Welcome to Less Wrong! (11th thread, January 2017) (Thread B)

(Thread A for January 2017 is here, this was created as a duplicate but it's too late to fix it now.)


Hi, do you read the LessWrong website, but haven't commented yet (or not very much)? Are you a bit scared of the harsh community, or do you feel that questions which are new and interesting for you could be old and boring for the older members?

This is the place for the new members to become courageous and ask what they wanted to ask. Or just to say hi.

The older members are strongly encouraged to be gentle and patient (or just skip the entire discussion if they can't).

Newbies, welcome!

 

The long version:

 

If you've recently joined the Less Wrong community, please leave a comment here and introduce yourself. We'd love to know who you are, what you're doing, what you value, how you came to identify as an aspiring rationalist or how you found us. You can skip right to that if you like; the rest of this post consists of a few things you might find helpful. More can be found at the FAQ.

 

A few notes about the site mechanics

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However, it can feel really irritating to get downvoted, especially if one doesn't know why. It happens to all of us sometimes, and it's perfectly acceptable to ask for an explanation. (Sometimes it's the unwritten LW etiquette; we have different norms than other forums.) Take note when you're downvoted a lot on one topic, as it often means that several members of the community think you're missing an important point or making a mistake in reasoning— not just that they disagree with you! If you have any questions about karma or voting, please feel free to ask here.

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All recent posts (from both Main and Discussion) are available here. At the same time, it's definitely worth your time commenting on old posts; veteran users look through the recent comments thread quite often (there's a separate recent comments thread for the Discussion section, for whatever reason), and a conversation begun anywhere will pick up contributors that way.  There's also a succession of open comment threads for discussion of anything remotely related to rationality.

Discussions on Less Wrong tend to end differently than in most other forums; a surprising number end when one participant changes their mind, or when multiple people clarify their views enough and reach agreement. More commonly, though, people will just stop when they've better identified their deeper disagreements, or simply "tap out" of a discussion that's stopped being productive. (Seriously, you can just write "I'm tapping out of this thread.") This is absolutely OK, and it's one good way to avoid the flamewars that plague many sites.

EXTRA FEATURES:
There's actually more than meets the eye here: look near the top of the page for the "WIKI", "DISCUSSION" and "SEQUENCES" links.
LW WIKI: This is our attempt to make searching by topic feasible, as well as to store information like common abbreviations and idioms. It's a good place to look if someone's speaking Greek to you.
LW DISCUSSION: This is a forum just like the top-level one, with two key differences: in the top-level forum, posts require the author to have 20 karma in order to publish, and any upvotes or downvotes on the post are multiplied by 10. Thus there's a lot more informal dialogue in the Discussion section, including some of the more fun conversations here.
SEQUENCES: A huge corpus of material mostly written by Eliezer Yudkowsky in his days of blogging at Overcoming Bias, before Less Wrong was started. Much of the discussion here will casually depend on or refer to ideas brought up in those posts, so reading them can really help with present discussions. Besides which, they're pretty engrossing in my opinion. They are also available in a book form.

A few notes about the community

If you've come to Less Wrong to  discuss a particular topic, this thread would be a great place to start the conversation. By commenting here, and checking the responses, you'll probably get a good read on what, if anything, has already been said here on that topic, what's widely understood and what you might still need to take some time explaining.

If your welcome comment starts a huge discussion, then please move to the next step and create a LW Discussion post to continue the conversation; we can fit many more welcomes onto each thread if fewer of them sprout 400+ comments. (To do this: click "Create new article" in the upper right corner next to your username, then write the article, then at the bottom take the menu "Post to" and change it from "Drafts" to "Less Wrong Discussion". Then click "Submit". When you edit a published post, clicking "Save and continue" does correctly update the post.)

If you want to write a post about a LW-relevant topic, awesome! I highly recommend you submit your first post to Less Wrong Discussion; don't worry, you can later promote it from there to the main page if it's well-received. (It's much better to get some feedback before every vote counts for 10 karma—honestly, you don't know what you don't know about the community norms here.)

Alternatively, if you're still unsure where to submit a post, whether to submit it at all, would like some feedback before submitting, or want to gauge interest, you can ask / provide your draft / summarize your submission in the latest open comment thread. In fact, Open Threads are intended for anything 'worth saying, but not worth its own post', so please do dive in! Informally, there is also the unofficial Less Wrong IRC chat room, and you might also like to take a look at some of the other regular special threads; they're a great way to get involved with the community!

If you'd like to connect with other LWers in real life, we have  meetups  in various parts of the world. Check the wiki page for places with regular meetups, or the upcoming (irregular) meetups page. There's also a Facebook group. If you have your own blog or other online presence, please feel free to link it.

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Normal_Anomaly 
Randaly 
shokwave 
Barry Cotter

A note for theists: you will find the Less Wrong community to be predominantly atheist, though not completely so, and most of us are genuinely respectful of religious people who keep the usual community norms. It's worth saying that we might think religion is off-topic in some places where you think it's on-topic, so be thoughtful about where and how you start explicitly talking about it; some of us are happy to talk about religion, some of us aren't interested. Bear in mind that many of us really, truly have given full consideration to theistic claims and found them to be false, so starting with the most common arguments is pretty likely just to annoy people. Anyhow, it's absolutely OK to mention that you're religious in your welcome post and to invite a discussion there.

