Category Archives: technology

Best Nonfiction Books I Read in 2022

1. Time Loops: Precognition, Retrocausation, and the Unconscious (2018) by Eric Wargo

This is a fascinating book about the type of precognition often experienced in dreams, built off the work of J.W. Dunne. Author Eric Wargo provides numerous famous examples of precognitive dreams, often about traumatic events such as plane crashes or the sinking of the Titanic. Wargo claims such cases of precognition are actually “prememory”: your unconscious mind remembering a future memory, not of the event itself, but of your emotional reaction to learning news of the event. Both the author and I are aware of how crazy and “woo” this all sounds, but Wargo’s research is scientifically rigorous, and he walks a fine line of being both skeptical about paranormal claims but also open-minded to their possibilities (something I wish more on both sides of the paranormal/skeptical debate were willing to do).

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Free Speech is Essential to Find Truth

There is a growing debate between free speech and censorship on the internet. Many believe certain controversial figures with large followings should be banned from their platforms. But why would a tech company ban any single user entirely from its platform, so long as they aren’t breaking the law, no matter how controversial they are deemed to be? After all, “controversial” doesn’t mean “bad” or “wrong,” it just means provoking disagreement—meaning many agree. Though some users will indeed want a controversial user banned, many others will not—and most won’t care at all. Therefore, let the choice be up to each individual user for who they do and do not want to ban. If you don’t like what someone is saying, personally block them, and you’ll never have to hear from them again—but those who do like that user will still get to hear them. This way, everyone wins.

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Time is Money is Bitcoin

The idea of money is warped in most people’s minds. Cash has no inherent value. Neither does gold, diamonds, or anything else used as currency. The only thing in the world of true value is time. In that respect, every human being on the planet is born of equal worth. We all have an average of 80 years, or 30,000 days, or 720,000 hours, and every second of those hours is extremely valuable.

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How to Expand Your Attention Span

Many people today claim they don’t have the attention span, patience, or self-discipline to read dense books and long-form content. That is because they have become too accustomed to the quick short-form hyperactive content on the internet like tweets, Instagram stories, YouTube videos, memes, and TikToks. In this post, I wrote about breaking my Twitter addiction and focusing my efforts and time on reading books. I suggested Twitter and social media are like drugs in that they change your brain chemistry. That is not hyperbole. Social media changes your brain by shortening your attention span.

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Philip K. Dick’s Advice for Worldbuilding Science Fiction

The book The Shifting Realities of Philip K. Dick: Selected Literary and Philosophical Writings features several interviews and essays by author Philip K. Dick. In the following excerpt, PKD gives some helpful advice on worldbuilding for science fiction writers.

“This world must differ from the given in at least one way, and this one way must be sufficient to give rise to events that could not occur in our society — or in any known society present or past. There must be a coherent idea involved in this dislocation; that is, the dislocation must be a conceptual one, not merely a trivial or a bizarre one — this is the essence of science fiction, the conceptual dislocation within the society so that as a result a new society is generated in the author’s mind, transferred to paper, and from paper it occurs as a convulsive shock in the reader’s mind, the shock of dysrecognition. He knows that it is not his actual world that he is reading about.”

Philip K. Dick on worldbuilding a science fiction story
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DALL-E and the Future of Art

DALL-E is the new artificial intelligence project from OpenAI that is sweeping the internet. It is an AI that can instantly produce a unique image based simply on a text description. There seem to be few limits, as the AI can create multiple high-quality images of just about anything you can think of. This has many people fearing that DALL-E will spell the end of human artists. But are the images DALL-E produces even art? Can AI ever create art?

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Best Nonfiction Books I Read in 2021

Note: The books from this list that aren’t available online for free are available for purchase through my Bookshop.org page.

1) Human Action: A Treatise On Economics (1940) by Ludwig von Mises

This is the bible of Austrian economics by the grandfather of Austrian economics, Ludwig von Mises. Human Action is Mises’ magnum opus on economics, philosophy, and history—or more precisely, it’s about what Mises terms “praxeology”: the study of human action, which all economic activity boils down to. This is a long book (it took me half the year to get through, which is why there are fewer honorable mentions this year) but it was worth it. You will better understand the world today by reading this 82-year-old tome than by reading today’s newspapers.

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When Parasocial Relationships Become Real

Why do people freak out when they meet celebrities? I used to think it was ridiculous how fans go wild and lose their minds when they see their favorite singer/actor/athlete in person. But I have to admit, when I see a famous person in public, I feel an emotional reaction as well. Albeit not to the same extent. I don’t act crazy or run up for selfies and autographs, but I do have a surreal feeling of awe, like, wow, its really them. I used to think those who had extreme emotional reactions toward celebrities were immature or obsessed with fame—and maybe some are—but I don’t consider myself either, yet I still experience that surreal feeling.

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My Twitter Detox

I am a recovering Twitter junkie. I used to be addicted to the social media network—that is addicted to reading others’ tweets as opposed to tweeting myself. When I first joined Twitter in 2009 I would only read my timeline. I didn’t tweet anything myself until much later. At first I only followed a couple dozen people, but over time the number of people I followed grew and grew. I don’t know if it was some kind of obsessive compulsive trait of mine, but I felt a need to read every tweet in my timeline. When I woke up in the morning I’d scroll back through all the tweets I missed the previous night. Such a practice was manageable then because I wasn’t following too many people (in the dozens), and those I followed didn’t tweet too often.

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Social Media is the New Word of Mouth

The best form of advertising is word of mouth, and the new word of mouth is social media. The aim of social media companies is to make their users spend more time on their platforms in order to generate more ad revenue. The more time people spend online, the less time they spend with other people in person, which means less time for physical “word of mouth” interactions. Today, people have more interactions with other people on the internet than in real life, making social media the new “word of mouth”. (This was true before the Covid-19 pandemic which only compounded this effect further.)

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