My guide to assessing agency

My last three posts here have focused on the grand metaphysical debate over free will. Well no, not really. Read more...

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Confessions of a helpless epistemon

I was so pleased when I first encountered the term "epistemic helplessness", because it described my own mental state so much of the time. Feeling misunderstood is a hallmark of the emotional experience of the typical teenager, but probably most humans at any stage of life experience this emotion regarding some aspect of who they are. For me, I oftentimes think that the main element behind what routinely causes other people to not relate to me comes down to a state of epistemic helplessness which is fairly dominant in my perception of the outside world. Read more...

My evolving views of (American) politics

First, a "meta" note. I'm pleased that I got some substantial ideas down in writing here last year, however imperfectly, but I feel that I went very slightly astray of what I originally envisioned for this blog. Therefore, I've made a resolution to steer my writing in a direction away from posts on mostly-impersonal abstract rationality concepts and towards posts on more concrete and personal issues. Read more...

A Principle of Empathy

The Principle of Charity is an idea that seems to be touted fairly regularly by members of the rationalist community. Scott Alexander is especially well known as an advocate of it and even devoted the first post on his now very popular blog Slate Star Codex to declaring the Principle of Charity as the ethos of the new blog. It more or less says that in examining another person's viewpoint, one should strive for the strongest, most reasonable possible interpretation of their argument, in particular not assuming that they're being stupid or completely irrational. Read more...

Speculations of my inner gadfly

It is a common criticism from those who have known me for long enough that I'm too gullible. Sometimes this is meant in the basic sense of believing false things (especially when I was younger), but also sometimes in the sense that I come across as much too immediately accepting of whatever broad narrative is pitched to me in defense of a particular view. Enough independent people from different parts of my life have expressed concern about this that it's only logical for me to conclude that the criticism is probably valid on some level. At this point in my life, it's more a matter of in which sense is it valid, what underlies this tendency, and which aspects of it are helping me as opposed to hurting me. Read more...