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451 points by crazypython on May 11, 2021 | hide | past | favorite | 193 comments

> SCP-2521 (also known as ●●|●●●●●|●●|●) is a Keter-level SCP not currently contained by the SCP Foundation. He is a creature who steals every piece of information about his nature, as long as the information is expressed in textual or verbal form. Because of that, nearly everything about him is registered by ideograms and pictures.

from https://villains.fandom.com/wiki/SCP-2521

If I were working for the SCP foundation, I'd be putting some D-class personnel on the problem of figuring out where exactly the line between ideograms/pictures and "textual or verbal form" lies. Can you describe it in Chinese writing? A https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rebus? Is the determinant whether any sound sequences used for human communication are being encoded? What about only using the purely pictographic Chinese characters, or https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blissymbols?

(What about a picture of the waveform of a verbal description? ...a complete scifi brain scan of someone who understands what it is?)

Looking at it from first principles:

Information given in the SCP tell us that digitally stored files are affected to. That seems to mean digitally stored text.

Text in a digital form is just a way to indirectly reference pictures to be shown on the screen or printed. Sometimes it's a straight lookup table correspondence (ASCII), sometimes more complex (Unicode); there may be noise (OOXML). I'd guess that, in context of this SCP, a PNG with letters on it would count as text too.

This suggests that the issue isn't with a representation format, but the interpretation of it - or at least in a way the representation is processed by human minds.

I put forward a hypothesis that the relevant recognition criteria is words being recognized from sensory inputs by the human brain, and backtracking to most direct source of these words. This would explain the results of both documented tests. I propose following further tests to be made:

- Repeating Test 1, but blindfolding the test subject before telling them to write words down, so that they can't see them. Expected outcome: like in Test 2.

- Repeating Test 2, but instructing the test subject to not repeat the words heard out loud. Expected outcome: like in Test 2.

- Repeating Test 2 with the test subject incapable of hearing. Expected outcome: nothing happens.

- Repeating Test 2, using a machine recording sounds and replaying them after a delay, in place of the test subject. Expected outcome: nothing happens.

- Repeating Test 1, using a computer connected to a microphone and a printer, in place of test subject; the machine would run a dictation algorithm to print the spoken words. Expected outcome: nothing happens.

I don't think either test involved the speaker conveying information about the SCP to the subject. The information was pinned to the wall in pictogram form.

In test 1, the subject was commanded to translate the pictograms into text.

In test 2 the subject was commanded to describe the pictograms verbally.

Huh, the server has not been stolen yet, maybe it doesn't work the way we think.

It was actually for this reason alone that a top secret team of scientists came up with wingdings.

This reminds me of an all-time favorite essay: https://www.scottaaronson.com/blog/?p=2756

"We can ask: if consciousness is reducible to computation, then what kinds of computation suffice to bring about consciousness? What if each person on earth simulated one neuron in your brain, communicating by passing little slips of paper around? Does it matter if they do it really fast?

Or what if we built a gigantic lookup table that hard-coded your responses in every possible interaction of at most, say, 5 minutes? Would that bring about your consciousness? Does it matter that such a lookup table couldn’t fit in the observable universe? Would it matter if anyone actually consulted the table, or could it just sit there, silently effecting your consciousness? For what matter, what difference does it make if the lookup table physically exists—why isn’t its abstract mathematical existence enough?"

> What if each person on earth simulated one neuron in your brain, communicating by passing little slips of paper around?

I do think this kind of group consciousness or meta consciousness exists, on many layers even. That's how society works.

For that matter, does it make a difference if neurons are acoustically coupled or electrically coupled? Why do we think of brains as stopping at the skull?

It all boils down to where you draw the border of "self". It's relatively easy to draw a gaussian shell around your brain, but do you also draw it around your physical body?

Do you draw your shell around your children?

What about your group identity such as your neighborhood, town, sports team, or country.

Can you draw this shell around abstract ideas that you consider core to your being?

Where you draw that shell might change your level of empathy for other people.

That does raise the question of where group consciousness ends though:

* Is my immune system conscious?

* Is my family conscious?

* Is my community conscious?

* Is my country conscious?

* Is the universe conscious?

> Is my immune system conscious?

What's all this RNA doing in here? Why am I making so many of these stupid spiky things? Dammit, now I've got to clean up this mess.

3 weeks later: What the fuck, not this shit again.

Humans always looking for bright lines of demarcation.

Consciousness is not a well defined concept. Any line you draw between conscious and non-conscious is arbitrary. So where do you want to draw the line?

Panpsychist and pantheist here: yes.

Yep. Anyone who's spent more than five minutes watching an anthill should understand that more or less intuitively.

We're just bigger ants, is all.

