Partly it's because of the format and the platform. Instead of seeking out the information yourself, you're feed bits of it before moving on to the next bit. It works great for news, commentary, as entertainment or a starting guide to startups. But less so for actually acquiring and/or exchanging information.
For anything "opinion" related, the conversation will go to hell very quickly. Read snippets and ignore.
For anything "knowledge" related, this place is phenomenal. Much to learn from the giants amongst us.
Opinion and knowledge are two different axes and I really enjoy reading the opinions of those who know a lot about a topic I don't know. Opinions about topics such as economics are best avoided.
If you think this could be true, simply focus on those discussions that elicit expert knowledge and opinion, rather than those that anyone can contribute to. Er, like this one. Bye.
Then again, you're still relying on the crowd and its whims. But it'll be consistent!
I can't tell the difference between which type a thread is without reading the comments or article.
The main irritant is that so many of them are nitpicky and/or snarky.
Anyone else noticed this?
A flame is a long impassioned harangue or rant.
I'm not sure that HN has dramatically improved my writing so much as it has gotten me in the habit of only posting when I have something worthwhile to add to a conversation. I appreciate how many users seem to follow this rule of thumb on HN.
HN employs anonymous, unaccountable, unnecessary, possibly automated and most definitely counter-productive hell bans.
And with that any level of decency becomes quite irrelevant. I implore you to turn on "show dead" and gaze upon our "shadow people", check their comment history and notice about half of them got hell banned for some rather petty reason, and are currently being made to waste hours of their time writing comments before realizing nobody reads them. The other half might have actually deserved some sort of disciplinary action, but a hellban is actually less effective than a regular one except in some quite rare situations.
If [the unseen mods of] HN believe that's what it takes, I'll gladly deal with some more Fuckwads. (though the more probable reason is that none of them seems to want, or is able to bugfix the modding code)
No, because HN commenter's favourite pastime, Reddit-bashing, is too scary if not done behind their backs and from a safe distance.
He waited for a while until someone came by. The passerby extended his hand and said "Your hand. Give me!" The mullah angrily told him "Move along. You are not one of our people!"
Some more hours passed while the scholar stood knee deep in foul matter, until another man passed by. He said to him "Here my hand. Take!" Again, the scholar glared "Move along! You are not one of us!"
So this went on for few hours until, finally, the scholar's nephew happened to pass by and saw his uncle in that filthy ditch. He cried out "O dear uncle! Here, take my hand!". The scholar said, "Yes. You are one of us!" and reach[ed] out to his nephew.
But the nephew was weak and he too fell in the hole.
[As related by Mowlana Shamsud'din Tabrizi.]
This needs to be corrected. The story is called the "blind grammarian" and naturally far more robust in the original by Shams (as translated into English) than my recollection above. There is also a second part to it that has been omitted.
My comment was not intended as sarcasm, nor was I asserting sarcasm in comments by others.
I wont question if it's true or false. But the mere repetition makes what the grandparent says true: this is not a site full of smart people.
Or at least: this is not a site full of smart people _above_ repeating for the nth time the same tired internet flames.
The piracy thing seems like a silly semantic issue on the face of it but the semantics strike at the heart of the issue.
And that is why we need to broaden software patent laws to also include Internet arguments: patent trolling to counter actual trolling.
(BRB, patenting this idea)
As a consequence, I've had to work on being concise enough that people read me, yet detailed enough that people understand me. Learning to balance those two things has made a tremendous difference in my career!
Quick caveat - being concise is something I've always struggled with. Therefore, I think I took inappropriate shortcuts to try and become concise.
The biggest problem i'm noticing now is verb agreement. I'll rewrite parts of a sentence and fix all the things i break. If only there was a typechecker to warn me of those silly mistakes.
I'll have to agree. HN, as well as r/Foodforthought, are the most stimulating I've found thus far.
And its related site for questions, Ask MetaFilter: http://ask.metafilter.com/. From browsing it regularly I know [good, well-supported] answers to a thousand interesting and useful questions I'd never have even thought to ask.
- Lack of an upvoting mechanism, which can lead to problems
- Incredibly fair and considered moderation
- MetaTalk, an area of the site where no rules apply, and where arguments/vendettas/in-jokes can carry on out of the way
I always hoped that Mefi would go threaded, but the current way is clearly the desired mode. It's also the reason I don't really look at the comments on Mefi anymore.
