protocol release draft

My meditation protocol is now available for people who are willing to wade through the working document. This is a very big deal. Here is the link:

More soon about screening type stuff, access to the Slack workspace, and stuff like that. I emphasize that 99.999999999% of the value is in that document. I don’t want to create barriers to free access.

contemporary nonmeditation reading

“What are some relatively recently written books that aren’t about meditation but will make serious meditation go more smoothly?”

[in no particular order; these books are not perfect; for some categories I might have chosen better, but a few are unique and excellent even if flawed]


Wired for Love: How Understanding Your Partner’s Brain and Attachment Style Can Help You Defuse Conflict and Build a Secure Relationship by Stan Tatkin

[this one is recommended for the principles, which are stratospherically, superlatively good. everything else, side-eye]

Arousal: The Secret Logic of Sexual Fantasies by Michael J. Bader

How We Die: Reflections on Life’s Final Chapter by Sherwin B. Nuland


Everyone Poops by Taro Gomi


How We Live by Sherwin B. Nuland

Cult: A Love Story by Alexandra Amor

time estimates update

In my blog header and in one of my posts I say “>=2000 hours or even sometimes >=1500 hours,” based on the best data I had. I now/still think that’s a decent “typical extreme lower limit,” but I now think most people are going to be looking at 5000-10,000 hours. That’s mostly an empirical extrapolation, again from a very small sample size. I have some refined thoughts on minds vis-a-vis recursive combinatorics and NP-completeness. But, pretty much none of my core beliefs on transformation have radically changed (though I’m continually learning about all of this and they might!). I just think it’ll typically take longer than I thought, for most people. Not good news but not critically bad news.

More on this and an improved blog header soon/eventually.

I realize 1500 versus 10,000 is highly relevant for planning purposes given risk and nonmonotonicity. There’s a thing I could have done better, here. And, I will think about this, at the very least.

exoteric doctrine v0.2

[Update: Somehow one of these got left out. It’s back where it should be: “Without exception, and no matter […]”]

If I want to do an organization, institution, or movement, that may be facilitated by an exoteric(?) doctrine. Here is a first pass:

  • Objective and singular truth exists (and/or objective reality exists and objective truth corresponds to it).

  • Objective and singular goodness(/ethics/morality) exists.

  • The human mind is typically confused, uncertain, and ignorant. (Or, a typical person is…)

  • Nevertheless, we can know typically error-prone approximations of that objective truth and we can know/do approximations of that objective goodness.

  • Further, the human mind is asymptotically perfectible. That is, we can become better people in a practically unlimited way, all things being equal.

  • ???There are more worse ways than better ways to interact with oneself and others.

  • In any moment you are the final arbiter of what’s true and good. You have to trust yourself while also being open to being wrong. This is hard but can get easier.

  • It’s possible to do more harm than good when trying or intending to do good and become better. (Also, you are the final arbiter of what’s better.)

  • Using systematic (albeit self-adapted) method is often or at least sometimes a good way to improve one’s approximations of truth and goodness. Stated alternatively, we can systematically seek to get the things we want and we can systematically come have better wants (want better things).

  • Some methods are better than others, depending on what you’re trying to do, such as knowing and doing better.

  • We want what we want until we want something else, and it’s ok or good to want what we want for as long as we want it.

  • Perhaps evil or malevolence is objective but things are only bad relative to your skill, power, and knowledge. Perfectibility (asymptotically) includes solving all your problems on your terms, in your words, until there is nothing left that is bad.

  • You might not feel good and safe all the time, but it’s good to want to feel good and safe, and it’s good to seek to stably feel good and safe or to feel good and safe as much as possible.

  • Without exception, and no matter how subtle the feeling, there’s always a valid sense in which, if it feels wrong it is wrong. [i.e. if X makes you feel wrong, then X is somehow wrong.] People often will systematically and relentlessly deny the relevant sense in order to try to immorally coerce and control you. Senses other than the relevant sense can be used to Inappropriately destroy institutions. People trying to control you will try to convince you the former is the latter (among an unlimited number of other tactics that don’t refer to groups or institutions.) Of course, you could be mistaken about something or both could be happening. But that’s what the controlling people will do.

  • You might get hit by a bus or meteor or your cryo chamber might run out of geopolitics or something. But, it’s possible to have a good life, anyway, and it’s possible to impeccably work to reduce the chances of such bad things while having a good, complete, rich, full, life.

