Open Thread, Apr. 27 - May 3, 2015

by Gondolinian1 min read27th Apr 2015354 comments

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Still More to the Prisoner's Dilemma

After reading http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2012/05/16/1206569109.full.pdf+html , the detail that's caught my attention: "The player with the shortest memory sets the terms of the game." If a strategy remembers 0 turns, and simply Always Cooperates, or Always Defects, or randomly chooses between them, then no matter how clever its opponent might be, it can't do any better than by acting as if it were also a Memory-0 strategy. Tit-for-Tat is a Memory-1 strategy - and despite all the analysis that I've read on it before, I now see it from a new perspective, in that it's one of the few Memory-1 strategies that gracefully falls back to the appropriate Memory-0 strategy when faced with All-C or All-D... and any strategy which tries to implement a more complicated scheme based on longer strings is faced with the fact that Tit-for-Tat simply doesn't remember anything beyond a single turn.

I would like to see if this perspective can be extended to a Memory-2 strategy that falls gracefully back to appropriate Memory-1 strategies such as Tit-for-Tat when faced with Memory-1 strategies, and like Tit-for-Tat, to a suitable Memory-0 strategy when faced with Memory-0 ones.

Does anyone have a link to a suitable set of programs to run some experimental tourneys, and instructions on how to apply them? (If it matters, the OSes I have available are WinXP and Fedora 21.)

This is a neat question, but I think programs being successful is not really about gracefully going down a hierarchy. For example, Tit-for-Tat does not take the correct strategy against always-cooperate (If your opponent is always cooperating, you say thank you and always defect). Tit-for-Tat succeeds for much more ecological reasons. I'd say bigger-memory versions of Tit-for-Tat are going to be something like the class of "peaceful, non-exploitable" strategies. Such strategies are not going to be the first to defect, which means they actually don't get that much information about their opponent. I think the lesson of iterated prisoners dilemmas is that you don't need that information anyhow, as long as your strategy occupies a good ecological niche.

There's still some subtlety here. A Memory-0 strategy picks C with probability p and D with probability q, independent of any past results. If you know p and q, you can devise a strategy to optimize your score. The result in the paper is that this new strategy is Memory-0 and that you can't do better by increasing your memory.

The advantage of a longer memory is that, given enough iterations, you can get a good approximation for p and q and so deduce the appropriate Memory-0 strategy. Something like Tit-for-Tat is devised to basically get the same score as its opponent (the opponent can get an advantage of one defection). It's not going to do worse than any individual opponent, but neither is it going to do better. A strategy that remembers the entire game can recognize, say, All-C and exploit it by defecting, which Tit-for-Tat can't do.

A Memory-1 strategy is one where p and q are functions of the previous round. In general, they'll depend both on what it did last round and what the opponent did last round. There are four possible results (C-C, C-D, D-C, D-D), which means that the strategy will have up to four distinct probabilities for cooperation next round. If you can learn those... (read more)

3ReevesAnd6yI am not clear on how this is the case. It seems to me that the appropriate strategy when faced with any Memory-0 strategy is to go All-D, since your defections would optimize your own score while having no influence on the future behavior of your opponent. Tit for Tat does not default to All-D unless the opponent is All-D.
0DataPacRat6yAll-D is the /optimal/ strategy for Memory-0 - but if your goal for Memory-0 interactions is merely to avoid getting the Sucker's payoff, and /also/ to be able to deal with Memory-1 strategies, then defaulting to All-C versus All-C isn't that bad a compromise.

I managed to get my Bayes RPG into such a state that, although it still isn't that interesting as a game, it's moderately entertaining for a brief while until you master it, and seems like it should produce some actual learning.

I had this game as my MSc thesis topic as a way to force myself to work on the game, but I'm now finally starting to get to the point where a) working on it is fun enough that I don't need an external motivator b) I'd like to actually graduate. So I'll take what I have so far, run it to a bunch of test subjects, see if they learn anything, and write up the results in my thesis. Then I'll continue working on the game on my spare time.

But I'd like to do the empirical part of the thesis properly. Since LW has a bunch of people who know a lot about statistics, I'd like to ask LW: what kinds of statistical tests would be most appropriate for measuring the results?

To elaborate more on the test setup. I expect to go with the standard approach: have some task that measures understanding of something that we want the game to teach, and split people into an intervention group and control group. Have them complete the task first, dropping anyone who does too well in th... (read more)

9[anonymous]6yTypical analysis of the basic design you described is often something like a mixed 2×2 factorial design: which test (pre- / post-test, within subjects) × intervention (yes/no, between subjects) - the interaction term being evidence for effects of intervention (greater increase between pre- and post- test in intervention condition). Often analysed using ANOVA (participants as random effect), nonparametric equivalents may be more appropriate. More complex models are also very appropriate, e.g., adding question type as a factor/predictor rather than treating the different questions as separate dependent variables: this would provide indications of whether improvement after intervention differs for the question types, as you've predicted. This doesn't give you clues about bimodality but at least allows you to more directly test your predictions about relative degree of improvement (if the intervention works). Correlations between your different dependent measures: feel free by all means - but make sure you examine the characteristics of the distributions rather than just zooming ahead with a matrix of correlation coefficients. And be aware of the multiple comparisons problem, Type I error is very likely. Excluding participants on the basis of overly high performance in pretest is appropriate. If possible I suggest setting this criterion before formal testing (even an educated guess is appropriate as this doesn't harm the conclusions you can draw: it can be justified as leaving room for improvement if the intervention works) - or at the very least do this before analysing anything else of the participant's performance to avoid biasing your decision about setting the threshold. I'm afraid you've said too much already - and if you're looking for people who are naive about the principles involved, LW is probably not a great place for recruiting anyway. please feel free to private message me if you'd like clarification of what I've posted - this sort of thing is very mu
4Kaj_Sotala6yThanks a lot! Could you elaborate on that? Something like "so we're going to test the impact of traditional instruction versus this prototype educational game on your ability to do these tasks" is what I'd have expected to say to the test subjects anyway, and that's mostly the content of what I said here. (Though I do admit that the bit about expecting a bimodal distribution depending on whether or not the subjects pay attention to something was a bit of an unnecessary tipoff here.) In particular, I expect to have a tradeoff - I can tell people even less than that, and get a much smaller group of testers. Or I can tell people that I've gotten the game I've been working on to a very early prototype stage and am now looking for testers, and advertise that on e.g. LW, and get a much bigger group of test subjects. It's true that LW-people are much more likely to be able to e.g. solve the mammography example already, but I'd still expect most users to be relatively unfamiliar with the technicalities of causal networks - I was too, until embarking on this project.
5[anonymous]6yI was thinking more about your previous posts on the subject (your development of the game and some of the ideas behind it). The same general reason I'd avoid testing people from my extended lab network, who may not know any details of a current study but have a sufficiently clear impression of what I'm interested in to potentially influence the outcomes (whether intentionally, "helping me out", or implicitly). When rolling it out for testing, you could always include a post-test which probes people's previous experience (e.g. what they knew in advance about your work & the ideas behind it) & exclude people who report that they know "too much" about the motivations of the study. Could even prompt for some info about LW participation, could also be used to mitigate this issue (especially if you end up with decent samples both in and outside LW).
3Kaj_Sotala6yAh, that's a good point. And a good suggestion, too.
3IlyaShpitser6yWhat question about your game and learning math/probability are you trying to answer? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- If you want "an effect" you want a comparison of two arms. But you can only have one arm have an intervention, and the other just be the baseline arm with no treatment at all (or just the 'background treatment' of being a college undergraduate). For example, you can take a set of undergrads, and advertise that you are testing probability aptitude or something, and then the control arm just gets the test, while the test arm gets your game and the test afterwards. I don't know about your advisor, but I would accept a study like that. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- I always found it slightly puzzling that LW folks who get into practical data analysis start with F methods, and not B. Isn't B kind of a LW "thing?" -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Starting to think about measuring results via ANOVA et al is, to me, starting at the wrong level of abstraction (I realize I may differ on this from a lot of statisticians). For example, ANOVA can test for the null. What does that null mean? Well, you are interested in some causal effect. Maybe this: E[test result | assigned to game] - E[test result | baseline undergrad]. Or maybe you give them a questionaire first, and learn how much math they have had (or even what particular classes). Maybe you want to actually look at an effect conditional on math preparation level. Does your game possibly have an 'interaction' with background math sophistication level? Then you need to model that. Then maybe if you decide on the model, you decide for how to test for the null. Or maybe you don't want the null, but the size of the effect itself. etc. etc. You think about what you want first, the stats technique afterwards.
0Kaj_Sotala6yMostly 1) do the players actually learn anything that would transfer outside the immediate game 2) how much (if at all) things like their enjoyment affect whether they learn Thanks! Isn't "undergrads with only the test vs. undergrads with the game and then the test" kinda the same as "undergrads with only test vs. undergrads after the pretest and the game", though? F is what we've been taught, and what most of our supervisors understand. I'm not really familiar with B stats.
1Kaj_Sotala6yAdditionally, I'm a little worried about the control group part. I expect it's relatively easy to recruit people to play a game and have them be motivated to play it, but if I tell people that "oh, but you may be randomly assigned to the control condition where you're given more traditional math instruction instead", I expect that that will drop participation. And even the people who do show up regardless may not be particularly motivated to actually work on the problems if they do get assigned to the control condition, especially given that I'm hoping to also educate people who'd usually avoid maths. How insane would it be to just not have a control group?
8ChristianKl6y"Traditional math instruction" isn't the only possible control. I don't even think that you need to prove that your game is better than "Traditional math instruction". You could simply take any other game that includes a bit of math as control. Maybe the Credence game.
5Kaj_Sotala6yNice idea, thanks.
7TylerJay6yPretty insane in my opinion. I can't imagine anything I would grade more harshly than not having a control except ethics violations. Besides, don't most university psychology experiments with volunteers keep the protocol secret throughout the whole experiment and then debrief at the end? (Or sometimes even lie about the protocol to avoid skewing the results?) Alternatively, have you thought about doing a crossover-style design? Take group A and group B. Group A plays your game, and then takes the test. Group B either just takes the test or goes through some traditional education lesson (or whatever else you want for your control) and then takes the test. Next, group A does the traditional education, group B does the game, and both take part 2 of the test. That way, everyone gets to play the game at least, though it means they're there for twice as long. Do you think you could pitch this in a way that is better than the "Maybe you play a game, maybe you don't" option? You could potentially derive additional research value from this as well. If group A does better on Test Part 2, then your game would be shown to be a better way of acclimating people to traditional education on the subject or something like that (I'm sure you can draw a better conclusion or phrase this better). Just some thoughts. Also, make sure you write up a grading rubric ahead of time (or ideally, have someone else do it) and then have someone who knows nothing (or as little as possible) about the experiment (and especially the subjects) grade the answers to avoid researcher bias.
1Kaj_Sotala6yI think there might be reasonable theoretical grounds for it in this case, though? If I was testing say a medical treatment or self-help technique, then yes, there should absolutely be a control group since some people might get better on their own or just do better for a while because the self-help technique gave them extra confidence. But suppose I give people a pre-test, have them play for some minimum time, and then fill out the post-test when they're done. I don't see much in the way for random chance to confound things here: either they know the things needed for solving the tasks, or they don't. If they didn't know enough to solve the problems on the first try, they're not going to suddenly acquire that knowledge in between. To some extent, but usually they still give some brief description of it beforehand, to attract people. That's a good idea, thanks.
5ChristianKl6yIf I get a problem I can't solve I can Google afterwards and read about how to solve the problem. Even if you lock me in a dark room, there the possibility that I recover forgotten knowledge if you give my brain a few hours. The pretest itself also provides practice. You need a control group, but it would be possible to give the control group nothing to do.
6afeller086yIf I were designing the experiment, I would have the control group be to play a different game instead of having it be maths instructions. You generally don't want test subjects to know whether they are in the control condition or not. So if you're going to make it be maths instructions, you probably shouldn't tell them what the experiment is designed to test at all, until you're debriefing at the end. If you tell people you are recruiting that you are testing the effects of playing computer games on statistical reasoning, then the people in the control condition won't need to realize that what you're really testing is whether your RPG in particular helps people think about statistics. They can just play HalfLife 2 or whatever you pick for them to play for a few minutes, and then take your tests afterwards.
4GuySrinivasan6yDo you have access to units of caring? Are you trying to gain knowledge, get a piece of paper, both, one as a side effect of another? "actually graduate" versus "see if they learn anything" might hugely inform your process. Off-the-cuff I'm guessing you want to actually graduate first with hopes of nice learning side effects, then see if they learn anything via something that takes longer. Also a consideration: 3+ arms. Instruction game, instruction non-game, and non-instruction game. Also possibly non-instruction non-game.
1Kaj_Sotala6yTo some limited extent. Correct.
3[anonymous]6yIf you didn't have any control group, you wouldn't be able to interpret any improvement between pretest and posttest, if you observed such a pattern: repetition or practice effects could explain any improvement. If you observed no improvement, you wouldn't need a control group because there's no effect to be explained. Sometimes exploratory methods start out with no-control group pilots just to see if a method is potentially promising (if no hints of effects, don't invest a lot of resources in trying to set up a proper study). Sometimes studies like this are set up with multiple control groups to address specific concerns that may apply to individual control conditions. Here it seems like two would be the minimum: one in which participants play a different game that is expected to confer no benefit for learning; and another with some kind of more traditional instruction. In cases like this, recruitment is usually very vague - giving participants a realistic impression of the kinds of tasks they will be asked to do, and definitely no indications about who is assigned to a "control" group.
1Lumifer6ySo, there is this blog/forum which tries to teach people rationality! and science! and proper ways to solve problems! It even hopes to raise the sanity waterline. And then "oh, but it's inconvenient..." X-/
1Kaj_Sotala6yThere's the extent to which I'm willing to go to raise the sanity waterline, and then there's the extent to which I'm willing to go for the sake of possibly improving my grade on a work whose final grade nobody will really ever care about.
4ChristianKl6yThat might not be the most productive mindset. If you show that your game works at teaching Bayes, I would expect people to refer to your thesis from time to time.
2Lumifer6yIn this case I don't quite understand what are you asking. LW is unlikely to know whether your adviser / committee will consider the absence of a control group acceptable enough for this project.
3Kaj_Sotala6yYou're right, I wasn't very clear on my objectives. Also, my previous comment was needlessly snarky, for which I apologize. To be honest, I'm not very sure of what I want, myself. I have reason to believe that they'll consider it acceptable regardless of whether there's a control group or not (this being the CS department and not the psych one), so that's not actually an issue. And I've got some desire to do things "properly", for its own sake, and also because it might be fun to do this well enough to turn it into a real publication. But I'm also swamped with a bunch of other stuff and don't have a chance to spend too much effort on this. So, I guess I dunno what I'm asking, myself.
6ChristianKl6yHow about going to the office hours of a professor in the psychology department and ask them for advice on how to run your study?
3Kaj_Sotala6yYour question made me go d'oh, in that I suddenly remembered that there's an obvious place [http://plchelsinki.fi/?page_id=671] right nearby to ask help from, both for designing the study and recruiting test subjects. I'll talk with them, thanks.
3[anonymous]6ySpeaking very practically - who will be marking/grading your project? If psychologists aren't going to be looking at it, it's surely going to be fine to do the intervention as best you can and then discuss implications and limitations (including need for control group) in whatever you have to write up. It's not going to be publishable but then you can deal with that later, depending on your circumstances this would probably mean re-doing the study with random assignment to conditions, starting with your project study as a pilot/proof of concept.
3Kaj_Sotala6yIt's going to be graded by computer scientists, so yeah, I can get away with a less rigorous protocol than what psychologists would insist on. (And then collaborate with actual psychologists with more resources later on.)

I sometimes come across an interesting scientific paper where the study being done seems easy and/or low-budget enough to make me think "hey, I could do that" (on this occasion, this paper on theanine levels in tea, which I skimmed too quickly the first time to notice that they used big, proper and presumably expensive lab equipment to measure it because I was reading it for practical reasons (reading about modafinil amplifying the side-effects of caffeine, while beginning an all-nighter powered by those chemicals)), and to me there's a strong "coolness factor" to being someone who's published real research, especially if that also means a finite Erdos number. How easy/difficult is it to become author or co-author of a scientific paper as an amateur, given that you're trying to actually accomplish something and not munchkin for "get my name published as easily as possible"?

Unrelatedly, I'm pretty sure posting under the influence of caffeine and modafinil is a terrible idea for me. I just spent two hours writing and re-writing that question, and I'm only stopping now because I'm giving up on trying to get it right. That's only exacerbating a tendency I already have, but damn.

4drethelin6ySounds like you should take more l-theanine to mitigate that effect
1RowanE6yI would have, but I take tea with milk and the cup I had after reading that paper (to check decaf tea still had theanine at all) used up the last of it.
2passive_fist6yAs someone who is published, I can tell you that it depends entirely on the field. One possibility is obtaining data from other people and analyzing it in new ways. There are many free public sources of data, and a lot of researchers will share old data sitting on their hard drives if they think it could result in publications. Off the top of my head, genomics, bioinformatics, microscopy, medical imaging/radiology, and biometrics are all fields where there is a glut of data and people would gladly welcome new, more powerful analysis tools and procedures.
2IlyaShpitser6yWhat kind of research do you want to do?
1RowanE6yThe feelings that are motivating it aren't really specific to any field, so I suppose it's "any research I could plausibly do as an amateur without spending too much resources on it". I'm not specifically planning now to set out and do an easy-for-an-amateur research paper, the main thought driving it is that at some point I might find a question interesting enough to research it on my own, gwern-style, and then if it's plausible to do so I would want to get whatever work I do up to publishable standards for extra nerd cred. I only also mentioned Erdos numbers because of a tangent thought of "hey, I'm in the rationalsphere, if I got other rationalsphere people involved in such a project and at least one of them was someone with a finite Erdos number, I'd get one too". And then by the time I was typing up that comment I had a tab open on this [http://timeblimp.com/?page_id=195], although I also can't play an instrument (yet) and have never acted (yet).
[-][anonymous]6y 11

What are the health risks of one time MDMA use?

