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Evidence of seasonal flows of small amounts of extremely briny water full of perchlorates on the surface of Mars.

They don't know if it's coming up from some kind of underground aquifer, seasonal subsurface ice melt, or the high salt content of the soil pulling out seasonal humidity from the air and producing transient moist soil layers that then leak out at suitable locations.

There are sometimes controversial discussions here, and I wonder how these conversations play out at meetups. Do you ever get an anarchist, a communist and a neoreactionary turning up to the same meeting? If so, does it cause problems? Or, indeed, do discussions about dust specks/torture or other controversial but apolitical topics ever get heated?

LW seems far more cool-headed than the rest of the world, and I am wondering to what extent it might be partially due to being online.

Personally, I have only gone to a few meetups, but I think I have managed to offend people :(

Do you ever get an anarchist, a communist and a neoreactionary turning up to the same meeting?

So an anarchist, a communist, and a neoreactionary walk into a LessWrong meetup...

I'm trying to think of what funny thing they could do. The anarchist could walk away from the bar without paying for the drink, because they do not believe in the landlord/drinker power structure. The communist could demand that the most well-off member of the group pays for drinks. Or which drinks: The neoreactionary could insist that it may not be politically correct, but some drinks are objectively better than others. The communist could say that all drinks are equally good, and so insist that all drinks are mixed into one glass. The anarchist... I feel the anarchist has to smash something. Is there a drink that sounds like 'system' or 'capitalism'?
One of my freshmen year roommates was a communist. He thought everybody should just share their food that was in the community fridge. He bought a mini-fridge for his food.
I've been part of some arguments between libertarians and socialists. They got moderately heated but not severely so. Rationality-wise they seemed better than I've experienced in other communities, but still pretty far from a cool-headed ideal. To be fair I've also had some somewhat heated arguments over more abstract philosophical issues, though with few hard feelings.
A large portion of my coworkers (due to the nature of the job, they're probably in that weird space between family, friend, and acquaintance) fiercely endorse beliefs that I am at odds with (against gay marriage, strong religiosity, complete climate change denial, etc) but we can discuss our beliefs (for the most part; one of them insisted he would have his daughter flogged if she 'turned gay', and then kidnapped and sent to some less accepting society to 'chase it out of her') without any heated arguments. Even if we do, we still have no problems buying each other lunch the next day. This is a wholly personal experience, since I'm used to holding contrarian views. I think it still bothers my System 1, but not enough for me to devote System 2 time to it. What about the world at large, though? Would an online interaction promote calm discussion, or in-person interaction? While that dichotomy might differ in the LessWrong community due to cultural factors, I think it's safe to say that people think the opposite is usually true for most internet interactions. A few possibilities come to mind, in regards to possible trends. I realize that it's a mixture. Help me out if I've missed something. * A) People are more belligerent online, less belligerent in person. * B) People are less belligerent online, more belligerent in person. * C) People are the same online and in the real world. * D) Online vs. real world belligerence determined strongly by culture. Public opinion seems to favor A. I'm having trouble finding relevant studies, because I'm not sure if data collected from the context of online sexual/nonsexual harassment is useful, here.
Among those I have only seen an anarchist at our meetups in Berlin. In person I notice more empathy than online but have never witnessed any heated problematic conversations.

I'm confused about where to post stuff when I post stuff to LW. I've xposted several articles (most recently this one) that seem like decent candidates for Main, but it seems that if I submit them to Main without them getting promoted, then they end up in the weird place that I'm guessing most people never check.

My current strategy is "post to Discussion so that people will actually see it, and hope that magically promotion happens".

..."magically" used deliberately to indicate that I don't know what the process for that is.

Moderators can move other people's posts, and EY can promote posts.

I found that variations on the following exchange are very common on programming forums:

Alice: Programming language feature X is misused more often than not. It's bad.

Bob: Every language feature can be misused. That does not make it bad.

Suppose Alice is correct on the statistics: most code that uses feature X uses it in a way that Alice and Bob would both agree to be wrong. Suppose Bob still disagrees with her over it making the feature bad. He disagrees not because he thinks the good uses outweigh the bad ones but because it is possible, in principle, to only use feature X the right way. Is there a specific name for their kind of disagreement?

In the 1980s, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it was not illegal to produce videotape recorders, even if buyers would mostly use them to pirate TV shows, as long as the recorders had some possible lawful use. Shall we call this the VCR disagreement?
I like "the VCR disagreement". It sounds nice and evokes visual associations (a courtroom, a VCR) that might help one remember it. Since no alternative has been found or proposed I will start using this term for the phenomenon. On a related note, I wonder if there is a search system that matches vague descriptions of phenomena to (existing) definitions better than Google. (Googling "a search system that matches vague descriptions of phenomena to existing definitions" didn't yield any interesting results.)

Patreon has been hacked and the all its internal data dumped online. Caveat utilitor.

Journaling, an extended argument for why you should do it.

Since January 2015, journaling has become the basis for everything I do, try and want. What I've found is that there's huge potential in a pen and some paper.

Keeping a structured notebook system is helping me monitor my habits, both good and bad. It makes it easier to keep tabs on my projects and to brainstorm solutions. Writing daily motivates me to try new things, and note what works and what doesn't.

Let's break down some of the reasons why I believe journaling is such a powerful tool for introspection, problem solving and goal setting.