  • Most people will probably be happier striving for and maintaining a stable romantic pair-bond and having one or more kids.

  • Love properly labeled and defined is probably a uniquely important thing.

  • Some truths are exceptionless/universal and eternal or sempiternal. With correct method, you can know those truths by making use of whatever experiences you’ve already had (because those truths will massively redundantly inhere in those experiences without exception.) Some truths and knowledge of correct/good/moral knowledge/behavior are contingent (or relative to, or contextually dependent on, this world and time and place) and, to obtain them, you’ll need to dispel ignorance, to have experiences, to learn. You’ll be wrong and bad a lot. Also, you are good.

  • Progress is often multidimensionally nonmonotonic.

  • These are just words. This is just your interpretation of these words. Are there even words? You can’t know anything for sure; and that can be ok, with application of method or just because. There are more precise and accurate and deeper and more correct ways ways to say all the above.
  • More and more and more of everyone may come together to do good things that we couldn’t do alone.
  • Sometimes, an edgy joke should go here.
  • Let go…

why “enlightened” people can be bad

Poetically and imperfectly:

Being good sort of boils down to being radically street-smarts constructive as if you might bump into every person you ever meet in your life, ever again, over and over again, forever. And knowing this down into your bones. Being good is self-knowledge and strategic learning and global strategy in a way that makes your heart sing.

The above tweet is old. The tweets below are fresh at the time of this posting and were concise and comprehensive enough that they made for for a nice mostly-tweets blog post.

[ ]

Ken Wilber would say something like, there’s something timeless about enlightenment that is true in any human age, and, also, enlightenment evolves: “The Buddha couldn’t drive a Jeep.”

We will never stop learning how to be more and more good to each other, whether in quiet, intimate moments or collaborating on non-dystopian, beautiful, humane global megaprojects.





Strive to be truly good all the way down for selfish reasons. It’s the optimal solution to many self-interested life problems.

12:18 PM – May 12, 2019
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Poetically and imperfectly:

Being good sort of boils down to being radically street-smarts constructive as if you might bump into every person you ever meet in your life, ever again, over and over again, forever. And knowing this down into your bones. Being good is self-knowledge and strategic learning and global strategy in a way that makes your heart sing.

The above tweet is old. The tweets below are fresh at the time of this posting and were concise and comprehensive enough that they made for for a nice mostly-tweets blog post.
Sometimes an “enlightened” person will have unprocessed blindspots. But, also, even a “fully enlightened” person (no technical debt) can be ignorant of “relevant unknown unknowns” (sort of by definition). And both cases can produce “sex scandals” or other badness/destructiveness.

7:17 AM – Sep 23, 2019
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· 4h
Sometimes an “enlightened” person will have unprocessed blindspots. But, also, even a “fully enlightened” person (no technical debt) can be ignorant of “relevant unknown unknowns” (sort of by definition). And both cases can produce “sex scandals” or other badness/destructiveness.
So to be as good/harmless/benevolent/constructive/creative/effective/loving a person one can be, one has to keep voraciously learning and doing (and meditating, if just living “post-enlightenment” isn’t enough to “auto-process” continuously accumulating technical debt).

7:24 AM – Sep 23, 2019
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· 4h
Replying to @meditationstuff
So to be as good/harmless/benevolent/constructive/creative/effective/loving a person one can be, one has to keep voraciously learning and doing (and meditating, if just living “post-enlightenment” isn’t enough to “auto-process” continuously accumulating technical debt).
technical debt, meditation, and minds
Technical debt (also known as design debt or code debt) is a concept in software development that reflects the implied cost of additional rework caused by choosing an easy solution now instead of u…
7:26 AM – Sep 23, 2019
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[ ]

Ken Wilber would say something like, there’s something timeless about enlightenment that is true in any human age, and, also, enlightenment evolves: “The Buddha couldn’t drive a Jeep.”

We will never stop learning how to be more and more good to each other, whether in quiet, intimate moments or collaborating on non-dystopian, beautiful, humane global megaprojects.

human epistemic dynamics and phenomena

The most important element of an epistemic method (research method, knowledge generation method, theoretical method) is its capacity for producing solitary, systematic, inevitable, repeatable surprise.

