominent and relevant enough. Maybe her opinion of it differed from ARI’s current opinion.

I use this website sometimes

I just put in “Big Picture Reasons People Give Up on Learning”

I’m not really clear on why it capitalizes the first preposition but not the second one. I see that the first one doesn’t have a prepositional object in the usual way – it might be a special case of some sort. The tool also might not be very good at handling this particular case – it might have a pretty simple algorithm that doesn’t account for some nuances.

Ugh, I just found out that Gumroad is evil.

Aug 2021, they emailed me about their new fee structure. I thought it was good:

But then, Dec 2023, they changed it to a 10% flat fee (plus credit card processing fees) without emailing out any notification. I think changing the fees without notifying their sellers (with at least a little bit of advance notice so people can opt-out at least by removing their products from sale) is fraudulent.

I now think Gumroad is likely to go out of business in a few years, so that’s a second reason not to use them besides the fees sucking.

I could have easily not noticed the fee change for a year or two. I got lucky to notice it today.

It’s also too soon to reasonably change the fee structure. I believe their original approach to fees lasted 10 years, then they finally changed things in a way that seemed pretty good for sellers. But then only 2 years later they made things dramatically worse for sellers, and especially worse for their larger and longer term sellers.

They simply deleted the old fee information from their website and have no information on their website about the change.

They were getting people to sign up and start selling on Gumroad (a long term endeavor), by advertising the older fee structure on their website, only a couple days before they abruptly changed it.

They sold people on earning a lot on Gumroad long term in order to get low fees, but then after people spent two years working towards lower fees, they took that away. What a bait-and-switch scam.

So, without telling me, they changed my fees from 5% + 30 cents per transaction to 10% plus approximately 60 cents per transaction (the extra fee above 10% seems to vary but was near 60 cents in all cases I checked). If a customer uses Paypal, I could apparently pay around a 15% fee. So the fees went from good to quite bad. And they didn’t even tell me.

In order to prevent anyone from knowing about they change, they apparently announced it only on the company founder’s Twitter (I don’t use Twitter regularly plus I don’t follow him) and also they mentioned it in the middle of a 52min YouTube video that has super negative comments. It’s not just me who wasn’t emailed. Many other sellers are very unhappy.

I’ll leave my existing stuff on Gumroad for now but I’ll reconsider using them going forward.

Is this clear to you?

More info behind spoiler tags.

I’m trying to set up 3 newsletter tiers but I’m worried this will confuse people who might enable “all” but disable “best” which won’t work. Ghost only lets you send each post to one newsletter audience, so a “Best” post can’t be sent to some or all, so ppl on some or all need to stay signed up for Best.
I’ve tried renaming the newsletters and rewriting the descriptions but didn’t come up with something I thought was foolproof. Many people do stuff like this quickly without reading all the words.

Here’s an alternative I’m considering. Maybe I don’t need a middle curation level.

I’m closing my SubscribeStar (it’s a Patreon competitor that didn’t offend me by deplatforming some creators). If you’re one of the few people who is still donating there (after I stopped using the site a while back), it seems to be broken and won’t let me put up an announcement post, so FYI I’ll be deleting it soon. I’ve contacted customer support about closing it. Feel free to save copies of any posts if you haven’t already.

If you’d like to keep donating, there are now paid donation tiers on the Critical Fallibilism site for $5, $15 or $50 per month.

If you want to make a non-recurring donation or donate a different amount, you can PM or email me.

The purpose of donations is to support my philosophy work and show appreciation for the free articles, free videos, and underpriced forum.

I got an email reply from Gumroad’s founder.

He says they did send out an email about the fee changes and suggests it was lost in my spam filter. I’ve received many emails from Gumroad and never had a deliverability issue, so I’m doubtful. Plus other people complained about not being emailed about it.

He says they announced the fee changes on their blog but I looked and it isn’t there.

He says they announced it on their socials but again it isn’t there. I checked Twitter and my friend checked Facebook and Instagram.

It appears that the founder of Gumroad is lying to me in writing. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone ends up suing.

I replied asking for links to the blog post and social media announcements, and a forward of the email I missed.

I got a reply from a customer service rep, not the founder this time, linking to one tweet from the Gumroad founder – not the official Gumroad Twitter account. The tweet simply links to a YouTube video of a board meeting where the fee change is discussed. A board meeting video is not an announcement to notify their sellers about fee changes. Since that’s apparently the best they could come up with – no blog post, no announcement on any social, and no forwarding the email about it – it seems like a confirmation that the founder was creating a paper trail of himself blatantly lying.