I'm still doing this after starting a year ago. I've filled up one large ruled Moleskine and am 50 pages into the second one. I have calendar pages where I don't do any forward planning, but just write a one-line summary of what I worked on that day. Empty lines or variants of "slacking off" are an instant sign of trouble. Other than that, the nice thing is just that I have a designated single nice journal to do any sort of brainstorming notes I need. Random ideas, planning an ongoing project or reading notes all just start by labeling a new page on the journal and writing down whatever is relevant.

How can I reduce the stress of public speaking?

In the short term, rehearse well with as close a simulation of your eventual stage as you can manage, or use prescription or nonprescription anxiolytics, or try one of the many speakers' tricks for reducing stage fright. Most of the latter probably won't work, but some might.

In the long run, the best way is probably exposure: doing a lot of public speaking, perhaps in front of progressively larger audiences.

Consider this idea: * How is public speaking different to giving a speech to an empty room, (or other similar but not stressful event). For bonus points actually do the non-stressful thing and afterwards consider what might be different. * Make a list of as many of the parts that you can come up with * Mitigate the parts that will be a problem for you in any way possible. In this way a great beast of a "public speaking" problem can be managed to smaller think-able tackle-able tasks.

It seems conventional wisdom that tests are generally gameable in the sense that an (most?) effective way to produce the best scores involves teaching password guessing rather than actually learning material deeply, i.e. such that the student can use it in novel and useful ways. Indeed, I think this is the case for many (most, even) tests, but also think it possible to write tests that are most easily passed by learning the material deeply. In particular, I don't see how to game questions like "state, prove, and provide an intuitive justification for ... (read more)

One easy way I can think of gaming such a test is to figure out ahead of time that those questions will be the ones on the test, then look up an answer for just that question, and parrot it on the actual test.

I know at my college, there were databases of just about every professor's exams for the past several years. Most of them re-used enough questions that you could get a pretty good idea of what was going to be on the exams, just by looking at past exams. A lot of people would spend a lot of time studying old exams to game this process instead of actually learning the material.

How do you identify people who can grade answers to questions which show deep understanding?
If we assume that the questions are designed such that a student can answer them upon initial exposure if and only if they deeply understand the material, then the question of identifying graders turns into the much easier question of identifying people who can discriminate between valid and invalid answers. I'm told that being able to discriminate between valid and invalid responses is a necessary condition for subject expertise, so anyone who's a relevant expert works. One way to demonstrate expertise is by building something that requires expertise. In an extreme example, I'm confident that Grigori Perelman understands topology because he proved the Poincare conjecture, and, for similar reasons, I'm (mostly) confident that Ph.Ds are experts. If we have well-designed tests, we can set the set of people qualified to grade tests as "has built something requiring expertise or has passed a well-designed test graded by someone already in this set."
More importantly, how do you persuade these people that they should spend their (presumably, valuable) time grading mostly stupid answers?
How would that be different from grading things under the current system? Maybe exams should be layered - first, a test on basic terminology understanding, then a lottery of commenting on scientific research (1 ticket = 1 article).
Under the current system, grading is (relatively) easy because all you need to check is whether the answer given matches the correct one. The proposed system would involve answers that cannot be mechanically pattern-matched and would need a LOT more time and effort to grade.
You pay them. You also tell them that their job is to identify good answers, not to give detailed feedback to bad answers.
If your goal is to foster understanding instead of giving canned answers, this seems counterproductive.
If you're after feedback-for-understanding, providing a student with a list of questions they got wrong and a good solutions manual (which you only have to write once) works most of the time (my guess is around 90% of the time, but I have low confidence in my estimates because I'm capable of successfully working through entire textbooks' worth of material and needing no human feedback, which I'm told is not often the case). Doing this should be more effective than having the error explained outright a la generation effect. Another interesting result is that the best feedback for fostering understanding often comes not from experts, who have such a deep degree of understanding and automaticity that it impairs their ability to simulate and communicate with minds struggling with new material, but from students who just learned the material. There's a risk of students who believe the right thing for the wrong reason propagating their misunderstanding, but I think that pairing up a student who's struggling with some concept (i.e., throwing a solutions manual at them hasn't helped them bridge the conceptual gap that caused them to get the question wrong) with a student who understands it is often helpful. IIRC, Sal Khan described using this technique with some success in his book; a friend/mentor who teaches secondary math and keeps up with the literature tells me this works; and I've used this basic technique doing an enrichment afterschool program for the local Mathcounts team after the season had ended and can only describe its efficacy as "definitely witchcraft". I think there's a place for graders to give detailed feedback to bad answers, but most of the time, it's better to force students to do the work themselves and locate their own errors/conceptual gaps, and in most of the remaining cases, to pawn off the responsibility to students (this could be construed as teachers being lazy, but it's also what, to my knowledge, produces the best learning outcomes). Since
The core material for teaching is not the subject to be taught, but human confusions about that subject.
That's a very important point. My impression is that people can be divided into two general categories -- those who learn best by themselves; and those who learn best when being taught by someone. I suspect that most people on LW prefer to inhale textbooks on their own. I also suspect that most people outside of LW prefer to have a teacher guide them.
Fair point-- I'd spaced out on this being for a class rather than an employer looking for clueful people.
Testing and credentialism is a mess. The basic problem is that it's unclear what the result should measure: how much the student knows, how much the student has learned, how intelligent the student is, how conscientious, or how well the student's capabilities line up with the topic. The secondary problem is that in most settings, the test should be both hard-to-game AND perfectly objective, such that there is no argument about correctness of answer (and such that grading can be done quickly). I spend a lot of time interviewing and training interviewers for tech jobs. This doesn't have the first problem: we have a clear goal (determine whether the candidate is likely to perform well in the role, usually tested by solving similar problems as would be faced in the role). The second difficulty is similar - a good interview generates actual evidence of the candidate's likely success, not just domain knowledge. This takes a lot of interviewing skill to get the best from the candidate, and a lot of judgement in how to evaluate the approach and weigh the various aspects tested. We put a lot of time into this, and accept the judgement aspect rather than trying to reduce the time spent, automate the results, or be purely objective in assessment.

