A few notes about the site mechanics
A few notes about the community
If English is not your first language, don't let that make you afraid to post or comment. You can get English help on Discussion- or Main-level posts by sending a PM to one of the following users (use the "send message" link on the upper right of their user page). Either put the text of the post in the PM, or just say that you'd like English help and you'll get a response with an email address.
* Barry Cotter
A note for theists: you will find the Less Wrong community to be predominantly atheist, though not completely so, and most of us are genuinely respectful of religious people who keep the usual community norms. It's worth saying that we might think religion is off-topic in some places where you think it's on-topic, so be thoughtful about where and how you start explicitly talking about it; some of us are happy to talk about religion, some of us aren't interested. Bear in mind that many of us really, truly have given full consideration to theistic claims and found them to be false, so starting with the most common arguments is pretty likely just to annoy people. Anyhow, it's absolutely OK to mention that you're religious in your welcome post and to invite a discussion there.
A list of some posts that are pretty awesome
I recommend the major sequences to everybody, but I realize how daunting they look at first. So for purposes of immediate gratification, the following posts are particularly interesting/illuminating/provocative and don't require any previous reading:
- Your Intuitions are Not Magic
- The Apologist and the Revolutionary
- How to Convince Me that 2 + 2 = 3
- Lawful Uncertainty
- The Planning Fallacy
- Scope Insensitivity
- The Allais Paradox (with two followups)
- We Change Our Minds Less Often Than We Think
- The Least Convenient Possible World
- The Third Alternative
- The Domain of Your Utility Function
- Newcomb's Problem and Regret of Rationality
- The True Prisoner's Dilemma
- The Tragedy of Group Selectionism
- Policy Debates Should Not Appear One-Sided
- That Alien Message
More suggestions are welcome! Or just check out the top-rated posts from the history of Less Wrong. Most posts at +50 or more are well worth your time.
Welcome to Less Wrong, and we look forward to hearing from you throughout the site.
(Note from orthonormal: MBlume and other contributors wrote the original version of this welcome message, and I've stolen heavily from it.)
Thank You for this site and for sharing your thoughts, for genuinely trying to find out what is true. What is less wrong. This has brightened my view of humanity. :)
My name is Lara, I’m from Eastern Europe, 18 years old, currently studying physics, reading a lot and painting in my free time. For about a year and a half now I’ve been atheist; before then- devout and sincere christian, religious nerd of the church. A lot of things in the doctrine bothered me as compltely illogical, unfair and just silly, and somehow I tried to reason it all out, I truly believed, that the real Truth will be with God and that he will help me understand it better. As it turned out, truth seeking and religiosity were incompatible.
Now I’m fairly ‘recovered’- getting used to the new way of thinking about the world, but still care about what is really true and important, worth devouting my life to(fundamentalist upbringing :)). As I still live with my family, it is hard to pretend all the time, knowing they will have no contact with me whatsoever, when I come out; it is really good to find places like this, where people are willing to dig as deep as possible, no matter what, to understand better.
So thanks and sorry for my english. I hope someday I’ll be able to add something useful here and learn much more.
Welcome! Your English is excellent, don't worry on that count.
...also, that's a really tough predicament (hiding your atheism from your fundamentalist family), and I don't have anything wise to say about it, except that it isn't the end of the world when they do find out, and that often people will break their religious commitments rather than really abandon their children (so long as they can think of a religiously acceptable excuse to do so). But I'm not really qualified to give that advice. Hang in there!
I sympathize with you as I'm an atheist with a fundamentalist family who would cut me out of their lives if they found out.
I also envy you, as you had your enlightenment happen at such an early age. I didn't have mine until I was pushing middle age and had created a family of my own...all whom were also fundamentalist. I still live "in the closet" so to speak...
Thank you all for support, it is incredibly important.
Unfortunately it is a church norm to cut off everyone who leaves, and the doctrine is such that there is no way to be ‘inbetween’. The community is quite closed and one’s whole life is determined- from the way we dress(girls especially), to the way we make carriers (or stay at home and raise children). So in the beginning I decided not to tell anyone at all, knowing how painful it would be for everyone, but after some time I realised that I could not live like that my whole life; though egoistically, after I earn enough money to leave, I will.
Hi; I'm a lurker of about one year, and recently decided to stop lurking and create an account.
I'm an undergraduate in Portland-area Oregon. I study mathematics and computer science at Pacific University. I've been interested in rationality for a very long time, but Less Wrong has really provided the formalism necessary to defend certain tactics and strategies of thought over others, which has been very...helpful. :)
Speaking of Portland, it seems that there are many Portland Less-Wrongians and yet there is no meetup. I would like to start a meetup, so I need a bit of Karma to get one started.
Hi, I'm 15, so sadly cannot say much of my education yet, but at least I've read a fair deal. I find the ideas on this site somewhat unappreciated among my age group, but fascinating for me. I've lurked here for close to a year, but I'm irrationally shy of speaking over the internet. I hope to contribute if I find what I think interesting, regardless of my adverseness to commenting. Thank you for the welcome!
Hi everyone! I'm Ozy.
I'm twenty years old, queer, poly, crazy, white, Floridian, an atheist, a utilitarian, and a giant geek. I'm double-majoring in sociology and psychology; my other interests range from classical languages (although I am far from fluent) to guitar (although I suck at it) to Neil Gaiman (I... can't think of a self-deprecating thing to say about my interest in Neil Gaiman). I use zie/zir pronouns, because I identify outside the gender binary; I realize they're clumsy, but English's lack of a good gender-neutral pronoun is not my fault. :)
One of my big interests is the intersection between rationality and social justice. I do think that a lot of the -isms (racism, sexism, ableism, etc.) are rooted in cognitive biases, and that we're not going to be able to eliminate them unless we understand what quirks in the human mind cause them. I blog about masculism (it is like feminism! Except for dudes!) at No Seriously What About Teh Menz; right now it's kind of full of people talking about Nice-Guy-ism, but normally we have a much more diverse front page. I believe that several of the people here read us (hi Nancy! hi Doug! hi Hugh, I like you, when you say I'm wrong you... (read more)
Hi; I've been reading LessWrong for more than a year and a half, now, but I never quite got around to making an account until today.
So, introduction: I'm eighteen years old, female, transgender. I live in California, USA. I don't have a lot of formal education; I chose to be homeschooled as a little kid because my parents were awesome and school wasn't, and due to disability I've not yet entered college.
The road to rationalism was fairly smooth for me. I'm a weirdo in enough ways that I learned early on not to believe things just because everyone else believed them. It took a little bit longer for me to learn not to believe things just because I had always believed them.
I guess my major "Aha!" moment came when I was fourteen, after I finally admitted to myself that I was transgender. I had lied to myself, not to mention everyone else, for almost a decade and a half. I had shied away from the truth every time I'd had the opportunity to see it. And while I'd had pretty good reasons for doing so (Warning: Big-ass PDF), the truth felt better. Not only that, but knowing the truth was better, in measurable ways; it allowed me to begin to move my life in a direction I ac... (read more)
I'm a 20 year old student at Georgia Tech, double majoring in Industrial Engineering and Psychology, and am spending the current semester studying abroad at the University of Leeds in the UK.
I read HPMOR this weekend on a bus trip to London and as soon as I returned I found this site and have been enthralled by the Sequences, which I am slowly working my way through.
All of my life I have loved to read and learn new things and think through them, but last year I came to the realization that my curiosity had started to die in my late high school years. I found myself caring about getting a good grade and then abruptly forgetting the information. Much of what I was "learning" I never truly understood and yet I was still getting praise from teachers for my good grades, so I saw no reason to invest more effort. Early last year, I realized that this was happening and attempt to rededicate myself to finding things that again made me passionate about learning. This was a major contribution to adding Psychology as a second major.
This semester of new classes in a new educational system combined with the past few days of reading the Sequences have sparked my interest in man... (read more)
Hi, I’m Brigid. I’ve been reading through the Sequences for a few weeks now, and am just about to start the Quantum Section (about which I am very excited). I found out about this site from an email the SIAI sent out. I’m an Signals Intelligence officer in the Marine Corps and am slated to get out of the military in a few months. I’m not too sure what I am going to do yet though; as gung-ho as I originally was about intel, I’m not sure I want to stay in that specific field. I was a physics and political science major in college, with a minor in women’s studies. I’ve been interested in rationality for a few years now and have thoroughly enjoyed everything I’ve read so far here (including HPMOR) . Also, if there is anyone who is interested in starting a Meetup group in Hawaii (Oahu) let me know!