Greg Egan's Permutation City is a story that takes a pretty interesting approach (and, trying to not give away too much, extreme perspective) to this question. I would stop short of glowingly recommending it because I found the storytelling itself to be only okay, but the core idea and take on this matter itself was one of the most memorable concepts I've seen in hard scifi.

Permutation City is the most fresh and insightful view on consciousness I have ever read. Every page is mindblow after mindblow of ideas you thought you knew but have never seen them taken to those consequences. I look at computer science as a beautiful philosophical minefield of interesting takes on language, existence and consciousness, and Greg Egan is a huge part of that. I never found someone who writes like him.

IMO, Greg Egan is one of the greatest geniuses I've ever come across, and I strongly recommend his novels and stories ... but I think it's worth noting that he's said that he doesn't believe that the theory of consciousness that Permutation City is based on can be true.

This table already exists somewhere in Pi. In fact, somewhere in there is an encoding of the entire universe as it exists at the moment you read this. It also contains this moment, and every other moment you ever have or will experience.

If the flow of time was compared to a new deck of playing cards, would it matter if they were shuffled? Given any individual card, the previous and next cards can be determined.

Heck, every event in the universe is there in Pi, in order too.

"If Materialism is true, the United States is likely conscious."


Ok, just read the linked article, and there was one part about putting a person in a superposition and what that might be like.

I have a weird theory connected to the "one electron universe" that at the moment right before the big bang there was 1 particle. Because of relativity it's position and velocity must have been exactly 0, but this violates uncertainty, so the particle instantly becomes infinitely uncertain.

Everything that happens in the universe is just part of the process of the waveform of that event collapsing.

Isn't this the same construct as Searle's Chinese Room ?

It's the Chinese Mind thought experiment

It's the Oriental Oracle experiment

Well, whoever wrote that is fucked.

Nah, 2521 would just take the piece of paper it's written on. If someone said it out loud, then they're fucked.

Now I wonder if he detects indirect statements and exhaustive lies, e.g. "The creature is in $CONTINENT" for all continents but one.


I just tried to wipe that off my screen.

Oh damn it now I have to throw my laptop away.

But ideograms and pictures can be also pronounced verbally. So what the SCP does is to steal any encoded information about him?

But then it would stole every random bit because any information can be theoretically decoded as random bits!

Okay, then, we put a random text on a paper and observe if that thing steals the paper. If not, that is truly a random number that cannot be decoded in any meaningful way.

Which means we found the Chaitin's constant which could be used for solving any problem. cf. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaitin%27s_constant

See, Sci-fi is stupid.

This is because self-referential jokes are the funniest ­— like this one.

The only thing I understood on the site link was the advertisement for IcyHot pain reliever. (>_<)

Well then how did I read your comment?

delete this

Is that the roko basilisk all over again?

For additional context: this was the winning entry in the SCP's Short Works Contest[1]. The idea was: can you make a good SCP entry in under 500 words? Bonus points if it's under 237 words, the length of the first ever entry.

Of course, the entry with zero words won.

[1]: http://scp-wiki.wikidot.com/short-works-contest

browsed the site for a few min, understood nothing

The SCP Foundation is a fictional wiki describing paranormal objects or entities (each labeled SCP-##), written from the perspective of the "SCP Foundation", SCP standing for Secure, Contain, Protect. Each page describes a new object, research done on the SCP, and containment protocols.

It's a fun read and easy to get sucked down a rabbithole

SCP also stands for "Secure Containment Procedure" when used in the context of a numbered SCP, as distinct from the SCP foundation.

I really like this from the idea of conveying information - the containment requirements come first as they're most important. It's a useful thing to think about when writing and email. Also really like it as a global collaborative writing project.

Seems like that's a common thread for 'shortest X' contents, like that 0-byte IOOCC entry.

What's IOOCC (no Google results), and what was that entry? Could you link to it?

They probably meant to say "IOCCC," the International Obfuscated C Code Contest and they're referring I think to this entry:


Wow, that Makefile rule...

    smr: smr.c
        @${RM} -rf smr
        ${CP} smr.c smr
        ${CHMOD} +x smr

why the "wow"? Looks ok to me.

Copy a .c file to an executable is definitely not ok, normally you'd call the compiler here.

It only works because it is a very special c file.

It's a misspelling of IOCCC - international obfuscated C coding competition.

Does misspelling count as obfuscation?

SCP Wiki has really matured over the years; it started out as creepypasta and murder monsters -- many of them well-written, to be sure, and an interesting setting -- but still just basically straightforward horror stories.

In recent years some of the writers there have really upped their game, they're tackling much more nuanced and complicated issues than "SCARY THING WILL DESTROY WORLD". I'm particularly fond of http://www.scpwiki.com/scp-5031, for example, which directly addresses those aspects of the early site in a very humorous way.

