Author: Ben Chugg and Vaden Masrani

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Vaden Masrani, a PhD alum in machine learning at UBC, and Ben Chugg, a PhD student in statistics at CMU, get into trouble arguing about everything except machine learning and statistics. Coherence is somewhere on the horizon.
Bribes, suggestions, love-mail and hate-mail all welcome at
59 Episodes
Alright people, we made it. Six months, a few breaks, some uncontrollable laughter, some philosophy, many unhinged takes, a little bit of diarrhea and we're here, the last Ask Us Anything. After this we're never answering another God D*** question. Ever. We discuss Do you wish you could change your own interests? Methods of information ingestion Taking books off their pedestal bit Intellectual influences Veganism (why Ben is, why Vaden isn't) Anti-rational memes Fricken Andrew Huberman again Stoicism Are e-fuels the best of the best or the worst of the worst? Questions (Andrew) Any suggested methods of reading Popper (or others) and getting the most out of it? I'm not from a philosophy background, and although I get a lot out of the books, I think there's probably ways of reading them (notes etc?) where I could invest the same time and get more return. (Andrew) Any other books you'd say added to your personal philosophical development as DD, KP have? Who and why? (Alex) Are you aware of general types of insidious anti-rational memes which are hard to recognise as such? Any ideas on how we can go about recognising them in our own thinking? (I do realise that perhaps no general method exists, but still, if you have any thoughts on this...) (Lorcan) What do you think about efuels? Listen to this take ( by Fully Charged. References Lying ( and Free Will ( by Sam Harris Doing Good Better ( by MacAskill Animal Liberation ( by Peter Singer Mortal Questions ('s%20Mortal%20Questions%20explore,%2C%20consciousness%2C%20freedom%20and%20value.) by Thomas Nagel Death and Life of Great American Cities ( by Jane Jacobs Peace is Every Step ( and True Love ( by Thich Nhat Hanh Seeing like a State (,accordance%20with%20purported%20scientific%20laws.) by James Scott The Truth Behind Cage-Free and Free-Range | STUFF YOU SHOULD KNOW ( People Producers of rational memes: - Everything: Christopher Hitchens, Vladimir Nabokov, Sam Harris, George Orwell, Scott Alexander, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Steven Pinker - Sex and Relationships: Dan Savage - Environment/Progress: Vaclav Smil, Matt Ridley, Steven Pinker, Hans Rosling, Bjorn Lomborg, Michael Shellenburger, Alex Epstein - Race: Glenn Loury, John Mcwhorter, Coleman Hughes, Kmele Foster, Chloe Valdery - Woke: John Mcwhorter, Yasha Mounk, Coleman Hughes, Sam Harris, Douglas Murrey, Jordan Peterson, Steven Hicks, James Lindsay, Ben Shapiro - Feminism: Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Christina Hoff Summers, Camille Paglia (Note: Then follow each thinker's favorite thinker, and never stop. ) Producers of anti-rational memes: - Eric Weinstein - Bret Weinstein - Noam Chomsky (See A Potpourri Of Chomskyan Nonsense: - Glenn Greenwald - Reza Aslan - Medhi Hassan - Robin Diangelo - Ibraam x Kendi - George Galloway - Judith Butler Socials Follow us on Twitter at @IncrementsPod, @BennyChugg, @VadenMasrani Come join our discord server! DM us on twitter or send us an email to get a supersecret link Help us fund the anti-book campaign and get exclusive bonus content by becoming a patreon subscriber here ( Or give us one-time cash donations to help therapy costs here ( Click dem like buttons on youtube ( What aren't you interested in, and how might you fix that? Tell us at
We we're looking for a nice light topic for our patron only episode, so Vaden naturally chosen to chat about the patriarchy. I guess he didn't get into enough trouble in his personal life talking about it so he wanted to make his support and admiration for the patriarchy public. This is a sneak preview into the land of patreon bonus episodes, so be sure to fork over some cold hard cash if you'd like a bit more mansplaining in your life. We discuss Harassment of women in various spheres of life The patriarchy as a set of facts versus a causal explanation Why conflating these two notions of the patriarchy harms progress Domains where women are doing better than men (hint: education, mental health, and psychopathy) Why it's so hard to talk about this Why Canada is different than Afghanistan (OR IS IT) Socials Follow us on Twitter at @IncrementsPod, @BennyChugg, @VadenMasrani Come join our discord server! DM us on twitter or send us an email to get a supersecret link Help us pay for men's rights posters and get exclusive bonus content by becoming a patreon subscriber here ( Or give us one-time cash donations to help with upholding the patriarchy here ( Click dem like buttons on youtube over hur ( Who is a better meninist? Tell us at
Perhaps you thought, in your infinite ignorance, that the release of the previous episode marked the end of the age of the AMA! But nay my friends, the age of the AMA has just begun! We'll answer your questions until the cows come home; until Godot arrives; until all the world's babies are potty-trained. Or, at least, until we stop laughing. We discuss Potty training, taking babies seriously, and adult diapers Why Vaden never daydreams, fantasizes, or minds spending 10 hours in a car Whether the subjective notions of certainty, belief, or confidence deserve a spot in the objective world of epistemology Whether sports are authoritarian Whether spreading Popper's epistemology is a moral imperative The role of school and educational institutions Whether emergence is the result of the interplay between physical reality and the reality of abstraction Questions (Tom) Can any thinking take place completely independent of any certainty (explicitly acknowledged or inexplicit) whatsoever? Or can we introduce alternative terms to 'certainty' and 'confidence' to describe how individuals process their convictions, consent, and agreement? If 'certainty' and 'confidence' connote justificationism, can a fallibilist dismiss these terms entirely? (Tom) Can fallibilism, anti-authoritarianism, anti-justificationism, and critical rationalism overall operate effectively in the highly competitive space of sports, especially professional sports? (Andrew) If our best theory of how to make rapid progress comes from Popper's epistemology, should making it more widely known/understood be considered a moral imperative? If not, why? If so, thoughts? (Andrew) This one has been hanging about in my notes for a couple of years so I'm not sure it's a great question any more, but something zingy about the interplay between reality, abstractions and their effects on each other has pushed me to add it here: Is emergence the result of the interplay between physical reality and the reality of abstractions? Socials Follow us on Twitter at @IncrementsPod, @BennyChugg, @VadenMasrani Come join our discord server! DM us on twitter or send us an email to get a supersecret link Help us pay for diapers and get exclusive bonus content by becoming a patreon subscriber here ( Or give us one-time cash donations to help with Diarrhea removal here ( Click dem like buttons on youtube over hur ( Who is more annoying in the mornings? Tell us at
