May 2019 Meetup: Tradition vs. Modernity

When is it worth sacrificing “traditional” ways of doing things in the name of modernity, progress, clarity or efficiency?

Possible readings — SSC’s review of Seeing Like A State discussing (often argued to be failed) modernist attempts at improving “legibility” by scrapping traditional ways of life.

Chesterton’s Fence principle

Do you tend to side with valuing “time-tested” traditions, or you are more sympathetic to “reformers” and in what situations/contexts?

TOPIC 2 — How to rationally evaluate advice one receives from others?

It’s not uncommon to hear pieces of advice that conflict with one another. It’s temptingly easy to only heed the advice one likes to hear and discount the rest.

Since what advice works for one person, situation, time or place may totally backfire when applied to another, what’s a smart approach to evaluating advice?

Reading —

TOPIC 3 — Revisiting the previously suggested topic of the taxonomy of Goodhart’s law. (previously suggested for the March discussion)

Goodhart’s law is about how when you optimize for something using a proxy, that proxy can often “break” and no longer become a good measure, and the article discusses possible separate mechanisms why this happens.