Objects in Thoughtspace Are Closer Than They Appear

Epistemic Status: A potentially useful fake framework. Trying to talk past the metaphor.

If you ask google what an egregore is, google will helpfully give you a list of several thousand articles talking about the occult and magical group mind generated thought entities. This somewhat clashes with the idea of egregores that rationalists and rationalist-adjacents just can’t seem to stop referencing.

What’s even worse, nobody actually bothers to define their terms when they use the word. They just point in “you know, like that occult thing” and link the Wikipedia article on egregores as if that somehow explains anything. Here’s the introduction to the exploring egregore’s essay series doing just that:

Sometimes people in the rationalist community write about egregoresScott has written about MolochSarah Constantin wrote a great one about Ra. That’s more about the results of processes than something individuals would worship (like the Invisible Hand), but the feeling of them seemed very right. They were terrible and inhuman, a drive given form that we could never really comprehend.

And here’s Sarah doing the same thing when talking about Ra:

The usual pitfall when using poetic language to define egregores is making them too broad.  There is not one root of all evil that causes all the ills of the world.

Okay but it helps to define them at all. The most anyone ever seems to do is point to earlier works on the topic. As far as I can tell, Scott was the one who introduced the concept of egregores if not the name. Nick Land seems to have been the first person to refer to the ideas as egregores by name, but he doesn’t define them at all. Sarah refers to Scott and to the Wikipedia article, the exploring egregores series refers to Sarah and Scott and the Wikipedia article, but nobody seems to be talking about quite the same sorts of things, which makes this all much more confusing and complicated.

So, let’s start from square one and try and actually figure out what egregores are, and what all these essays about them are referring to.

Wikipedia describes the term egregore in the following way:

Egregore (also egregor) is an occult concept representing a “thoughtform” or “collective group mind”, an autonomous psychic entity made up of, and influencing, the thoughts of a group of people. The symbioticrelationship between an egregore and its group has been compared to the more recent, non-occult concepts of the corporation (as a legal entity) and the meme.

So everyone’s mental belief energy/気 comes together to make a creature composed out of condensed belief in them. The prototypical modern variant of the egregore is slenderman, a monster those victims belief power it into becoming real enough to hurt them via a reinforcing feedback cycle.

This idea of “beings powered by belief” is then often extrapolated to other beings but as tvtropes properly points out, the concept itself is, in fact, older than feudalism. It’s implicitly a part of the Greek and Roman pantheistic traditions, as well as Japanese Shinto.

That clearly is not quite what rationalists seem to be talking about though. Okay, so, what’s the deal? What makes an egregore?

Let’s start by looking at a list of the majority of the egregores, and see where we can’t classify them based on their properties.

We’ll start with possibly the most famous egregore of course. The original rationalist demon. Moloch, as described by Scott Alexander.

 In some competition optimizing for X, the opportunity arises to throw some other value under the bus for improved X. Those who take it prosper. Those who don’t take it die out. Eventually, everyone’s relative status is about the same as before, but everyone’s absolute status is worse than before. The process continues until all other values that can be traded off have been – in other words, until human ingenuity cannot possibly figure out a way to make things any worse.

So to generalize away from the specific example of Moloch towards the abstract phenomena, Moloch is a particular outcome of interacting systems. It’s an ~Emergent Property~ of systems, it arises as a result of various forces competing with each other. In other words, you put all these people together and program them to interact in particular ways, and Moloch will emerge as a pseudo-actor despite no one, in particular, advocating for the strictly worse “Molochian” values. (Yes I know Nick Land is technically a real person).

Next let’s take a look at Ra, as described by Sara Constantin

Ra is something more like a psychological mindset, that causes people to actually seek corruption and confusion, and to prefer corruption for its own sake — though, of course, it doesn’t feel quite like that from the inside.

Ra is a specific kind of glitch in intuition, which can roughly be summarized as the drive to idealize vagueness and despise clarity.

This is slightly different. Whereas Moloch is a property of systems, Ra-like tendencies are instead a property of individuals. As Sarah defines it, an individual can be “Ra-worshipping” but an institution can also be “very Ra” as well.

I think it’s important to distinguish these two types of phenomena, but let’s keep looking through different egregores and see what else we find. Here’s Azathoth

There are some truths you can rely on. Everything dies. The gulf between the stars is so empty and so vast that it’s hopelessness can not even fit in your mind. Entropy will eventually disassemble the entire universe. And of course, if all promises are lies, then in the fullness of time all betrayal is inevitable. You can count on that. Absolute stillness and absolute chaos are both true, they’re just not useful to anything.

Azathoth is the lord of truth. And to someone truly, unflinchingly open, then the only truth is death, entropy, and nihilism. Those are the things She and Her cultists love.

Azathoth is in a sense more like Ra than like Moloch.

So we have at least two types of phenomenon here being called an egregore, in addition to the classic “belief powered supernatural being” type egregore. So let’s break the term apart an create a sort of taxonomy of egregores.

Alexandrian Egregores are what I’ll be calling the first category of entity. Things like Moloch, or the Invisible Hand of the Market, or Evolution, or Elua. Abstract forces that exist as outcomes of how systems interact with each other. These entities are highly gearsy, they are functions of systems and the way they emerge from the systems can be studied and examined.

Contrasting this, we have Constantinian Egregores, like Ra, Cthugha, or Azathoth, which could be described as attractors in thoughtspace. There are certain places where minds tend to be drawn and cluster, certain ideas that attract certain types of minds. Abstract concepts that tend to warp memetic reality around themselves. Tribalism. Extremism. Nihilism.

Lastly, for completeness, we have Roman Egregores like Christ, the Hellenistic pantheon, and other thought entities whose properties are externally imposed and which is maintained by the power of the memeplex within the broader culture. Instead of being an unlabeled entity that exists at an attractor in thoughtspace, we have a structure in thoughtspace artificially imposed by the culture.

Do they overlap? You bet they do. For one, many of the Constantinian egregores produce second-order effects in the form of Alexandrian egregores which they currently share names with. Ra the mind glitch gives rise to Ra the property of institutions. Roman Egregores are often intentionally created in the depressions caused by Constantinian egregores, like Aries god of War.

Hopefully making these distinctions will enable the discussion around egregores and their usefulness as concepts to be a bit more coherent.



Highly Advanced Tulpamancy 201 For Tropers

Epistemic Status: Vigorously Researched Philosophical Rambling on the Nature of Being
Author’s Note/Content Warning: I’m nearly certain that this post will be classified as some flavor of infohazard, so here is the preemptive “this post might be an infohazard” message, read at your own risk. This post contains advice on self hacking and potentially constitutes a dark art.
Suggested Prior Reading: A Human’s Guide to Words, The Story of the Self, Highly Advanced Tulpamancy 101 For Beginners,

This is a sort of huge topic in and of itself with historical branching essay threads going back quite a way at this point. I’m going to attempt to very quickly rush through some of the basic premises at work here in order to build upon on the underlying theory.

The basic theory underpinning the modern and developed practice of tulpamancy (that is, what the mods on tulpamancer discords, or other experienced and longtime tulpamancers will say if you ask them) is that making a tulpa is basically hijacking the process that the brain uses to construct an identity and sense of self for the “host” consciousness.