How would the Sequences be different, other than in the QM parts, if we lived in a classical universe, or if we had not yet discovered QM?
The lack of identity of individual particles is knock down argument against our identities being based on the identities of individual particles. However, if there was identity of individual particals, this does not require that the identity of individual particles contribute to our identities, it would just remove a knock down argument against that idea.
A few people have asserted this, but how is it actually relevant? Is it just a case study, or is there something else there? As RichardKennaway asks, how does QM make a difference to rationality itself?
Hey, I'm -name withheld-, going by Benedict, 18 years old in North Carolina. I was introduced to Less Wrong through HPMoR (which is fantastic) and have recently been reading through the Sequences (still wading through the hard science of the Quantum Physics sequence).
I'm here because I have a real problem- dealing with the consequences of coming out as atheist to a Christian family. For about a year leading up to recent events, I had been trying to reconcile Christian belief with the principles of rationalism, with little success. At one point I settled into an unstable equilibrium of "believing in believing in belief" and "betting" on the truth of religious doctrine to cover the perceived small-but-noteworthy probability of its veracity and the proposed consequences thereof. I'd kept this all secret from my family, putting on a long and convincing act.
This recently fell apart in my mind, and I confronted my dad with a shambling confession and expression of confusion and outrage against Christianity. I'm... kinda really friggin' bad at communicating clearly through spoken dialogue, and although I managed to comport myself well enough in the conversation, my dad... (read more)
That is roughly speaking what juvenile doubts are. The "juvenile" mind tackling with conflicts in the relevant socially provided belief system prior to when it 'clicks' that the cool thing to do is to believe that you have resolved your confusion about the 'deep' issue and label it as a juvenile question that you do not have to think about any more now that you are sophisticated.
You clearly do not want to go. His forcing you is a hostile act (albeit one he would consider justified) but you are going along with it. From this, and from your age, I infer that he has economic power over you. That is, you live with him or he is otherwise your primary source of economic resources. I will assume here that your Best Alternative To Negotiated Agreement (BATNA) sucks and you have essentially no acceptable alternative to submission to whatever power plays your father uses against you. Regardless of how the religious thing turns out, developing your pot... (read more)
Bad news first: You will not be able to defend yourself. This is not because you're 18, it's not because you can't present your arguments in a spectacular fashion.
It is because noone will care about your arguments, they will wait for the first chance to bring some generic counter-argument, probably centering on how they will be there for you in your time of implied juvenile struggle, further belittling you.
And - how aggravating - this is actually done in part to protect you, to protect the relationship with your dad. With the kind of social capital, pride and identity that's on the line for your father, there is no way he could acknowledge you being right - he'd have to admit to himself that he's a phony in his own eyes, and a failure as a parent and pastor in the eyes of his peers.
To him it may be like you telling him he wasted his life on an imaginary construct, while for you it's about him respecting your intellectual reasoning.
Maybe the rational thing to do is not strive for something that's practically unattainable - being respected as an atheist on the basis of your atheist arguments - but instead focus on keeping the relationship with your parent intact while y... (read more)
Several people have alreadt given good answers to your position on infanticide, but they haven't mentioned what is in my opinion the crucial concept involved here: Schelling points.
We are all agreed that is is wrong to kill people (meaning, fully conscious and intelligent beings). We agree that adult humans beings are people (perhaps excluding those in irreversible coma). The law needs to draw a bright line separating those beings which are people, and hence cannot be killed, from those who are not. Given the importance of the "non-killing" rule to a functioning society. this line needs to be clear and intuitive to all. Any line based on some level of brain development does not satisfy this criterion.
There are only two Schelling points, that is obvious, intuitive places to draw the line: conception and birth. Many people support the first one, and the strongest argument for the anti-abortion position is that conception is in fact in many ways a better Schelling point than birth, since being born does not affect the intrinsic nature of the infant. However, among people without a metaphysical commitment to fetus personhood, most agree that the burdens that prohibition of a... (read more)
I do think there are some advantages to setting the cutoff point just slightly later than birth, even if by just a few hours:
*evaluations of whether a person should come into existence can rest on surer information when the infant is out of the womb
(All this assumes that late-term abortions are a morally acceptable choice to make in their own right, of course, rather than something which must be legally tolerated to preserve maternal bodily autonomy.)
Don't worry, there would probably be a baby killing service if it were legal. Just like we have other people to kill animals for us.
I would recommend against expressing this opinion in your OKCupid profile.
Arbitrary limits like "ten months" don't make for good rules - especially when there's a natural limit that's much more prominent: childbirth.
What exactly counts as "people" is a matter of convention; it's best to settle on edges that are as crisp as possible, to minimize potential disagreement and conflict.
Also "any reason other than sadism", eh? Like "the dog was hungry" would be okay?
I broadly agree that babies aren't people, but I still think infanticide should be illegal, simply because killing begets insensitivity to killing. I know this has the sound of a slippery slope argument, but there is evidence that desire for sadism in most people is low, and increases as they commit sadistic acts, and that people feel similarly about murder.
From The Better Angels of Our Nature: "Serial killers too carry out their first murder with trepidation, distaste, and in its wake, disappointment: the experience had not been as arousing as it had been in their imaginations. But as time passes and their appetite is rewhetted, they find the next on easier and more gratifying, and then they escalate the cruelty to feed what turns into an addiction."
Similarly, cathartic violence against non-person objects (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catharsis#Therapeutic_uses) can lead to further aggression in personal interactions.
I don't think we want to encourage or allow killing of anything anywhere near as close to people as babies. The psychological effects on people who kill their own children and on a society that views the killing of babies as good are too potentially terrible. Without actual data, I can say I would never want to live in a society that valued people as little as Sparta did.
There is another, quite different, situation where it happens: Highly stressed mothers of newborns.... (read more)
Infanticide has been considered a normal practice in a lot of cultures. The Greeks and Romans, for example, don't seem to have been run down by psychopaths.
I don't think we have a good way to know about the later harmful actions of people who kill their infants. Either we find them out and lock them up, in which case their life is no longer really representative of the population, or we don't know about what they've done.
Okay, got it. I agree that in a culture that condemns infanticide, people who do it anyway are likely to be quite different from the people who don't. But Bakkot's claim was that our culture should allow it, which should not be expected to increase the number of psychopaths.
I'm also not sure that unbounded social stigma is an effective way to deter people who essentially don't care about other people. We don't really know of good ways to change psychopathy.
(edited for clarity)
I've worked with parents of very disabled children, and it's not an easy life. For mothers especially, it becomes your career. I can imagine a lot of parents might consider infanticide if they knew that was going to be their life.
Ditto, as someone who works in disability care and child care (including infant care), I support the baby-killing scenario.
I worked for a family that had a severely mentally and physically disabled 6-year old. She was at infant-level cognition, practically blind, and had very little control over her body. There was almost nothing going on mentally, but she was very volatile about sounds/music/surroundings. You could tell if she was happy or sad by whether she was laughing or crying, and she cried a LOT.
Trying to get her to STOP crying was extremely difficult, because there was no communication, and she never wanted the SAME things. However it was also very important to get her calm QUICKLY because if she cried too long she would have a "meltdown", be near inconsolable, throw up, and then you'd have to vent her stomach.
Her parents were the best at reading her. They trained people by pretty much putting you in a room with her, until you developed an ineffable intuitive ability to keep her happy. When I moved to a different city, it took them about 3-4 months to find a replacement for me who wouldn't quit by the second day. I was driving back to my old city once a week to ... (read more)
I’m male, 24, philosophy student and live in Amazon, Brazil. I came across to LessWrong on the zombies sequence, because in the beginning, one of my intelectual interests was analytic philosophy. I saw that reductionism and rationality have the power to respond various questions, righting them to something factually tractable. My goals here is to contribute to the community in a useful form, learn as much as possible, become stronger and save the world reducing the risks of human extintion. I'm looking for some advice in these topics: bayesian epistemology, moral uncertain and the complexity of the wishes. If some of the participants in the forum can help me, I will be very grateful.
I'm 25 from Israel. I worked in programming for 4 years, and have recently decided to move on to more interesting stuff (either math, biology, or neurology, don't know).
I'm new in LW, but have read OB from time to time over over the past 5 years. Several months ago I ran into LW, (re)read a lot of the site, and decided to stick around when I realized how awesome it is.
Nice to meet you all!
minimalist, 17, white, male, autodidact, atheist, libertarian, california, hacker, studying computer science, reading sequences, intellectual upbringing, 1 year bayesian rationalist, motivation deficient, focusing on skills, was creating something similar to bayesian rationality before conversion, have read hpmor (not intro to lw), interested in contributing to ai research in the future
The Identikit LessWrongian!