Effective Altruism in 1400 AD

If you taught the principles of effective altruism to a rich person in (say) 1400, what would they have thought was the most effective thing to do with their money? What was in fact the most effective thing they could have done?

One of the comments from MR is: which basically does sound about right, given the values of the time.
These are two questions which suggest very different answers:) especially in hindsight:) without specifying where the person lives, my only guess is for the second question - exterminate rats; but it might have been simply impossible to arrive at in 1400, so - lessen taxes?
The impact of tax policy in Malthusian eras is hard to determine--it might adjust the population size, but probably not per capita income. But it does seem like one could convince someone that urbanization is important, and they should focus on solving the city-level problems of sanitation, trade, and economics, which were approached only haphazardly at the time. Convincing them to move to an Imperial Free City and spend their efforts sanitizing it / developing institutions that keep it clean might be useful.
That's part of the point. Is that possible with XV-century technology and level of social organization?
I think so (based on fictional evidence of a Kipling's story). For example, the church could damn rats, it would make people united in their efforts.
If we're going for fictional evidence, it's easier to train an army of Pied Pipers :-)
See also the chronophone (and its followup). It seems like the Givewell branch of EA is the application of recent improvements in scientific management / finance to charity, about ~10 years after they appeared in the private sector, similar to CharityNavigator before it. If you can count those as "principles," then they might be a huge leg up for someone like the Fuggers. (Remember, double-entry bookkeeping in Europe seems to have started about 1340, and the first textbook on it was published in 1494.) But if the chronophone would transmit that as just "apply recent advances in business to all your endeavors," that's not very useful, and maybe even not that--trade and business is the dominant force in the society that Givewell lives in. What would the dominant force in the 1400s be? Innovation is respected in the society that Givewell lives in. Would it be respected in the 1400s?
The chronophone is a weird device with weird limitations suited to the purposes of EY in that post. This is a much more straightforward question (but note the context -- it asks where should that person put his money, not what kind of tech he should invent). In particular, there is an interesting implication/sub-question: what was the cheapest way of saving the most lives in 1400 and do you think that was the best use of resources?
A nontrivial chunk of EA is allocating money to tech invention, though, especially if you consider institutions and institutional design to be social tech. Open borders advocacy, for example, would probably translate to infrastructure investments in the 1400s. (Build more lighthouses, map out channels, build and guard more roads, set up mail links, etc.) But yeah, GiveDirectly would have an obvious analog in 1400. And SCI, if you were able to somehow transmit the 'pathogens and parasites cause disease and can be fixed by sanitation' idea along with it, seems like it could be tremendously useful. Inoculation, for example, could be moved up a century globally (and ~4 centuries in Europe).
You're still trying to answer the question of "what is the most useful knowledge I can pass down to 1400". That's a different question. Here all you can do is say "You should put your money in X" and no, you can't explain why X is important. "Build more lighthouses" is a valid answer, yes, but doesn't that imply that EA should be concerned with the success of commerce?
That's not the prompt--the prompt is: But what are the "principles of effective altruism"? If they're something like "use science to determine which charitable opportunities best achieve your values," then we can't teach them to a rich person in 1400 without teaching them what we mean by "science." If it's something like "rank charitable opportunities by marginal value," then it has to include a definition of marginal value. If it's just "don't privilege your local area, don't give for affiliation reasons, look for where your gifts can do the most good," then yeah, you're probably just going to see them funding missionaries when they should be investing in capitalism and science and infrastructure. What do you think GiveDirectly and/or open borders EAs do?
Yes, fair point. But you don't need to teach someone science to convey the message of EA. The message is basically "Apply your money to where it will do the most good, as best as you can determine". You can add a few negatives ("don't give to raise your status", "don't give to what tugs at your heart the hardest", etc.) and they will still be easily understood by a XV-century person. I think they concern themselves with welfare of people and not with success of commerce.

This video talks about high school curriculum design issues; advocating greater focus on concrete life skills and less of a focus on classes with "intangible" value like history or more advanced mathematics. If I recall correctly, he doesn't say anything about science class, which I think there's a lot to criticize there too. A lot of common counter-arguments to his point do not seem scientific. The argument that history teaches critical thinking for instance is very popular, but there's no good definition of critical thinking and research se... (read more)