This is a good long form SCP read: http://www.scpwiki.com/antimemetics-division-hub

At least one of the authors of that section ("qntm") has Kindle and print versions of those and other stories on Amazon (search "There Is No Antimemetics Division") if you want to support them...

I really loved reading through this one. Such a great idea for a story.

If you liked this story line, check out the author's other work on http://qntm.org.

Amazing story.

thanks for ruining my sleep schedule

Bravo. 5031 was a brilliant read. (“Salt”, OMG.)

First encountered SCP by chance, absolutely baffling - so much fictional detail. Favorite is the self-filling whiskey tumbler.

My personal favourites outside those already mentioned are SCP-5000 (rather difficult to understand without a decent bit of knowledge of the other SCP-X000's), When Day Breaks, and End of Death.

http://www.scpwiki.com/scp-5000 http://www.scpwiki.com/shaggydredlocks-proposal http://www.scpwiki.com/end-of-death-hub

Also for good fun Three Portlands is enjoyable.


In my eyes, this maturation has come at the expense of the creativity of SCP. Everything feels so sterile now. You have angels, demons, racist monsters that communicate through condensation on windows... SCP, and similar works of fiction, thrive off letting the _reader's_ imagination run wild. In practice, the more you write, the more is known about an SCP, the less interesting it becomes.

The writers of Control knew this. The "Pinstripe World" dead letter[1] is better than any recent SCP I've read, and it's literally just a single sentence repeated ad nauseam. The SCP writers might be better now, but I find their writing much less interesting.

[1] https://control.fandom.com/wiki/Correspondence:_Pinstripe_Wo...

Personally I tend to find the "Tales" less interesting -- the creative constraints imposed by writing everything in terms of containment procedures are where much of the fun comes from in my opinion -- but in general I can't say I agree that over-explaining is a new problem. Finding the right balance of how much to explain vs how much to leave to the reader's imagination is pretty much the whole deal in this type of writing (or horror writing in general!) and not everyone hits the mark, that's been the case all along I think.

Aww, a genuinely heartwarming scp. I love it!

Very cute story, although I was hoping by the end of the story that SCP-5031 would be fully rehabilitated and inducted into SCP as an operative or something. It'd be cruel to continue to imprison this sentient being who has learned not to kill. Also, why Keter class? It doesn't seem to have any magical ability to escape captivity.

The author explains the Keter classification in the discussion: "It's a slightly meta nod to the old days (and the coldposts that ape them) where every spooky murder monster had to be Keter. I imagine there was a similar tendency in-universe as well."

having Gears shoot Kondraki was the smartest move that O-5 ever made.

I love this :)

Some other Internet 'lore' rabbitholes:

* SilvaGunner (also: Unregistered HyperCam 2): https://siivagunner.fandom.com/wiki/SiIvaGunner_Wiki

* Pronounciation Book / horse_ebooks: https://77days.fandom.com/wiki/Pronunciation_Book_Conspiracy...

* Cicada 3301: http://www.cicada3301.org

I'm cataloguing some of these here: https://href.cool/Stories/Folkmeme

Interested to hear about other favorites of yours!

One of my favourites:

> John Titor is a name used on several bulletin boards during 2000 and 2001 by a poster claiming to be an American military time traveler from 2036. Titor made numerous vague and specific predictions regarding calamitous events in 2004 and beyond, including a nuclear war. Inconsistencies in his explanations, the uniform inaccuracy of his predictions, and a private investigator's findings all led to the general impression that the entire episode was an elaborate hoax.


And of course, the anime based off of John Titor's legend: Steins;Gate (and other urban legends: such as miniature black holes are being created by "SERN" in the LHC: the obvious play on CERN in the real world).

A pretty funny (and horrific!!) "what if" scenario if a lot of those legends happened to be true. I have my doubts if it has aged very well: a lot of the pull of that anime was that it felt very "in the now"... where "now" was ~2010 when it was released. Those urban legends / online conspiracy theories have a short lifespan, and I doubt that many people today would pick up on all of the stuff integrated into that story.

The urban legends may have an expiry date, but "tuturuu~" is timeless.

That's true. A lot of the characters are very memorable and stand on their own, even without any context of the urban legends.

Isn't that right Chrrrrris-TINA!!


I imagine it also had a measurable impact on the sales of Dr Pepper. It took me a year to kick the habit of drinking it, which started after binge-watching Steins;Gate.

I don't know if you've seen Steins;Gate 0 (the sequel?) to Steins;Gate (technically it happens in between the last and second to last episodes) but I say the series holds up about as well as it could have.

There are some rough parts but it's a pretty solid series overall. Arguably the VN is a better portrayal but that gets into a whole other discussion.

