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Open Questions · Gwern.web

Open Questions · Gwern.web

2023-04-24 13:36:29

  • What’s the “afterglow impact” (1⁠/ ​2⁠,  / ​r / ​hangovereffect) the place some individuals with ADHD-like signs report abrupt short-term aid throughout the hangover the following morning after consuming giant quantities of alcohol & sleeping? (Something to do with methanol? Or uric acid?)

  • Why does sleep deprivation briefly treat depression (Boland et al 2017⁠, Daghlas et al 2021)? This is unnecessary beneath the standard theories of despair like persistent irritation or risk-aversion or too-little mind plasticity, however the experimental impact seems well-established. (And the way does ketamine work anyway?)

  • If baby abuse and emotional neglect is so dangerous and there may be nothing extra to it than that, why does it seem within the biographies of so many individuals who obtain greatness, usually center/​upper-class? It might do that by rising variance (offsetting, for the highest finish, decreases in imply outcomes), however how—why would any subset of youngsters have higher outcomes for any purpose due to abuse/​neglect? If it will increase motivation and creates a ‘rage for mastery’, is there any option to seize the advantages with out being evil?

  • What and why and when are “furries”?

    One of many core demographics of Patreon⁠, by quantity spent, is the “furries” subculture commissioning art work & different issues catering to their fetishes; furries are additionally well-represented on picture boorus, offering a few of the largest & finest tagged databases (even bigger than Danbooru), and traditionally have been (together with fanfiction) one of the excessive userbases of⁠; additional, furry conventions are surprisingly strong, catering, amongst different issues, to fursuit makers promoting extraordinarily costly (and sometimes customized) fursuits; even additional, furries look like extraordinarily overrepresented amongst tech employees (an autism spectrum connection?). I’ve stored noticing furries inside a couple of levels of me (an artist acquaintance does SFW furry commissions, a web-based acquaintance discovered English because of furries, one other instructed me of furry IRC channels for simply techies coordinating tasks & journeys & donations, one more instructed me that it was not unusual to see furries suited up in datacenters, the Damore lawsuit supplies point out furry teams in Google together with ‘otherkin’⁠, and so forth), public examples of furries like SonicFox are more and more widespread, and I’ve begun to marvel. Usually, furries appear to be bizarrely wealthy, well-connected, and succesful—the Quakers of fetishes. (Does the underserving of furries foster self-reliance & skill-building—nobody goes to make any fursuits or software program for them in the event that they don’t—and an early migration to the Web again when that pressured neighborhood members to develop appreciable technical expertise, positioning them for the explosion of the Web sector?)

    Is that this true, why are furries so wealthy and well-funded, and why tech, particularly? Why so many so lately, not simply offline, however of their secure areas on-line? When did ‘furries’ turn out to be a factor? I’ve but to run into a transparent reference to them earlier than the Nineteen Seventies–Nineteen Eighties, usually vaguely ascribed to conference dynamics, they usually could primarily postdate even that (see WP & WikiFur & 2 Reddit discussions).

    However it’s not as if anthropomorphization or novels that includes animals or humorous art work of animals have been solely invented in Nineteen Seventies or 1980; for instance, the Playboy bunnies have been Nineteen Sixties, the Batman character Catwoman was 1940 (simply barely previous Cat People), Disney had centered round anthropomorphization since 1928, Japanese catgirls have been Nineteen Twenties (though one might hint it again to Cordwainer Smith publishing in Nineteen Sixties, assuming one didn’t faucet into the final eroticization of cats which arguably goes again all the best way to the Egyptian use of ‘miw’ for cats after which ladies, and the fertility cat-goddess Bastet, serving alongside the best way as an emblem of promiscuity, and Egyptian cartoons from 1000’s of years in the past comically depict cats & rats, see Malek’s The Cat in Historical Egypt) and possibly one might hint many examples a lot additional again than 1970. So why did it come into existence then, somewhat than lengthy earlier than, and what has made it so widespread? Why does it observe the obvious demographic patterns it does?

    If it certainly did come up within the Nineteen Seventies attributable to some generic mixture of financial improvement, recognition of comedian books, expertise, or cultural shifts, did many different paraphilias come up in the identical time interval? Certainly, the place do paraphilias usually come from?

  • Does low hint ranges of lithium in ingesting water (which might be fairly low cost to extend) cut back violence/​crime/​suicide/​psychological sickness/​loss of life, or not?

  • How involved ought to we be about anesthesia awareness (WP)?