"Minimalist" is implied by the sparsity of the rest of the comment, and so is ironically redundant.
There are a few other reasons I could be formatting my introduction that way, such as being bad at English or writing in general. I used "minimalist" both as a heads up for the format and to draw away from the other possible explanations.
I'm sure you're aware at this point, but with that description you blend into the wallpaper.
Thank you for creating a comment to link "stereotypical Less Wrong reader". If only you were a couple of years older.
Since you're 17, have you looked into the week-long summer camp?
Consider restarting with a different account name. Trolling (that is, trying to provoke people) is not welcome here, and when your username is "troll", people will not (and should not) give you the benefit of doubt.
On an elitist gaming forum I used to frequent (RPG Codex), we called such things "post-ironic" (meaning "post-modern as fuck online performance art").
Basically the joke is that everyone gets the joke, and that allows its author to act as if it was no joke, and self-consciously reference that fact - which is the joke.
After lurking for about a week, I decided to register today. I have read some of the Sequences and a good many posts and comments. I am a life long agnostic who recently began to identify as atheist. I am interested in rationality for many reasons, however, my primary reason is that I'd like to learn more about rationality to help me get over my fear of death. A fear that I feel is very irrational, yet I am unable to shake it. I am 39, female and a mother, I have lots of college under my belt but no degree. I guess I never really cared about that. I am also a schizophrenic and that makes rationality quite challenging for me. (Not that it's not challenging for many people.)
I am looking forward to reading more of the Sequences and hope to be able to comment or post in the near future. I am glad I found this site. Thanks for your time.
I've been lurking here on and off since the beginnings at OB, IIRC, though more off than on. Expressed in the language of the recent survey: I'm an 43-year-old married white male with an advanced humanities degree working in the technical side of for-profit IT in the rural USA. I was raised in a non-theist environment and was interested in rationality tools from an early age. I had a spontaneous non-theistic mystical experience when I was 17 that led me to investigate (but ultimately reject) a variety of non-materialist claims. This led to a life-long interest in the workings of the brain, intuition, rationality, bias, and so on.
I enjoy LW primarily because of the interest in conscious self-improvement and brain hacking. I think that the biggest error I see in general among self-described rationalists is the tendency to undervalue experience. My thinking is probably informed most strongly by individual athletics, many of the popular writers in the rationalist tradition, and wide variety of literature. These days, I'm nursing obsessions with Python programming, remote backcountry cycling, and the writing of Rebecca Goldstein.
There are indeed a couple of different ways I do mean it, but my best specific examples come from athletics. About eight or nine years ago I started getting seriously interested in long distance trail running. Like most enthusiastic autodidacts I started reading lots of material about shoes, clothing, hydration, nutrition, electrolytes, training, and so on. As I'm sure you've seen, a lot of people on the Internet can get paralyzed by analysis in the face of vast easily available information. In particular, they have a lot of trouble sorting out conflicting information gained from other knowledgeable people.
Frequently, further research will help you arrive at less-wrong conclusions. However, in some endeavors there really is a great deal of individual variation, and you just have to engage in lengthy, often-frustrating self-experimentation to figure out what techniques or training methods work best for you. This base of experience can't really be replaced by secondary research. Where research skill comes in, though, is in figuring out where to focus that secondary research (and this in itself is a skill that is honed by experience). As a friend of mine likes to put it: the best prac... (read more)
I'm a 22-year-old mathematics graduate student, moving to Boston next year.
I was recommended HPMoR by another Boston math grad student, followed the authors' notes to read most of the sequences, and then started following lesswrong, although I didn't create an account until recently.
I can't say how I came to actually be a rationalist, though---most of the sequences seemed true or even obvious in hindsight when I first read them, and I've always had a habit of remembering "x tells me y is true" instead of "y is true" when x tells me y is true.
I'm signed up for cryonics. (Current probability estimates 90% that it preserves enough information to be reversible, 95% that I'll die with enough notice to be preserved, 50% that humanity'll advance far enough to reverse it, and 70% that CI'll survive that long.)
I'm vegetarian for carbon efficiency and because the animals that produce most of our meat have negative utility from awful conditions. I don't think sentience is the right standard; is there a good past lesswrong discussion about that?
I heard about LW from a startup co-founder. I'm 22, in Pittsburgh, graduating college in 4 months and on my 2nd startup. Raised hard-core Catholic, and still trying to pull together arguments from various sources as to the existence of God. The posts on LW have certainly helped, and I'd say I'm leaning towards atheism - though it's been a short journey of only 6 months or so since I've started to question my religion.
I'm very interested in the Singularity movement and how that will shape human philosophy and morality. I've also done some body hacking and started tracking my time, an interest which I think a lot of the LW community shares. Looking forward to becoming more active in the community!
The best unsolicited advice I have to give is this: your philosophical leanings are immensely sensitive to psychology, and in particular to the sort of self you want to project to the people around you. So if you want to decide one way or another on a philosophical question that's tormenting you, the biggest key is to surround yourself (socially, in real life) with people who will be pleased if you decide that way. If you want to do your best to figure out what's true, though, the best way is to surround yourself with people who will respect you whatever you decide on that matter, or else to get away from everyone you know for a week or two while you think about it.
Hello LW readers,
Long time lurker here. Just created this account so I can, probably, participated more in LW discussion.
I'm male, 27 years old, from Indonesia. I work as freelance software developer. I love music and watching movies. Any movies. Movie is the only way I can detached from reality and have a dream without a sleep.
I come from Muslim family, both of my parent is Muslim. Long story short, after finished my college, with computer science degree, I tried to learn extend my knowledge more in Islam. I read a lot of books about Islam history, Islam teaching, Quran commentary, book that explain hadith and Quran, etc. Every books that my parents have. Soon, with the help of Internet, I renounce my faith and become an atheist. I see rationalism, philosophy in general, as the way to see the world without giving any judgments. Because, in the end, there is no absolute truth, only facts and opinions.
I know LW from /r/truereddit, and has been reading some of the articles and discussions in here, very informative and thoughtful. The only thing I can help here probably by translating some of articles, especially the Sequences, into Bahasa Indonesia.
Eliezer's essay The Simple Truth is a nice argument for the opposite. The technical name for his view is correspondence theory. A short summary is "truth is the correspondence between map and territory" or "the sentence 'snow is white' is true if and only if snow is white".
Hello! I'm male, 20-something, educator, living in Alberta, Canada. I came across LessWrong via some comments left on a Skepchick article.
My choice to become an educator is founded upon my passion for rational inquiry. I work in the younger grades, where teaching is less about presenting and organizing knowledge and more about the fundamental, formative development of the human brain. Because of this, I am interested in exploring the mental faculties that produce "curiosity behaviors" and the relationship between these behaviors and motivation.
I'm a constructivist at heart; I help guide my students to become masterful thinkers and doers by modifying environmental variables around them. Essentially, I trick them into achieving curriculum-mandated success by 'exploiting' their mental processes. In order to do this effectively, I need to understand as best I can the processes that guide human thoughts and behaviors. This is something I have been interested in since I was young - I am fortunate to have found a career that allows me to explore these interests and use my understanding to better my students'.
I've considered myself to be a rationalist since i was 16 or so, and ... (read more)
Hello Less Wrong!
I am a twenty year old female currently pursuing a degree in programming in Washington State, after deciding that calculus and statistics was infinitely more interesting to me than accounting and economics. I found LW via HPMOR, and tore through the majority of the Sequences in a month. (Now I'm re-reading them much more slowly for better comprehension and hopefully retention.)
I wish to improve my rationality skills, because reading the Sequences showed me that there are a lot of time-wasting arguments out there, and I want to spend my time doing productive, interesting, and fun things instead. Also, I've always enjoyed philosophy, so finding a site that uses scholarship and actual logic to tackle critical issues was amazing.
Other defining things about me: I like cooking, folding origami, playing video games, and reading science fiction, fantasy, and history books. I struggle with procrastination and akrasia. I look forward to self-improvement!
tl;dr This seems like a place that I can use to shore up some of my cognitive shortcomings, eliminate some bias and expand my worldview. Maybe I can help someone else along the way.
I have been reading the material here for the last several days and have decided that this is a community that I would like to be a part of and hopefully contribute to. My greatest interests are improving my map of the territory(how great is that analogy?), using my constantly improving map to be a better husband and father, and exploring transhumanist ideas and conceits.
I came to be a rationalist when I started reading somewhat milquetoast skeptical literature. Having been raised religious and having served in the Marine Corps I have found that I have a tendency to allow arguments from authority too much credence. If I am not careful I can serve as quite the dutiful drone.
