Becoming a geopolitical normie, increasing social liberalism, and focusing less on politics. Also, books.
You’re truly one of the most original and interesting thinkers I’ve encountered in my lifetime; even where I couldn’t disagree with you more, both your reasoning and your excellent prose are compelling. It’s delightful how introspectively honest you are, too, and I share your posts with many truly leftist friends who often have to concede that they’re very good. Thanks for writing, and thanks for some truly GOAT tweets, too!
>And of course public health is evil and deserves all the hate it gets and much more, but the issue of pandemics is too serious to answer their failures with mindless demagoguery.
This seems like a contradictory statement. If anything, your viewpoint should be that despite its failures, "public health" has proven its worth as an important safeguard against the danger of "anti-vaxxers." If you really think vaccines are a big enough single issue to "change sides" over. Personally, I disagree, but if you are going to put so much importance on the point you should try and engage with it substantively.
Write a post laying out in detail why "anti-vaxx" is stupid, and steelman the opposition, rather than dismissing it with snide derision. Or better yet, find a prominent skeptic of the COVID vaccines and interview or debate them. Not everyone who considers the COVID vaccine dangerous is a Q boomer. Some of them have medical degrees. Talk to one of them. Again, if you're going to obsess over this issue so much, you should make a good faith attempt to understand it before making your final decision to side with the people who have been comically wrong about basically everything else.
>First, there was the Dobbs decision. I always knew that conservatives wanted to overturn Roe and many of them hoped to ban abortion, and that this would be horrible, but it didn’t hit home until it happened.
Why is it horrible? Again, if you put such weight on something, you should actually engage with the topic. Don't just state your position as if it is self-evident and no alternative exists. This one will be harder for you, I understand, because it's not an issue that can be decided with charts and numbers and graphs. But you should at least try to explain to us why unborn children don't count as human beings in your mind. Right now, when I see you talk about this stuff, you sound like any other mindless liberal who just parrots these positions because they legitimately don't know that any other perspective exists.
I am more sympathetic to your perspective on euthanasia, as I think it actually is fairly self-evident why someone might be in favor of giving a terminal cancer patient suffering from severe chronic pain the choice to die.
I'm a great admirer of Mr. Hanania and especially his excellent critiques of what seems to be a pathologically 'femininized' society, i.e. one dominated by 'women's tears.'
That said, I reject Hanania's views on euthanasia and abortion, in what amounts to an unsentimental, highly 'masculine' judgment: i.e., let individuals die (or be killed), when the costs of their continued existence outweigh the benefits, and let's not be sentimental about it.
In contrast, social conservatives (e.g. Douthat) often appeal to 'feminine,' even 'feminist' values of nurture and care for the vulnerable, in opposing abortion and euthanasia.
My view is that society should try for a balance of masculine virtues (e.g. toughness, and agonistic, even bloody competition, when the situation demands it) and feminine ones (e.g. caring for the weak and those whose needs outweigh their contributions to society).
I agree the right’s anti vax stance is dumb, but I think you’re letting twitter cloud your judgement. What the left is continuing to do regarding education, medicine, crime, family structure, etc hasn’t changed at all.
But unlike the conservatives going at you on twitter, the left actually has significant institutional power.
Also you can make fun of it, but there’s not going to be a secular led push back against “wokeness”. It’s just not going to happen. Wokeness grew influence as Christianity’s influence declined.
Very excited to see the new direction you take the Substack in next year, especially in regards to AI. I’ve known about potential dangers of AI for quite a while, but much of the rationalist writing on the topic is now very stale and misguided.
Really interested to get your take on things, especially concerning political involvement and government abuse of AI. I worry we may end up in a scenario where most countries acknowledge the dangers of AGI but develop it anyways lest their rivals obtain it first.
1. The movement has an anti-vax disposition, but personally I don't care right now. The number of innocent (not anti-vax) lives lost to Covid because of their attitude is low, and the chances of another 1 in a century pandemic coming up are low. If that happens, there is time for me to reevaluate.
2. "I stand with women" - Views on abortion do not significantly differ by gender. That is widely known. It is a moral (chiefly religious) divide. And most conservatives don't even really support banning abortion (as evidenced by polling and referendums) so the long-term threat here is also low.