  • How involved ought to we be about concussions / ​head-injuries / ​“traumatic brain injuries” (TBIs)? Are we loopy for not wearing walking / ​driving helmets?

  • Why do I persistently get issues in self-experiments utilizing metals like potassium & magnesium?

  • What’s the psychology of “collecting” and “collectibles”? Notably from an evolutionary psychology perspective. Can it probably serve any operate, or what continuum is it a maladaptive excessive of?

  • Did Calhoun’s Mouse Utopia exist as described or replicate? One of the crucial well-known animal experiments ever run, with dramatic political implications, Mouse Utopia seems to be bizarrely under-documented with many tell-tale indicators of the Replication Disaster: Calhoun printed little, his publications lacked many particulars and appear to indicate that the well-known Mouse Utopia was merely one in every of many experiments (most of which didn’t ship related outcomes), it didn’t replicate when others early on tried it, and there are different attainable explanations Calhoun didn’t have any curiosity in investigating & merely dismissed out of hand.

  • Fetish Economics

    How does fetish economics work usually? Anecdotally, creators in fetishes (eg. feet⁠, furry, futanari) report it being extremely profitable regardless of them not having fun with it themselves—certainly, it’s profitable as a result of they don’t take pleasure in it and solely do it for the cash, requiring extraordinary premiums.

    The imbalance is long-standing, and customary to many fetishes. An absolute lack of provide is clearly not the explanation, and a “danger premium” primarily based on stigma seems insufficient for an imbalance that appears extra like extra demand somewhat than excessive shortage of provide. I recommend that fetishes do have excessive demand, as an inherent property of being excessive variations in preferences, and this makes use of up all fellow-fetish creators after which runs up into very excessive reservation costs from outsider creators, thereby leading to uncommon costs on the margin.

    “This really isn’t my thing / But I really like money” (photo by Jennifer Xiao)

    Furry artwork has a repute for being straightforward cash if you happen to can tolerate the work, and a couple of creator has anonymously reported that the commissions revolt them however there’s no option to make 1000’s of {dollars} a month as an illustrator as simply; I’ve heard about not less than 2 pc sport builders who marvel on the sum of money they’ll make off foot or different fetish video games (usually technically trivial, being visual novel-style video games utilizing free software program like Ren’Py⁠, requiring largely art work & writing), simply as much as $4000/​month. (In a kind of circumstances, they wrote a fic to mock the fetish, however the optimistic reactions—accompanied by calls for of “take my cash!”—satisfied them to begin making & promoting precise video games.) These disparities don’t appear to be new or replicate fashionable matters; there look like giant will increase in commissioned art work, for instance, however pushed by improvements in market mechanisms & supply-side components (eg. the rise of Patreon⁠, or 2-sided fee markets like—which advantages from the massive progress in machine translation, and simpler worldwide funds). The demand was all the time there, however couldn’t be simply tapped. A associated query is BDSM; one is all the time listening to about feminine doms (however not subs) making extraordinarily giant quantities of cash, rather more than common intercourse employees—it is sensible if there are extra feminine subs than feminine doms, and vice versa fewer male subs than male doms, however then why the acute premiums when it appears balanced?

    This kind of huge premium is a bit odd on the face of it: why is provide & demand so imbalanced, and supply so inelastic? If a fetish is X% of the inhabitants, one would anticipate X% of programmers, artists, and so on, to share that fetish. If there are lots of people who need foot-based video games, then one would anticipate there to be a smaller however nonetheless giant variety of individuals keen to produce such video games, and the issue solves itself; if there aren’t many fetishists, they could go wanting, however there additionally gained’t be all that a lot cash in catering to them both, it will merely be an odd area of interest that maybe some creators occur to occupy, however not strikingly profitable.

    Whereas we don’t know a lot about why paraphilias change over time or why a paraphilia could develop within the individuals it develops in, we positively don’t know any purpose to anticipate a fetish to be underrepresented in artists/​programmers and overrepresented elsewhere. There most likely are variations (merely on “everything is correlated” grounds), however we don’t know which (within the 3 Fs talked about, artists/​programmers don’t appear underrepresented, if something, maybe the other), nor do we all know that they’re so giant that they may drive these premiums.