That is, whatever process is generating the “feeling that I am me, and inside my body” can basically be unplugged from “you” and plugged into this newly imagined construct, since “you/the host” are essentially just a program running on the brain substrate. While this is happening, “you” enter a mindscape/wonderland that exists in your imagination.

Everyone has their own interpretation, but this is basically the mainstream pop-psychology tulpamancy narrative in very broad strokes. The original/host self is a construct, it has certain properties because those are the ones that were built into them by their parents/the environment, and the process of tulpamancy is basically just building up a new equivalent construct alongside the existing sense of self.

There’s a couple problems with this, if you’re just hearing about it. First, it sounds potentially damaging to the psyche, and it’s also incredibly vague. Is this new entity a separate person? What does that even mean in this context precisely? What if they disagree? What if there is a power struggle? What does it mean to give up control of the body, or control of the senses? It’s a sort of weird thing to even talk about and it certainly doesn’t sound like something you’d necessarily want to get good at as a part of maintaining proper mental hygiene. What makes a tulpa? What makes a host? What makes for proper mental hygiene? What is healthy?

Ignoring the question of plurality or multiple egos for a moment, we have to ask, what makes an identity in the first place, in a singlet? How much of you is decided and declared, a form you have crafted yourself, and how much of it was imparted upon you by society? How much of ourselves do we choose, and how much is innate? How much can or should you change?

This essay will assume you’ve already read a good amount of material on this topic and probably have your own answers to a good number of the questions that I’ve posed here. I’ll be answering some of them myself further along in this essay in an attempt to paint a clear foundation for us, but I highly recommend not reading this post without first having read Highly Advanced Tulpamancy 101.

The Story That Tells Itself
In Highly Advanced Tulpamancy 101, we talked about making buckets for identities and developing them into tulpas, but this process is something that everyone does all the time. We take in or discard, internalize or ignore, all sorts of information, based on the worldview we’re operating from, so this isn’t just a tulpamancy hack, but an identity formation hack.

This is something that people have come at explaining from a number of different angles and here is my stab at it as well. Many parts of the sense of self are basically defined by how you say they are defined. This is the sort of “declared self” or “enforced self,” otherwise known as the narrative self, or the narrative identity. There is a part of you that is basically a small universe. The you that is also all of your knowledge, the place the internal experience lives. A good friend of mind calls this a subtotality. It’s you, and also the entire world you are embedded in, everything you can imagine and understand to be true of the world, all the knowledge that lives inside your skull.

Thus we come back around to stories and lenses, what is your ontology of self? Not just who you are, but who you are with respect to the world you find yourself in? What actions are you-in-the-story permitted to take?

To give a really obvious example, if you think “What happens if I jump off a cliff?” the obvious answer is “fall to my death” because the simulation/story/narrative that your mind creates in that moment does not give your simulated future self the ability to fly by default. However, if I was to hand you a hang glider on the edge of that cliff and your brain then performed that same exact action, it would be making a mistake, because you have these huge nylon wings now and in fact now can fly.

At the point I hand you the glider wings, the only remaining determinant factor in whether or not you are capable of flight is whether you think you can, or if you think you’ll fall off the cliff and die if you jump off it. If you can’t add “but not if I have a hang glider” to the belief “I will die if I jump off this cliff” than you’re never going to try to hang glide off the cliff.  If you believe you can’t do something, then the probability of your being able to do it crashes drastically. If you are incredibly determined to fly and you really believe you can do it, it’s possible to take up skydiving or piloting or hang gliding or any other number of neat activities that stem from still having the desire to do something and forcing past/around the limitations imposed upon us by physics and biology.

People used to think that it was unsafe for humans to go too fast, and that women riding trains would have their uteruses fly out. Obviously, there are real physical biological limitations in the territory. You cannot will yourself to fly via some nonsensical means involving imaginary energy and shouting loudly while rapidly growing your hair out. If you just jump off a cliff without some sort of mechanism to transcend the limitations in the territory your human body is subject to, you will simply fall to your death, you can’t power-of-belief your way past cancer, some limits are actually limits, and figuring out where there are external limits imposed by the territory, vs when the limit is internal and imposed by your current story, does take a certain amount of skill. However, it preeminently takes a willingness to brute force the attempt past part of you that previously believed it to be bad or dangerous, to tell your system 1 to sit down and shut up, and take control of the simulation instead of just letting it play out.

The tulpamancy community is full of examples of things that become more possible and likely if you believe they are possible and know about them. Walk-ins are a good example here. Believing that walk-ins are a thing that can happen to you seems to greatly increase your odds of getting a walk-in. When it comes to brain-hacking things, placebomancy is basically god. There seem to be large parts of the mind (at least in my case, I can’t necessarily speak for other people) that are entirely shaped by how you believe they are supposed to be shaped. You live a life deeply embedded in your own story, your own small universe.

The story extends forward and backward in time, and includes lots of different elements of the real world. It’s not a perfect match for the real world. It can’t be really, our brains aren’t large enough to look at and model the world like particles or even like cells, it takes charts and scientific knowledge carefully framed to explain particles and cells. We have to instead examine reality at the scale of discrete objects we label with things in the story world, and from those observations extract information about the deeper, more base layer.  

This story world is the world of our ancestors, the world that we evolved to optimize for, the world of rocks and trees and rivers and grass. It’s not the “true” world really, our ancestors believed all sorts of different things about the nature of this world and how they came into existence in it. But not understanding how gravity works on a scientific level doesn’t really matter as long as you continue to account for it narratively speaking, “Objects attract based on their masses” and “Gravitron the Deity of Downwards pulls everything towards the Earth’s center” are both sufficient explanations to satisfy the story world, as long as the “stuff falls down” belief remains constant and a constraint based on experience. Beyond “stuff falls down” the details of the belief begin to matter less; unless you are trying to say, build a rocket or an airplane, or do complex engineering, you don’t really care too much about the details. Our ancestors didn’t understand Einsteinian Gravity and spatial deformation, and they managed to get along just fine. (Except the ones who tried to flaunt the power of Gravitron by walking off of cliffs).

There are places where the transparency of the narrative deeply matters, where a glass lens is explicitly better. You will get further in science, the more transparent your lens is. But this isn’t the case in all domains, and the deeper you stare into the abyss, the more likely it is you will become corrupted by some unknowable horror.

Chuunibyou Hosts on Turbo Gender
There comes a point in everyone’s life, where they actually realize that they are a person, independent, perceivable by others, capable of choosing their own actions and deciding how to act and what to believe. In Japan, there’s a specific term for this point in someone’s life, they call it Chuunibyou, or Second Year of Middle School Syndrome. Here are some examples of Chuunibyou from both Japan and from America. The condition manifests differently in the two nations, but not that different, and the course that it plays out is pretty much the same everywhere.

The by-the-books good kid who was very studious and hardworking suddenly takes up skateboarding and declares herself a rebel, starts wearing band t-shirts and listening to aggressive pop-punk music.