  • solitary – In some sense, all you have is what’s in your mind. Books, documents, and websites are mediately helpful. Conversations, colleagues, and mentorship are mediately helpful. And then, some of the time, you should go be alone. Because, in some narrow, narrow, narrow sense, everyone is epistemically alone. So own it.
  • systematic – Does your method work all the time, on everything?
  • inevitable – Can you head-down trust your method to work, if you just keep going over hundreds or thousands of hours?
  • repeatable – Does it work again, and again, and again, and again…
  • surprise – Alone in a room, are you surprised over and over and over again? Epistemic surprise, bayesian surprise, if you will. Whatever. Holy shit moments, all by yourself, over and over again if sometimes, often, far between. Again: solitary, systematic, inevitable, repeatable surprise

If your method has something like the above characteristics (and I just haphazardly made them up for the purposes of this post) then the next thing you need are gradients, or lead indicators, or error-checking, or mediate and immediate feedback loops, and meta-criteria (e.g. truth and goodness).

All the above, together, comprises that which is sufficient for long-range WAYFINDING.

For the best methods, wayfinding should still work, even when one’s ontology, plan, problem, and even goals are illegible or uncertain. That’s what wayfinding is for, to make progress through the fog, to make systematic and inevitable progress anyway, even when you’re not exactly sure what you’re doing or why you’re doing it.

When wayfinding is functioning, meta-epistemic patterns, epistemic phenomena, eventually become apparent:

The landscape of epistemic positions (space plus structure plus you-are-here)

Consider yourself moving through a landscape of peaks and valleys. Some peaks are higher than others. There are valleys between the peaks. Perhaps there is a highest peak somewhere in the distance. The peaks are local maxima–to get higher you have to first go down. The peaks represent, say, truthiness–they are relatively less wrong than everything else nearby.

Imaginatory Bleed; Modal World Bleed

You might think, no big deal, I’m over here, applying my method. Then there’s an epistemic landscape. Territory is territory, but I’m working with maps. I can work with multiple maps at the same time, multiple hypotheses at the same time, no big deal.

But, for some hypotheses, to consider that hypothesis is to live it. Some parts of the epistemic landscape walk you and not the other way around. This can be minimized but not entirely escaped, cf. the cultivation of meditative equanimity in its most technical sense. And that minimization requires one to already be walking the landscape–you have to build the raft in the water. And there be dragons.

But it’s not a bug; it’s a feature

One might at first think that hypotheses bleeding into reality are the product of some evolutionary heinous kludge. But, there is selection pressure, efficient entropic dissipation, eros, something, in there.

“The only true voyage would be not to travel through a hundred different lands with the same pair of eyes, but to see the same land through a hundred different pairs of eyes.”

― Marcel Proust

To see with new eyes is freedom; it is the capacity to not be trapped in one’s mind. (But it is also the capacity to be trapped in one’s mind. See below.)

People love philosophy, spirituality, pop science, and professional science because the best of it reshapes the very seeming and appearing of our world. There is a fundamental way in which the untrained human mind takes map to be territory. (Though, even when a trained human mind sees map as map, it’s still map. This might be part and parcel of what it means to be or have a mind at all, cf. representation in a technical sense.)

In any case, we want the mind to be able to change all the way down, we want the very seeming and appearing of our world to be malleable. This is what allows us to not only pursue truth and goodness but to live it, to actually live, feel, and behave in a world that is closer to the true one behind the noumenic veil, and to do it together with others in ways we care about and that feel good. This is what allows us to actually understand each other and actually live in the same world as other people.

(Note that this is, in part, a pedagogical post, and I don’t necessarily personally make any of these ontological commitments. And note that I’m mixing causal/mechanistic, telic, narrative, and anthropic reasoning all together.)

But there be dragons

Let’s get back to walking the landscape and then we’ll talk again about the landscape walking you.