A list of some posts that are pretty awesome

I recommend the major sequences to everybody, but I realize how daunting they look at first. So for purposes of immediate gratification, the following posts are particularly interesting/illuminating/provocative and don't require any previous reading:

More suggestions are welcome! Or just check out the top-rated posts from the history of Less Wrong. Most posts at +50 or more are well worth your time.

Welcome to Less Wrong, and we look forward to hearing from you throughout the site!

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Hello, would this be the current introduction thread?

Not sure I belong here. I haven't read through much of the site but it seems like a useful resource. I'm looking for people I can communicate with and relate to. I found the site via a search for "a sense for logic". I think of it as feeling ideas connect, and it's my current best guess as to why I'm apparently incomprehensible to most people. An example of it: I can usually tell whether I'll remember something by feel.

Does that seem relatable? And is this the wrong place to try and make friends?

This is a good place to make friends. Or at least that's what I think.

Sounds like you might solve that communication problem by having better models of how other people work and trying out different ways of sending information. Different ways to say the same thing.

Anyway, welcome!

Hi, my horizons are towards hardcore Effective Altruism, whereas to be a successful E altruist you have to figure out how your brain works, emotional intelligence, QM and how to condition yourself. I'm very concerned that rational people who have apparently mastered the Way spend their time arguing on irrelevant matters with users here rather than being in line with their utility function and purpose. So a part of my future research is how to figure out how to communicate with high-IQ individuals here to unlock their potential and improve their reasoning.

For now I have to read the Sequences, do some math, read Jaynes and other rationalist material. http://rationality.org/resources/reading-list

I have around 7017+-500 pages left to read and understand, which will take around a year. If you have any other suggestions for material to read based on my post history among others, I highly appreciate it. Thanks.

Good luck! I'm looking forward to reading your ebook on 5 easy tips on how to unlock my inner high-IQ potential.

I'm very concerned that rational people who have apparently mastered the Way spend their time arguing on irrelevant matters with users here rather than being in line with their utility function and purpose.

So a part of my future research is how to figure out how to communicate with high-IQ individuals here to unlock their potential and improve their reasoning.

So... you are going to spend your time arguing with users here, but you've come with a reason for it, so it doesn't seem irrational? ;)

Hello, this is the user formerly known as Romashka. I work in a bookstore, read botany articles for pleasure, have a family. I do not expect to post to Discussion, and will probably comment only occasionally. Good luck to everyone.

Welcome back! Is there a particular reason why you don't expect to post to Discussion? You used to, from time to time, under your old ID. What's changed?

(Please don't feel obliged to answer this question. But I'd be interested in the answer if you'd like to give it.)

I'm now more active on Facebook, where 1) I don't have to use English, and 2) the (few) commenters are mostly botanists and zoologists with much more experience than I have - this is like refining your search terms:) and I live near enough that I can go talk to them in person, if need be, so it's kind of mixed online and real-life discussion.

I haven't had the time to go talk with them lately, but I do hope to do it soon enough.

As to non-biology-related stuff, I don't expect to post on it because I only come across it randomly, and so...don't expect to:)

Not that you need my approval, but those sound like excellent reasons.

Was reminded to say hello here!

I'm Jacob Liechty, with a new account after using a less active pseudonym for a while. I've been somewhat active around the rationality community and know a bunch of people therein and throughout. Rationalism and its writings had a pretty deep impact on my life about 5 years ago, and I haven't been able to shake it since.

I currently make video games for a living, but will be keeping my finger to the pulse to determine when to move into more general tech startups, some sort of full time philanthropy, maybe start an EA nonprofit or metacharity, or who knows. I'm one of the creators of a game called Astroneer, which has been doing quite successfully, which opens up a lot of opportunities but also gives me some responsibilities of managing it well for the purposes of giving.

Hello, I'm a math-cs undergrad and aspiring effective altruist, but I haven't chosen a cause yet. Since that decision is probably one of the most important ones, I should probably wait until I've become stronger.

To that end, I've read the Sequences (as well as HPMOR), and I would like to attend a CFAR workshop or similar at some point in the future. I think one of my problems is that I don't actually think that much about what I read. Do you have any advice on that?

Also, there are a couple of LWers in my college with whom I have met twice, and we would like to start organising meetups regularly. Would you please give me some karma so that I can add new meetups? (I promise I will make up for it with good contributions)

Thanks!

try rewriting what you have read or teaching it to other people. This will help you feel like you understand it better and go back and re-learn what you might have missed. See also: Feynman notebook method.

I think one of my problems is that I don't actually think that much about what I read.

Do you mean that you don't put much thought into deciding what to read, or that when you read something you don't reflect on it?

I don't reflect on it. This happens in two ways:

  1. I find reflecting much more cognitively demanding than reading, so if there is a 'next post' button or similar, I tend to keep reading.

  2. Also, sometimes when I try to actually think about the subject, it's difficult to come up with original ideas. I often find myself explaining or convincing an imaginary person, instead of trying to see it with fresh eyes. This is something I noticed after reading the corresponding Sequence.

I guess establishing an habit of commenting would help me solve these problems.

I am applesauce.

Found this place through another user and quite a few concepts/topics/thoughts/content was interesting. Currently have a year left till I become licensed to start diagnosing people with the DSM-5 and on my way to be an RN as well... I am a crappy counselor so I meet all types of people...but the members of this site have peculiar thoughts and processes which is pretty fascinating.

