An understandable failing?

I hereby precommit that this will be my last post, for a long time, around the twin themes of (1) the horribleness in the United States and the world, and (2) my desperate attempts to reason with various online commenters who hold me personally complicit in all this horribleness. I should really focus my creativity more on actually fixing the world’s horribleness, than on seeking out every random social-media mudslinger who blames me for it, shouldn’t I? Still, though, isn’t undue obsession with the latter a pretty ordinary human failing, a pretty understandable one?

So anyway, if you’re one of the thousands of readers who come here simply to learn more about quantum computing and computational complexity, rather than to try to provoke me into mounting a public defense of my own existence (which defense will then, ironically but inevitably, stimulate even more attacks that need to be defended against) … well, either scroll down to the very end of this post, or wait for the next post.


Thanks so much to all my readers who donated to Fund Texas Choice. As promised, I’ve personally given them a total of $4,106.28, to match the donations that came in by the deadline. I’d encourage people to continue donating anyway, while for my part I’ll probably run some more charity matching campaigns soon. These things are addictive, like pulling the lever of a slot machine, but where the rewards go to making the world an infinitesimal amount more consistent with your values.


Of course, now there’s a brand-new atrocity to shame my adopted state of Texas before the world. While the Texas government will go to extraordinary lengths to protect unborn children, the world has now witnessed 19 of itsborn children consigned to gruesome deaths, as the “good guys with guns”—waited outside and prevented parents from entering the classrooms where their children were being shot. I have nothing original to add to the global outpourings of rage and grief. Forget about the statistical frequency of these events: I know perfectly well that the risk from car crashes and home accidents is orders-of-magnitude greater. Think about it this way: the United States is now known to the world as “the country that can’t or won’t do anything to stop its children from semi-regularly being gunned down in classrooms,” not even measures that virtually every other comparable country on earth has successfully taken. It’s become the symbol of national decline, dysfunction, and failure. If so, then the stakes here could fairly be called existential ones—not because of its direct effects on child life expectancy or GDP or any other index of collective well-being that you can define and measure, but rather, because a country that lacks the will to solve this will be judged by the world, and probably accurately, as lacking the will to solve anything else.


In return for the untold thousands of hours I’ve poured into this blog, which has never once had advertising or asked for subscriptions, my reward has been years of vilification by sneerers and trolls. Some of the haters even compare me to Elliot Rodger and other aggrieved mass shooters. And I mean: yes, it’s true that I was bullied and miserable for years. It’s true that Elliot Rodger, Salvador Ramos (the Uvalde shooter), and most other mass shooters were also bullied and miserable for years. But, Scott-haters, if we’re being intellectually honest about this, we might say that the similarities between the mass shooter story and the Scott Aaronson story end at a certain point not very long after that. We might say: it’s not just that Aaronson didn’t respond by hurting anybody—rather, it’s that his response loudly affirmed the values of the Enlightenment, meaning like, the whole package, from individual autonomy to science and reason to the rejection of sexism and racism to everything in between. Affirmed it in a manner that’s not secretly about popularity (demonstrably so, because it doesn’t get popularity), affirmed it via self-questioning methods intellectually honest enough that they’d probably still have converged on the right answer even in situations where it’s now obvious that almost everyone you around would’ve been converging on the wrong answer, like (say) Nazi Germany or the antebellum South.

I’ve been to the valley of darkness. While there, I decided that the only “revenge” against the bullies that was possible or desirable was to do something with my life, to achieve something in science that at least some bullies might envy, while also starting a loving family and giving more than most to help strangers on the Internet and whatever good cause comes to his attention and so on. And after 25 years of effort, some people might say I’ve sort of achieved the “revenge” as I’d then defined it. And they might further say: if you could get every school shooter to redefine “revenge” as “becoming another Scott Aaronson,” that would be, you know, like, a step upwards. An improvement.


And let this be the final word on the matter that I ever utter in all my days, to the thousands of SneerClubbers and Twitter randos who pursue this particular line of attack against Scott Aaronson (yes, we do mean the thousands—which means, it both feels to its recipient like the entire earth yet actually is less than 0.01% of the earth).

We see what Scott did with his life, when subjected for a decade to forms of psychological pressure that are infamous for causing young males to lash out violently. What would you have done with your life?


A couple weeks ago, when the trolling attacks were arriving minute by minute, I toyed with the idea of permanently shutting down this blog. What’s the point? I asked myself. Back in 2005, the open Internet was fun; now it’s a charred battle zone. Why not restrict conversation to my academic colleagues and friends? Haven’t I done enough for a public that gives me so much grief? I was dissuaded by many messages of support from loyal readers. Thank you so much.


If anyone needs something to cheer them up, you should really watch Prehistoric Planet, narrated by an excellent, 96-year-old David Attenborough. Maybe 35 years from now, people will believe dinosaurs looked or acted somewhat differently from these portrayals, just like they believe somewhat differently now from when I was a kid. On the other hand, if you literally took a time machine to the Late Cretaceous and starting filming, you couldn’t get a result that seemed more realistic, let’s say to a documentary-watching child, than these CGI dinosaurs on their CGI planet seem. So, in the sense of passing that child’s Turing Test, you might argue, the problem of bringing back the dinosaurs has now been solved.

If you … err … really want to be cheered up, you can follow up with Dinosaur Apocalypse, also narrated by Attenborough, where you can (again, as if you were there) watch the dinosaurs being drowned and burned alive in their billions when the asteroid hits. We’d still be scurrying under rocks, were it not for that lucky event that only a monster could’ve called lucky at the time.


Several people asked me to comment on the recent savage investor review against the quantum computing startup IonQ. The review amusingly mixed together every imaginable line of criticism, with every imaginable degree of reasonableness from 0% to 100%. Like, quantum computing is impossible even in theory, and (in the very next sentence) other companies are much closer to realizing quantum computing than IonQ is. And IonQ’s response to the criticism, and see also this by the indefatigable Gil Kalai.

Is it, err, OK if I sit this one out for now? There’s probably, like, actually an already-existing machine learning model where, if you trained it on all of my previous quantum computing posts, it would know exactly what to say about this.

124 Responses to “An understandable failing?”

  1. Jon Awbrey Says:

    For sanity over the long haul, I find the historical perspectives of Heather Cox Richardson immensely helpful.

    https://m.facebook.com/heathercoxrichardson?tsid=0.2559591238296719&source=result

  2. Antoine Deleforge Says:

    For what it’s worth, I might not comment here often, but your blog has become one of my ~top 5 favorite websites on the Internet. So thank you! I am very glad you are not giving up.

  3. ND Says:

    Scott, I and essentially the entire population of moderately normal people in the world, think you’re a good guy. For your own sanity, stop arguing with internet trolls. Just ignore them. They are a vastly disproportionate vocal minority of narcissists. They have mental issues. It’s like arguing with the crazy homeless man on the street corner just because he’s the only one screaming at you.

  4. Ben Says:

    Thanks for not letting the trolls get to you.

  5. Rand Says:

    “The review amusingly mixed together every imaginable line of criticism, with every imaginable degree of reasonableness from 0% to 100%.”

    Right??? Like, obviously quantum computers are physically impossible, but who hasn’t pretended to have degrees from Harvard, Stanford, Caltech and MIT in order to hype up their start-up?

  6. Partisan Says:

    Scott, one reason I rarely comment is that I would have nothing to say but I totally agree with you- which is boring! But, let me take this time to say that I agree with everything you’ve said here, especially about the symbolic importance of doing something about mass shootings. And, I strongly urge you to hold fast to the pledge you made in this post, even if you are tempted to break it at some point in the future.

  7. JimV Says:

    Thanks again for all the good reading you’ve provided. I would die a very proud man if I had made a blog that was half as good. (Which of course is peanuts compared to all the great academic work you’ve done, but wouldn’t be in my case.)

    I had a friend who became bi-polar in his late 20’s or early 30’s, and then spent most of his time in a library on one of their computers writing angry blog comments (subsisting on a Social Security Disability Pension plus minimum wage jobs which he could not keep for long). I suspect there are many like him who can’t help it. Their minds just don’t work right any more.

  8. Alexis Hunt Says:

    Hi Scott,

    I remember reading your last post about this all with sadness and meaning to reply, but forgetting to, so I’d like to make it up to you now. A bit late, but hopefully better than nothing.

    I’ve enjoyed reading your blog for a long while. It started to stay abreast of quantum computing, naturally, but my background in the field consists of one (1) course and one (1) undergraduate research term on topics that seem largely separate from what you write about. (None of which was ever published because my supervisor and I, between the two of us, manage to exchangge information at a rate that asymptotically approaches zero as time trudges on.)

    I am a trans woman, and on many of your posts touching on the topics of free speech on campus and the like, I’ve often felt a little uncomfortable at your position, and about the consequences that similar positions have on others like me. Or might have on me personally, should I return to academia someday. I’ve even waded into the comments to argue once or twice.

    I often thought about dropping my subscription to your feed. I don’t have anything to do with quantum computing. Is it really worth the discomfort for me to read? But I never unsubscribed, and ultimately it’s because I need things that keep me from creating a bubble around myself. I was active in academic politics as a student, and learned a lot about what does (and doesn’t) drive academia, so I can empathise with your perspective in a way I often can’t with others. It’s often hard for me to be confident you’re wrong, even as I’m not sure you’re right, either. You always try to be respectful in your disagreement, which is important when it touches on such intensely personal and emotional matters. And when you make posts on political developments, I’m left with reassurance that we do agree completely on a lot of things, things we both believe are important. We aren’t that far apart in the end, even as we might passionately take opposite sides from time to time.

    All this is to say, really, that you’re the sort of person I want to be able to convince. Just enough outside my bubble to represent a challenge to my own beliefs, but not so far as to be an insurmountable obstacle. And I am grateful for that.