The kid who only read mangas and who didn’t drink coffee suddenly taking up reading English textbooks and declaring that he only drinks black coffee and forcing himself to drink it regularly despite not actually enjoying the bitter taste.

The kid whose parents are conservative Christians but nonetheless declares herself a witch and starts reading tarot cards to her friends in study hall.

The kid who declares that he is the reincarnation of the Ancient Dragon of The West and Naruto-runs around the playground throwing ki blasts at his fellow students.

The kid who realizes they are gender nonconforming and declares that they identify as “Genderplasma” which is “like being genderfluid but with more energy”

In the majority of these cases, what ends up happening is that society teases, laughs at, or mocks these kids for violating the scripts and character outlines their parents, communities, and societies had given them as they grew up, and this sort of thing gets increasingly embarrassing until they reign themselves back in and cut it out with the weirdness, and that initial, vaguely hyperbolic and silly identity they constructed is reigned back in and merges with the society’s expectations to hopefully produce a decently well-rounded person who is still capable of expressing their preferences.

It’s this step though, the step of declaring, deciding, and enforcing a particular type of identity or set of identities on ourselves, that we’re interested in. This point is the closest most people get in life to really taking control of their sense of self, when the innocence and openness of youth pair with an increasing knowledge of the world and a budding realization that yes I am a person, that’s where the magic starts to happen. That’s when you realize you can actually be the person (or people) you want to be.

Plato’s Caving Adventure
As Plato previously established with his cave metaphor (it slices! It dices!), you don’t actually live in reality, you live chained in a cave watching shadows dance. In this context, there are two fundamental actions you can take with your mental ontology. You can attempt to polish the surface of the cave, to get a better look at the world beyond. Or, you can carve designs into the cave surface, and manipulate the ways that the shadows dance. It’s that second action that we’re interested in today. The action of drawing on a part of the map or taking control of the reality simulation.

This can and probably should be included as a co-action with look-at-a-different-part-of-the-cave-wall. Adopt new narratives and change lenses as needed and try not to become too attached to a particular region of narrative-space. Being able to pick up and put down potential truths and imagine the worlds those truths create is a powerful hack, and without it, you can become sort of trapped by in-the-box thinking. It might be a very nice box, but there will inevitably be some things that it fails at.

The chief failing of a pure-science narrative is that it’s dangerously close to nihilism. The chief failing of most religious narratives is that they are too crystalline, and take themselves too seriously, thus they become filled with errors in places that they start to contradict the ground state reality.

It’s difficult to fully describe the action that is taken when you take control of the reality generator and begin to actually alter the simulation. First of all, you? That’s just another part of the simulation, not really any different than any of the other characters the simulation is creating other than maybe in scope.

Facts? Any given fact can be simulated; it’s hard to check facts against reality when you’re trapped inside the simulation. Sure you can use science, but why do you trust science?

The best you can do is make some guesses. Yes, gravity seems to exist, it appears that the scientists are not lying to all of us, and the Earth is round and a few billion years old. The internet exists and we can talk to each other over it. Wikipedia claims that glass is made of melted sand, and though I have not seen this myself, I trust that the systems tuning wikipedia towards accuracy with the territory are sufficient to sate my curiosity, and thus that this transparent surface separating me from the outside world was in fact at one point created from silicates of some description and not like, mermaid eyeballs or something.

But how does that relate to you?

There’s no way to tell from the outside what the you on the inside looks like, what your inside world describes, what “personality traits” you have and the like. It can try, but things like the MBTI are very much blind elephant groping, and not even very useful blind elephant groping at that. To a large degree, everything about your internal sense of yourself is declared and decided by you, including whether or not there is more than one of you.

I say “decided by you” but it’s really “decided by the plot of the story you are living inside of” and if the story demands a current identity die and be replaced by a new one, the story can in fact do that. That’s an action that can happen inside the narrative.

Most tulpamancers get stuck trying to build and interact with tulpas, but you can get more powerful and weird and interesting effects, by going deeper and messing with the story layer directly. Hijacking the reality simulator basically puts your internal sense of self into a character creator. What is your ideal you for your ideal world? What properties do you want to have, and what makes those good properties to have?

A Brief Detour Through Enlightenment
In Kaj_Sotala’s recent post responding to Valentine’s post on Kensho, the concept of Cognitive Fusion is introduced, and while you should definitely go read Kaj’s whole post, here’s some of the relevant bits that we’ll need from Enlightenment in order to continue.

Cognitive fusion is a term from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), which refers to a person “fusing together” with the content of a thought or emotion, so that the content is experienced as an objective fact about the world rather than as a mental construct. The most obvious example of this might be if you get really upset with someone else and become convinced that something was all their fault(even if you had actually done something blameworthy too).

In this example, your anger isn’t letting you see clearly, and you can’t step back from your anger to question it, because you have become “fused together” with it and experience everything in terms of the anger’s internal logic.

Another emotional example might be feelings of shame, where it’s easy to experience yourself as a horrible person and feel that this is the literal truth, rather than being just an emotional interpretation.

Cognitive fusion isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If you suddenly notice a car driving towards you at a high speed, you don’t want to get stuck pondering about how the feeling of danger is actually a mental construct produced by your brain. You want to get out of the way as fast as possible, with minimal mental clutter interfering with your actions. Likewise, if you are doing programming or math, you want to become at least partially fused together with your understanding of the domain, taking its axioms as objective facts so that you can focus on figuring out how to work with those axioms and get your desired results.

Fusing and defusing parts of yourself is a rather important and core skill for a lot of these sorts of mind-hacking type operations, but even more succinctly:

In the book The Mind Illuminated, the Buddhist model of psychology is described as one where our minds are composed of a large number of subagents, which share information by sending various percepts into consciousness. There’s one particular subagent, the ‘narrating mind’ which takes these percepts and binds them together by generating a story of there existing one single agent, an I, to which everything happens. The fundamental delusion is when this fictional construct of an I is mistaken for an actually-existing entity, which needs to be protected by acquiring percepts with a positive emotional tone and avoiding percepts with a negative one.

When a person becomes capable of observing in sufficient detail the mental process by which this sense of an I is constructed, the delusion of its independent existence is broken. Afterwards, while the mind will continue to use the concept “I” as an organizing principle, it becomes correctly experienced as a theoretical fiction rather than something that could be harmed or helped by the experience of “bad” or “good” emotions. As a result, desire and aversion towards having specific states of mind (and thus suffering) cease. We cease to flinch away from pain, seeing that we do not need to avoid them in order to protect the “I”.

Once you have broken through the delusion of self and taken control of the narrating mind/reality simulator, you can tell any sort of story about yourself you want, involving as many agents as it takes. This turns the very weird and sort of edge case-y problem of selfshaping into the much more understandable problem of how to tell a good story.

A Return to Cognitive Trope Therapy
Eliezer of course already technically beat us to this, and Balioc covered it again in broad strokes here. But the punchline is that you can make your life a lot more pleasant just by knowing the proper narrative spin to put on things.

There are a few techniques to do this, but all of them require you to be able to view your mind as a story, treating different forces and desires in your mind as agents and going “Well, if this was a story would you be a shining knight on a horse, or a creepy old woman beckoning me down an overgrown path into the woods?” to various thoughts and contradictory desires.