Bottomline: I just like to listen to people.

What do you do when you have a thousand questions to ask, and a thousand things to say, in a place where you do not normally do either? How do you say the first thing?

As a rationalist, what do you what to see more of in literature? I enjoyed HPMOR, and that's how I got here, a few months ago. It reminds me of textbooks, but I wasn't bored. It's one of my favorite books, and I've been recommending it to Ender's Game fans. I want to write a book or tell a story like that.

Origin story? I think of myself as an irrationalist, but I'm busy debugging. It's more difficult than debugging code (c++ atleast), but more important, and...hopefully more rewarding.

A few questions:

Can we comment here multiple times?

Is this the best place to talk about ourselves on Less Wrong, or is that our User page?

Is there a place to talk about our personal experiences and efforts 'becoming more rational', and encourage each other, or is this just a place for general scientific discussion and posts?

Is there a timeline page for this website? If not, what's important about this site's history? Any interesting simultaneous sets of events? If not, is there anyone keeping records?

Is there a max comment length?

I know politics aren't talked about on Less Wrong, but religion is. If you view irrationality, or 'that which the truth can destroy' as things which 'should be destroyed with the truth', then why not talk about a vortex of bias and irrationality and poor design? Or, as a problem, talk about solutions. If solutions are never discussed how will the problem ever be solved? By everyone joining a group that can solve the problem but doesn't talk about it, but believes it will magically be solved when everyone does? While everywhere else, whenever someone thinks they have magically solved all problems and uncovered the secret to world peace, they shout it to the heavens and don't stop ranting about it where everyone can hear, including the internet. This seems exactly like the one of the few places I'd actually want to talk, and listen to people talk, about politics. It reminds me of Be Secretly Wrong.

How can I get up to date on the latest parts of Less Wrong? If The Sequences are the introduction, where are things now?

Can we comment here multiple times?

(I assume "here" = welcome thread.) Yes, of course. But no need to introduce yourself more than once.

Is there a place to talk about our personal experiences and efforts

The most recent "Group Rationality Diary" thread might be the best place for that.

[...] timeline [...]

Once upon a time, an economist called Robin Hanson started a blog called "Overcoming Bias". He invited one Eliezer Yudkowsky, an amateur artaificial intelligence theorist and philosopher (note: he might disagree with that characterization), to post on his blog, and for some time OB was a joint Hanson/Yudkowsky blog, with Yudkowsky's contributions constituting a sort of informal course in rationality-as-Eliezer-sees-it. After a few years of this, Robin Hanson wanted his blog back and quite a community had built up that was mostly following and commenting on Eliezer's posts, and a new site was created for that community: lesswrong.com. It was seeded with all Eliezer's old OB posts. It was a thriving would-be-rationalist community for some time, but in the last few years a lot of what used to be its regulars have gone elsewhere and it's generally reckoned that both quality and quantity of content here are much lower than they used to be. There are various plausible conjectures about why. There are occasional attempts to fix this by various means.

Is there a max comment length?

Probably, but it's pretty long. I don't recall ever hitting it, and (some of) my comments tend to be longer than most.

[...] politics [...]

Unfortunately, political discussions here have often turned out quite unhelpful -- more heat than light. So political discussion (especially if more specific) is generally discouraged here. There is fairly frequent political discussion, in a somewhat-rationalist community, in the open threads at Slate Star Codex (whose author was a very highly valued participant here on LW until he went his own way).

How can I get up to date on the latest parts of Less Wrong?

I don't think there's anything cleverer than reading the recent archives. You could look for particularly highly-voted posts, but note that until quite recently there was one user with a multitude of sockpuppets mass-downvoting everything posted by people whose politics he didn't like (and, for all I know, mass-upvoting things posted by people whose politics he did, but that hasn't been noticed if so) so the scores on things are less useful than you might hope.

Can we comment here multiple times?

Yes.

Is this the best place to talk about ourselves on Less Wrong, or is that our User page?

This. No one looks at User pages on a regular basis (as far as I know)

Is there a place to talk about our personal experiences and efforts 'becoming more rational', and encourage each other, or is this just a place for general scientific discussion and posts?

Yes and yes. Both.

Is there a timeline page for this website?

No, but I'm sure one of the old-timers will be willing to summarise :-)

Is there a max comment length?

Yes, enforced by software. It's quite reasonable.

I know politics aren't talked about on Less Wrong

Well, kinda. Generally speaking, political philosophy is OK, the current outrage of the day isn't. Even-handed analysis of the situation is OK, partisan rants aren't.

How can I get up to date on the latest parts of Less Wrong?

Read the forum.

Thanks a lot. I was nervous about posting here.

Hello! I've been a longtime lurker, but going off to my first year of college has given me the space to really understand what this site is trying to accomplish and decide that yeah I want to participate.

I have somehow gotten myself into an ongoing debate with a theist "rationality" group on campus (they do at least have the stated goal of seeking truth and they want people with multiple perspectives even if it is my considered opinion that the leader/only other person who contributed to our most recent discusiion abandons the truthseeking claim by saying he's "not afraid of any question"). My main problem I'm having is that it's a small group- I was the only atheist at the last meeting, and I debated the leader while the two theist students just kind of sat there and said we "both had good points," which I don't think was especially helpful input (especially as neither of them could tell me which points in particular were good). So I guess mostly I'm here because I'd like to win our future conversations a bit more effectively and to do that I'm going to need to get better to do that. I'm not sure if I don't really understand what I think or if I'm just bad at thinking on my feet, but somehow there's a disconnect here and we seem to be misunderstanding each others' arguments.