Our argument at the end of last episode spilled over into discord, DMs, and world news, so we felt compelled to dedicate a full episode to addressing the question "Is all thought problem solving?" Some arguments make history, like whether atomic bombs were required in WWII, whether all philosophy is simply a language game, and whether the chicken did indeed come before the egg. Will this be one of them? We cover: - How Vaden listens to podcasts and why he thinks Andrew Huberman sucks (but studies show that Andrew Huberman is great!) - Popper's evolutionary take on problem-solving - Problems defined as "disappointed expectations" - Whether all volitional thought is problem-solving - Are irrefutable theories ever valuable, or should they all be discarded a-priori? References All life is problem-solving ( In Search of a Better World ( Episode 51 of Increments (, where we discuss "implicit definitions". Quotes Men, animals, plants, even unicellular organisms are constantly active. They are trying to improve their situation, or at least to avoid its deterioration. Even when asleep, the organism is actively maintaining the state of sleep: the depth (or else the shallowness) of sleep is a condition actively created by the organism, which sustains sleep (or else keeps the organism on the alert). Every organism is constantly preoccupied with the task of solving prob- lems. These problems arise from its own assessments of its condition and of its environment; conditions which the organism seeks to improve. - In Search Of A Better World, p.vii At bottom, this procedure seems to be the only logical one. It is also the procedure that a lower organism, even a single-cell amoeba, uses when trying to solve a problem. In this case we speak of testing movements through which the organism tries to rid itself of a troublesome problem. Higher organisms are able to learn through trial and error how a certain problem should be solved. We may say that they too make testing movements - mental testings - and that to learn is essentially to tryout one testing movement after another until one is found that solves the problem. We might compare the animal's successful solution to an expectation and hence to a hypothesis or a theory. For the animal's behaviour shows us that it expects (perhaps unconsciously or dispositionally) that in a similar case the same testing movements will again solve the problem in question. The behaviour of animals, and of plants too, shows that organisms are geared to laws or regularities. They expect laws or regularities in their surroundings, and I conjecture that most of these expectations are genetically determined - which is to say that they are innate. - All Life is Problem Solving, p.3 Socials Follow us on Twitter at @IncrementsPod, @BennyChugg, @VadenMasrani Come join our discord server! DM us on twitter or send us an email to get a supersecret link Solve all our problems and get exclusive bonus content by becoming a patreon subscriber here ( Toss us some coin over hur (patreon subscription approach ( or the ko-fi, the "just give us cash you animals" approach (, and click dem like buttons on youtube over hur ( Do studies show that Ben or Vaden is correct? Tell us at
Back again with AUA #3 - we're getting there people! Only, uhh, seven questions to go? Incremental progress baby. Plus, we see a good old Vaden and Ben fight in this one! Thank God, because things were getting a little stale with Vaden hammering on longtermism and Ben on cliodynamics. We cover: Is hypnosis a real thing? Types of universality contained within the genetic code Pressures associated with turning political/philosophical ideas into personal identities How do emotions/feelings interface with our rational/logical mind? How should they? Vaden's (hopefully one-off) experience with Bipolar Type-1 and psychosis Is problem solving the sole purpose of thinking? Vaden says yes (with many caveats!) and Ben says wtf no you fool. Then we argue about how to watch TV. Questions (Neil Hudson) Are there any theories as to the type of universality achievable via the genetic code (in BOI it is presumed to fall short of coding for all possible life forms)? (Neil Hudson) Wd be gd to get your take on: riffing on the Sperber/Mercier social thesis v. individual, if one is scarce private space/time then the need to constantly avow one’s public identity may “swamp” the critical evaluation of arguments one hears? Goes to seeking truth v status (Arun Kannan) What are your thoughts on inexplicit knowledge (David Deutsch jargon) and more broadly emotions/feelings in the mind ? How do these interplay with explicit ideas / thoughts ? What should we prioritize ? If we don't prioritize one over the other, how to resolve conflicts between them ? Any tips, literature, Popperian wisdom you can share on this ? (Tom Nassis) Is the sole purpose of all forms of thinking problem-solving? Or can thinking have purposes other than solving a problem? Quotes Reach always has an explanation. But this time, to the best of my knowledge, the explanation is not yet known. If the reason for the jump in reach was that it was a jump to universality, what was the universality? The genetic code is presumably not universal for specifying life forms, since it relies on specific types of chemicals, such as proteins. Could it be a universal constructor? Perhaps. It does manage to build with inorganic materials sometimes, such as the calcium phosphate in bones, or the magnetite in the navigation system inside a pigeon’s brain. Biotechnologists are already using it to manufacture hydrogen and to extract uranium from seawater. It can also program organisms to perform constructions outside their bodies: birds build nests; beavers build dams. Perhaps it would it be possible to specify, in the genetic code, an organism whose life cycle includes building a nuclear-powered spaceship. Or perhaps not. I guess it has some lesser, and not yet understood, universality. In 1994 the computer scientist and molecular biologist Leonard Adleman designed and built a computer composed of DNA together with some simple enzymes, and demonstrated that it was capable of performing some sophisticated computations. At the time, Adleman’s DNA computer was arguably the fastest computer in the world. Further, it was clear that a universal classical computer could be made in a similar way. Hence we know that, whatever that other universality of the DNA system was, the universality of computation had also been inherent in it for billions of years, without ever being used – until Adleman used it. Beginning of Infinity, p.158 (emph added) References Derren brown makes people forget their stop ( Bari Weiss's conversation ( with Freddie deBoer on psychosis, bipolar, and mental health. This conversation addresses the New York Times article ( which views having schizophrenia, bipolar, etc as no better or worse than not having schizophrenia, bipolar, etc. Also contains Vaden's favorite euphemism of 2022: "Nonconsensus Realities" Sad existentialist cat ( Send Vaden an email with a thought you have not designed to solve a problem at Socials Follow us on Twitter at @IncrementsPod, @BennyChugg, @VadenMasrani Come join our discord server! DM us on twitter or send us an email to get a supersecret link Toss us some coin over hur (patreon subscription approach ( or the ko-fi, just give us cash you animal approach (, and click dem like buttons on youtube over hur (
Ask us anything? Ask us everything! Back at it again with AUA Part 2/N. We wax poetic and wane dramatic on a number of subjects, including: - Ben's dark and despicable hidden historicist tendencies - Expounding upon (one of our many) critiques of Bayesian Epistemology - Ben's total abandonment of all of his principles - Similarities and differences between human and computer decision making - What can the critical rationalist community learn from Effective Altruism? - Ben's new best friend Peter Turchin - How to have effective disagreements and not take gleeful petty jabs at friends and co-hosts. Questions (Michael) A critique of Bayesian epistemology is that it "assigns scalars to feelings" in an ungrounded way. It's not clear to me that the problem-solving approach of Deutsch and Popper avoid this, because even during the conjecture-refutation process, the person needs to at some point decide whether the current problem has been solved satisfactorily enough to move on to the next problem. How is this satisfaction determined, if not via summarizing one's internal belief as a scalar that surpasses some threshold? If not this (which is essentially assigning scalars to feelings), by what mechanism is a problem determined to be solved? (Michael) Is the claim that "humans create new choices whereas machines are constrained to choose within the event-space defined by the human" equivalent to saying "humans can perform abstraction while machines cannot?" Not clear what "create new choices" means, given that humans are also constrained in their vocabulary (and thus their event-space of possible thoughts) (Lulie) In what ways could the critical rationalist culture improve by looking to EA? (Scott) What principles do the @IncrementsPod duo apply to navigating effective conversations involving deep disagreement? (Scott) Are there any contexts where bayesianism has utility? (steelman) (Scott) What is Vaden going to do post graduation? Quotes “The words or the language, as they are written or spoken,” he wrote, “do not seem to play any role in my mechanism of thought. The psychical entities which seem to serve as elements in thought are certain signs and more or less clear images which can be ‘voluntarily’ reproduced and combined...this combinatory play seems to be the essential feature in productive thought— before there is any connection with logical construction in words or other kinds of signs which can be communicated to others.” (Einstein) Contact us Follow us on Twitter at @IncrementsPod, @BennyChugg, @VadenMasrani Check us out on youtube at Come join our discord server! DM us on twitter or send us an email to get a supersecret link Send Ben an email asking him why god why over at
