I occasionally reflect that my blog resembles the noble tardigrade. A small creature, surprisingly adorable yet still slightly horrifying, and which has the ability to revive itself after many months (or even years) of apparent death.
Left: Adorable tummy-rubby floof; Right: NIGHTMARE SURPRISE
In honor of its current resurrection from cryptoblogosis, I'd like to try something which I've tossed around in my head for a few years: an intellectual audit of my belief system carried out with the assistance of you all - my brilliant friends with whom I frequently disagree about a variety of topics.
This is still an experimental process, and I hope to refine it considerably in future years, but the basic idea is to spend some dedicated time challenging my strongly held beliefs, and exploring deeper into areas in which I still have weak beliefs and/or sparse knowledge. This will necessarily be an incomplete audit (like most people I believe many things about many things), but I hope that it moves my beliefs closer to True (or rather, appropriately increases or decreases my confidence in them).
Below is a (somewhat haphazard) list of broad belief systems I approximately subscribe to, specific beliefs I hold, and some unanswered questions I haven't been able to find a sufficiently convincing answer to.
I'm looking for encompassing refutations or alternate belief systems I should consider, specific challenges or counter-examples, and any evidence one way or another that I may not be aware of. (NB: published evidence > expert opinion > personal opinion, consequentialist arguments preferable but not required - anything is welcome)
Importantly - I am NOT trying to start a debate! This is a (purely selfish) exercise in updating my own beliefs (though I will make every effort to give you my own thoughts if you run the same exercise).
I look forward to your thoughtful responses, safe in the knowledge that no one is ever unreasonable on the internet.
- Libertarianism: What are some cases where more government might be better than less (or some better than none)?
- Transhumanism: I want to learn more about this topic and would love any good primers (laudatory or critical) that people could recommend.
- Many-Worlds: I admit that my belief is mostly based on the LW Quantum Physics Sequence, so I'd be eager to see similarly intuitive explanations of alternative interpretations of quantum mechanics.
- Intermittent Fasting: I incorporate occasional (up to 24-hour) fasts into my diet. At the very least this seems to reduce my total caloric intake - is it likely to have other health benefits/risks?
- Exchange-Traded Index Funds: Most of my long term saving goes into various low-fee ETFs. Can I realistically be doing better (given that I don't want to spend a lot of thought/energy on this)?
- Existential Risk vs. Efficient Charity: I would like some advice on how I should be splitting my charitable donations between efficient charities (i.e. Against Malaria Foundation) that have concrete effects now, and non-profits that focus on existential risk (e.g. MIRI)
- Nuclear Fission: Currently, its the safest, greenest, and most efficient form of electrical power generation that exists. Am I right?
- What supplements should I be taking? (Nootropics, and for physical health)
- What is the current state of cyronics in Australia? Is it worth signing up for with an international provider or best to wait until there is a local facility?
- If I wanted to start teaching myself more about architecture, what are the best introductory texts?
A FINAL NOTE: I encourage all of you to perform your own intellectual audit! Make sure you link back to this post to help feed my insatiable ego (and let me know so I can share some knowledge your way!)