    And just in case the obvious needs saying, I denounce anyone harassing you or making personal attacks over it. They are not warranted, and definitely not okay. And I want to make clear to anyone who may: you do not speak in my name. Do not claim to. Because if you do, you *will* make an enemy of me.

    Scott, feel free to drop a line if you like. Who knows what kind of conversation might await? I promise I’ll try to have faster conversations than my ones with Chris.

  9. Mark James Says:

    Thanks for the blog Scott. I come for the physics, but stay for the humanity.

  10. Michael M Says:

    Thanks Scott for having this blog. I’ve always found it a great place for both math and open discussion. I think it’s a hard thing once you are popular on the internet. Saying the trolls are a small percentage is true, but for most people it’s very hard to not take things personally. Myself, sharing some of the nerd upbringing, find myself with debilitating fear of rejection, and am not sure I could personally handle seeing those messages of hate. Either I’d be hurt, or else find myself arguing with hate filled mental versions of these trolls all day.

    I and many other repeat customers do like this blog but would understand if it’s not mentally healthy. Maybe you could train an AI to automatically moderate some of the worst offending comments, haha.

    My last and possibly controversial thought would be this. Any thought to leaving TX? I used to think the goal should be to stay and fight, and not let red states become bubbles… But after recent news this year from Texas I am honestly not sure anymore if it’s worth it. Blue states have their problems too but at this point they don’t seem so bad.

  11. Scott Says:

    Thanks so much, everyone!

    I’m proud to say that, consistent with what I’m trying to lock in as my new approach to blogging and life, I just left a comment in moderation that argues at length that the Uvalde shooting was likely staged as a ploy to enact gun control, and that Joe Biden is so cartoonishly evil that it would be over-the-top for a fictional character. All in a tone of total, 100% certainty that I’m the irrational one for not seeing this.

    It’s not about censorship, it’s about how I personally choose to spend my limited time on earth.

  12. bruys Says:

    Even for a reader the various trolling and hate-filled remarks are hard to stomach. I keep coming back to your site as I enjoy your knowledgeable postings on academic subjects, and I also appreciate that you are a man with heart. You can’t ask for more – good on you Scott!

    It seems that any remarks on any topics other than technical ones, draw fire. Does that mean that one should stick to technical topics, even if comments are made in a sympathetic way as you do? Should commentary be left to confrontationists?

  13. MithrilGear Says:

    “Forget about the statistical frequency of these events”

    What? This is the first thing I remember you writing that makes me think less of your for having written it. Think about the kind of policies that would get proposed by people who says this sort of thing about college sexual harassment, for example. That’s what you’re sounding like now.

    “This isn’t as big of a deal as people are making it out to be” is always something that has to be considered, and sometimes “it’s tragic that it happens at all, but on balance the correct response is to change nothing” is the right answer. Since you bring up foreign perception, imagine how much better off the world and America would be right now if “do nothing” was our response to 9/11. It wouldn’t be ideal, but the actual response actually makes it look good by comparison! If anything, we should be concerned about remediating our national reputation as hysterical over-reactors with no sense of proportion or trade-offs, the opposite of what you’re saying.

  14. Scott Says:

    MithrilGear #13: LOL, I’m absolutely terrible at predicting which parts of my posts people will yell at me for! In today’s post, I would never have guessed it would be “school shootings are terrible and we need to do something about them.” 🙂

    I think that if “do nothing” had been our response to 9/11–well, it wouldn’t have mattered much long-term, because whichever party had been in power, it would’ve been voted out in a landslide in 2004 and replaced by the other party, running on a platform of “do something.” To imagine the American public accepting no retaliatory strike against Al Qaeda or the Taliban puts us deep into bizarro fantasyland, but supposing we were there, I can actually believe that we’d invite more and more audacious Al Qaeda strikes (including the destruction of the White House and Statue of Liberty, attacks on nuclear reactors, etc etc), because bin Laden would’ve reasonably concluded in such a case that the Great Satan must be teetering on the edge of collapse, far more than he’d imagined, and would just need a few more shoves to topple over.

    Of course, once we’d invaded Afghanistan, we’d have only terrible options, but in retrospect, simply maintaining a permanent American presence there to keep at bay the murderous medieval misogynists (real ones, as opposed to people who get called those names for disagreeing with some shibboleth on social media) … that may have been the least terrible of the options. The only good option was to have had the competent intelligence coordination that would’ve prevented 9/11 from happening.

    Needless to say, the invasion of Iraq was purely optional, justified by lies, and a strategic and humanitarian fiasco. I don’t know whether it could’ve been done well.

  15. Shmi Says:

    Congrats on leveling up! Feels like the most significant step (outside CS and physics) since the comment 171.

    If only Elon Musk could do the same, instead of engaging into unwinnable discourse online.

    Few people can find the right balance naturally and make it look effortless, Sean Carroll being one example that comes to mind.

  16. MithrilGear Says:

    Maybe bad wording on my part, but when I say, “do nothing”, I’m including “do normal things thru existing channels that we were already doing about this sort of thing before”. We were pursuing terrorists before, without the Patriot Act and a nation building expedition. And as I said, it wouldn’t be ideal. I’m highlighting the fact that it could even possibly be better than what we did as an example of where a gratuitous lack of proportion can lead.

    I think you’re underselling the absurdity of what you’d said. “Forget about the statistical frequency of these events”. Taken at face value, this means that the rate of school shooting fatalities could be x10 higher, or 10x lower, and be equally as urgent in both of those scenarios. For that matter, even if we implemented a policy that reduced it by 10x… you wouldn’t consider that a victory? Remember, we’re ignoring the rate. That’s not an approach that leads to sensible trade-offs.

    Really, we should actually be undoing anti-shooting policies we’ve already implemented. Active shooter drills, for example, which are plausibly doing more damage thru widespread, minor stress and anxiety than they’re helping, even supposing they help at all. But that’s the sort of thing you can only consider if you’re willing to consider the actual scope of the problem. And as tragic as these deaths are (like any deaths), it’s simply not something worth worrying about to the extent that people are. At least in the War on Terror, we’re talking about incentives and reputation, which don’t apply to school shooters. (Except in the sense that, in the mind of such a person, the mass media circus they follows their exploits is almost certainly a form of glorification.)

  17. Scott Says:

    MithrilGear #16: On reflection, I’d say—if we’d simply do the popular, reasonable things that nearly all of the world’s other countries do (e.g., not letting any random 18-year-old buy an AR-15), and if we’d thereby make school shootings (and the resulting national traumas) as rare as they are in all those other countries, we would’ve fulfilled our primary obligation here. It’s our inability to take that trivial step that grates.

    I agree with you that active shooter drills in schools seem, empirically, to be totally ineffective and might even be making things worse.

  18. MithrilGear Says:

    Setting aside the merit of any specific proposal, you may just be over-estimating how popular more gun control actually is: https://www.cnn.com/2022/05/25/politics/republicans-gun-control-uvalde/index.html

    Americans just actually support the status quo more than the people of foreign countries would.

  19. Ben Toner Says:

    Another thank you for continuing to blog, from one of the many Scott-appreciators who hardly ever comment.

  20. wolfgang Says:

    >> Back in 2005, the open Internet was fun; now it’s a charred battle zone.

    Yes, and I still don’t really understand where we went wrong – but the story of the Tower of Babel comes to mind …

  21. HasH Says:

    As a former bully (when I was teen), our “bullying” system way different than US. We are allowed to fight with other bullies to prove our masculinity. Only weak (I don’t want use bad words here) attack weak kids. Attacking physically or mentally problem kids considered horrible horrible action and guaranteed outcast from neighborhood (plus beat by older brothers).
    Even we (I) think we were “good” bullies.. I know and I feel shame for my violent past. BUT our life can change with genius and dedicated scientists words. Mine did! First person was Karl Marx. Dedicated life for “others” specially for “working class” people, living in deadly circle trying to survive.
    Books after books, met with Hawking, Asimov, Sagan, Penrose and more.. Not sayin I understood everything what they wrote but they helped me expand my mind about life and universe. Helped me imagine from dark, extremely violent corner of Ghetto to Internationalism to Universalism.
    Waited genius minds books to translate our language and wait longer to hit street for cheaper (used) versions. This is how you guys helped me (us) to walk away from crime path to finish university and help “others” to feel less embarassed for our past.
    You can’t leave arena to “evil”. They kicked me out from 3 university because resist against fascistm, assimilation, forcing us to reject our cultural identity, forbid our language, defending atheism/agnostism in an Islamic state, beat by cops, tortured by soldiers, die in prisons but strongly believe REAL SCIENTISTS like you guys will continue search and find solutions for better future.
    I feel shame for my violent past. I try find and publicly apologize from every kid I may scared on social media. Even I know I didn’t hurt them physically. All because of beautiful mind like you and other scientist humble enough to stay in conatct with ordinary people! You even answered my stupid questions via email.
    My apology for primitive English not enough to explain how important your (and people like you) works. May be one day you visit my city and I find translator to thank you with proper words.
    Peace from overseas!

  22. Woke leftist Says:

    The USA does NOT have a mass shooting problem. Though it does have a mass hysteria problem.

    1. Statistics from e.g FBI, show that there are 51.2 deaths per year in the USA from mass shootings (in the years 2000-2020). This is a small number.

    2. Several european countries have more deaths per capita than the USA from mass shootings.

    https://worldpopulationreview.com/country-rankings/mass-shootings-by-country

  23. Marc Briand Says:

    Not saying you shouldn’t be posting about social issues (it’s your blog, you should be able to talk about whatever you want), but I do miss the posts about quantum computing. As a lay person who is deeply curious about physics, I am frustrated by the gap in reading material available to people like me. On one side of the gap is popular science writing, which tends to be simplistic, ambiguous, and riddled with errors. On the other side of the gap is academic literature, which is too dense for me to comprehend. In the past you have done a pretty good job of bridging that gap, which may or may not be a goal of yours, but I hope it is.