3. MAID - This is about the criteria shifting, not legitimate uses of euthanasia. There have been multiple high-profile cases of people killed for stupid reasons like not being able to find adequate housing, having it suggested to them by doctors, etc. I live here, and a friend's young depressed brother is already looking into it. Another friend knows multiple people with ME/CFS who chose death over bad living conditions. This is not about the raw number of people killed, but about a fundamental, nihilistic shift in this country that is almost palpable. ChatGPT is impressive, but AI destroying humanity is further off than what we're dealing with right now.
Blink twice if you're writing this under duress.
Seriously, though, this reads as if you've been mainlining Vox and Jacobin for the past few months. I guess the abortion thing is a matter of opinion, but no one who's been paying any attention for the past few months still believes that the vaccines are generally safe. Every single cost-benefit analysis study coming out is significantly negative for the vaccine for anyone under ~65. Somewhere on the order of tens to hundreds of thousands more young people are dead from the vax than from Covid. I guess you might think "It's ok to kill 100k young people to save 500k old people," but even then they could have just targeted old people with mandates rather than trying to force every last 20-year-old to get the shot, killing hundreds of thousands from blood clots, heart inflammation, sudden cardiac arrest, neurological disease, etc.
Looking forward to the AI stuff. Since I believe in comparative advantage, I hope you dig into things connecting with your past work. For example, how much of the "safetyism" of AI firms (not about alignment) is about being afraid of being sued? How much does it matter? For the bigger alignment issues, what does your work about foreign policy say about it? Etc.
I remember the reader's poll had a lot of stuff about transhumanism more generally than just AI. That'd be good to see some writing about; there is more happening in "tech" than AI. Good culture war angles too. (Looking forward to conservatives being furiously anti-life extension as well as anti-euthanasia. More life, but only to those who are suffering and don't want it.)
I too am really discouraged by social conservatism, but we'll see where we all fall when the next culture war breaks. My guess is it will be over reparations, which seem likely to be part of the Democratic party platform in 2024, at the latest by 2028. How much in taxes are you willing to pay until test scores equalize?
This is a very refreshing take. I agree in spirit and I feel like I’ve gone through similar reflections this year, but I’d still consider myself solidly conservative/Republican. For the most part, I tend to agree with all your takes, except I’m definitely much more skeptical of immigration than you (despite being an immigrant myself!). I am 100 % with Amy Wax on this one. Other than that, I still can’t believe what happened during Covid and I’m not sure what it would take to change that. I’d never seen manipulation and pure evil like that before in real life. It really shook me to the core…
Here is where I have to clarify that I believe in vaccines, bla, bla, bla, just to prove that I’m not one of them conspiracy theorists, but the benefits of the vaccine pale (orders of magnitude in my opinion) compared to the damage brought upon us by the overreaction to the virus. In a way, I can’t really care about anti-vaxxers because I think Covid was WAY overhyped. To clarify once again, I disagree with them and I don’t like their optics either, but how many quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) years did we lose from the virus compared to what we regularly lose due to opioids? And no one bats an eye. Who cares about druggies QALYs, anyways? That’s actually a legitimate question in my opinion, but I still don’t get the dichotomy.
At the same time, while I am disappointed that Republicans are doubling down in issues that hurt them electorally, I just don’t feel very strongly about said topics. Sure, I am philosophically more inclined towards abortion, but to me ultimately it feels like counting angels on pinheads (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/How_many_angels_can_dance_on_the_head_of_a_pin%3F). I can’t imagine anyone in my surroundings to be affected in any way by abortion laws (man, who still has unplanned pregnancies these days?), and I’m very low on empathy, so there’s that…
I also think that you tend to view the Russia/Ukraine issue too much through a “culture war” lens. Have you been reading too many “powerful takes” from Anatoly Karlin? Yes, the “active player” element of Putin is undoubtedly a very masculine trait, but I don’t really see much of a connection otherwise. As an example, Poland’s government is considered quite traditionalist right now and they are fervently anti-Russia.
Lastly on this topic, I am not an expert by any means, but after extensive travels throughout the world and gaining insights into different “cultures” (I’m not a fan of this word, by the way), I think there’s a lot more baggage between those two countries than it meets the eye. It’s my intuition at least. Yes, I’m equally surprised by Putin’s failure so far, but I’m also not sure it’s over yet. In summary: I think you are being too eager trying to overcorrect your priors (but I appreciate your honesty while doing so).