With nested comments I have to go back and dig for new stuff. This is why I read the comments on HN, Reddit, and slashdot exactly once unless I added a comment and want to see if there was a reply.
And I don't comment much.
A lot of the main sequences of material (http://wiki.lesswrong.com/wiki/Sequences) there were written by a Hacker News member, Eliezer Yudkowsky. But it's also a great living community (like here), with new stuff constantly being added.
This provides some meta information, though I have no idea whether it's accurate: http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/LessWrong
The RationalWiki article is reasonably accurate, I think (speaking as someone who hangs around on LessWrong a bit), none of it is obviously untrue, although there is a bit of "undue weight" given to some things (i.e. the some of things mentioned only come up occasionally, especially the more negative things in the Ugly and Bad sections). It is even edited by LessWrong regulars (e.g. David Gerard, Gwern and Ciphergoth), and not at all as vandalism, they all seem to have added both positive and negative material.
I've been reading Steve Keen's blog and he makes much more sense than other prominent economists. He was one of the few to predict the crash with a model which can actually generate crashes unlike many of the standard economic models. If anyone can point me to some well argued criticism of his theory I would be very interested. I'm not sure about all his proposed remedies to prevent bubbles though, jubilee shares at least feels wrong to me at some level.
[EDIT] Do Keynesians call themselves Keynesian?
That stance is quint-essential Economist, based on my experience of reading them cover to cover - weekly - for the last 5 years.
They do have a free-market, lightly-regulated bias...but they are pragmatic when they need to be, and for that I love them.
Without getting into too much politics, people tend to forget how nuanced the 'Iraq War' decision was at the time. Obama has done a good job of summarizing it into a nice 'sound byte'. The war in Iraq is a "dumb war". The notion there that the outcome was so obvious that it shouldn't have been chosen. What many forget is that post-9/11, the intelligence community was indeed split. The UN SEC actually voted in favor of stricter sanctions and harsher actions against Saddam - if he didn't publicly state that he had no WMDs.
It's easy to say Bush knew there were no WMDs in Iraq and he was going there just for oil, but that's a cynical (and non-nuanced view) of the context of the time.
As Peter Bergen pointed out in his latest book Man Hunt, the decision for Obama to go to Abbottabad for Bin Laden was based on more circumstantial evidence than the decision for Bush to go to Iraq. Granted, the operations were different in scale - but that alone speaks to the fact that the decision to go to Iraq was supported by faulty intelligence.
Assuming that Bush had mal-intent and "knew" there were no WMD in Iraq - but was going just to avenge his father or w/e other story (disregarding everything else) is ridiculous at best.
One simple question I always pose to people when they make such statements about Iraq is...if Bush knew there were no WMDs in Iraq, why would he use that as a pretext when he would obviously be either right or wrong? It's not as if they can "plant" WMDs. It's either they will find it, or not. There is no middle ground.
So either he will be a hero, or he will be zero. He staked his entire presidency on that decision. He knew that when the presidency is done, he would just have his legacy. His entire legacy would be defined by that decision. There is no way, any rational president/person would make such a decision lightly and frivolously.
He would have been better off using the fact that Saddam has slaughtered hundreds of thousands of Kurds, or something else that is more 'ambiguous' that he can't REALLY be held accountable for.
Finding WMDs is a key tangible accountability metric.
So the fact The Economist was also a proponent of the Iraq War is just further proof as to the ambiguity in the intelligence community at the time of the decision - and how difficult such a decision was.
First, with regards to The Economist's position on markets, they are humanists and they care about social welfare. I approve. Yet they still call for further deregulation and resist "populist" regulation to address very serious systemic faults exposed by the financial crisis. If you are going to be a capitalist you need fair market rules, and I see them as wavering in their commitment to that in practice by relying too much on economic theory that does not correspond to the facts on the ground. In particular the "rational markets" hypothesis and the idea that bankers' self interest is sufficient to prevent crisis in the markets.
With regards to the Iraq War, I do not and did not see it as ambiguous. Look at the number of false statements made by the Bush administration, the way that intelligence was reported to senior decision makers, and the flagrant propaganda regarding links between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. Look at the inflated "45 minute" claim and the use of intelligence from "Curveball", a known fabricator. This is not an administration building a case for a necessary war. It's an administration that decided to go to war scraping together a justification. I definitely don't think it as simple as "we want oil". I do believe (but obviously cannot prove) that Dick Cheney cynically manipulated the intelligence to make a case for a war that he personally profited from through his business holdings in contractors such as Haliburton.