Paul Graham writes that studying fields with hard, solved problems (eg mathematics) is useful, because it gives you practice solving hard problems and the approaches and habits of mind that you develop solving those problems are useful when you set out to tackle new (technical) problems. This claim seems at least plausible to me and seems to line up with me personal experience, but you seem like a person who might know why I shouldn't believe this, so I ask, is there any reason I should doubt that the problem-solving approaches and habits of mind I develop studying mathematics won't help me as I run into novel technical problems?
Simple: Where's the evidence? Let me make a simple parsimonious assertion: knowledge acquisition is limited to the precise information acquired with zero secondary benefits to any other areas of the brain. Furthermore, unless practiced regularly this information will most likely not be retained. While such an assertion is in all likelihood not true, in the absence of evidence, it is more likely to be true than a more complex theory of how knowledge is acquired and retained. Now, if I was to put Paul Graham's argument into precise, scientific terms, it would be: Holding time constant, time spent on more difficult problems is more likely to produce measurable improvements in fluid intelligence than time spent on simpler problems. Or possibly: holding time constant, time spent on more difficult problems is more likely to produce measurable improvements in conscientiousness than time spent on simpler problems. I'll stick with the first definition for simplicity. But increasing fluid intelligence is a hard thing to do. This famous study argues that solving working memory tasks increases fluid intelligence however this meta-analysis argues that the evidence in this area is still inconsistent. Even if working memory tasks do generate increases there is still the problem of whether it's better to solve a few really difficult tasks or lots of easy tasks or somewhere in between. Then there is the issue of how long this increase is retained. Is it something like exercise where benefits mostly disappear within 6 months? And even if working memory tasks do increase fluid intelligence, that doesn't mean difficult math problems increase fluid intelligence. My own impression is that the best way to increase intelligence is by just reading a lot. As evidence, this study found that reading was the best predictor of increased success on a standardized test. The next highest predictor was being social. Studying had a positive, but non-significant impact. This was an observation
YouTube rap video's might not be the best focal point to have a discussion about high school curriculum design issues. Do you think that anybody designing curriculas wouldn't want them to provide more direct value everything being equal? School curriculum's don't get designed by the average person, what makes you think that the average person ability to stay on topic matters for the issue?

I'm planning on running an experiement to test the effects of Modafinil on myself. My plan is to use a three armed study:

  • Modafinil (probably 50mg as I am quite small)
  • B12 pill (as active control) or maybe Vitamin D
  • Passive Control (no placebo)

Each day I will randomly take one of the three options and perform some test. I was thinking of dual-n-back, but do people have any other suggestions?

Keep in mind that modafinil has a half-life of ~16 hours. You might want to allow a day in between samples. If you don't, plan to take this into account in the analysis. Whatever test you do, try it a bunch before starting the experiment to get through a lot of the learning period.
Thanks for the suggestions! * My plan was to include a 1-day lag of the independent variable as a control variable in some of the regressions and see what effect that had. * Yep, plan to do that, and then also add a 'date' control variable as well.

This isn't worth a karma hit to me (though I'm risking one by posting this way), but I'm pretty sure that advanced atheist was making a joke. It wasn't an especially good joke, but all the comments seemed to assume aa was serious.

It's still related to his shtick and people are getting really tired of his shtick.
What led you to think it was a joke? Considering his previously stated opinions on a supposed incompatibility between futurism and female nature, it was completely in character for him.
It's clearly a joke because he's alluding to the plot of a children's animated movie. The question is to what extent he was using the joke to make a serious point.

Who came up with Pascal's Mugging? Both EY and Nick Bostrom (pdf) present it as seemingly their own idea.

No, Bostrom explicitly attributes it to Yudkowsky.

Ha, somehow missed that comment at the end. On the other hand, Bostrom only says EY named the problem. Did EY also come up with it?
The footnote implies that intermediate forms were not written down. Probably everyone involved has now forgotten who contributed what. Is it meaningful to ask about the problem? In what sense is Pascal's mugging different than Pascal's wager? That it only uses finite numbers? That it uses super-exponential growth and draws attention to Kolmogorov complexity? That the mugger's number comes second, allowing the threat/promise to depend on the probability? And, of course, the iconic difference, the one in the name, is that it is a single person making the claim, not a society, yet this is not a technical difference, but a purely psychological difference, and thus quite ambiguous and difficult to trace. At some level of granularity, every account is the same; at another, every account is different. Commenting on Yudkowsky's post, Bostrom cites his paper "Infinite Ethics" (section 4.3?). Presumably that is as close as Bostrom got in writing before. Whether you consider it "the same" or an admission of not having prior art depends on what you care about. Moreover, that paper has a bibliography, unlike the mugging dialogue.

This is an open question about a brain-hack.

I don't believe the concept of love languages is big on LW, but searching the forum leads to a few mentions of them. It not exactly a data-driven concept, but anecdotally, spending time and acts of service are effective ways to make me feel loved, while gifts and compliments are not (they actually usually make me feel uncomfortable).

The primary concept of the love languages book is to change the way you show love from what you prefer to what your partner prefers (ie if your main language is touch and you a... (read more)