It became important over the last few months that I be able to do as much of my own philosophical and scientific legwork as possible. If an author or speaker that I enjoy espouses ideas I am inclined to agree with it is vital (in my estimation) that I either be able to verify the information presented myself or locate reliable... (read more)
I think I first saw LessWrong about three years ago, as it frequently came up in discussions on KW, the forum formerly linked to the Dresden Codak comic. This makes mine one of the longer lurking periods, but I've never really felt the urge to take discussion to the actual posts being discussed and talked about them elsewhere when I felt the need to comment. All this changed when Alicorn told me that when I was asked to make a post relevant to LessWrong that meant I actually had to post it on LessWrong (a revelation which I should have probably anticipated). So it has come to this.
The simplest place to start describing myself is by saying that I'm the type of person that skims through the 200 most recent comments to see which ones are well liked before writing anything.* In real life terms, I've finished up my bachelor's degree in December, after making various errors. Unfortunately, with it finished, I have discovered that I lack motivation to pursue a standard career, since just about the only things I find myself caring about are stories, knowing the future (in the general, not the personal, respect), and understanding things, particularly things related to people. (... (read more)
I've been lurking around here and devouring the sequences for about two years now. I haven't said much because I rarely feel like I have much that's useful, or I don't feel knowledgeable about the subject. But I thought I might start commenting a bit more.
I'm 19, in Florida and studying engineering. I really want to do something that will bring the world forward in some way, and right now that has me pointed at trying to put my personal effort towards nanotechnology. For now though I'm just trying to win classes and learn as much as I can.
Not too much more than 'hi', but there it is.
I'm a mathematician and working as a programmer in Berlin, Germany. I read HPMOR after following a recommendation in a talk on Cognitive Psychology For Hackers and proceeded to read most of the sequences.
Reading LW has had several practical consequences for me: Spaced repetition and effective altruism were new to me. Things have also improved around social skills, exercise and nutrition.
I'm also part of a small Berlin LW meetup: spuckblase and me have met twice - and now we got contacted by two other Berlin based lurkers which prompted the creation of a wiki entry and a mailing list. We're now planning the first meetup that will actually get a meetup post and be announced in advance.
Hi there. I'm Hermione (yes, really). I went to my first LW meetup recently and I'm now working on the Rationality Curriculum, so it feels like time to introduce myself and start getting involved in discussions.
There are a lot of things I'd be interested in talking about. I only found LW a couple of months ago so I'm trying to level up in rationality and work out how to teach others to do so at the same time. I'll probably be posting about this and asking for advice. Has anyone written about their experiences of reading the sequences for the first time? Should I try and absorb things really quickly, or is it better to take it slowly, and if so, what comes first? That kind of thing.
I've also been inspired by Alicorn's Luminosity sequence and have been piloting a beeper experiment, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi style. In order to understand myself and my moods better, I've been recording what I'm doing and how I feel at random times (3x/day). I'd like to improve the indicators I've been using. I struggle to get the right balance between quantitative (more analysable) and qualitative (more accurate). Any suggestions?
Finally, I'd really like to meet some more rationalists in person, so please PM me if you're in Brussels!
Hi people :) I'm 16 from France and the Philippines, going to a Christian boarding school. Um, i met a guy on Omegle... he gave me a link to this website after a conversation about Christianity. Long story short, I'm confused. Maybe someone would like to help me get my head straight?
Hello LW community, my name is Karl, but please call me MHD for short; here's a lot of sentences beginning with "I..." :
I am a 19 year old, slightly gifted individual, male of gender and psyche, bi, hard to define my preferred relationship structure; honestly my gonads and sexual preference are mostly irrelevant here.
I came here by way of HPMoR and was pressed to do some serious reading by my good friend, known around here as Armok_GoB.
I have at time of writing read sequences MaT and MAtMQ along with some non-structured link-walking, looking to read Reductionism next. My attitude is so far positive, but I read it with a healthy dose of sceptic afterthought and note-taking to verify that it really does make sense. You see, my native language is not English, and I have read a study that one is more gullible when communicating in a non-native language.
My mind is built for logical thinking and I have a knack for mathematics, physics and language. I know approx. 12 turing complete programming languages (C likes, LISPs, ML family, SmallTalk-esque, Assembly) reasonably well. I am looking into Tensors, Bayesian probability, formal logic, type theory, quantum physics, relativity, ... (read more)
Cryonics uses vitrification, which protects from the tissue-destroying crystal formation.
Hi all, I'm a lurker of about two years and have been wanting to contribute here and there - so here I am. I specialize in ethics and have further interests in epistemology and the philosophy of mind.
Salutations and whatnot! My name is Joyce, I'm a high school sophomore. Probably on the younger side of the age spectrum here, but I don't mind starting young. The idea of rationality isn't new to me, I've always been more inclined to the "truth", even when it sometimes hurts. In my mind knowing more about the truth = better person, so that's my motivation for being here. I'm have better grades than the average, but for the past couple of years the thing I hated most about myself was the fact that I usually "coast" a class, get my A, and then promptly forget everything I've done in the class. My goal was "get an A", not "learn something new". I'd like to learn new things now, and actually retain it, instead of just coasting by. Knowledge is power. I want to be the best, like no one ever was.
Um. When I was younger, perhaps ten, while I was tinkering with Photoshop, my older cousin approached to me and tried to introduce to me the idea of fallacies. He's...nine years older than me, so he was a barely an adult. I forgot most of the conversation, but from what I DO remember, blaming a stomachache on the last thing you ate was falling prey to SOME... (read more)
Hello, Less Wrong.
Like some others, I eventually found this site after being directed by fellow nerds to HPMOR. I've been working haphazardly through the Sequences (getting neck-deep in cognitive science and philosophy before even getting past the preliminaries for quantum physics, and loving every bit of it).
I can't point to a clear "aha!" moment when I decided to pursue the LW definition of rationality. I always remember being highly intelligent and interested in Science, but it's hard for me to model how my brain actually processed information that long ago. Before high school (at the earliest), I was probably just as irrational as everyone else, only with bigger guns.
Sometime during college (B.S. in mechanical engineering), I can recall beginning an active effort to consider as many sides of an issue as possible. This was motivated less from a quest for scientific truth and more from a tendency to get into political discussions. Having been raised by parents who were fairly traditional American conservatives, I quickly found myself becoming some kind of libertarian. This seems to be a common occurrence, both in the welcome comments I've read here and elsewhere. I can'... (read more)
Hi, I'm Nick Bone ... Just joined the site.
I'm based in the UK and interested in a wide variety of topics in science and associated philosophy. In particular, the basics of rationality (deductive and inductive logic, Bayesian Theorem, decision theory), foundations of mathematics (logic and set theory). Plus some of the old staples (classical arguments for/against existence of God, first cause, design, evil and so on).
My background is in mathematics and computer science (PhD in maths) and I'm currently working in an area of applied game theory. Generally I found the site by Googling, and the quality of discussion seems rather higher than on other discussion boards. Hope I can contribute.
By the way, I started off by putting together some thoughts on the "Doomsday Argument" and Strong Self-Selection Assumption which I hadn't seen discussed before. Since I'm brand new, and have no karma points, I'm not sure where to post them. Any suggestions?
Common reasons I downvote with no comment: I think the mistake is obvious to most readers (or already mentioned) and there's little to be gained from teaching the author. I think there's little insight and much noise - length, unpleasant style, politically disagreeable implications that would be tedious to pick apart (especially in tone rather than content). I judge that jerkishness is impairing comprehension; cutting out the courtesies and using strong words may be defensible, but using insults where explanations would do isn't.
On the "just a-holes" note (yes, I thought "Is this about me?"): It might be that your threshold for acceptable niceness is unusually high. We have traditions of bluntness and flaw-hunting (mostly from hackers, who correctly consider niceness noise when discussing bugs in X), so we ended up rather mean on average, and very tolerant of meanness. People who want LW to be nicer usually do it by being especially nice, not by especially punishing meanness. I notice you're on my list of people I should be exceptionally nice to, but not on my list of exceptionally nice people, which is a bad thing if you love Postel's law. (Which, by Postel's law, nobody but me has to.) The only LessWronger I think is an asshole is wedrifid, and I think this is one of his good traits.
So, am I a second-class citizen because I found this place via MoR?