Finally, the Iraq War was very clearly a disaster as early as 2004. The Economist continued publishing leaders that said, essentially, "X and Y are horrible outcomes from the war, but if we just pursue strategy Z we can turn this around." They kept saying that for years and they were very much in the wrong. They have never come out and published a leader saying "we were wrong" or "we should have stopped supporting the war in 200X". Yet they published numerous leaders in the run up to the war. This asymmetry and inability to admit a mistake in hindsight is what I can't forgive.
* A desire to focus people's ire and attention at a specific target
* The unity of purpose that creating such a target can bring
* It also aligns with the Republican party's political strategy of causing division to support their agenda: "Are you saying you don't support the troops?"
I find it telling that many people criticizing the war felt compelled to pre-face their statements with "I support the troops, but...". Having a Us vs Them dichotomy strongly favors certain groups, and the Republicans have always had strong ties with the military establishment.
It need not stretch into a specific Cheney wants to profit from Haliburton scenario. It's just as simple to say that their ideology supports and favors military intervention, their preferred method of action involves military retaliation and their "social network" (supporters, voters, etc...) would benefit or support such an intervention.
9/11 is the first time that a terrorist attack, of that scale, has hit American shores since Pearl Harbor. For better or worse, it happened on Bush's watch. The fact is, that single action would forever define his presidency. Which president wants to have the "honor" of being in charge when the largest terrorist attack in decades strikes the country? What is the #1 role of a president? Commander-in-chief. So before even passing any social legislation, their job is to lead the armed forces and protect the homeland.
Now, put yourself in his shoes. Sept 18th, 2001 - after everything has sunk in that 3000+ Americans were killed in NY and the economy is on the precipice. You know, beyond the shadow of a doubt that there are existing threats out there. Dictators and other leaders that have explicitly said they would like to do harm to America.
Also consider, that post-9/11, who was being blamed? Bush was. After all, in August 2001, he got a NIE briefing saying that Bin Laden was interested in hijacking commercial airliners and attacking US targets (along with MANY other threat vectors). It so happened that one was accurate. People are blaming him for not doing anything before 9/11, but anyone that understands security will know that it is unreasonable to expect that you can/should follow-up every lead, and address every single rumor/threat. It is literally impossible. Not enough resources.
So the question is, now that you know that a) you were warned, b) clearly people are capable of striking, and c) there are people that you know that would love to capitalize on this...do you just sit by and do nothing?
Yes, I know the argument can be made that he should have escalated the war in Afghanistan - I agree with that assessment....but the fact of the matter is that for decades, Saddam had WMD (or WMD producing capabilities and the intent to produce weapons). He also has used biological and chemical weapons on his own people no less - and he went to great lengths to mislead UN inspectors about his program. Why did he do that? Because he was afraid of Iran....his REAL enemy.
He had to let Iran believe that he had WMD (or those capabilities) to prevent an unprovoked attack.
So knowing all of that, having enough evidence that (granted, was not as much as you would want for a declaration of war on the scale of the Iraq war) seems to lead you to believe that Saddam is actually doing what he says he is doing (and not misleading you)...and in the paranoid climate of being fearful that America will be attacked again, it's not hard to see Bush officials 'stretching the truth' - because they would rather be safe than sorry.
Also, keep in mind that many other politicians had access to the same evidence and the resolution to go to war had to be passed by both houses of congress. They were  by large majorities - 297 Yay, 143 Nay in the House, 77 yay 23 Nay in the Senate. They all had access to the same intelligence briefings that Bush had access to.
It's easy for the UN or the Security Council to not vote for such a large action because a) they weren't attacked, and b) it would be costly and politically difficult for them to do. Plus for countries like Saudi Arabia, and Russia, it's bad for business and their exports (oil and gas).
So my point is, given the climate...the intelligence community was divided. Some journalists were for, others were against. Policymakers were responsible for "appearing" to keep America safe. Knowing full well that Saddam wants to attack America and has WMD...the only thing worse than a 9/11 is a biological/chemical/nuclear attack on American soil.
If that ever happened, Bush would never live it down.
P.S. I just thought I should point out two things...a) I am an Obama supporter, but I was also a Bush supporter...so be that what it's worth, b) It is hilarious how much Obama bashed Bush for the Iraq war and Gitmo and renditions and all this stuff, and Obama has intensified many of these programmes and increased them. I read somewhere, can't remember where, that in the first few months of Obama's administration he did more drone strikes than the entire 8 years of Bush's presidency. So, as much as he sounded like a "peacetime" President - what is clear is that even the most ardent "anti-war" candidates, when they get the mantle and realize that THEY (and they alone) will be held responsible for the security of the country...they tend to act differently than their pre-mantle rhetoric would suggest that they act.