Back to the landscape metaphor, we have these phenomena in the beginning and especially the middle of the journey:

  • local maxima – in order to be less wrong, in some cases, you *must* first be more wrong.
  • (valleys – if there are peaks then there are valleys and they take time to cross, milliseconds, seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks)
  • epistemic nonmonotonicity – sometimes in the course of being globally less wrong, over time, you’re very wrong, over and over again
  • epistemic traps (and near-discontinuities) – sometimes before you are right-ish, you are very, very, very wrong, in fact more and more wrong, over a long period of time (before, finally, either sharply or gradually, possibly with yet more nonmonotonicity, you are right or at least more stably less wrong
  • (for completeness, one might consider a higher-dimensional metaphor, higher-dimensional manifolds of epistemic positions, with not just peaks and valleys but saddle points along various dimensions, and so on)

And then, when the landscape is walking you (we’re considering, here, the beginning and middle of the journey; see more near the end of this post for later in the journey), some people get stuck:

  • But first, on the good (non-stuck) side, as mentioned above, there can be “deep refactoring” of belief and perception. The can include “disembedding,” “de-fish-in-water-ing.” You never knew it could possibly be a different way, that there even was a “way,” that could different, in the first place, along many, many, many dimensions. The very seeming and appearing of self and world changes. This can be so profound and good.
  • And then, on the bad side, there can be shear and fragmentation–say we’re walking many parts of the landscape at once, with some in-parallel journeys at better positions than others. This yields “saint in some ways, psychopath in others;” “genius in some ways, crushingly superstitious or self-destructive in others.
  • One might have whole-mind distortion, because “deep refactoring” is possible, sometimes the universe can be rending at the seams for months. And because how the mind sometimes contingently organizes knowledge, you sometimes just wanted to predict global hog futures, but instead reality is crumbling.
  • There is also whole-body distortion, the way things are hooked up you could run into terrible muscle tension, digestive issues, headaches, and so forth, or worse.
  • And then you’ve got your tropes, psychosis, paranoia, etc. Paper and string all over the wall? All over the room? It’s a trope because there’s something there.

Long-run Wayfinding

But let’s say your wayfinding is really good. You may then come to get a self-repeatable taste of these sorts of phenomena:

  • elegance, parsimony, universality, exceptionlessness, perfection, beauty (cf as simple as possible, but no simpler)
  • Hedgehog/fox Chimaerism
  • Provisionality – In these postmodern times, the above two bullets might seem reminiscent of the epistemic traps mentioned above. I do believe that there is a sort of optimal way to organize the mind. With good method, people eventually become more hedgehog-like as their worldviews become more and more elegant: fewer “load-bearing” theories and explanations but with greater and greater explanatory power, dissolving more and more anomalies. But, this flavor of hedgehog-ness is not entrenched. Even these elegant theories, even if, for this person, they, in part, comprise the very appearing and seeming of their world, they are still held provisionally. The key term here is provisionality. And the fox-like flavor is brought in with a “modal penumbra,” perhaps organized, concentric clouds of possible worlds and perhaps not competing hypotheses but available hypotheses, for sharp cutovers. Other possible worlds are available for consideration, because maybe we are actually in those. And it’s both possible and safe to consider them.
  • And, so, there’s a phenomenon of settling. (You might find this concept discussed in an obscure dissertation about Descartes.) For some particular topic or question, absent leaving your room, and possibly even then, you’ve currently exhausted all available evidence and thinking. It’s all been fed into the machine, and you have your best current answer, you’re done, until something relevant happens. Most people haven’t felt this truly done for now feeling; there are close things but they aren’t exactly it. It doesn’t mean you’re right (and it doesn’t mean you’re not accidentally entrenched) and it certainly doesn’t mean you’re manifold vulnerable to the the turkey problem (there’s a more classic or original formulation of this I can’t find), to bleen and grue, and maybe you deem it not safe to act yet, or maybe you don’t have enough data to render your settled thing coherent, even though you’ve run out of stuff that’s relevant to bring in, but here you are. This can take hundreds of hours per thing, and sharply pursuing settling isn’t recommended (comprehensive sort of layering and leveling may be strictly better, generally), but it is a phenomenon. New information might mean you de-settle hundreds of things, so neither is it necessarily good to completely settle particular topics, patches, regions, things. It can also inappropriately presuppose an ontology or thingness when it is done in error.
  • Hyperintensionality and goodness – Perhaps you disembed from language, in ways you fish-in-water didn’t know you could. Language becomes language games, even if truth and goodness are still a thing, or not. No improper reification, no improper or premature or entrenched ontological commitments, in the limit. And then, when map is mostly seen as map, and, sometimes before, with the right application of attention and submethod, hyperintensionality affords new dimensions of truth and goodness. If “morning star” and “evening star” refer to the same star, then the meaning of morning star and evening star are different, yet their referring is co-extensive. The same thing works for propositions or models or theories. If you consider there to be something “out there,” and you have a correspondence theory of the truth, and you (provisionally or not) subscribe to something like multischematism or directly unknowable noumena, then you can have overlapping patchworks of theories that in part *perfectly*, precisely if not accurately, cover the exact same part of the (provisional) territory. And this yields the possibility for *equivalent* truths (in the limit) that are *more and less good*. There is not “facts don’t have feelings.” One’s choice of truth has moral weight. One can hold “degree of truth” constant, and “referent patch of reality” constant, while altering the dimension of goodness of that truth. Some truths are benevolent, some truths are evil, and there is everything in between. (Note: This is not the same as framing, privileging the hypothesis, and other reminiscent things. Those are real things, and this is also a different, real thing.) Some people saying true things, even critically important true things, are coercive assholes (of course). But, importantly, in the limit you don’t need those coercive assholes at all, because there will be truth that is just as good as their truth, or heaping tons better, that does all the same work and more, but is morally/ethically better in how it functions and operates in the mind and world.