We debated calling this episode "An ode to Michael," because we set out to do an AMA but only get through his first two questions. But never fear, there are only 20 questions, so at this rate we should be done the AMA by the end of 2024. Who said we weren't fans of longtermism? Questions: Hey do you guys have a Patreon page or anyway to support you? (Michael) Not clear that humans are universal explainers. Standard argument for this is "to assume o.w. is to appeal to the supernatural," but this argument is weak b/c it does not explain why humans could in principle explain everything. But all Deutch's ideas rests on this axiom. It's almost tautological - there could be things humans cannot explain, but we wouldn't even know about these things b/c we wouldn't be able to explain them. I think this argument that humans are universal explainers and thus can achieve indefinite progress needs more rigor.It might be a step jump from animals to humans, but why could there not be more step jumps in intelligence beyond human intelligence that we do not even know about? I'd love to get your thoughts on this. (Michael) Another pt I'd love to get your perspectives on is the idea of the "creative program." Standard discussion is "humans are special because we are creative, and we don't know what the creative program is." But we need to make progress on creativity at some point and it kind of feels like we are using the word "creativity" as a vague suitcase word to encapsulate "everything we don't yet know about intelligence." Simply saying "humans are creative" without properly defining what it means to be creative in a way that we can evaluate in machines is not helping us make progress on developing creative AI. It's unsatisfying to hear critiques of AI that say "this AI model is not 'truly intelligent' because it is not creative" without also proposing a way to evaluate its creativity. In this sense, critiques of AI that say AI is "not creative" are bad explanations because these critiques are easy to vary. Without a proposing a proper test for creativity that can actually evaluated, it is not possible for us to conduct a test to refute the critique. I'd love to get your thoughts on how we can construct evaluations for creativity in a way that enables us to make scientific progress on understanding the creative algorithm! References: - Episode 9: Introduction to Computational Theory (, Theory of Anything podcast ( - David Deutsch on Coleman Hughes' podcast: Multiverse of Madness ( - John Cleese's excellent new book Creativity ( Contact us - Follow us on Twitter at @IncrementsPod, @BennyChugg, @VadenMasrani - Check us out on youtube at - Come join our discord server! DM us on twitter or send us an email to get a supersecret link Support You can support the project on Patreon (monthly donations, or Ko-fi (one time donation, Thank you! How much explaining could a universal explainer explain if a universal explainer could explain explaining? Tell us at
Vaden comes out swinging against David Chapman's work on meta-rationality. Is Chapman pointing out a fatal flaw, or has Popper solved these problems long ago? Do moose see cups? Does Ben see cups? What the f*** is a cup? We discuss - Chapman's concept of nebulosity - Whether this concept is covered by Popper - The relationship of nebulosity and the vagueness of language - The correspondence theory of truth - If the concept of "problem situation" saves us from Chapman's critique - Why "conjecture and criticism" isn't everything References - The excellent Do Explain ( podcast. Go listen, right now! - In the cells of the eggplant (, David Chapman - Chapman's website ( - Jake Orthwein on Do Explain (, Part I Chapman Quotes Reasonableness is not interested in universality. It aims to get practical work done in specific situations. Precise definitions and absolute truths are rarely necessary or helpful for that. Is this thing an eggplant? Depends on what you are trying to do with it. Is there water in the refrigerator? Well, what do you want it for? What counts as baldness, fruit, red, or water depends on your purposes, and on all sorts of details of the situation. Those details are so numerous and various that they can’t all be taken into account ahead of time to make a general formal theory. Any factor might matter in some situation. On the other hand, nearly all are irrelevant in any specific situation, so determining whether the water in an eggplant counts, or if Alain is bald, is usually easy. David Chapman, When will you go bald? ( Do cow hairs that have come out of the follicle but that are stuck to the cow by friction, sweat, or blood count as part of the cow? How about ones that are on the verge of falling out, but are stuck in the follicle by only the weakest of bonds? The reasonable answer is “Dude! It doesn’t matter!” David Chapman, Objects, objectively ( We use words as tools to get things done; and to get things done, we improvise, making use of whatever materials are ready to hand. If you want to whack a piece of sheet metal to bend it, and don’t know or care what the “right” tool is (if there even is one), you might take a quick look around the garage, grab a large screwdriver at the “wrong” end, and hit the target with its hard rubber handle. A hand tool may have one or two standard uses; some less common but pretty obvious ones; and unusual, creative ones. But these are not clearly distinct categories of usage. David Chapman, The purpose of meaning ( Popper Quotes Observation is always selective. It needs a chosen object, a definite task, an interest, a point of view, a problem. And its description presupposes a descriptive language, with property words; it presupposes similarity and classification, which in their turn presuppose interests, points of view, and problems. ‘A hungry animal’, writes Katz, ‘divides the environment into edible and inedible things. An animal in flight sees roads to escape and hiding places . . . Generally speaking, objects change . . . according to the needs of the animal.’ We may add that objects can be classified, and can become similar or dissimilar, only in this way—by being related to needs and interests. This rule applies not only to animals but also to scientists. For the animal a point of view is provided by its needs, the task of the moment, and its expectations; for the scientist by his theoretical interests, the special problem under investigation, his conjectures and anticipations, and the theories which he accepts as a kind of background: his frame of reference, his "horizon of expectations". Conjectures and Refutations p. 61 (italics added) I believe that there is a limited analogy between this situation and the way we ‘use our terms’ in science. The analogy can be described in this way. In a branch of mathematics in which we operate with signs defined by implicit definition, the fact that these signs have no ‘definite meaning’ does not affect our operating with them, or the precision of our theories. Why is that so? Because we do not overburden the signs. We do not attach a ‘meaning’ to them, beyond that shadow of a meaning that is warranted by our implicit definitions. (And if we attach to them an intuitive meaning, then we are careful to treat this as a private auxiliary device, which must not interfere with the theory.) In this way, we try to keep, as it were, within the ‘penumbra of vagueness’ or of ambiguity, and to avoid touching the problem of the precise limits of this penumbra or range; and it turns out that we can achieve a great deal without discussing the meaning of these signs; for nothing depends on their meaning. In a similar way, I believe, we can operate with these terms whose meaning wehave learned ‘operationally’. We use them, as it were, so that nothing depends upon their meaning, or as little as possible. Our ‘operational definitions’ have the advantage of helping us to shift the problem into a field in which nothing or little depends on words. Clear speaking is speaking in such a way that words do not matter. OSE p. 841 (italics in original) Frege’s opinion is different; for he writes: “A definition of a concept ... must determine unambiguously of any object whether or not it falls under the concept . . . Using a metaphor, we may say: the concept must have a sharp boundary.” But it is clear that for this kind of absolute precision to be demanded of a defined concept, it must first be demanded of the defining concepts, and ultimately of our undefined, or primitive, terms. Yet this is impossible. For either our undefined or primitive terms have a traditional meaning (which is never very precise) or they are introduced by so-called “implicit definitions”—that is, through the way they are used in the context of a theory. This last way of introducing them—if they have to be “introduced”—seems to be the best. But it makes the meaning of the concepts depend on that of the theory, and most theories can be interpreted in more than one way. As a result, implicity defined concepts, and thus all concepts which are defined explicitly with their help, become not merely “vague” but systematically ambiguous. And the various systematically ambiguous interpretations (such as the points and straight lines of projective geometry) may be completely distinct. Unending Quest, p. 27 (italics added) What I do suggest is that it is always undesirable to make an effort to increase precision for its own sake—especially linguistic precision—since this usually leads to loss of clarity, and to a waste of time and effort on preliminaries which often turn out to be useless, because they are bypassed by the real advance of the subject: one should never try to be more precise than the problem situation demands. ... One further result is, quite simply, the realization that the quest for precision, in words or concepts or meanings, is a wild-goose chase. There simply is no such thing as a precise concept (say, in Frege’s sense), though concepts like “price of this kettle” and “thirty pence” are usually precise enough for the problem context in which they are used. Unending Quest, p. 22 (italics in original) Contact us Follow us on Twitter at @IncrementsPod, @BennyChugg, @VadenMasrani Check us out on youtube at Come join our discord server! DM us on twitter or send us an email to get a supersecret link How nebulous is your eggplant? Tell us at
Fifty godd*** episodes! 'Tis been a ride full of debate, drinks, questionable arguments, Ben becoming both a dualist and a social media addict, and Vaden stalwartly not changing his mind about a single thing. To celebrate, we dive into a thesis which connects many strands of what we've discussed over the years: Brian Boyd's work on art and fiction. Boyd provides an evolutionary account of why we're heavily invested in both creating and consuming fictional narratives. If this was simply a fun habit without any real advantage, such a propensity would have been selected against long ago because creating fiction requires an enormous amount of time. This raises the question: What is the advantage of fiction? Why is producing it adaptive? Brian Boyd ( is a distinguished professor emeritus at the University of Auckland. His most well-known for his scholarship on Vladimir Nabokov, and is currently writing a biography on Karl Popper. You can understand why Vaden got so excited about him. Note: We spend a lot of time giving background context for Boyd's theory - if you want to skip all that and get right to the theory itself, we've added chapter markers to take you there. Added after publishing : Looks like chapter markers aren't working correctly on some players, discussion of theory begins at 00:40:43 We discuss - Reflections on our 50th episode! - Non-evolutionary theories of art and fiction, and why they fail - Boyd's thesis that art results from playing with pattern and information - Fiction as a kind of art which results from playing with social information - How these theories explain why art is adaptive - The link between art and creativity - How Boyd's theory improves on the two other major evolutionary theories of art References - On the Origin of Stories ( - Stacks of Stories, Stories of Stacks. Essay from the book Stalking Nabokov ( - Steven Pinker's thesis on art ( - Geoffrey Miller's thesis ( Quotes We crave information. But because we have a much more open-ended curiosity than other animals, we have a special appetite for pattern. We crave the high yield of novel kinds of pattern. So we not only chase and tussle, we not only play physically, but we also play cognitively, with patterns of the kinds of information that matter most to us: sound, sight, and, in our ultrasocial species, social information. We play with the rhythm and pitch and shape of sounds in music and song; with colors and shapes in drawing and painting and mudpies or sandcastles; and with patterns of social information in pretend play and story. In the social world, we see patterns of identity (who are they?), personality (what are they like?), society (whom are they related to? whom do they team up with? how do they rank?). In the world of events, we see patterns of cause and effect. In the world of social events, we see patterns of intention, action, and outcome. (Stacks of Stories, Stories of Stacks - Boyd) To sum up: I’ve explored the hypothesis that art—or at least many forms of art—exploit visual aesthetics for no direct adaptive reason. Making and looking at art does not, and probably never did, result in more surviving offspring. There are, to be sure, adaptive explanations why certain visual patterns give human beings aesthetic, intellectual and sexual pleasure: they are cues to understandable, safe, productive, nutritious or fertile things in the world. And since we are a toolmaking, technological species, one of the things that we can do with our ingenuity, aside from trapping animals, detoxifying plants, conspiring against our enemies and so on, is to create purified, concentrated, supernormal, artificial sources of these visual pleasures, just for the sheer enjoyment experienced by both maker and viewer. (Pinker) In the 1950s, when Desmond Morris supplied chimpanzees in his care with paint, brushes, and paper, they threw themselves into painting provided they received no external reward. Those who were offered food would make a few perfunctory strokes and break off quickly to seek another tasty morsel. But those whose motivation remained uncorrupted by “payment” developed a fierce commitment to painting. They painted intensely, persisting, while the session lasted, until they thought a sheet finished, though they would never glance at their work later. (On the Origin of Stories, pg 94) Our capacity to understand other minds so well, which arises especially from our cooperative disposition, allows us to understand false belief: we appreciate clearly that others may not know information relevant to the situation that we happen to know. That also means that we realize * we * may not know what we need to know, and that realization drives human curiosity. (Stacks of Stories, Stories of Stacks - Boyd) Very young children do not readily think offline, away from the here and now. They do not easily recall their recent past, but they can easily use the present props of toys, whether homemade or manufactured, to conjure up scenarios involving agents that hook their attention. They learn to