Philosophistry: The Love of Rhetoric

Philip Dhingra’s musings on everything including futurism, evolution, psychology, philosophy, and self-improvement (est. 2003). To see a preview of what I'm working on, visit the wiki.

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A hundred years in the future, 25% of restaurant tables will still wobble
It's like in Minority Report, how everybody still catches the cold

Economics

GDP won't grow like it used to, as we reach the limits to what one person can consume
Secular stagnation is inevitable as consumption peaks in the middle-class

Evolution

Predators and prey sleep at the same time because of a game theoretic armistice
Both could develop night vision and feed at night, but it's better for both that they don't

We should prepare for the apocalypse by studying rabbits and rats
Both mammals have already survived one apocalypse: the one brought on by humans

Futurism

A hundred years in the future, 25% of restaurant tables will still wobble
It's like in Minority Report, how everybody still catches the cold

We'll know if consciousness is material when we develop conscious AI
The argument over the materality of consciousness will be over soon enough

The cure for cancer will look like the cure for diabetes
People will say, "I'm taking something for my cancer"

Language

French sounds the way it does for the same reason African-American Vernacular English does
Languages of the underdog have the hallmarks of slang, including features such as lenition and assimilation

Philosophy

The Universe is a giant abstract Turing Machine that doesn't need to be run
The only solution to the "something must have come from nothing" argument is that everything is abstract

Politics

90% of Americans are pragmatists, despite self-identifying as liberal or conservative
They are liberal or conservative only to the extent that doing so is practical

Psychology

The evolutionary purpose of neuroticism is to push the boundaries of introspection
Introspection is how we feed discontentment, and discontent is how we move the human race forward

Talk therapy is high-risk, high-reward, and therefore only net positive if you’re wealthy
Unless it involves med management, it’s probably a net negative for everyone else

Talk therapy is inherently problematic because it’s bounded by what you can and cannot say
Morality, norms, and the Overton window have caused more harm than good in talk therapy

Of the Big Five personality traits, at least one is a moral imperative
Openness to new experiences, a.k.a. curiosity, is imperative given the accelerating rate of social change

Rationalism

Expected-value calculations fail in life-or-death situations
Certain domains, such as cancer, involve dividing or multiplying by infinity or zero

Science

Looking at the Universe with a sense of wonder is just as important as looking without one
Disillusionment and dispassion can drive discovery just as effectively

Self-Improvement

Self-improvement more often than not results in method abuse
Like method actors, one can spend too much time repeating mantras to become something you're not

Society

The post-hipster is just as passionate about obscure musicians on SoundCloud as they are about the fries at McDonald's
The successor to the hipster seeks to refine their tastes so much as to be un-targettable as a demographic

Lists of "Best Places to Live" are meaningless now thanks to such lists
The Internet has made the hunt for hidden gems non-trivial

Mass murders are prevented by our aggressive weeding out of sociopaths
Mass surveillance alone can’t explain the relative scarcity of mass murder

TED Talks will be considered middle-brow in retrospect
They are a relic of the "early" Internet, whereby the bite-sized packaging of stimulating thought-pieces satisfied the newly expanded appetite for good content