    An absence of generic provide can also be a questionable rationalization. “These fortunate vanilla heterosexual sorts have all of the porn on this planet and might go their whole lives with out spending a cent, however you drew the brief finish of the stick.” Positive, if there have been some dire scarcity in absolute phrases, like solely a dozen footage throughout the Web of your fetish, chances are you’ll discover it worthwhile to pay for extra your self. However that is arduous to reconcile with the details. Can we actually say that there’s a dire scarcity of every fetish when picture boorus or porn video websites devoted to every sort, like e621, can accumulate hundreds of thousands of photos/​movies inside a couple of years? (Danbooru⁠, for instance, provides >0.5m photos/​yr—and it has a repute for being selective!) ≪X%, gathered over time worldwide, can nonetheless be vastly greater than any particular person can moderately eat in a lifetime. None of those fetishes appears more likely to have a real scarcity, per particular person, of spank materials; in the event that they really feel themselves supply-constrained and having issue shopping for extra, there have to be extra occurring.

    One risk is that the premium is a danger premium, compensating for taking part in a fetish regardless of how a lot one enjoys it. Even perhaps proficient foot fetish artists are reluctant to do greater than play footsie with that fandom, as a result of it would get out and handicap them socially or financially? It’s troublesome to port a repute in just one route: if the Z fetishists, who’re X% however are pissed off at getting ≪X% of complete provide, know an artist providing commissions is mainstream artist Y, and need Y’s companies as a result of they’ll see Y does nice work, and Y like that fetish and so doesn’t have to demand a premium as a result of better intrinsic prices, Y should still be apprehensive about “Y does fetish Z” getting out and both demand an enormous premium or arrange beneath brandnew pseudonym A (in the event that they do in any respect—any good artist will fear about their artwork model being recognized; ex ungue leonem), constraining output attributable to lack of repute.

    There’s a particular hierarchy of how stigmatized fetishes are, and this looks like a extremely believable speculation. Toes aren’t too dangerous; fashions in interviews sound kinda nonchalant about it, taking an “it’s bizarre and I don’t actually get it, nevertheless it certain pays the lease” perspective. Futanari is unquestionably weirder, and furries weirder nonetheless, having lengthy been the butt of Web standing hierarchies. And it does appear to be the availability downside will get extra acute as you go down, which is according to the danger premium speculation. However is that this a large enough impact to drive such wacky worth dynamics? Are futanari or foot visible novels so discriminated towards that each one the creators flee and but, one can decide up 1000’s of {dollars} by merely rolling their eyes and ignoring these stigmas with no seen consequence? (And if we imagine most creators have fled, the place do all these hundreds of thousands of photos and movies and video games come from? Simply what number of would there be if the entire creators stayed‽)

    In the event you don’t discover that satisfactory, what else may very well be occurring? Since we’re coping with deviant people right here (in each senses), we would search for generic distribution results—particularly, our previous pal, tails. (Of distributions.) We’d argue a priori about X% parity and proportional illustration amongst every fetish or choice, which is a secure argument, however that doesn’t imply that the entire distributions of these fetishes want look something like one another It might be weird to anticipate each sexual choice or fetish to be distributed equally, once we already know counterexamples like lesbianism vs male homosexuality, and the mere reality of differing stigmas can be anticipated to create variations.

    Think about a normal distribution of “willingness to pay for customized porn of Z”. For normal porn, it’s a extensive distribution centered across the inhabitants imply. However with regards to, say, toes, there could also be some willingness to pay amongst non-fetishists for photos that occur to incorporate toes (maybe as a part of some extra basic pose or scene), however the foot fetishists can be their very own distribution with a imply shifted far to the precise (and possibly a lot narrower, with a smaller commonplace deviation)—many are nonetheless unwilling or unable to pay, however many can be, and due to tail results, there can be, counterintuitively, multiplicatively many extra.

    That is one other approach of claiming that fetishes are usually intense. Such preferences, arising from no matter supply, appear to be pretty discrete. There aren’t going to be terribly many individuals who really feel lukewarm a few fetish and discover it sorta-hot-but-ok-maybe-not-really. This correlates with the stigma: the additional away a fetish is, the much less everybody else can perceive it. The depth is the place the disparity in demand comes from: the fetish could have their fair proportion X% of artists, however they’re an intense minority which calls for ≫X%. This demand eats up the X% immediately, and goes hungrily searching for extra. And, for the reason that fetish is intense and the remaining provide all are inclined to really feel intensely the different approach concerning the fetish (being all the best way within the different distributions many commonplace deviations away from Z), out of the blue, on the margin, the clearing worth skyrockets. (As an excessive instance, think about guro or crush⁠.) Creating X−2% or X−1% of provide is comparatively straightforward (even, free); creating X% is simple; however creating X+1%, that requires pulling in plenty of creators from elsewhere and that is more and more and finally extraordinarily costly. Private preferences are inflexible and are available from mysterious unknown causes, so each provide and demand listed below are locked in place indefinitely, with out the standard long-run impact the place excessive demand elicits everlasting provide will increase. (There are comparable examples like science funding: for all that scientists complain about lack of funding, they’re individually locked into their explicit analysis subject to the extent that the NIH has to increase grants by 40% to tug in novel researchers!) To the extent that danger premium reduces provide, this merely exacerbates the costs.

