Not Yet Conspiracy Theories

Saddened by how the world has become that densely packed with unhinged conspiracy theorists? Relax! Check out this list of topics that, in quotes, yield zero Google results, at least before this post was written.

“51 pegasi b conspiracy theory”
“aegean sea conspiracy theory”
“ conspiracy theory”
“alphago conspiracy theory”
“aquafresh conspiracy theory”
“coq au vin conspiracy theory”
“dugong conspiracy theory”
“estonia conspiracy theory”
“franklin pierce conspiracy theory”
“genghis khan conspiracy theory”
“ingress conspiracy theory”
“inventati conspiracy theory”
“john q public conspiracy theory”
“kaliningrad conspiracy theory”
“kyoto protocol conspiracy theory”
“leeroy jenkins conspiracy theory”
“mandelbrot set conspiracy theory”
“mcafee conspiracy theory”
“methionine conspiracy theory”
“nazca plate conspiracy theory”
“oboe conspiracy theory”
“proxima centauri conspiracy theory”
“rho conspiracy theory”
“rot13 conspiracy theory”
“rm -rf / conspiracy theory”
“somaliland conspiracy theory”
“stata center conspiracy theory”
“stewart’s theorem conspiracy theory”
“sun landing conspiracy theory”
“time tesseract conspiracy theory”
“tristan da cunha conspiracy theory”
“windows 95 conspiracy theory”
“xmonad conspiracy theory”
“ylvis conspiracy theory”
“zinc conspiracy theory”

on the other hand


Aggressively Seeking Malice

Okay, so I’m Asian, and suppose I’m with two other people, A and B, of which at least A is White.

Suppose A says “Wow, there’s lots of Asians around here”. Then B stares at A and subsequently tells A that is racist.

If you’re A, you have not done anything that will cause me to want to distance myself from you. You were just remarking that there seems to be a high quantity of Asians in the vicinity. It’s not like you’re saying or even implying something prejudiced about Asians. I saw no racism in that statement, and I wouldn’t even have contemplated the possibility until B decided to remark on it.

If you’re B, then you have signaled to me that you heard that utterance and saw racism in it where I still do not see racism after your remark. You have somewhat persuaded me that I should distance myself from you, because if you heard that and decided there’s malice in it, then I don’t want to be around you, because even though I’m in the demographic you’re happening to believe to protect at the present, I’m sure somewhere down the road I’m bound to make a statement I think is innocent but that you will judge me as malicious for, given that you saw this in that statement.

Matching-Highest-Degree Vegetarianism

As some of you may know, I am (at the present) not a vegetarian.

As some of you may also know, I tried being vegan once about four years ago, and stayed so for about two months, and then backed off to some alternation of being vegetarian and being vegan most days for a few more months after. Then I reverted to my normal dietary state.

I do wish to contribute a part to keeping the planet a healthy nice, place, and eating less meat is one of the best things an individual can do.

The problem is that my appetite is enormous.

Some of you that know me in the physical world may know a restaurant around here called The Friendly Toast. A lot of people call that a place to get a large meal. Yeah, I was really surprised when I first heard people say that. Most meals from The Friendly Toast don’t make me full. If I don’t have part of an appetizer, I’ll usually go also eat something else afterwards.

One serving of Soylent does not make a meal for me. It’ll last two hours before I get hungry again. I need two Soylents when I don’t feel particularly hungry, three if I am hungry. One Soylent is a snack.

(And apparently portion sizes are large here in America. I’m truly amazed, really.)

And in particular, I’ve found that it takes a lot of vegetables to be able to add up to the amount that meat is able to make me full, and thus find it quite hard to sustain vegetarianism or veganism for too many meals in a row.

But starting at the publication of this post, I will adopt this new dietary policy:

At meals, I will be as vegetarian as the most vegetarian person I’m eating with at that meal.*

As in, if a bunch of us sit at a table to have a meal, and what is being eaten is determined after we get together, if there’s someone vegetarian in the group, I’m at least vegetarian, and if there’s someone vegan, I’m vegan, for that meal.

As such, I will both average out to eating less meat than normally while also not engaging the level of eating I’ll need to sustain full-on vegetarianism, and also contribute to possible additional comfort for vegetarians and vegans in groups.

*I’m not going to be vegetarian if the only vegetarian options involve asparagus or mushrooms.

Things I Most Frequently Wish to Yell at Debates, Discussions, and “Discussions”

Note: I considered whether I wanted to deliver this post in ALL CAPS, to be faithful to the impression of yelling. I decided I’d rather go for the greater readability of lowercase, but eventually I decided there was one item that I’ll yell here in ALL CAPS.

0. Name-calling and toxifying your language will not communicate your point, will not sway others to your side unless you’re doing so by force, and will work against keeping a debate civilized and productive. If you’re going to gratuitously call your opposition an asshole, or just label them as stupid without specifying anything you actually see as stupid, or address them via a slight variation of their name that is irrelevant to the matter of discussion, what you’ll most accomplish is pushing others away and getting them to hate you, so hopefully this is what you’re trying to do when you’re name-calling.

1. The fact that someone can’t spell or pronounce a word properly doesn’t make their point invalid.

2. The right thing to do and the effective thing to do are often quite different. You could be wasting a lot of unnecessary time by not making it clear whether your discussion is to argue what’s morally right or what is most likely to advance what you want to see in the world.

3. No, it is not the case that you should ever only do one of these. It is good to be on the same page or at least to understand what others see as a just world, and it is good to discuss what the most useful or practical way to achieve what one wants is.

4. The fact that a certain underlying property is why many people take a certain action or have a certain sentiment doesn’t mean it’s why the person you’re talking to happens to have taken the same action or expressed the same sentiment.