My considerations about the love languages (with a partner of mine) was that - once you start considering languages you are already steps ahead of people who are not even trying in a relationship. Because of that it has an effect of winning-by-trying that otherwise wouldn't happen. whether or not love languages are real is completely debatable; but trying is certainly going to help (and having someone else's jargon to talk about things that you like/dislike should also help. further comments; the 5 languages - gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service (devotion), and physical touch (intimacy) I value them in this order: physical, time, and lower - words, and significantly lower - gifts or service. (as does my partner mentioned above) There is a sneaky trick that I noticed; considering how much I don't care for gifts (and neither does my partner); when I gave my partner a gift it tricked my brain into going; "if I have time for gifts I must be fulfilled on the physical, time and word levels". Not sure why and how it works, but maybe try that?
Typical method is something like a gratitude journal. As time becomes scarcer, it's also worth looking into more ways to exchange money for quality time with family. For example, for me I have to make a conscious effort to spend time and money on travel to see my parents and relatives - even though it's almost always a good exchange I don't do it automatically.
Thank you, I have been procrastinating gratitude journaling (for increasing general happiness) for a while, but it seems that journaling about the ways my wife shows her love, excluding quality time, would shift my perception. Alas, I have considered daycare to put more of her alone-time during periods when I'm unavailable, but money is nearly as scarce as time these days.
One exercise you could do is to remember a time you felt loved, and how it felt, and focus on that feeling. Spend a bit of time each day bringing up that feeling into your consciousness. Or, another similar thing to do would be to imagine being surrounded by love, with whatever visuals or feelings feel right to you. There are likely ways to feel more comfortable with receiving compliments or gifts. But, once you are more comfortable with these other expressions of love, would you feel more loved? Feeling loved does not seem straightforward to me. I think "How can I feel more comfortable with receiving gifts and compliments?" would be an achievable goal. Perhaps that's a good first step. But I'm not sure it will get you what you want. Feeling loved, at least in my experience, does not always correlate to external circumstances. Sometimes it's more of an internal issue. Are you sure that "feeling unloved" is what is going on? It sounds to me like it's possible that what's happening is that you are feeling frustrated and lonely. Which may not be the same thing. I know you said it is unlikely to be able to set aside more quality time for each other, at least for the time being, but I think it would be worth taking the time to think about it in more depth. Perhaps there are creative approaches that could result in more time together. Even if that's not feasible for the moment, perhaps you could make a more long-term plan to get to a point where it becomes more feasible. Here's one idea, though perhaps you have already considered it. Find some friends who also have children, and set up a schedule with them where they have your kids over to their house, for the evening or even for a sleepover, one night of the week, and you have their kids over to your house one night of the week. Then you have at least one night of alone time, and it isn't costing you extra money. I have no idea if this would apply to your circumstances, but I thought I'd throw it out there. Back
This sounds very similar to journaling about ways my wife showed love each day My gifts issue is mostly to do with minimalist/environmentalist concerns. I don't want/need stuff and a gift is more stuff wrapped in garbage which will eventually end up as garbage too. I know all gifts can't be described that way, but I guess (which is just hitting as I type this) I have an ugh field around "gifts". As far compliments go, I have analyzed that quite a bit, and I believe it stems from the fact that, even though I don't give insincere compliments, they generally sound (to me) as insincere on the way out of my mouth and so I don't give them (at least not standard ones). Since they are funny for me to give, they are funny for me to get. (probably another ugh field) Its a little more complicated than not having enough time. I'm a "relationship guy" {a term I stole from the movie I love you man}, which is to say, while I have friends, friendship is always a lower priority than my relationships, I'd rather sit on the couch next to my wife and watch netfix on the laptop with headphones (so we don't wake the kids) than just about anything else I could do on an evening out on the town with her home with the kids. That's an unrealistic expectation of a lover if they are also not the same way (1). So since service is one of the ways I prefer to give love (and thankful she receives it) as a service to her, she can go out as needed and tend to her friendships, which are important to her. Its seems I would like to make that lower-cost to me. You could say that I'm feeling unhappy as a result of being lonely as a result of not perceiving enough love. Maybe it should be "How can I feel positive emotions when people do nice things for me, irrespective of the format/modality of the nice thing, without having to consciously think about how it was a nice thing for someone to do." The general premise of the books is to change the way you show love to match the way people receive it. I h
Journaling is focused on keeping track of what happened in the day, and what you perceived externally. That's not the point I had in mind with the exercise. The exercise was more to help your mind remember what it feels like to be loved. It's almost like training a muscle with weights or something. If you can bring up that feeling to mind more often, you might get used to it being there more often. Journaling might help, but in a different way. Thank you for this comment. I understand a little better. If this has been your most common experience with receiving gifts, then no wonder you don't like it. As someone who enjoys giving and receiving gifts, I would say that such gifts at least partly miss the point of giving gifts. It works much better when the gifts are thoughtful and something that the person receiving it actually likes. There is weird cultural stuff around gift giving, different in different families and culture. In some cultures it is polite to pretend to like a gift you don't like. But in a romantic relationship, I think it is better to give feedback, and practice at getting better at it. Say it tactfully, but be honest. Then through several cycles of gift giving and feedback, adjustments can be made as you go along. Perhaps you would prefer gifts more along the line of some sort of food that you enjoy that you could consume in a short period of time, or digital files that don't take up more physical space in your home. Those are examples I thought of that I think are less likely to fall into the category of "garbage wrapped in garbage". But you may have ideas that better suit you. I know your topic is broader than just gifts, but I think in this example, you may not have had the experience of a gift done really well, with a lot of thought given to your preferences. When that happens, that feels pretty great, at least to me. But I also have had the experience of being given things that are of no use to me at all. If it's strangers I smile and no
Thanks for your replies My issues with gifts are very layered and very deep, from going from middle class to "free-or-reduced-lunch" in middle school and becoming acutely aware of the value of things and what my mom was sacrificing for a new-but-cheap pair of jeans to a general avoidance of having stuff I don't want/use to a history of big gifts that were literally the opposite of "its the thought that counts". My wife and I don't really engage is gift giving, and it is not an area of contention. I have been making a conscious effort to train people in giving experiences, as they are should to improve happiness vs presents, and don't offend my minimalist/zero-waste ideals. This is going to be a big challenge in the coming years are our 2 and 4 year olds get older. I'd would disagree, at least for me I have been able to temporarily create new unconscious reactions. I have a little quirk that I'm paranoid that I'll call my lover the wrong name. When I first started dating my wife, any time I thought about my ex, I would repeat my wife's name in my head, this led to an odd habit of doing the same thing when I caught myself checking out another girl. That habit let to an unconscious reaction that seeing a "hot chick" would make me think of my wife. That has now attenuated away, but I'm sure if I started mentally repeating my wife's name whenever I check out a woman, it would come back.
The link is broken. You need to escape your underscores. Write it as "[love languages](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The\\\_Five\\\_Love\\\_Languages)". That way it wil print as "love languages".
Actually, I think the problem is just that there was a space between the bracket pairs. This link is written without backslashes: love languages.
Yep, this was also a problem. Thanks.
Do you want to change what makes you feel happy and loved? I suspect a lot of it gets baked in during childhood and attempts to change that would involve fairly major surgery on your psyche.
IMO, fairly major surgery on one's psyche is an important part of optimizing one's life. You can't change everything all at once, but a whole lot of attitudes and aliefs can be reprogrammed over time. For this one, gratitude journal is a good recommendation. Also, the same advice as other habit-changing: learn to notice when your feelings don't match your beliefs, and backtrack to the causes. Repeated self-talk (both affirmations and framing reminders) has a pretty strong effect on me, but others report mixed success.
Just like any major surgery, it's a risk. You might benefit, or you might screw yourself up in appropriately major ways.
Yes. I edited the post for clarity.

