The Betterment Institute

ideologies you choose.

About the project

betterment

noun

making or becoming better;

institute

verb, noun

a facility or habit to build, create, raise, or educate;

The word ideology is drenched with dark meaning. And yet, we are saturated with them. Rituals of thought, feeling, and action thrust upon us by the tiny sliver of the world we inhabit and the people with whom we have shared ideas. These are protective—graceful solutions to an impossibly complex world. Yet, remarkably dangerous left unexamined. Ideologies should be chosen, not ignored. Instituted with care, not by default. btrmt is about the ideologies you choose.

Projects

The Analects Image

Analects

analects

In order to choose ideologies, we must first examine them. The analects are a collection of examinations: long form Articles and videos exploring common ideologies and coming up with the sharpest possible version of those things. A particular cut on an idea, with the evidence considered and a decision made. You'll also find short form commentaries like the Marginalia which are my notes on interesting content around the web, or the Missives---the newsletter and the changelog, so you can keep track of what's happened since you were last here.

Curricula Image

Curricula

curricula

Many of our existing ideologies are filtered through an economy of shame, outrage, yearning, and terror. The narratives of growth we have left are increasingly superficial. Worse, the scholastic enterprise has gone a bit funny. A thousand proliferating disciplines, showering us with knowledge split into a million isolated fragments until "we know more and more about less and less". For these fragments to be truly useful, they should stem from an architecture of thought—an overarching set of beliefs we can trust to point even our errors in the right direction. The curricula are this: a collection of heuristics, or frames, through which we make some of the chaos into meaning while accepting that in doing so, we are choosing to make some meaning into chaos.

The Armchair Collective Logo

The Armchair Collective

armchr

Humans, of all the animals, have the greatest capacity for nurture. Our capacity to thrive is due to our ability to adapt, and our ability to adapt is merely a reflection of our ability to come together and share ideas. The Armchair Collective is a place to do just that.

Things to Read

Changelog

September 22, 2022

New articles over the last two months:

Everything is ideology

Spirituality of Mind

Newsletter


July 31, 2022

June 23, 2022

Overhauled article: the value of social comparisons.


Marginalia

There must be something outside of us that can sustain objects when we are not perceiving them, and account for the regularity of our perceptions. But this needn’t be a god in any recognizable sense. It need not be omnibenevolent, omnipotent, or omniscient. There is no reason it must contain desires, intentions, or beliefs, or even be an agent. What’s crucial for ensuring the persistence and stability of the cake closed in my fridge is simply that there be a unified experience that encompasses all aspects of it.


The U.S. military, designed as it is for offensive expeditionary operations, is ill-prepared for its principal mission of deterrence. Indeed, against nuclear-armed adversaries, several aspects of U.S. warfighting concepts have a high risk of escalation. Further, information and precision strike technologies have progressed to the point where the defense has become ascendant.


Against McAskillian Longtermism:

Whatever is wrong with utilitarians who advocate the murder of a million for a 0.0001 percent reduction in the risk of human extinction, it isn’t a lack of computational power. Morality isn’t made by us—we can’t just decide on the moral truth—but it’s made for us: it rests on our common humanity


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