  24. John Cherniavsky Says:

    Sorry for the online abuse you are getting – it’s not worth even reading. One solution is to ask for payment to access your content – other popular bloggers have done that and substantially reduced abuse (Sabine H. for example). I certainly would pay a reasonable fee. You aren’t going to get rich, but the reduction in abuse might be worth it.

  25. Scott Says:

    Thanks so much, everyone!

    Dana, when I informed her of what I did get flak for in this thread: “like, why not have a lottery where you choose one per month to be killed? This would also be statistically insignificant. It’s just what it would say about the society that allows it.” (She also brought up Israel’s famous habit of 300:1 or 500:1 prisoner swaps.)

  26. JimV Says:

    I wish neuroscientists could examine people like the commenter who thinks Uvalde was a false flag operation. Having seen a decent person turn delusional myself, it seems to me that the simplest explanation is a mental dis-function. The brain, like any other organ, is subject to maladies. The great tragedy is that in the case of other organs, the subject’s brain can understand there is a problem and seek remedies, but for some brain disorders, the subject cannot understand anything is wrong, having lost some reasoning ability. As far as I know from the experience I had, available drugs merely dull down the feelings and impulses, without restoring competent reasoning. (My friend was diagnosed and prescribed thorazine and other drugs. He felt better without the drugs and stopped taking them.)

    His brain has showed him Jehovah and Satan so he “knows” they exist. (Just as we know facts we have experienced.) There is no way to change his mind by debate.

    It is one of a long list of things, including in my case “long covid”, that needs a lot of further study with the hope of preventing them in the future. Meanwhile all I can do is feel sorry for the afflicted, and play tennis with my friend occasionally until I moved to another town for other reasons. (Every offer of help that implied he had a problem was rejected with anger.)

  27. Mike Bacon Says:

    Don’t take things too personally Scott. Seriously, but not personally. Easier said than done of course, but to the extent you can do it, you’ll be happier.

  28. Nilima Nigam Says:

    Scott, as ‘one of the thousands of readers who come here simply to learn more about quantum computing and computational complexity’, first a big thank you for this blog! QC and complexity were unknown fields to me, and I have learned so much from this blog.

    Also, I’m very sorry – truly – about the stupidly vicious stuff you’ve somehow been a lightening rod for. As you correctly point out, reasoning with one’s intellectual adversaries in a bid to attain better access to truths is noble. Trying to reason with trolls is to commit a category error, it’s like trying to teach a laundry basket how to sing.

    The bigger world out there is full of good people who (like you!) are trying to make their corner of the universe a little bit better. We don’t have the answers, but we certainly want to make our kids proud!

    Your kids should be so very proud of how much you’ve accomplished, in real terms, to help living students, actual scientists, and real people. Even when they are teenagers who roll their eyes at your utter uncoolness and profound cluelessness (like mine do), your kids should know you demonstrably and publicly try to live by the Enlightenment ideals you hold dear.

    So thanks again, and keep the QC/computational complexity posts coming, please!

  29. Tim McCormack Says:

    Scott, I applaud this commitment, and I think it will serve you well. In *particular*, part 2 will serve you well. I would actually welcome hearing from you on the problems of the world, but I understand if stopping that goes part and parcel with reducing time spent on detractors.

    Also, not giving trolls (and those indistinguishable from trolls) a platform is perfectly honorable, and will also improve the comment section. 🙂 The trolls can always get their own blog, for better or worse. And if they want people to read it, they’ll have to say something interesting; they won’t be able to freely spend your reputation in order to do so.

  30. John K Clark Says:

    Scott, I don’t think you should be upset if some mouth breathing dimwit doesn’t like you, in fact I think the opposite is true; if an imbecile thinks you’re doing a great job then and only then would it be time to re-examine the choices you made in your life. I can’t prove it but I strongly suspect that most if not all of your critics would just love to be Scott Aaronson.

    John K Clark

  31. Randy Says:

    A company called Crotega has introduced an AI-involved system that can hit a shooter entering a building with a chemical spray. Of course it can’t protect against all situations. It is like an added deterrent. Of course it will stoke AI fears, too. However, it is a system that now exists, versus a still-hypothetical version of the USA with significantly changed gun laws.

  32. Douglas Knight Says:

    It’s become the symbol of national decline, dysfunction, and failure.

    Is it the foreign perception? Should it be?
    I think homelessness would be a much better choice of American shame, but I don’t know how we are seen.

  33. JimV Says:

    “Woke Leftist”, From your same website:

    “Mass shootings are part of the larger issue of overall gun violence, which is notably higher in the United States than in other wealthy and developed countries. Countries with similar levels of gun-related deaths tend to be still-developing countries mired in violent civil unrest, revolution, or war.

    The U.S. endures the most mass shootings in the world, with—depending upon one’s definition of a mass shooting (see next section)—somewhere between 21 and more than 600 in 2020. A 2015 Politifact article correcting then-President Barack Obama’s statement that no other advanced country experiences mass shootings like the U.S. cited data from 2000 to 2014 to prove that mass shootings do indeed happen in other advanced countries. However, the article conceded that the U.S. experienced 133 shootings during that period, while the next-highest total was Germany with six.”

    It goes on to say that the definition of what is counted as a “mass shooting” varies widely from country to country so that the comparison it provides of data published by each country is not scientific.

  34. MithrilGear Says:

    “It’s just what it would say about the society that allows it.”

    We don’t allow it; school shootings are already illegal. You’re using “allow it” to mean “don’t make unlimited sacrifices (of things I don’t personally care about) to stop it.” I don’t think you’d fall for this kind of reasoning in any other context, why are you doing it for this?

  35. OhMyGoodness Says:

    The single greatest achievement of the Internet is that it has removed all doubt that we are surrounded by imbeciles.

    Many people appreciate a creative insult even at their own expense. The repetitive commercial grade Internet insults have zero value and only provide a view into simple ugly minds that have access to a keyboard.

    The best insults I have seen here was the one about a shitburger with carefully nuanced jalapenos and the ones related by a poster that were leveled at her on Sabine Hossenfelder’s blog, creative insults that have value. Dr. Aaronson’s insults of Trump supporters also have high comedic content. The usual stuff is just disturbing noise.

  36. Scott Says:

    MithrilGear #34: It’s true that I don’t care about the “value” of mentally ill 18–year-olds being able to buy unlimited assault rifles, no questions asked. It’s true that I’m more than happy to sacrifice that “value.” But crucially, this is not just some personal idiosyncrasy: ~70% of Americans feel the same way, just like ~70% support Roe v Wade. The fact that policy is moving in the opposite direction—that the 20% or 25% furthest to the right now get to dictate it—is due to a well-documented breakdown of the mechanisms of democracy itself. It would be an understatement to say that that’s the real issue here.

  37. Anon Says:

    Hi Scott,

    First off, the haters are fools — you’re fantastic. I’ve low-key looked up to you for a long time, first hearing about you as “the most famous alumnus” of a summer program that I attended and then reading your blog a couple of times a year since then. I’ve broadly agreed with the vast majority of what you’ve written, and I want to thank you for expressing all of this so publicly even after the internet turned into the virtue-signaling, engagement-chasing hellhole that it is today. That wasn’t easy to do — after all, even I am self-censoring here because I don’t feel like wading into the kind of harassment that you’re receiving.

    I am grateful that I spent mercifully little time “in the valley of darkness”, bullied just for being a nerd, as you put it. My time there hurt, but was much shorter than yours from the sounds of it, and I never had to withstand the barrage of harassment that you got for being a publicly outspoken about it all. Fortunately, both you and I came out the other end trying to be a force for good in the world. But then, of course we would — we’re awesome.

    …but.

    Lately my motivation to do good has waned. I look around and I see people tearing down the best among us. Charitable giants such as yourself, or Vitalik Buterin, or Sam Bankman-Fried are vilified because… I dunno, people find it easy to take potshots at you guys to score cheap points? They’re mad because some unrelated parts of Crypto are scams and Sam/Vitalik made a bunch of money in that field? They’re mad because you honestly expressed the pain that a lot of nerds have to go through as they figure out whether or not they’re going to die alone and unloved, and that runs counter to the narrative that only one side can be victimized here?

    Contrawise, half of the country thinks Donald F’in Trump is someone to look up to. Worse still, it’s not just total idiots doing these things — what are Peter Thiel and Elon Musk doing carrying water for a party carrying out an ongoing effort to undermine voting, the most fundamental tenant of democracy? Totally bonkers.

    Lately I’ve been wondering if maybe humanity just sucks, and broadly speaking isn’t worth saving? We’ve got a pretty neat brain architecture, but maybe at the end of the day our neural network isn’t actually all that well trained to recognize and act in the interests of moral good. I haven’t reached a conclusion on this, and I’m not arguing in favor of becoming a sociopathic supervillian here, but like… it’s really tempting to just chill on a beach, figure out the secrets of the universe, mentor some young nerds a bit, and play with my darling kitty cat all day until AI/Nuclear Weapons/Fascism/Old Age does me in. Effective Altruism is great and all, but have we tried Ineffective Selfishness? :trollface:

    I feel like I must be being short-sighted here, because I still think I would act in support of good during truly desperate moral crises like the US Civil War, Nazi Germany, or the Russian brutality against Ukraine. But on anything less clear-cut than that, it seems like action just means spending your life attacked by hordes on both the left and the right no matter what you do publicly. Probably, this has been true throughout history — I can’t say for sure that it’s worse today than it was 100 years ago. Still, it’s hard to fight when you know you’ll be vilified by the very people that you’d like to help.