    The tail impact mannequin predicts that this example can be steady long-term as a result of it’s rooted in human psychology. It additional predicts that the premium can be due extra to the private degree of disgust skilled by outsider artists than to fetish recognition or danger or stigma as a result of the danger premium is confounded: the stigma will predict the premium, however not trigger it, as a result of each are brought on by the identical factor. Exogenously lowering the social stigma (with out individuals altering their intestine response) or lowering it in different methods like offering extra nameless methods to work could ease the availability state of affairs a bit, however won’t result in any main adjustments available in the market. (Compared, enhancing mechanisms like market web sites or assurance contracts, or automating art work utilizing neural networks, may effectively have giant results because it lets the demand extra effectively extract provide. Neural networks don’t care.)


    Psychedelics famously dissolve private id and make you ‘one with every little thing’. If there are such a lot of medicine which may try this, the place are the medicine which do the other, strengthening id and making you one with nothing?

    There are a couple of candidates like MDMA or ketamine/​DXM which can do one thing like that, however not many and never convincingly.

    This will present that psychedelics’ impact on id is much less fascinating than it seems to be: it’s simpler to destroy than to create, and this can be why so many psychedelics can have such related results in dissolving however by no means strengthening id.

    Psychedelics and hallucinogens induce a bewildering vary of generally extraordinary results; but when there’s any widespread trait to journey studies & descriptions throughout a whole bunch of various psychedelics, it’s that they have an inclination to ‘weaken boundaries’. One loses one’s odd sense of being a discrete, separate particular person, identifiable & distinguished from different individuals, and one begins to really feel as one with the individuals close by, humanity, earth, God(s), universe, the multiverse, and even grander & extra ineffable unities.

    Anti-psychedelics to make you soberer than sober. To this point so good. However after studying sufficient Erowid journey studies, I started to marvel: if some medicine can weaken id boundaries, then shouldn’t there be some medicine which strengthen it? (A drug which makes you not drunk on hallucination, however ‘knurd’⁠, soberer than sober, as Terry Pratchett put it.) And if there are various fewer such medicine than psychedelics, even perhaps zero, then why? (We are able to think about an ‘inverse’ or ‘anti-Buddhism’—whose scripture is likely Ayn Rand—and which preaches the gospel of greed, specializing in strengthening one’s private id, cultivating appetites and preferences, and creating company; so why not think about an ‘anti-psychedelic’?) If psychedelics like those Shulgin studies can have so many oddball results like ‘make every little thing sound prefer it’s at an amazing distance’ (I vaguely recall one in every of Shulgin’s studies mentioning), then certainly a few of them can reverse their standard dissolving impact. Why can’t I really feel, with the identical absolute certainty that I really feel ‘all is one’, that I’m a singular snowflake completely in contrast to some other human being or organism? Why is there no drug that dehumanizes different people, turning them into clockwork mechanisms and zombies and sheeple⁠, whereas I’m the one actual particular person? A drug which refines id all the way down to feeling separate elements, memes, cells, biomes, selfish-genes, molecules, atoms…

    …Or for assembly mitochondrial, not machine, elves. Or, if that doesn’t actually make sense (perhaps one already conceives of oneself as maximally separate, in the best way the integer 1 is already non-identical to the integer 2 and might’t be made ‘extra non-identical’), why can’t any ‘unification’ occur internally? Why does the psychedelic expertise all the time appear to be exterior, in unifying me with issues ‘outdoors my pores and skin’, because it have been? Why, on DMT⁠, does one journey to a different universe to fulfill the machine elves, as a substitute of touring down inside a pores and skin cell to fulfill the mitochondria elves, or pause for a chat with the jumping transposons on chromosome 13? Why don’t I meet a Parliament of Organs inside, the place my kidneys bicker whereas my liver sighs? Or to take a extra cognitive tack, is there a drug which might let me step again and observe the wheels of my thoughts go round—see the working memory distinct from short-term reminiscence, the long-term reminiscence pulling up & rewriting reminiscences, the place the inner monologue comes from, cruder associative cognition performing earlier than gradual serial processes binding many areas in a shared computation…? All of those appear logically & psychologically attainable, and never even that unusual in comparison with many drug results or psychiatric circumstances.