Anyways, I've been Homeschooled for the majority of my education thus far, mostly due to my Creationist parents' concerns about government-run schools. Fortunately they didn't think to censor the internet, and here I am. My PSATs showed me in the 98th percentile, so I expect I'll be able to get into a decent university. Plan A has always been Engineering, but after going through a few of the more inspirational sequences I think I may readjust my plans and try to do some good for this planet. How does one get into the Singularity business?
I'm a 26 year old guy from the UK. I've finished writing my Ph.D. thesis in "Quantification of risk in large scale wind power integration" and I'm now working as a phone-app framework developer. I spent the last year on a round the world travel where I have spent a lot of my time writing practical philosophy. After coming back I found this site and read the core sequences. I loved them, they echoed a lot of my previous thoughts then took them much further. I felt like they would be easier to understand if they were one article so I have been re-writing bits of them for my own benefit. I am in two minds whether to post them here but I would appreciate the feedback to see if I have understood what was written.
Thanks to Emile for suggesting I come here write something. I hope to get to the New York meetup on Sunday; I'm not ready for "rituals" and futuristic music just yet.
I just ran across LW by trying google terms along the lines of memetics "belief systems", etc., which led me to some books from late 90s like "Virus of the Mind", and in the last 2-3 years some just "OK" books on religions as virus-like meme systems. This kind of search to see what people may have said about some odd combination of thoughts that I suspect might be fruitful has brought me interesting results in the past. E.g. by googling ontological comedian, I discovered Ricky Gervais which has brightened my life (his movie "The Invention of Lying" out to be of interest to LW-ers). I'm interested in practical social epistemology -- trying to come up with creative responses to what looks like major chunks of the population (those pesky folks who elect presidents) being less and less moored in reality and going off into diverse fantasy lands -- or to put it another way, a massive breakdown in common sense about what sources are reliable.
I asked someone how she makes s... (read more)
Hello, everyone. I'm Lykos, and it's a pleasure to finally be posting here. I'm a high school junior and I pretty much discovered the concept of rationality through HP:MoR. I'm not sure where I discovered THAT. I'm an aspiring author, and am always eager to learn more, and rationality, I've found, has helped me with my ideas, both for stories and in general. I've currently read the Map and Territory sequence, and am going through Mysterious Answers to Mysterious Questions. I doubt I'll be posting much- I'll probably be spending most of my time basking in the intelligence of the rest of you.
Either way, it is a pleasure to join the community. Thank you.
I've been occasionally reading for a while, and have decided to get a login. I suppose the reason I'm here is that it's become important in the last 2 years or so that my beliefs are as accurate as possible. I've slowly had to let go of some beliefs because the evidence didn't seem to support them, and while that's been painful it has been worthwhile.
I'm also a friend of ciphergoth's - we've discussed less wrong a lot! I don't feel like I know a great deal yet - I still need to read more of the sequences, so I'll stick to asking questions until I feel I know more :-).
I'm 28, female, and I live in Cambridge, UK. My academic background is in the philosophy/politics/economics area, and I work in accounts.
I'm very excited to have found this community. In a way, it's like meeting a future, more evolved version of myself. So many things that I've read about here I've considered before, but often in a more shallow and immature way. A big thanks to all of you for that!
To the topic of me, I'm 24, male, and Swedish. After studying some of PJ Eby's work, I identify strongly as a naturally struggling person. I've been trying to figure out why for all my life, I think I read Wayne Dyer at about the same age as Eliezer read Feynman. Since then I've read a lot more, and at this point it seems like I have very credible explanations for why things turned out as they did.
Still, even though I might think I ought to have the tools now to stake out a better future path for myself, I'm plagued by learned helplessness and surrounded by ugh-fields. But as I see it there is only one best way forward - to learn more and then attempt to do things better.
I'm a great admirer of the stoic philosopher Lucius Seneca. Here's a short segment from one of his letters that resonates with me:... (read more)
19 male, currently in Florida.
Used to be a hardcore Christian. Then I started looking for alternate explanations and wound up believing in magic because I wanted it to be real. Then I read HP:MoR and it changed my life. My head is on a lot straighter now.
At first I thought this was just something cool. Then I was talking to someone about investing a fairly large amount of money. As we were talking, I was conscious of myself changing my plans to agree with him simply because he was nice. Despite this, he still changed my mind even though I recognized that he did it by being nice instead of a good argument. Had to go home before I could think clearly again.
It scared me that I could be so easily swayed by the Dark Arts, as I've heard them referred to. This might be something worth taking seriously after all.
So now I'm about to use what I learned to buy a car. A year ago, I would've just gone down with an informed friend and pick up something functional. Now I'm going down with a friend and a journal, identifying several possible vehicles and taking notes, then spend a week doing research on price, making sure I'm not being swayed by the salesman being nice, etc. before I actually spend any money.
I look forward to becoming less wrong.
If "hunting down" psychopaths is our goal, we'd do better to look for people who torture or kill animals. My understanding is that these behaviors are a common warning sign of antisocial personality disorder, and I'm sure it's more common than infanticide because it's less punished. Would you advocate punishing anyone diagnosed with antisocial personality right away, or would you want to wait until they actually committed a crime?
I'd put taboos in three categories. Some taboos (e.g. against women wearing trousers, profanity, homosexuality, or atheism) seem pointless and we were right to relax them. Some taboos, like those against theft and murder, I agree we should hold in place because they produce so little value for the harm they produce. Some, like extramarital sex and abortion, are more ambiguous. They probably allow some people to get away with unnecessary cruelty. But because the the personal freedom they create, I think they produce a net good.
I put legalized infanticide in the third category. I gather you put it in the second? In other words, do you believe the harm it would create from psychopaths killing babies and generally being harder to detect would be greater than the benefit to people who don't raise unwanted children?
Sorry, you pointed out a counterargument made by Vladimir_Nesov, in a confrontational manner.
Also, thank your for reminding me that I have to sharpen my posting abilities.
Vladimir Nesov made a very true counterargument, you endorsed it to test my ability to change my standpoint. Nothing wrong with that; and lo and behold, I actually have. Congratulations, you and Vladimir_Nesov both get an upvote from the new guy.
Hello, I'm 16 years old and from the UK. I found this blog via MoR and I'vebeen lurking for a few months now (this is my first post I think), and I'm slowly but surely working my way through the sequences. I think I've gotten to the point where I can identify a lot of the biases and irrational thoughts as they form in my brain, but unfortunately I'm not well-versed enough in rationality to know how to tackle them properly yet.
Greetings, everyone. My name is Elizabeth, and I am a young adult female beginning to learn how to think for herself. I stumbled across this website right after reading Alicorn's fanfiction Luminosity in the summer of 2010. Due to some personal issues, life in general, and a dead hard drive, I stopped visiting Less Wrong up until a couple of weeks ago.
I found Less Wrong attractive because of its being a free resource on learning the art of rationality. Borderline Personality Disorder runs in my family, and so my hypothesis is that I personally am drawn to things like LW partly in order to "self-medicate" after years of chaos, unpredictability, and irrationality. Chances are likely that I will be very quiet on this website for several months at least: for one thing, that is my usual modis operandi when learning about and researching a topic; for another, it would seem that I need to thoroughly acquaint myself with the sequences and other such work in order to fully understand and be able to contribute to more recent posts/discussions.
Hi y'all. I'm a senior in high school in the Silicon Valley who's been lurking for a couple of months. I've been working my way through the Sequences since then. I don't know how much I have to contribute to the discussion, since I'm a bit of a newcomer to rationalism, but I enjoy reading everyone else's discussions.
I was introduced to this site through my philosophy class- a research project on transhumanism led me to Eliezer Yudkowsky's site, which led me to here. I came here for the Sequences, stayed here for the intelligent discussion (just like almost everyone else on this page). I'm really interested in computer science and economics and how they intersect with rationality.
I'm afraid you may have your bottom line written already. In the age of ultrasound and computer generated images or even better in the future age of transhuman sensory enhancement or fetuses being grown outside the human body the exact same argument can be used against abortion.
Especially once you remember the original context was a 10 month old baby, not say a 10 year old child.
A few of you have met me on Omegle. I finally signed up and made an account here like you guys suggested.
About me: I'm 26 years old, and my hobbies include creative writing and PC games. My favorite TV show is Rupaul's Drag Race.
I think I share almost all of the main positions that people tend to have in this community. But I actually find disagreements more interesting, so that's mainly what I'm here for. One of my passions in life is debating. I did debate team and that sort of thing when I was younger, but now I'm more interested in how to seriously persuade people, not just debating for show. I still have a lot of improving to do, though. If anyone wants to exchange notes or get some tips, then let me know.
I'm 18, an undergraduate at University of Virginia, pre-law, and found you through HPMOR.