think in a sustained fashion in ways decoupled from the here and now, first by using physical props as fellow agents, then gradually by raiding the readymade stories and characters of their culture. By building on our sociality, fiction stretches our imaginations, taking us from our immediate present along tracks we can easily follow offline because they are the fresh tracks of agents. (Stacks of Stories, Stories of Stacks - Boyd) In the 1989 TV movie The Naked Lie the unpleasant and self-centered Webster shows no sympathy for a prostitute who has been killed. When Victoria asks him, “What if it were your sister?” he sneers: “I don’t have a sister, but if I did, she wouldn’t be a hooker.” Later in the movie Victoria muses to another character: “You know that sister Webster doesn’t have? Well, she doesn’t know how lucky she is.” We easily follow Victoria’s initial counterfactual, Webster’s counterfactual refutation of her condition, and Victoria’s comically contradictory counterfactual consequence, the sister who, because she does not exist, cannot know how lucky she is not to do so if she has to suffer Webster as her brother. Stories help train us to explore possibility as well as actuality, effortlessly and even playfully, and that capacity makes all the difference. (On the Origin of Stories, pg 188) Contact us Follow us on Twitter at @IncrementsPod, @BennyChugg, @VadenMasrani Check us out on youtube at Come join our discord server! DM us on twitter or send us an email to get a supersecret link What patterns have you been playing with recently? Tell us your story over at Image Credit: Kinza Riza, from the Atlantic article (
When big bearded men wearing fedoras begin yelling at you that the end is nigh ( and superintelligence is about to kill us all, what should you do? Vaden says don't panic, and Ben is simply awestruck by the ability to grow a beard in the first place. To help us think through the potential risks and rewards of ever more impressive machine learning models, we invited Rosie Campbell on the podcast. Rosie is on the safety team at OpenAI and, while she's more worried about the existential risks of AI than we are, she's just as keen on some debate over a bottle of wine. We discuss: - Whether machine learning poses an existential threat - How concerned we should be about existing AI - Whether deep learning can get us to artificial general intelligence (AGI) - If AI safety is simply quality assurance - How can we test if an AI system is creative? References: - Mathgen: Randomly generated math papers ( Contact us - Follow us on Twitter at @IncrementsPod, @BennyChugg, @VadenMasrani - Follow Rosie at @RosieCampbell or - Check us out on youtube at - Come join our discord server! DM us on twitter or send us an email to get a supersecret link Prove you're creative by inventing the next big thing and then send it to us at Special Guest: Rosie Campbell.
You may, perchance, have noticed that the sweeping utopian movements of the past did not end well. And most of them involved an horrific amount of violence. Is this connection just chance, or is there something inherent to utopian thinking which leads to violent ends? We turn to Chapter 18 of Conjectures and Refutations where Popper gives us his spicy take. We discuss - How do you "see" your early memories? - Vaden corrects the record on a few points - Rationality grounded in humility versus goal-oriented rationality - If ends can be decided rationally - How and if goal-oriented rationality leads to violence - Working to reduce concrete evils versus working to achieve abstract goods ** Link to chapter **: - Quotes A rationalist, as I use the word, is a man who attempts to reach decisions by argument and perhaps, in certain cases, by compromise, rather than by violence. He is a man who would rather be unsuccessful in convincing another man by argument than successful in crushing him by force, by intimidation and threats, or even by persuasive propaganda. Pg. 478 I believe that we can avoid violence only in so far as we practise this attitude of reasonableness when dealing with one another in social life; and that any other attitude is likely to produce violence—even a one-sided attempt to deal with others by gentle persuasion, and to convince them by argument and example of those insights we are proud of possessing, and of whose truth we are absolutely certain. We all remember how many religious wars were fought for a religion of love and gentleness; how many bodies were burned alive with the genuinely kind intention of saving souls from the eternal fire of hell. Only if we give up our authoritarian attitude in the realm of opinion, only if we establish the attitude of give and take, of readiness to learn from other people, can we hope to control acts of violence inspired by piety and duty. Pg. 479 In the latter case political action will be rational only if we first determine the final ends of the political changes which we intend to bring about. It will be rational only relative to certain ideas of what a state ought to be like. Thus it appears that as a preliminary to any rational political action we must first attempt to become as clear as possible about our ultimate political ends; for example the kind of state which we should consider the best; and only afterwards can we begin to determine the means which may best help us to realize this state, or to move slowly towards it, taking it as the aim of a historical process which we may to some extent influence and steer towards the goal selected. Now it is precisely this view which I call Utopianism. Any rational and non-selfish political action, on this view, must be preceded by a determination of our ultimate ends, not merely of intermediate or partial aims which are only steps towards our ultimate end, and which therefore should be considered as means rather than as ends; therefore rational political action must be based upon a more or less clear and detailed description or blueprint of our ideal state, and also upon a plan or blueprint of the historical path that leads towards this goal. Pg. 481-482 The Utopian method, which chooses an ideal state of society as the aim which all our political actions should serve, is likely to produce violence can be shown thus. Since we cannot determine the ultimate ends of political actions scientifically, or by purely rational methods, differences of opinion concerning what the ideal state should be like cannot always be smoothed out by the method of argument. They will at least partly have the character of religious differences. And there can hardly be tolerance between these different Utopian religions. Utopian aims are designed to serve as a basis for rational political action and discussion, and such action appears to be possible only if the aim is definitely decided upon. Thus the Utopianist must win over, or else crush, his Utopianist competitors who do not share his own Utopian aims and who do not profess his own Utopianist religion. Pg. 483 Work for the elimination of concrete evils rather than for the realization of abstract goods. Do not aim at establishing happiness by political means. Rather aim at the elimination of concrete miseries. Or, in more practical terms: fight for the elimination of poverty by direct means—for example, by making sure that everybody has a minimum income. Or fight against epidemics and disease by erecting hospitals and schools of medicine. Fight illiteracy as you fight criminality. But do all this by direct means. Choose what you consider the most urgent evil of the society in which you live, and try patiently to convince people that we can get rid of it. Pg. 485 But do not try to realize these aims indirectly by designing and working for a distant ideal of a society which is wholly good. However deeply you may feel indebted to its inspiring vision, do not think that you are obliged to work for its realization, or that it is your mission to open the eyes of others to its beauty. Do not allow your dreams of a beautiful world to lure you away from the claims of men who suffer here and now. Our fellow men have a claim to our help; no generation must be sacrificed for the sake of future generations, for the sake of an ideal of