Revisitation of the Demon-Haunted World

I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
Why, so can I, or so can any man;
But will they come when you do call for them?

And so, on the one hand, we have wayfinding that can potentially yield fundamental metaphysics, the distilled metalanguage that we use to do math and science, a sense of universal causal mechanism and law, naturalism, objective morality, and so forth.

Your method, in community, should at least superficially track, recreate, and extend physics, medicine, cosmology… You better be able to put people on the moon, cure cancer, predict black holes, invent/discover math and computation, first-pass explain the brain with the free energy principle, and so on.

And, so what of our demon-haunted world, superstition, evil eyes, normal human schizophrenia, everyday psychosis, angels, demons, god, gods, bicameral minds, pantheons, powers, siddhis, psi, psychic powers, clairvoyance, remote viewing, magick, enlightenment, enlightenments, talking trees, living streams, heavenly visions, heavenly spheres, the sublime, the awesome, the fantastic and erotic, succubi and incubi, chakras and subtle energy bodies, inner realms and higher realms, the horrific the gruesome, spells, curses, dreams, portents, gateless gates and stateless states?

We have thought-stopping, single-term dismissal:

brain farts, mental illness, “brains,” evolutionary suboptimality/lack of selection pressure for X, (social) signaling, self-deception, superstition, folk theory, nonmechanistic theories or explanations, nonrigorous theories or explanations, “just so” evolutionary psychology, phlogiston, dormitive principles, vitalism, “sociology,” “psychology,” coincidence/birthday problem/black swan spaces (improbable things happen often), selection bias, survivorship bias, anthropic bias, etc.


But have you checked for yourself? Are you sure? Can you be more sure and what are the potential and expected benefits, costs, and opportunity costs? How would you even do that? What would it even mean to check for yourself for some of the above?

The straw-dismissal of checking for yourself is something like, “you have to trust experts sometimes, you can’t walk on the moon for yourself, and recreate all the QM experiments for yourself, and investigate all the original historical documents for yourself, rigorously test all the supposed psi phenomena for yourself, etc.” So there are relatively more and less trusted people and sources and social epistemology, and one can prioritize a limited amount of personal spot checking, and so on.

We’re all prioritizing, we’re all doing expert assessment, and we’re living and dying while we’re doing it, pursuing food, alone time, sex, relationships, kids, and the landscape is walking us.

But, say you had a method that you could do (mostly, sort of) alone in a room that left out nothing, that had to touch almost everything because of what mind are, how brains work, how knowledge is organized.

We are swimming in massively redundant information. Physical laws, fundamental metaphysics, the structure of consciousness, universalities, that which is exceptionless– they always already everywhere eternally and sempiternally run through the warp and weft of everything, at the very least by definition. There are some highly notable and liberating/emancipatory senses in which you already have everything you need. This isn’t exactly true, but it’s far more practically true than is immediately obvious.

Many of us long for an enchanted world. Some of us exhort to have joy in the merely real.

What if the merely real is enchanted?