I gave it a watch recently and while I certainly can't say how well it must have hit a decade ago, I found the overall experience to be enjoyable.

LEMMiNO has a nice 18 minutes documentary and summary on Cicada 3301: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I2O7blSSzpI


Some "internet lore" off the top of my head:

* Body builders try to figure out how many days are in a week, summary dramatised here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eECjjLNAOd4

* Time Cube: https://timecube.2enp.com/


EDIT: speaking of SilvaGunner, I've never heard this name before, I found two mentions of it on two unrelated YouTube videos in the past 3 hours. Incredible. Baader–Meinhof strikes again.

Does anyone else remember EPIC 2014? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EPIC_2014

I thought it was crazy how many of these turned out to be mostly right (even if the explicit stuff about mergers and lawsuits was wrong)

These 'going deep' videos also bring to mind 'The Lasangacat Monologue': https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NAh9oLs67Cw (Originally ran across this in HN comments btw)

Cicada 3301 is also a movie now released in 2021, I was surprised it had some basis in reality.

lol thanks for the body builders link

Also interested in stuff like the 847-page 'please will anyone speak to about anything to me' historical document.


What in hell is that????

It was an Internet phenomenon caused by a quirk in Google's "I'm feeling lucky" ranking.


HN: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25532050

One of my favorite classics that I didn't see in your catalogue is Ted the Caver[1].

[1] https://www.angelfire.com/trek/caver/



I bought his book back in the day. His main website is offline but he's still around and doing ok it seems

Legend of the 10 Elemental Masters is a masterpiece, never read anything remotely like it.

Its still available!


Review from the Lulu page:

This book is nothing like anything you've ever read before. The author himself doesn't read at all, so the book basically reinvents the concept of the book, built on a background of video games and a serious obsession with numbers. If you are a very 'literate' reader and unable to read anything without seeing it against the conventions of a thousand years of literary tradition, you'll have trouble enjoying this book. If you can keep a very open mind, you'll get a rare glimpse to a world seen by a mind that doesn't work like most of ours. I would like to call this a gem of outsider literature, but the term suffers from association with lunacy and incompetence. Nick Smith is neither. He is very conscious of the peculiar workings of his mind, and follows confidently the path laid out by those peculiarities, and the result is something wonderful. Highly recommended! Review by Heikki Malkki

Very curious. I've ordered it, thanks for the link.

+1 on SiIvagunner (with a capital i!), the amount of variation they provide on a daily basis has quickly made them my go-to focus music.

Maybe not as long but enough for a couple of nights: The Hunt for the Death Valley Germans:


The Publius enigma (Pink Floyd) had me quite curious back in my BBS / Usenet days.


If you're new to SCP, I suggest starting with qntm's Antimemetics stories. They're well written and self-contained. You can read them for free online or buy the ebook: https://qntm.org/scp

The ebook is inexpensive and drm-free. I totally recommend if you never read anything from SCP.

There is also Don't change color, Kitty, the "10000 - Year Earworm to Discourage Settlement Near Nuclear Waste Repositories".


Did anything ever come of this? Were the ideas ever implemented in the real world?

Regrettably, the actual markers at the WIPP burial site are far more boring and government-y: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:WIPP_Large_Surface_M...

The deliberately use simple language, and then go and use "berm" in a way that makes it pretty hard to understand without knowing what a "berm" is. I know a lot of English words, but I'd have to look that one up.

It also optimistically assumes the intended readers, living in the future, will have finally adopted the metric system.

If you're fancy, make the signs exactly 1m by 1m, and say "a meter is the width of this sign". Or make the sign oversized and mark out a meter box within the perimeter, to account for edge damage.

The Wikipedia page for WIPP still mentions that "[warning information] will be recorded in the six official languages of the United Nations (English, Spanish, Russian, French, Chinese, Arabic) as well as the Native American Navajo language native to the region, with additional space for translation into future languages. Pictograms are also being considered, such as stick figure images and the iconic The Scream from Edvard Munch's painting."

A great video about Fear of Depths briefly talks about this: https://youtu.be/7MOKTU9tCbw?t=1299 (timestamped at 21:39 when they mention WIPP, but I highly recommend the whole video)

Thinking of The Scream reminded me of the man from the 'Supa Hot Fire' meme. Very similar expressions with different intentions highlight how difficult this problem is.

I heard they concluded the best sign was no sign. Any sign would draw attention to the site if it could not be understood. The best thing to do is to bury waste as deep as possible in secure and boring (geologically) locations to reduce the chances of anyone digging.

There's a common theme among fantasy stories of a race of (usually dwarves) that 'dug too deep' and uncovered something evil underground. It's interesting that this cautionary tale already seems embedded in our lore. I wonder why? Have we made this mistake before, at some point in our forgotten past?