The risks of one-time MDMA use can be roughly sorted into two categories: "Normal Risks" which apply to everyone and "Edge-Case Risks" which only apply to certain people (though it may not always be clear, as we will see, if you are at risk for one of the edge-cases). I will give a very brief and oversimplified description of how MDMA is processed by the body and the effects it has, and then I will describe some of these risks. I didn't have time to put together sources and citations (especially as this was written from memory + fact checking), but my hope is that this will help people understand what the risks are and some of the mechanisms of action so that they can do more informed research into the topic.

Basic Neuroscience Background Information

In the human brain, where two neurons meet is called the Synapse. In reality, there is actually a small gap at the synapse between neurons called the synaptic cleft. When a signal traveling down a neuron reaches the end, it causes a release of neurotransmitters into the synaptic cleft. These neurotransmitters fit like keys into keyholes called receptors on the second neuron. Depending on which keyholes/receptors are ... (read more)

Part 2

Macro-Level Physiological Effects

The increase in Dopamine, Norepinephrine, and Serotonin caused by MDMA causes Central Nervous System (CNS) stimulation that can raise body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure. It can also cause increased sweating and perspiration, insomnia, nausea, and diarrhea, all of which contribute to dehydration. These comprise Normal Risk #2 family. The fact that MDMA use is often associated with excessive dancing, hot environments, and limited access to water and electrolytes (such as at raves, music festivals, concerts, etc.) compounds these risks. So, if a person has no cardiovascular issues, is mindful of these risks, stays hydrated, ensures not to drink too much water without electrolytes, and keeps their heart rate and body temperature in check, most of these risks can be avoided. However, for anyone with cardiovascular issues (even ones they don't know about) this becomes Edge-Case Risk #3

Other/Unknown-Mechanism Psychological Effects

MDMA is a psychotropic drug. As such, it has the possibility of triggering latent psychological disorders such as Bipolar Disorder, Depression, epilepsy, and Schizophrenia just the same way that LSD, emotional... (read more)

2drethelin6yHow high is the risk of adulterants with unexpected effects?
2TylerJay6yThere's no way to give a broad estimate on that. It's going to vary widely based on source, geographic location, and form (pressed pills vs powder/crystals/rocks). Pressed pills or "Ecstasy" pills are more likely to have Amphetamine and/or other stimulants like caffeine and piperazines in addition to the MDMA, as they are intended as "rave drugs" for clubbing and dance parties. (Many users actually prefer amphetamine/caffeine in their pills because MDMA alone is more of a psychedelic than an "upper" and can make people want to sit down, look at the pretty colors, and rub each other instead of dance. Piperazines are typically considered "bad" adulterants, even by the crowd who likes amphetamine, and can be very dangerous, especially when combined with other drugs.) Sometimes, product sold as MDMA (or Ecstasy) will not contain MDMA at all. Common drugs sold as MDMA are MDA (a metabolite of MDMA with similar effects), Methylone, and BZP (a piperazine), though there are many others depending on your geographic location and source. Regarding geographic location, you can often find reports on government websites. For example, in the USA, I believe the DEA publishes the percentage of seized drugs that are adulterated (or are another drug altogether) by area (I have seen published numbers on their site for certain areas before, but I don't know if it's done regularly and I wouldn't expect out-of-date reports to still be accurate). However, your estimate of the likelihood of having dangerous adulterants in your MDMA will likely be dominated by your ability to get trustworthy reports of other people who have taken the same "batch". (Note there are multiple areas for uncertainty here to account for. Honesty/motives of the people reporting + number of reports, ability of the people reporting to tell the difference, is it actually the same batch, and heterogeneity of the batch, to name a few.) A few sources of this kind of information are: * Seller reviews and track r

I've intentionally been getting 45-90 minutes of daily sun and it feels good. Where can I find a good cost-benefit calculation for natural sun exposure vs. dietary vitamin D supplementation without sun? (Presumably mostly weighing cancer risk against vitamin d / nitric oxide / other benefits of natural sun?).

Bonus points if darker skin tones are taken into consideration.

8polymathwannabe6y"An algorithm [http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1751-1097.2008.00400.x/epdf] is developed and used to relate vitamin D production to the widely used UV index, to help the public to optimize their exposure to UV radiation."
1Ishaan6yExcellent, thank you! Looking over the figures I think this has the necessary info for calculating optimal sun exposure length, inputting skin tone, latitude, and month. Sadly, it doesn't weigh dietary vitamin D against sun exposure or factor in the non-vitamin D stuff (I suspect the nitric oxide stuff and circadian regulation is pretty important), but still! If If I sufficiently understand this then once I have more time I will try to give back by making an info-graphic which is more accessible to the public. Judging from what I'm seeing here I think there might be benefit to timing when one's skin personally begins to "redden". I wonder if "darkening" is the same as "reddening". (I'm north-Indian dark and start getting tan lines with only 10 minutes of sun, which disappear within a 1-2 hours of shade. I'm not sure if that's analogous to the "skin reddening" they describe or if the skin reddening is a separate process indicating damage rather than melanin production. I've never actually gotten sunburn so I'm not sure when darkening ends and reddening begins, if it is indeed separate)
1Lumifer6yAs far as I know, sunburn is associated with skin cancer, while sun exposure without sunburn is not, or at least starts to depend on other factors. See e.g. this abstract [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15617990] which says
1Ishaan6yLuckily I'm dark enough to never have burnt, unluckily that means I need more exposure. Interesting. So 20 minute cycles over 2 hours is probably better than continuous 1 hour exposure. Not surprising, but unfortunately inconvenient from a scheduling standpoint, given that the peak time for D synthesis is supposed to be noon which is during most people's workday. I kind of thought this might be the case and try to mimic cycling by flipping around frequently. (That said, the noon people might be wrong, longer exposure over less intense evening sun might be better and intense noon exposure).
3D_Malik6yI've been doing the same thing for ~40 minutes of daily peak sunlight, because of heuristics ("make your environment more like the EEA") and because there's evidence it improves mood and cognitive functioning (e.g. [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2728098/]). The effect isn't large enough to be noticeable. Sunlight increases risk of skin cancer, but decreases risks of other, less-survivable cancers more; I'm not sure how much of the cancer reduction you could get from taking D3 and not getting sunlight. I guess none of that actually answers your question.
3Ishaan6yMy vague and untrustworthy impression is that D3 supplementation is better than nothing but has risks related to calcium going to the wrong places, which may be mitigated by Nitric oxide which is also sun linked, and might also be mitigated by not being K2 and magnesium deficient which most people are. I should probably start being better about archiving what I read so that I can stop being vague and untrustworthy. I do notice a muscle and general relaxation effect which is deeper and lasts longer than, say, an equally warm shower. A blood panel I got back when I was not supplemented said I was pretty severely D deficient, so it might be that I feel the effects more. (Though from what I know of the biology of this the NO is more likely to be responsible for the relaxation effect than the D3.)
0polymathwannabe6yIf you're white, you're no longer adapted to the ancestral environment where humans evolved.
1D_Malik6yAgreed, considering "EEA" to mean the African savannah. So for instance if your ancestry is European and you're currently living in California you don't need to spend very much time outside, and if you're dark-skinned and living at a high latitude you should try to get lots of sunlight.
1ChristianKl6yEvolutionary selection pressures are strong enough that skin color of natives over the world corresponds to the level of sun exposure of various places. Of course being indoors means that you get less sun then the environment for which evolution prepared you.
[-][anonymous]6y 10

I don't quite understand gratitude journaling. First of all, gratitude is the same thing as gratefulness or thankfulness, right? If yes, it means, you are glad because you got stuff you did not really earn, you got stuff that was not yours by right, was not owed to you, right? Because when a debt is paid or you get paid for your work, you don't feel grateful, this is yours by right.

So to me gratitude journaling seems to drive your focus on the things you got without earning them. Is that supposed to help people who have self-esteem problems? SSC wrote how most depressed people feel like a burden, how the heck does feeling grateful for things one does not really earn or deserve make one feel less of a burden?

What am I missing here?

If anything, I would experiment with achievement journaling.

Because when a debt is paid or you get paid for your work, you don't feel grateful, this is yours by right.

That sounds like a deeply unsatisfying way to live; it seems like you will mostly be disappointed by the things that are "yours by right" that you don't get.

The point of gratitude journaling is to focus on how your life has many good things in it. "I got my paycheck for the hours I worked this week; I'm thankful that my employer is honest and prompt, I'm thankful that I have a job, I'm thankful that past-me put in the effort to develop skills relevant to this job, I'm thankful that I live within my means..." and so on. This might involve lowering your expectations so that actually being paid is remarkable enough to write down.

This might involve lowering your expectations so that actually being paid is remarkable enough to write down.

In general that's done by setting a target of at least 3 things to write down every day, so you just pick the best ones.

6ChristianKl6yIf you read a bit of the happiness literature you find that people feel more happy when buying experiences than when buying "stuff". When doing gratitude journaling, don't focus on stuff but on experience. Thinking about rights isn't very fun. Let's say that on your way to work a beautiful woman smiles at you. A appropriate reaction is to simple feel good and be grateful. Thinking about whether or not you deserve that she smiles at you on the other hand is stressful and not fun. Focusing on gratitude shifts attention away from the question whether or not you deserve something. On LW Elo [http://lesswrong.com/user/Elo/overview/] wrote that they are much more happy than most other smart people that they know. If you look through her post a good portion of them express gratitude like http://lesswrong.com/lw/m3o/lesswrong_experience_of_flavours/canb [http://lesswrong.com/lw/m3o/lesswrong_experience_of_flavours/canb]. That's the kind of post most people on LW wouldn't write. It's reflective of a happier mindset.
4Viliam6yI understood it as focusing on everything good that happened... whether it was your work, luck, or a mix of both. The goal is to cultivate the feeling "my life is good". Which will help reduce anxiety, or something like that.
3Toggle6yThis is (I think) an extension of mindfulness practice. So the ultimate point of the exercise is to help you conscientiously notice and assign weight to a certain class of experience. Your feeling of entitlement is opposed to that in the sense that humans tend not to notice a well-functioning machine. So if we put a dollar in a vending machine and candy comes out, we might enjoy the candy, or be sad about not having a dollar any more, but we rarely take any time to be excited about how great it is to have a machine that performs the swap. Same with getting a paycheck. Ideally, gratitude journaling expands the class of things you have to be happy about. It adds the vending machine as an object of joy, rather than an 'inert' object that catches our attention only when it fails.
0DanielLC6yHumans are adaptation executors, not fitness maximizers [http://wiki.lesswrong.com/wiki/Adaptation_executors], so this explanation is useful for evolutionary psychology, but it's not what goes on in people's minds. Gratitude deals with friendship, not contracts. They are more vaguely defined. With a contract, you both agree beforehand on the exact way each of you will help the other. With friendship, you just generally help each other when one of you needs help and the other is in a position to offer it. You may have earned the help with earlier friendship. Or maybe someone helped you to start a friendship, on the basis that you are likely to pay for it later. I'm not familiar with gratitude journaling. I guess it would make you feel like you have lots of friends.

I’m a fourth year PhD student in the life sciences, and I need mentorship, preferably from a Slytherin, or at least someone with a Slytherin hat. My advisor doesn’t want me doing “mercenary collaborations”, or quick experiments with researchers outside my field in exchange for secondary authorships. He says I need to focus on my thesis research in the next year so as to publish and graduate. Are there any academics in the LW readership who have the insight to tell me whether this is good advice or whether he just wants me pumping out papers with his name on them so he can get tenure?

Disclaimer: this thought is "foxy", in the sense that I don't assert it's definitively true, but I still think it could be a useful lens for viewing the world.

Startups Don't Create New Technology

Contra gurus like Paul Graham and Peter Thiel, successful tech startup companies do not actually create new technology. Good tech startups do one of two things: 1) invent a new technology-dependent business model, or 2) repackage and polish existing technology in such a way as to bring it above the threshold for widespread use.

Consider a couple of recen... (read more)

To add a bit of empirical analysis to this comment, I analyzed the YCombinator Winter 2015 batch. I categorized the startups into one of three buckets: Tech-Dependent Business Model (TDBM), RePackaging and Polishing existing tech (RPP), and Novel Tech (NT). The list can be found here.

  • CampusJob - TDBM
  • Seed - TDBM
  • NextTravel - TDBM
  • TheMidGame - TDBM
  • eBrandValue - TDBM
  • Standard Cyborg - RPP, maybe NT
  • Rescue Forensics - TDBM (social entrepreneurship)
  • Lumi - TDBM/RPP
  • Undeground Cellar - TDBM
  • Transcriptic - NT?? but not easily evaluated
  • Atomwise - maybe NT but probably RPP/TDBM of machine learning (I doubt they created new ML algos)
  • Spark Gift - TDBM
  • Gradberry - TDBM
  • Industrial Microbes - NT?? but probably TDBM/RPP of existing chemical engineering tech
  • TechList - TDBM
  • Meadow - TDBM
  • ReSchedule - TDBM
  • Diassess - RPP, synthesis of biotech and infotech
  • RazorPay - TDBM
  • DirectMatch - TDBM
  • BuildScience - TDBM/RPP
  • ShiftLabs - RPP, making medical devices cheaper.
  • Valor Water Analytics - TDBM
  • Instavest - TDBM
  • Open Listings - TDBM
  • CloudMedx - TDBM/RPP
  • BankJoy - TDBM
  • TransitMix - TDBM
  • ZenFlow - NT, in biotech space.
  • Final - TDBM
  • Lully - maybe NT but probably RPP
  • Spire - TDBM/RPP
  • AnalyticsMD -
... (read more)
7Jiro6y"New technology" is ill-defined. Is a more practical version of something which already exists considered new technology or old technology?
5Vaniver6yI think this is coming from both the way you're defining technology (which looks like it's excluding various forms of cultural or social technology) and the set of startups you're considering. I think both Graham or Thiel would agree with you that entrepreneurs create businesses, which seems like the short version of your claim. Yes, both of them think that new technology is a fruitful place to look for new businesses, but it isn't the only one. Consider biotech startups, specifically Genentech [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genentech]. The company wasn't founded until a few years after the underlying tech had been invented in a university lab, and while now it has extensive research labs that do basic as well as applied research, most of the startups I'm familiar with (and early Genentech) are very much in the 'applied research' category.
3Strangeattractor6yOne of the most sensible books I've read about how technology works, from an economic perspective, is The Nature of Technology, by Brian Arthur. It talks about how different technologies interact with each other, and with the economy, and how what he calls standard engineering, which mostly involves assembling off-the-shelf parts, contributes to the advancement of technology as a whole. A lot of the concepts he talks about can be experienced by using an open source operating system with package management, such as Ubuntu. At least, as I was reading the book, a lot of open source software examples came to mind. Brian Arthur was involved in the founding of the Santa Fe institute that studies complexity.
3Lumifer6yI am not sure I'm willing to agree with that. First, absolutely everyone depends on technologies invented by others and it's turtles all the way down -- a start-up depends on personal computers which depend microprocessors which depend on transistors... etc. Second, Google and Apple would probably be the canonical examples of startups which actually created new technology. Not coincidentally they belong to the biggest and richest companies in the world. I think Facebook also created new technology, albeit intangible, and also joined that club. Third, look beyond bits. Biotech startups, for example, attempt to create technology much more often that the code-driven ventures.
1Daniel_Burfoot6yI see Google and Apple as marginal examples - they don't exactly fit into my schema, but they don't exactly break my schema either. Apple's success depended on two key insights contributed by the two founders. Jobs saw that a market for personal computers could exist, and Wozniak saw a way to repackage existing computer technology cheaply and usably enough for the customers in that market. Google did build a better search engine, but they also saw a new way to make money with search, and it's not clear which insight was more important.
6Lumifer6yYou are now arguing that a start-up must have business sense to succeed -- which is entirely true, but not related to your original claim that start-ups don't create new technology.
3Douglas_Knight6yIf Google's business model were more important than its technology, that wouldn't cause its technology to cease to exist. Your original claim was that startups don't create technology, which is a very, very different claim than people who want to become rich should pursue business models, rather than technology. But, actually, I don't think that Google's business model was more important to its earning power than its technology. Many people have copied its business model, but they don't have the scale of being the most popular website, so they don't make as much money. Part of that is that other companies have copied its basic search technology, but the first-mover advantage has turned Google's early technology into an enduring brand advantage. Also, my guess is that Google had better technology 10 years ago for running scalable infrastructure than Microsoft has today. While that may have contributed to their bottom line, I'm not sure it contributed much to their popularity.
2passive_fist6yI agree with your first premise (that startups don't create new technology), but not the second premise (that large, established companies do). Read 'The Sources of Innovation' by Eric von Hippel. It reaffirms what your first point, and shows that real technological progress usually comes from users of technology rather than producers (or, to put it in a better way, from cooperation between users and producers). More precisely, innovation happens when there is a feedback loop where users use technology in creative ways (according to needs not foreseen by the original producers) and producers incorporate those ideas back into their products. The contribution of the producer is to identify creative uses of their products and formulate business models around them. Amazon's cloud computing initiative is definitely consistent with this point of view. Another major source of innovation is academic institutions, where risk-taking is encouraged when it comes to new ideas. Of course, it's also true that established companies also fund research.
2Douglas_Knight6yI have the exact opposite feeling about Uber. I think that their main business model is: a taxi dispatch service that actually comes when you call it. There is no technology in that at all. The problem is that it is very difficult to enter a business where everyone else is frauds. You can't just advertise that you aren't a fraud, because who would believe you? Uber differentiated itself by being techy, to get people to try it. Maybe the technology was necessary to allow people to monitor cabs and allow people to trust it, but if the industry hadn't dug itself into a hole, a similar business could have been built 50 years ago.
1[anonymous]6yTDBM, I would argue is the most important step. A single discovery could have hundreds of different ways to coordinate with existing technologies. As for RPP, often the people who are best at creating and the ones who are best at distributing are very different. It's a shame the distributor gets the lion's share, but such is life. There are also levels below technology creation. Before the technology can be applied, it's principles must be experimentally tested. Before an experimental test can be conducted, a theory must be developed to explain what you are testing for although some technologies skip this step. The experimenter and the theorist often receive even less than the applier who receives less than the distributor.
1ChristianKl6yI don't think that it's fair to say that software isn't technology. Facebook didn't create new hardware but the idea of the timeline was new. But even if we look at hardware I don't think it's true. Bre's MakerBot industries did manage to sell MakerBots while it was a startup. Arduino is created by a startup. Pebble is a YCombinator startup. Technology like Arduino allowed Pebble to do their prototyping easier than was possible before. There are also a bunch of other Kickstarter projects that produce technology. I do consider the Hackerspace ecosystem capable of creating new hardware. A lot of new technology get's developed by repurposing existing technology. Arduino couldn't have been developed without the ability to buy cheap chips but Arduino is still new technology.