Does anyone have connection to whoever is answering this email address? hello@eaglobal.org trying to contact them.


For anybody more directly in the medical field:

Is there such a thing as a cryptic sinus infection / bronchitis / ear infection that produces fever and systemic effects but not local effects? I got a hell of a respiratory virus last weekend, the primary symptoms of coughing and nose issues are almost gone but my fever and general malaise are still around or even a little worse, and a doctor failed to see any indication of bacterial infection anywhere. I got antibiotics prescribed just in case and told to take them if I don't get better in the next few day... (read more)

Happy Longevity Day!


Noticed a weird thing about myself today... Probably more useful for its vagueness, so reporting it here.

I owe a friend, who is also a colleague, 100 hrivnas. Recently, I found an unused gift certificate allowing to buy things for 150 hrn in a book shop, and thought, wow, I can just give it to her: her child has just started school, and the shop sells basic school supplies among other stuff - or better yet, since my child is going to school in a few years, I can just buy copybooks and give her two thirds of the loot. Great!

Then I went to the shop, and lear... (read more)

I think I need further description about the situation and why you're relieved. It sounds like you're 150hrn poorer than you thought, and I'm not sure why that's a relief. Was there an unstated worry about repaying your friend in goods rather than cash?
After I'd thought about it for a while, I decided that I was relieved by not having to choose between what could benefit both of us and a potentially interesting book I could have found just for myself. (There wasn't one.)

Are there any known deaths due to Quantum suicide experiments? Conversely, are there any known survivals in such experiments? (We should presumably not expect the latter for large odds of death, but just want the question to be complete.)

Not exactly, but related: Hugh Everett's' daughter Elizabeth committed suicide in 1996 and wrote in her suicide note that she's going to a parallel universe to be with her father.
The exact wording is a little more tentative. From Many Worlds of Hugh Everett, pg757 in my Calibre: (The footnote explains that "don't file me" is a joking reference to how Everett's ashes were apparently kept in a filing cabinet for some time.)
Note that to someone not taking part in the experiment, the odds of the experimenter surviving are the same regardless of quantum immortality. (At least, as far as I can tell. But this seems to suggest that if someone survives lots of QI experiments, they should update massively in favour of QI, but nobody else should update at all, which seems really weird to me.)
That's what I was trying to say in my parenthetical above. And yes, anthropics is weird.
It seems like an observer should likewise update in favor of QI in this case. If I know that you have survived many QI experiments, don't I have just as much justification for updating in favor of QI as you do?
No, because from your perspective, me surviving is just as unlikely under QI as under not-QI. If I die on the result of a quantum coinflip, then the universe diverges into two branches. I can only observe the one where I survive, but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist. You're equally likely to observe either of them.
Louis Slotin? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_Slotin
"accidentally", and it was before the idea had even been thought of (and, in fact, before MWI had been proposed.

Is it okay to re-ask questions on open threads if they were not answered the last time the were ask on it? I had asked this question but received no answer, and I am concerened it would be spammy to re-ask.

I'd say ask it at most three times consecutively, probably no more than two. But two is absolutely fine, especially since you previously asked it quite late in the thread.
LW isn't a place that has strict rules for issues like this. It operates on the principle that it's users are generally smart and make decent decisions. If a person makes posting decisions that the community disapproves of, he will get downvoted.
I personally wouldn't mind if you re-asked. It might happen that I might know an answer this week and not the past one, and usually open threads get forgotten really quickly.

I expect that most people are biased when it comes to judging how attractive they are. Asking people probably doesn't help too much, since people are likely to be nice, and close friends probably also have a biased view of ones attractiveness. So is there a good way to calibrate your perception of how good you look?