Rationality has been a part of me for almost as long as I can remember, but for various reasons, I'm only recently starting to refine and formalize my views of the world. It is heartening to find others who know the frustration of dealing with people who are unwilling to listen to logic. I've found that it is difficult to become any better at argument and persuasion when you have a reputation as an intelligent person and can convince anyone of anything by merely stating it with a sufficiently straight face.
More than anything else, I hope to become here a person who is a little less wrong than when I came.
This "intelligent reputation" discussion is interesting.
I had kind of an odd situation as a kid growing up. I went to a supposedly excellent Silicon Valley area elementary school and was generally one of the smartest 2-4 kids in my class. But I didn't think of myself as being very smart: I brushed off all the praise I got from teachers (because the villains and buffoons in the fiction I read were all arrogant, and I was afraid of becoming arrogant myself). Additionally, my younger brother is a good bit smarter than me, which was obvious even at that age. So I never strongly identified as being "smart".
When I was older I attended a supposedly elite university. At first I thought there was no way I would get in, but when I was accepted and got in I was astonished by how stupid and intellectually incurious everyone was. I only found one guy in my entire dorm building who actually seemed to like thinking about science/math/etc. for its own sake. At first I thought that the university admissions department was doing a terrible job, but I gradually came to realize that the world was just way stupider than I thought it was, and assuming that I was anything close to normal was not an accurate model. (Which sounds really arrogant; I'm almost afraid to type that.)
I wonder how else being raised among those who are smarter/stupider than you impacts someone's intellectual development?
Given all the evidence on 'bouncy' and 'npple-count' I must admit the comic illustration that sprung to mind may not have been the one you intended!
My name is John Paton. I'm an Operations Research and Psychology major at Cornell University. I'm very interested in learning about how to improve the quality of my thinking.
Honestly, I think that a lot of my thoughts about how the world works are muddled at the moment. Perhaps this is normal and will never go away, but I want to at least try and decrease it.
At first glance, this community looks awesome! The thinking seems very high quality, and I certainly want to contribute to the discussion here.
I also write at my own blog, optimizethyself.com
See you in the discussion!
Hi Less Wrong, I'm a PhD researcher in Computational Neuroscience, with a background in AI and machine learning, and some past experience in the computing industry as software engineer. I live in Singapore, although I am French. Are there other members residing in Singapore?
I am a nearly seventeen year old female in the US who was linked by a friend to The Quantum Physics Series on LessWrong after trying to understand whether or not determinism is /actually/ refuted by Quantum Mechanics. I am an atheist, I suppose.
This all began as a fascination with science because I thought it would permit me to attain ultimate knowledge, or ultimate understanding and thus control of "matter". Later, I became fascinated with nihilism and philosophy, in search of defining "objectivity". It took off from there and now I am currently concerned with consciousness and usage of artificial intelligence to transfer our biological intelligence to a more effective physical manifestation.
I'm a little scared, naturally, because I think this would change a lot of what we currently understand as humans. As Mitchell Heisman describes, there exists a relationship between the scientist and the science. If the scientist is changed, I would think that the science, or knowledge, would in itself change. Some questions I have ATM: "Does objectivity exist? Can it be created? Can the notion or belief or idea of objectivity be destroyed? Will intelligence bec... (read more)
Hello people, 49 year old father of 4 sons, 17-27, eldest of 9,i come from a background of mormonism, my parents having been converted when i was 3.
So my reality was the dissonance of mormon dogma and theology vs what i was being 'taught' at school,vs what i experience for my self.
Now, having been through the divorce of my parents(gross hypocrisy if you're a mormon) the suicide of my brother and my own divorce,also finding myself saying i would die/kill for my beliefs,i began to realise what a mess i was and started asking questions,leaving the church (demonstrating with placards every sunday for 2 years) in 1996.
So i found myself wanting and needing a new philosophy! I'm particularly interested in learning how to 'be less wrong'! I'm still looking around and am currently interested in the non aggression principle.
I look forward to learning the tools i see here,so that i may make more considered choices.I recognise i'm a clumsy communicator and probably i'm somewhat retarded in comparison to a lot of you. Anyway i look forward to watching and learning,maybe even contributing one day! Tim.
Hi! I found LW by HPMoR like so many other people, and I have found a lot of interesting articles on here. I'm only 12, so there are tons of articles that I don't understand, but I am determined to figure them out. My name is Chloe and I hope that we can be friends!
Hello to all! I'm a 17-year-old girl from Bulgaria, interested in Mathematics and Literature. Since I decided to "get real" and stop living in my comfortable fictional world, I've had a really tough year destroying the foundations of my belief system. Sure, there are scattered remains of old beliefs and habits in my psyche that I can't overcome. I have some major issues with reductionism and a love for Albert Camus ("tell me, doctor, can you quantify the reason why?" ).
In the last year I've come to know that it is very easy to start believing without doubt in something (the scientific view of the world included), perhaps too easy. That is why I never reject an alternative theory without some consideration, no matter how crazy it sounds. Sometimes I fail to find a rational explanation. Sometimes it's all too confusing. I'm here because I want to learn to think rationally but also because I want to ask questions.
Harry James Potter-Evans-Verres brought me here. To be honest, I hate this character with passion, I hate his calculating, manipulative attitude, and this is not what I believe rationality is about. I wonder how many of you see things as I do and how many would think me naive. Anyway, I'm looking forward to talking to you. I'm sure it's going to be a great experience.
I'm male, early 40s who grew up in the midwestern US but have lived in the UK for the past 10 years. I had a very strong evangelical/fundamentalist upbringing, but at the same time an obsessively "rational" attitude which developed in large part from my covert reading of period sf (the sort in which rebellious yet rational engineers outsmarted their rigid hierarchically-minded superiors and their extremely technologically advanced antagonists at the same time). No surprise therefore that my religious beliefs began to dissolve as soon as I went to university, finally coming out of the closet as a de-convert in 1999.
I'm a postdoctoral researcher in cognitive science - with secondary interests in philosophy of science, especially the manner of scientific inference and the different extents to which Bayesian inference has taken hold in different scientific domains at the present time. I've been lurking here for a few years after seeing posts or comments in various places elsewhere by people like ciphergoth and David Gerard (neither of whom I know in person).
I also tend to make way too many parenthetical statements when I write; even though I am completely aware I am overdoing it I just can't avoid it.
Hello. My name is Konrad and I stumbled upon LessWrong a few weeks ago from Reddit. I've browsed some of the main pages since then, but until now haven't committed to reading much. I hope that after registering I'll be able to participate in the community and learn more. I'm 16 years of age and would describe myself as an agnostic theist. I'd also say that I'm curious about knowledge and the world so hopefully I'll learn a lot from this website.
My name is Glenn Thomas Davis. I am a 48-year old male living in Warren, NJ with my wife and 5-year old daughter. I was born and raised in Ketchikan, Alaska. I am a creative director for a pharmaceutical marketing agency. I have been interested in science and skepticism since reading Godel, Escher, Bach in my 20's, but became a really serious skeptic and atheist after I started listening to the Skeptics' Guide to the Universe podcast in 2005ish. I beacame a fan of Eliezer and the Singularity Institute after seeing him speak on Bloggingheads 3 years ago, and I recently subscribed to the Overcoming Bias NYC listserve.
Most of my online friends are from the San Francisco Bay Area where I lived for many years. Not exactly the world's most rational bunch, and they don't often appreciate my atheist rants. I have been delaying introducing myself here because I am resistant to putting in the effort and time to become a known presence from the ground up, or even to write a proper introductory post. However, it recently occurred to me I could just share pieces of writing I've already done for other, less like-minded groups. Here's one:
(In response to an otherwise rational person who ... (read more)
Hello Less Wrong community, I am Kouran.
What follows may be a bit long, and maybe a little dramatic. I'm sorry if that is uncourteous, still I feel the following needs saying early on. Please bear with me.
I'm a recently be-bachelored sociologist from the Netherlands, am male and in my early twenties. I consider myself a jack of several trades – among them writing, drawing, cooking and some musical hobbies – but master of none. However, I do entertain the hope that the various interests and skills add up to something effective, to my becoming someone in a position to help people who need it, and I intend to take action to approach this end.
I found Less Wrong through the intriguing Harry Potter fanfiction story called 'the Methods of Rationality.' The story entertains me greatly, and the more abstract themes stimulate me and I find myself wishing to enter discussions regarding these matters. Instead of bothering the author of the story I decided to have a look here instead. Please note that I write this before having read any of the Sequences and only a few smaller articles. I intend to get on that soon, but as introductions go I feel it is better to present myself first. I hope you... (read more)
It sounds like the Straw Vulcan talk might be relevant to some of your thoughts on rationality and emotion...
