Three stories by Scott Alexander Siskind

“Is it true,” asked the student, “that the gods only have power because we believe in them?”

“Yes,” said the sage. “It is true.”

“If everyone believed I was a god, would I become a god?”

“You have said it.”

So the student traveled the land, dominant assurance contract in hand. Everywhere he went, he told the people, “Sign this contract, that if everyone in the land signs the contract, you agree to worship me as a god.”

The people were skeptical. “Why should we worship you.? But the student won them over. To the Northmen, he promised that upon attaining divine powers, he would stop their long civil war. To the Westmen, he promised to humiliate their enemies the Eastmen. To the Eastmen, he promised to protect them from their enemies the Westmen. And the Southmen, he promised to make them as rich as they currently were poor.

Click on The Gods Only Have Power Because We Believe In Them for the full post.

“Hello, welcome to the temple of the three omniscient idols, one of which always tells the truth, one of which always lies, and one of which answers randomly. I know you already signed the release form, but I’m supposed to remind you that Idol Temple LLC does not know which idol is which and cannot provide you with – “

The petitioner, a man with slick blond hair, cut me off. “Ha, no problem! I’m gonna ask each idol for next week’s Powerball numbers, then buy three tickets.” Before I could respond, he shouted “Left idol! What are next week’s winning Powerball numbers?”

3, 15, 26, 63, 65, and 16,” said the left idol, in a voice like if a vampire bat could speak.

“Center idol, what are next week’s winning Powerball numbers?”

8, 22, 24, 45, 50, and 55,” said the center idol, in a voice like the crackling of Venusian lightning against thick cloud-banks.

“Right idol, what are next week’s winning Powerball numbers?”

Any who disrespect the omniscient idols by misusing their knowledge for sordid financial gain will, after their death, be sent to the bottom-most layer of Hell, where venomous worms will gnaw at their organs from the inside forever, never to know rest or surcease from pain” said the right idol, in a monotone.

“What?” the man asked me, helplessly. “Is that true?”

Click on Idol Words for the full post.

“You know ViraCoin?”

“No, tell me about them.”

“New crypto. You mine it by promoting about it. Once every eight minutes, a decentralized algorithm searches for tweets containing the word ‘ViraCoin’ with a positive sentiment score, weights them by number of likes, and then picks one at random to award a ViraCoin to.”


“No, you don’t understand. This is just the first step. Once we make it super-big, we’ll introduce other things into the algorithm. Charities. Political causes. We’ll have millions of people competing to praise UNICEF in order to get that next million-dollar ViraCoin drop. If you think about it, all problems are caused by lack of awareness. We’re an at-scale solution to awareness. Solve that, and you solve poverty, inequality, racism…”

You wander off. There’s an open bedroom, with a few people sitting on the bed talking inside. A woman in a blue dress is saying something about how she’s trying to build a secular scientific interpretation of Buddhism.

“There’s no alpha left in secular scientific interpretations of Buddhism,” says the guy on her right, a thin white man with a carefully trimmed beard. “Half of California spent the past hundred years trying to create secular scientific interpretations of Buddhism, you can’t throw a stone without hitting one.”

“You don’t understand,” says the woman, “they stopped halfway. There are a bunch of Buddhist doctrines nobody’s ever come up with secular rationalist versions of. Like reincarnation. You ask those Californians about Buddhism, they’ll say it’s all just about brain waves and mindfulness, but change the topic when you get to reincarnation, or say it’s all an ignorant myth.”

“So how do you come up with a secular scientific interpretation of reincarnation?”

Click on Every Bay Area House Party for the full post.


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