Can't you just post a photo on a relevant website? okCupid has a rating system, I think HotOrNot is still around, etc.
You gawk a lot at people and develop an eye for what attractiveness means. Don't ask people, that's almost always useless, unless you happen to run into an expert on this. See what your eye responds positively to. Then evaluating yourself is as easy as keeping a reference feature in your mind up for comparison when you look at yourself. Keep in mind that attractive people are not all identical; there are attractive and unattractive versions and combinations of any trait. There are also some things you could do to get an eye-opening perspective of yourself – ever looked at yourself through a second mirror forming an acute angle to the first mirror, so you can see yourself from the side view? I guarantee that the first time you do it you'll feel very surprised. Same thing when you're filmed talking and then watch the footage. Images that are flipped horizontally relative to your mirror image also help you notice asymmetries. The point is that the eye notices a lot more when the image is even slightly unfamiliar.
Most people don't have a strong operational definition of what "how attractive" means - it's not so much that people are biased, but that the question is incoherent. Even the visual components of attraction between two people have a lot of dimensions, which different viewers will combine differently. Depending on why you want to know, I can suggest a few different paths: 1) seek professional opinion - ask people at modeling agencies whether you have looks that will sell product. 2) seek crowd opinion - there are sites where you can post a photo and see how many responses you get. 3) find ways to measure the common components of beauty (symmetry, ratios between features, etc.). 4) find ways to identify (and enhance) attractiveness to specific people rather than in general. None of these are objective. Give that up - beauty isn't actually objective (though there are components that correlate strongly with majority subjective reporting). Also, you don't say "physical attractiveness", nor "sexual attractiveness", so perhaps you intend to mean the total package of likeability for all purposes - if so, ignore 1-3; #4 is the one which acknowledges the idiosyncratic nature of human attraction.
I am not sure why do you think so -- conditional on specifying a (sub)culture, most people have little trouble saying "X looks more attractive than Y". Of course, that's just ranking, not assigning some numerical estimate. It's easy to pick a pair of faces which 95%+ of respondents will rank in attractiveness the same way.
I recently got a beard and had conversations with a few people about whether I look more attractive with it. When talking with one girl she said that the effect of the beard was that I look more mature and that the question is whether that's the image that I want to project. In some situations looking more mature will be helpful and attractive while in other it won't. That information will get lost when you focus on a single scale of attractiveness. Despite matureness other qualities such as friendliness, trustworthiness and openness can also be communicate through looks and some people will count them into attractiveness while other won't.
What exactly do you want to know about your looks? In what way would an answer to the question help you?
Perhaps a rating system based on proportions, symmetry, and skin health. However, I'm not convinced this is that (it is a large factor in decisions, yes, but it's not one you can change much beyond style and hygiene, unless you're willing to undergo plastic surgery) important, except in the realm of Tinder-esque situations. If you happen to live somewhere where random people will complement you or flirt with you, I suppose number of incidents/number of people exposed to over a large span of time could be a metric.
I think that has more to do with how approachable you look than with how attractive you look.
If there was a large dataset of faces shot in a similar way and rated for attractiveness somewhere, you could take a photo of yourself, look for people in the set who look like you (possibly with some sort of face recognition program) and see how they are rated.

Has anybody heard of the fallacy fallacy?

Related: flowchart logic.

I'm really hesitant about posting about controversial topics like climate change because of the heavy mind-killing effect they have. But I was recently involved in a debate about climate change, and one of the opponents in the debate pointed to evidence supposedly supporting the 'global warming hiatus' in the past 15 years and that 90's climate models did not predict the hiatus. On the other hand, work by NASA/NOAA suggests that the supposed hiatus is actually illusory and an artifact of uncorrected ocean temperature data. Other sources suggest that the ti... (read more)

There are a lot of decade-scale cycles that pump heat energy around the earth system, making it pile up more rapidly in the atmosphere than the deep hydrosphere or vice versa, and various other similar things . Patterns at timescales shorter than a decade or so are almost meaningless as a result.
Well the question is less about heat energy and more about land-ocean surface temperatures. In the debate, both sides agreed that the climate heat content was increasing and that this was due to human activity. The disagreement was about whether surface temperature models should be taken seriously or not.
That certainly wasn't what global-warming people were saying at the end of 1990s.
"Suitability of climate models" is a... complex subject. I don't think there is a short and easy answer other than that most models overstate the certainty of their conclusions. Whether the hiatus ("pause") exists is a much easier question. Just take a look at temperature plots for the last 50 years or so and check what your eyes tell you :-)

Just take a look [...] and check what your eyes tell you :-)

This is the same procedure that leads a lot of people to lose a lot of money trying to pick stocks, and a lot of other people to believe in the efficacy of prayer. Human eyes attached to human brains are very good at seeing patterns that aren't really there.

I am not a climate scientist and haven't looked at the data in detail. But, for what it's worth, when I eyeball the plots what I see is a highly noisy time series whose last 10 years or so do indeed look cooler than trend but not so much so that I'd want to rule out random variation as a sufficient explanation. And at least some people who have looked at the data in detail have arrived at the same conclusion; see e.g. passive_fist's second and third links.

I don't know whether those people are right, but what they say seems to me obviously credible enough that saying "just eyeball the data, it's obvious" is really bad advice.