Probably not, but it's interesting to think about.

"dug straight down" and fell in a cave... cave might have been full of something that eats flesh like piranha or bacteria, or even just angry bats...

Seems pretty trivial for this kind of lore to get started.

Yeah, or heavier than air gasses settling in the bottom of caves that silently kill anyone who enters.

Maybe those stories refer to natural fission reactors. Cursed stones buried deep in the ground that heat themselves and kill people who comes too close.

As a Jeep owner I was excited for a brief moment.


Can someone explain to me what am I reading here? Everyone is mentioning SCP. What is SCP?

> The SCP Foundation[note 3] is a fictional organization documented by the web-based collaborative-fiction project of the same name. Within the website's fictional setting, the SCP Foundation is responsible for locating and containing individuals, entities, locations, and objects that violate natural law (referred to as SCPs). The real-world website is community-based and includes elements of many genres such as horror, science fiction, and urban fantasy.

> On the SCP Foundation wiki, the majority of works consist of "special containment procedures", structured internal documentation that describes an SCP object and the means of keeping it contained. The website also contains thousands of "Foundation Tales", short stories that take place within the SCP Foundation setting. The series has been praised for its ability to convey horror through its scientific and academic writing style, as well as for its high standards of quality.

> The Foundation has inspired numerous spin-off works, including the horror indie video games SCP – Containment Breach and SCP: Secret Laboratory.


If you're interested in SCP, this game might also be of interest: https://store.steampowered.com/app/870780/Control_Ultimate_E...

This is one of the most enjoyable action games I've played recently. The things it does with visual design, shaders, perspective, and environments are incredibly impressive.

Ah yes, the wonderful world of SCPs. When I first discovered the subreddit[0] I read through a ton of them. Some are very well written and the whole universe is very interesting. Would recommend to anyone interested in sci-fi.

0. https://old.reddit.com/r/scp

The Antimemetics Division stories are very well written, and make for some great reading.


Imagine fighting something that actively eats any knowledge about itself and anything you know about it, including yourself.

You can now buy it as an e-book or paperback from the original author: https://qntm.org/scp

If you like this, you should also consider reading qntm's other work -- I thought `Ra` and `Fine Structure` were particularly good:


Oh wow! I didn't know he was the same author. I've been looking all over for the Fine Structure website since reading it ages ago and lost my bookmark. Thank you!

Highly recommend. One of my favourite books from last year, probably the most surprising one. It reads like one coherent book, not just a collection of short stories.

I can highly HIGHLY recommend reading this. I blazed through it within 24 hours.

Favorite pun: "digitized" to describe being absorbed by a monster consisting of a mass of fingers...

Loved this series. IMO many scp hubs/stories are low-quality or have unsavory themes. This series avoids the worst of that and tackles a difficult problem in a thoughtful way.

Just give some context about what is the SCP (I had no clue): https://villains.fandom.com/wiki/SCP_Foundation

For a time, I read through hundreds of them, but then I had a bad trip involving seeing a lot of imagery from them, and it rather soured me on reading more.

Yeah, if you're in the habit of taking such trips, I think I'd recommend considering very carefully whether you want to start reading through that wiki. There are some real-life, no fooling psychologically-hazardous things to read on there.

Any recommendations on those hazardous things?

Obviously, by the nature of the question, existential horror trigger warning. Further, bear in mind that your reactions may vary; none of these particularly bother me because for better or worse I have my own solid opinions on such matters.

A lot of people have a bad reaction to http://scp-wiki.wikidot.com/scp-2718 . An entire "canon" (collection of stories and sometimes some SCP entries) that can be similarly rough is http://www.scpwiki.com/end-of-death-hub . Here's a roughly-equivalent reddit question: https://www.reddit.com/r/SCP/comments/ai3aik/recommendations... & if you're serious, by all means feel free to post your question there, the community as a whole never tires of answering it (no sarcasm).

But I would just say in general that if you've got a "hole" in your psyche, hundreds of writers across thousands of articles will eventually find it. No joke. For instance, I'm sure a lot of people would just bounce off of http://www.scpwiki.com/scp-5045 but it spoke to me, probably because I've played rather too many video games from an era where those sorts of graphics were current and I've got neural pathways adding overtones related to the graphics that a younger person probably doesn't. (But said younger person might have found Herobrine stories legitimately spooky at some point.)

(5045 is a bit of a "format screw", which is to say, it has stuff hidden beyond the usual text, images, and clearly-labelled expandable drop-downs that most of the Wiki is built with. Be sure to click on the images as you go along. Most images in the Wiki don't do anything but many of these do. But not all.)

You talked about SCP-2718. Don't waste time clearing your cache.


