Elliot's Microblogging

Was reading “Dialog: Non-Consumption of Philosophy” and found a typo.
Not sure where to mention typo related things if the article in mention doesn’t already have it’s own thread, so mentioning it here.

you don’t really understand it or know how you it got into your head

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Does anyone know of a company which is both old and really good? What is the oldest company that is currently great? What is the oldest company that is currently great and also was pretty continuously great since the first time it was great?

It occurred to me that most old companies are pretty awful. E.g. the big 4 US banks all suck and they’re around 200 years old. So then I wondered if any company that old is actually good.

I want a physical object that can hold down a single keyboard key. Just a small weight that’s the right shape would be good. But I don’t know where to buy anything like that or what keywords to search for. Does anyone know?

Hade you looked at different calibration weights? Maybe something like that could work.

Or maybe use some coins and tape to get the right weight? Not sure if something like that could work for what you have in mind.

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Are you familiar with the flexible-arm helping-hand type things? They’re often used as a tool while soldering to hold components in place. I have one and just tested holding a key down with it and it worked well. Mine looks v similar to below. The arms on mine are ~14" or so (34cm), so it’s bigger than necessary but worked well.


6 arms might be a bit overkill – you can get smaller ones or single arms with a magnetic base.

See: https://www.amazon.com/Soldering-Flexible-Workshop-Tabletop-Electronics/dp/B087JLVCG8 and https://www.amazon.com/Toolour-Magnetic-Helping-Flexible-Alligator/dp/B07SBZRF6S

Alternative ideas that come to mind but maybe don’t suit your need:

  • With (some?) wireless keyboards, if I hold down a key and then turn off the keyboard (or it goes out of range), then the key is still registered as being held down. This works with multiple KBs in some configurations – e.g., one KB registers ctrl as being held down, and pressing v on a different keyboard will paste whatever is on the clipboard.

  • Apparently there are products for this purpose (holding down keys), but this one I found is a bit expensive for what it is: https://www.amazon.com/Keyboard-Presser-Weights-Sliding-Clicker/dp/B08Y7GQXKQ

  • Would a 100g calibration weight work? From the examples I saw, 100g might be too big. A smaller weight might work depending on your keyboard. https://www.amazon.com/MAGIKON-Precision-Calibration-Weight-single/dp/B078N1TRDC (edit: @deroj already suggested this)

  • A steel ball bearing and blu-tack maybe?

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I replied to Debate Is Broken. How to Improve It. - by Tomas Pueyo (by email; I’m subscribed) with the below:

I’m a philosopher who has been writing about these issues. I’ve written about how to organize debates using tree diagrams ( Idea Trees Links ), how most intellectuals are not open to having their errors corrected by criticism from the public ( Paths Forward Summary ), and how to end debates without arbitrary time limits or someone arbitrarily quitting ( Debates and Impasse Chains · Elliot Temple ).

I think the most important problem with debate is the ubiquitous mental model of strong and weak arguments. People think each side of a debate has a strength, and arguments add to your side’s or subtract from the other side’s strength. The result is that when you receive a criticism, it lowers the score of your side relative to the opposing side, and there are three things you can do about it: answer the criticism, give another argument that makes your side stronger, or give another argument that makes their side weaker. This pushes debate away from actually engaging with and answering critical arguments, and leaves the audience trying to estimate which side was better overall instead of trying to figure out which specific arguments were decisive and unanswered. I explain at Yes or No Philosophy Summary and in Multi-Factor Decision Making Math I discuss the math of combining factors into an overall, single score (arguments for and against a position are factors that people wish to combine into one evaluation of how good that position is).

Since being able to check whether moves are good or bad using software, chess players have gotten way better at chess. A predictive oracle type tool is very useful. This is partly because such an oracle would always be useful (as FoR does say – FoR just says it wouldn’t replace conceptual thinking, which would still also be useful). And it’s partly because chess is a limited game. In science, it can be hard to think of what questions to ask or what experiments are important. In chess, to some extent you always know what to look for. All you can do in chess is make moves and you’re always looking for good moves.

Computer checking in chess is not perfectly accurate, but in general it’s significantly better than human judgment (plus chess players have a decent understanding of in what positions their judgment might be good and when the computer is definitely right).