happiness that may never be realized. In brief, it is my thesis that human misery is the most urgent problem of a rational public policy and that happiness is not such a problem. The attainment of happiness should be left to our private endeavours. Pg. 485 It is a fact, and not a very strange fact, that it is not so very difficult to reach agreement by discussion on what are the most intolerable evils of our society, and on what are the most urgent social reforms. Such an agreement can be reached much more easily than an agreement concerning some ideal form of social life. For the evils are with us here and now. They can be experienced, and are being experienced every day, by many people who have been and are being made miserable by poverty, unemployment, national oppression, war and disease. Those of us who do not suffer from these miseries meet every day others who can describe them to us. This is what makes the evils concrete. This is why we can get somewhere in arguing about them; why we can profit here from the attitude of reasonableness. We can learn by listening to concrete claims, by patiently trying to assess them as impartially as we can, and by considering ways of meeting them without creating worse evils Pg. 485 I believe that it is quite true that we can judge the rationality of an action only in relation to some aims or ends. But this does not necessarily mean that the rationality of a political action can be judged only in relation to an _historical end._ Pg. 486 The appeal of Utopianism arises from the failure to realize that we cannot make heaven on earth. What I believe we can do instead is to make life a little less terrible and a little less unjust in each generation. A good deal can be achieved in this way. Much has been achieved in the last hundred years. More could be achieved by our own generation. There are many pressing problems which we might solve, at least partially, such as helping the weak and the sick, and those who suffer under oppression and injustice; stamping out unemployment; equalizing opportunities; and preventing international crime, such as blackmail and war instigated by men like gods, by omnipotent and omniscient leaders. All this we might achieve if only we could give up dreaming about distant ideals and fighting over our Utopian blueprints for a new world and a new man. Pg. 487 ** References ** - EA Forum post showing data on forecasting accuracy across different time horizons: - Vox article talking about PELTIV's: Contact us - Follow us on Twitter at @IncrementsPod, @BennyChugg, @VadenMasrani - Check us out on youtube at - Come join our discord server! DM us on twitter or send us an email to get a supersecret link Do you see your sweeping utopian blueprints in first person or third person? Send these blueprints over to Image credit: Engin_Akyurt (
Second holiday season bonus episode! Vaden joins Chesto on The Declaration ( podcast to talk about monism, dualism, the reality of abstractions, emergence, and reductionism. This convo was recorded in 2019, but much of the content is evergreen and we think it still makes for interestin' listenin'. Except the sound quality, which leaves much to be desired. Thanks Blue Yeti. We discuss: - The mind-body problem - Why Vaden is a filthy pluralist and Chesto is a sober, sane, rational materialist - Reductonism vs dualism vs pluralism - The reality of abstractions - Why explanations are central to science - Would you get into a Star Trek transporter? - And, a little bit out of left field, some advice for talking about mental health References: - Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid ( - Beginning of Infinity ( - Chesto's instagram ( for your eyes and soundcloud ( for your ears. Errata: - In the Domino example from BOI the prime number was 641, not whatever number Vaden said - The Voyager spacecraft launched in 1977, not 1972 Contact us - Follow us on Twitter at @IncrementsPod, @BennyChugg, @VadenMasrani - Check us out on youtube at - Come join our discord server! DM us on twitter or send us an email to get a supersecret link Are emails real? Tell us at Photo credit:
We make a guest appearance on Nick Anyos' podcast to talk about effective altruism, longtermism, and probability. Nick (very politely) pushes back on our anti-Bayesian credo, and we get deep into the weeds of probability and epistemology. You can find Nick's podcast on institutional design here (, and his substack here ( We discuss: - The lack of feedback loops in longtermism - Whether quantifying your beliefs is helpful - Objective versus subjective knowledge - The difference between prediction and explanation - The difference between Bayesian epistemology and Bayesian statistics - Statistical modelling and when statistics is useful Links - Philosophy and the practice of Bayesian statistics ( by Andrew Gelman and Cosma Shalizi - EA forum post ( showing all forecasts beyond a year out are uncalibrated. - Vaclav smil quote where he predicts a pandemic by 2021: > The following realities indicate the imminence of the risk. The typical frequency of influenza pan- demics was once every 50–60 years between 1700 and 1889 (the longest known gap was 52 years, between the pandemics of 1729–1733 and 1781–1782) and only once every 10–40 years since 1889. The recurrence interval, calculated simply as the mean time elapsed between the last six known pandemics, is about 28 years, with the extremes of 6 and 53 years. Adding the mean and the highest interval to 1968 gives a span between 1996 and 2021. We are, probabilistically speaking, very much inside a high-risk zone. > > - Global Catastropes and Trends, p.46 Reference for Tetlock's superforecasters failing to predict the pandemic. "On February 20th, Tetlock’s superforecasters predicted only a 3% chance that there would be 200,000+ coronavirus cases a month later (there were)." ( Contact us - Follow us on Twitter at @IncrementsPod, @BennyChugg, @VadenMasrani - Check us out on youtube at - Come join our discord server! DM us on twitter or send us an email to get a supersecret link Errata - At the beginning of the episode Vaden says he hasn't been interviewed on another podcast before. He forgot his appearence ( on The Declaration Podcast in 2019, which will be appearing as a bonus episode on our feed in the coming weeks. Sick of hearing us talk about this subject? Understandable! Send topic suggestions over to Photo credit: James O’Brien ( for Quanta Magazine (
We were delighted to be joined by Davis Professor at the Sante Fe Insitute, Melanie Mitchell! We chat about our understanding of artificial intelligence, human intelligence, and whether it's reasonable to expect us to be able to build sophisticated human-like automated systems anytime soon. Follow Melanie on twitter @MelMitchell1 and check out her website: We discuss: - AI hype through the ages - How do we know if machines understand? - Winograd schemas and the "WinoGrande" challenge. - The importance of metaphor and analogies to intelligence - The four fallacies in AI research: - 1. Narrow intelligence is on a continuum with general intelligence - 2. Easy things are easy and hard things are hard - 3. The lure of wishful mnemonics - 4. Intelligence is all in the brain - Whether embodiment is necessary for true intelligence - Douglas Hofstadter's views on AI - Ray Kurzweil and the "singularity" - The fact that Moore's law doesn't hold for software - The difference between symbolic AI and machine learning - What analogies have to teach us about human cognition Errata - Ben mistakenly says that Eliezer Yudkowsky has bet that everyone will die by 2025. It's actually by 2030. You can find the details of the bet here: References: - NY Times reporting on Perceptrons ( - The WinoGrande challenge paper ( - Why AI is harder than we think ( - The Singularity is Near (, by Ray Kurzweil Contact us - Follow us on Twitter at @IncrementsPod, @BennyChugg, @VadenMasrani - Check us out on youtube at - Come join our discord server! DM us on twitter or send us an email to get a supersecret link Eliezer was more scared than Douglas about AI, so he wrote a blog post about it. Who wrote the blog post, Eliezer or Douglas? Tell us at over at Special Guest: Melanie Mitchell.
