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Links for August 2022

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The Vinegar Tasters

I keep coming back to this image. It depicts three major Chinese philosophers, all tasting the same batch of vinegar and having different reactions:

Obviously this is an allegory for their religious attitudes. Which leads me to my favorite Reddit comment ever:

OP: Why do Taoist view life as a gift while Buddhist view it as suffering?

CoffeeGongfu: You ever get a pair of socks on christmas?

There’s been a renewed interest in UFOs since The New York Times and 60 Minutes helped to rebrand them as UAPs, and made the subject a little less taboo for mainstream science and media.

Unfortunately most sites dedicated to UFO/UAP “evidence” are full of blurry images and wild speculation. But is a no-nonsense summary of statements made by credible experts (e.g. former U.S. presidents and intelligence officials).

While all this should still be taken with a grain of salt (the site is basically one giant appeal to authority), it’s a perfect summary of the little bit we know about the phenomenon.

Is Nuclear Power Green?

Sabine Hossenfelder might be the smartest YouTube celebrity out there.

I really appreciated this departure from theoretical physics, where she discusses exactly how practical nuclear energy is as a replacement for fossil fuels. I’ve been championing nuclear energy as the cure for climate change for years now, but this video put things in perspective: nuclear will certainly help, but without major technological advances it won’t fully satisfy our medium-term energy needs.

Einstein on Religion and Science

The New York Times Magazine article above is a good introduction to Einstein’s attitude towards religion as a cultural phenomenon, and it’s place in society.

Einstein also said some fascinating things about theology and mysticism (he was heavily influenced by Spinoza’s conception of God), but his best ideas are scattered among various letters, speeches, and articles.

This Wikipedia article and The World as I See it make for great further reading.

GiveWell Cost-Effectiveness Analysis

GiveWell has an astoundingly detailed analysis of the cost-effectiveness of different charitable organizations. It seems to be mainly for their own internal use, but in the spirit of transparency they’ve made it public.

I haven’t yet figured out how to navigate the spreadsheets they provide, but I’m hoping to do so by the end of 2022, and will post my learnings here.

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