I felt a peculiar chill down my spine the day I learned about Roko's Basilisk and Information Hazards: there must exist some thought/concept/idea that just learning about it puts your life in danger.

"[T]he founder of LessWrong, Eliezer Yudkowsky [...] reacted with horror. [...] Yudkowsky said that Roko had already given nightmares to several LessWrong users and had brought them to the point of breakdown. Yudkowsky ended up deleting the thread completely, thus assuring that Roko’s Basilisk would become the stuff of legend. It was a thought experiment so dangerous that merely thinking about it was hazardous not only to your mental health, but to your very fate."


To be honest I'm not sure I understand this one exactly, but given the definition of <information hazard> I'm not sure I want to go deeper than this comment ever again.

It's a thought experiment on the viability of retrocausal blackmail, a techno-futurist rebranding of conventional christian eschatology. The real-life hazard is minimal, although probably not strictly zero.

There are known real informational hazards for humans, but they generally only affect people with epilepsy or those predisposed to staring at odd optical illusions for longer periods of time than most would consider reasonable.

Do you have any examples or references for real informational hazards for humans? I'd love to read more about that

Absolutely! I'm afraid they're actually pretty boring though.

The most common informational hazards are varying forms of behavioral modifiers, e.g. advertising, religions/cults, state-sponsored propaganda. Edward Bernays' is one of the more interesting people to study here, both through his written works (namely Crystalizing Public Opinion and Propaganda, both from the 1920's) and his later actions (popularizing female smoking, helping fruit companies and the CIA overthrow South American governments, etc). Roko's Basilisk falls into this category, if you want to think about it really hard it can hurt you but(somewhat ironically) the only people really susceptible are pseudo-intellectuals who congregate on places like lesswrong.

Next up are simple forms of adversarial inputs such as discordant sounds or rapidly blinking lights. People's susceptibility to these varies, generally only those with neurological disorders (epilepsy, severe misophonia) are severely impacted by known tech. Applied examples include LRADs, dazzlers[0], and/or some bowling alleys.

Last up there is at least one true informational hazard where perception alone is enough to disrupt the underlying structure of your brain (or at least your visual cortex). It's called the McCollough effect, and I'm not going to link to it but if you're curious a quick glance is generally safe. On the surface it's a simple color shifting optical illusion, but unlike most of those, if you stare at it for more than a handful of seconds, the aftereffect lasts for months.

[0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dazzler_(weapon), the boring ones are based on just blinding while the interesting ones attempt to disorient your brain with high frequency color patterns

Thanks for the reminder, I've read about Bernays before (maybe in the Century of the Self documentary?) and forgot that I've been meaning to study him more. I think behavioral modifiers is a great example. That's the exact kind of thing I was hoping for; something that reveals vulnerabilities we have but feel like we shouldn't.

I also love the adversarial inputs and McCollough effect. Another example of what I mean: it shows how we're fundamentally just machines that have exploits like any other, and in a very dangerous way.

Thanks for sharing; I find stories and topics that try to elevate and glorify mankind tired and repetitive. In contrast I find things that reveal the dark sides and weaknesses of humankind endlessly fascinating. Unfortunately those topics don't seem to be as popular to create content about.

I find these types of things to be a lot more interesting as well. With respect the behavioral modifiers I feel like they really help explain how societies actually function, once you start paying attention you see just how effective and pervasive they really are.

This study[0] discusses adversarial images which fool both ML classifiers and time limited humans, a rather interesting development in the field.

It's a good space to keep an eye on in general, at some point someone's probably going to discover a snowcrash-level informational hazard and it would be nice to have some warning.

[0]: https://arxiv.org/pdf/1802.08195.pdf

I agree with whoever said it's just a variation on Pascal's wager.

I gotta admit that playing a bunch of the SCP animations on youtube is pretty entertaining. Multiple channels do a nice job of bringing life to the entries.

My 11-year-old son is absolutely obsessed with SCP stuff. Never in a million years did I think I'd see something about it here. Wow.

It's definitely not "just kid stuff" if it gives that impression. There's some seriously talented writers out there that can really grab your imagination.

I recall one "tale" that about a time when SCP failed to secure everything all at once, and a normal guy is detailing the world basically falling apart as long as he can.

In the right hands a lot of these stories could make magnificent movies, but that's a long shot.

I believe that’s “Document Recovered From the Bottom of the Mariana Trench” - http://www.scpwiki.com/document-recovered-from-the-marianas-...

Sounds like an 001 story. For my personal favorite one read "When Day Breaks."

Be sure to check out the discussion page for links to the original artwork:



I get that this is instructions / data about a baddie that steals all written / spoken information about itself. Including the person who spoke it.

BUT, what is the bit about half way down showing that you cannot share the pictoral data with people 0,1,2, or 3, but you can share with 4 and ... 0.5?