    Anyway, thanks again for all of the conviction and clarity you’ve shown over the years. I’m sorry that the jerks have ground you down — you’ve been remarkably resilient to it, honestly. You’ve earned as much rest as you’d like.

  38. Gadi Says:

    First of all, sorry.
    Since you decided to put me in moderation, and whatever I’m writing seems to cause you distress, which isn’t my intention, I suggest this.

    I’m going to write a list of sha256 hashes of plain ascii text of things I think are possibly going to happen, from my observation and reasoning. If they happen, I’ll reveal the text. It will be up to you to determine if my ability to predict these back in 30 May 2022 means anything, and whether you’re interested in my reasoning. If they don’t happen, the hashes can’t hurt you. Most of them are in the range of a few years. I’m not looking to harm or bully or troll you. Just intelligent conversation. And I genuinely care and like you. Please continue blogging and don’t take everything so personally. I’m not doing this to say ‘I told you’, I’m just doing this because I don’t want to cause you distress in the present, but saying ‘I knew it!’ in the future is also unbelievable.
    And remember, most of it is outside our control.

    generated in python by:
    [hashlib.sha256(x.encode(“ascii”)).hexdigest() for x in l]

    [‘0b5b8d687d91057904c2481b612d391062722b6c73e4744da703e7bcc805fb6a’, ’99cf1afa62cfdfacb28125e0ad79959676fda62ac136343505abdb3106817a35′, ‘3fc1014a8eccd235a73b8c3fe6504391dcf80e7a5c02faf884667d6d065c1fa5’, ‘072ec1c2b271d0f42df15967d88318cf6c87c61a650438275593c31723ddb954’, ‘117bf951b5d592834cecabd7739c006433b9c80f42b74f8f4496e4f02520154a’, ‘ba4a42070b43b0d9ba1cb49d0ee79728d6ec11b023a669758d7e4965a4bac86b’, ‘735dcb86d22330717f4194af77917095dc8783f1057b18cdfeb689097cf72bca’, ‘5c5067e68f9e9b40093b54e4f55901310bf2459d6df69c1dbfb0a62cdb699613’, ‘52006752d7159ebb119506264c45c492edbcd40154ac9cbf892842c4eef2f14c’, ‘fca3411b54d0db9ba5fbb53db37ce0bf204df843064acfc5dc8dc2d15d98da21’, ‘8db95973dcfd9bacb1d452e7e871f5f608a095ae2b1e0c5877f1efa07b2a0e88’, ‘e7a3c65e7cef4ebbf5991dc4c0ea06fef49c9b26ffeef87c4a2a36a211b4f57b’, ‘ed12400ce7db39660958ea3fa37f20a3852963c48b9be1861045b3ec1fa9fad4’, ‘007fc7bc6e78a09bed9d888580c0705ce595be0f73bb5d44d14ee97c63ac6dcc’]

  39. MithrilGear Says:

    And to clarify, you have confidence in the US mental health care system to identify the “mentally ill”, and in US law to correctly distinguish between those forms of “mental illness” that mean you shouldn’t have a gun, without catching tens or hundreds of thousands of others in its net to catch the tiny number of potential mass shooters?

    Hell, I could have been diagnosed with a “mental illness” that could, at some point in future, retroactively preclude me from having a gun, if some people get their way, and this was just another factor in delaying treatment for the sake of avoiding having a “mental health history” if I could possibly manage to. (I only side-stepped the issue at the last minute because it turned out to be one of those maximally convenient mental illnesses with a direct and treatable physiological cause.)

  40. pete Says:

    MithrilGear:

    I would start by banning assault rifles, not by banning them for people with mental illness. As a precursor, I would overturn the 2nd amendment.
    Canada is doing very well on gun policy now.
    Did you read the 911 calls by the children trapped in the classroom?

  41. Woke leftist Says:

    JimV,

    1. The relevant data is per capita.

    (perhaps you should realize for example, that NYC alone has as many people as the country of switzerland).

    2. Counting the number of mass shootings is pointless. You should count the number of deaths.

    Why should I care if a person shot a thousand bullets and hit nothing but air?

    3. There are on average 51.2 deaths per year from mass shootings in the USA. The reaction of many americans is as if armagedon has arrived. Mass hysteria is a much much bigger problem than mass shootings. In fact, it is very likely that this mass hysteria causes more suicides per year than 51.2.

  42. Michael Says:

    I really don’t know why you are so obsessed with these internet bullies. Anyone with a computer can splatter nastiness towards you. Also, when you make yourself vulnerable by talking about deeply personal stuff to 5 zillion people, of course the dregs of the internet will go after you. But you know, the flip side of this is that you are willing to engage just about anyone, and in the long run you’ve probably built a lot of positive connections with your engaging outgoing attitude towards life. So I’d just accept that the haters are part of what happens when you’re an internet celebrity (of sorts) and just don’t get too wrapped up in what they send in your direction.

  43. JimV Says:

    “Woke Leftist”, here are two more quotes from the website you linked to:

    “In 2016, for example, 37,353 gun deaths occurred in the United States. Of these, 22,938 were suicides, and 14,415 were homicides. Within the homicides, 71 were classified as the result of a mass shooting.”

    “For example, the United States Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) defines a mass shooting as a single attack that happens in a public place and in which three or more people are killed with a firearm. However, most other stat trackers require at least four fatalities. As a result of these mismatched definitions, database-to-database differences are both common and confounding.”

    So a) the USA gun deaths are a much bigger tragedy than mass shootings alone, and b) most of the deaths per million shown at the website are not compiled on the same basis as the USA numbers.

    I personally reserve the right to deplore a single mass-shooting event that could have been prevented or ameliorated by banning assault rifles for non-military use. People who want to shoot assault rifles can join the military for a term of service and receive training. People who want to protect their homes, can, as Wilt Chamberlain recommended in a (ghosted) autobiography I read, buy a shotgun. People who want the thrill of hunting can try bow-hunting as a real test of skill. (I know a bow-hunter who kills one deer a year, and he and his family eat it.)

  44. Job Says:

    I have run tests on various QCs on AWS, including IonQ and the critique doesn’t match my experience.

    IonQ’s error rate is surprisingly good for a QC in this NISQ era.

    I actually thought the IonQ’s performance was a bit too good to be true, like they were just using a simulator and adding synthetic noise, to give you an idea (not claiming that’s what they’re doing).

    IIRC the Rigetti machine had much worse performance, more along the lines of what I was expecting.

    Also, some of the criticism seems a bit contrived. Like, the IonQ on AWS may have only 11 qubits, but they have full connectivity, which really improves circuit depth and overall fidelity.
    Do researchers not value connectivity as much? It’s a big deal for me.

    It does take a day or more for a submitted task to execute which is really discouraging when you’re trying to iterate.

    And yeah, it’s nowhere near the hyped up claims, big surprise.

  45. Lazar Ilic Says:

    You are one of the Greatest Of All Time and it is inspiring you read and take stands in public with your status. You personally helped me and some other lonely young men out there realise that language is of paramount importance. And being in that position one ought to watch it, stay strong, and be a Goodly Good Good guy who does rise to the moral level of caring about others and trying to not be offensive, dehumanising. Instead promote brotherhood, inclusiveness, and general social concern.

  46. Vladimir Says:

    MithrilGear #34: I’d say this is because on certain issues, most prominently abortions and gun control, Americans (both Republicans and Democrats) are almost completely incapable of having a rational discussion. The tribalism is too strong.

  47. Lorraine Ford Says:

    I want to thank Scott for being so honest about himself; I am certain that this is helpful to numerous other people out there on the Internet.
    …………………………….

    I’m not American, but I come from a shootin’ fishin’ family; and incidentally, I have relatives with young children living in Texas. To those gun owners, and gun-believers out there: yours is a truly dystopian vision of the world. A world where it is apparently necessary to have security guards on alert and on duty at children’s schools to stop the children being shot. Is it possible for people to craft, and work towards implementing, a slightly more utopian vision of the world?

  48. Ken Says:

    You obviously work very hard, with great self-examination and intelligence, to try to do the right thing. It’s not lost on most of us. People attacking you have their own issues, and have plugged you into a slot in their mental universe where you don’t belong, and are attacking *that*. You put yourself in a public position, some such people will find you. Please don’t be disheartened by that. You know, and we know, that you’re doing your best to be moral, reasonable, and compassionate.

  49. Michel Says:

    Mark James #9: Exactly my feeling. For me from CS/maths to humanity.

    And Scott, do not forget: Some medicines to keep people healthy are measured in microgrammes/milligrammes. That is parts per 100 million in body weight. How many sane voices are needed to keep humanity intact? (Lamed waw maybe?)

  50. OhMyGoodness Says:

    JimV#43

    I don’t understand the view that European gun control laws have stopped mass shootings considering the 2011 Brevik summer camp shooting in Norway that took the lives of 77 young people, the Beslan school siege in which 186 children were murdered, and the 2015 Paris attacks that resulted in 130 deaths. These shootings were in countries with populations far less than the US and so have high per capita impact. There are many more under reported that resulted in four or more deaths that had much higher per capita impacts than if in the US.

    My conclusion is that the gun laws enacted in Europe (many of these enacted between WW1 and WW2) have not eliminated directed mass casualty incidents.

    I don’t understand the view that the expression of human madness by way of killing others as shockingly as possible is limited to the use of a single instrumentality (assault weapons). Not considering 911 the largest purposeful mass casualty event in the US was the Oklahoma City bombing that killed 169 including many children. The bomb was constructed with readily available materials. The more recent Brussels bombings killed 32. Now we come to the latest instrumentality-motor vehicles driven through crowds. The 2016 Nice truck attack killed 86 and the Waukesha attack that killed 5 and injured 18 children. You also have the kindergarten knife attacks in China.