I want to invest $10,000 in a stock index fund. (The money is currently in a checking account.) How do I actually go about doing this?

5Lumifer6yYou decide on which fund you want, open an account with the appropriate mutual fund company (e.g. Vanguard) or a brokerage, transfer to them the money from your checking account, and put that money into the fund.
4Vaniver6yLumifer's answered this already in a sibling comment [http://lesswrong.com/r/discussion/lw/m40/open_thread_apr_27_may_3_2015/cb4x], but note that this general class of question is answered in the Procedural Knowledge Gaps [http://lesswrong.com/lw/453/procedural_knowledge_gaps/] thread (or its repeat [http://lesswrong.com/lw/fup/procedural_knowledge_gaps_part_2/]). (I wrote a longer answer to this particular question there [http://lesswrong.com/lw/453/procedural_knowledge_gaps/3io3].)
0James_Miller6yhttps://personal.vanguard.com/us/funds/snapshot?FundId=0040&FundIntExt=INT [https://personal.vanguard.com/us/funds/snapshot?FundId=0040&FundIntExt=INT] or https://www.fidelity.com/mutual-funds/index-funds/overview [https://www.fidelity.com/mutual-funds/index-funds/overview]

I'm looking for a book, or a combination of up to 5 books, that fulfills the following requirements:

  • At least a pretty good coverage of the all the major subjects in modern fundamental physics & cosmology (at least those that can be covered without going too deep into the math)
  • An emphasis on the philosophical implications and interpretations of the different leading theories. So it should cover all the major different interpretations of quantum mechanics, the meaning of space and time, the philosophical implications of multiple universes, etc.
  • Gives
... (read more)
5pragmatist6yI'm assuming you already have some absolutely basic knowledge of the major physical theories, at the level of Brian Greene's The Fabric of the Cosmos (which was recommended in another comment). The books I'll recommend take you deeper into the theories (emphasizing philosophical implications) without excessive mathematics. If you don't have knowledge at this level, read Greene's book first. Some of the books I'm suggesting aren't entirely up to date, but none of them are obsolete. I'm not aware of any more recent books that cover the same material with the same quality. I teach philosophy of physics to non-physics majors, and these are usually among the books I assign (supplemented with recent papers, lecture notes, etc.). Space-Time: Geroch, General Relativity from A to B Quantum Mechanics: Albert, Quantum Mechanics and Experience Statistical Mechanics: Ben-Naim, Entropy and the Second Law: Interpretation and Misss-Interpretations (Supplement with Albert's Time and Chance if you want to go deeper into the "Arrow of Time" issue) Quantum Field Theory and the Standard Model: Oerter, The Theory of Almost Everything (A pretty superficial book compared to the others on this list, I admit, but I'm not aware of any philosophically deep treatment of QFT that doesn't presume considerable math knowledge. You could also try Feynman's QED, which is excellent but very out-dated.) Cosmology: Tegmark, Our Mathematical Universe (Good basic overview of cosmology, but the philosophical speculation doesn't meet your third requirement. Try Unger and Smolin's The Singular Universe and the Reality of Time for a counterpoint.)
3RichardKennaway6yHow much mathematics is excessive for this? Physics is made of mathematics.
3pragmatist6y"Excessive" was probably a poorly chosen word. I meant that the books I listed are the ones that provide the deepest insight into the theories (out of all the books I have seen) within the constraints specified by iarwain (presuming nothing more than high school mathematics). Some of the books teach some slightly more advanced math along the way, because yeah, it's hard to really comprehend much of GR without at least a basic conception of differential geometry, or understand QM without some idea of linear algebra, but none of the books inundates you with math like The Road to Reality does.
1Ixiel6yI was questioning whether to keep reading lesswrong; thanks to the questioner and the answerer for reminding me why I should. Books are cheap so I'm buying them all, even if not for all immediate reads. Don't suppose you teach near upstate New York?
2pragmatist6yI teach about 8000 miles away from upstate New York, I'm afraid.
0iarwain16yThanks! What are the recent papers that you suggest?
1pragmatist6yIt really depends on what topic you're interested in. Papers tend to be pretty focused on one question, so if you're looking for an overview of a subject, books are the way to go. If you're interested in learning more about some specific problem, I'd be happy to recommend accessible papers if I can think of any.
4Douglas_Knight6yAre your requirements sorted by order of importance? Quantum Computing [http://www.scottaaronson.com/democritus/] Since Democritus [https://www.amazon.com/Quantum-Computing-since-Democritus-Aaronson/dp/0521199565] might be a good choice. If I think of the first item as the goal and the others qualifications, it is a poor choice, but if I rearrange them, maybe a good choice.
1iarwain16yI didn't originally intend them to be in order, but they actually are. The only exception is that the very low math part is very important and should go at the top.
2Strangeattractor6yHow about The Fabric of the Cosmos by Brian Greene? It is a clearly written account of cosmology, though with more emphasis on string theory than on other topics. As for comparing and explaining the different interpretations of quantum mechanics, I am not aware of any book that does what you ask for. The clearest explanation of some of the interpretations of quantum mechanics that I've read so far is actually right here on Less Wrong, in the Sequences. However, that focuses on a few of the interpretations, without context of the others, and I had to read a bunch of scientific papers to start to get some of the missing context, though I still feel like there are gaps in my knowledge. I too would be interested in reading a book that properly explains and compares the different interpretations of Quantum Mechanics, so I'll be checking back at this thread to see if someone recommends one.
2Douglas_Knight6yPenrose [https://www.amazon.com/Road-Reality-Complete-Guide-Universe/dp/0679776311/]
0iarwain16yI tried it, but I struggled with a lot of the math past chapter 5 or so.
1Douglas_Knight6yThe math is self-contained, just difficult, right?
4Epictetus6yThere are two categories of "self-contained": 1. Logically self-contained, which just means that the treatment doesn't assume outside knowledge. Difficulty level is not bounded from above. 2. Beginner-friendly, which means the presentation is tailored to people without a strong background in the subject. Penrose falls squarely in Category 1. An intelligent reader can probably push the definitions around enough to follow the presentation, but that's not the same as understanding what's actually going on.
3pragmatist6yThat's correct, but it is difficult enough to effectively not be self-contained, I think. Being able to apprehend the concepts at the pace and brevity at which Penrose introduces them would require significant prior training in thinking mathematically, or a quite unusually agile mind.
2iarwain16yI don't actually remember, it's been a while. I do remember that it's not completely explained - he does skip steps (and that's not just me, I read that in a review of the book). I also remember getting confused and frustrated. I bought the book with high hopes and put more than a little bit of effort into it, but eventually I gave it away to someone who knew more math. I suppose I could go take it out of the library and try again.

The first time I read the Sequences, I definitely didn't understand everything. And of the things I did "understand", I didn't remember them all. Even after rereading different posts, it doesn't always stick.

I have just come across the brilliant idea (sarcasm) to take notes. In particular, to try to boil each post down to its essence, and write a summary. I've done it for about 20 posts so far, and it seems to be really helping me understand stuff.

Furthermore, the act of having "conquered" a post (having had boiled it down to its essenc... (read more)

3adamzerner6yHave you taken any sort of notes when reading the Sequences/RAZ? [pollid:905]
3[anonymous]6yNo, but I save the most 'relevant' of them on my phone, to reread when commuting. I seldom reread notes and indeed am more anxious that I might lose them than whether I have them within easy reach (a naturalist's nightmare, I guess.)

My mom has multiple sclerosis. Recently, researchers found that two currently available drugs reverse de-myelinization in mice. The drugs are only approved for being applied to the skin, though - it hasn't been proven to regulator's standards that they're safe for humans to swallow or inject.

Can anything be done to take advantage of this other than "sit and wait for years while Medical Science does more research"?

5Vaniver6yThis mostly depends on your attribute to risk and responsibility when things go wrong. No doctor is going to tell you "yeah, sure, try it out now" because that would open them up to significant risk and responsibility; if you tell your mom to try this and it doesn't work out, then you're taking on some risk and responsibility. She may not be interested in doing anything riskier than what's been verified by medical science, and talking it over with her is the first step. The next step is to ask her doctor about trials for this. It may be possible to be involved in human trials, though there is probably waiting involved. Self-medication is possible. It seems unlikely that a doctor will help you figure out a correct dose, but it's worth asking. In either event, you only have to do it once, and so it may be worth doing the paper-dive and finding the relevant textbooks to borrow (you'll probably only need to read a few sections). If internal application is necessary, you'll probably need to purchase the active ingredient directly. If you do decide to self-medicate, talk to your doctor about it. That'll help prevent doing anything dangerous or any potentially foreseeable interactions between medications.
3knb6yI think this is the kind of question MetaMed was created to answer. MetaMed's website seems to be offline. Has the company shut down?

Has the company shut down?

Yes. It would be helpful if they did a public postmortem, but I'm not sure there's a way to do that that's not ugly.

In the Sleeping Beauty problem, SIA and SSA disagree on the probability that it's Monday or Tuesday. But if we have to bet, then the optimal bet depends on what Ms Beauty is maximizing - the number of bet-instances that are correct, or whether the bet is correct, counting the two bets on different days as the same bet. Once the betting rules are clarified, there's always only one optimal way to bet, regardless of whether you believe SIA or SSA.

Moreover, one of those bet scenarios leads to bets that give "implied beliefs" that follow SIA, and the ... (read more)

3Manfred6yI think the consensus was not so much that phrasing anthropic problems in terms of decision problems is necessary, or that there is a "dissolution" taking place, but merely that it works, which is a very important property to have. One has to be careful when identifying implied beliefs as SSA or SIA, because the comparison is usually made by plugging SSA and SIA probabilities into a naive causal decision theory that assumes 'the' bet is what counts (or reverse-engineering such a decision theory). Anything outside that domain and the labels start to lose usefulness. In the course of answering Stuart Armstrong I put up two posts on this general subject, except that in both cases the main bodies of the posts were incomplete and there's important content in comments I made replying to my own posts. Which is to say, they're absolutely not reader-friendly, sorry. But if you do work out their content, I think you should find the probabilities in the case of Sleeping Beauty somewhat less mysterious. First post on how we assign probabilities given causal information [http://lesswrong.com/lw/l86/deriving_probabilities_from_causal_diagrams/]. Second post on what this looks like when applied [http://lesswrong.com/lw/lau/more_marbles_and_sleeping_beauty/].

I have been thinking about politics again, this time from a meta level and considering motivations for positions.

Among my peer group and much of the media, the dominant model seems to be 'anyone who has center-right views is consumed by hate and/or a useful idiot for the evil ones, and anyone who has further right views is a jackbooted fascist'.

Now, given that the views they cannot tolerate are nothing compared to the NRxers, in a way this strikes me as absurd hysteria. But in another way this makes sense (except for the overreaction). I don't think most p... (read more)