Perhaps the one thing that gives me some hope for “my side” is that I’m still praying DeSantis becomes the standard-bearer of the Republican party and Trump is relegated to oblivion as the true loser he’s become (however grateful I was for him at the time). I know you might not be as starry-eyed as me based on your perspective on incumbents and Trump’s charisma with what I used to consider “useful idiots”, but one can dream I suppose. (I’m seriously starting to develop a bias of confirmation due to prediction market’s current prospects on DeSantis haha.)
At the end of the day, this is how I feel: surrounded by idiots in conservative circles; but then part of a massive, non-genuine circle-jerk in liberal ones… Of course, I’ll admit I’m another variation of the single-issue voter archetype, and ultimately that still makes me lean heavily Republican. Anyways, I appreciate your work, and if you’re ever over true fly-over country (Idaho), hit me up!
> I always knew that conservatives wanted to overturn Roe and many of them hoped to ban abortion, and that this would be horrible, but it didn’t hit home until it happened. All the things that feminists have been saying about men wanting to take away women’s freedoms and controlling them are starting to sound more reasonable, and I’m glad there’s been a lot of electoral pushback against the anti-choice position. I now stand with women (Oh, and I also had a daughter this year, BTW, and apparently science says this is what it does to your brain).
I was surprised to see this was your position. Excluding rape, it's generally a voluntary choice to get pregnant, and abortion is just an attempt to get out of some very foreseeable consequences. I would have expected you to see this as a matter of personal responsibility; "if you don't want a baby, just don't have sex without birth control".
Congratulations on becoming a parent. Given that this is the first you're mentioning of this, I imagine you won't be discussing your domestic life too much on here, particularly given the other intellectual interests you've outlined for the coming year. But I would be interested to hear your take on the challenges of parenting in this culture as they arise. Theres's definitely space in the parenting blog world for a voice like Richard's, if geopolitics and AI get boring.
> The first is just opportunity cost. ChatGPT, as I’ve said before, brings home the possibility that artificial intelligence might be the end of humanity. I’m in the process of doing some reading and developing my thoughts on the topic, so I don’t have much to say now, but soon will. Moreover, even outside of AI, a lot of exciting things are happening in tech, and it’s becoming more likely that the future of the world will be shaped more by scientific innovation than it will be by our politics, except for the part of our politics that touches on tech. Writing about politics takes me away from areas that are potentially more important.
This really surprises me, considering I've gradually made the opposite migration in the past three years. AI is basically a scalar multiplication of underlying human capabilities, so imo it's more important than ever that humans get their politics *directionally right*, which I don't think we're doing on most salient issues.
Part of this is because I've believed for a long time that the time between 2016 and AI which replaces large parts of the population is at least an order of magnitude shorter than the time between AI replacing most humans and AGI. This is closer to the mainstream ML researcher position than the public or the EA position, I think, although there's a lot of variance in the former. If you take this as a likely scenario, the biggest question wrt AI is what we happens once we automate large parts of the "Brahmin left". Will they exert further power in the social sphere? Will they be devalued and disempowered? Will we finally abandon egalitarianism? All these seem like questions that will be explicitly decided by government policy.
If Alex Epstein is correct, the lefty Net Zero folks could kill millions. That seems on par with the anti-vax right.
What I get from this piece Is you will celebrate Putin and denunce the vax in few months.
In fact, you changed your mind on democracy in the middle of a war that is not going to end soon and on the mRNA vaccine when we discovered how many energies have been spent in suppressing who do not belive in it.
I am not discussing the merit, but only (and definitely) the method: aren't you a little bit...in a hurry?
meh, conservatism scarier than the mind fvckery and weirdo-embracing of the left?
Abortion shuld be left up to the states, i dont see anything scary there
If liberals are sooo passionate about it, they might consider moving to a state that allows that
"and against those who have their views shaped by religious fanaticism and conspiracy theories"
At this point, liberalism is a RELIGION and liberals behave like zealots, their values being sacred and non-questionable and approaching everything in life as a non-negotiable human right.
As for conspiracy theories, Russiagate and their deranged fantasies of nazeees in their breakfast cereal are clear signs that even the uber-IQ and Most educated people ever(tm) enjoy dwelling in simplistic, childish worldviews of their own