In Europe, particularly the UK where the Economist is from, they are considered Liberals (classical Liberalism) and much of their social and fiscal agenda is nowhere near as "right" as the "right-wing" in America; in fact, they're probably more left than even the Democrats in many ways. Humanist, indeed.
There are a number of different branches that do claim Keynes' legacy including New Keynesians, and Post Keynesians. The Post Keynesians seem to be least accepted by the mainstream but perhaps best aligned with reality.
You might not agree with their viewpoint but they don't hide it.
It's only in America that certain news organizations pretend to be unbiased arbiters.
I don't think that's only an American phenomenon. For example, Germany's Der Spiegel is somewhat famous for projecting a neutral/serious/nonpartisan image (though it also gets criticized for that).
Anecdotally, I see this opinion (that unbiased reporting is impossible, so why not have journals be openly partisan) mostly coming from people who themselves hold pretty extreme political views. It's almost as if the level of liberal/conservative bias they feel most comfortable with was so high that they couldn't pretend, even to themselves, that their sources are objective, and they deal with the cognitive dissonance by saying that it's OK since no source is completely objective.
Having said all that I think the code is a poor analogy, as where a function or module usually has an agreed correct behaviour or outcome the same is not often true in the real world, and the things that get reported on are often those that are most disagreed-upon.
For example, they ran a cover article a few months back about the poor helpless souls in the City of London and how the big bad bankers from other places were challenging them. I found myself laughing at one point.
They are the best source of international news. My biggest issue with it is that reading it is time-consuming, and the weekly cadence is relentless.
So I guess the truth is in the middle.
Question: Engineering Management: Why are software development task estimations regularly off by a factor of 2-3?
Exploring, reading, writing, upvoting, and commenting on great question and answers from all sorts of subjects, has helped me learn a lot. The people there are great too, with many lending expert knowledge you wouldn't see elsewhere.
Is it just me or is that list a bit too shallow?
The list at the top of the page is perfunctory, the rest of the top-level comments are meant to add to it.
These are links I keep going back to, and have been thinking about for weeks.
and paul kedrosky's infectious greed:
i wish this blog was more updated, the book was very fun to read:
a bigger note, though, is that to be stimulated we need to go beyond our comfort zones, both in terms of intellectual or academic comfort ("i'll never understand this stuff") or opinions and viewpoints. finding such material is easier than ever, but avoiding it is just as easy. the trick to growing and learning is to grow your experiences meaningfully.
It really is something to read papers that define the way we think, and it's a nice alternative to short blog posts and (pop) articles versus (pop) books.
Here are some papers to get you started:
\* 'I've Got Nothing to Hide' and Other Misunderstandings of Privacy: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=0998565
\* Broken Promises of Privacy: Responding to the Surprising Failure of Anonymization: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/Papers.cfm?abstract_id=1450006
\* A Future-Adaptable Password Scheme: http://static.usenix.org/events/usenix99/provos.html
Maybe this is cheating, maybe it isn't, but I definitely recommend it.
If you want to get political, some left-of-centre-leaning writers you can't go wrong with:
1. Matt Taibbi on Wall Street, Rolling Stone (http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog)
2. Frank Rich in American politics, now at New York Magazine (https://twitter.com/frankrichny)
3. Glenn Greenwald on civil liberties and foreign policy, in moderation (http://www.salon.com/writer/glenn_greenwald/)
4. Juan Cole on the Middle East, in moderation (http://www.juancole.com/)
5. Lawyers, Guns, and Money (http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/)
6. The New Yorker's long-form articles. (I find their blog posts to be really poor, by any standards.) Also, ditch the Malcolm Gladwell articles.
>In this short essay, written for a symposium in the San Diego Law Review, Professor Daniel Solove examines the nothing to hide argument. When asked about government surveillance and data mining, many people respond by declaring: "I've got nothing to hide." According to the nothing to hide argument, there is no threat to privacy unless the government uncovers unlawful activity, in which case a person has no legitimate justification to claim that it remain private. The nothing to hide argument and its variants are quite prevalent, and thus are worth addressing. In this essay, Solove critiques the nothing to hide argument and exposes its faulty underpinnings.