    My conclusion is that the expression of madness by mass killing of innocents is not limited to use of a single instrumentality.

    The US murder and directed mass casualty rates in fact do pale in comparison to many of our neighboring countries to the south.

    I agree that Europe has experienced lower school shootings but schools there have adopted common sense and pragmatic measures of security fencing to control ingress and egress from school grounds and full time security officers on site. The US spends by far the highest amount per student on public education in the world (you can judge the result) and unconscionable that common sense school security measures adopted elsewhere have been ignored in the US.

    I haven’t looked at any studies of violence against children and murder of children that occurs not on the basis of mass school shootings but day by day and week by week in the US. I expect the numbers there dwarf mass school shootings.

  51. Michel Says:

    Douglas Knight #32: Yes, it is how we percieve the US – at least considering it’s gun laws. And it’s change in abortion laws. Because your (local) laws allow or -in some US states – even actively facilitate the acquisition of military assault rifles. In other countries also terrible things happen, but at least these are not facilitated or promoted by an NRA.

  52. OhMyGoodness Says:

    Also-I don’t know how these police people can live with the consequences of their (in)actions. I don’t believe I could.

  53. Yoni Says:

    Scott

    As a long time reader, but only occasional commenter, on your blog, please please don’t close this blog down. It’s such a great mix of education on matters I can barely get my head around and commentary on really interesting / important topical and social issues. It may seem like there are so many haters out there but I am pretty convinced that the supporters vastly outnumber them.

    Theory: if you disagree / hate a blog writer you are orders of magnitude more likely to comment than if you agree with them. In my case this is certainly true. May I suggest that you consider every hit your blog gets that is not accompanied by a snarky comment to be from someone who would write a positive comment but maybe doesn’t want to congest the comment section. That’s usually the case with me (and you can count at least one hit on each post to have been from me!)

    Thanks, a long time fan (and while nowhere near as famous, also a once nerdy, “will i ever find a female who has the least interest in me”, self conscious kid).

  54. fred Says:

    On dinosaurs and CGI.

    When I was a small kid in the 70s, one of my defining “science” moments was when my parents bought me a dinosaur book that had actual photographs in it, staged with life-like models of dinosaurs in the middle of carefully set up natural scenes. To a gullible child it looked totally realistic, as good as any actual Nat-Geo wild life book.
    So for quite a while I was really convinced that we had a way to photograph things in the distant past!

  55. fred Says:

    The main issue with the second amendment is that it was written at a time when the *musket* was the state-of-the-art weaponry, and a musket-carrying militia could oppose an evil musket-carrying US army.

    200 years later the Glock and the AR15 have now replaced the musket… and they’re totally overkill in the context of inter-citizen interactions, but close to useless against the full might of the US military.

  56. OhMyGoodness Says:

    fred #55

    This issue could essentially finalize the two state solution in the US. Urbanites typically have little to no experience with firearms but are experts on gun crime. When the response time for police is measured in hours rather than minutes then perceptions about what is sufficient in terms of weapons changes measurably. To have a commander in chief that terms 9 mm an unnecessary high powered round points out just how far apart the cultures are in the US. To suggest that 22 caliber is sufficient for personal needs is patently absurd for most of the US.

    If all guns other than 22 caliber were to be outlawed then I believe some parts of the US would no longer be habitable by typical citizens. The southern border, as an example, would be a very dangerous place to live. For rural areas of the US the family has de facto responsibility for protecting the homestead when things go bump in the night. Intruders are not armed with muskets nor 22’s.

  57. OhMyGoodness Says:

    I can’t wait to see Biden convince those that live in grizzly country that a 22 is more than sufficient for their personal protection needs.

  58. Grad student Says:

    Without knowing what #38’s original, moderated comment said (but Scott’s summary seems to make it clear that I disagree), I’m just happy that this blog gets such a specific type of conspiracy theorist that they take the approach of posting hashes of predictions! Surely cultivating this kind of audience is something Scott can be proud of.

  59. OhMyGoodness Says:

    For comparison purposes the 22 caliber has typical muzzle energy of 300 ft lbs and the 9mm 350-400 ft lbs. The 44 magnum is typically used (at a minimum) where there are grizzlies and it has muzzle energy of 900-1200 ft lbs.

    The common criticism of the 9 mm has been that it is underpowered with insufficient stopping power for personal defense.

  60. Nick Says:

    I value this blog (highly) for the theoretical computer science and discussion of current developments in quantum computing. In addition to being a world-class researcher, you are an extremely good/witty expositor and writer. Thank you.

    I don’t have any idea what it would be like to have thousands of unhinged trolls coming after you on the internet (I’m sure it sucks and I’m sorry you have to deal with it), but I hope you can ignore them. Or if ignoring them is psychologically impossible (I can see how it would be), then as you suggest in the first sentence of your post, it seems like the only thing to do is just stop publicly commenting on political/social matters for a long while. It is such an absurd waste of human energy and creativity, for you to be responding to or even thinking about these things. It’s like an eminent physicist arguing with flat-earthers. Or some obviously decent person defending themselves against accusations of eating babies from people online who don’t know anything about them. The comparison of you to aggrieved mass-shooter types is one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard. But unlike many other stupidities in our world, it’s pretty inconsequential–it’s just trolling one person. It doesn’t need to be refuted; it should just be ignored. You have contributed so much good to the world as an intellectual (and, I’m sure, as a parent, teacher, and person). You’ll be able to continue doing that for many decades to come. I hope you can waste as little energy as possible (maybe even none?) on this in the future.

    You do not need to defend yourself, I’m very sorry you have to deal with this, and thanks again all your wonderful work in CS research and exposition.

  61. Gabriel Says:

    Obviously I’m Not Defending Aaronson, but I hope he continues to write things in his spare time so I can read them. I don’t agree with everything you write, Scott, but I almost never feel as if I’ve wasted my time reading it, and that’s more than I can say of a lot of things these days. And as I age I’m starting to think that being exposed to intelligent things you don’t agree with is one of the most important things you can do.

    (also, you are a smart dude, and I DO agree with a lot of what you say, which makes me feel smart, too. underrated.)

  62. Dan Staley Says:

    1) Please consider this comment to be yet another show of support for you and your blog – I don’t agree with everything you write, but I could not agree more with your central tenant of valuing humanity and rejecting the dehumanization of anyone.

    2) After your last post, there was an interesting discussion in the comments about whether these aggressive sneers were from people who genuinely hated you, or just trolls trying to provoke a reaction. I wanted to point out a third possibility – these are people doing it for the upvotes, likes, shares, and similar social media points.

    People like that shot of dopamine that comes with the attention, and some see this sort of thing as a way to gain “influence” of one kind or another, whether for egotistical or more strategic reasons. Snarky hate is one of the most reliable way to accumulate these fake internet points, and under this theory you’re basically just a convenient target.

  63. Matt P Says:

    Been coming to your blog for many years now. You’re one of the top 3 things I read on the internet other than mainstream news. Keep on truckin’, you’re amazing! Or I might even say heroic.

    And I’d be quite happy if you’re able to stick to your pre-commitment and ignore the trolls.

  64. Lorraine Ford Says:

    OhMyGoodness #59:
    Is this the sorry state that the US has come to, where the inhabitants need to calculate what calibre gun they need to carry, just to live a normal life? No other country does that.

  65. OhMyGoodness Says:

    Lorraine Ford#64

    You demonstrate my point. My calculations were in the context of those that live in close contact with grizzly bears. You clearly don’t and so you interpret the calculation as representative of something negative and uncivilized. It is just the reality that some people live with, but certainly not those in urban centers.

    I question the truth of your statement in a broader context. Many countries in the world have substantial populations that know a 22 is worthless for most game and for personal protection. Israel is an example, so your broad statement that “No other country does that.” is false. Your statement is largely true for Eurocentric urban centers.

  66. Baeraad Says:

    Anon #37:

    I would like to sincerely and unironically encourage this idea. I can’t tell you how much my life has improved since I finally, and with difficulty, gave up the notion that there is an epic battle between Good and Evil going on and that I have the right and the duty to place myself on the right side.

    Oh, it felt icky at first, but the more studiously I ignored the moral implications of what I was doing, the more happy and at peace I felt. I’m not even as afraid of practical consequences as I was. Oh, I might still suffer at the hands of angry, self-righteous people – that I’m trying to ignore them doesn’t mean that they’ll always ignore me. But then, I’m also going to die one day, and there’s nothing I can do to prevent that. So why worry about other things that I also can’t prevent? Heck, given how incompetent these people have proven to be, I think I have a decent chance to escape their notice until I die of natural causes, as long as I keep my head down and practice some basic caution.

    And no, I wouldn’t intervene in Nazi Germany or the Ukraine conflict either. That might result in me getting shot. I feel very strongly that I don’t want to get shot. I would, by and large, also prefer that no one else got shot, but if someone’s going to get shot I am going to do whatever I can to make sure it’s not me.

  67. Quantum Computers: A Brief Assessment of Progress in the Past Decade | Combinatorics and more Says:

    […] now that Scott Aaronson outsourced this very post of mine for quantum computing commentary, I will end with a quote of Scott taken from the interesting […]

  68. Michel Says:

    OhMyGoodness #65: Excellent comparision. I choose to invade (or just share) territory originallly lived in by other people (either grizzly or Palestinians, ) and hence I need an over caliber 22 gun to protect myself. Or do I miss out something here?

    Self protection is a good thing, but differs from self defence. Defence assumes attach risk, how come?