Is there a particular thread where one can ask for help for either debating in general or religious debates in particular? Because that's what I need I think and quick uses of the search feature provides a lot of semirelevant articles with comments as new as 3 years old... Alternatively, any advice here would be great.

Hi, everybody, I am Yuri. I am willing to continue figuring out what is going on in my life, with me and people around me, why this all seems so wrong and how to fix it.

Hey! My name's Jared and I'm a senior in high school. I guess I started being a "rationalist" a couple months ago (or a bit more) when I started looking at the list of cognitive biases on Wikipedia. I've tried very hard to mitigate almost all of them as much as I can and I plan on furthering myself down this path. I've read a lot of the sequences on here and I like to read a lot of rationalwiki and I also try to get information from many different sources.

As for my views, I am first a rationalist and make sure I am open to changing my mind about ANYTHING because reality doesn't change on your ability to stomach it.

As for labels, I'm vegan (or at least strict vegetarian), anarcho-communist (something around the range of left libertarian), agnostic (not in the sense that I'm on the fence but that I'm sure that we don't know - so militant agnostic lol).

My main first question is, since you guy are rationalists, why aren't you vegetarian or vegan? The percentage that is vegetarian on sites like lesswrong and rationalwiki is hardly higher than the public (or seems so). I would think considering you are rationalists you would understand vegetarian or veganism and go for it for sure. Am I missing something because this actually blows my mind? If you oppose it, I really wanna hear some arguments because I've never heard a single even somewhat convincing argument and I've argued with oh so many people about it. Obviously goal of veganism is to lessen suffering not end it etc.

But yeah hey!

My main first question is, since you guy are rationalists, why aren't you vegetarian or vegan?

Why do you think that rationalism would lead people to becoming veg(etari)an?

And a counter question: since you are a rationalist, how come you're an ancom?

Why do you think that rationalism would lead people to becoming veg(etari)an?

Because it is the rational choice. There are barely any benefits to eating meat and a ton for vegetarianism. Animals are conscious to pleasure and pain and can suffer (ask for sources - its a documented fact). If you gave any consideration at all to animals you would abhor factory farming as 50+billion die each year. Factory farming contributes to 50% of greenhouse emissions. On a macro-economic scale, plant foods are much more sustainable and many more people could be fed if we grew plants. Factory farming is inefficient. On a micro-economic scale, vegetarian foods are cheaper: rice, pasta, beans, etc. Vegetarians and vegans are healthier and general with lower mortality rate, lower bmi, lower risk of heart disease. There are no deficiencies. You do have to take a B12 pill if you are vegan, but lots of livestock are fed B12 pills anyway and they are extremely cheap. Like 10$ for hundreds of them, and this money can be gotten from the money saved from not buying meat.

The only real benefit to eat meat is convenience and that's because of society.

As for counterarguments:

"Meat is delicious" - Just because something is pleasurable doesn't mean its right to infringe on others' rights. We don't allow a lot of things because of this: ie rape etc. Also, if you cared about taste, you would spend more money and effort towards meals.

"Plant rights" - Usually this a joke. My rebuttal is slippery slope etc. Also even if plants should have rights, vegetarianism uses less plants because 70% of plant goods are used to feeding livestock.

There are many arguments but I don't want to counter them all unless you bring them up because that would take too much time.

As for ancom, well that's what I've come up with that's rational? If I hear a new thing my opinion may change, but I believe in equality and liberty.

Because it is the rational choice.

This is a dangerous statement to make. Would you change your mind about Veg*ism? What would it take?

many more people could be fed if we grew plants.

We grow plants, many more are not automatically fed.

Factory farming is inefficient.

Factory farming exists because it is efficient.

Vegetarians and vegans are healthier and general with lower mortality rate, lower bmi, lower risk of heart disease.

There was a recent meta-study confirming that meat has no link to any of those. I would add the caveat that processed meats are less healthy, but that's a factor of the preservatives not the meat itself. If there is a healthy aspect to veg* it would be about extra effort applied to food maintenance as a lifestyle not about the benefits of vegetables instead of meat. (no link because I don't have it on hand but have asked around to see if I can find it)

right to infringe on others' rights.

That depends on your world view.

70% of plant goods are used to feeding livestock.

Not all plant matter is viable for human consumption. Humans can't eat grass. By feeding it to cows we can harvest nutrients from parts of the earth that are not always viable for human crops.

I've come up with that's rational?

You would make more friends around here describing yourself as, "aspiring rationalist" as we do. And being careful about the label "rational" and using it as an identity (see: keep your identity small)

This is a dangerous statement to make. Would you change your mind about Veg*ism? What would it take?

Sure, very easily. You would have to prove to me that 1) Animals aren't conscious or for some reason aren't worth moral consideration 2) Global warming doesn't exist or factory farming doesn't affect it 3) Meat is healthy (I understand paleo can be healthy so this point may not matter) 4) Meat is cheaper, more efficient, and more sustainable compared to plants

We grow plants, many more are not automatically fed.