In other words, "there's a common argument out there, and I'm gonna refute it". Does that help me decide whether to read the paper? No, because it gives no hint about specific part of the argument it's going to refute, or what "underpinning" it's going to claim is "faulty".
This kind of crap is extremely prevalent in abstracts, and in people's ability to summarize and justify recommendations.
My recollection of reading him is he doesn't build an argument from premise to conclusion, but implies an argument by stringing together perhaps unrelated anecdotes and studies.
The idea that there is an objective left-right scale, and that the US is skewed far right compared to the rest of the world is a myth.
Personally, I tend to the definitions: left - pretends to be caring; right - pretends to be competent.
I can assure you that in the UK, replacing the NHS with an EU-wide health care system would not be seen as conservative, whether you see it as "pro business" or not.
What policies of the Democratic party do you think would be considered conservative?
It's definitely worth checking out, it's one of my favorite web sites.
I want to call it "intellegacy", for "intellectual legacy"
I really enjoy reading insightful essays and comments on the internet, and thought it'd be cool to have a website with all kinds of intellectuals with their own pages on it where I could read their essays, see a list of their books, and have conversations with them.
I envision scientists, artists, politicians all interacting on the site. For example, Neil de Grasse Tyson could post his blogs or essays there, and fans of his could get a summary of all his work, books, and what he's currently working on or reading.
Besides the goal of intellectuals having their own space to publish their insights, I also want the public to be able to read and learn on a clearly organized website, by taking their time. Maybe this isn't good for pageviews, but on other websites the content refreshes so quickly that a lot of insights are lost in the shuffle.
The grand vision is to be a huge library of insights, clearly organized and that can be read by anyone who wishes to learn and follow the thought leaders in our world.
We could "best-of" the best debates and discussions and future generations could read everything.
Also: how is this different from a subreddit?
And don't call it "intellegacy." When I read it the first time I pronounced it "intellajesse" because I was thinking of "intelligent", then I re-read it as "intel, legacy."
Will let HN know when the site is launched.
on another note, I will probably need to change my HN username soon :)
From that content I want to provide my own summaries and some "clippings" of the originals. But i'm worried about copyright / or stealing of other's work; I know blogs repost content all the time (well usually not the entire article. hopefully not) but I'm just wondering how people will react if I take their insights and "reorganize" them on my site.
Edward Tufte Forum http://www.edwardtufte.com/bboard/q-and-a?topic_id=1
That Tufte page is a wall of red (and red underlined!) smashed together links. Just needs an Under Construction sign and a starfield background. [I'm certain the content is very good - I enjoy reading/listening to Tufte.]
I remember reading an article from usability guru Donald Norman a few years ago, another person whom I respect and enjoy reading. His (awesome) article was all about how aesthetics matter and are a key part not just of being beautiful, but about being usable. I wrote him an email asking (nicely) why his webpage containing that article was so ugly and had such poor typography, then; he promptly wrote back saying that it'd take too much time to format it nicely when there's too much to do already. sigh
How many sites can make the same claim: that they created a design and it has worked for 17 years of Web evolution?
It's a tour de force of Neilsen's key message: usability is design, and it works.
I would make a distinction between designers and researchers in the field. The researchers and scholars, almost without fail, seem to care the least about their own website aesthetics.
> The central theme of You Are Not So Smart is that you are unaware of how unaware you are. There is branch of psychology and an old-but-growing body of research with findings that suggest you have little idea why you act or think the way you do. Despite this, you continue to create narratives to explain your own feelings, thoughts, and behaviors, and these narratives – no matter how inaccurate – become the story of your life.
Project Euler reminds me of when I did computational fluid dynamics (CFD) for a while. From a programming standpoint, a lot of CFD is fairly simple--the place where CFD methods really differentiate themselves is in their modeling of the underlying physics. From that standpoint, I wouldn't really advocate doing CFD as a way of learning to program, because being a great programmer isn't really the thing that will make you great at doing CFD—being great at math and modeling is. (On the other hand, if someone wants to get into physics modeling or simulation, CFD is quite fun and satisfying.)
I seem to be the exact opposite of you (Doing UI makes me want to jump off the nearest tall building. Scientific computation is where its at for me). And its great that our community has a wide range of personalities.
IMO you'd be better off doing past IOI problems.
I was just commenting that IMO the reason that Project Euler comes up often in discussions amongst programmers is because many programmers tend to be the type of people that enjoy Project Euler style problems.