It's been a while, so I just wanted to express approval of these welcome threads. A glance over the comments we've gotten over the years should reveal that they really do make people feel welcome and help people get into discussion on the site.
Hi everyone. 23 year old south american software developer/musician here. I've been lurking around and reading for a couple of months now and I've found a lot of useful and interesting information here. It has actually triggered in me a lot of thinking about thinking, about reflexivity and the need for being aware of one's methods of thinking/learning/communicating etc.
I've been having some thoughts lately on the positive aspects of "rationality-motivated" socialization, mainly because of what I've learned of LW's weekly meetups and also because it has been, so far, pretty difficult to find someone who's interested about rationality. The first google searches took me nowhere, though I have still to look somewhere around philosophy/mathematics departments of local universities.
Anyway thanks for the information and the friendly welcome, and also for the big corpus of material you make available.
I'm 22, Male, an undergraduate at Singapore Management University studying information systems. Interest in AI.
I want to live a "good" life, but different people/culture uses different value systems to view life... some focus on the 'Ending', some focus on the 'Journey', some sees no value at all... Therefore, I'm looking for a way to objectively measure the value of a person's life. (not sure if that is even possible)
Found LW while reading up on Singularity. Would love to make some LW friends. feel free to add me on facebook~ http://fb.me/mengxiang
Long time lurker here.
I'm 26 years old, CS graduate living in Wrocław (Poland), professional compiler developer, cryptography research assistant and programmer. I'm an atheist (quite possibly thanks to LW). I consider the world to be overall interesting. I have many interests and I always have more things to do than I have time for. I'm motivated by curiosity. I'm less risk-averse than most people around me, but also less patient. I have a creative mind and love chellanges. While being fairly successful lone wolf until now, I seek to improve my people skills because I belive I can't get much further all by myself.
When I found LW for the first time, it absorbed me. It took me about 4 months at 4-6h a day to read all of the Sequences and comments. While I strongly disagree with some of the material, I consider LW to have accelerated my personal developement 2 to 3 times simply by virtue of critical mass and high singal to noise ratio. I don't know any better hub for thought (links welcome!). I joined becuse I finally have something to say.
Hello; my name is Brian. It is with some trepidation that I post here because I am not entirely sure how or where I can contribute. On the other hand, if I knew how I could contribute then I probably wouldn't need to post here.
I seem to be a bit older than most people whose introductions I have read here. I am 58. I have spent most of my life as a software engineer, electrical engineer, technical writer, businessman, teacher, sailor, and pilot. (When I was young Robert A. Heinlein advised against specialization, an admonition I took to heart.)
My most recent endeavor was a 5-year stint in a private school as a teacher of science, math, history, government, engineering, and computer science/programming. The act of trying to teach these subjects in a manner that provides the necessary cross-connection caused me to discover that I needed to try to understand more about how I think and learn, as my ultimate goal was to help my students determine for themselves how they think and learn. Being able to absorb and regurgitate facts and algorithms is not enough. Real learning requires the ability to discover new understanding as well. (I am rather a fan of scientific method, as inefficient ... (read more)
Greetings fellow Ration-istas!
First of all, I'd like to mention how glad I am that this site and community exist. For many years I wondered if there were others like me, who cared about improving themselves and their capacity for reason. And now I know - now I just need to figure out how to drag you all down to sunny San Diego to join me...
My name is Brett, and I'm a 28 year old Computational Biologist in San Diego, California. I've thought of myself as a materialist and an atheist since my freshman year in college, but it wasn't until after I graduated that I truly began to care about rationality. I realized that though I was unhappy with my life, as a scientist I had access to the best tools around for turning that around - science and reason.
I was born with a de novo genomic translocation on my 1st chromosome that left me with a whole raft of medical problems through-out my childhood - funnel chest, cleft palate, mis-fused skull, you name it. As a result I was picked on and isolated for most of my childhood, and generally responded to stress by retreating into video games and SF novels. So I went to school to study genetics and biology, and I graduated from college with a ... (read more)
I'm a German student-to-be (I am going to start studying IT in October) and I am interested in almost anything connected with rationality, especially the self improvement, biases and "how to save the world" parts. I hope that lesswrong will be (and it already has been to a certain amount) one of the resources for (re-)shaping my thinking and acting towards a better me and a better world.
I came here, like so many others ;-), because I wanted to check out the foundations/concepts behind HPMOR and I could not just leave again. So over the last few months I visited again and again to read some of the sequences and posts.
As I am interested in science, especially physics, maths, technology and astronomy, I have a question that I would like to ask the lesswrong community: What is a fast and secure way of determining the trustworthiness of scientists and scientific papers? I ask this because there is a lot of pseudoscience and poorly done science out there which often isn't easy to distinguish from unconventional/disrupting science (at least not for me).
all the best Viper
Hi everyone! I am still a high school student but very interested in what I read here on LessWrong! I decided to register to contribute to discussions. Until now, I have been lurking but hopefully I will be able to join the conversation in a useful way.
Hi all! I have been lurking LW for a few months (years?). I believe I was first introduced to LW through some posts on Hacker News (http://news.ycombinator.com/user?id=olalonde). I've always considered myself pretty good at rationality (is there a difference with being a rationalist?) and I've always been an atheist/reductionist. I recently (4 years ago?) converted to libertarianism (blame Milton Friedman). I was raised by 2 atheist doctors (as in PhD). I'm a software engineer and I'm mostly interested in the technical aspect of achieving AGI. Since I was a kid, I've always dreamed of seeing an AGI within my lifetime. I'd be curious to know if there are some people here working on actually building an AGI. I was born in Canada, have lived in Switzerland and am now living in China. I'm 23 years old IIRC. I believe I'm quite far from the stereotypical LWer on the personality side but I guess diversity doesn't hurt.
Nice to meet you all!
I am Jayesh Kumar Gupta. I am from Jodhpur, India. I have been interested in rationality for some years now. I came across this site via HPMOR. I had been reading posts on the site for some years now, while trying to wade my way through the gigantic Sequences, but was not confident enough to join this group, (people here seem to know so much). Right now I am an undergraduate student at IIT Kanpur. Hopefully I too will contribute something to the site in the future.
Hello to the LessWrong universe.
I'm 23 years old. A lover of music (Last.fm): Ravel, Mozart, Radiohead, Sigur Rós, Animal Collective. And driven to learn.
My goal right now is to become a philosophy professor, and participate in radical, reason oriented movements to influence social change.
I value the intellect, the body, life, and the universe. I value learning - to improve the lives of others and myself, and to live most accordingly with 'nature.' I value those who direct themselves in a rational manner.
My rationality quest began when I was a child, always using legos to build new things and drawing. Eventually video games came into my life and problem solving drove me. However, due to immaturity and the social life of a middle/high schooler, I never really progress intellectually despite my love for science and 'deep' conversations with friends.
It wasn't until I was 20, and ended my relationship with a girl that philosophical thought dawned upon me. It was sparked by the breakup, because her family was religious and I molded myself to that lifestyle, but when it was over there was nothing there. I suppose, after losing who I thought was the love of my life, I began to se... (read more)
Hi, my name is Alexey, and although I've been around the website for a while and have been an active LessWrongian in real life meetups, I haven't actually introduced myself on the website yet. So here it goes.
I am an undergraduate student at the University of Cambridge, specialising in synthetic biology and aiming to go on to do research in that field. I am interested in raising x-risk awareness within the SynBio community and advancing a safe approach to research in this area.
I was introduced to LW by a friend, and soon realised that there is actually a community of rational people interested in much the same things as I am. I have enjoyed reading the Sequences and have definitely learned a lot.
Since finding the LW website and community has been such a great experience for me, I introduced many of my friends to it, have participated in setting up the Cambridge meetup group; and more recently organised the first meetup in Budapest. I find it very rewarding to be able to talk to and make friends with fellow rationalists!
As for my interests within the scope of LW, I find that I am interested in self-improvement in terms of identifying and overcoming biases, building and expanding rationalist communities and working on x-risk reduction in synthetic biology. In fact, I find that biologists are underrepresented within the LW community and hope that my knowledge of the subject can translate into useful contributions to the discussions here on the LW website, and in real life LW meetups!
I'm reposting this here because there was a thread swap and I didn't get any takers in the former thread. Please let me interview you! It will be fun and wont take up too much time!