True, but I think they should be ;)

Factory farming exists because it is efficient.

No it doesn't. It exists because it WAS convenient and efficient. It is now not the best possible solution. It is cheaper and more efficient to produce plants calorie and protein-wise.

There was a recent meta-study confirming that meat has no link to any of those. I would add the caveat that processed meats are less healthy, but that's a factor of the preservatives not the meat itself. If there is a healthy aspect to veg* it would be about extra effort applied to food maintenance as a lifestyle not about the benefits of vegetables instead of meat. (no link because I don't have it on hand but have asked around to see if I can find it)

Nah I know correlation =/= causation.

Not all plant matter is viable for human consumption. Humans can't eat grass. By feeding it to cows we can harvest nutrients from parts of the earth that are not always viable for human crops.

Most cows don't eat grass in factory farming condition. I don't really get what you're saying with the not viable thing. We could always switch those for viable crops and it would be more efficient.

You would make more friends around here describing yourself as, "aspiring rationalist" as we do. And being careful about the label "rational" and using it as an identity (see: keep your identity small)

I didn't know this was a thing. My bad. This was more of a semantics things. I thought of the word "rationalist" as the same as what you think "aspiring rationalist" is.

We grow plants, many more are not automatically fed.

True, but I think they should be ;)

That would be called politics. (the politics of why some are fed and not others) And has very little to do with how much meat we eat, and a lot more to do with the state of geopolitical events.

Not all plant matter is viable for human consumption. Humans can't eat grass. By feeding it to cows we can harvest nutrients from parts of the earth that are not always viable for human crops.

We could always switch those for viable crops and it would be more efficient.

This is where we disagree on this point. I would say it's not always possible to grow human-edible crops in all land areas that we currently grow animals crops or generally have animal herds. I can't prove that over the internet, but consider climates not ideal for human food, dry climate, wet climate, rocky mountainous regions...

Vegetarians and vegans are healthier and general with lower mortality rate, lower bmi, lower risk of heart disease.

There was a recent meta-study confirming that meat has no link to any of those.

Nah I know correlation =/= causation.

By what mechanism would you propose that veg* is healthier?

I didn't know this was a thing. My bad. This was more of a semantics things. I thought of the word "rationalist" as the same as what you think "aspiring rationalist" is.

Certainly! Not a problem, we tend to have a way of talking around here. Kind of a "jargon", not hard to get used to, but tends to make it possible to tell who is on the same page as you in terms of reasonableness or still learning. Definitely look at the wiki for some of the terms and the sequences is a great read.

You are confused between rationality and values.

Rationality concerns itself with empirical reality and with causality in this empirical reality. Rationality does not tell you which things you must like, which rights you must respect, or which goals you must pursue. For example, "animal rights" is not a rationality argument, it's a values argument.

I believe in equality and liberty

Equality of rights, equality of opportunities, or equality of outcomes?

Factory farming contributes to 50% of greenhouse emissions. ... On a micro-economic scale, vegetarian foods are cheaper: rice, pasta, beans, etc.

If concern over greenhouse gas emissions is a part of your argument for veg(etari)anism, you may wish to remove rice from your recommended vegetarian food list. Rice cultivation is a major source of anthropogenic atmospheric methane.

My main reason is animal suffering but thanks for the new information. I'll look that up and keep that in mind!

Hey, I've been an anonymous reader off and on over the years.

Seeing that there was some interest in Bostrom's simulation argument before (http://lesswrong.com/lw/hgx/paper_on_the_simulation_argument_and_selective/), I wanted to post a link to a paper I wrote on the subject, together with the following text, but I was only able to post into my (private?) Drafts section. I'm sorry I don't know better about where the appropriate place is for this kind of thing (if it's welcome here at all). The paper: http://www.cs.toronto.edu/~wehr/rd/simulation_args_crit_extended_with_proofs.pdf

This is a very technical paper, which requires some (or a lot) of familiarity with Bostrom/Kulczycki's "patched" Simulation Argument (www.simulation-argument.com/patch.pdf). I'm choosing to publish it here after experiencing Analysis's depressing version of peer review (they rejected a shorter, more-professional version of the paper based on one very positive review, and one negative review that was almost certainly written by Kulczycki or Bostrom themself).

The positive review (of the earlier shorter, more-professional version of the paper) does a better job of summarizing the contribution than I did, so with the permission of the reviewer I'm including an excerpt here:

Bostrom (2003) argued that at least one of the following three claims is true: (1) the fraction of civilizations that reach a 'post-human' stage is approximately zero; (2) the fraction of post-human civilizations interested in running 'significant numbers' of simulations of their own ancestors is approximately zero; (3) the fraction of observers with human-type experiences that are simulated is approximately one.

The informal argument for this three-part disjunction is that, given what we know about the physical limits of computation, a post-human civilization would be so technologically advanced that it could run 'hugely many' simulations of observers very easily, should it choose to do so, so that the falsity of (1) and (2) implies the truth of (3). However, this informal argument falls short of a formal proof.

