Rediscovery

I think transhumanism is a warmed-over Christian heresy. While its adherents tend to be vehement atheists, they can’t quite escape from the history that gave rise to our current western civilization. Many of you are familiar with design patterns, an approach to software engineering that focuses on abstraction and simplification in order to promote reusable code. When you look at the AI singularity as a narrative, and identify the numerous places in the story where the phrase “… and then a miracle happens” occurs, it becomes apparent pretty quickly that they’ve reinvented Christianity.

— Charles Stross

Sympathy

Winston Churchill was once referred to as a pillar of the Church. ‘No, no,’ he replied, ‘not a pillar of the Church but a buttress, supporting it from the outside.

— Quoted by John G. Murray

Optimizing for Interest

Organize at least some significant portion of your knowledge of the world in terms of place, whether by country, region, or city. If you do that, virtually every person will be interesting to you, if only because almost everyone has some valuable knowledge of particular places.

— Tyler Cowen, from his somewhat tongue-in-cheek post 12 Rules for Life at Marginal Revolution.

Amnesia

“Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect is as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray’s case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward—reversing cause and effect… In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.”

— Michael Crichton

Design work

Because graphic design, in the end deals with the spectator, and because it is the goal of the designer to be persuasive or at least informative, it follows that the designer’s problems are twofold: to anticipate the spectators reactions and to meet his own aesthetic needs. He must therefore discover a means of communication between himself and the spectator (a condition with which the easel painter need not concern himself). The problem is not simple; its very complexity virtually dictates the solution — that is, the discovery of an image universally comprehensible, one that translates abstract ideas into concrete forms.

— Paul Rand

Cowen’s First Law

Cowen’s First Law: There is something wrong with everything (by which I mean there are few decisive or knockdown articles or arguments, and furthermore until you have found the major flaws in an argument, you do not understand it).

— Tyler Cowen

This has been a principle of mine for 15 or 20 years, but I didn’t know it had been coined, or that anybody else really held it as important. Another reason to like Tyler Cowen.