If you want to get started, try going through TopCoder's high school competition arena. The problems shouldn't be too bad if you have a good understanding of your languages stdlib and about basic data structures (alternatively, it's probably a great way to learn a new language's stdlib). You basically get a problem statement and just have to fill in a method that performs the computations required with the example inputs. Then you can test it against all the test cases once it passes the example outputs. UVa is similar, except you have to take input from a file and it doesn't tell you what test cases your solution fails on (more like the ACM ICPC style of questions).
I prefer TopCoder more since the focus is all on algorithms (UVa's problems will usually require taking input/producing output in very specific ways, which gets annoying sometimes), and since you can see the top ranked competitors' solutions for previous contents. It helps to review these after you solve a problem to pick up little tricks.
 (http://www.topcoder.com/tc) - click the O(n) icon in the top left to start the arena applet. Then go to "Practice Rooms" -> "TCHS" or "SRM" and pick a room. Within each room there should be 3 problems valued based on difficulty.
 (http://uva.onlinejudge.org/) - go to "Browse Problems" to view them all, but I find http://uhunt.felix-halim.net/ more useful; just enter your username and it'll suggest problems for you to do next (based on increasing difficulty)
http://c2.com/cgi/wiki if you're into seeing how the Elders thought about computing
and the like
My "intellectual stimulation" consists of coming up with or doing things. Sure, self-reflection helps, but more often than not, they're inspired by something I see in a "specialized" community.
Slightly off-topic, but asking "why" helps with self-reflection and creativity.
I'm pretty sure everyone on HN knows what TED is, but just in case someone doesn't, here are some of my favourite talks - they show the breadth of the topics covered:
- http://www.ted.com/talks/derek_sivers_weird_or_just_differen... - 2 minutes about how things we thing work in some way may be completely different somewhere else
- http://www.ted.com/talks/hans_rosling_and_the_magic_washing_... - how technology really improves lives
- http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/eythor_bender_demos_human_e... - exoskeletons, with wheelchair woman standing and walking live on the scene
- http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/sam_richards_a_radical_expe... - a talk about empathy
And of course, the obligatory one,
- http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/ken_robinson_says_schools_k... - how school kills creativity
Pop culture, yes. There is a whole world of knowledge behind TED's glossy sheen, and that world is found by looking up original sources. Don't read the Wikipedia article on Gödel's incompleteness theorem and stop there. Read On Formally Undecidable Propositions in Principia Mathematica and Related Systems I. It will be hard, but it will be awesome. Don't watch a cool TED talk and immediately show it to all your friends: look up the journal paper the presenter was referencing and actually see what happened. You will find out something along the way.
TED has its place in getting people excited about things, but there is much, much more beyond it. Not all knowledge is packaged in neatly-produced 4 minute feel-good videos. Go explore :).
Thanks for the encouragement :).
Of course TED is not a knowledge compendium, it's a starting point - to get excited about some idea, technology or solution, or to start a deep discussion about a particular topic. I always treated it as a "high-level overview"; in cases of topics one knows a bit about it is easy to see how those talks show only surface layer of the topics.
They did a series on the upcoming SF rent/real estate bubble, as well as the return of housing back in early 2012.
The direct links for those who want more detail:
The five points listed there are well known and well documented. Those are not crazy unfounded theories.
Yet most people I meet do not believe any of them. Why is that? Cognitive dissonance?
Just to give you an example is this book recommendation post
Warning: There is some weird flash thing in the very beginning but just click to continue.
I also love the whole StackExchange network, especially skeptics (http://skeptics.stackexchange.com). A great way to learn new stuff from common myth.
Vitamin Cr : http://vitamincr.com
Brain pickings: http://www.brainpickings.org/
Synaptic Stimuli: http://synapticstimuli.com/
Timoni's blog: http://blog.timoni.org/
I've found I also get good mental stimulation by picking free online courses at random. For example Yale University has a brilliant set of lectures on Milton, which I knew very little about prior.
For most HN readers, I'd suggest visiting a site like http://www.vdare.com
Science subreddits with a cognitive barrier to entry like /r/neuro are a great source of news specific their scientific communities. Geographic subreddits such as /r/[yourmetro] are also a great way to keep in touch with the general vibe and events of your city.
the unusual parallels bend your perception of things, bullshits we all passively accept are mocked full up... its the type of thing that makes you 'think out of the box', see the leaps in stuff, ignore bullshit, etc
so, some stand-up and cracked are on my list on this