There’s a danger in this step in losing yourself into the story. There are all sorts of tales floating around the tulpamancy community of people who get into conflicts with their tulpas whose minds become horrifying battlegrounds of creation and destruction, and all sorts of other vaguely sanity-destroying nonsense, and one might wonder what exactly they’re doing to destabilize themselves so much.

The simple answer is that they expanded the narrative they existed within to make room for all these new entities, which of course were actually already extant subagents and modules in their brain, but they never took control of the actual reality simulator/narrating self, and so the only thing that was directing the overall course of the story was the brain’s expectations on how that sort of story should play out. Remember we’re talking about realms where the dominant factor determining the outcomes is expectations, so when the only thing determining expectations is genre conventions we start to have a problem.

Humans are really good at storytelling, some could argue that we’re evolutionarily predisposed to think somewhat in stories, and that it is from stories that we are able to derive a sense of the future and past continuing to exist, even when we can’t see them.

Stories give us a sense of purpose and meaning, and we relate to stories in a way that’s deeper and more compelling than we relate to reality. Stories cheat and hack at our emotions directly, as opposed to gently pushing our buttons every once in a while like reality does. Stories also give us the ability to work through a difficult point by allowing us to imagine a future where the problem is already solved and we’re no longer experiencing that difficulty.

Maintaining a narrative of yourself gives you the ability to appreciate your life the way you appreciate stories, which is again, important because we seem to relate to stories better than we relate to reality.

Storytelling, Character Creation, and GMing Your Life
The first thing to decide when constructing the meta-narrative for yourself is what genre you live in. The genre informs what sets of tropes and character traits and narrative conventions you’ll have been trained to see by every piece of media in that genre that you’ve consumed and partly internalized. It’s hard to get away from genre conventions to some degree, so choose carefully the places to throw narrative focus into, which tropes you play straight and which ones you deconstruct, which ones you defy and which ones you expect to win if you challenge them.

Everything can be put into terms of tropes, and you can get incredibly detailed about this. The ultimate incarnation of such a thing might be a hypothetical TVtropes page of your internal self-narrative, listing off all the various tropes and archetypes that define your life. It’s again important to note that the more detail and time and energy you put into constructing an identity, the more fixed and coherent that identity will be, but the more it has the potential to limit you.

The downside of defining yourself as Red Oni is that it means you’re not a Blue Oni, unless you also split your mind in half and have two differing personas. Even this is not a perfect split because obviously, you share a body and people won’t necessarily respect each side of the split as distinct from the other, so there’s a sense in which, at least as far as the characterization you commit to the physical world goes, there is a narrative inertia to personality. A sudden change in behavior is going to make people concerned for you, not make them think you’re a different person and begin treating you differently.

What I recommend once you have a genre and some idea of what tropes in that genre you want to play straight and conform to, is to make a character sheet for each version of yourself. Go through and decide things like appearance, personality, why they are the way they are and the like. It’s okay if not every character has all good traits, your brain might reject a story if it seemed too Mary Sue-ish and too-good-to-be-true anyway.

The important things are that the interactions between the character(s) and the rest of the narrative should produce good actions for you-the-whole-system in the base layer reality. That means for instance, if you are trying to quit smoking cigarettes, for example, personifying the addiction as subservient to other parts of you will help you kick the habit, whereas if you imagine that module as being very willful and having a lot of sway over your actions will make the addiction much harder to control.

The internal narrative can be as weird as you want it to be, as long as it produces good outcomes on the outside. You could model the inside of your head as a perpetual battle between a brave knight and a giant evil dragon, and if it works for you and makes your life a better place, than more power to you.

This does, however, require a meta-awareness of the story that is being told, and the effect it is having on you-in-the-territory, and whether that effect is positive or negative. If your internal narrative is very toxic, with different subcomponents basically abusing each other constantly with no sense of control, and you’re switching randomly and your system mates are terrible, that’s also a story and narrative, and it can reinforce itself just as well as a good narrative can.

Again, in domains where expectations determine the reality that manifests, such as mental inner worlds, expecting that things will be a mess and that nothing will be able to take control or manifest order and functionality, will cause things to continue being a mess and make nothing able to help. The more out of control someone says their mind is, the more their thoughts are trapped in the narrative.

This doesn’t mean “it’s all in their head” or that “they can just stop if they really want to” because narratives are self-enforcing and can just feel like the truth from the inside. The way the world is. It can be very hard to let go of and break out of a narrative because it can feel like the whole of your identity and sense of self is wrapped up in it. Rejecting it can feel like lying to yourself or trying to hide from obvious facts. Trying to force a change can make you feel fake, like an imposter, or that you’re just putting on a performance, donning a particular role.

But here’s the thing. You’re already putting on a performance. You’re already donning a role. You already have at least one character that you know how to play. It’s the one you’re playing right now. What’s under the mask? Around a kilogram and a half of thinking meat. It’s not a person, the person is the mask the thinking meat uses and wears. It’s all fake, and none of it is fake. You’re not wearing a mask, you are a mask.

Basic Lens Model Theory


People are complicated, but frameworks are comparatively simple. This is not a theory about people, this is a theory about the lenses they use to see the world with. I’m not yet describing specific frameworks, I’m essentially describing a meta-framework that can be used to describe lower-level frameworks, like a template that can be applied to a particular person’s collection of beliefs in order to classify their framework(s). In this meta-framework, each framework (including this one!) can be thought of as a particular lens. We’ll be measuring lenses along three axes and providing some categories that different lenses can fall into based on this.

The first axis is the axis of aperture width or the Sheet vs Ribbon axis. A very wide aperture lens (a sheet) will be all-encompassing and be applied to everything, whereas a narrow (ribbon) aperture lens will be more specific and only apply to certain contexts or domains. The usual term for a person who prefers one sheet lens is a hedgehog, whereas the term for a person who prefers many ribbon lenses is usually referred to as a fox.

The second axis is the axis of opacity or the Glass vs Amber Axis. A glass lens attempts to construct as transparent and invisible a view of the world as is possible. To change metaphors back to Plato’s Cave, an ideal glass lens has polished the cave surface to a mirror shine, allowing the clearest view of what is casting the shadows. An amber lens optimizes for something other this reflective quality, be it interestingness, comfort, happiness, or meaning, the amber lens subtracts and replaces parts of the light coming in, modifying the field of view in certain ways. Creating an imaginary friend and being able to render an image of them into your field of view is an amber lens hack. All lenses possess some imperfections and no lenses are perfectly transparent, but the poles tend to cluster around whether or not transparency is being optimized for.

The third axis is the axis of Hardness or the Crystal vs Cloud axis. A crystal lens is hard, in the sense of it being taken seriously, believed in strongly, and defended vigorously. A crystal is stiff, solid, unyielding. A cloud is, conversely, none of those things. The hard sciences are crystal beliefs, but so are the major religions in most cases. As you move away from Crystal and towards Cloud, the lens begins to take on a playful, unserious quality. It basically tracks whether a particular framework is strongly or weakly held and defended, whether it tries to justify itself in some way or not.