    See Also

    Anti-psychedelic candidates:

    1. Stimulants If we ask what the ‘reverse’ of psychedelics is, most individuals would recommend stimulants: cocaine, caffeine⁠, nicotine⁠, amphetamines⁠, modafinil⁠, and so on.

      Are they ‘anti-psychedelics’ on this sense of identity-strengthening? I’ve by no means taken cocaine, however the others don’t give me the sensation of freezing the best way psychedelics give me the sensation of melting. And maybe extra importantly, even when we declare they do, they appear far weaker. Most caffeine, nicotine⁠, or modafinil use comes nowhere close to the impact of fairly odd psychedelic journeys; one has to make use of extraordinary doses, probably risking deadly overdoses, to begin seeing psychedelic-level results.

      Cocaine and amphetamines (and dopaminergic stimulants usually) could cause a level of psychosis, nevertheless it takes plenty of sustained abuse to start psychedelic-tier results like seeing ‘the shadow individuals’ hallucinations beneath amphetamines. (And even probably the most excessive hospitalization-level amphetamine psychosis don’t appear to succeed in the peaks & depths of a single 5-MeO-DMT trip casually will.)

      Psychedelics are simply actually amazingly highly effective. If these are the perfect we will discover for ‘anti-psychedelics’, then we nonetheless have a puzzle.

    2. Dissociatives: One other risk is extra sedative or dissociative medicine like DXM or ketamine⁠.

      I’m not personally accustomed to DXM nor have I learn a lot about it, however I’m skeptical that the consequences of dissociation match right here. Inducing depersonalization & derealization so you’re feeling such as you & the world not exist is an fascinating impact (nonetheless disagreeable), however that sounds extra identity-annihilating than strengthening. Likewise, to the extent DXM produces horrifying schizophrenia-like intrusive thoughts & inside voices which come involuntarily from nowhere, that’s it breaking down your id, not strengthening it—you must know the place they arrive from and have the ability to management or not less than perceive them.

    3. MDMA is an fascinating candidate.

      Whereas I affiliate it largely with cuddle-puddle and remedy and lack of means to understand threats/​hazard, which seems to be like ‘dissolving’ to me, I’m instructed that when individuals rolling on MDMA introspect about themselves, they generally spontaneously develop an Internal Family Systems Model-like inner dialogue with reified elements of their thoughts, speaking to sub-personalities or personifications. If true, MDMA would appear to rely as an ‘anti-psychedelic’ not less than generally, and can be an fascinating psychiatric remedy strategy. (MAPS has apparently talked about this risk.)

    4. Salvia divinorum: talked about to me as generally having experiences of 1’s thoughts dividing into a number of co-occurring elements, and sounding like a candidate.

    Few candidates. General, whereas there are some good candidates, there doesn’t look like any giant pool of well-known medicine which have astonishing anti-psychedelic results on par with psychedelics. Even when a couple of like MDMA or Salvia can do it, that is strikingly uncommon in comparison with common psychedelics, the place it looks like a whole bunch of RCs come onto the market every decade.

    Breaking, not making. Why this imbalance? The obvious reply is that “it’s simpler to destroy than to create”. An absence of boundaries is the default, and id is constructed with issue. Each a theory of mind and a way of self are nice cognitive achievements, and simply undone.

    Shattering the community. On a neurological degree, merely weakening international connectivity and the intricate coordination between mind areas will reliably produce dissolution. However it’s rather more troublesome to enhance the dynamic coordination of mind areas, making the global workspace extra environment friendly and built-in. After a sure degree of disconnection (induced by psychedelics or anesthesia) breaking the unified mind down into modules, one is unconscious, affected areas are not in a position to retailer verbalizable info in long-term reminiscence for later reporting, or the cut-off areas are so autonomous that they turn out to be a blind-spot or agnosia (like in split-brain syndrome).

    Brains are arduous to repair. On this sense, odd consciousness is the truth is as about unified as is feasible. There are not any extra mind areas which might be usefully built-in, and the prevailing areas are coordinated as skillfully as attainable given one’s explicit genetic endowment, atmosphere, and cognitive improvement. Some stimulants tweaking the mind usefully, or some oddball unwanted side effects which create subjective states faking it, is pretty much as good as you possibly can anticipate. It’s arduous to enhance a generic human mind, prefer it’s arduous to enhance each automotive’s mileage by dumping random chemical substances into their fuel tanks with out even realizing what mannequin or if they’re a diesel engine as a substitute.

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