2Dahlen6yI'm trying and failing to extract your main point out of your post. Is it that you believe that people don't, or shouldn't, have emotional motivations for political beliefs? Or that a good way to check whether a political belief is right or not is to perform utilitarian calculation on the truth or falsity of the belief, and disregard the emotional implications?
0skeptical_lurker6yCloser to shouldn't have purely emotional motivations - the dominant paradigm for normal left-wing people (as in, not LW) seems to be that political opinions are entirely emotional, and so, for instance, if you see yourself as an empathic person you might be in favour of writing off all debt, and you don't need to bother thinking about the logical ramifications of this. People who disagree with you do not do so because they have considered different lines of reasoning, they are evil. I'm saying that its possible for politics to be decided by utilitarian calculations, but in practice it probably isn't.
2Lumifer6yI think you should distinguish between * Destroy civilization -- like the Roman civilization was destroyed -- which delays advancement for a while * Destroy civilization forever so that post-humans have to re-evolve from some low stage Not to mention that you sound Pascal-mugged.
-1skeptical_lurker6yWell, any delay to civilisation increases the probability that civilisation dies permanently, due to asteroid impacts or being unable to restart civiliseation because too many fossil fuels and other raw materials have been depleted. You are quite right about the Pascal's wager nature of what I seem to be saying. To clarify, there are rationalists who's estimates are far higher than 10^-30 - some of them were actually planning how to dig in and keep the spark of civiliseation alive in a remote, well-fortified location for hundreds of years when the barbarians overrun the rest of the world (due to liberalism in general, not just homosexuality). I don't think you would start plans like that unless your prob estimates were a lot higher than 10^-30, because it implies that making those plans is a better use of your time than trying to save us from meteorites/AI/nanowar.
1[anonymous]6yI just want to point out this is more or less what was called conservatism for a long time, before it got more radical. If you look up e.g. Edmund Burke's works, you find precisely the attitude that civilization is worth preserving, yet it is something so fragile, so brittle, radical changes could easily break it. So the basic idea was to argue with the progressivist idea that history has a built-in course, going from less civilized to more civilized, and we will never become less civilized than today, so the only choice is how fast we progress for more, Burke and other early conservatives proposed more of an open-ended view of history where civilization can be easily broken. Or, a cyclical view, like empires raise and fall. Part of the reason why they considered civilization so brittle was that they believed in original sin making it difficult for human minds to resists temptations towards destructive actions, like destructive competition. An atheist version of the same belief would be that human minds did not evolve for the modern environment, the same destructive competitive instincts that worked right back then could ruin stuff today. To quote Burke: "Society cannot exist, unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere; and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without. It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters." This moderate view characterized conservatism for a long time, for example, National Review's 1957 takedown of Ayn Rand [http://www.nationalreview.com/article/213298/big-sister-watching-you-whittaker-chambers] was in this Burkean spirit. However throughout the 20th century, conservatism has all but disappeared from Europe and and it turned into something quite radical in America. Far more than a civilization-preserving school of ideas, it became something more radical - just look at National Review now and compare it w
6VoiceOfRa6yWhat on earth are you talking about? Take a typical left-wing position from ~50 years ago (or heck ~10 years ago). Transport it to today, and it would be considered unacceptably radically right-wing. Hence the reason left-wing polititians constantly have their positions "evolve". For example, the parent said: That is, nearly the whole political spectrum from as recently as ~15 years ago is now considered "evil" by 'mainstream' leftists.
0[anonymous]6yLook, policies are the least important part of political identities. Personality, tone, mood, attitude, and so on, people's general disposition are the defining features and in this sense yes the Michele Malkin types today are far, far more radical than the Whitaker Chambers types back then. It is a huge mistake to focus on policies when understanding political identities. Something entirely personal, such as parenting styles are far, far more predictive. A policy is something that can be debated to pieces. It is far too pragmatic. People can come up with all kinds of clever justifications. But if a person tells me their gut reaction when they see a parent discipline a child with a light slap and I know pretty much everything I need to know about their political disposition and attitude, philosophy, approach to society and life in general, views of human nature and so on, so everything that really drives these things. Or, another example, the gut reaction they have to a hunter boasting with a trophy. This pretty much tells everything.
0VoiceOfRa6yAnd in both your examples, what today comes across as the "conservative" reaction was the standard reaction of everybody except parts of the far left ~50 years ago.
2[anonymous]6yOkay, that's true... but you cannot deny the tone changed, became more, how to put it, aggressive or paranoid? Compare Chambers in the article vs. Ann Coulter or Malkin.
1Lumifer6yThat's not a valid comparison. Coulter and Malkin are people whose success is basically measured by how much outrage can they generate, so they generate a lot.
-2Ishaan6yThis is pretty much my view on many things relating to progress and danger, but I don't think it's necessarily "conservative". I see the general principle behind chesterton's fence, but I think civilization itself as terrifyingly novel. So, I'm not gonna place my "every practice this point is probably okay since nothing terrible has happened yet" Chesterton's-Fence anywhere near civilization. If you've gotta put your C-Fence somewhere, I think you should put it in the ancestral environment. It's all terrifyingly novel, we're rapidly hurtling towards space, we're in the 21st century mesosphere and people who make this argument for "traditional values" keep trying to stick the C-Fence into the 15-20th century stratosphere, whereas they aught to stick in into the paleolithic/neolithic ground because that's the only place we've ever actually been stable as a species. Hunter gatherers did not care about homosexuality to use OPs example, many didn't even have marriage, and one day suddenly we suddenly picked up pen and paper and built a rocket ship and now people want to arbitrarily stick the C-fence at some random point after takeoff which generally corresponds to whatever values were in vogue in the brief interval before they were born.
2VoiceOfRa6yCitation?
3Ishaan6yRegarding marriage, obviously there's a lot of variance, but it's a generalization [https://books.google.com/books?id=8wNOiIyaqb8C&pg=PA252&lpg=PA252&dq=hunter-gatherers+marriage+ceremony&source=bl&ots=K_oSdcTSlh&sig=Y998hRdhAlP4kqnIQzair8xBjtg&hl=en&sa=X&ei=Bf1GVcLlG4jRggS_r4GoAg&ved=0CFoQ6AEwCw#v=onepage&q=hunter-gatherers%20marriage%20ceremony&f=false] that at least some people who aren't me make, and I know it's at least true for the Mbuti [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mbuti_people] and the Piraha [http://content.time.com/time/arts/article/0,8599,1859528,00.html]. Of course, we'd have to first define the practice first. I'd say that marriage in the broadest sense of the word means that there's some sort of extensive activity (whether legal or ritual) which signifies that people who have romantic or sexual relations of some sort are in some way bonded, which remains in effect until death unless actively nullified. I bet your average hunter-gatherer wouldn't really know what homosexuality is, let alone be against it, since bands are small and it's a minority phenomenon, but as far as I can tell there's plenty of cultures where it isn't taboo [https://books.google.com/books?id=L9Mj7oHEwVoC&pg=PA16&lpg=PA16&dq=homosexual+rituals+hunter+gatherers&source=bl&ots=cdpq_49SYn&sig=k7ot-tDh3uqjKFaf377WddV_ENc&hl=en&sa=X&ei=UAFHVYqaFYekNvX9gZgD&ved=0CB0Q6AEwADgK#v=onepage&q=homosexual%20rituals%20hunter%20gatherers&f=false] . Given the diversity of cultures and the difficulty of cleanly delineating modern hunter-gatherers from agriculturists, it's not exactly an open-and-shut case where broad generalizations can be made and the anthropologists doing the reporting are a pretty politically leftist bunch, but I think given the information we have to work with my general impression is reasonable.
-2[anonymous]6yOne of my pet theories is that a huge part of it reduces to gender roles. And if you look at it this way, the difference between a hunter-gatherer and a 19th century farmer (especially if we consider the farmer being on the chaotic American Frontier and not e.g. in the far more orderly German villages) is not very big. He is considered a fighter (defending the family with guns), he does heavy-lifting kind of work, and there is a sense of communal tribalism, "we don't like outsiders much around here". While his wife focuses on reproduction and finger-skill type jobs, like milking cows - roughly equivalent to the ancestral environment. Let's stick to the homosexuality example. In Ancient Rome, the concept does not exist. Rather they see sexuality as such in dominance / submission lines, and they simply consider the adult citizen man should be the dominant (penetrating party) and everybody else - women, boys, slaves - the penetrated / submissive. This attitude carries actually far into the 20th century, maybe even today. While the "official" definition of homosexuality includes both parties, it seems the generic homophobic instincts are far more focused on submissive behavior not being suitable for men. 90% of homophobic instincts are all about basically men who don't behave dominantly enough being called sissy. It has surprisingly little to do with actual sexual partner choice preferences. In a typical high school ANY sign of weakness, submission, whining etc. gets a boy called a sissy and then some smartass remarks you surely like to suck dick (again understood as being submissive in a sexual context) and shit hits the fan from that on, usually you have to fight to prove you are not sissy and so on. So, apparently, it is generally a don't-be-a-sissy type of male-dominance machismo that is driving homohobia, and it is only by accident, largely by the classic human biases of thinking by association where it becomes something like not allowing gay marriage - the typi
0Ishaan6yBut that entire realm of thinking doesn't even come into play until high scarcity conditions break egalitarianism and patriarchy/hierarchy/private property/agriculture begins. My impression is that pressure towards masculinity varies greatly from culture to culture, and ours (by "ours" I mean most people who participates in the global economy instead of subsistence hunting/gathering/farming) is one in which it is particularly strong. Height is unimportant in Hazda female mate choice [http://www.lse.ac.uk/newsAndMedia/news/archives/2009/07/HadzaResearch.aspx]. Practices such as the !kung insulting the meat [http://drleannawolfe.com/kung.html] illustrate active suppression of dominance-seeking instincts. I'd be really surprised if these people value machismo and dominance in the sense you describe. Now, I'm not one to carelessly opine that these things are cultural constructs. I think there's a fair case that humans are predisposed to one set of behaviors when they find themselves in a precarious, hierarchical, high-scarcity situations, and a second set of behaviors when faced with secure, egalitarian, resource abundant situations. I think that any situation where individuals compete for dominance, the strongest individuals (which tends to be whoever has the most androgen exposure) tend to rise to the top, and that's when you get strong cultural or selection pressure towards masculinity. Taken to the extreme, this produces gorillas and lions and hyenas. When largely removed, this produces bonobos and all the other animals without marked dimorphism or aggression. I think humans are somewhere in between, and our culture and behavior shifts according to circumstance. But many hunter gatherers (especially those living in resource abundant areas) didn't compete for dominance in that sense. Competing for dominance is not something humans must do, it's only something that humans are forced into when resources are scarce. And your own example illustrated that while dis
0[anonymous]6ySome hunter-gatherers would strongly disagree [http://www.artofmanliness.com/2013/06/10/the-yanomamo-and-the-origins-of-male-honor/] To put it harshly, wombs are always scarce resources and it is likely the evolution of human intelligence can be reduced to guys competing for women. (EDSC model). Another excellent resource is http://www.warandgender.com/ [http://www.warandgender.com/] (the book), arguing how war and gender mutually create each other, and the root cause is probably competing for women. (To the people helpfully downvoting the whole thread, they are probably feminists: for example War and Gender is a feminist book. You get exactly the same sort of theories from the better feminist sources, as at the end of the day there is no such thing as different truths, thus the difference largely being the tone of abhorrence vs. grudging acceptance.) Argumenting with hunter-gatherers is always a bit iffy, though, as current HG cannot be typical HG: there must be a special reason they stayed HG while everybody else moved on, this making them atypical. Perhaps The Yanimamö are a better example than most HG as their special feature seems to be mainly remoteness. At any rate, womb-competition is pretty much an inescapable fact of huge human brain sizes. It means difficult and dangerous childbirth, and it means long and time-sinky mothering, and it means males having harems is a reproductive advantage when and if they can pull it off. I admit I don't know the final answer, if there is one. I.e. how to explain the difference between e.g. the Yanomamö and Hazda people for example. Perhaps these instincts for competing for women are culturally suppressed. Perhaps I am wrong and it is not an instinct, although it makes perfect sense in evolutionary logic. Perhaps Hazda type people are more K-selected, i.e. fathers focusing more on fathering than on trying to build harems, fewer offspring, but higher quality. There is probably some mystery to unweil here which was not
0Ishaan6yThat's partly the point - the fact that there's variation shows that many of the behaviors people try to justify with "chesterton's fence" aren't particularly stable in the first place. I'd also stress the fact that the yanomami are also slash-and-burn horticulturalists, indicating that they're experiencing enough scarcity to engage in fairly laborious tasks. Downvoters probably just people who don't want to talk about politics in general, and they probably have a point. I'm a feminist myself, there's no good reason for anyone to shy away from discussing biological underpinnings, it's just that politics in general is toxic. Chimpanzee [http://www.janegoodall.ca/about-chimp-behaviour-social-organization.php] males as large groups primarily compete for territory. Adolescent, childless females are free to leave communities and join new ones as they please, but once they start reproducing they have to stay within their chosen group because a novel group's males won't tolerate the infant. Competition for mates occurs among males within a given territory. With bonobos, territory doesn't matter because food is plentiful everywhere, and any male or female can join any band at any time and everything is completely flexible. If any particular bonobo became aggressive, other bonobos would either avoid them or drive them away, either one of which results in the loss of social bonds and mating opportunities. Which isn't to say there is no mating aggression [http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/4536099?uid=3739976&uid=2&uid=4&uid=3739256&sid=21106292037841] , just that it's way less frequent and the incentives for aggression are fewer as compared to chimpanzees. Scarcity is probably the culprit for behavioral differences. Bonobo habitats have much more food than Chimpanzee habitats. If your territory is too small as a chimp, you don't get enough food, so the most dominant, territory-defending individuals and those who successfully ally with them gain advantage. As a bonobo y
0[anonymous]6yHm, this sounds like a pretty solid evidence for the food-competition (scarcity) hypothesis. However the evidences for the mating-competition hypothesis are also fairly strong. Not sure if non-primates matter, but animals like deer or reindeer are walking knee deep in food ( grass) and the mating competition, antler fights, is pretty strong. What I find particularly convincing is humans having abnormally large maternal investments (huge baby head -> dangerous birth, slow infant development -> lots of mothering investment) which would suggest one hell of a mating competition. But it could also be used as an evidence of fathering investment and monogamy. I don't really know how to construct at least a thought experiment to split the two without having an influence from culture. After all, if big heads are part of my hypothesis, i.e. intelligence is, intelligence pretty much means something akin to a culture must be there. Culture is probably way older than the archeological evidence for it - just the old versions lacking in artifacts. While lack of evidence is an evidence for lack, probably in case of archeology it is not true - it is a highly inefficient thing. For example, from much more recent history, Gaels were considered to be culturally inferior to Romans because they did not build roads and bridges. Turned out they did, but they made them out of wood, not stone, and that is far harder to find and evidence through archeology.
0VoiceOfRa6yMy theory about bonobos is that since they live in such remote locations, fewer people have had a chance to study them. Thus the scholarship on them hasn't yet left the "project one's ideals onto the noble savages" phase. Similarly it took Jane Goodall a remarkably long time to realize/admit how her beloved gorillas were actually behaving.
5[anonymous]6yThe reason I try to stay close neutral in such issues is that iti is perfectly possible that both sides of the debate project what they like into the data. There are also red-pill / reactionary types who like the idea of a harsh world red in claw and tooth, who like a dark Nietzschean romance of a brutal world, who liked it when Raistlin [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raistlin_Majere] turned black robe. Maybe you know some of them :-) So while there is "idealism porn" on the left, there is also "dark romance porn" on the right and it is really hard to avoid both biases. My own leanings tend to actually towards the dark romance bias - I always played evil characters in RPG and as a teen I was a huuuge Nietzsche fan, and escaped Atlas Shrugged fandom only because I was too old when I first met it. So I have to be cautious of that. Quite possibly the world is more forgiving and nicer than what I like to think. Plato the philosopher actually impressed me when he argued justice often means efficiency. It was fairly new to me, and far too optimistic compared to what I was used to.
-2VoiceOfRa6yThere are a lot of idealists on the right (and "dark romanticists" on the left) as well, they just focus on different ideals.
-2VoiceOfRa6yWhat is this "gays of the bear subculture" you speak of?
1RichardKennaway6yYou just have to google "bear subculture" to find out. The first hit is to a Wikipedia article on the subject. If you have done this you do not need to ask and if you have not you do not need to be answered. What is your real question?
0[anonymous]6yhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nlGclIZV5JQ [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nlGclIZV5JQ] :-DDD
0Ishaan6yIt just so happens that deficits in emotional processing are usually linked to gambling disorders and in the lab are linked to difficulty in distinguishing good bets from bad bets. I suspect that most decisions are less "probability estimates" and more based on approach/avoid emotions. (And incidentally, political orientation is also linked to differences in approach/avoidance behaviors and differences corresponding brain regions. If you thought the testosterone link were bad wait till you read about the amygdala links). In short, as far as humanity goes emotion basically is totally inextricable from accurate probability estimates, and differences in emotional processing are probably responsible for the variation in viewpoints that cannot be explained by variations in life experience.
-1VoiceOfRa6yGiven the attitude of nearly every previous civilization towards homosexuality (including our own until ~30 years ago) I don't see how you can justify assigning this a value anywhere close to P(tolerance of homosexuality will destroy civiliseation). So does this [http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2014/01/21/christian-bakery-guilty-violating-civil-rights-lesbian-couple/] count as defecting? What about this [http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/oct/20/idaho-citys-ordinance-tells-pastors-to-marry-gays-/] ?
1skeptical_lurker6yA large part of my argument is based on my understanding that the Roman empire and Greece and so forth did tolerate homosexuality. AFAIK intolerance of homosexuality in the west started with Christianity. If you are right that every past civilization was intolerant of homosexuality, then P(tolerance of homosexuality will destroy civiliseation) would obviously have to increase a lot. Yes and yes.
6Jiro6yDid the Romans and Greeks "tolerate homosexuality" in the sense we understand that phrase today? They certainly didn't have gay weddings. And allowing people to have homosexual affairs as long as you marry a woman would not nowadays be thought of as toleration, but as an anti-gay double standard.
5Lumifer6yI think the Romans and the Greeks did not "tolerate", but rather "accepted and celebrated as a morally and socially fine practice". Not to mention that from a contemporary perspective they were all pedophiles and corrupters of youth, anyways X-D
3Good_Burning_Plastic6yNot when the "passive" partner was a mature adult man, IIRC.
3VoiceOfRa6ySort of, the passive partner had to have lower social status then the active partner. For example, at least in Rome, using slaves as the passive partner was common.
0skeptical_lurker6ywikipedia [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homosexuality_in_ancient_Rome#Gay_marriage] seems to think there was sort of gay marriage, in that gay marriage ceremonies were occasionally held but not legally recognised. Dunno exactly how reliable wikipedia is on this. Actually, if everyone is comfortable with the affairs and practices safe sex, this strikes me as a reasonable compromise. In fact, anecdotally it seems that most bisexuals have hetrosexual relationships, and very frequently their partners allow them to have homosexual affairs.
2VoiceOfRa6yYes, there is some evidence things like this happened during the late Roman Empire (this [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elagabalus] certainly happened). Of cource, this is hardly encouraging from a gay marrige being pro-civilization point of view.
2skeptical_lurker6yI know this is a serious conversation, but on a lighter note, this made me laugh: Anyway, back to gay marriage and the collapse of civiliseation: I would actually argue that prohibiting gay marrage could have contributed to the collapse of the Roman empire. The reason is that if a Christian government impose their values (including but certainly not limited to banning gay marrage) upon a traditionally pagan population, it could have led to internal conflict. Would you be so eager to lay down your life for Rome if Rome is banning centuries-old traditions like the Olympics which you still value?
2VoiceOfRa6yWell, homosexuality (although not gay marrige) was much more traditional in the Greek east then in the Roman west (where it had only become acceptable under Greek influince). And yet it was the west that collapsed. Also, there was a great deal of internal conflict (of the general declares himself Emperor and marches on Rome variety) even before the conversion to Christianity.
0skeptical_lurker6yHomosexuals are a small proportion of the population. Annoying them would not make them emperor popular, but banning pagan ceremonies would cause far more discontent, because they are a greater proportion of the population. Coups tend to resolve one way or the other quite quickly, but religious conflicts drag on and are more personal to individual citizens. The pagan customs were banned in 393. Rome fell in 410. I'm not saying its the fault of Christianity. But maybe its a 'United we stand, divided we fall' situation?
-2VoiceOfRa6ySuppose this interpretation was correct, what does it say about the current left-wing approach to Christianity? Also, paganism was never a unified thing, and by the late Roman empire most of the leadership wasn't ethnically Italian (much less Roman).
-3skeptical_lurker6yWell, there are countries where public Christianity is banned, but the US isn't one of them. I think that the left forcing ministers to perform gay weddings is going to cause resentment, but then the Christian right trying to ban abortion and stem cell research and the teaching of evolution are in the wrong too.