  69. Another anon Says:

    Oh my goodness, the caliber of a gun doesn’t make a difference if you don’t shoot it. do you have any data on:

    # Law abiding americans killed per year because they shot at a criminal with a gun of too small a caliber? Or for that matter, number of law abiding Americans whose lives were saved by shooting a criminal. See https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/hicrc/firearms-research/gun-threats-and-self-defense-gun-use-2/ for some statistics

    # Americans killed per year because they shot at a Grizzly bear with a gun of too small caliber. For that matter, the number of Americans killed by a Grizzly bear per year period (especially at their living area and not while visiting Yellowstone)

  70. Lorraine Ford Says:

    OhMyGoodness #65:
    I’m suggesting that in no other country, except the US and war-torn countries, would its citizens EVER think that they needed to carry guns to protect themselves from other people.

  71. OhMyGoodness Says:

    Michel#68

    “Or do I miss out something here?”

    You miss a couple thousand years of history. It happens.

    Self defense is a common US legal term that refers to justifiable actions to protect oneself from an aggressor.

  72. fred Says:

    OhMyGoodness

    “This issue could essentially finalize the two state solution in the US. Urbanites typically have little to no experience with firearms but are experts on gun crime. “

    Take NYC, even though gun laws here are very strict (you can’t even buy an old gun replica), the problem is that “legal” guns from other states flow into the city to become “illegal” guns, in the hands of gangs, etc.
    Also, at this time there are hundreds of millions of guns in the US, so even if gun production was totally suspended, they’d be around for many generations.
    I always joke that the solution isn’t to make guns illegal, but make ammunition illegal (or at least regulate it, and regulate gun powder, which is an explosive)… in a very practical way, a gun without ammo is close to useless as an offensive weapon.

  73. Dan Staley Says:

    OhMyGoodness #71: Can you provide any sources about how many Americans per year need to use a high-caliber weapon to save themselves from grizzly bears?

    I would guess the answer to be “less than one”, since most wild animals (including bears) will generally avoid humans, but I don’t actually know, so I’m happy to be proven wrong.

  74. OhMyGoodness Says:

    Lorraine#65

    If you keep qualifying your statement then maybe we will eventually agree. The US is not nearly the most violent non war torn country in the world. As an example it ranks 55th in murder rate-

    https://www.indexmundi.com/facts/indicators/VC.IHR.PSRC.P5/rankings

    I believe that you have led a sheltered life by global standards and you mistake your experience as the rule. I have been in countries, not in a state of war, that it seemed nearly all males 16 and older had a Kalashnikov. Just south of the porous US border you have weekly mass killings.

    In the US not everyone lives in identical conditions to those you live in. People live in different circumstances and have different risks and are far beyond the protection of a municipal police department. They will never accept that people with experience consistent with yours will prescribe a 22 as fully sufficient for their personal needs. You may believe it is uncivilized or shouldn’t be that way but it doesn’t matter. They will maintain the ability to protect their home and family as they believe necessary.

    Your first statement was NO country but the US. You qualified that to No country but the US and war torn countries. Will you now qualify it further?

  75. citicrab Says:

    Scott #14:

    “Needless to say, the invasion of Iraq was purely optional, justified by lies, and a strategic and humanitarian fiasco. I don’t know whether it could’ve been done well.”

    It was not based on lies. Every western intelligence service believed Iraq did have weapons of mass destruction, and Saddam’s own behavior in preventing inspections justified the belief. Based on his previous actions of using it against Kurds, it would be too risky to not do anything. It was indeed a fiasco, but it didn’t have to be. The US military won the war, cleanly and decisively. A new regime committed to democratic reforms was put in place. Reasonably free elections happened, something unheard-of in the Arab world. Some elements of an open society – a free press, NGOs, etc. – were starting to take root.

    It could have been done well. What caused the fiasco, including the subsequent rise of ISIS was the premature and unneeded evacuation of Americal troops. With a very limited contingent kept in place, 2-5 thousand soldiers plus the requisite technology we would have been able to keep in place a reasonably democratic administration and suppress extremist groups. This arrangement would have also been a couple of orders of magnitude cheaper than what’s been spent later to rout ISIS and prop up the corrupt government. It was a Bush and, even more so, Obama policy failure that caused the fiasco.

    Yes staying there would have violated Iraq’s sovereignty and their (free) press and (freely elected) parliament would have raised strong objections but the nation was not yet ready for unaided democratic development, and a long-term benign American presence would have given it a chance.

  76. OhMyGoodness Says:

    Dan#73

    There are an average of 11 fatal bear attacks per year in North America (complete victory by the bear). Bears are an Apex predator and readily attack humans. Similar to humans they have a very strong drive to protect their cubs and encounter with a cub guarantees an attack. I was just using this as an example to illustrate why the CIC’s comment that no one needs more than a 22 for personal use is seen as stupendously ridiculous by much of the US.

  77. Respect LKY Says:

    The people on SneerClub are bums with no life. They will not have many kids. Meanwhile Scott has 2 kids and hopefully will have 10+ great grandkids. SneerClub is full of repulsive bigotry against men, Jews, Whites, and Asians. It is an awful far-left sub-reddit where people oppose polygenic embryo selection. Scott you should stop paying attention to these people, they are disgusting and not worth their time.

  78. OhMyGoodness Says:

    citicrab#75

    “ Every western intelligence service believed Iraq did have weapons of mass destruction, ”

    I don’t believe this to be true. All of the “evidence” came from Adnan al Janabi. The German and French intelligence services told the Americans and Brits that he was a liar and he was that. They did not believe Iraq had WMD’s nor that they were trying to buy yellow cake uranium from Niger.

    I believe a more reasonable view is that Bush/Cheney/Rice wanted WMD’s as a pretext for war and the intelligence services obliged.

    I don’t agree that extending the stay after a couple trillion in expenditures would have made the slightest difference just the same as in Afghanistan.

    Recently I rehashed these thoughts and costs when Iraq did not support the embargo of Russia.

    fred#72

    But that is illegal. The firearm, by law, must then be registered in New York. Are you suggesting that there are gangs in New York that don’t abide by firearms laws? 🙂

  79. JimV Says:

    OMG (indeed): https://www.outsideonline.com/outdoor-adventure/exploration-survival/shoot-or-spray-best-way-stop-charging-bear/

    Spoiler: the consensus is that pepper spray works, and is less dangerous to yourself and others than a 44 magnum, despite the former’s lack of muzzle velocity. Contrary to the Clint Eastwood movies, a 44 magnum has a powerful recoil which affects aim, unless wad-cutter bullets are used to reduce the muzzle velocity for target shooting.

  80. Skivverus Says:

    Dan Staley #73:
    So, did a bit of searching, and came up with https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1544&context=hwi , which comes up with 47,000+ injuries from animal attacks per year (majority rodents followed by snakes, not bears, mind; bears are definitely at less than 1 per year right now, but apparently the number is starting to go up due to, well, them not getting shot so much), somewhat outpaced by the 58,600 annual injuries (including 440 deaths) from deer/vehicle collisions. Also 1.3 million annual insurance claims; we just have pretty safe cars, all things considered.

    Notable caveat on the first two numbers, though, is that “These data only include people who sought medical attention and they had a reportable disease”.

  81. lrb Says:

    Quasipermanent lurker, always some months/years between my comments anywhere, but for what it is worth I am also very grateful for your website.

    Enjoy all your posts, both quantum computing and other. Your book was also a great read.

    Stay strong(or whatever else would be suitable to say)

    Lrb

  82. OhMyGoodness Says:

    JimV#79

    You can accept the consensus if you so choose. There are a growing number of fatalities with the use of bear spray that did accept this consensus.

    On April 15, 2021, Carl Mock was attacked by a grizzly bear, just outside of Yellowstone Park. Mock was an accomplished woodsman and guide. He did not have a firearm with him. He had bear spray. He used the bear spray but was fatally injured.

    On 29 July, 2020, Daniel Schilling went to clear trail about a mile from his cabin in Alaska. His dog returned home without him. His wife was very concerned. Searchers found his body, killed by a bear, where he was working. An empty can of bear spray, with the safety off, which had been discharged at the site, was also found.

    The Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGF) has released a final report on the grizzly bear attack that killed hunting guide Mark Uptain and injured his client, Corey Chubon.
    At some time during the attack, bear spray was used by Mark Uptain. The bear spray can was emptied. The grizzly sow was reported to have a strong odor of bear spray about her head. (This was 2019 I believej

    On 21 August, 2020, at McKie Lack, Saskatchewan, Canada, a 44-year-old mother of two was attacked and killed by a large black bear as she talked on a satellite phone with her father.

    Curtis (her husband) called advising me that a bear attacked her, that he sprayed the bear with pepper spray, and the bear got more angry.”
    Esquirol said his son-in-law told him he got a gun and shot the bear twice before it went down. So by that time, Stephanie had no pulse. He gave her mouth to mouth, but she was injured beyond the point of recovery.”

    Not spoiled at all.

  83. Another Anon Says:

    OMG I now understand why a caliber restriction seems ridiculous to the vast number of Americans outside the few urban centers. After all they are much more likely to be attacked by a bear than have a school-aged child.

  84. Boaz Barak Says:

    All these years I didn’t realize that the second amendment’s “right to keep and bear Arms” was referring to Grizzlies. Now I understand why the founding fathers wanted everyone to have an AR-15.

  85. Lorraine Ford Says:

    OhMyGoodness #74:
    I am suggesting that in the US, people, even policemen, are walking around scared or worried all the time, because other people might be carrying guns. People are scared of, or at least worried about, other people, so that is why they themselves carry guns. It’s a self-perpetuating cycle.
    People in the US have a burden of worry and fear that people in other seemingly-comparable countries don’t have. People in the US are scared and worried.

  86. Computadores quânticos: uma breve avaliação do progresso na última década | Says:

    […] disso, agora que Scott Aaronson terceirizei este mesmo post meu para comentários sobre computação quântica, terminarei com uma citação de Scott tirada do […]

  87. Leo A Says:

    Hi Scott,

    I’m very sorry to hear that you’ll cease posting on social issues for the time being. I, probably like many, came for the theoretical computer science and stayed for the reasonable voice you lend to our unreasonable discourse. A voice that is vilified by those fighting for the same ideals. Well, in theory they are trying to fight for the same ideals. We can’t blame you for not posting on these matters for awhile.