Like moths to a flame, we come back to longtermism once again. But it's not our fault. Will MacAskill published a new book, What We Owe the Future, and billions (trillions!) of lives are at stake if we don't review it. Sisyphus had his task and we have ours. We're doing it for the (great great great ... great) grandchildren. We discuss: - Whether longtermism is actionable - Whether the book is a faithful representation of longtermism as practiced - Why humans are actually cool, despite what you might hear - Some cool ideas from the book including career advice and allowing vaccines on the free market - Ben's love of charter cities and whether he's is a totalitarian at heart - The plausability of "value lock-in" - The bizarro world of population ethics References: "Bait-and-switch" critique from a longtermist blogger: Quote: "For instance, I’m worried people will feel bait-and-switched if they get into EA via WWOTF then do an 80,000 Hours call or hang out around their EA university group and realize most people think AI risk is the biggest longtermist priority, many thinking this by a large margin." Contact us - Follow us on Twitter at @IncrementsPod, @BennyChugg, @VadenMasrani - Check us out on youtube at - Come join our discord server! DM us on twitter or send us an email to get a supersecret link How long is your termist? Tell us at
Some people think ( that advanced AI is going to kill everyone. Some people don't ( Who to believe? Fortunately, Ben and Vaden are here to sort out the question once and for all. No need to think for yourselves after listening to this one, we've got you covered. We discuss: - How well does math fit reality? Is that surprising? - Should artificial general intelligence (AGI) be considered "a person"? - How could AI possibly "go rogue?" - Can we know if current AI systems are being creative? - Is misplaced AI fear hampering progress? References: - The Unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics ( - Prohibition on autonomous weapons letter ( - Google employee conversation with chat bot ( - Gary marcus on the Turing test ( - Melanie Mitchell essay ( - Did MIRI give up? Their (half-sarcastic?) death with dignity strategy ( - Kerry Vaughan on slowing down ( AGI development. Contact us - Follow us on Twitter at @IncrementsPod, @BennyChugg, @VadenMasrani - Check us out on youtube at - Come join our discord server! DM us on twitter or send us an email to get a supersecret link Which prompt would you send to GPT-3 in order to end the world? Tell us before you're turned into a paperclip over at
Ben and Vaden sit down to discuss what is possibly Popper's most confusing essay ever: Language and the Body-Mind Problem: A restatement of Interactionism. Determinism, causality, language, bodies, minds, and Ferris Buhler. What's not to like! Except for the terrible writing, spanning the entire essay. And before we get to that, we revolutionize the peer-review system in less than 10 minutes. We discuss - Problems with the current peer-review system and how to improve it - The Mind-Body Problem - How chaos theory relates to determinism - The four functions of language - Why you don't argue with thermometers - Whether Popper thinks we can build AGI - Why causality occurs at the level of ideas, not just of atoms References - Link to the essay (, which you should most definitely read for yourself. - Ben's call to abolish peer-review ( - Discrete Analysis Math Journal ( - Pachinko ( - Karl Buhler's theory of language ( Quotes This, I think, solves the so-called problem of 'other minds'. If we talk to other people, and especially if we argue with them, then we assume (sometimes mistakenly) that they also argue: that they speak intentionally about things, seriously wishing to solve a problem, and not merely behaving as if they were doing so. It has often been seen that language is a social affair and that solipsism, and doubts about the existence of other minds, become selfcontradictory if formulated in a language. We can put this now more clearly. In arguing with other people (a thing which we have learnt from other people), for example about other minds, we cannot but attribute to them intentions, and this means, mental states. We do not argue with a thermometer. - C&R, Chap 13 Once we understand the causal behaviour of the machine, we realize that its behaviour is purely expressive or symptomatic. For amusement we may continue to ask the machine questions, but we shall not seriously argue with it-- unless we believe that it transmits the arguments, both from a person and back to a person. - C&R, Chap 13 If the behaviour of such a machine becomes very much like that of a man, then we may mistakenly believe that the machine describes and argues; just as a man"who does not know the working of a phonograph or radio may mistakenly think that it describes and argues. Yet an analysis of its mechanism teaches us that nothing of this kind happens. The radio does not argue, although it expresses and signals. - C&R, Chap 13 It is true that the presence of Mike in my environment may be one of the physical 'causes' of my saying, 'Here is Mike'. But if I say, 'Should this be your argument, then it is contradictory', because I have grasped or realized that it is so, then there was no physical 'cause' analogous to Mike; I do not need to hear or see your words in order to realize that a certain theory (it does not matter whose) is contradictory. The analogy is not to Mike, but rather to my realization that Mike is here. - C&R, Chap 13 The fear of obscurantism (or of being judged an obscurantist) has prevented most anti-obscurantists from saying such things as these. But this fear has produced, in the end, only obscurantism of another kind. - C&R, Chap 13 When's the last time you argued with your thermometer? Tell us over at Image Credit:
We're joined by the wonderful Lulie Tanett to talk about effective altruism, pulling spouses out of burning buildings, and why you should prefer critical rationalism to Bayesianism for your mom's sake. Buckle up! We discuss: - Lulie's recent experience at EA Global - Bayesianism and how it differs from critical rationalism - Common arguments in favor of Bayesianism - Taking Children Seriously - What it was like for Lulie growing up without going to school - The Alexander Technique, Internal Family Systems, Gendlin's Focusing, and Belief Reporting References - EA Global ( - Taking Children Seriously ( - Alexander Technique ( - Internal Family Systems ( - Gendlin Focusing ( Social Media Everywhere Follow Lulie on Twitter @reasonisfun. Follow us at @VadenMasrani, @BennyChugg, @IncrementsPod, or on Youtube ( Report your beliefs and focus your Gendlin's at Special Guest: Lulie Tanett.