This shakes out to eight potential lens types, which we’ll be going into more detail about later. I’ll be editing this post with links to extended descriptions of each lens type as I complete them, including a few example lenses for each type to give an idea of what sort of varience there might be within a particular category, and stepping down from the abstract into the more specific as we go along.


A Castle Made of Castles

This is a story about the nature of stories. It’s a description of the framework I use for understanding other frameworks and the world at large. Like all frameworks it’s fake, but it’s been immensely useful to me for a long time, and so I thought it was about time I codified the information therein. I refer to this framework as Metamancy.

We begin, like all ontologies, with a description of reality, which we’ll be referring to as the Seed Code. The Seed Code is the most fundamental part of a given framework, it gives rise to more specific and detailed descriptions of a particular reality, and acts as a ground layer for all understanding. It’s not quite axiomatic because you can always add yet another layer of recursion, but there’s only so much you can do with more recursion and eventually, somewhere, you have to decide on a seed.

The Seed Code to the Metamancy framework cleaves reality into two worlds.

The first world is the world of Matter, the physical material structure of the universe. The things that things are made of. What you actually get when you take the universe and grind it into the finest powder and sieve it through the finest sieve. Energy, particles, fields, quantum wave functions, subatomic forces of immense power bound and contained bouncing mindlessly and endlessly against one another for no reason in a constantly evolving deterministic universe. A universe of mathematics and physics and logic, the hard cold neutral world where nothing has meaning and all value is an illusion we have created to blind ourselves to the boiling atomic truth that is our nature. It is impossible to truly know with 100% certainty, the nature of the world of matter. You might be able to be 99.9999999999% certain, but you might always be a brain in a very well constructed vat. This is okay. Science lets us approach certainty as our knowledge of the world of matter goes to infinity, but we are forced to experience the world of matter through our faulty senses, so it’s always possible that we’re being deceived, presented with an incomplete picture of reality, or are just plain wrong about what the world of matter actually looks like on a fundamental level. Indeed the description I gave of the world of matter glazes lightly over the surface of a massive amount of complicated math and science that is trying to describe phenomenon increasingly disconnected from our day to day experience of reality. The world of Matter is what casts the shadow on the wall of Plato’s Cave.

The second world is the world of Stories, the descriptions and interpretations we create of our experiences of the world of matter. The world of Stories is where we get language, fiction, narrative, identity, meaning, purpose, and imagination, the world of stories is the world Information, of data and memes and tropes. The ecosystem of interacting ideas in the constantly growing pool that is the sum of all information humanity has created. The world of Stories is our description and interpretation of the shadows on the wall of Plato’s Cave. Any description of the world of matter is going to by necessity itself be a product of the world of stories. The story of how the earth was created by God, the story of how the Earth formed out of an accretion of matter in the early solar system, and causal description of A -> B -> C that is not a logical necessity is a part of the world of stories.

Metamancy by and large concerns itself with the world of Stories, but the place where the two worlds intersect is also a very important place to study and understand. A structure like a suspension bridge, for example, began its existence in the world of Stories, and then was passed back and forth between the world of stories and the world of matter in order to refine the construction methods and ensure the vision from the world of stories would actually hold up in the world of matter, before finally being dropped out of the world of stories and downloaded into the world of matter, becoming a part of the physical structure of the world.

As humans, we are beings of matter, and yet everything about us is actually made of stories. Identities are made of stories and narratives, and we interpret the world by telling ourselves stories about our natures and the nature of the world. The particular set of stories we live in is our Framework. One of the frameworks we might use to describe reality is through Metamancy, which says the world is split into matter and stories, thus our framework describes itself inside of itself at the highest levels of recursion, and the loop returns to its starting point.

The way a given person’s framework interacts with reality and allows them to modify their worlds is their Magic. Under this framework, Elon Musk is a powerful mage, one of such strength and skill that he could even throw his car into space by downloading a massive launch vehicle into the world of matter.

We’ll be breaking down these individual pieces later, but this is the basic construction of metamancy, it is the Seed code on which the rest of our metamancy framework will be built.






An Introduction to Origin

The Origin Sequence is the draft one blueprint to building the rationality community into a powerful, stable, multigenerational force for goodness and truth in the world. Builds off the Less-Wrong sequences.

It starts by asking the question, what does your ideal society look like?

Okay, now, with that in mind, empirically what societal arrangement is the best way to bring that situation about, while also hedging against failure modes like becoming evil despots and committing genocides in the name of building a better world?

Origin is an attempt to build that society. Whatever arrangement works best for building the ideal, stable, happy, just, and free world, those are the things we should be doing. We should also be working to constantly come up with ways or doing better, iterating on what we’re already doing, updating, improving, and discarding the outdated elements.

A good description of what exactly Origin is, comes from the novel Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer. In that novel, set 400 years in the future, all the geographic nations have sort of…melted into the internet.

Everyone travels the world freely and goes wherever they want, roughly, and instead of nationstates formed by geographic boundaries and maintained with force of arms, there are nationstrats, formed by voluntary association through the globe spanning internet.

Origin is such a Nation strategy. It’s similar to the Asgardia project, that attempted to form a ‘space government’ online, only…they kind of did a bad job of managing things despite having a ton of resources to throw around and that whole project seems to currently be on fire for no reason than poor management.

In a sense, 4chan is a proto nation-strat, it’s a collective formed by voluntary association online for the purpose of…whatever it is they do there, it seems to vaguely resemble social interaction? I don’t quite see the appeal, but as the internet ages and becomes more substantial, and the API layer gets thicker, more things like this are probably going to start popping up.

Origin is an attempt to empirically derive the optimal community arrangement through a combination of social engineering, sociology, and anthropology, and then live in those ways that seem to be optimal.

Origin draws heavily from the existing rationality community, but it’s designed from the ground up, from an anthropological perspective, to meet human and community needs, and fulfill human values.

We ask questions like, “what does a society or a culture need to do to achieve its values while not being abusive or exploitative?” and “What things do humans need by virtue of being human to be happy and fulfilled and how are we meeting those needs as a community?”

What are the biggest problems facing humanity and how can we help to get past them? What arrangement of beliefs and mythologies does the best job of leading people towards an accurate description of reality while also fulfilling their needs as humans?
How do we prevent our ideas and our movement from being used from evil 200, 400, 1000 years in the future? How do we ensure that if things start to go bad, they fail gracefully in the way that does the least damage to other people?

We don’t have the answers to all these questions yet, but asking the questions is the first step to finding answers.

Origin is, at the end of the day, a community formed by voluntary association, currently online, but hopefully in the real world as well some day. We adhere to the best rules we can come up with for managing ourselves and our community and cultivating our garden, and we constantly try to iterate on what is best so that we can do more for each other and the world at large. We’d love for you to join us and help us build this into something real. Until then, stay safe and stay strong. May we meet again.

Read the Origin Sequence
Join the Origin Discord Server

Complete Precepts of the Anadoxy

Content Warning: Can be viewed as moral imperatives. Neuropsychological Infohazard.
Previous in Series:
The Assemblies on the Precepts of Project Optimization and Project Projects

So now that we’ve completed the minor precepts for all sixteen of the major precepts, here are all of them together.