    Last post, you said that you don’t hear enough from us in the comments. This landed with me. I feel like I should add to the voices of reason. I should comment. I should encourage imagining other commenter’s words generously.

    The question I have is, what should I write? Barring writing out long walls of text like this one, nuanced discussion of topics doesn’t lend itself well to the comments. Short comments that support being open to some discussion on a subject are more than enough to have you harpooned by twitter hoards.

    What could we like-minded people write? Our silence can make it feel like the world consists mainly of people with extreme opinions. Though talking with people in person, I find most of them are quite reasonable. Most of them don’t comment either.

    So as a genuine question, what can we add to the sea of comments that would help? If anyone has some ideas, I’d love to hear them.

    Thank you again for putting your voice out there. Thank you for pushing against the tide. Enjoy a respite.

    Cheers,
    Leo

  88. OhMyGoodness Says:

    Another Anon #83 Boaz Barak #84

    I laughed-thank you.

    If any of you do want to personally judge the efficacy of bear spray then Iet me know and I will help as possible.

  89. OhMyGoodness Says:

    Lorraine #85

    My goodness Lorraine-guns didn’t recently appear in the US filling people with fear. It wasn’t until 1986 that new fully automatic weapons for civilian ownership were banned. Do you remember hearing of the St Valentines Day massacre or the popular saying in the Old West- God created man and Sam Colt made them equal?

    The two state solution seems more likely all the time. The City States and the rest of us.

  90. OhMyGoodness Says:

    AA#83

    Your mention of likelihoods caused me to look at the homicide rate for children in the US. The last UNICEF report estimated about 5,000 per year. The total number killed mass school shootings since 1999 is 169 including Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois University. Of the 169, 80 were children. A summary follows-

    Columbine 1999 12 students and 1 staff dead including two suicides, assault rifles used

    Red Lake Reservation School 2005 6 students dead including one suicide, assault rifles not used (Grandfather was chief of police on reservation and shooter stole his handgun and shotgun)

    West Nickel Mine School 2006 6 fatalities including 1 suicide, assault rifle not used-handgun

    Virginia Tech 2007 33 fatalities including one suicide, assault rifle not used-handguns

    NIU 2008 6 fatalities including 1 suicide, assault rifle not used-hand gun and shotgun

    Oikos University 2012 7 fatalities, assault rifle not used-handgun

    Sandy Hook 2012, 20 students and six educators killed, assault rifle used

    UCSB 2014, 6 students killed, assault rifle not used, handgun car collisions and three other fatalities with knife

    Marysville High School 2012, 5 fatalities including 1 suicide, assault rifle not used, handgun

    Umpqua College 2015, 10 fatalities including 1 suicide, assault rifle not used, handgun

    Stoneman Douglas High School 2018, 14 students and 3 staff dead, assault rifle used

    Santa Fe High School 2018, 8 students killed and two staff, assault rifle not used, revolver and shotgun

    Oxford High School 2021, 4 students killed, assault rifle not used, handgun

    Uvalde 2022, 19 students and 2 staff killed, assault rifle used

    There were 80 children (18 and under) killed in these incidents over 23 years so between 3 and four per year. I know you meant it tongue in cheek but the chance of a child being killed in a mass school shooting is not that much different than being killed by a bear.

    I also notice that a variety of weapons were used including shotguns and arguably a knife and a car.

    My contention is that common sense security measures to protect schools need to be adopted in the US as elsewhere. Banning assault rifles will have no impact on stopping these events. Suicidal madness intent on killing as many as possible as shockingly as possible will find equally as effective means in the absence of assault weapons. In fact a case can be made that shotguns will result in even more casualties than assault weapons.

  91. OhMyGoodness Says:

    Lorraine #85

    The violent crime rate has dropped precipitously since 1990-

    https://www.statista.com/statistics/191219/reported-violent-crime-rate-in-the-usa-since-1990/

    You are safer now than any year since 1990 (actually not sure about right now post quarantine). I agree that attacks on police have risen but believe that is due to something entirely different than legal gun ownership.

    Weapons have two uses, they have a physical use and a psychological deterrent use. The deterrent value of personal weapons shouldn’t be neglected. They have deterrent value in the aggregate and for the individual. Much easier to burgle etc when certainty that homeowners do not have guns. If there is doubt or certainty of guns then completely different risk profile.

  92. Lorraine Ford Says:

    OhMyGoodness #89:
    “Give me a gun, and I’ll equalise” could only be relevant to the Wild West, and lawless places, where people are scared and worried about what other people might do to them. Then the guns just compound the problem, not solve the problem.

  93. mtamillow Says:

    Probably a good decision to stop posting. Frankly, it is just a waste of your time to push opinions that are already represented by many others on social issues. There are too many comments that could send you in every direction of a conversation here.

    I came on this blog after the Uvalde tragedy because I expected you to post (seeing your former posts), and you did. Maybe stop being so predictable? I think the haters will just forget you then. The world is doomed, and perfectly fine in its destiny to be doomed. Nothing you can do to change it. 7.75 billion people in this world, sh** happens. Just because one thing makes it into the news and others don’t shouldn’t mean it was more important than the others. I could bring up hundreds of ignored issues of injustice and evil just to sidetrack this debate. Simply put, not your problem, not my problem. Nothing we can do here but get angry at the world and it is not worth it.

    What can we do? Keep learning, keep working, have faith that whatever happens will happen in the way it must. I like to believe as Leibniz, that we live in the best of all possible worlds.

  94. Greg Guy Says:

    One thing I didn’t expect from this blog post was the number of idiots that were going to argue that the number of children murdered by crazies was such a small number worthy of no consideration, but the number of ‘Muricans killed by Grizzlies, now that is a major threat!

    FFS, no wonder the country is fucked. Also, why do people who read this blog regularly have such a limited grasp of mathematical operators such as less than and greater than and constantly confuse them with zero and one?

  95. OhMyGoodness Says:

    Greg Guy #94

    No one argued of no consequence and much obliged if you detail a mathematical error that I made. Some of the posters here are very good at emoting outrage but facts-well, not so much.

  96. barbara Says:

    Back in 2019, I came to this blog, as it provided the by far best explanation of Google’s Quantum Supremacy claim I could find. Since then, it has been a constant regular quantum of solace, while the world has not ceased to become weirder and weirder. I feel deeply sorrow, that you have to suffer so harsh attacks for being my spark of hope and for leading my thoughts to beautyful topics not involving viruses, wars, murders, or the human society. Thank you so much for your efforts.

    In the sense of Reinhold Niebuhr’s serenity prayer (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serenity_Prayer), I wish you, that God may grant you the serenity to accept the things you cannot change, courage to change the things you can, and wisdom to know the difference.

  97. Skivverus Says:

    Greg Guy #94

    For your first paragraph, availability bias (and/or a lack of intuition on how to compensate for it), coupled with an increasingly segregated information environment, seems to me a sufficient cause.
    But also, I’m not convinced the matter is given “no” consideration; every time this makes the news, it just goes through the same considerations (read: arguments), because no one got convinced of anything the last time through either, but everyone’s forgotten each others’ arguments.

    In brief – to the extent I’m on a side, I’m ‘pro-gun’, because the consideration goes “yes, this is a tragedy, but all the solutions proposed so far come either with (a) unacceptable tradeoffs, (b) actively make the problem worse, or (c) were already implemented years-to-decades ago and evidently have not solved the problem either (and may also have made it worse).”
    They’re the basically same proposed solutions each time, too. Bans, background checks, waiting periods, registries, security checkpoints, “gun-free” zones.
    It reminds me of https://xkcd.com/793/

  98. Ilio Says:

    Glad to see so many thanks (and yes, some noise), you deserve it Scott!

    Would you really like your readership to construct a few SA-answering machines from your writings?

    Then what about a contest in kaggle or elsewhere? I would be surprised no one here has the interest and expertise to train a few transformers playing you, the other SA, and their best or worse or atypical commenters.

  99. JOHN S Says:

    Hi, Scott. Just an expression of thanks from a long-time reader. I don’t have another suggestion to add to the long list of ways commenters have offered for helping you deal with the Internet of Fools. Whichever of them or none works for you is fine with me so long as you can preserve the technical content of the blog, which is of the highest quality. Thanks again.

  100. Stewart Peterson Says:

    Scott,

    I only found your last thread after you closed it. I have what I think are constructive thoughts, which I hope may be useful to you.

    First, on the issue of how to deal with bad-faith engagement, I as well endorse the principle that one should engage every argument – but I don’t think that means engaging every arguer. There are, I believe, WordPress plugins that allow you to “gray” a comment – that is, make it visible to you and the poster but not to everyone else, or not to everyone else unless people explicitly click to expand it. Points refuted a thousand times might be grayed, or replied to with a comment along the lines of “PRATT – see, e.g., [insert FAQ anchor link here]” or even, to make it faster, “PRATT – anybody want to answer this?” Threaded comments on a forum-style page greatly help here. I know this can be done in Drupal (my specific area of web administration) and it is done frequently on high-traffic sites. Graying can also be done on an upvote/downvote system to reduce the moderation burden.

    Second, and much more importantly, I have another answer to the “what to do about the angry young men” culture war problem, from the perspective of someone who was in the target demographic to be recruited by these folks, but who successfully resisted it. My answer to that, however, is extremely long. It would also no longer be relevant, certainly not in this thread. I will send it to you if you wish – if you think it will save more of your time than it will consume, by resolving more questions than it raises – but if it, as your comment policy says, “place[s] demands on [your] time that [you] can no longer meet,” I will keep it to myself.