0NancyLebovitz6yI don't think forcing ministers and priests to perform gay weddings is at all likely. I don't even think it's likely that there will be an effort to pass laws requiring that is at likely in the reasonably near future. I think it's likely that some on the left will be applying social pressure, but that's short of force, and there's going to be countervailing pressure.
3VoiceOfRa6yPlease update your model of reality [http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/oct/20/idaho-citys-ordinance-tells-pastors-to-marry-gays-/] .
8gjm6yHmm. The Washington Times is not exactly what I'd call an unbiased source on this sort of stuff. Looking elsewhere on the web, I find the following: * The people we're talking about here are indeed ordained ministers, but the institution at which they're marrying people is a for-profit weddings-only business. (It is not, e.g., a church.) * The law in question has an exemption for "religious corporations, associations, educational institutions, or societies", but the business run by the Knapps doesn't qualify. * There was a lawsuit, but the Knapps were the plaintiffs -- i.e., they were suing preemptively for the right not to marry same-sex couples. The full extent of the "forcing" that appears to have happened is: someone asked someone at the city attorney's office for an opinion and he said "If you turn away a gay couple, refuse to provide services for them, then in theory you violated our code and you're looking at a potential misdemeanor citation". * Shortly before filing the lawsuit, the Knapps' wedding chapel made a whole lot of changes to its policies, making them sound a lot more specifically Christian than before. all of which suggests to me that ministers and priests performing their usual functions as ministers and priests remain in no danger of being forced to perform same-sex marriages, but that if they choose to start marrying people for profit rather than as a normal part of exercising their calling as ministers, the fact of being ordained doesn't exempt them from the same laws other people marrying people for profit are subject to. (And that there may be something less than perfectly sincere about the Knapps' protestations.) I can't tell what if anything happened to the lawsuit, except that a few weeks after it was filed it looked as if it might get settled out of court, with the city agreeing to treat the Hitching Post as a "religious corporation" after all. (All the more reason not to think anyone's freedom is
2Jiro6y"They settled out of court on favorable terms" doesn't mean it's not a danger, unless the terms are so favorable that nobody's ever going to court for this again. Court cases are expensive and just having to go to court to affirm that what you're doing is legal is a cost all by itself.
6gjm6yOh, I agree: the fact that they settled out of court on its own doesn't mean there isn't a problem. What means there isn't a problem is that so far every single same-sex-marriage law has had an explicit exemption saying that religious organizations aren't obliged to perform same-sex marriages, and that the best example VoiceOfRa could find turns out to be one where there is an explicit exemption and what actually happened is that a commercial wedding factory tried to make out that they were being oppressed. And even then it turns out that they're probably getting what they want after all, but that's just icing on the cake.
2Jiro6yExplicit exemptions that don't prevent lawsuits are failed explicit exemptions. They're not working, because they don't prevent the person who wants to use the exception from taking damage. (And that includes preemptive lawsuits, if the preemptive lawsuit is actually necessary to settle the issue and is not a slam dunk.)
0gjm6ySometimes there are unreasonable lawsuits. Sometimes there are unavoidable corner cases that give rise to reasonable lawsuits. Neither of these means that the law is wrong. I'm not sure exactly what point you're arguing now. * The original question: Are religious organizations at risk of being obliged to endorse same-sex marriages despite their traditions against such marriages? * VoiceOfRa's example doesn't seem to me to be any evidence that they are; the organization in question isn't (or at least wasn't at the relevant time) a religious organization, the threat to it shows every sign of being basically made up to support its lawsuit, and the result of the legal action it initiated seems to have been that indeed it could operate the way it wanted. * The question I think your last comment is addressing: Is the particular law we're discussing drafted in some less-than-perfect way? * Maybe. The fact that there was a lawsuit could be evidence of that. Or it could just be that the ADF is rather trigger-happy about filing certain kinds of lawsuit. Clearly you find something unsatisfactory here. Could you describe how the law could look, such that there would be no risk of lawsuits like the Knapps'? Obviously one way to do that would be not to permit same-sex marriages after all, but it appears that the Will of the People is to permit them[1], and if we have to choose between "one business was worried that some day hypothetically it might be required to conduct a same-sex wedding, which for religious reasons its owners don't want it to do" and "many thousands of couples who want to get married are forbidden to do so" it doesn't seem like a difficult choice. Or you could nominally permit same-sex marriage but provide a blanket exemption saying that no person or institution can ever be compelled to marry any same-sex couple if they don't want to. The likely effect is that in large regions of t
0Jiro6yIn order for the law to be a law that works, there has to be no significant risk of lawsuits [1]. It is possible that in the current political climate, there is no way the law could look that makes there be no risk of lawsuits. This would mean that in the current political climate, there is no way the law could work. And if there's no way the law could work, that answers the first question: religious organizations are at risk of being forced to perform gay marriages, and laws that try to prevent such force don't work. [1] Again, preemptive lawsuits count if they are meant to prevent a real risk of normal lawsuits and are not a slam dunk.
4gjm6yI see that I have been unclear, and I'll try to fix that. When I said "how the law could look", I didn't mean "the law permitting same-sex marriage", I meant "the law as a whole". So, in particular, "same-sex marriage stays illegal" is one possible way the law could look. Regardless, I'm puzzled by two features of your answer. First: Suppose the law said: Same-sex couples are allowed to get married, but no one is under any circumstances obliged to marry them. Then there would be no possible grounds for a lawsuit of the kind we're discussing here. Why doesn't that refute your suggestion that perhaps "there is no way the law could work"? (Of course there might then be a risk of lawsuits from same-sex couples who want to get married but can't. But your second paragraph makes it clear that you aren't counting that under the heading of "no way the law could work".) Second: there are what look to me like some serious gaps in your reasoning. To explain the gaps I think I see, I'll begin by repeating your argument in more explicit form; please let me know if I misrepresent it. I'll consider the law as it currently is rather than the more general question of whether any modified version might be better. * A. The Knapps' lawsuit happened. * B. This was a preemptive lawsuit, but if there is a preemptive lawsuit then that shows that there was a real risk of coercion that it was trying to prevent. * C. Therefore, there was a real risk that the Knapps would be forced to perform same-sex marriages. * D. Therefore, there was a real risk that religious organizations would be forced to perform same-sex marriages. Now, of course I agree with A. I do not agree with B; there are other reasons why the Knapps and/or the ADF might have chosen to file their lawsuit even if there was never a real risk that the Knapps would be required to perform same-sex marriages. I agree that C is a reasonable inference from B (and indeed might be correct even if B isn't). I do not ag
0Jiro6y1. I didn't say there was no way the law could work. I said it was possible there was no way the law could work (this questioning your implicit assumption that I had to tell you a way for it to work.) 2. At any rate, I can easily see how that law might not work either. The law is passed, then someone takes the religious group to court claiming that the law violates equal protection. This is an incorrect description of my argument. It is not true, in general, that preemptive lawsuits indicate a real risk. But it is true in this case, because what they were told by the city attorney's office. I don't know that there was anything they could have done instead. It may just be that they were screwed.
2gjm6y(This discussion doesn't seem to be generating much light. I think I might drop it somewhere around now.) I didn't say you did say there was no way the law could work; I said you said that perhaps there was no way the law could work, because there might be no way to avoid the risk of lawsuits, and then I explained why it seemed obvious that there is a way to avoid that risk. I already commented on the possibility of lawsuits going the other way, and explained why I didn't think it relevant to your argument. If you talk to a lawyer and say "Look, there's this law that says X; is there any possibility that it might be used against me?" they are always, always going to give the most conservative answer. If you look at the actual wording of the attorney's comments, it's full of hedging. Also, let me remind you: they were a purely commercial outfit offering weddings to anyone, religious or not; they talked to the attorney and were told that yes, in principle it could happen that they'd be obliged to conduct same-sex marriages; then they rewrote all their promotional materials to present them as a super-religious organization, and then they sued for the right not to marry same-sex couples. The "real risk" is that commercial wedding-sellers might be obliged to conduct same-sex marriages, which is not news and has nothing to do with the alleged risk to actual religious institutions. In which case, the fact that what they actually did didn't completely eliminate the risk of lawsuits is hardly much of an argument against it.
0Jiro6yIf that's the explanation, then as soon as he sued the city, the city would have immediately said "given what you described in your lawsuit papers, what you want to do is legal" and ended the lawsuit right there. The argument is that religious leaders can be forced to perform gay marriages. Making them go through an expensive lawsuit if they don't counts as force. If there's nothing they or the lawmakers can do to prevent being forced, it's still true that they can be forced, so the argument remains valid.
4gjm6yIt looks as if the city very quickly (1) stated explicitly that the Knapps were not in danger of being forced to perform same-sex marriages or punished for not doing so, and (2) attempted to settle. However, on further investigation it seems that the case is still going on. I have no inside knowledge as to what the obstacles to settlement are. Unless the city's attorney is lying outright, they have explicitly said [http://www.cdapress.com/news/local_news/article_5e144a06-08fa-5f56-946c-1a9e291f2deb.html] to the Knapps "We're not going to pursue you, you're good to go and you're a religious corporation exempt under our ordinance". (I assume that's a paraphrase, but it's a paraphrase by someone officially representing the city.) So I think the city did do exactly what you say; but it's not their lawsuit, they can't dismiss it unilaterally, and for whatever reason the Knapps and/or the ADF aren't satisfied and want more. (Here is my guess at what more they want. The lawsuit requests not only an injunction telling the city not to take action against the Knapps for not marrying same-sex couples, but a declaratory judgement that the city's ordinance as applied to the Knapps violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments. Given that the city hasn't actually taken any action against the Knapps, that seems to be the same thing as a demand for a declaratory judgement that the city's ordinance itself is unconstitutional. I can see why they might be unwilling to accept that.) The fact that an ideological advocacy group can file a frivolous lawsuit simply isn't much evidence that there's an actual danger of the kind of coercion they claim to be worried about.
-4Lumifer6yActually, I think the original question wasn't about organizations, it was about individuals. I think these two sentence fragments directly contradict each other. And the second looks silly, too -- what, there would be literally not one single person willing to marry them? Legally speaking, in the US the issue is basically Constitutional. The question is whether forcing people to perform actions contrary to their religious beliefs infringes on their right to the "free exercise" [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_Exercise_Clause] of their religion.
6gjm6yIt was phrased that way, but I think it's obviously a Wrong Question when phrased that way and I'm fairly sure that what makes it sound worrying when someone talks about "the left forcing ministers to perform gay weddings" is not the idea that ministers might be treated in such a disagreeable way, but the idea that churches (and other such entities -- but in the US it's usually churches) might be. That is: If the Reverend Bob Smith, a minister of the Fundamental Free Fundamentalist Church of Freedom, stops being (or never is) a full-time minister of religion, and starts up Bob's Wedding Shack providing weddings for anyone who'll pay, then even though Bob may still be an ordained minister of the FFFCoF he's no longer acting as one, he's providing a commercial service and should be subject to the same terms as anyone else providing a commercial service. (This is the way other similar religious exemptions tend to work. The FFFCoF may refuse to employ women as ministers and that's fine, but Bob's Wedding Shack isn't allowed to refuse to employ women as secretaries. It may deny evolution and no one will force its services to put a reading from the Origin of Species alongside Genesis 1, but if Bob's next job is as a biology teacher then the fact that he's an ordained minister gives him no special right to tell his students that life on earth is less than 10,000 years old. The point isn't special rights for ministers, it's special protections for religious groups.) So: yeah, there might be a risk that ministers will be forced to conduct same-sex weddings -- in the sense that someone who is an ordained minister might take some entirely different job that involves marrying people. But that's not what any reasonable person is actually worried about. (Unless they are worried more generally that religious people might be forced to conduct same-sex weddings despite disapproving. But that's got nothing to do with ministers as such.) No, because The People are not unanimous an
0VoiceOfRa6yIs it? The Will of the People, especially the Will of the People of Texas, for abortion to be legal is a rather dubious claim.
4gjm6yWell, what I said is "it's perfectly compatible with ..." rather than "it's also true that ...". But: Gallup polling [http://www.gallup.com/poll/1576/abortion.aspx] finds that the US population splits roughly 2:3:5 between unconditionally illegal, conditional, and unconditionally legal. More than 50% of people polled way Roe v Wade should not be overturned; fewer than 30% say it should be. (There are a lot of undecideds.) On the other hand, further questioning of the ~50% who say abortion should be legal sometimes but not always shows that they mostly want it to be available in "few" rather than "many" cases, which may mean that they want it to be more restricted than it is now, which I'm not sure how to square with opinions on Roe v Wade. So. US law permits abortion in some cases. A large majority of US citizens think US law should permit abortion in some cases. It's been many years since Roe v Wade and the people of the US have conspicuously not voted in governments that have tried to get Roe v Wade overturned. So yeah, I think it's fair to say that for abortion to be sometimes legal is the Will of the People. It may indeed not be the Will of the People of Texas. It very likely isn't the Will of the People of (say) Odessa, Texas. But it's a matter of federal law, rather than anything more local. (Same-sex marriage is currently a matter of state rather than federal law in the US, and in the particular state under discussion it's legal. Given how it became so and that because it was fairly recent it's hard to gauge public opinion from subsequent events, I concede that we don't know that legal same-sex marriage is the Will of the People of Idaho. It is, however, the law of Idaho.)
0VoiceOfRa6yConsider who it came to be the "law" of Idaho. Did the Idaho legislator pass legislation permitting it? No, the Idaho supreme court re-interpreted the existing laws to basically declare that it is and has always been the law.
5gjm6yThis is very strange. I say: actually, considering how it came about, it isn't necessarily the Will of the People. You say: Hey, you need to consider how it came about, and then you might realise that it isn't necessarily the Will of the People. (Perhaps you're saying that we shouldn't regard the process that made it law in Idaho as legitimate. If so, I think rather more argument needs deploying to that end than you have presented so far. In particular, the ideas (1) that laws can turn out to be unconstitutional and need undoing and (2) that interpretation of the constitution can change over time so that different things are deemed unconstitutional at different times, are both pretty firmly established in US jurisprudence, and all you're pointing out here is that this is an example of that process.)
0VoiceOfRa6yOk, now I officially have no idea what you mean by "Will of the People" since it seems to bear no relation to what the people actually want.
7gjm6yIt means what the people actually want. That's kinda ill-defined given that different people want different things, so we have systems for aggregating the wills of individual people to make decisions. Example: It is the will of the people in the US, collectively, that abortion be legal in certain circumstances. The fact that the law actually permits it is on its own only weak evidence for this (what it shows is that the people elected presidents who nominated SC judges who interpreted the constitution that way, and that's a lot of indirection), but it's also what opinion polls say, and The People have had plenty of chances to elect people who might change the law and it hasn't happened. There are individuals and communities whose will is something else. It happens that in US law the scale at which the WotP is aggregated is national. (For this specific issue.) It's not very clear to me what the best scale is for aggregating the WotP about same-sex marriage, nor what the actual WotP is nationally, nor what the actual WotP is in Idaho. All of which is why, on reflection, I retracted my earlier claim that legal same-sex marriage is the WotP in this context. I repeat: the WotP isn't perfectly well defined. In some cases there will be no answer, or at least no answer not subject to vigorous disagreement even between reasonable and well-informed people.
2VoiceOfRa6yWell, the fact that support for gay marriage is strongly correlated with the amount of indirection should give you a hint. For example, look at what actually happened in Idaho, the people's direct representatives passed a law (and then a constitutional amendment) against gay marriage, and a federal judge (who isn't even appointed by the state) declared it unconstitutional. Or look what happened in Oregon (which is where the case under discussion happened), a county official started issuing same-sex "marriage" licenses, the People then passed a constitutional amendment banning it. Then a federal court declared the ban unconstitutional.
6gjm6yIs it? Could you show me the numbers? I'm not saying it isn't, by the way. It might well be. But what would be particularly uninteresting would be if what you mean is this: that among states where same-sex marriage is legal, there is a correlation between popular support for same-sex marriage and how direct the most direct sort of WotP-ness of same-sex marriage is there. Because that is automatically true whatever the actual facts.
2VoiceOfRa6yWhat I'm saying is that ballot initiatives almost always (maybe there are one or two exceptions) go against gay "marriage". Legislators mostly vote against gay "marriage". Most places where gay "marriage" is legal it is this way due to court decisions.
6gjm6yIt seems like that (assuming it's true, which I haven't checked) might be telling us much more about the strategies of different lobbying groups than about actual popular support for same-sex marriage. For obvious reasons legislators' opinions may lag voters' by a couple of years. Support for same-sex marriage has been on the increase recently. So if it's true that legislators usually vote against, even though popular support is somewhere around 60% nationally, that might be why. But, again, I haven't checked whether it's true that legislators mostly vote against. (This, also, might be a function more of when the question gets put to the vote rather than of general opinion among legislators.) This one, again, I haven't checked, and I'm a bit skeptical about it. Do you have figures? Yet again, though, this could be true for reasons that have nothing to do with the one I take it you're trying to suggest (i.e., that same-sex marriage is unpopular and foisted on the populace by the judiciary). For instance, consider a hypothetical world where the following things are true: * It is clear to most judges that the constitution implies, or will be interpreted by SCOTUS as implying, that laws forbidding same-sex marriage are improper. * Opponents of same-sex marriage choose to adopt a strategy of getting anti-same-sex-marriage laws on the books via ballot initiatives. * There is enough popular opposition to same-sex marriage for many of those initiatives to succeed. * However, popular opinion is shifting in the direction of same-sex marriage. (Note that all these things could be true for a wide range of actual national popular support for same-sex marriage.) In this hypothetical world, many states pass anti-SSM laws which are subsequently overturned when they are challenged on constitutional grounds; in those places there is no need for further action to make same-sex marriage legal; accordingly, where it's legal the proximate cause is usually that a cour
-4VoiceOfRa6yThis is a complete dodge, since it dodges the question of why the SCOTUS will make this interpritation, or whether it should. And why would they adopt that strategy? Is it because they have popular support behind their position? Again you avoid the issue of why the popular opinion is shifting. Especially when a lot of it may well be preference falsification [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Preference_falsification], given what can happen [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brendan_Eich] to people who openly oppose it. The implicit argument you seem to be trying to make is "we must support gay marriage because it is the wave of the future". The problem is that this argument is basically circular.
6gjm6yIn what sense? I'm not proposing that the possible world I described is an admirable one, only that it's a possible one that somewhat resembles the real world and that in it (1) the pattern of SSM legislation you describe obtains and (2) popular sentiment favours SSM. Popular support would be one reason (though that would roughly-equally favour the different strategy of electing politicians who would vote for anti-SSM laws). Other possible reasons: it's a more effective way of publicizing the issue, it's easier to raise funds for (look e.g. at the huge sums raised for the Prop 8 vote in California), if you make it a constitutional amendment you can make it harder for elected politicians to reverse later, it avoids entanglement with other political issues. I'm not deliberately avoiding that issue; I wasn't aware it was an issue. Why do you think it's an issue? Yeah, that can happen. But unless you have actual evidence for it and some quantification, appealing to it leaves you with an unfalsifiable theory: the people oppose same-sex marriage, and the fact that 60% of them tell pollsters they approve of it is no evidence against it because maybe 1/6 of the people who say that are lying about their preferences. That figure could be 100% and for all I know you'd just say "That shows how strong the social pressure is!". Is there any possible evidence that you would accept as showing that same-sex marriage actually has majority popular support in the US? There's a lot that could be said about that, but rather than getting into a lengthy digression here I'll just say: At most, that indicates that there are risks in making sizeable public donations to an anti-SSM campaign. It doesn't indicate that any risk attaches to giving an honest answer in an anonymous poll. I promise you that that in no way resembles any argument I was trying to make or ever intend to make. I have not, in fact, argued that we must support same-sex marriage; I have not made any claim about its like
-2VoiceOfRa6yLess so, since that strategy results in you getting it mixed up with other random issues, and also relies on politicians keeping their promises. Much smaller then the funds raised against it. Or more importantly state supreme courts. In fact, in many cases, e.g California, the reason for the amendment was to reverse a state supreme court decision. Yes, which is only to your advantage if you have popular support for this particular issue. The fact that your trying to pass of large amounts of dark arts and indirection as an argument.