Perhaps you would have to walk illusory hells and heavens, evaporatory visions and dreams, to find out. Perhaps some enchantments and ecstasies are transient and come with crippling opportunity cost. Perhaps you will burn relationships and money. Perhaps you will hurt the people around you, drive not only yourself insane but them as well, they end up on the street alongside you.

But maybe your life is or can be set up sufficiently that you can look for yourself, walk the heavens and the hells and the, ultimately, strange-ordinary and ordinary-ordinary. Maybe we can solve sociology-complete (cf NP-complete, AI-complete, mind-complete, economy-complete, world-complete) problems such that more people can investigate for themselves and everybody can take care of everybody.

Have you looked for yourself?

It starts with method. Excellence and mastery are worthy ideals.

Maybe everyone that manages to successfully look sees the same thing, and maybe some of those successful lookers figure out how to describe the view to those who can’t or haven’t yet made the journey, and maybe yet then we can all dwell together in truth and goodness and reality/actuality or at least do the absolute best we can, together.




why people can’t coordinate (and/or connect)

That’s kind of a clickbaity title, above. I think there’s deep truth in some of the below, but in another sense it’s just one 50,000 foot hot take. There are lots of different ways to slice this, more and less abstractly, more and less heartfelt or “from the inside,” and otherwise.

[some of the bullets below grabbed from other places and people]

Most people have a sort of plan with pieces like [no particular order]:

  • (a) become a shiny and/or happy person, with precise details X
  • (b) find the people, with precise details Y
  • (c) find the person (or very most intimate people), with precise details Z
  • (d) pursue excitement and interest R
  • (e) have babies or something
  • ([g]) be safe
  • (f) transformation

(The above is meant to gesture at something “surprisingly exhaustive,” albeit very vaguely and equivocally, though it’s a quick sketch and I probably left out one or more huge things.)

And people seem to differ on these strange and infrequently (if ever) enumerated dimensions of [no particular order]:

  • (1) how concrete or abstract their current image of (a-e) is.
  • (2) tolerance ranges for (a-e), like some people will hit “good enough” *really* quickly and other people *need* a particular experientially hyperprecise thing, and it can be different on different dimensions
  • (3) instrumental/temporal ordering e.g. (a) is for (b) or (b) is for (a) or (e) be pursued alongside (d), don’t move at all on (b) until (e) is in the bag…
  • (4) in-the-trenches-salience, for example if someone needs one or two things to be “hyperprecise” as in (2), that will consume a great deal of time and attention
  • (5) extreme deferrals or resignations. this is similar to (3) but qualitatively different because of how it shapes people’s behaviors and plans. for some people, some things are sort of pushed “right out of reality” either into the afterlife as it were or “always already”. And in one case, a person might build a “shell version” to seem normal or to get a facsimile or shadow of the thing and other people will sort of not be tracking it at all or will accept almost anything as the thing. (And, somewhere around here is tied into sexuality and sexual expression.)
  • (6) perception, whether accurate or not, on how resourced a person currently is (as well as how resourced they’ll be in the future). this includes concrete monetary savings and more abstractly what a person thinks they already have, how easy they think it’ll be to lose or reacquire those things, what they think they can get, and how hard it’ll be to get or figure out things, all of this will of course greatly affect a person’s future plans. this also includes sort of what things a person has already mostly “handled” or what “deep truths” they may or may not have already sussed out. this will also be correlated with age to some extent or perception of “time left for/until X”. and also beliefs about what the world is and what the world will or might be. actual and perceived current and future material conditions, and more.
  • (7) expectations around how all of (a-f) might change, with regard to time spent on (f) specifically. this includes beliefs about the self, beliefs about current and future resources, and so forth. and also belief about how long transformation will take and what might go wrong the meantime and how profoundly, and how much bandwidth transformation will consume, and how much help people need or not, and along what dimensions things might change, per person, as well as what’s possible in the meantime. and then sort of forbearance, patience, long-view, smart compassion, dumb compassion, meta-awareness of all the above, sometimes for better, sometimes for worse, will factor in.

(The list above isn’t intended to be exhaustive or mutually exclusive, though it might be either of those things, in some sense.)

So, differences in (a-f) and/but even more so differences in (1-6), not to mention how people smell to each other, and all sorts of other stuff, will profoundly affect alignment, people’s in-the-trenches ability/desire to work together, plan together, take risks together, play together, live together, share resources, raise kids, and so forth.