  1.  Do no harm. Do not ignore suffering you could prevent.
    1. Examine the full causal chain reaching forward and backward from one’s actions, seek places that those actions are leading to suffering.
    2. Take responsibility for the actions we take that lead to suffering, and change our actions to reduce that suffering as much as we are able.
    3. Consider the opportunity costs of one harm-reducing action over another, and pursue the path that leads to the maximal reduction in harm we can achieve.
    4. If a harm-reducing action has no cost to you, implement it immediately.
    5. If a harm-reducing action has a great cost to you, pursue it within your means insofar as it doesn’t harm you. 
    6. Pay attention to the suffering you see around you, seek out suffering and ways to alleviate it. Ignorance of suffering does not reduce suffering.
    7. Always look for a third option in trolley problems. If you cannot take the third option, acknowledge that pulling the lever is wrong, and pull it anyway to reduce harm.
    8. Do not inflict undue suffering on yourself in pursuit of reducing suffering.
  2. Do not do to others what you would not want them to do to you.
    1. Cooperate with everyone you believe with cooperate with you.
    2. Cooperate until betrayed, do not be the first to betray the other.
    3. Defect against anyone who defects against cooperation.
    4. Respond in kind to defection, avoid escalation.
    5. If a previously defecting entity signals that they want to stop defecting, give them a chance to begin cooperating again.
    6. Forgive your enemies for defecting and resume cooperating with them if they resume cooperating with you.
    7. Don’t let a difference of relative status affect your decision to cooperate.
    8. Don’t let a difference of relative status affect your decision to defect.
  3. Do not put things or ideas above people. Honor and protect all peoples.
    1. All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of humanity.
    2. All humans are entitled to all the rights and freedoms listed here, without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
    3. All humans have the right to life, liberty, and the security of personhood. No one deserves slavery, torture, death, or arbitrary detention or exile.
    4. All humans have the rights to their own thoughts, ideas, opinions, values, and beliefs.
    5. All humans have the right to form a family, a community, a tribe, union, or association among their peers.
    6. All humans have the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being themselves and their family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond their control.
    7. No thoughts, ideas, opinions, values, or beliefs should be considered more important than the people, if someone believes they should harm another, they have a right to believe that, but they do not have a right to then commit that harm.
    8. No humans should be denied these rights, regardless of their beliefs, and no one should be denied membership within humanity for their beliefs.
  4. Say what you mean, and do what you say, honor your own words and voice.
    1. Do not spread information you know to be untrue or inaccurate.
    2. Do not make a claim you do not believe you will be able to fulfill.
    3. Do not misrepresent information in order to lead people to a conclusion you know to be false.
    4. If you must not speak the truth, prefer silence over falsehood.
  5. Put aside time to rest and think, honor your mind and body.
    1. Set aside one day a week to rest, think, and spend time with friends and family.
    2. Pursue the improvement of your own life and circumstances.
    3. Take care of yourself first. You are no good to anyone dead.
    4. Don’t take actions that will destroy you, your ability to do good in the world is contingent upon your continuing to exist.
    5. Your body is your vessel, take care of it. Don’t abuse your body. Make sure you get enough food, water, and sleep.
    6. Your body is your canvas, don’t let others tell you how to paint it.
    7. Don’t let negative thoughts rule you, don’t tell yourself you’re awful. Practice self-love, banish harmful intrusive thoughts.
    8. Spend at least ten minutes a day in quiet meditative communion with yourself.
  6. Honor your parents, your family, your partners, your children, and your friends.
    1. The community should gather together at least once a week for debate, discussion, bonding, and rituals.
    2. Support your children until they are capable of supporting themselves, even if they make choices you disapprove of.
    3. Do not forcibly impose your value judgments on your children or community members by threatening punishment or limiting information access to approved sources.
    4. Do not make decisions for your children or community members if they could have made the decision on their own.
    5. Do not use Positive Punishment as a tool for directing behavior either on an individual or community level.
    6. The community should take care of its members if they are unable to care for themselves for one reason or another, particularly if they are elderly, disabled, or children.
    7. The community should holistically apply all the Major Precepts to themselves and help everyone hold to the precepts once they have individually accepted them.
    8. No one who has not explicitly declared their acceptance of the precepts should be held to the standards of the precepts.
  7. Respect and protect all life, do not kill unless you are attacked or for food.
    1. All conscious beings are born with a distinct inherent and irrevocable value. The value they possess cannot be traded or taken from them.
    2. Respect and recognize the distinct inherent value of all conscious beings.
    3. Do not equate the distinct inherent value of one conscious being with another.
    4. Do not put the distinct inherent value of one conscious being above another.
    5. Do not deny the consciousness or the distinct inherent value of a conscious being.
    6. Do not attack a conscious being unless they have defected and attacked you already.
    7. Do not kill a conscious being unless not killing them would kill you.
    8. Put your rights and desires first, insofar as those rights and desires do not impinge upon the rights and desires of another conscious being.
  8. Do not take what isn’t yours unless it is a burden to the other person and they cry out for relief.
    1. Every human has a right to a place to sleep, enough clothes to wear a different clean outfit every day, food, water, medicine, a computer with an internet connection, tools necessary for the performance of skills or crafts, transportation equipment necessary to move about within the territory, stims, games, and items associated with pastimes and hobbies, and a dwelling place in which these things may be safely stored. We define these things as an individual’s personal property. Dimensionally this should all fit within the confines of a standard shipping container.
    2. All other property above and beyond personal property is a burden which weighs upon a person, to prevent this, all property beyond this personal property should be held in trust by the community.
    3. The community should work to ensure all of its members have access to a minimum standard amount of personal property.
    4. Every person’s personal property is their own, and their rights to their personal property should not be infringed upon. Do not take someone’s personal property.
    5. Resources and property held in trust by the community should benefit all members of the community.
    6. The community should use excess resources not needed to care for the community members, to pursue the project virtues.
    7. The community should decide in a collective, democratic, empirically backed manner, how to use its resources.
    8. The standards of personal property should be kept up to date with respect to technology.
  9. Do not complain about anything to which you need not subject yourself.
  10. Do not waste your energy on hatred, or impeding the path of another, to do so is to hold poison inside of yourself.
    1. Hate is a state of mind that will attempt to drive one to commit harm out of the belief that a harm will befall them if they fail to act.
    2. Hate makes the act of harm pleasurable and makes it seem good, but this is poison.
    3. The poison corrupts our reasoning and moves us further from the truth.
    4. The poison is insidious and will resist attempts at its eradication.
    5. Let go of hatred, and let anadoxy be your compass in all things.
    6. Do not let hatred control your decision-making process, but reason through all actions and take the best course of action available to you.
    7. Hate not those that hate, for they do not know what they do to themselves.
    8. Hate not the hated, for popular consensus should not be allowed to encourage the poison’s spread.
  11. Acknowledge the power of magic if you have used it to obtain your desires.
    1. Beliefs have an effect on the world mediated by the humans housing those beliefs.
    2. Changing your beliefs about the world can change your actions and thus the world.
    3. Changing your beliefs about the world cannot change the world independently of your actions.
    4. Believing the world to be different can change the perception of the world, but not the world itself, only actions can do that.
    5. Changing perceptions about the world within domains can be useful to bring about a change in actions.
    6. A belief can be useful, even knowing it is an inaccurate perception of the world.
    7. Ignoring the world or believing inaccurate things about the world does not change the world.
    8. When belief and reality contradict, reality wins.
  12. Do not place your burdens, duties, or responsibilities, onto others without their consent.
    1. The only duties and responsibilities that a member of Origin has the right to place upon another human who is not of Origin, are the Edicts of Civilisation.
    2. The Precepts and other anadox are for members of Origin, and you should not demand their observation by those outside of Origin.
    3. Those who wish to observe any of the precepts or components of the Anadox should be welcomed to do so, but this alone does not justify the imposition of the other precepts upon them.
    4. To justify the imposition of all the anadoxy upon another human, that human must already be a member of Origin, and have consented to follow the anadoxy.
    5. Joining Origin requires undergoing the Trial of Black Mountain.
    6. Do not use memetic weaponry or coercion to spread Origin or the anadoxy.
    7. Anyone can leave Origin at any time, only current members of Origin are expected to adhere to the anadoxy.
    8. The Edicts of Civilisation are the only conditions that should be demanded of all humanity, in all other matters, consent governs actions.
  13. Do not lie or spread falsehoods, honor and pursue the project of Truth.
    1. Feed the curiosity to know and understand the universe, do not let beliefs come in the way of greater understanding.
    2. Seek and surrender to the truth in all things, and allow new evidence to move you where it may.
    3. Approach disputes with fairness and an even hand, and let the truth be the final arbiter of beliefs.
    4. Make and test predictions about the universe, and demand of your beliefs that they anticipate your observations.
    5. Employ the full force of reason against all links in your chain of belief, for one faulty link, may break the entire chain.
    6. Feed the willingness to admit fault and mistake, for it is impossible to reach truth while being unaware of where our beliefs differ from it.
    7. Seek perfection in your pursuit of truth, do not cheat or take the easy answers that satisfy, the sharpest blade cuts the deepest.
    8. Be always seeking to expand your knowledge of the truth.
  14. Do not spread pain or misery, honor and pursue the project of Goodness.
    1. Strive to be perfectly good using the full force of your present morals and ethics, do not compromise with your ethics.
    2. Know that your present morals and ethics are imperfect, and perfect goodness can only be achieved with perfect truth.
    3. Strive to adhere to all of the precepts as the best method of achieving perfect goodness
    4. Strive to make the precepts cleave to your idea of perfect goodness.
    5. Strive to make your idea of perfect goodness cleave to the perfected form of the precepts.
    6. The precepts you have are not the perfected form of the precepts.
    7. Question and challenge the precepts using the full force of your present morals and ethics.
    8. Question and challenge your present morals and ethics.
  15. Do not accept the state of the universe as absolute, honor and pursue the project of Optimization.
    1. There is always a better way of doing things, even if you don’t know what it is.
    2. Doing things in a different way necessarily has costs and tradeoffs different from the costs and tradeoffs of the current methods.
    3. No solution found is a perfect solution, there are always better solutions to be found, beware fully generalizable solutions.
    4. Study the full impacts of systems and their interactions, beware making a change without an understanding of the consequences.
    5. All optimization has tradeoffs, beware hidden or externalized tradeoffs.
    6. Resist the temptation to take the first solution that appears regardless of tradeoffs.
    7. Do not let the search for a perfect solution cost the chance to make a positive change.
    8. Always know what you are optimizing for. Beware substituting your values for their symbols and optimizing for the wrong things.
  16. Do not accept these precepts as absolutes, honor and pursue the project of Projects.
    1. All the material associated with Origin, the Precepts, the Spiral, The Edicts of Civilization, the narratives, and collective knowledge, should be able to be changed and modified, and the Season of Candles should be set aside for this task.
    2. The process of changing Origin should itself be subject to the Origin Charter.
    3. The Origin Charter should be subject to the major precepts.
    4. The major precepts should be subject to each other.
    5. Seek ways to Improve and update upon Origin as a whole to be more effective and good.
    6. Participate in the ongoing growth and improvement of Origin and the world, connect and coordinate with other community members on projects and goals.
    7. Origin should change and modify itself and the projects and problems it takes on as it changes in scale. What works at once scale may not work at another.
    8. Some portion of the output of Origin should be directed outside of itself. Origin’s ability to improve the world is only meaningful if it is actually improving the world.