Computer-aided chess learning is an example of how being able to check your work objectively, and find out when you made an error, is really helpful to learning/practicing. After playing a serious game, all top chess players check every single move they play, using a computer, to find out if they missed something. They also use computers in lots of other ways.

Study: Hate Clicks Are A Major Source Of Web Traffic And Also ‘The Princess Bride’ Is A Trash Movie That Only Stupid People Like

[…] A lot of people didn’t seem to get the point of this one, though, and argued with the slur against The Princess Bride. The Princess Bride is one of my favorite movies, though; still, for some reason I had fun coming up with ways to insult it.

I found the headline funny.

The commentary is kinda disturbing for what it says about people. I think it’s important to be able to account for this in one’s understanding of the world.

I think a bit issue is people focus on sentences/paragraphs/ideas/actions locally a lot without thinking about why something is being said/done and what bigger picture or goal it fits into. They do this extra when something looks like an insult – they often seem to react to potential insults by dropping the context and getting upset. The insult can be an example, not a statement you’re putting forward yourself, and people may still respond directly to it as if it wasn’t an example. Actually people often drop the context that something is an example. They often argue with the example in some way, e.g. that it’s unrealistic, without regard for its purpose (e.g. being a toy example to illustrate something else or being an example of what a rival school of thought says). It’s similar to how people take comparisons in respect to a specific trait and then drop the context of what comparison is being made and argue that the two things are not similar (in some overall or normal sense – that is, in a generic, default context for our society or their subculture).

On a related note, here is another example of what sort of world we live in (which is superficially about people being dumb, but maybe not actually): https://www.tiktok.com/@mr.dmarin/video/7060710995207114030 There are followup videos; he did it and the students didn’t notice. Also he wrote the math problem solution wrong himself and a TikTok commenter noticed.

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Pueyo wrote early, free articles about COVID that got 60 million views, including the article about the hammer and the dance. He shares now (via a Substack email I received):

In order to keep having a maximum impact, I put a form to gather emails at the bottom of the articles a few weeks after starting. Medium didn’t like it and asked me to remove them, but they didn’t take measures given the COVID emergency. That’s the only reason why most of you are reading this now. I was going against their terms of service.

Wow. I knew not to write on Medium but I didn’t know they were like this. I thought they were a platform where you could publish what you wanted to. I can’t imagine e.g. Blogspot having told its bloggers not to recruit for their own email lists (though perhaps I’m wrong, or perhaps they wouldn’t have done that in 2005 but would today – I have not paid attention to them for a long time).

I didn’t know Medium was trying to control your relationships with your readers and lock you into the platform permanently, or that they directly meddled in the affairs of their more popular writers.

Pueyo had the temporary status/power/influence to get away with breaking the rules, and he used it.

Pueyo thinks Substack is way better than Medium, but I don’t know why he trusts them. You can export subscriber emails and posts from Substack, which is good, but I still would be wary of their platform. Mailchimp also allows exporting emails but has also sometimes exercised control over newsletter content. I like Ghost better because it’s self-hosted open source publishing software (for sending emails it uses Mailgun via an API – you basically have to use something in some manner to send lots of emails, not self-host it, because of anti-spam measures). Similarly this Discourse forum is self-hosted and Discourse is open source.

BTW, Pueyo seems generally better than the current elites (he’s a bit elite but not very powerful). But I wonder if he’d get worse if he was a powerful elite himself. I wonder how much he says some better things because he’s an outsider with different incentives than insiders have vs. because he’s actually better. (He has various ideas I disagree with btw, including being a geography-is-destiny fan and being overly focused on data over explanations.)

When you read a book like Conjectures and Refutations, you need to also practice something, not just read it, think about it, and talk about it. If you can’t figure out anything to practice, that means you don’t understand it.

Chess has higher standards, in some ways, because there are no takebacks (you can’t undo your move and play a different move). You can’t screw up and then fix it. And one basic mistake will often lose you a game immediately.

In math, people screw up and then revise their work. Authors expect to do multiple editing passes. Forum posters often edit posts.

In chess, you have to make a final decision at one moment. You can only look ahead mentally before deciding. This incentivizes people to be really accurate, precise and reliable with their chess thinking.