5. If you assume the reason someone you’re interacting with takes an action or has a certain sentiment as something substantially more negative than the actual reason, this will cause them to not want to work with or talk to you, and will not help with pushing your point.

6. Just because a group of people have a relative tendency to have a certain property doesn’t mean that property is intrinsic to the nature of that group of people.

7. Just because not everyone in a group of people have a certain property doesn’t mean that property is not a problem particular to that group, pervasive in that group, or particularly fueled by the atmosphere and discourse of that group.

8. Even if a majority of people in a group don’t have a certain property, a problem could still be a particular problem in that group, especially relative to others.

9. Telling someone something that they’ve probably heard numerous times even in grade school in a discussion (“you should be nice to one another”, “consider other’s feelings”, “people should care for one another”, etc.) is incredibly condescending and effectively conveys that you think they haven’t considered these things. See number 10 in terms of this.

10. Just because someone chooses to do something against a particular goal doesn’t mean they don’t support that goal. It just means there exists at least something else they consider more important than that goal that they believe is being impeded.

11. Claiming that you work for all people when you really only work for some people makes you look politically deceiving and just saying what will make you sound nice. It’s okay for you to believe there’s some people you wish to help more, but just say so and don’t pretend you’re not.

12. A VIVIDLY DESCRIBED STORY IS STILL JUST ONE DATA POINT. YOUR DECISIONS SHOULD BE MADE ON A GLOBAL UNDERSTANDING OF DATA IN GENERAL AND NOT ON ONE EMOTIONALLY HEARTSTRING-TUGGING STORY. If you further try to guilt-trip someone by saying that everyone who’s human should be moved by that story, and accusing them of not having empathy, you’re being a manipulative person promoting anecdotal evidence over well-sourced data-based knowledge.

13. When you’re arguing by analogy, you better make sure the person you’re talking agrees with you in how to judge the analogous situation you’re referencing.

14. When you’re arguing that an analogous situation isn’t the same situation, you should argue why the difference you’re pointing out is relevant to the central issue of focus. Of course, the situation is different, it’s an analogy. It doesn’t mean anything to point out a difference that doesn’t matter.

15. Most things are not black and white. Most things have a gradient.

16. Just because there’s a gradient doesn’t mean there aren’t clear ends.

17. Just because there’s a grey area doesn’t mean it doesn’t make sense to talk relatively within the grey area.

18. Being against “being political” is itself a political move. It endorses the status quo.

19. Just because politics is unavoidable doesn’t mean certain ideas and conversation are more politically heated than others.

P.S. If by the time you’re done reading this your reaction is “yeah, these are all the problems with conservatives; why can’t they be logical like liberals” or “yeah, these are all the problems with liberals; why can’t they be logical like conservatives”, you’re probably part of the problem.


Being openminded means accepting all sorts of different people, of all sorts of different backgrounds, having all sorts of different tastes, with all sorts of different opinions.

Being openminded means being okay with people around oneself that disagree on a few major ideas, as long as the two agree on the most central and important points, and still working on them in the directions of what one does agree on.

Being openminded means having an enormous personal Overton window. No, not large. Enormous.

Being openminded means understanding rejecting a view after discussion is not narrowmindedness; prejudice on a view is.

Being openminded means not assuming, when one hears someone say something, that the reason they say that is because they have certain underlying beliefs, just because another person who says the same things happens to have those underlying beliefs.

Being openminded means “I wonder why they think that way.” comes before “That’s a ridiculous belief.”. It doesn’t mean “That’s a ridiculous belief.” never comes. It means it’s not the first thing.

Being openminded means acknowledging that a slight difference in two people’s fundamental principles could lead to drastically different conclusions, and entertaining the possibility that the cause of a vast difference in view could be a tiny nuance in ideas.

Being openminded means recognizing that over the course of history, a massive number of ideas considered unthinkable or insane at some point by some society eventually becomes a mainstream view.

Being openminded means recognizing that it can be socially detrimental or emotionally devastating to someone when they express unpopular views.

Being openminded means understanding that when a view is deemed unacceptable, it is extremely difficult to try to share and discuss such a view. Being openminded means understanding these forces could prevent discussion that could convince someone with a deemed-unacceptable view to consider otherwise.

Being openminded means acknowledging that the public centroid of opinion could be a very bad idea. Being openminded also means considering that someone at the centroid of opinion might not have arrived there via conventional means.

Being openminded means understanding that just because a view is popular globally does not mean it is hard to express within a certain community. Being openminded means recognizing that using the excuse that such a view is not in an oppressed state because of how many people globally have that view does not help, and may convince them that it’s just that much easier on themselves to go associate with the more welcoming global community instead, making them stronger and increasing polarization, itself increasing the difficulty of openminded discussion.

Being openminded means accepting that within the vast volumes of knowledge and facts about the world, it could certainly be the case that what one does not know could change one’s evaluation of an issue, and that someone that disagrees may be about to fill a vacancy in one’s knowledge.

Continue reading “Openmindedness”


My guess is that many of you find the current xkcd quite relevant.

For me, it is not only relevant, but it makes me aware of changes outside of what I have been able to perceive.

To be specific, I have only had a smartphone for 13 months. Since the beginning, my realization was that the cellular data network was generally more reliable than WiFi. So what I have been doing was to use the cellular data network to get better performance, and to use the WiFi chiefly so that I’m not using up my data. It did not occur to me until this xkcd that once it has been the case that the WiFi was more reliable.

It is yet another reminder of how one extrapolates beyond one’s involvement with something, and the rapidity of change.