[EDITED to add:] Maybe what's actually going here is different interpretations of "the hiatus exists". It seems fairly uncontroversial that (e.g.) the slope of the least-squares straight line fit to mean surface temperature fro... (read more)

I'm not afraid of a long and hard answer, if you have one. Looking at the official data released by NASA, there is no warming hiatus.
The long and hard answer is about a book's length in size and might well be more. As to data, there are several "official" series, IIRC from NASA, from NOAA, and from the Hadley Centre. See e.g. this. Data is freely available, so you can plot your own. However I don't know why there is controversy over the existence of hiatus if even the IPCC 2013 report accepts it as existing and spends a few pages (Ch. 9) discussing it.
Science moves on... are you suggesting that just because it was in the IPCC report the matter is fully settled and over with? Even though I agree with the conclusions of the IPCC report, I'm sure there are many things in the report which will have to be revised in the future.
Just like gjm, I think you're confusing existence and interpretation. Outside of political posturing, I don't know why someone would claim that hiatus as a feature of the historical data set does not exist. It does and it's pretty clear. That's existence. What does the hiatus mean is a different and a much more complicated question. You can claim it's just an artifact of random variation. You can claim it reflects multi-year cycles in global climate patterns. You can claim it shows that our models are deficient and we don't understand climate variation. You can claim many things -- but a claim that the hiatus just does not exist doesn't seem reasonable to me.
Not sure why you're using this unusual terminology, but I'm arguing about what you call existence. It seems that you're arguing that the 'hiatus' exists with either absolute certainty (in which case you'd have to provide a logical proof) or at least with very high likelihood. However, I see no reason we should assign a very high likelihood to its existence. The 'existence' of a 'trend' or 'hiatus' in general time series data is part of the map, not the territory. If the climate temperature data were just a smooth line (like this - graph not relevant to the discussion) then I'd agree with you, but it's not. It looks like this.
What's unusual about my terminology? I am not sure about that. In your "smooth line" example, is the trend part of the map or the territory? More generally, what can I say about a time series that you would consider to be territory and not map? Oh, and if you want to be technical about it, the time series you're looking at is not part of the territory to start with. It's a complex model-dependent aggregate.
If the temperature graph looked like the first graph, then inference of a trend (which is, again, part of the map) with high probability might be made. But it does not look like that. That f(t) = x. For the sake of discussion of the existence of a hiatus I'm assuming the temperature graph is a given. But you're right in that the big picture is that the temperature graph itself is not part of the territory.
In this case I am not sure what do you mean by "exists". Can you give a definition, preferfably a hard one, that is, an algorithm into which I can feed the time series and it will tell me whether a particular feature (e.g. a hiatus) exists or not?
You're getting close to understanding the problem. What you're really asking about is an inference method, and the optimal inference method is Bayesian inference, which requires specification of what you would expect to see in the temperature record if the current warming rate were zero and also the specification of a prior probability. For the latter, an uninformative prior assigning equal weight to warming and cooling would probably be most suitable here. The former is a bit tricky, and that is precisely the problem with saying "the existence of the hiatus is obvious."
I am sorry, I do nothing of that sort. You asked a question about whether something exists and it turned out that you have a different meaning (or, maybe, context) for that word than I envisioned. So I am asking you what do you mean by "exists" -- not about the optimal methods of inference. Given your comment, I think what you are asking is not whether the hiatus exists (as I use the word), but rather whether the warming has stopped -- or maybe whether our confidence in the current climate models is not as high as it used to be.
Again, yes you are, because you're asking about inferring some property (the hiatus e.g. relative slowdown in increase of global surface temperatures) from the data, not directly about the data (which is only a function mapping points in time to instantaneous temperature recordings and by itself says nothing about trends). One way of calculating a trend is simply smoothing/windowing and taking the derivative, and then saying 'a hiatus is happening if the derivative is this close to zero'. That is a kind of inference, although not the kind that I would personally use for data like this. What you are talking about is also probabilistic inference in the strictest sense, because the confidence in your estimate of existence of the hiatus depends directly on how much data you have. In this case, only a few years' worth --- if you had 100 years' worth of data to go on, a much stronger estimate could be made. Conversely, if you had only 1-2 years of data, then no such hiatus would be 'apparent' even if it was occurring.
To start with, there is some confusion -- you say which isn't so. You are asking about inferring some property, and I'm asking about the meaning of the words you are using. However, getting to the meat of the issue, I'd like to make two points. Point one is distinguishing between sample statistics and estimates of the parameters of the underlying process. In our case we have an underlying process (warming, let's say we define it as the net energy balance of the planet integrated over a suitable interval) which we cannot observe directly, and some data (land and ocean temperatures) which we can. The data that we have is, in statistical terminology, a sample and we commonly try to figure out properties of the underlying process by looking at the sample that we have. The thing is, sample statistics are not random. If I have some data (e.g. a time series of temperatures) and I calculate its mean, that mean is not a random variable. The probability of it is 1 -- we observed it, it happened. There is no inference involved in calculating sample means, just straight math. Now, if you want estimates of a mean of the underlying process, that's a different issue. It's going to be an uncertain estimate and we will have to specify some sort of a model to even produce such and estimate and talk about how likely it is. In this case, when I'm talking about the hiatus as a feature of the data, it's not a probabilistic, there is nothing to infer. But if you want to know whether there is a hiatus in the underlying process of global warming, it's a different question and much more complicated, too. Point two is more general and a bit more interesting. It's common to think in terms of data and models: you have some data and you fit some models to it. You can describe your data without using any models -- for example, calculate the sample mean. However as your description of data grows more complex, at some point you cross a (fuzzy) line and start to talk about the same data in ter
Lewandowsky has an... interesting reputation.
If there's something wrong with the article, it seems like you should be able to say what it is rather than making insinuations about one of its authors. (Lewandowsky is strongly disliked by those whose position on global warming differs from the mainstream scientific consensus, no doubt. So far as I can tell he doesn't have a reputation for dishonesty or incompetence among groups without a strong motivation to put him down.)
I haven't read the article, just glanced at the front page, saw the name of the lead author and thought "Hmm... that name looks familiar".