6gjm6y$39M for, $44M against. Much smaller? Not intentionally; could you please be specific? I remark that you have made at least one extremely wrong claim about what I'm arguing (claiming I'm saying "we must support gay marriage because it is the wave of the future", which I am not and never have and never would), and suggest that you consider the possibility that you are wrong about what I am trying to do. [EDITED to add: oops, sorry, you didn't claim I'm saying that, only that I'm implicitly trying to argue that. Again, that is no part of my intention.]
-2Lumifer6yThat's not obvious to me. Let me explain. My understanding of who can marry whom is hazy, but as far as I know in the US it works as follows. There are two classes of people who have the power to marry. The first class is government officials and if you want a civil (non-religious) marriage, you just go to the City Hall and get married there. No problems and we're not talking about those people. The second class is priests/ministers/rabbis/imams/etc. of a recognized religion. The thing is, Bob Smith as a plain-vanilla citizen has no right to marry anyone. Even is he opens a business and calls it Bob's Wedding Shack, he still has no right to marry anyone. He can only marry people if he is acting as a priest/minister/rabbi/imam/etc. And if he's one, he doesn't need to have a business to do so -- he can marry people for fun in his spare time, if he wishes. Rights come in pairs with duties. If you want to give a gay couple the right to be wed, it means that somebody has a duty to marry them. City officials have such a duty and that's fine. The question is whether priests have a duty to marry them. And it's a person who does marriage rite, not an organization. That's not really comparable. To conduct abortions you need to be a licensed MD, have a clinic, etc. etc. To marry people you need nothing.
6gjm6yAnd no one is suggesting that they do or should. If you are a priest and I go to you and say "hey, you're a priest, marry me" you are not under the slightest obligation to comply. You are, I think, entirely within your rights to say that I'm not religious enough or that you think the marriage I propose to make is unwise. I'm not even sure I have any recourse if you won't marry me because you don't like the colour of my skin. But if you are running a commercial wedding business and I go to you and say "hey, you run this business, marry me" you are not supposed to discriminate on the basis of those things. Religious establishments get all kinds of special dispensations to do things their own way, but commercial businesses have legal obligations to treat customers equally in certain respects. And I don't see that any of this is, or should be, invalidated merely because the guy who does the weddings at Bob's Wedding Shack happens to be entitled to do weddings because he's an ordained religious minister rather than because he's a judge or a notary or a marriage commissioner.
2TheOtherDave6yAs you say, some on the left will be applying social (and economic) pressure, just as everyone else does when they're able to. And there's a fairly well-established rhetorical convention in my culture whereby any consistently applied social pressure is labelled "force," "bullying," "discrimination," "lynching," "intolerance," and whatever other words can get the desired rhetorical effect. We can get into a whole thing about what those words actually mean, but in my experience basically nobody cares. They are phatic expressions, not technical ones. Leaving the terminology aside... I expect the refusal to perform gay weddings to become socially acceptable to fewer and fewer people, and social condemnable to more and more people. And I agree with skeptical_lurker that this process, whatever we call it, will cause some resentment among the people who are aligned with such refusal. (Far more significantly, I expect it to catalyze existing resentment.) Those of us who endorse that social change would probably do best to accept that this is one of the consequences of that change, and plan accordingly.
-4VoiceOfRa6yWhat about the left legalizing abortion in the first place, by way of a Supreme Court Decision with such convoluted logic that even people who agree with the outcome won't defend it. Who's trying to bad the teaching of evolution? Oh wait, did you mean the people who oppose banning the teaching of creationism?
2Vaniver6yThe primary contests are being fought in the school boards setting curriculum standards, material on mandatory tests, textbooks, and so on. I don't think it's an accurate characterization to talk about "banning" or "oppose banning." I think the "teach the controversy" phrasing seems much more appropriate--the main policy options are for the government educational arm to teach evolution, teach creationism, or teach that both are options. (Imagine that child education was like adult education--there's no "banning" of teaching Christian theology, but making it so that no one could require anyone to learn Christian theology might seem like a 'ban' if that was the status quo.)
-2VoiceOfRa6y"Banning" was skeptical_lurker's term.
2Vaniver6yYes, but it was appropriate because teaching of evolution actually has been banned [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butler_Act] in the US (those bans have since been repealed). I am not aware of bills that ban the teaching of creationism--only ones that ban restrictions on the teaching of creationism [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louisiana_Science_Education_Act]--but I don't pay much attention to this issue and so may have missed something in my five minutes of Googling.
-4VoiceOfRa6yI'm not sure about bills, there have supreme court cases [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edwards_v._Aguillard] to that effect.
2RichardKennaway6yI don't see that in the lede: That is, the case banned a legal requirement to teach creationism, but did not ban the teaching of "a variety of scientific theories". It ruled that creationism is a religious view, not a scientific one, but it does not suggest that it is thereby unconstitutional to teach it, only that it is unconstitutional to require it to be taught. If the permissibility, rather than the requirement, of teaching religion in a public school is an issue, it is one that lies outside the matter of this case. Indeed, at the end of the article it says of one of the creationists in the case that he "later authored books promoting creationism and teaching it in public schools". There is no hint that there was any legal impediment to him doing so.
0skeptical_lurker6yThinking about this conversation again, a few things struck me: 1) When I am thinking about the value of "P(tolerance of homosexuality will destroy civiliseation)" I can recognise a state of mind where I have logical reasons to believe something, but I also have strong motivated cognition. And this is a state of mind which often, but not always, leads to making mistakes 2) My defection argument is dubious, given the other various examples of behaviour, such as the links you provided, which also count as defection. 3) By tolerance I generally mean not physically threatening or harassing people. I don't mean, for instance, ranting about 'hetronormitivity'.
2VoiceOfRa6yWell one problem is that these day SJW's are trying to get away with calling all kinds of things "physically threatening" and "harassing".
-1Toggle6yDo you have a reason to consider this, and not the inverse [i.e. P(intolerance of homosexuality will destroy civilization)-P(intolerance of homosexuality will save civilization)>10^-30]? I don't think this is even a Pascal's mugging as such, just a framing issue.
1skeptical_lurker6yWell, personally I think: a very small number>P(intolerance of homosexuality will destroy civilization)>P(intolerance of homosexuality will save civilization)>10^-30 But some people would disagree with me. I wasn't actually trying to imply that we shouldn't tolerate homosexuality - I hope this was clear, otherwise I need to work on communicating unambiguously. I was trying to make the meta point that right-wing opinions don't have to be powered by hate, but perhaps they often are because people can't separate emotions and logic.
2Toggle6yThis was clear, yes. No worries! It is certainly possible that, in the territory, homosexuality is an existential threat. I believe the Westboro Baptists have a model that describes such a case, to name a famous example. A person who believes that the evidence favors such a territory is morally obliged to take anti-gay positions, assuming that they value human life at all. in other words, yes, there's a utilitarian calculation that justifies homophobia in certain conditions. But if I'm not mistaken, the intersection of 'evidence-based skeptical belief system' and 'believes that homosexuality is an existential threat' is quite small (partially because the former is a smallish group, partially because the latter is rare within that group, partially because most of the models in which homosexuality is an existential threat tend to invoke a wrathful God). But that's an empirical claim, not a political stance. Since we're asking a political question, rather than exploring the theoretical limits of human belief systems, it's fair to talk about coalitions and social forces. In that domain, to the extent that there are empirical claims being made at all, it's clear that the political influence aligned with and opposed to the gay rights movement is almost entirely a matter of motivated cognition. To generalize out from the homosexuality example, I think it's trivially true that utilitarian calculations could put you in the position to support or oppose any number of things on the basis of existential threats. I mean, maybe it turns out that we're all doomed unless we systematically exterminate all cephalopods or something. But even if that were true, then the political forces that motivated many people to unite behind the cause of squid-stomping would not resemble a convincing utilitarian argument. So, if you're asking what causes anti-squid hysteria to be a politically relevant force, rather than a rare and somewhat surprising idea that you occasionally find on the frin
1ChristianKl6yI don't think they do. They believe in a all powerful God. From that perspective thinking of existential threats doesn't make much sense. They mainly oppose homosexuality because they think God wants them to oppose homosexuality.
-2skeptical_lurker6yMaybe the squid need to be stomped on to stop them from morphing into Cthulhu, or other tentacle monsters? Now, there may be various reasons why people would want to stomp on squid. Some may actually believe that the squid will turn into tentacle monsters, but its also possible that many simply hate squid without knowing why. Some argue that in our evolutionary environment, those tribes who did not stop on squid were more likely to be wiped out by tentacle monsters, and so people evolved to want to stomp on squid. Their hatred of squid serves a purpose, even though they don't know what it is. Others say that just because this stomping was adaptive back then, doesn't mean it will be adaptive now. With modern technology we can defend ourselves from the tentacle monsters, subdue, harness and domesticate them. Some disagree, and say that the Deep Ones are not our enemies, and the people that hate squid only do so because the Elder Gods tell them to, and yet they ignore the possibility that the Elder Gods are the real threat. Yet more people say that this talk of tentacle monsters is silly and people just want to exterminate squid because they think tentacles are disgusting.
-4Lumifer6yLOL Has it occurred to you to ask the question whether left-wing opinions have to be powered by hate?
0skeptical_lurker6yI very rarely hear anyone say that left-wing opinions are powered by hate. Its not a question that comes up. The converse comes up very frequently.
3James_Miller6yI frequently read that left-wing opinions are powered by hate. Most recently here: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/417155/wisconsins-shame-i-thought-it-was-home-invasion-david-french [http://www.nationalreview.com/article/417155/wisconsins-shame-i-thought-it-was-home-invasion-david-french]
2Caue6yIt's not that rare. Consider accusations of hate against: Israel/Jews; straight cis white men; Christians; America; Freedom; rich people...
4Dahlen6yHave you actually seen people claiming to hate freedom? It makes sense if you're talking about some specific understanding of it, e.g. free-market policies or gun rights, but for someone to declare themselves anti-freedom as a concept... Nope, it doesn't map to anything I've ever witnessed.
2Caue6y? No, I mean people sometimes accuse leftists of holding positions motivated by hate. It's more common for this accusation to be made against right-wing positions (which is what the grandparent was talking about), but I don't think the reverse is all that rare.
0Dahlen6yOh. Okay; misinterpreted. I can reasonably imagine someone actually hating all those things except for freedom, because, except for freedom, all of them can be someone's outgroup. But I was thinking, maybe Caue actually encountered the odd one out, and I was wondering how they were like. (Support for slavery, gulags, and totalitarianism? The world is large and people are diverse.)
3Lumifer6yHating freedom is pretty easy. Imagine yourself a religious fundamentalist where you know what is right. God pointed out the straight path to you and you should walk it -- any "freedom" is just machinations of Satan/Shaitan/demons/etc. to try to get you off the straight path mandated by God.
3skeptical_lurker6yPerhaps not that rare, dependent upon where you live and who you mix with. But in my experience, the left tries to frame everything as heroic rebels vs the evil empire, with an almost complete refusal to discuss or consider actual policies.
3Caue6yOh, that's quite close to my experience as well. Any disagreement about policies is actually a smokescreen - people only oppose leftist policies because they benefit from the status quo, you see, but they will invent anything to avoid admitting that (including, I gather, the entire field of Economics).
-2Larks6yDo they not hate the evil empire?
3Viliam6yThey certainly do hate something, and they believe that the something is an evil empire. Whether they hate a real evil empire, that is the question which separates left from right.
-1Lumifer6yThere is an name [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Useful_idiot] for such people...
1Lumifer6ySo, do you think this reflects some intrinsic property of {left|right}-wing opinions or do you think this reflects the attitudes of your social circle?
1skeptical_lurker6yProbably both. My social circle is very left wing, but when I occasionally read newspapers, the arguments against the right wing seem to be ad hominem "your politicians are evil" while the arguments against the left seem to be "your policies are stupid".
9VoiceOfRa6yWhich of these two stereotypes sounds like its coming from someone who hates his opponent?
6skeptical_lurker6yThe first. The second sounds more condescending than hatred. Unless you mean do I hate left wing people, in which case the answer is no, I'm just kinda exasperated with the style of debate.
3VoiceOfRa6yThat's my point, i.e., the left sure sounds like it's motivated by hate.
0skeptical_lurker6yWell, if you believe your opponents are mistaken, then rational debate seems like a sensible response. If you believe your opponents are evil, then hatred seems like a more reasonable response. So, I'd say that the left's hate is more motivated by their view of the world, rather then their being hateful people per se.
2Lumifer6yI don't think the direction of causation is obvious. If you start as a hateful person, you would naturally begin to believe that you opponents are evil pretty fast.
0skeptical_lurker6ySure, the causality could be in either direction, but my impression is that they are not inherently hateful. I know people who believe that the countries' defence should be handled by people meditating and sending out telepathic waves of love so that no-one wants to invade. Delusional? Yes. Hateful? No.
4Lumifer6yYour social circle, probably not. Something like the left twittersphere? Oh, boy. How do they feel about Sarah Palin, for example? Or Scott Walker?
0skeptical_lurker6yI used to get annoyed at the stupidity and hate of SJWs. But just because they shout the loudest doesn't make them representitive of the left as a whole. Maybe the left acts more hateful on average, because they can get away with it.
2VoiceOfRa6yTrue, what makes them functional representative of the left as a whole is that no one else on the left is willing to stand up to them, and thus the rest of the left ends up following their lead.
2Lumifer6yGood point about being able to get away with it. I am not sure that reducing large swathes of political thinking to "average" or "representative" is useful -- both the left and the right have some reasonable people and some foaming at the mouth batshit crazy people. Even if you could detect some difference in the averages, it is overwhelmed by the within-group variation.
-3VoiceOfRa6ySo what should I conclude about your attitude towards men from your use of "testosterone" in that sentence?
9skeptical_lurker6yWell, ideally you would conclude that I was thinking about the digit ratios measured in the LW survey, which collates with testosterone but not estrogen. Estrogen does affect politics too, and when an experiment proved this and was reported in popular science magazines (scientific american, I think) the feminists lost their minds and demanded that the reporter be fired, despite the fact that both the reporter and the scientists were female. EDIT: and the article was, in fact, censored.
5RichardKennaway6yAre you referring to this article "The Fluctuating Female Vote: Politics, Religion, and the Ovulatory Cycle" [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23613210] ? As discussed here [http://andrewgelman.com/2013/05/17/how-can-statisticians-help-psychologists-do-their-research-better/] ?
5skeptical_lurker6yYes, I am.
1RichardKennaway6yWhat do you think of Gelman's criticism of the paper as, on scientific grounds, complete tosh? Or as he puts it, after a paragraph of criticisms that amount to that verdict, "the evidence from their paper isn’t as strong as they make it out to be"?
7skeptical_lurker6yWell, the statistical criticisms they mention seem less damning than the statistical problems of the average psych paper. This does seem rather large, unless they specifically targeted undecided swing voters. But its far from the only psych paper with unreasonably large effect size. Basically, this paper probably actually only constitutes weak evidence, like most of psycology. But it sounds good enough to be published. Incidentally, I have a thesis in mathematical psychology due in in a few days, in which I (among other things) fail to replicate a paper published in Nature, no matter how hard I massage the data.
2RichardKennaway6yTalk about faint praise! It's far from the only psych paper Gelman has slammed either. Such volumes of faint praise! The work of Ioannidis and others is well-known, and it's clear that the problems he identifies in medical research apply as much or more to psychology. Statisticians such as Gelman pound on junk papers. And yet people still consider stuff like the present paper (which I haven't read, I'm just going by what Gelman says about it) to be good enough to be published. Why?
7Lumifer6yGelman says, and I quote, "...let me emphasize that I’m not saying that their claims (regarding the effects of ovulation) are false. I’m just saying that the evidence from their paper isn’t as strong as they make it out to be." I think he would say this about 90%+ of papers in psych.
3RichardKennaway6yYes. I think he would too. So much the worse for psychology.
0VoiceOfRa6yAnd yet people are willing to take its pronouncements seriously.
-1skeptical_lurker6yMedical research has massive problems of its own, because of the profit motive to fake data. Well, my cynical side would like to say that it's not in anyone's interests to push for higher standards - rocking the boat will not advance anyone's career. But maybe we're holding people to unreasonably high standards. Expecting one person to be able to do psychology and neuroscience and stats and computer programming seems like an unreasonable demand, and yet this is what is expected. Is it any wonder that some people who are very good at psychology might screw up the stats? I had wondered about whether the development of some sort of automated stats program would help. By this, I mean that instead of inputting the data and running a t-test manually, the program determines whether the data is approximately normally distributed, whether taking logs will transform it to a normal distribution, and so forth, before running the appropriate analysis and spitting out a write-up which can be dropped straight into the paper. It would save a lot of effort and avoid a lot of mistakes. If there is a consensus that certain forms of reporting are better than others, e.g. Then the program could present the results in an absolutely standard format.
5Lumifer6yMost papers have multiple authors. If you need to do heavy lifting in stats, bring a statistician on board. I don't think so. First, I can't imagine it being flexible enough (and if it's too flexible its reason for existence is lost) and second it will just be gamed. People like Gelman think that the reliance on t-tests is a terrible idea, anyway, and I tend to agree with him. My preference is for a radical suggestion: make papers openly provide their data and their calculations (e.g. as a download). After all, this is supposed to be science, right?
1[anonymous]6yThis "radical" suggestion is now a funding condition of at least some UK research councils (along with requirements to publish publically funded work in open access forms). A very positive move.... If enforced.
0skeptical_lurker6yI don't think this just applies to heavy lifting - basic stats are pretty confusing given that most seem to rely on the assumption of a normal distribution, which is a mathematical abstraction that rarely occurs in real life. And in reality, people don't bring specialists on board, at least not that I have seen. I understand why this was not done back when journals were printed on paper, but it really should be done now.
1Lumifer6yIf a psych researcher finds "basic stats" confusing, he is not qualified to write a paper which looks at statistical interpretations of whatever results he got. He should either acquire some competency or stop pretending he understands what he is writing. Many estimates do rely on the assumption of a normal distribution in the sense that these estimates have characteristics (e.g. "unbiased" or "most efficient") which are mathematically proven in the normal distribution case. If this assumption breaks down, these characteristics are no longer guaranteed. This does not mean that the estimates are now "bad" or useless -- in many cases they are still the best you could go given the data. To give a crude example, 100 is guaranteed to be biggest number in the [1 .. 100] set of integers. If your set of integers is "from one to about a hundred, more or less", 100 is no longer guaranteed to be the biggest, but it's still not a bad estimate of the biggest number in that set.
0skeptical_lurker6yThe problem is that psychology and statistics are different skills, and someone who is talented at one may not be talented at the other. I take your point, but you can no longer say that 100 is the biggest number with 95% confidence, and this is the problem.
1Lumifer6yYou don't need to be talented, you only need to be competent. If you can't pass even that low bar, maybe you shouldn't publish papers which use statistics. I don't see any problem here. First, 95% is an arbitrary number, it's pure convention that does not correspond to any joint in the underlying reality. Second, the t-test does NOT mean what most people think it means. See e.g. this [http://andrewgelman.com/2013/03/12/misunderstanding-the-p-value/] or this [http://www.stat.columbia.edu/~gelman/research/published/pvalues3.pdf]. Third, and most important, your certainty level should be entirely determined by the data. If your data does not support 95% confidence, then it does not. Trying to pretend otherwise is fraud.
1RichardKennaway6ySounds like the mythical Photoshop "Make Art" button.
0Lumifer6yIt has been pointed out long time ago that a programmer's keyboard really needs to have a DWIM (Do What I Mean) key...
3VoiceOfRa6yNow consider what kind of publication biases incidents like that introduce.
1skeptical_lurker6yWell, one would hope that journals would continue to publish, but the public understanding of science is inevitably going to suffer.
9VoiceOfRa6yHow about what's actually likely to happen, as opposed to what one would hope would happen.
5skeptical_lurker6yWhat is likely to happen is that publication bias increases against non-PC results.
5VoiceOfRa6yCorrect. You may have heard accusations that conservatives are "anti-science". Most of said "anti-science" behavior is conservatives applying a filter to scientific results attempting to correct for the above bias.
1skeptical_lurker6yOf course this doesn't give one a licence to simply ignore science that disagrees with one's politics. Perhaps a ratio of two PC papers are as reliable as one non-PC paper? Very difficult to properly calibrate I would think, and of course the reliability varies from field to field.
-2ChristianKl6yThe problem is that the experiment likely didn't prove it. A single experiment doesn't prove anything. Then the reporter overstate the results with is quite typical for science reporters and people complained.

