So much of our most serious problems today are irrational races to the bottom with seemingly simply solutions yet they continue to get worse. Why is that? Well, it’s obviously because people have sacrificed their children to Moloch – the ancient Carthaginian demon – in exchange for power.
Blog Post: Meditations On Moloch.
Creator: Scott Alexander at Slate Star Codex.
Length: 14173 words.
In A Sentence: An essay on the hidden role incentives and coordination play in the world and our society – personified as Moloch in Allan Ginsberg‘s poem Howl.
Favourite Quote: “So we have all this amazing technological and cognitive energy, the brilliance of the human species, wasted on reciting the lines written by poorly evolved cellular receptors and blind economics, like gods being ordered around by a moron.”
The Deep Dive: Coming soon.
Slate Star Codex is the preeminent blog in the rationalist community (the blog is in hiatus right now for complicated reasons – see here for more information). It has a massive following, including by of some of the smartest and most influential people in the world – and for good reason.
This post in particular is legendary. It‘s brilliant, imaginative, well written, mind-blowing and [insert gushing praise]. Moloch as a meme has taken off and is often used as a short-hand for races to the bottom and other game theoretical dilemmas. It‘s a very useful too to understand the world.
If you haven‘t already, go read it.
Because the ideas in this essay will always be relevant. Moloch is as old as matter itself and he will continue to wreak havoc until his ultimate victory: the heat-death of the universe.
We must always be on guard against his toxic influence. His offer – sacrifice your children for power – is always an illusion. The house (in this case Moloch) always wins.
We must be careful – lest we break our backs lifting him up to heaven.