Bostrom himself saw that his attempt at a formal proof in the (2003) paper was sloppy, and he attempted to put it right in Bostrom and Kulczycki (2011). The take-home message of Sections 1 and 2 of the manuscript under review is that these (2011) reformulations of the argument are still rather sloppy. For example, the author points out (p. 6) that the main text of B&K inaccurately describes the mathematical argument in the appendix: the appendix uses an assumption much more favourable to B&K's desired conclusion than the assumption stated in the main text. Moreover, B&K's use of vague terms such as 'significant number' and 'astronomically large factor' creates a misleading impression. The author shows, amusingly, that the 'significant number' must be almost 1 million times greater than the 'astronomically large factor' for their argument to work (p. 9).

In Section 3, the author provides a new formulation of the simulation argument that is easily the most rigorous I have seen. This formulation deserves to be the reference point for future discussions of the argument's epistemological consequences."

I'm not 100% clear as to where the non-ambitious posts should go, so I will write my question here.

Do you know of a practical way of finding intellectual friends, so as to have challenging/interesting conversations more often? Not only is the social aspect of friendship in general invaluable (of course I wouldn't be asking here if that was the sole reason), but I assume talking about the topics I care and think about will force me to flesh them out and keep me closer to Truth, and is a great source of novelty. So, from a purely practical standpoint (although I don't deny other motives), I want to improve this part of my life.

Sporadic discourse with my normal friends often pops up in unsuitable conditions and with underequipped participants. Meeting the right type of person in real life takes a huge sample and social skills. Focused forums, like this one, contain the right type of people and are very useful, but lacking in one-to-one personal and casual conversation (neither method is superior, I'd prefer a mix of both to the current imbalance).

Fun fact about me (or a thinly vailed plea for a diagnosis): Often when I'm bothered by a problem or simply bored, my mind will conjure vivid conversations with one of my friends and have us argue this problem. I never actually aim for it to happen, it's as spontaneous as normal thinking. I have no proof, but I'd say those imaginary conversations are more productive, because my imaginary listeners will disagree or misunderstand me, raising important points or faults in my reasoning. Whereas with normal thinking, I agree with myself the wast majority of time.

Do you know of a practical way of finding intellectual friends, so as to have challenging/interesting conversations more often?

Depending on where you are in your life and education, you could consider enrolling in graduate school. I found that I tended to have intellectual conversations with my fellow students and professors in graduate school. Plus you will have at least one common interest with your fellow students - whatever subject you are studying in school.

Grad school is too big of a commitment just to find intellectual friends. But, if you have an interest in grad school to advance your education or career, then meeting intellectual friends is an added benefit.

Finally, even if you are working and do not wish to go back to school full time, many universities offer a master's program that you can enroll in on a part-time basis. As a part-time student you will have less contact with your fellow students and therefore fewer chances to make friends, etc., but this can be overcome with a little effort to socialize, attend events, host small dinner parties, etc.

Fun fact about me (or a thinly vailed plea for a diagnosis): Often when I'm bothered by a problem or simply bored, my mind will conjure vivid conversations with one of my friends and have us argue this problem.

I do this too. I don't think that it is abnormal - I agree with you that it can be a useful way to think through issues. I once worked with a more senior engineer who was also a personal friend and mentor. But, his job was demanding and he was always quite busy. So, when I needed his help to solve some problem, I would think about what sorts of questions he would ask, so that I could be prepared to answer them - basically, I would play out the (probable) conversation in my head ahead of time to avoid wasting his time. More often than not, this process would yield the answer to the problem, and I would end up not having to bother him at all.

I do this too. I don't think that it is abnormal

Same here. I find that simulating other people's reaction to my arguments, mistakes, or work that I've done is helpful. When I want to find logical errors in my arguments, I imagine explaining them to someone with a strong background in philosophy. When something isn't working well in the lab, I imagine explaining the situation to someone with experience, and if I feel embarrassed or like they're about to offer a super obvious solution, it usually means I've made some silly mistake. Also, getting back to Sandi's question, some of the most helpful people for me to simulate are people that I met through the LessWrong meetup in Austin.

you could consider enrolling in graduate school

My classmates in grad school are often, but not always, a good source of more productive intellectual conversations. There is still sometimes an issue of differences in the style of thinking that people appreciate, or the kinds of topics they're interested in. And, of course, just because someone has had enough success in graduate school to stick around and be a friend for a few years doesn't mean they don't succumb to a variety of biases that can make it harder to have the kinds of conversations you're seeking.

Depending on where you are in your life and education, you could consider enrolling in graduate school.

If I've managed to translate "graduate school" to our educational system correctly, then I currently am in undergraduate school. Our mileages vary by quite a bit, most people I meet aren't of the caliber. Also, it's hard to find out if they are. Socially etiquette prevents me from bringing up the heavy hitting topics except on rare occasions.

I guess I should work on my social skills then cast a bigger net. The larger the sample, the better odds I have of finding someone worthwhile. Needless to say I'm introverted and socialization doesn't come easily, but I'll find a way.

I do this too.

Oh, thank the proverbial God.

I currently am in undergraduate school.

In that case, you could look for clubs and organizations to join at your university. If you are in engineering or natural sciences, there will probably be a professional/academic organization for your sub discipline you could join (e.g. IEEE for electrical engineers, ACS for chemistry majors, ACM for computer science, etc.) I would imagine that mathematics and liberal arts have similar organizations as well. And, attend the meetings and functions. You could also look for other organizations on campus such as political organizations, cultural organizations, a cinema society (if you are a film enthusiast), etc.