The problem is that the experiment likely didn't prove it.

Yes, it is true that there are massive problems in failure to replicate in psychology, not to mention bad statistics etc. However, a single experiment is still evidence in favour.

Then the reporter overstate the results

Actually, the reporter understated the results, for instance by including this quote from an academic who disgrees:

“There is absolutely no reason to expect that women's hormones affect how they vote any more than there is a reason to suggest that variations in testosterone levels are responsible for variations in the debate performances of Obama and Romney,” said Susan Carroll, professor of political science and women's and gender studies at Rutgers University, in an e-mail.

Carroll sees the research as following in the tradition of the “long and troubling history of using women's hormones as an excuse to exclude them from politics and other societal opportunities.”

Thing is, Prof. Carroll is not a neuroscientist. So what gives her the right to tell neuroscientists that they are wrong about neuroscience?

-2ChristianKl6yWhether the reporter should be fired is not only about the quality of the experiment. The journalist in this case.
3skeptical_lurker6yWhat criteria would you advocate then? Yes, obviously she has the legal right to argue about things she has no understanding of, and equally obviously I was not talking about legal rights.
1ChristianKl6yWhether the article clearly communicates the scientific knowledge that exists. Most mainstream media article about science don't. If the journalist quotes her, that likely means he called her on the phone and ask her for her opinion. If you think he should have asked somebody different then the journalist is at fault.
-4Epictetus6yIs that what she's saying? My charitable reading suggests that Prof. Carroll is saying that either hormones don't affect politics, or else they have an effect for both sexes. Her problem appears to be with the experiment singling out women and their hormones. As a political scientist, I'm sure she's familiar with the shameful historical record of science being used to justify some rather odious public policies (racism, eugenics, forced sterilization, etc.). I don't think she's as concerned with the actual science as with what people might do with the result, especially if it gets sensationalized.
5skeptical_lurker6yI think what she's saying is "You wouldn't say that men's hormones affect politics, so why would you say that women's hormones do?" But what she doesn't realise, because she failed to actually talk to actual neuroscientists, is that most neuroscientists would say that hormones affect both men and women. The reason why the experiment singled out women probably isn't sexism, its probably because its better career wise to do one paper on women and one on men rather than combining it into one paper, as this gets you twice the number of publications.
3Epictetus6yAgain, I'm trying to see this from a different perspective: To us, it's an issue of science. We respect science because we understand it. We can read that study and get the gist of what it's saying and what it's not saying. To practitioners of the Dark Arts, however, truth is not an end in itself but merely one more aspect of a debate, to be exploited or circumvented as the situation requires. In the realm of public debate, science can either be infallible truth or else a complete fabrication (depending on whether it supports your position). Think about it: one study, long since repudiated, fueled the anti-vaccination movement which has been chipping away at decades of progress and may lead to the new outbreaks of diseases we long ago stopped caring about. The proponents may point to that study and say "Aha! Science says vaccines cause autism" while dismissing the mountain of opposing evidence as a conspiracy by Big Pharma. So what does this have to do with Dr. Carroll's concerns? This. She fears the study about the effects of men's hormones gets ignored, while the study on women's hormones gets spun, exaggerated, and sensationalized into another iteration of "women are irrational and hysterical." It's a lot harder to do this with one study about people in general than two different studies. EDIT: The point here is that once a scientific paper gets published, neither the author nor the scientific community get to decide how the research is used or presented.
7Lumifer6yThis describes Dr. Carroll very well.
3skeptical_lurker6yI broadly agree with what you say, however the dark arts are called dark for a reason. Ironically, while the counter-argument generally used against this is "Its sexist psudoscience!" there is a perfectly valid explanation which is neither demeaning to women nor dissagreeing with experimental results - simply that hormones affect both men and women's opinions. Why be so quick to resort to the dark side when there is a perfectly good light-side explanation?
3Epictetus6yI agree with this completely. I was merely trying to see what kind of mindset would produce Dr. Carroll's reaction and some politics/Dark Arts was the best I could come up with.
1VoiceOfRa6yReporters do this all the time. And yet they only get punished for it if the result is politically incorect.
3ChristianKl6yYes, reporters get away with a lot. That doesn't make it better.
-7VoiceOfRa6y

Seeking Moore's Law extrapolations

I once found some charts showing a few close variants of Moore's Law, such as MIPS per dollar per year; but I seem to have lost them. Does anyone have some references handy, which I can mine for some SFnal worldbuilding? (Eg, how big and costly a device storing 100 petabytes would be in a given year.)

I've done some rather extensive investigations into the physical limits of computation and the future of Moore's Law style progress. Here's the general lowdown/predictions:

Moore's law for conventional computers is just running into some key new asymptotic limits. The big constraint is energy, which is entirely dominated now by interconnect (and to a lesser degree, passive leakage). For example, on a modern GPU it costs only about 10pJ for a flop, but it costs 30pJ just to read a float from a register, and it gows up orders of magnitude to read a float from local cache, remote cache, off-chip RAM, etc. The second constraint is the economics of shrinkage. We may already be hitting a wall around 20nm to 28nm. We can continue to make transistors smaller, but the cost per transistor is not going down so much (this effects logic transistors more than memory).

3D is the next big thing that can reduce interconnect distances, and using that plus optics for longer distances we can probably squeeze out another 10x to 30x improvement in ops/J. Nvidia and Intel are both going to use 3D RAM and optics in their next HPC parts. At that point we are getting close to the brain in terms of a l... (read more)

0TylerJay6yVery informative. Thanks. I've heard reversible computing mentioned a few times, but have never looked into it. Any recommendations for a quick primer, or is wikipedia going to be good enough?
1jacob_cannell6yThe info on wikipedia is ok. This MIRI interview [https://intelligence.org/2014/01/31/mike-frank-on-reversible-computing/] with Mike Frank provides a good high level overview. Frank's various publications go into more details. "Physical Limits of Computing" by M Frank in particular is pretty good. There have been a few discussions here on LW about some of the implications of reversible computing for the far future. Not all algorithms can take advantage of reversibility, but it looks like reversible simulations in general are feasible if they unwind time, and in particular monte carlo simulation algorithms could recycle entropy bits without unwinding time.
0TylerJay6yThanks, I'll check it out.
3Lumifer6yYou might be interested in Kryder's Law [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Kryder].
3DataPacRat6yThat's a good start. Let's see; if we start with platters holding 0.6 terabytes in 2014, and assume an annual 15% increase, then platters start hitting the petabyte range in... 2070ish? Does that look about right? (Yes, I know any particular percentage can be argued against. This is for fiction - I'm going for reasonable plausibility, not for betting on prediction-market futures.)
1Lumifer6y1.15^50 = 1084, so given the 15% rate of growth you'll have an increase of about three orders of magnitude in fifty years. In this specific case, though, the issue is whether rotating-platter technology will survive. In a way it's a relic -- this is a mechanical device with physical objects moving inside, at pretty high speed and with pretty tiny tolerances, too. Solid-state "hard drives" are smaller, faster, less power-hungry, and more robust already. Their only problem is that SSDs are more expensive per GB, but that's a fixable problem.
3DataPacRat6yTrue - but for my purposes, having /some/ number, even if it's known to use poor assumptions, is better than none. I'm looking for things like "in which decade does a program requiring X MIPS become cheaper than minimum wage?" and "when can 100 petabytes be stuffed into ~1500 cm^3 or less, and how much will it cost?". Which crossovers happen in which order is more interesting than nailing down an exact year.
3Lumifer6yWell... a 200Gb microSD card already exists [http://www.sandisk.com/about-sandisk/press-room/press-releases/2015/200gb-sandisk-ultra-microsdxc-uhs-i-card-premium-edition/] . So you need five of them per 1Tb, 5000 per 1Pb and 500,000 per 100 Pbs. A microSD card is 11 x 15 x 1 mm = 165 mm3 = 0.165 cm3 and some of that is packaging and connectors. 500,000 x 0.165 = 82,500 cm3. You wanted 1,500? That's only about 50 times difference and getting rid of all that packaging and connectors should get you to about 30 times difference, more or less. So the current flash memory density has to improve only by a factor of 30 or so to get you to your goal. That doesn't seem to be too far off. The fun task of calculating the bandwidth of one of those [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_Dreamlifter] stuffed to the gills with contemporary microSD cards is left as an exercise for the reader :-)
1CellBioGuy6yDon't forget about the sheer amount of waste heat used by such an array were it actually on.
1Lumifer6yDepends on the use case, I guess. The memory is non-volatile and the start-up time is negligible. If you only access one petabyte of memory within some time period, the other 99 can stay switched off and emit no heat.
2jacob_cannell6yIn about a decade we will have machines that cost less than $10,000 and can run roughly brain sized ANNs. However, this prediction relies more on software simulation improvement rather than hardware. Storage is much less of an issue for brain sims because synaptic connections are extremely compressible using a variety of techniques. Indeed current ANNs already take advantage of this to a degree. Also, using typical combinations of model and data parallelism a population of AIs can share most of their synaptic connections.

Is transcranial direct current stimulation technology yet at the point where someone who starts it has higher expected gains than costs? I.e., should more LWers be using it? You can comment and/or answer this poll:

Do you think the average LWer would get a net benefit from using tDCS, taking into account the benefits, costs of equipment, risks, etc.? [pollid:906] How much do you know about this topic? [pollid:907]

Summary of the 2008 state of the art; tDCS subreddit.

4D_Malik6yProbably gotten most of the responses it was going to get, so here's a scatter plot: People seem to think it's worse the more they know about it (except those who know nothing seem slightly more pessimistic than those who know only a little). Made by running this in IPython (after "import pandas as pd" and "from numpy.random import randn" in .pythonstartup): !sed "/^#/d" poll.csv >poll-clean.csv pd.read_csv("poll-clean.csv", names=["user", "pollid", "response", "date"]) _.pivot_table("response", ["user"], ["pollid"]) _ + 0.1*randn(*_.shape) # jitter _.plot(kind="scatter", x=906, y=907) plt.xlabel("Net loss.....Net benefit") plt.ylabel("Nothing.....Expert")
0Manfred6yOoh, having the raw poll data is neat.

It is interesting to watch how different things I observe on internet interact with each other. Two recent discoveries:

1) Arthur Chu, known to readers of SSC as a person not exactly in favor of niceness, created a Kickstarted project called "Who is Arthur Chu?". Failed by collecting only 20% of the planned $50.000. (Which, if I understand the rules of Kickstarter correctly, means he will get nothing.)

Not sure if the proper reaction here is to laugh (something like: "you had a choice between niceness and winning, you rejected niceness, and no... (read more)

7ChristianKl6yThey welcome him because he writes at the usual RationalWiki quality standard?
7Viliam6yMore importantly, he is compatible with the party line. Articles about wrong targets would not be tolerated, regardless of quality. Try to use a "snarky point of view" on something politically correct and see what happens.
6gjm6yI don't see any indication that lack of niceness deprived him of any of his Jeopardy! winnings. You say that as if he was simply planning to collect people's money, put it in a big pile, and sit on it while cackling evilly, but the ostensible plan was actually to make a documentary. The most obvious explanation for the Kickstarter failure seems to me to be "no one was very interested in a documentary about some guy who won a bit of money on Jeopardy!" rather than "no one wanted to contribute to making this documentary because its subject wasn't a nice enough person". Similar to what? Writing a long article? Splitting an article into two shorter ones? (Neither of those seems like something anyone should or would be kicked off Wikipedia for. A bit of googling suggests it was for edit-warring and behaving generally obsessively and disagreeably, but I don't know how accurate that is because the people saying so are apparently on the other side of the "Gamergate" culture war. from Ryulong and that seems to be a thing that brings out the worst in people.)
6Viliam6yJudging by the project description ("The Documentary Film about Arthur Chu: a spokesperson for social justice, the new king of the nerds, and 11-time Jeopardy Champion."), it was not really about Jeopardy. Most people do not care strongly about Jeopardy, but many people care a lot about their political faction winning -- you just have to convince them that giving their money to you is their best move. Mentioning Jeopardy success is just a way to separate yourself from the crowd. Some people can play this game well enough to get 10× more money for their videoblogs [https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/566429325/tropes-vs-women-in-video-games]. My hypothesis (which I have no way to verify, and I admit that I am completely partial here) is that Chu tried to play the same game... and failed. Although I still give him credit for trying.
1gjm6yI didn't say it was. I said it was and I chose my words carefully :-). But the description on the Kickstarter page does suggest that a lot of it was in fact going to be about Jeopardy! rather than just about Chu, or for that matter about social justice. Do you think that was all just lies, and if so why do you think that? (My feeling is that you may be being at least one notch too cynical. My political faction is not the same as yours, though, and it's possible that I'm being one notch too un-cynical instead.)
5Viliam6yHere is an article [http://www.huffingtonpost.com/arthur-chu/who-is-arthur-chu_b_5768118.html] written by Arthur Chu that seems to suggest otherwise: So, it's not about Chu being a smart person, or a successful person, but about Chu being a good person. (Where "good" probably happens to be more or less the same thing as "belonging to political faction X".) Am I? For the record, I consider it likely that Arthur Chu sincerely believes his own story, where he is the good guy on the right side of the history. He probably also overestimates his own smartness, and believes that the ethical injunctions [http://wiki.lesswrong.com/wiki/Ethical_injunction] made for lesser mortals do not apply to him. (And I believe he is obviously wrong at this point.) I would also guess that he has a good heart and that he hates himself [http://lesswrong.com/r/discussion/lw/m37/open_thread_apr_20_apr_26_2015/ca5o] more than he should, but that's just unbased speculation. (And I am not saying this about everyone. For example, I also believe that those people who have raised 10× more money for their videoblogs, they do not truly believe their cause. Which is why they made a successful plan and got the money, but Arthur didn't. He made a few mistakes that would be obvious to a cynical person. For example, he didn't put a high-status-behaving white girl into his movie. But that's where the real money and power are [http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/aug/14/solidarityisforwhitewomen-hashtag-feminism] in his faction. Arthur, by being a true believer, does not recognize the rules of the game, and fails.) Okay, I'll try to convert you to the dark side (and also give you a chance to convert me, by the law of conservation of expected evidence [http://wiki.lesswrong.com/wiki/Conservation_of_expected_evidence]). If Arthur Chu is such a defender of oppressed people, give me an example of a black woman or a lower-class woman that he has defended publicly (calling her by her name, not mer
3gjm6yExcept that the article says that Chu doesn't want the focus just to be Jeopardy!, not that Scott Drucker (the person who was actually proposing to make the movie, and the person whose Kickstarter it was) doesn't want it to be. And my reading of both Chu's article and the Kickstarter page is that Drucker's goals were not necessarily the same as Chu's, even though obviously both were hoping that cooperating with the other guy would do something for both people's goals. The comparison here is with Anita Sarkeesian, to whom you linked before, right? Now, it seems to me that the reason why Anita Sarkeesian put a high-status-behaving white girl into her videoblogging is because she is a high-status-behaving white girl (in so far as videoblogging about video games can count as high-status behaviour), and it doesn't seem either obviously insincere for her to act as such, or obviously incompetent for Chu not to have done likewise. And I'm not sure what you think Scott Drucker should have done with a high-status-behaving white girl, or how it would have made the Kickstarter more successful. What, by the way, makes you think that Anita Sarkeesian doesn't truly believe in her cause? I've only seen a small quantity of her stuff, but what I've seen looks sincere (and fairly plausible) to me. You may be right (perhaps it depends what counts as "his faction") but your link from the word "are" doesn't seem to me to say what I think you're implying it does. It's arguing that "solidarity is for white women", but the stress is on "white", not "women"; I'd summarize the message as something like "contemporary feminism portrays itself as being for women, but really it's only interested in white women and black women get ignored or thrown overboard whenever it's convenient". Wait, what? When did I say or imply or suggest that he is? I certainly didn't intend to. (Not because I particularly think he isn't, but because I have no idea whether he is and had no idea that that was the qu
8Viliam6yI have not verified it personally, but it is believed among Gamergate fans that Feminist Frequency is a project of Jonathan McIntosh. If that is true, then it was a strategic move to use Anita Sarkeesian as a public face of the project, because McIntosh himself could not use the "damsel in distress" effect to generate as much money. Analogically, the correct way to make money using Arthur Chu would be to somehow make him a part of a project focused on white women. He would officially be a mere sidekick of a female protagonist. Then he could write many articles attacking everyone who gets in the way of his project. (Oh damn, now I am in a full political mode. Well, I tried to explain what I meant.) The fact that he didn't do this, I process as an evidence for (a) sincerity of his beliefs, and (b) obliviousness about the rules of the game. You didn't. The Kickstarter project called him "a spokesperson for social justice".
5gjm6yIt appears to me that all kinds of things are believed among people highly invested in one side or other of the "Gamergate" flap, and that being so believed is not very strong evidence for the truth of anything. (The people producing those videos say he's "producer and co-writer". Cynical-me suspects that "Gamergate fans" think he must be the real driving force because Anita Sarkeesian is a girl and therefore not to be taken seriously. I do hope cynical-me is wrong. Not-so-cynical me thinks Sarkeesian is more likely to be the real driving force because, other things being equal, a woman is more likely to feel strongly about this stuff than a man.) No, the correct way to make money using Arthur Chu is to have him play Jeopardy! . That's been done and it seems to have worked pretty well. I'm having trouble figuring out what you think is actually going on here. It seems to be something like this: some unscrupulous person decides that their goal is "to make money using Arthur Chu" (why?) and then decides that the best way to do that is via a focus on social justice (why??) but then fails to include a high-status-looking white girl as Viliam's Guide To Exploiting Social Justice People would have told him to and therefore fails, whereas if they had had a high-status-looking white girl as central character the Kickstarter would have made a load of money. But that doesn't make a bit of sense to me, so probably my different political/social/psychological assumptions are stopping me working out what scenario you have in mind. (The more likely scenario seems to me to be this, obtained by taking things more or less at face value. Scott Drucker sees that Arthur Chu has raised a bit of a ruckus, and been somewhat successful, by playing Jeopardy! in an unorthodox way; maybe he also thinks Chu is an interesting guy. So he decides to make a little documentary about Chu and his Jeopardy! playing. He contacts Chu. Chu is prepared to play along, but he has got very much into socia

It appears to me that all kinds of things are believed among people highly invested in one side or other

True for many political debates in general. Both sides start with different sets of "facts". In worse case, some of those "facts" are factually wrong. In better case, those facts are true, but were selected from the set of all possible facts to support a specific conclusion.