Hello, my name is Brett, and I am an undergraduate student at the University of North Texas, currently studying in the Department of Anthropology. In this semester, my classmates and I have been tasked with conducting an ethnographic study on an online community. After reading a few posts and the subsequent comments, LessWrong seemed like a great community on which to conduct an ethnography. The purpose of this study is to identify the composition of an online community, analyze communication channels and modes of interaction, and to glean any other information about unique aspects of the LessWrong community.
For this study I will be employing two information gathering techniques. The first of which will be Participant Observation, where I will document my participation within the community in attempts to accurately describe the ecosystem that comprises LessWrong. The second technique will be two interviews held with members of the community, where we will have a conversation about communication technique... (read more)
Hi, I am Raiden. For most of my life I have been an aspiring rationalist, even though I didn't call myself by that name. I was raised to think that I was some sort of super genius (it was a big shock in my later elementary school years to discover that I wasn't the smartest person in the world). This had the effect of causing me to associate some of my identity with intelligence. This led me to be a traditional rationalist; I had much admiration for the Spock stereotype, and I have been a atheist since childhood despite a fundamentalist religious family. In my freshmen year of high school, I was exposed to some self-help books that led me to seriously consider other virtues besides intelligence to be of value. This slowly revolutionized my view of the world.
Over the course of the next summer, I was exposed to the philosophy of Objectivism, and quickly became a strong adherent to it. I was from the beginning in agreement with the "Open Objectivist" group which said Objectivism is not a complete philosophy. I agree that objectivism descended into some sort of cult, and that Ayn Rand was one of history's greatest hypocrites. I also came to believe that this didn't disquali... (read more)
Hello! I came here researching free will for a school project. I'm currently 18, studying science at a fairly basic level in a small town in Sweden. I've so far read a few articles and the sheer amount of interesting thoughts in the articles made me want to stay. When I read what Lesswrong stands for, I knew I wanted to be a part of it, to try to become a better, hopefully wiser person.
I've liked philosophy for a long time, and don't usually like "because" as an answer for anything. I want to find out reasons behind everything. I'm so far not as good as I wish, due to limited time and wanting to read a lot of the articles, but not having enough time. However, I find it difficult to abandon half-read articles, even though they can be a bit of a long read compared to what I'm used to, excluding books.
Since I'm easily influenced by new ideas, too, as long as they make sense, I'm expecting myself to switch a lot. Lesswrong seems interesting, anyway, and I want to know more. I want more perspectives and thoughts. So far Lesswrong seems wonderful, and I think I'll like it. Hoping the community can oversee shortcomings when needed, but I'm expecting you all to be a nice bunch.
For science, and a greater understanding. Hopefully I'll be able to learn from you. But it's late now, and I'll be going now. Just thought I'd say hi.
Hello. I'm a 19-year-old student at Stanford University majoring in Computer Science. I'm especially interested in artificial intelligence. I've been reading lesswrong for a couple months and I love it! There are lots of great articles and discussions about a lot of the things I think about a lot and things that I hadn't thought about but proceeded to think about after reading them.
I've considered myself a rationalist for as long as I can remember. I've always loved thinking about philosophy, reading philosophy articles, and discussing philosophy with other people. When I started reading lesswrong I realized that it aligned well with my approach to philosophy, probably because of my interest in AI. In the course of searching for a universal epistemology I discovered Solomonoff induction, which is an idea that I've been obsessed with for a couple years. I even wrote a paper about it. I've been trying to apply this concept to epistemology and cognitive science.
My current project is to make a practical framework for resource-bounded Solomonoff induction (Solomonoff induction where the programs are penalized for taking up too much time). Since resource-bounded induction ... (read more)
I'm sorry about your turmoil, but I don't take responsibility for "creating" it.
This is not an uncontested statement.
I've posted a few rationality quotes, so it sounds like time to introduce myself. I'm a 22 year old software project manager from Wisconsin, been reading LW since June or so when MOR was really going strong.
I've been a very rational thinker for my whole life, in terms of explicitly looking for evidence/feedback and updating behaviors and beliefs, but only began thinking about it formally recently. I was raised Christian, and I consider my current state the result of a slow process of resolving dissonance based on contradictions or insufficient/contrary evidence. I'm most interested in theory of government and achieving best results given the rather unreliable ability of voters to predict or understand outcomes of different policies.
I also think, though, that ethics is just as important as rationality- choosing the correct goals is just as necessary as succeeding towards those goals. I've seen appreciation of this within LW that, for me, really sets it apart, so I hope I can make a larger contribution. As someone once said, the choice between Good and Evil is not about saying one or the other, but about deciding which is which.
Hello, I'm a high school senior who discovered this site somewhere on reddit and deeply enjoyed this article (http://yudkowsky.net/rational/the-simple-truth) and decided to check out more posts. I'm planning on studying engineering in college but I try to have a well-rounded knowledge on a myriad of subjects apart from math and science. The content here is very enticing and intellectually stimulating, and I will probably frequent this site in the future.
I'd like to note that while acceptable to ask for an explanation, it is downright counterproductive to be petulant. Don't bother getting upset until you know why.
Hello lesswrong community!
"Who am I?" I am a Network Engineer, who once used to know a bit of math (sadly, not anymore). Male, around 30, works in IT, atheist - I think I'll blend right in.
"How did I discover lesswrong?" Like the vast majority, I discovered lesswrong after reading HPMOR many years ago. It remains my favourite book to this day. HPMOR and the Sequences taught me a lot of new ideas and, more importantly, put what I already knew into a proper perspective. By the time HPMOR was finally finished, I was no longer sure where my worldview happened... (read more)
Consider your second expectation falsified and update on it, as a "bayesian rationalist" would.
Hello to the LW Community. My name is Glenn, 49, from Boulder, Colorado. After completing my Master's degree in Economics, I began a career in investment management, with a diversion into elected politics (a city council, a regional council of governments, then the Colorado state legislature, along with corporate on non-profit boards). My academic work focused on decision theory and risk analysis and my vocation on their practical application. Presently, I manage several billion dollars' worth of fixed-income portfolios on behalf of local governments and ... (read more)
Hi! My name is Paul, and I've been an aspiring rationalist for years. A long time ago, I realized implicitly that reality exists, and that there is only one. I think "rationality" is the only reasonable next thing to do. I pretty much started "training" on TvTropes, reading fallacies and the like there, as well as seeing ways to analyze things in fiction. The rules there apply to real life fairly well.
From there, I discovered Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, and from there, this site. Been reading quite a bit on and off over... (read more)
Hello, everyone! I'm 21, soon to graduate from IIT Bombay, India. I guess the first time I knowingly encountered rationality, was at 12, when I discovered the axiomatic development of Euclidean geometry, as opposed to the typical school-progression of teaching mathematics. This initial interest in problem-solving through logic was fueled further, through my later (and ongoing) association with the Mathematics Olympiads and related activities.
Of late, I find my thoughts turning ever more to understanding the working and inefficiencies of our macro-economy, ... (read more)
Hello folks! I'm a student of computer science, found Less Wrong a few years ago, read some articles, found myself nodding along, but didn't really change my mind about anything significant. That is, until recently I came across something that completely shattered my worldview and, having trouble coping with that, I found myself coming back here, seeking either something that would invalidate this new insight or help me accept it if it is indeed true. Over the past few days, I have probably been thinking harder than ever before in my life, and I hope to contribute to discussions here in the future.
Hi everyone. I have been lurking since the site started, but did not have the courage to start posting until recently. I am a male college graduate in his mid-twenties, happily engaged and currently job-hunting, and have been fascinated by science and reason since I was a child. I was one of those people who actually identified with the "Hollywood Rational" robots and aliens in science fiction and wanted to be more like them. Science and science fiction socialized me and made me curious about the inner working of the universe.
I love the sequen... (read more)
My name is Francisco, and I am from Malaga, Spain. I am a dabbling rationalist, and a programmer/troubleshooter.
I started walking the path of rationality when I started keeping track of good luck/normal luck/bad luck events in order to check if Murphy's law was actually true, and then wondering why people actually believed in it. Later, I started reading about fallacies, and I finally arrived at LW via HMPOR, like many people.
I am currently reading my way through the Sequences, but my current project is to make Bayes' theorem more acce... (read more)
My name's Lars. I'm from Melbourne, Australia, and have a background in software/mathematics/languages. I've also tutored classes in logic and artificial intelligence. Like a lot of folks commenting here, I've been reading articles on LessWrong for a while, but now I'm keen to understand the community around it a bit more.
I've been interested in rationality for some years. One of my favourite posts so far is "Intellectual Hipsters and Meta-contrarianism". It helped me notice signalling in arguments, and reduce greatly the amount I do it my... (read more)