Here are the CF website tracking settings in Ghost (all off). FYI you should expect stuff like this to be enabled for most websites and email newsletters.

Common errors:

“Try and X” should be “Try to X”.

“X and not Y” should be “X, not Y”.

Your donation tiers are hard to find. I could remember seeing something about them somewhere and I only found this post after looking for a while (I looked at curi.us, elliottemple.com, and criticalfallibilism.com first and couldn’t see a link).

The link in your post also doesn’t link to any useful information about it, it just links to the main page. I had to search the CF site (which only worked once I knew “donation” was a keyword). This is the only page that seems to talk about it:
Critical Fallibilism Site Updates, March 2023

It was only after seeing that page that I found out I needed an account to see the donation options. I had no reason to make an account previously and I expect that applies to most people.

I think it’s worth making this much more easy to find. You’re making it difficult for people to find out how to pay you. Perhaps an explanation at the bottom of the CF main page and the About page? A link in the elliottemple.com store page might make sense too.

I’d suggest renaming “Digital Products” on the eliottemple.com site to “Store”. I think it’s more intuitive to scan for (sites with products to sell usually use “shop” or “store” or something like that.)


Many people who reply critically to Yudkowsky about AI risk have worse positions than he does.

I still wear N95 masks and reduce contact with people. Rates of long term problems from COVID are substantial (usually milder than the video).

IIRC 100% of people who posted a written debate or paths forward policy, other than me, were lying. They wouldn’t actually follow the rules as written. This undermines what I’m doing – it tells people not to trust mine either.

Most people are willing to carelessly, voluntarily make guarantees in writing, then break them. Or carelessly, voluntarily bind themselves to follow certain rules, then break those rules.

(I sympathize much more when people break stuff they were coerced into. Also the issue I’m concern with isn’t trying but failing, nor is it ambiguity. It’s choosing to break the rules.)

People simply breaking their word or breaking rules (that they agreed to follow) is a major problem for approaches that involve using written rules to guide one’s own behavior or guide what happens within a debate.

People are sometimes confused about why my debate policy has qualifiers and limits in it – they don’t seem to actually think about what it means to guarantee stuff to anyone in the public. They don’t realize that’s a big deal or else they would see the importance of limits and see that my limits are minimal.

This is related to how we live in a fairly high trust society, but many people are undermining that. E.g. selling bad or fraudulent products works partly because consumers tend to trust businesses to usually be pretty good and non-fraudulent. By exploiting the public’s trust that it’s safe to buy stuff, people can make some money while reducing trust levels. This is sort of like the public good problem and free rider problem – trust levels are a resource that benefits everyone, and if everyone behaves well then everyone wins, but some bad actors can get a better deal for themselves while harming the group. That’s actually like the Prisoner’s Dilemma too. (I’m writing this from an American perspective, and it applies to some other countries too, but not all countries. There are places where people are more suspicious about buying and selling, so transaction costs are higher because people put more work into avoiding frauds and other problems.)

So rather than inspire more people to have good debate or paths forward policies and help spread the idea, I have inspired a small number of people to have dishonest debate or paths forward policies, which is counter-productive. I don’t think I’ve inspired anyone to make a good policy yet. Also there’s been near-zero interest in using my policies even by people who really want my attention. (Please don’t rush to make a policy-based request just because you read this paragraph, not because you have a good reason to use the policy. Dishonest, bad or abusive uses of my policies are counter-productive.)

After some searches on YouTube and Twitch, I’m wondering if there is a single other English language philosopher, besides me, who has ever live streamed themselves doing philosophy work. (Excluding a few of my fans.) There’s almost zero philosophy streaming of any kind.

I also tried searching for anyone streaming any kind of non-philosophy writing. I quickly found three different people, but only one of them actually showed their screen so you could see them write anything… lol. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SIqWO52-7RI (And I had to look through their video history to even find that. The first thing I saw, which said it was a writing stream, did not appear to show any actual writing.)

The streaming situation is much, much, much better with gaming and drawing. It’s also better with video editing and animating. The situation with gaming is so good that some people will live stream themselves learning new things (and making lots of mistakes in the process).

There are tons of videos about how to write philosophy essays. But none of those creators want to show their own, real writing process. (Similarly, videos with scripted tips or tutorials about how to do video editing are much more common than videos of someone actually doing real editing.)

It’s also hard to find anything non-live that shows people’s actual working process for philosophy instead of being e.g. scripted, heavily edited, or more like a podcast where they just chat. This kind of thing is uncommon though somewhat more available for many other topics. I’d have some interest in it for writing, math, science, and various other things.

Does anyone know of any videos/creators I might like?