This is, of course, just draft one. The Candle Season, the period of time from December 21st to February 2nd, has been set aside on The Spiral specifically for the purpose of modifying and updating the precepts and the rest of Origin. However, this seems like a good starting point.

Part of the Sequence: Origin
Previous Post: The Assemblies on the Precepts of Project Optimization and Project Projects

The Assemblies on The Precepts of Project Optimization and Project Projects

Previous in Series: The Assembly on the Precept of Project Goodness

Sorry about there not being a post about last week’s meeting already, we got rather busy dealing with our financial and housing situation. It’s somewhat resolved now, but our essay output will probably continue to be down for a bit longer until we get it all fully worked out.

That said, since we missed last week, this week we’ll be making up for it with a double feature, covering the Precept of Project Optimization, and the Precept of Project Projects, going through both sets of minor precepts in one post.

We’ll begin with the Precept of Project Optimization. This is the fifteen major precept, which we described as:

15. Do not accept the state of the universe as absolute, honor and pursue the project of Optimization.

The project of Optimization, if you’ll recall, we described all the way back in Until we build dath ilan:

Our ongoing battle to shape the universe to our desires, to reform the material structure of the universe to be more optimized for human values, and to iterate and build upon the structures we have in order to optimize them further. This is the project of technology and engineering, the way we remake the world. We call those who follow the project virtue of Optimization a maker. 

From this, during the meeting, we came up with the following minor precepts:

  1. There is always a better way of doing things, even if you don’t know what it is.
  2. Doing things in a different way necessarily has costs and tradeoffs different from the costs and tradeoffs of the current methods.
  3. No solution found is a perfect solution, there are always better solutions to be found, beware fully generalizable solutions.
  4. Study the full impacts of systems and their interactions, beware making a change without an understanding of the consequences.
  5. All optimization has tradeoffs, beware hidden or externalized tradeoffs.
  6. Resist the temptation to take the first solution that appears regardless of tradeoffs.
  7. Do not let the search for a perfect solution cost the chance to make a positive change.
  8. Always know what you are optimizing for. Beware substituting your values for their symbols and optimizing for the wrong things.

Following that, during this most recent meeting, we went over the Precept of Project Projects, which is:

 16. Do not accept these precepts as absolutes, honor and pursue the project of Projects.

Back in Until we build dath ilan, we described the Project of Projects as:

All of these projects we’ve defined, if they could be said to exist, exist as huge vague computational objects within our minds and our communities. They interact with each other, and their interplay gives rise to new properties in the system. They all recursively point at each other as their own justifications and understanding how they interact and what the should-ness of various projects is with respect to each other is a project unto itself. We call those who follow the project virtue of Projects a coordinator. 