  101. Scott Says:

    Stewart Peterson #100: Go ahead and email it to me.

  102. Nepenthepenia Says:

    I came in too late to report my insignificant donation last thread, but here’s another small note of appreciation, in hope it evens out the numbers even a little.

    You seem to have become a very kind, reasonable, talented person. It warms my heart that there are blogs like yours. It is like an oasis on the Internet, a little candle in the darkness. It’s very nice to read, when all is going well.

    I also suffer from empathy, so while I want to say that the way you respond to pressure and abuse is admirable, somewhat more selfish moderation seems vastly preferable to breaking down, or letting the despair continue.
    In addition to reducing pain, dampening predictably low-yield or explosive arguments may leave more room for better discussion. Maybe more filtering increases the amount of good discussions that are had, overall?

    Thank you & much love

  103. Rana Dexsin Says:

    A small point of order on Gadi #38’s hash-dropping: if you only reveal the ones that come true, that allows for cheating by including several possibilities for the same decision point and then only revealing the true one, along the lines of the false selection tricks in legerdemain. More generally, it’s hard to judge predictive reliability if you don’t know how many of the remaining ones are false or ambiguous versus not yet resolved. I would suggest that Gadi provide a date at which each prediction will resolve (to avoid arguments over what counts as “a few years” and such) and commit to unconditionally publishing each plaintext after its respective date, and that other people interpreting this then treat the precommitment with appropriately increased skepticism if some texts fail to show up.

  104. Rana Dexsin Says:

    Stewart Peterson #100: I’m interested in seeing this too now for my own reasons. Would you be willing to upload the text to a pastebin site or similar, to make it available while not directly cluttering the thread itself? And Scott, would that be acceptable, or is that too risky in terms of inviting unwanted replies?

  105. fred Says:

    Although I’m totally for more gun regulations, it’s worth remembering that the worst US school massacre was done with dynamite, in 1927

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bath_School_disaster

    it goes to show that it’s not just a matter of gun law, but also understanding the motivations of such people and the phenomenon of copycat (which happens for example in China with school knife attacks, obviously less “effective” than with firearms https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/School_attacks_in_China )

  106. Alex Says:

    Dear Scott, Thank you for bringing the Texas Fund Choice campaign to our attention – a great idea! I can’t say much about hate comments on the internet because I’m not famous myself, but I can imagine that even isolated such attacks must hurt a lot.

  107. Manuel Says:

    Also one of the silent but very happy readers. Please continue your great work! We have to keep the few sane places on the internet alive 🙂

  108. Qwerty Says:

    I’ve recently been discussing with family and friends,how to overcome overthinking about past incidents (not that you were doing that) or emotional troubles in general.

    The ideas I loved were, 1. Help others (which you are doing in multiple ways – as a professor, writer, and in all other roles such as father), and 2. Commit to physical action (antidote to overthinking) such as cleaning, cooking, walking, gardening, playing with children, etc.

    This changes one’s worldview, my friend said, and from there, you respond better to the world (which hasn’t changed) than you used to. The change is not a switch but a journey.

    I’m convinced one cannot think one’s way out of this. Physical action is called for. This is what is working for me now.

    I hope you will somehow avoid even learning about the attacks that come in. Seems like they serve no useful purpose and cause harm.

  109. O. S. Dawg Says:

    It seems, today, that the valley of darkness is a rather crowded place. I never would have believed it fifty years ago. What you do here is good work. Thank you!

  110. Travis Allison Says:

    Hey Scott, you’re such a good dude that it’s painful to see you become distraught by the thoughts of others. (Though I too take the thoughts of others too seriously. I am a recovering people pleaser.)

    At the risk of seeming patronizing and implying that you are broken (you are not!), there’s a nice book called, “Feeling Great” by David Burns. (His most famous book is “Feeling Good”. “Feeling Great” adds a new technique for overcoming resistance to improvement.)

    The cliff notes version is that the book shows that my “weaknesses” often say something good about me. And then the book provides methods for analyzing how much truth there is to the thoughts that arise within me. David Burns’ work has helped me see the social conditioning that I accepted and which made me miserable. E.g What is success/failure?

  111. OhMyGoodness Says:

    fred#105

    The prevalence of psychiatric medication amongst mass shooters has been widely noted. Here is a study of medications associated with violence against others that concludes they are in fact associated with increased violence rather than coincidental due to the population being treated.

    Not pertinent to mass shooters but Varenicline (smoking cessation aid) has remarkable murder then suicide stories soon after starting use.

    https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0015337

  112. OhMyGoodness Says:

    fred#105

    A complete genome analysis of as many of these mass murderers as possible might provide new insight. I can’t find any indication it has been done.

  113. ed Says:

    Keep up the good work Scott. This has been my go-to site for sanity and science these past 10 years.

  114. marris Says:

    This is one of the best blogs I’ve ever read, and I have certainly learned a great deal from it. The computer science posts are exceptionally interesting and well written. I have learned a great deal about quantum computing from them. And the passionate defense of reason and empiricism are a welcome oasis in the nihilistic desert that consumes much of the Internet.

    It is a (sad) fact of the human condition that your efforts to be reasonable, good, and effective also make you triggering and a target for the least reasonable clowns on keyboards. And although I can’t shield you from them, I can tell you it would be a great loss if by sheer viciousness and volume, they convinced you that their opinions matter, and that your opinions do not. Be well, always.

  115. AlexM Says:

    Never commented here before, but I needed to say that I absolutely love your work. This is the only blog that I regularly come back to and I simply cannot count the number of times I have recommended your papers to people (both them and me *not* being in your field!!!)

    Keep your head up high and be proud of who you are and what you have achieved!
    The trolls do not represent the average fan/reader/human

  116. mls Says:

    @Dr. Aaronson

    You have a great blog. Take whatever time you need, and if it does not come back or does not come back with the same vigor, that is fine. Your personal well-being takes precedence.

    Thank you.

  117. JimV Says:

    A couple of quick Internet searches, relevant to previous remarks:

    “Although I’m totally for more gun regulations, it’s worth remembering that the worst US school massacre was done with dynamite, in 1927.”

    Under USA federal explosives law, it is illegal to manufacture, store, distribute, receive or transport explosive materials [including dynamite] without a federal explosives license or permit.–The Internet

    Also, dynamite in the USA comes with chemical coding so explosion residue can be traced back to the purchase lot.

    If it is worth remembering something that happened in 1927, it should also be worth remembering that there are relevant regulations and innovations now which did not exist in 1927.

    The Uvalde shooter is reported to have purchased his guns one day after his 18th birthday, with no permit required. They can also be purchased online from the manufacturer, on installment plans.

    “I know perfectly well that the risk from car crashes and home accidents is orders-of-magnitude greater.” (From the OP.)

    Again according to the Internet, in 2016, guns were the major cause of deaths in children and teenagers in the USA, supplanting car accidents. (Not just via school massacres, but regulations would be aimed at all gun deaths.) (That surprised me also. I expect car safety regulations and innovations have had something to do with it.)

  118. Israel T Says:

    You give back more to the world than all the social media trolls in existence.

    Please continue your great work.

    ( For the sake of sanity, ignore the trolls even though they are vile spreaders of hate)

  119. MP Says:

    I also appreciate your blog! I mostly come for the views on QC and related themes (I’m a big fan of your book).

    I am also interested in your opinions about society and politics. I guess I considered myself ‘woke’ before the the word became became reserved for a crazy, small – i still hope it’s small!! – subgroup. At least i have criticized for being “woke”, decadent, soft, etc, e.g., for mentioning that we should not be racist, or for “allowing” my wife to bring our kids to daycare for 5 days/week 🙂. So I come from a different spot, yet I think we agree on 90% of things, and I like to read about the way you think.

    Anyway, to answer your question form the last few posts (i think that was your question): I like the blog – especially the sciencey stuff, where I think you do have unique talent in thinking and explaining things in new ways – and i appreciate that you write it. I hope you continue. I am sorry about the abuse; I really hope that it will stop (or be stopped), and I hope you won’t loose energy and productivity over it.

  120. OhMyGoodness Says:

    JimV #117

    Guns can be purchased from a manufacturer online but are delivered through a local federally licensed firearms dealer of the buyers choice with federal background check prior to the buyer taking receipt from the licensed firearms dealer. The manufacturer sends to the licensed dealer of your choice and you can take delivery only after the dealer completes the background check through the FBI.

    Not that it matters to anyone reading this.

  121. Scott Says:

    Thanks so much, everyone! New post coming soon.

    MP #119: Wait a second … thinking that people shouldn’t be racist is woke? Sending your kids to daycare is woke? It sounds like I’m woke too! Too bad the arbiters of woke on Twitter don’t feel similarly. 😀

  122. Shtetl-Optimized » Blog Archive » Computer scientists crash the Solvay Conference Says:

    […] The Blog of Scott Aaronson If you take nothing else from this blog: quantum computers won't solve hard problems instantly by just trying all solutions in parallel. Also, next pandemic, let's approve the vaccines faster! « An understandable failing? […]

  123. serabu Says:

    Whoa ho ho!!!! Check the news! “Quantum computing startup IonQ is facing a securities fraud lawsuit after a barrage of accusations came to light in a blistering report from Scorpion Capital, which claims the company lied about the maturity (and even existence of) its quantum device in addition to a smattering of claimed financial fictions.”
    Looks like IonQ is a total fraud, just like it’s #1 fanboy, Scott Aaronson! Indeed, the whole filed of “quantum computing” is a big joke and a hoax!

  124. Quantum Computers: A Brief Assessment of Progress in the Past Decade | Says:

    […] now that Scott Aaronson outsourced this very post of mine for quantum computing commentary, I will end with a quote of Scott taken from the interesting […]

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