Thus a rational debate would have to start by establishing a base of mutually accepted facts. If you skip this step and go ahead, it will catch you later at some moment.

(For example, we might agree that Jonathan McIntosh is involved in Feminist Frequency, and that his name is usually not mentioned; someone who does not do a background research might easily come to a conclusion that Anita Sarkeesian is doing this alone. -- Of course whether this is a trivial technical detail or a damning evidence, that depends on many other assumptions.)

I'm having trouble figuring out what you think is actually going on here.

I think (p = 0.9) that McIntosh and Sarkeesian are following the "Guide To Exploiting Social Justice People". I think (p = 0.6) that Chu is not aware of this, and that h... (read more)

2Caue6ySince it's been brought up... As far as I can tell the best evidence they have for this is a widely circulated video (from before FemFreq) in which she says she's "not a fan of videogames". And Mcintosh clearly "feels strongly about this", as much as any woman I've seen. The Gamergate people created a whole hashtag to display his tweets (#FullMcintosh), which also became, incidentally, what they use to indicate that they think someone has gone particularly far down the SJ rabbit hole. Personally, I think the conclusion Viliam mentions doesn't rest in very solid evidence, but it's not far-fetched either. (meanwhile, the "because she's a girl" hypothesis looks very unlikely to me) I'm not sure how familiar you are with videogames, or which of her videos you've seen. But I can't imagine how some of the ones I've seen could possibly have been made without outright dishonesty.
2Viliam6yAnd some Feminist Frequency tweets repeating what McIntosh posted before: 1 [https://imgur.com/a/ClmH9#1], 2 [http://i.imgur.com/IFkqOCX.jpg], I think there are more but I cannot find them now. (Memetic hazard: here is the "argument" in a form of a youtube video [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cuPEoZjgJh0].) By the way Feminist Frequency is a project account, not Sarkeesian's private account (although it uses her photo), so it wouldn't be a damning evidence even if McIntosh would really sometimes use it. Also, when two people cooperate and have similar opinions, it would not be so unlikely to use the same words. = this is just a weak evidence
1drethelin6yhow is making a documentary about yourself not just contributing to your own glory?
6gjm6yHe wasn't proposing to make a documentary about himself. Someone else was proposing to make a documentary about him. And (as DanielLC quite rightly says) the perfectly obvious purpose of this is that some people might find it interesting and want to watch it. Indeed, presumably about $10k worth of people did anticipate finding it interesting and wanting to watch it, since the project did get some backers.
-1DanielLC6ySomeone might want to watch it. If so, it's contributing to their entertainment.
1[anonymous]6yCan you recommend a good summary of RationaWiki as such from an external and fairly unbiased point of view? To me it looks like a place that very easily hands out insulting, degrading evaluations of other people's work/thoughts and the part I find kind of weird is that while they clearly have a kind of an agenda or ideology it is not really clear what that is. Who are the main people behind it and what are their convictions etc.
5RichardKennaway6yI think you summarised it pretty well. RationalWiki is exactly what it looks like.
4VoiceOfRa6yThey appear to be a bunch of reasonably smart people who got really good at guessing the teacher's password [http://wiki.lesswrong.com/wiki/Guessing_the_teacher%27s_password]. Now they've heard that the passwords are "skepticism" and "science", unfortunately they don't appear to understand what either of those words mean.
2Viliam6yI heard it described somewhere as "providing arguments for left-wing atheists to win internet debates". Seems accurate. The ideology is called "Atheism Plus".
0ChristianKl6yHave you read the Wikipedia article [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RationalWiki] on it?

Stuart Russell interviewed by Quanta Magazine on the topic of AI safety.

They touch on the phrase "provably aligned" (with human values), which has been singled out before.

My attempt to delve into Chinese philosophy has brought me to Xunzi. Only the last sentence is short enough to be a quote on its own, but I feel it is strengthened by the paragraph leading to it so much that I have to quote the whole paragraph (which I've separated into multiple paragraphs for readability):

I once spent the whole day pondering, but it was not as good as a moment's worth of learning.

I once stood on my toes to look far away, but it was not as good as the broad view from a high place.

If you climb to a high place and wave, you have not leng

... (read more)
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Story-like Object: FAQ on LoadBear's Instrument of Precommitment

My shoulder's doing better, so I'm getting back into 'write /something/ every day' by experimenting with a potential story-like object at https://docs.google.com/document/d/1nRSRWbAqtC48rPv5NG6kzggL3HXSJ1O93jFn3fgu0Rs/edit . It's extremely bare-bones so far, since I'm making up the worldbuilding as I go, and I just started writing an hour ago.

I welcome all questions that I can add to it, either here or there.

It seems to me that a lot of "smart" people are capable of applying their intelligence in some spheres, but not others.

Is this too obvious to be worth mentioning? I say it is not too obvious, for many bloggers have said of Overcoming Bias: "It is impossible, no one can completely eliminate bias." I don't care if the one is a professional economist, it is clear that they have not yet grokked the Quantitative Way as it applies to everyday life and matters like personal self-improvement. That which I cannot eliminate may be well wort

... (read more)
2ahbwramc6yWell, since I'm on LW the first article to come to mind was Outside the Laboratory [http://lesswrong.com/lw/gv/outside_the_laboratory/], although that's not really arguing for the proposition per se. As for the stooping thing, I'm not entirely sure what you mean, but the first thing that came to mind was that maybe you have a rule out rather than rule in criteria for judging intelligence? As in: someone can say a bunch of smart things, but at best that just earns them provisional smart status. On the other hand if they say one sufficiently dumb thing that's enough to rule them out as being truly intelligent.
1adamzerner6yI thought Outside the Laboratory was a good discussion of "smart" people not applying their intelligence outside their sphere, thanks!
1ChristianKl6yWhat is your exact claim? That people don't have the ability to apply their intelligence if they chose to do so or that they simple don't choose to apply their intelligence? What to you mean with intelligence? If it's something like rational thinking, many people use different standards in different domains. A person who on the one hand believes that placebo-blind trials are necessary to establish causation can still believe that it's possible to analyse causation of single events in history and learn from that history. Hansons Don't be a rationalist [http://www.overcomingbias.com/2014/06/you-cant-handle-the-truth.html] might be interesting.
0adamzerner6yGood question/point. One claim I'm definitely making is that people don't choose to do so. As to the question of whether or not they have the ability... I'm not sure. People really do seem as if they don't have the ability, if only for reasons of close-mindedness (rather than lack of aptitude). But if you put a gun to their head and asked them what their true beliefs are... I'm not sure what they'd say. I mean that I judge people to be stupid based on how low they're capable of stooping. Ie. how stupid they're capable of being. Really, "my definition" of stupid is a bit more involved, but that's mostly it. As for different standards in different domains, I agree, but I don't think that peoples stupidity can be explained by that. I think they're actually being stupid. Outside the Laboratory [http://lesswrong.com/lw/gv/outside_the_laboratory/] sort of explains what I mean.
0ChristianKl6yIf you are smart but use the wrong heuristic for a given problem the results can look stupid even if you apply that heuristic very well. When it comes to the scientists who has different standards for religious claims I think different standards for different domains are a good explanation. The person doesn't use the laboratory standards when the don't wear their lab coat. But that isn't always bad. It very hard to have normal small talk in the scientific mindset. Small talk usually works much better when you don't overthink and don't inhabit yourself. There nothing stupid about treating arguments as soldiers. It's more a matter of having goals that aren't about uncovering the truth.
[-][anonymous]6y 1

Torture vs. dust specks: I go for dust specks, because it is a reverse lottery. People derive a lot of utility about fantasizing about winning the lottery. Conversely, the disutility of the average person derived from fearing the next time they may be the person tortured is larger than the dust speck. That and sympathetic pain.

Of course it was not in the original definition that people actually know about it. But from my angle every even remotely plausible real life scenario involves that people generally know about it.

Also, social contract theory and slip... (read more)

7RowanE6yThat really sounds like just fighting the hypothetical. I mean, in practice, if something approximating the experiment was attempted in the real world, your reasoning is right, but that's not at all what the thought experiment is about. Do you at least acknowledge that, given that the people involved don't know about it (and also won't find out about the torture later), torture is the correct option?
2[anonymous]6yThis is pretty hard to answer. For moral / ethical questions, I don't want to get "pure math" but also rely on intuitions, and I cannot really rely on my intuitions here as they are very much social. As in, immoral is what horrifies a lot of people. I don't really know how to approach it without relying on such intuitions. Surely I can calculate the total sum of utils but how does that quantitative and descriptive approach turn into a qualitative and prescriptive worse/better? I am not at all sure worse entirely equals the result of a utility calculation. It is not unrelated to it either, of course, my basic intuition - that wrong is whatever horrifies a lot of people - does of course correlate to utility as well. I mean, what else is morality if not some sort of a social condemnation or approval?
0RowanE6yIf what you really care about is people condemning or approving, shouldn't you actually be optimising for that instead of "utils"?

Can we finance cryogenics by revival awards?

Create a market for frozen humans. The reward is for the agent who performs the revival. Investors can either search for revival technology and patent it, or they can invest in frozen humans, which they can sell to agents who wish to attempt revival.

Create a market for frozen humans

That sounds like an excellent plot for a dystopian horror movie.

7RowanE6yWhat about revival attempts that fail such that they kill the patient? e.g. destructive scan for an upload that turns out not to be accurate enough to run? How can we discourage people from taking unnaceptable risks with our frozen bodies just to exploit us for a quick buck, without also discouraging them from trying to revise us at all?
3ChristianKl6yOr which is accurate enough to run but not accurate enough to be on a meaningful level "the same person".
0RowanE6yOh, that could be even worse incentives-wise. As far as the patient's subjective experience goes, it's a fatal accident. As far as the people reviving them care? If the patient is alive-looking enough to collect the prize, they've succeeded and any efforts to get more accurate scanning tools involved would be a pointless waste of money.
0RichardKennaway6yThat would be like the Wright brothers giving up the flight business as soon as they kept a craft in the air long enough for everyone to agree it was a controlled flight. No-one ever made a profit by collecting a technology prize, still less financed a company on the expectation of a future prize. The real prize is the prestige for getting that far first, but even that won't be worth anything but a footnote in the history books if you just rest on it while everyone else goes on to make the technology really work.
0RowanE6yIf it's a technology prize, sure, but emr was suggesting prizes on each cryo-patient for each revival, not a technology prize for the first person to successfully perform a revival at all.
0RichardKennaway6yOk, but if someone is subsidising successful revivals (which is what a prize on each one is), quality of the result will still matter. In a developing area of technology you can't just do something that ticks all the present checkboxes, and think you can just go on doing that. Standards will rise, and those that can't keep up will be out of business.
0ChristianKl6yNo, a prize is a specific way to subsidize. In particular a subsidy based on goals set when the price is formulated. Having a foundation with a budget to invest into reviving people makes more sense if you care about quality.
0RichardKennaway6yThere's nothing to stop the foundation paying it from raising its standards over time. People -- at least, the ones sharing the transhumanist worldview -- want revival. The people who work on revival want revival. Revival is the goal, not a few piddling millions or billions of dollars. Industrial-scale revival won't happen until people are satisfied that it really is revival; then and not before will that huge market exist. When prizes are involved, you're looking at early-stage technology, whose only reason for existing is to become mature technology.
0RowanE6yPerhaps, but a) whether someone's actually been brought back to life successfully is hard to verify externally and they might not end up optimising for it even accidentally since the incentivised tech development is for the same quality but cheaper and faster and b) probably a lot of people would be killed by this practice in the time between "revival" becoming possible and standards getting high enough that it's actually reviving people and not killing the original and creating someone new, so the prize thing still sounds like a bad idea.

Can I add an image to the file database, and/or add an image to a post I plan to make in Discussion? The sandbox doesn't explain how to do it, although I did manage to add (well, preview) an already-existing image called Example.jpg.

3Manfred6yIf you click on the insert/edit image button you get a window with image options. Within that window, to the right of the "Image URL" textbox, there is a button with mouseover text "Browse." Clicking that will open up a new window that lets you upload files (Choose File) and use files you've already uploaded.
[-][anonymous]6y 1

GiveWell partners with co-founder of Instagram and his fiancée.

http://blog.givewell.org/2015/04/23/co-funding-partnership-with-kaitlyn-trigger-and-mike-krieger/

We are excited to announce a new co-funding partnership with Kaitlyn Trigger and her fiancé Mike Krieger (co-founder of Instagram)...supporting the Open Philanthropy Project’s work...

...Kaitlyn and Mike have made a financial commitment of $750,000 over the next two years...

...We have reserved a desk in the office for Kaitlyn, and she expects to spend around two days a week there. While she also w

... (read more)
5ChristianKl6yGiveWell already has donors that might influence priorities. I don't think having donors means losing credibility.
0[anonymous]6yDo you have evidence that donors, other than the starting core, have influenced priorities? If so, I would be interested. I meant to say "Donors influenced priorities". I'll edit to clear up the confusion. It's important, to me at least, that GiveWell's research is as unbiased as possible.
0ChristianKl6yNo, but why do you think that those donors is more likely to influence priorities? "Unbiased" is a quite complicated word what do you mean with it? I don't see conflicts of interests in this case.
0[anonymous]6yThis looks like influence to me... Next, Really? For example, if GiveWell determined that the Open Philanthropy Project were a waste of resources, do you think they would simply say, "Well Mr. Krieger, you shouldn't give us that money after all."
0ChristianKl6yI would think that GiveWell talks with his donors and takes idea that it considers good on board. I don't see a problem with doing things that other people suggest. Do you object in principle to the idea of taking project specific outside funding? That like saying a researcher who applies to some grant is biased because he has to please the person who give out the grant.

Random policy thought I just had: Hire retired whores to teach sex ed classes. There are no better experts, and they'll (hopefully) be more inclined to teach what people actually want and need to know, rather than transparently disguising scare-em-straight tactics as education.

[Edit: I'm not entirely sure why this got downvoted as heavily as it did; it's the sort of pulling-policy-ropes-sideways thing that I would have expected to go over better here than most places. I'll retract it, but I'll wait a few days first in case someone cares to enlighten me.]

Since you seem to be sincere in asking for reasons:

"Whore" is considered an unpleasant word by many people. That combined with the overall tone may have made people think your intention was trollish

You seem to deeply misunderstand the dynamics that lead to ssex eduation being the way it is. There is no plausible transition from the way the world exists at present to one where retired sex workers were employed in the school system to teach sex education.

  • a) Because the majority still have moral objections to sex work and it is illegal in many places.

  • b) there is no common agreement that children should be taught about sex full stop, much less about sexual techniques aimed at pleasure. The only way the very minimal sex education that does exist has been allowed has come to exist is because it framed in terms of health

8Error6yThanks for paying the karma toll to answer me. I picked up the usage from a couple of sex workers' blogs. Now that it's brought to my attention, though, I think they were explicitly trying to reclaim the word, which implies there was a problem with it to begin with. I should have caught that before using it in other venues. Guilty on tone if not trollishness. I'll admit I'm seethingly hostile to grade school in general and sex ed/drug ed/anything with the same general characteristics in particular; I consider the latter fundamentally dishonest and an insult to the students. Agreed. I presented the idea because it seemed both good and original; I know it's not politically tenable. The issues you mention are real ones; I just file them both under "people are crazy, the world is mad."
3ChristianKl6yIn general almost no school classes are taught by domain experts. But are the even the best experts? Prostitutes are in interactions that are focused on giving their client pleasure in the least amount of time instead of focused on the enjoyment of both parties . On of the most important lessons that a school could teach on the subject might be: "Talk with your partner about what they enjoy and communicate your own desires." That's much different in a non-money based interaction.
6gjm6yPerhaps I'm just parsing your words wrong, but it looks as if you're suggesting that most non-commercial sexual interactions have "in the least amount of time" as a major goal. I'm fairly sure that's far from the case. (I agree with your other point, and would add that many -- I suspect most, and perhaps a large majority -- of non-commercial sexual interactions are not purely sexual; they occur in a context of some kind of ongoing relationship. That can make a substantial difference too.)
4Good_Burning_Plastic6y(In case anyone else is confused by gjm's confusion, the words "in the least amount of time" in ChristianKl's comment used to come after "instead of focused on the enjoyment of both parties" rather than before.)
4gjm6yThank you.
-2ChristianKl6yNo, most commercial ones do. If the act is over sooner the prostitute gets the same money for less time.

So, you fixed what you wrote so that it was no longer wrong in the way I described. That's good, but now it looks like I'm an idiot who can't read. (I guess that's why the grandparent of this comment got a downvote.)

If you happen to care about not making people who help you look like idiots (which of course you're in no way obliged to), then in future you might consider acknowledging such corrections rather than silently fixing up what you wrote and then saying "No".

(And since I care -- perhaps foolishly -- about not looking like an idiot, I suppose in future I will have to go to the extra effort of quoting what I'm commenting on more explicitly so as not to be vulnerable to this kind of thing.)

-10ChristianKl6y
2JoshuaZ6yI suspect part of the downvoting is not just due to the content but the use of the loaded word "whores" which has very negative connotations. Edit: Nevermind. I see that Fiftytwo made the same point. Sorry for wrecking signal/noise.
-7Lumifer6y
-8advancedatheist6y