The Zero Effect Fallacy: problems with modern knowledge and the mechanized self

Two friends are talking about crazy medical treatments. The first one, Freddy, is full of enthusiasm and energy, saying "I bet if you rub carrots on your eyeballs, it will fix your near-sightedness!" Seeing Freddy caught up in yet another flawed pharmaceutical fad, the second friend, Nelson, adjusts his glasses and responds disdainfully: "No way, idiot. Rubbing carrots on your eyes does literally nothing to fix myopia. It’s totally useless!" Who’s right, and which attitude is more scientific?

In modern pop-science culture, positive statements ("carrots help your eyes") receive scrutiny and criticism while negative statements ("carrots don’t help your eyes at all") are given a free pass. But negative statements of the form "X does literally nothing" are extremely difficult to prove. The problems is that modern industrialized science tend to be highly reductionist, taking complex problems with millions of dimensions and reducing them down to a mere handful for the sake of testability and convenience. However, whatever works for convenience in application isn’t sufficient to give us a true and final answer in theory. It just means that, according to the dimensions that we chose to investigate, at that particular time, with those particular instruments, and with these methods and caveats, we weren’t able to measure an effect. It isn’t a conclusion to our investigation at all.

Most reasonable pop-science fanboys will agree with the previous paragraph in theory, but in practice, we still see this attitude, which I will call the "zero effect fallacy," show up very often in contemporary conversations. Here are some examples of what I mean by the "zero effect fallacy":

"Showing scary movies in the classroom has no influence on kids’ behaviors."

"Eating animal testicles does literally nothing to improve your health."

"Repeatedly kicking trees with your shins doesn’t do anything to strengthen your bones."

The zero effect fallacy is the false idea that you have proven the null hypothesis to be true. But this is an irrational leap of faith. A failure to prove an alternative hypothesis doesn’t mean you’ve successfully proved the opposite. This false equivalency has led to a disaster of moderate severity for truth-lovers in our generation.

Why is the zero effect fallacy so common among middle-class, white collar, moderately-educated science fans? Part of it is due to specific metaphysical assumptions of the human self which have become popular in our modern age: primarily the idea of the human as a stony, machine-like, atomized, modular Cartesian soul that is hardly influenced by its external environment. In this view of the human self, the human is always an active agent, never a passive receiver, and hardly changes or is affected by anything other than what it rationally chooses for itself. Any influencing power requires strong forces that are always consciously recognized. Mental and bodily phenomena are reduced to a rational, mechanistic processes of cause and effect, and these causal chains are very short, easily detected, don’t influence each other, and terminate quickly.

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Kuuchuu Buranko: empathy and humaneness

The search for a second Tatami Galaxy

I’m always looking for shows that are similar to The Tatami Galaxy (Yojouhan Shinwa Taikei / 四畳半神話大系 ). Why is that? Maybe it’s because it’s one of the first shows that I’d seen, borderline life-changing, that is really worth watching even if you hate anime, just because of its clever writing and literary value. With that being said, I think that people who loved Tatami Galaxy would greatly enjoy Kuuchuu Buranko / 空中ブランコ (Welcome to Irabu’s Office). The two shows are very similar in style and structure, and they share common themes about psychology and the complications of adult life.

Kuuchuu Buranko is about a psychiatrist called Dr. Irabu who sees various patients with different mental problems who get sucked up into crazy misadventures with both comedic and serious elements, covering topics like a prominent professor’s obvious toupee, heart-breaking divorce, accidentally burning down your house, and having to start life all over again on Christmas Eve. Most of the characters are seriously lovable and realistic, and we get to see the same events from different perspectives. The story involves personal growth and empathy but is accompanied with many healthy doses of irony and self-criticism.

In this review, I will offer some high level thoughts on what really stood out to me. You might enjoy reading this even if you have no intention of watching this show at all.

Flying Trapezeman (Yamashita) – First Episode

In my opinion, this is a great “first episode.” It successfully lays down all the motifs, which we will see repeated throughout the show, on top of a good and isolated episode that is funny, meaningful, and insightful, but not excessively dramatic as to be a distraction from the show, which is only just starting.

The bickering and fast shots of the foreign workers, who are just “babbling” in non-Japanese languages is not only hilarious but also shows how Yamashita is being overwhelmed and uncomfortable both in his own homeland and his own personal territory (circus arts, which have been passed down throughout his family for generations).