Security clearance, only level 4 or higher. An O-5 is one of the directors of The Foundation.

In people like these and haven't tried playing the game `Control`, you definitely should. It is very heavily inspired by the SCP project, and is a super fun and interesting game.

the domain being “wikidot” really threw me off

Could the person who made the entry write in abstract? Like what if I say: you shouldn't write or talk about beings that don't want to be written or talked about.

One of the general principles of the SCP-verse is that it hates rules lawyers. If you try to get clever, things tend to react even worse. This is used in-universe as an explanation of why they "contain" rather than "destroy". One of my favorite examples, albeit a very old one now, is http://www.scpwiki.com/scp-145 .

Another really good example of that is SCP-1609: http://www.scpwiki.com/scp-1609

That Depends.

There may be classes of infovores and memetic cognitohazards which are not triggered by information so general that it does not assert the actual existence of any given entity.

As I recall, in one of the antimemetic stories they can (with some intentional effort) remember and describe what it isn’t: “It isn’t... round.”

I believe that was SCP-055

They aren't scientists doing research, they are cops keeping dangerous things in prison. Secure, contain, protect.

This website has some truly great stories. Where/how do I begin to understand this one?

Read on, I found I could figure out most of it on the go.

I still don't understand this part, though: https://scp-wiki.wdfiles.com/local--files/scp-2521/clearance...

Those are in-universe classification levels. It says low-level personnel are not allowed to access this file, only Level 4 and O5, the latter being the top tier Foundation ruling council. So that one can't really be decoded without a bit of SCP-specific knowledge.

This part is talking about who is allowed to view the materials. Level 4 and O5 are the top people of the foundation and the information is only allowed to be seen by them.

Probably that the data contained therein is authorized for foundation members at O5 and O4 level


Information must only be shared with those of level 4 clearance or higher.

Edit: Oh wow, a lot of people replied between my last page refresh.

Information about this SCP is not to be given to anyone with a clearance level below level 4. (Including the O5's)

Can't edit: AND* the O5's.

Access to information restricted to Level 4 clearance and O5 council only.

The important thing is that 2521 (ohgod don't hurt me) seeks out and destroys everything which contains information about itself, but only if that information is words. It doesn't destroy pictorial representations.

Reminds me of the Chandrian. Haliax is afterall a shadowy figure that is obsessed with keeping themselves secret without any clear goals.

Weaponizing this would be fantastic for use in ransomware.

"Pay us crypto or else we'll overwrite your disks with data about SCP-2521"

But this sentence is about him, isn't it?

Well let me be the first to say: I'm intrigued.

For a fly, this is the stuff that nightmares are made of

This gives me an idea for a way to easily and securely get rid of a hard drive...would be much cheaper than those companies that shred them.

Hot fire, stoked with forced air. HDDs rely on magnetism, bringing the platters above the Curie temperature destroys all information - 570 °C (1,060 °F) . SSDs, I'm actually not sure, but I imagine a bed of white-hot coals will render any electrical charge in those tiny cells undecipherable. Heat increases the ability of electrons to tunnel (jump out of potential wells) so at some temp, the traps will leak all their charge.

I'm not a semiconductor guy so I'm not making any claims.

Is drilling a couple holes out of vogue now?

The photo looks like it is an European "wild man" costume https://www.wired.com/2013/08/the-gorgeous-costumes-of-europ...

Another interesting SCP: the "Adaptive Distributed Intelligence" http://scp-wiki.wikidot.com/scp-5241#toc0

Secure Contain Protect not to be confused with cmd line tool scp, secure copy.

This would make a fantastic horror movie. I could see it being in the same vein as "It Follows", except in this case you can't talk about the monster.

IIRC this was written for a contest for the best entry written with a low word count


Funny to see this as I just got back into reading SCP articles again.

is the use of a circle instead of a checkmark common? I think it's the first time I'm seeing this


That's how I read it too; and then the link could be seen as an elaborate QSL card.

In less than one minute, this post went from #4 to #12, suggesting anomalous behavior. https://upvotetracker.com/post/hn/27120460

That's not "anomalous behavior", that's routine: https://news.ycombinator.com/newsfaq.html.

If you want anomalous behavior: we not only put your post in the second-chance pool (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=26998308), we unbanned wikidot.com and unkilled your submission so that it could go through in the first place.

I'm joking. It's userflags or mods.

Thanks for putting it in the second-chance pool.

The issue is anything that seems to disagree with Hacker News' mainstream[0] beliefs[1] gets flagged. Or even things the flagger doesn't understand: see this post being killed in the first place.