People also do chess analysis with lots of takebacks. They’ll experiment and undo stuff. But you can’t do that during competitive games. Good chess players, who want to compete, have to have a serious mode where they don’t rely on undoing any moves. And that serious mode has to be pretty central to their chess knowledge.

So chess players try really hard to push their error rate way down. And they would never think that a one-move blunder is a “small error” and therefore not very important, even if they see it was bad seconds after playing it. If they make any “obvious” errors, that’s extra bad in chess because your opponent is very likely to see the error and win the game. The obvious errors in chess tend to be high impact errors like losing material to a short tactic.

With the incentive to be reliable and have a very low error rate (at least for errors that aren’t subtle), along with a lot of objectivity about what is an error, people manage to do it. Math has a lot of objectivity about what is an error but less incentive to avoid errors. Writing or philosophizing has less incentive to avoid errors and it’s much more difficulty to judge what writing is good or erroneous.

If you can find a typo in Atlas Shrugged or The Fountainhead, please tell me.

Guns are like this IRL.

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I noticed some typo-like stuff in my physical copy of AS. I didn’t pay much attention b/c they looked more like printing errors than typos on AR’s part. I guess that you don’t mean that kind of typo, though.
(the errors ranged from a badly aligned page to a missing character where it looked like a character hadn’t made proper contact with the paper)

I think there may be a typo near the end of Francisco’s speech about money in Atlas Shrugged (p. 385 in paperback edition). I think simpers should be whimpers.
“The rotter who simpers that he sees no difference between the power of the dollar and the power of
the whip, ought to learn the difference on his own hide-- as, I think, he will.”


3rd person present: simpers

  1. smile in an affectedly coy or ingratiating manner.
    “she simpered, looking pleased with herself”

plural noun: simpers

  1. an affectedly coy or ingratiating smile.
    “an exaggerated simper”

simpers sounds like it fits with that quote.
well, it does if you read it like the rotter is speaking through that kind of smile.

Yes, thinking about it some more, I guess that this usage is somewhat metaphorical since smiling is not literally speaking. I was hung up on the literal meaning and looking at the use of the word in other sentences where the intent was literal.

I definitely heard or read somewhere that Rand’s original manuscript for Atlas Shrugged had almost no errors, and that the editors were surprised by this, especially given how long it was.

I can’t find the source.

Charity (in discussions) clashes with objectivity.

BTW DD pushed charity very hard before I saw LW pushing it. His standard phrase was “positive interpretations”, whereas LW uses “principle of charity”.

My recurring experience with DD was that whichever one of us had a more negative interpretation (about some third party involved in discussion) was usually right. That was due to a bias (by each of us) towards positive defaults in the absence of information. We only adopted negative interpretations when we had rational confidence and a specific, adequate reason.

A related issue is the “give anyone (at least) one chance” idea I’ve used which is similar to “innocent until proven guilty”. The idea is not make negative assumptions about people at the outset with low information. Just because e.g. 95% of people have a flaw does not mean you should treat everyone like they have the flaw. That’s a bad default because you’ll mistreat the best people. (A common way of treating people based on assumed flaws is refuse to talk with them at all. What people often end up doing is talking only to people with the right social status which can override the negative default assumptions. The right social status could mean being introduced or referred by a friend, or even just attending the same party; it doesn’t have to mean a public reputation.)

Objectivism talks about how to organize and structure your own learning, how to be rational yourself, etc. But it doesn’t say how to have a conversation with another person and make it rational and educational. It doesn’t talk about how to help each other learn. This fits Objectivism’s themes of individualism, first-handed learning, and IMO too little communication between people in Rand’s books (in particular, Dagny, Rearden and Dominique struggle to learn things for themselves, for years, while someone else in the story knows more about it and doesn’t explain it to them. Maybe Roark didn’t know how to explain it to Dominique but Galt certainly did know how to explain a ton more of it to Dagny and Rearden if he wanted to – he did explain it to Francisco and other strikers off-camera.). Objectivism is much more focused on how to think than how to discuss (which I grant is more important, but both are important).

Critical Rationalism actually says we learn by critical discussion … but then also doesn’t give guidance on how to make discussion good and effective. Improving that major omission is one of the goals of Critical Fallibilism.

Theory of Constraints actually gives practical guidance for having structured interactions involving other people to discuss things and solve problems.

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