No guarantees that these will lead to intellectual conversations, but the people who join and participate in these type of organizations tend to be (on average) more intellectual than those who do not.

And, as Grothor suggested, look for nearby LessWrong meetups (if any).

I am new and a moderator already made a clearly irrational action against me and I am dumbfounded. I mean to present a very difficult subject that no one else can present, and I did so perfectly and in the only way possible and the moderator moderated the attempt out of existence.

Doesn't irrationality run counter to this site's stated mission?

To be clear, I am presenting the most important topic in the world, with the assumption that it is probably significant and correct because it's John Nash's (most significant) work.

Why is Less Wrong censoring out Nash's work and implying that it is irrational?

I'm the person that moved Flinter's post to drafts, suggesting that he resubmit it as a linkpost to Nash's talk and put his commentary in a comment, instead of the primary post.

It's not Nash's most significant work, and it is not the most important topic in the world. Those sorts of statements are a major contributor to why I thought the post was bad.

(In case people are wondering if I'm politically motivated, Hayek, a person who Nash describes as thinking parallel thoughts, is my favorite political thinker. This is policing post quality, not content.)

Is it possible to use moderation tools to hide the parent comment or move it. It doesn't even belong here and others have been nice enough to offer good feedback regardless. This is a welcome thread, and it's being derailed with bizarre behavior.

Sadly, the only direct tool I have is comment deletion, which rather than pruning or hiding the tree below it replaces it with a box that says "Comment Deleted" and its children in place. I could ask Grothor to make a new intro thread, and then delete or draft this thread.

Are you saying you are familiar with Nash's works Ideal Money and the argument, because if you claim you are, I am going to show that you are not. How is this fair moderation?

"It's not Nash's most significant work, and it is not the most important topic in the world."

Yes it is and when I am allowed to explain what Ideal Money is then we will all see this, and you will have shown to have been irrational and subjective in moderation.

if you claim you are, I am going to show that you are not.

when I am allowed to explain what Ideal Money is then we will all see this

I'd like to bet with you on one or both of those predictions if you are open to it.

You are making a bet you know can't happen. Also go away troll. I want to discuss Ideal Money, not be harassed and teased.

Re this post: http://lesswrong.com/lw/ogp/a_proposal_for_a_simpler_solution_to_all_these/

You wrote something provocative but provided no arguments or explanations or examples or anything. That's why it's low-quality. It doesn't matter how good your idea is if you don't bother to do any legwork to show anyone else. I for one have no why your idea would and don't care to do work to figure it out because the only reason I have to do work is that you said so.

Also, you might want to tackle something more concrete than "all these difficult observations and problems". First, it's definitely true that your 'solution' doesn't solve all the problems. Maybe it helps with some. So which ones? Talk about those.

Also, your writing is exhaustingly vague ("I also value compression and time in this sense, and so I think I can propose a subject that might serve as an "ideal introduction" (I have an accurate meaning for this phrase I won't introduce atm)."). This is really hard not to lose interest in while reading, and it's only two random sample sentences.

Re http://lesswrong.com/lw/ogt/do_we_share_a_definition_for_the_word_ideal/, you're going to have to do more work to make an interesting discussion. It's not like "Oh, Flinter, good point, you and (all of us) might have different meanings for 'ideal'!" is going to happen. It's on you to show why this is interesting. What made you think the meanings are different? What different results come from that? What's your definition? What do you think other peoples' are, and why are they worse?

I agree with Vaniver that those two posts in their current form should have been at least heavily downvoted. Though that doesn't happen much in practice here since traffic is low. I'm not sure what the removal policy is but I guess it probably applied.

Also, if you keep writing things like "No, you can't give me feedback. It's above you. I have come here to explain it to you. I made 3 threads, and they are equally important." you're going to be banned for being an ass, no question. You're also wildly incorrect, but that's another matter.

those two posts [...] should have been at least heavily downvoted. Though that doesn't happen much in practice here since traffic is low.

And, more directly, since downvoting is currently disabled.

Listen, you are rude, and can't be intelligent. And this was a piss poor way to welcome someone:

Re this post: http://lesswrong.com/lw/ogp/a_proposal_for_a_simpler_solution_to_all_these/

You wrote something provocative but provided no arguments or explanations or examples or anything. That's why it's low-quality. It doesn't matter how good your idea is if you don't bother to do any legwork to show anyone else. I for one have no why your idea would and don't care to do work to figure it out because the only reason I have to do work is that you said so.

No one called it low quality but you, you are confused because you never got to see the actual post that was remove. Do you understand, you are ignorant to what is going on and what I am referring to.

Also, you might want to tackle something more concrete than "all these difficult observations and problems". First, it's definitely true that your 'solution' doesn't solve all the problems. Maybe it helps with some. So which ones? Talk about those. And I did talk about them in that thread, and it addresses most issues brought up on this forum.

It's not my solution its Nash's, and I didn't say it solves ALL problems, you inserted that as a strawman. You want me to explain it to a cynic? How about you join the dialogue.

Also, your writing is exhaustingly vague ("I also value compression and time in this sense, and so I think I can propose a subject that might serve as an "ideal introduction" (I have an accurate meaning for this phrase I won't introduce atm)."). This is really hard not to lose interest in while reading, and it's only two random sample sentences.

Yup listen, do us both a favor, go check Nash's writing in the essay Ideal Money, tell me how many lines of the 8 pages you get through. You don't like my writing? Are you going to address the material or only attack my character?

Re http://lesswrong.com/lw/ogt/do_we_share_a_definition_for_the_word_ideal/, you're going to have to do more work to make an interesting discussion. It's not like "Oh, Flinter, good point, you and (all of us) might have different meanings for 'ideal'!" is going to happen. It's on you to show why this is interesting. What made you think the meanings are different? What different results come from that? What's your definition? What do you think other peoples' are, and why are they worse?

Its a 5 second exercise to see if we have the same shared meaning, and you are simultaneously not doing the exercise while claiming it doesn't do what it intends to do. Stop attacking my character, stop being ignorant and participate: What is your definition of Ideal?

agree with Vaniver that those two posts in their current form should have been at least heavily downvoted. Though that doesn't happen much in practice here since traffic is low. I'm not sure what the removal policy is but I guess it probably applied.

You aren't speaking to the mods actions. You are confused and blaming me for your lack of understanding.

Also, if you keep writing things like "No, you can't give me feedback. It's above you. I have come here to explain it to you. I made 3 threads, and they are equally important." you're going to be banned for being an ass, no question. You're also wildly incorrect, but that's another matter.

No I am not incorrect, and you don't know what you are speaking to. And yes it is perfectly reasonable for me to explain to a person that hasn't read the material that they won't be explaining it to me. But what reasoning could you possibly suggest that is not a rational thing to point out?

Are you going to [...] only attack my character? [...] Stop attacking my character

Neither of the things you are complaining about has anything to do with your character. One is attacking your prose style and the other your willingness to be explicit about your points and why we should be interested in them.

If you treat all criticism as personal attack and accordingly take it personally, you make it impossible to learn from criticism. This is an appropriate course of action only if you believe yourself immune to error. I do not know of anyone who is immune to error.

So you refuse to discuss Nash's works then and you will continue to troll me and derail attempts to discuss the actual content of ideal money?

So you refuse to discuss Nash's works then

Where on earth do you get that from?

and you will continue to troll me and derail attempts to discuss the actual content of ideal money?

I have done, and intend to do, neither of those things.

I think I made this post first today and found your other responses later. Apologies, I've mixed names now and have had my character and writing style attacked in like 80% of the replies.

I'm not trying to welcome you, I'm trying to explain why your posts were moved to drafts against your will.

I'm not arguing with or talking about Nash's theory. I'm telling you that your posts are low quality and you need to fix that if you want a good response.

My point in the last paragraph is that you are treating everyone like dirt and coming across as repulsive and egotistical.

"You are incorrect" was referring to "No, you can't give me feedback.". Yes, we can. If you're not receptive to feedback, you should probably leave this site. You're also going to struggle to socialize with any human beings anywhere with that attitude. Everyone will dislike you.

Keep in mind that it's irrelevant how smart or right you are if no one wants to talk to you.

I'm not arguing with or talking about Nash's theory. I'm telling you that your posts are low quality and you need to fix that if you want a good response.

As I understand you have not seen the post you are referring too. And I am not asking for help in this regard, there was nothing wrong with my delivery and no reason to moderate it. I did not come here to be based, I came here to address and have dialogue on Nash's argument which you and this forum remain ignorant on yet claim to be seekers of truth and reason.

I know that you are afraid to say you don't understand Nash so you will do anything to avoid Decalogue on Ideal Money.

"You are incorrect" was referring to "No, you can't give me feedback.". Yes, we can. If you're not receptive to feedback, you should probably leave this site.

No. A game theorist offered to give me feedback on a works that they are wholly unfamiliar with and that I am wholly familiar with and have insight I would like to share.That game theory professor is clueless to the defining works and person of their own profession. They have no excuse of such ignorance and there is no possible way they can give me feedback on something they don't know about and don't understand.

Stop being irrational its silly.

Keep in mind that it's irrelevant how smart or right you are if no one wants to talk to you.

How long will you avoid admitting you are out of your league with Ideal Money? How long will you pretend a character assassination is a part of this forums agenda and motto?

Why do you think there is nothing wrong with your delivery? Multiple people have told you that there was. Is that not evidence that there was? Especially because it's the community's opinions that count, not yours?

You are a troll that refuses to have sincere dialogue TROLL TROLL!!!!!

Hi Flinter, welcome to Less Wrong.

Don't be too upset about a mod moving your post. You just need to get a bit more familiar with the site rules before you dive in. I'm sure it's nothing to do with their views on John Nash. If I made a post about how much I love Terry Pratchett, a mod would take it down for being irrelevant, but that wouldn't mean they necessarily disapproved of Terry Pratchett, would it?

Maybe take a day or two to read some threads, make a few comments and settle in here. You've got plenty of time to make your arguments once you've found your feet a bit.

"I'm sure it's nothing to do with their views on John Nash."

The mod already gave their view on it and so yes it is based on their views. I have read many threads on this site, and I traversed the rules until I felt that I could properly approach this subject. But it requires a special presentation and dialogue, and the mod doesn't understand that.

Okay, I hear you, but the site has its own rules about presentation and dialogue. Given that you've said it's something that only you can explain correctly to people, maybe you'd actually be better off starting a blog and putting it in there? Then you could do it your own way and present your information as you see fit. Because if you explain it here people might not listen the way you want them to, and that might be very frustrating for you.