[0]: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=27112353

[1]: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=26838634

The flags were correct. The first link was unsubstantive, and you can tell from the comments why people were flagging it: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=27112503. The second was flamebait on the biggest flamewar topic in months. By the time it was posted HN had had a massive number of threads about it (see https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=26713650). It's easy to see why users would consider yet another such post off-topic.

> The issue is anything that seems to disagree with Hacker News' mainstream[0] beliefs gets flagged.

You don't have to resort to "beliefs" to explain those cases. You may be falling prey to the bias where the bad (what you don't like) stands out more than the good (what you like), leading to false feelings of generality.



> By the time it was posted HN had had a massive number of threads about it (see https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=26713650).

Almost all the threads you linked to were misinformation or anti-RMS posts with no substance.

Stallmansupport.org is a website made by a group of women, with articles only from women, debunking the sexism claims. It is rich in primary sources.

Yet it gets flagged.

Non-substantiative news like "Red Hat supports the removal of RMS" doesn't get flagged, but an in-depth website by a group of women does.

"Red Hat Pulls Free Software Foundation Funding over Richard Stallman's Return" is a dupe. Also, less than 3% of FSF funding is corporate, so it's not really relevant.

There were far more "calls for RMS to be removed" that weren't flagged than substantiative in-depth articles that looked at the issue.

I suggest a simple remedy: Don't count flags from people who didn't click to open the article. To implement this, require a min delay between the time the link list is loaded, and the time they flagged.

Your perceptions of one-sidedness are coming from the force of your passions. I assure you that people on the opposite side of this story say exactly the same things, just with one bit flipped.

I addressed all of this in depth at the time (ironically, in a submission of the same URL that you posted, which wasn't killed):




That took hours, and I don't have hours to write anything new. If, after reading those comments, you still think there's something I haven't addressed, please double-check to make double-sure that I didn't address it. If it passes that test, ask me then and I'll try to answer. In the meantime, though, please don't post new variations in this endless sequence.

> force of your passions

Someone was falsely accused of being misogynist ("Stallman never made me feel uncomfortable." - Molly De Blanc, leader of the anti-RMS letter.), transphobic ("My pronouns were always respected by Stallman and the rest of the GNU Project the day my transition was announced, and the same for other trans developers."), and more. I am outraged that HN failed to prevent– or even show balance– in the spread of this misinformation.

> I assure you that people on the opposite side of this story say exactly the same things, just with one bit flipped.

They are practicing ritual defamation, which mandates any speech presenting evidence is taboo: https://stallmansupport.org/the-practice-of-ritual-defamatio...

> If, after reading those comments, you still think there's something I haven't addressed, please double-check to make double-sure that I didn't address it. If it passes that test, ask me then and I'll try to answer.


I didn't count, but the story stream that I saw seemed roughly balanced between pro and anti RMS. There certainly wasn't a strong skew.

Your feeling that it was unbalanced is another example of the bias I'm talking about. Both sides over-weight the datapoints they dislike and under-weight (or simply don't notice) the ones they approve of, so both sides end up with a feeling of unjust imbalance. This is what I mean by false feelings of generality.

I did an unweighted, unfiltered count of the submissions with more than 10 comments in your post here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=26713636

16 negative

8 positive

In the examples of popular threads you cited, a two-thirds supermajority were anit-Stallman.

I did a cursory search for "RMS" and "Stallman" in the past month, since your link was posted. I found 3 pro-Stallman articles (and no anti-Stallman ones):

https://meribold.org/2021/04/07/critique-of-rms-open-letter/ https://www.fsf.org/news/statement-of-fsf-board-on-election-... https://stallman.org/articles/dr-stallman.html

That brings our total to 16 negative and 11 positive, or 1.5 anti-Stallman articles per pro-Stallman articles. (60% anti-Stallman.)

Weighted by the number of comments, there are 378 more comments on the links you provided.

> The first link was unsubstantive

The most well-known VPS provider (DO) is not profitable and a competitor (Linode) with the same price and a very similar product is profitable.

That in itself is interesting to me, particularly how DO managed to pull off that marketing.

> The second was flamebait on the biggest flamewar topic in months.

Sorry, I didn't see that it was already duplicated. If it was, I would have avoided submitting.

HNers may well have flagged it after clicking through to the symbols and picturgrams.

I was about a second from flagging it when I saw it - I didn't remember what's on wikidot.com, and that domain + Unicode dots smelled like something that doesn't belong. But then I realized it's an SCP, so it got my upvote instead :).

I consider many of the SCPs as intellectual curiosity equivalent of catnip; they take your mind to places it never expected to find itself in. But it takes reading some to realize that, and this one definitely requires context.

Its nice to call out a SCP that isn't cringe self-insert material.

I read thousands of SCP articles and I'd have to look for a needle in a haystack to find anything resembling a self-insert that's not actually fun to read.

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