Elliot's Microblogging

When I went to EA, they were broadly hostile to reading, citing or discussing books/literature. I’ve seen it elsewhere too. Broadly everyone is resistant to replacing over 50% of debate with discussion of arguments in literature instead of writing your own arguments.

The same kind of attitude just came up again in YouTube comments:

Effective Altruism Is Irrational | Philosophy Podcast - YouTube

Many people think trying to talk about books is some kinda way of cheating in debate (not making your own arguments), rather than being apologetic about their ignorance.

It’s worrying to see the disrespect towards written arguments with detailed reasoning – and preference for two-sentence arguments (mostly assertions, really).

People don’t want to read and learn existing knowledge, let alone try to organize it. And tons of people prefer social media to books.

YouTube lets you delete your comment and all replies to it. Ugh.

I guess the anti-capitalist decided that he had lost the debate so badly he had to hide all the evidence!?

Seems like it’s that, a major glitch, or else YouTube’s new more aggressive anti-profanity stuff deleted everything because the leftist guy used a curse word to refer to Mises.

They’re talking about FTX fraud. Around 45min they say how SBF keeps talking to the press against the advice of lawyers. He keeps saying it’s a misunderstanding, he’s no criminal, etc. Maybe he’s a narcissist or something. Then they say that is what Elizabeth Holmes did initially. She tried to claim the Theranos fraud was a misunderstanding.

Looks like she’s going to go to jail (though not long enough) but it took years because she fought it and the government had to put a bunch of resources into the legal case.

Similarly, SBF is going to fight it, and it looks likely he’ll go to jail in a few years after after using up a ton of resources from the government and investigators as well as his own lawyers.

But, the video said, Bernie Madoff went straight to jail because when they caught him he just confessed.

So, my point, Madoff actually had more integrity than SBF or Holmes. And he prevented a ton of resources from being wasted on investigation and court.

And what is the result?

SBF and Holmes have defenders. People actually believe their rhetoric. And they maybe will both get off with overly light sentences.

But everyone hates Bernie Madoff. No one gives him credit for confessing and not muddying the waters and not making convicting him a huge hassle. No one gives him credit for choosing not to defend himself and try to trick people into taking his side. Once he was caught, he acted honorably (based on the very brief summary in the video). Whereas SBF and Holmes, ever after they were caught, acted fully dishonorably. And the public perception (and courts) doesn’t punish them for that and actually rewards that anti-social, dishonest behavior.

If you’re in the wrong, if you’re totally guilty, then standing up for yourself and defending yourself is siding with evil. It’s better to admit it and face you punishment instead of trying to advocate for what you did wrong. (An even more honorable person would confess before being caught. But most of those people wouldn’t do it in the first place. At least being honorable after being caught is somewhat realistic from someone who would do massive fraud, and seems to be a distinction where some people, like Madoff, are better than others like SBF and Holmes.)

1 Like

I sometimes recommend that people engage with the literature. It’s a good concept. And it’s an option even when people won’t discuss/debate.

But I’ve found the literature problematic in some cases.

For example, the animal welfare/rights literature doesn’t discuss my positions/beliefs/arguments. There’s a lack of relevant literature in existence for me to engage with.

People take it poorly if you criticize the literature in a meta way. They want to see you finding and engaging with (popular not cherry picked) arguments in the literature. They want you to discuss things said in the literature, not make meta arguments about what is missing from the literature.

Two more examples where I’ve had problems are epistemology literature and AGI alignment literature. They tend to begin with unstated premises I disagree with and proceed from there, so very little that they say is relevant to my positions or is suitable to engage with. And it’s problematic to engage with the literature by guessing about unstated premises and then arguing with those, rather than arguing with stuff that’s actually stated.

I don’t have a good solution other than living in a more rational world. In a rational society, this wouldn’t be a big problem. People would take meta criticism and questioning premises better.

I appreciated someone trying to show and teach rational processes.

This is oriented towards researching people, politics and current controversies. I’d advise people to avoid those topics more.

The process shown is pretty good. It’s not very generic but I think the video is still worth watching if you want to do other types of research due to the shortage of research-process-related educational materials with positive value.

I didn’t know that cancer rates varied dramatically by state or county. That seems to indicate environmental factors (like air quality and water quality) play a major role in causing cancer. Cancer doesn’t just happen randomly or automatically as you get old.

There’s county-level data too like https://news.yale.edu/sites/default/files/files/rates-of-cancer-death-us.png

I found this out while watching The Chemical Disaster in Ohio EXPLAINED - YouTube

The very basic pattern is there’s more cancer to the east where the population density is higher. I think there’s more industry in the east and also industry is closer to where people live compared to in the more spacious west.

Why did the environmentalists never tell me this as evidence that pollution hurts humans? Ugh.

On a related note, I saw that radon is a major cause of lung cancer and radon exposure makes a big difference to whether or not smokers actually get lung cancer. Radon comes from uranium breaking down in the soil and varies by location and can be detected. Does radon exposure also come from the atomic bomb tests that various governments did? I don’t know. I tried to look it up for a bit but I couldn’t find any good info. I did find out that apparently the background radiation has calmed down some decades after some nuclear testing treaties so it’s less of a problem for steel manufacturing than it used to be.

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.