Even though the foreigners make Yamashita uncomfortable, with Yamashita believing in paranoia that they are laughing at him, we see them also depicted in a gentle and warm way, like benevolent muscular giants, and they have a certain friendly attitude towards Yamashita which is especially revealed when it turns out that Ali — the Turk — was only trying to give Yamashita advice on how to improve his performance. Yamashita also gradually warms up to these foreigners and “donates” extra food to them without letting them see him.

The conclusion of the episode ends up being fairly straightforward — Yamashita watches his own performance on video (which can sometimes be a highly traumatic experience for people who aren’t ready) — and realizes in the end that he was the one who was mistaken all along, and his semi-delusional unreliable narration (which we’ve seen also in the animation itself) comes to an end. Yamashita had been isolating himself as a response to his painful childhood, where he had been constantly on the move and being mocked by his neighbors and fellow countrymen. A great, steady start for what will soon become an amazing show.

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You already believe in God: a concise and modern argument

You heard me. You already believe in God. Atheism is logically impossible. Why? Because the definition of God is so broad and wide-reaching that it is essentially impossible to disbelieve. If you live in the modern West, you cannot exempt yourself from this, unless perhaps if you are: 1. a traditional Buddhist (no, shitty individualized English sutra-recitation doesn’t count), 2. a real nihilist (of whom there are very few), or 3. a radical ultra-skeptic (you do not qualify for this title if you browse Reddit or watch Rick & Morty).

So what’s a decent definition of God? Let’s start with what the Bhagavad Gita says:

I am the goal of life … I am the beginning, the staying, and the end of creation … I am what is and what is not.”

There is no truth superior to Me. Everything rests upon Me, as pearls are strung on a thread.”

We can see here at least four things identifiable with God: the purpose of life, the entirety of the universe, Existence itself, and Absolute truth. What does this mean for atheism? It means that if you believe in any of these things, you believe in God. This is not something that most people can choose to disbelieve in. Although there are many who claim that human life has no meaning, there are few who are willing to say that the universe has no origin, that Existence does not exist, or that truth is not truth. Western atheism is, fundamentally, not about belief or disbelief but about definitions. If you believe that there is existence, you must believe in God.

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What is the “Parasyte Glare”? A look at Madhouse’s currently-airing anime

What does it mean for something to be faithful to the original work? Producing a faithful adaptation involves more than just copying the precise happenings of a story. It’s about capturing the spirit of the original work. And unfortunately, Madhouse does an injustice to Hitoshi Iwaaki’s original manga, transforming the story from a classic horror story to a new age science fiction action anime.

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Download the Ping Pong OST v2 Bundle + Extra [FLAC and 320 kbps]

In response to various and very legitimate criticisms of my previous torrents, here is a revised v2 bundle of the audio with the Extra soundtrack files included as well. Album art, tagging, and everything has been included now. This is the soundtrack for Ping Pong: The Animation, ready for download.


  • Where are the Japanese track titles? These ARE the Japanese track titles. The box set comes completely with English titles, except for Track 39 on Disc 1, Te no Hira wo Tai You ni.
  • Did you actually purchase the whole box set? Yeah, it was awesome.
  • How much did the box set cost? Can I still buy it? Yes, you can still buy it. It was about 300 dollars.
  • What is the encoding and quality on the mp3 files? The mp3 files are encoded with FLACSquisher with quality mode set to 320 kbps. Average bit rate is around 300 kbps.

FLAC Torrent:

320 kbps (really!) mp3 Torrent:


ping pong cover

Ping Pong: The Animation EXTRA OST! [320 kbps] with download

UPDATE! Please check out version 2 of this torrent here:


The Ping Pong box set comes with an EXTRA ost, so here it is:

320 kbps MP3 Torrent:

320 kbps MP3 DDL, with metadata tags*:

*Contributed by a kind user on /a/

Ping Pong: The Animation OST [320 kbps], with download links

UPDATE! Please check out version 2 of this torrent here:

My Ping Pong: The Animation box set just came in today, and I’m uploading all the files to youtube.

By the way, if you enjoyed Ping Pong, please feel free to look at my analysis of it

YouTube playlist:

Download links:

FLAC Torrent:

320 kbps MP3 Torrent: