Discover more from Vectors of Mind
August Subscriber Post
How are you doing?
Welcome everyone who came from’s recommendation. He has a lot of good ideas, but I particularly like his articulation of Luxury Beliefs, such as when someone in a gated community says, “Defund the police.” They get to wear the righteous belief like a feather in their cap while not bearing the cost. Infuriating, but I guess we are only apes++.
For context, the Big Five is the best thing to happen to personality research, referenced by half a million papers since it was introduced in the 1990s. Professor Condon gave a talk to a packed room at the Association for Research in Personality (ARP) conference. There he laid out some misgivings about the Big Five, which raised the ire of one attendee so much that they asked a few questions and stormed out, unsatisfied. This is far more drama than usual at a psychometrics conference, and I’m glad to be involved. The second and fourth points on the slide above reference the Deep Lexical Hypothesis, which Condon and I wrote together. We found that even the original data used to derive the Big Five looked more like a Big Three, which language models corroborate1.
Now, the presentation was very measured. The Big Five is like the Imperial System; pointing out flaws is not the same thing as saying we should scrap the inch. However, I’d like to fan the flames a bit by pointing out that the Big Five is a CONSPIRACY. Or at least that is how one of the original researchers describes the model. At some point, I’ll write more about that (it’s normal science stuff—papering over uncertainty). But until then, check out the podcast with McCrae (who does use the word “conspiracy”).
I did a guest post for friend of the blog, who writes about embryo selection, among other things. Because I’m on my GFP-maximalist arc, we thought it would be interesting to write about embryo selection for mental health.
What I’m reading
Just finished’s new book The World Behind the World. On Amazon, the entire text of the only bad review is “Slow read: not an exciting read.” This is entirely false. It is the fastest read on the subject and over too soon. Hoel manages to include rare tidbits of scientific history—a princess debating Descartes, a Roman consul preempting modern arguments against free will before being tortured to death—while at the same time offering a sweeping review of the most persistent problem in science. Like Hofstadter in I Am a Strange Loop, Hoel explains how consciousness hinges on whether we can reduce the mind to individual neurons. However, he does so far more succinctly and moves on. Not at all a slow read! Worth buying the book and perusing his substack.
I’m also most of the way through Dionysos: Archetypal Image of Indestructible Life. This classic explores the many faces of an ancient god of death, rebirth, and madness. Like most in the Jungian school of comparative mythology, he’s more of a lumper than a splitter. Sometimes Zeus, Apollo, or Osiris are also Dionysus. As a diffusionist, this is fine by me, as it does seem various traditions share the same root, and there was a lot of overlap in the roles of the gods.
Supporting evidence for grand theories
One struggle is to write posts that stand alone but also support the EToC. These walk that line with varying degrees of success:
Straightforward relation to the Snake Cult; if snake mythology and self-awareness were part of a recent cultural package, then snake mythology should not go back 100,000 years. I compare my scenario to the peer-reviewed model (100,000-year-old root).
Similarly, if the human condition was a discovery and was originally taught via rituals, then there should be loads of evidence of diffusion of fundamental aspects of culture. In fact, there is, and there are two major camps in explaining this. Academics, as much as they engage, say the cultural root must go back 100,000 years to Africa. Then there is the Ancient Aliens crowd who believe our culture was seeded by Atlanteans or Extraterrestrials 10,000 years ago.
EToC is, in many ways, the ideological middle ground. It places the root ~30,000 years ago, among identifiable humans, but still keeps things fun with something like Lizard People. I’m not sure if I’m preaching to the choir or being persuasive but readers, as per the poll in the article, tend to agree with me at least on the timeline:
This is the most Byzantine of the lot, but still related to EToC. I play with ideas about the psychometric axis on which humans evolved, making the case that it was the GFP (Golden Factor of Personality).
The Bible was written by dozens of writers over millennia but maintains a narrative arc: a beginning, middle, and end. Genesis is the story of how humans came to be and why that is a bad thing. The New Testament rewrites this story and answers what to do about it. EToC holds that the creation story in Genesis is a real memory of events 10,000 years ago, written down 3,500 years ago. From there, it stands to reason that the New Testament writers 1,500 years later understood more than we (or at least I) give them credit for. In this piece, I explore that idea through the lens of Muraresku’s The Immortality Key. He argues that Jesus is one more incarnation of the death-and-rebirth gods like Osiris and Dionysus, traditions stretching far back into antiquity. This is also why I picked up the book on Dionysus and the indestructible life, as it is a more academic exploration of the “key to immortality,” as Muraresku calls it. “Those who die before they die will not die when they die.”
Leave a comment
So, let me know how you’re doing and what you’d like to hear more of. I haven’t forgotten the podcast; will likely start with an ML guest, as that is easiest for me.