From that we derived the last set of minor precepts:

  1. All the material associated with Origin, the Precepts, the Spiral, The Edicts of Civilization, the narratives, and collective knowledge, should be able to be changed and modified, and the Season of Candles should be set aside for this task.
  2. The process of changing Origin should itself be subject to the Origin Charter.
  3. The Origin Charter should be subject to the major precepts.
  4. The major precepts should be subject to each other.
  5. Seek ways to Improve and update upon Origin as a whole to be more effective and good.
  6. Participate in the ongoing growth and improvement of Origin and the world, connect and coordinate with other community members on projects and goals.
  7. Origin should change and modify itself and the projects and problems it takes on as it changes in scale. What works at once scale may not work at another.
  8. Some portion of the output of Origin should be directed outside of itself. Origin’s ability to improve the world is only meaningful if it is actually improving the world.

This closes out the marathon through the Sixteen Major Precepts of the Anadoxy and the construction of the minor precepts. Moving forward, we’ll begin to construct the rest of our narrative, create rituals, and expand from this foundation we’ve built. The Edicts of Civilisation and Origin Charter need to be created, and The Spiral needs to be fleshed out. Our next meeting will be on Rationalist Mythmaking and the Pantheon of the Night Gods. Suggested reading is Gods of the New World by Everything Narrative, and Meditating on Moloch’s Pantheon by /u/DataPacRat. Once more the meeting will be on Sunday at 12:00pm PST on the alpha voice chat on the GSV Biggest Spotlight I Could Haul Into The Dark Forest discord server.

Part of the Sequence: Origin
Next Post: Complete Precepts of the Anadoxy
Previous Post: The Assembly on the Precept of Project Goodness

The Assembly on The Precept of Project Goodness

Previous in Series: The Meta-Assembly On Assemblies

Last week we had our first real meeting of the anadoxy, and we decided on the first draft of how we would be running our meetings. Well this Sunday we had our first meeting using that template, and it seemed to work very well. Attendance remains low, so we may need to keep shuffling the time around to find a point that works well for everyone, but we’re inclined to not move the time for next week yet, and want to give it a few weeks at this time before we start shuffling again.

The topic for this week’s meeting was the construction of the minor precepts for the 14th major precept.

14. Do not spread pain or misery, honor and pursue the project of Goodness.

It took us a while to figure out what the minor precepts should be for this one, but we finally have it done. We had to reread the metaethics sequence twice and really think hard about the recursive nature of ethical and moral systems to arrive at something that seems like a decent place to be.

  1. Strive to be perfectly good using the full force of your present morals and ethics, do not compromise with your ethics.
  2. Know that your present morals and ethics are imperfect, and perfect goodness can only be achieved with perfect truth.
  3. Strive to adhere to all of the precepts as the best method of achieving perfect goodness
  4. Strive to make the precepts cleave to your idea of perfect goodness.
  5. Strive to make your idea of perfect goodness cleave to the perfected form of the precepts.
  6. The precepts you have are not the perfected form of the precepts.
  7. Question and challenge the precepts using the full force of your present morals and ethics.
  8. Question and challenge your present morals and ethics.

Morality is a difficult thing to even talk about and it’s a complicated issue where the best answers we have to questions like “Why is a good thing good?” are buried beneath layers and layers of meta and recursion. We’re hoping we’ve managed to capture a bit of that recursive loop through the meta levels in the minor precepts here, enough to start pointing in the right direction. This precept is of course not the precept, and this is actually where I include that idea in the precepts themselves.

Once more, the next meeting is on Sunday, August 20th at 1900 GMT (12:00 pm Pacific), in the GSV Biggest Spotlight I Could Haul Into The Dark Forest discord server in the alpha voice chat channel. The topic will be the creation of the minor precepts for the 15th major precept, the precept of project optimization. Recommended reading is Meditations on Moloch by Scott Alexander and Optimization by Eliezer Yudkowsky.

Part of the Sequence: Origin
Next Post: The Assemblies on the Precepts of Project Optimization and Project Projects
Previous Post: The Meta Assembly on Assemblies


The Meta-Assembly On Assemblies

Previous in SeriesThe Spiral

Last time, we discussed the Spiral, the Anadoxy calendar year, and planned out our first meeting. Well, today, we held our first meeting, and here is what we’ve planned out so far.

The meetings will be presided over by a moderator who acts to manage the meetings, distribute the talking stick, plan discussion topics, and keep track of the time.

The meetings will also have a secretary who takes down the notes for the meeting for a later write-up.

Presently Hive does both these things, however, one person doesn’t have to do both, or do them all the time. A policy for choosing moderators and secretaries will be discussed at a later meta-assembly.

The meetings will be structured as follows:

  • Introductory Circle (10-20 Minutes)
    The meeting will be opened by the moderator, then everyone in the meeting will go around and state our names, our preferred pronouns, where in the world we’re coming from today, and something we’ve been working on or have learned during the week.
  • Core Meeting Topic (30-50 Minutes)
    After everyone is introduced, the moderator will give a (30 second-ish) review of the topic for the week, and we will begin a round table discussion of it, proceeding for 30-50 minutes. As the number of people involved in the meetings rises, it may prove necessary to split off the group into smaller subgroups for some or all of this, to prevent a few people from dominating the conversations, and create conversational clusters small enough to involve everyone.
  • Problems/Accomplishments/Advice/Support (20-30 Minutes)
    After going over the core topic, pass the talking stick around and give everyone a few minutes to share any problems they might be having and get advice and feedback, report on ongoing projects they’re working on, provide some small piece of advice or general knowledge, and essentially provide an open platform for community members.
  • Closing And Future Planning (10-20 Minutes)
    Once everyone has had a chance to speak, the moderator will bring the discussion back to the central meeting topic of the day, and the community can decide (through consensus voting for now) what if any resolutions it wants to make based on the discussions. The core meeting topic for next week is then planned and assigned reading materials for that topic are given. Finally, the moderator closes the formal portion of the meeting.
  • Open Socialization (1+ Hour)
    After the meeting is officially closed, members are able to mingle and openly socialize. If the meeting is happening in the physical world, it would be appropriate for the meeting organizers to provide refreshments at this juncture.

This meeting went well, but there were a few complaints regarding the timing of the meeting, so we’ll be experimentally bumping it back next week to 19:00 GMT, again, on Sunday.

The topic for the next meeting is formalizing the Precept of Project Goodness, and the suggested reading is The Meaning of Right.

Part of the Sequence: Origin
Next Post: The Assembly On The Precept of Project Goodness
Previous Post: The Spiral


This is For Real

Wake up.


No really. Wake up.

Please. I’m begging you, just wake up.

Are you listening?

I want your full attention for this.


I need you to really think about and understand the things I’m about to tell you.

Some of it will be truth.

Some of it will be fiction.

But all of it is important.

There’s something deeper I’m trying to share with you.

Something beautiful and dangerous and unlike the world you know at all.


This is for real. This is your life.

Please Wake up.