Is there any possibility of fruitful dialogue with your mildly crazy, significantly intoxicated uncle at Thanksgiving dinner? We turn to Karl Popper's essay, The Myth of the Framework, to find out. Popper argues that it's wrong to assume that fruitful conversation is only possible among those who share an underlying framework of beliefs and assumptions. In fact, there's more to learn in difficult conversations which lack such a framework. We discuss - What is The Myth of the Framework? - The relationship between the myth of the framework and epistemological and moral relativism - Modern examples of the myth, including Jon Haidt's recent Atlantic essay ( and Paul Graham's Keep your identity small ( - Why there's more to learn from conversations where the participants disagree, and why conversations with too much agreement are uninteresting - Linguistic relativism and the evolution of language as a refutation of the myth - The relationship between the myth of the framework and the Enigma of Reason Quotes I think what religion and politics have in common is that they become part of people's identity, and people can never have a fruitful argument about something that's part of their identity. By definition they're partisan. - Paul Graham, Keep your identity small The story of Babel is the best metaphor I have found for what happened to America in the 2010s, and for the fractured country we now inhabit. Something went terribly wrong, very suddenly. We are disoriented, unable to speak the same language or recognize the same truth. We are cut off from one another and from the past. It’s been clear for quite a while now that red America and blue America are becoming like two different countries claiming the same territory, with two different versions of the Constitution, economics, and American history. But Babel is not a story about tribalism; it’s a story about the fragmentation of everything. It’s about the shattering of all that had seemed solid, the scattering of people who had been a community. It’s a metaphor for what is happening not only between red and blue, but within the left and within the right, as well as within universities, companies, professional associations, museums, and even families. - Jonathan Haidt, Why the past 10 years of American life have been uniquely stupid The proponents of relativism put before us standards of mutual understanding which are unrealistically high. And when we fail to meet these standards, they claim that understanding is impossible. - Karl Popper, MotF, pg. 34 The myth of the framework can be stated in one sentence, as follows. A rational and fruiful discussion is impossible unless the participants share a common framework of basic assumptions or, at least, unless they have agreed on such a framework for the purpose of the discussion. As I have formulated it here, the myth sounds like a sober statement, or like a sensible warning to which we ought to pay attention in order to further rational discussion. Some people even think that what I describe as a myth is a logical principle, or based on a logical principle. I think, on the contrary, that it is not only a false statement, but also a vicious statement which, if widely believed, must undermine the unity of mankind, and so must greatly increase the likelihood of violence and of war. This is the main reason why I want to combat it, and to refute it. - Karl Popper, MotF, pg. 34 Although I am an admirer of tradition, and conscious of its importance, I am, at the same time, an almost orthodox adherent of unorthodoxy: _I hold that orthodoxy is the death of knowledge, since the growth of knowledge depends entirely on the existence of disagreement. Admittedly, disagreement may lead to strif, and even to violence. And this, I think, is very bad indeed, for I abhor violence. Yet disagreement may also lead to discussion, to argument, and to mutual criticism. And these, I think, are of paramount importance. I suggest that the greatest step towards a better and more peaceful world was taken when the war of swords was first supported, and later sometimes even replaced, by a war of words. This is why my topic is of some practical significance._ - Karl Popper, MotF, pg. 34 My thesis is that logic neither underpins the myth of the framework nor its denial, but that we can try to learn from each other. Whether we succeed will depend largely on our goodwill, and to some extent also on our historical situation, and on our problem situation. - Karl Popper, MotF, pg. 38 References - Why the past 10 years of American life have been uniquely stupid (, by Jonathan Haidt - Keep your identity small (, by Paul Graham - The Enigma of Reason ( by Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber - Glenn Loury and Briahna Joy Grey ( - Normal Science and its Dangers ( Social media everywhere Follow us on twitter (@Incrementspod, @VadenMasrani, @BennyChugg), and on youtube ( Tell us about your shaken framework at Image: Cornelis Anthonisz (1505 – 1553) – The Fall of the Tower of Babel (1547)
#39 - The Enigma of Reason

#39 - The Enigma of Reason


The most reasonable and well-reasoned discussion of reason you can be reasonably expected to hear. Today we talk about the book The Enigma of Reason by Dan Sperber and Hugo Mercier. But first, get ready for dogs, modern art, and babies! *We discuss * - Reason as a social phenomenon - The two roles of reason: To justify our actions, and to evaluate the reasons of others - Reason as module of inference, and how that contrasts with dual-process theories - The "intellectualist" vs the "interactionist" approach to reason - Nassim Taleb's notion of "skin in the game" - The consequences of reason having evolved in a particular (social) niche - The marshmallow test and other debunked psychological findings Quotes: The interactionist approach, on the other hand, makes two contrasting predictions. In the production of arguments, we should be biased and lazy; in the evaluation of arguments, we should be demanding and objective— demanding so as not to be deceived by poor or fallacious arguments into accepting false ideas, objective so as to be ready to revise our ideas when presented with good reasons why we should. EoR (pg. 332) In our interactionist approach, the normal conditions for the use of reasoning are social, and more specifically dialogic. Outside of this environment, there is no guarantee that reasoning acts for the benefits of the reasoner. It might lead to epistemic distortions and poor decisions. This does not mean reasoning is broken, simply that it has been taken out of its normal conditions. EoR (pg. 247) References Dan Sperber's talk ( at the Santa Fe Institute Image credit: Social media everywhere Follow us on Twitter at @IncrementsPod, @BennyChugg, @VadenMasrani Check us out on youtube at Come join our discord server! DM us on twitter or send us an email to get a supersecret link Send a reason, any reason, any reason at all, to
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