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A useful separation in Buddhism is that between conventional truth and ultimate truth, or subjective versus objective truth. This is often applied to solve for tricky problems such as reconciling the lack of self with reincarnation. The question makes sense — if there is no self, then what is it that gets reincarnated? For our purposes here, we do not need to concern ourselves with the more religious pieces of Buddhism. Although founded very much as a philosophy, with insights that would only be proven scientifically many centuries later, as a religion, Buddhism also comes with the trappings of any organized religion. These two aspects must be separated. It doesn’t have to go to the length of what is often called Western Buddhism or Secular Buddhism necessarily. But there is clearly rational Buddhism and irrational Buddhism. It’s not that reincarnation and other ones of the “irrational” aspects are patently false and impossible to be true. But the point is that it is uncertain. Therefore, we’ll focus here on the aspects of Buddhism that are rational in the sense that they have been proven by science. …

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We are surrounded by myths. Shared beliefs about things that don’t exist. Things that have proven to be untrue but that our minds have a hard time letting go of.

The existence and potential dissolution of these myths tie to many of the foundational concepts of RBLT. Their dissolution is aided by vipassana meditation as well as rational thinking and their dissolution would serve to encourage more longtermism and reduced suffering, on the micro level of individuals as well as the macro level of humanity. …

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An optimistic pre-mortem on the coronavirus crisis, thinking probabilistically and meta-probabilistically.

It’s obviously a bit early, not to mention foolhardy, to conduct anything of a pre-mortem on the corona crisis, but using our current knowledge, I am in the below assuming it is a big one, but not THE big one. So with that as the context, let’s do a pre-mortem of the crisis with the RBLT prism. Epistemic status: speculation.

Reading this article (in Swedish) this morning, it got me thinking of the shortcomings in the current rationalist reaction to the virus. Scott Alexander wrote a great summary of our current knowledge, Putanumonit wrote a great note suggesting the rationalist reasons to prepare for the epidemic and Kelsey Piper wrote a similar note in Future Perfect as well (and I’m sure there are other good ones I’ve missed). There have also been a few notes written about the potentially positive outcome of the crisis, mostly from philosophers (as well as another futurist normally more focused on other trends, but not too many combining the two perspectives. …



Reading, thinking and writing about the deep future

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