A lot of it is due to education, a difference of interest, and a little more ease when it comes to symbol manipulation [...] but little has to do with insurmountable hardware limitations.

I wonder if that makes a difference in practical terms. There's all sorts of potential in one's genes, but one has the body, brain and personal history one ends up with.

What I mean is no longer feeling like the smartest person in the room and quite definitely having to put in effort to keep up.

I haven't heard of any evidence that would suggest that there are human bei

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I first encountered humans who couldn't understand basic arithmetic at university, in the bit of first-year psychology where they try to bludgeon basic statistics into people's > heads. People who were clearly intelligent in other regards and not failures at life, who > nevertheless literally had trouble adding two numbers with a result in the thirties. I'm still boggling 25 years later, but I was there and saw it ...

See above, but I am basically one of those people. My own intelligence lies in other areas ;-)

0XiXiDu9yThinking about this a bit longer, I think mathematical logic is a good example that shows that their problem is unlikely to be that they are fundamentally unable to understand basic arithmetic. Logic [http://scienceblogs.com/goodmath/2009/03/mr_spock_is_not_logical_book_d.php] is a "system of inference rules for mechanically discovering new true statements using known true statements." Here the emphasis is on mechanical. Is there some sort of understanding that transcends the knowledge of logical symbols and their truth values [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Truth_table]? Is arithmetic particularly more demanding in this respect?
4XiXiDu9yWhen I first saw a fraction [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fraction_%28mathematics%29], e.g. 1/4, I had real trouble to accept that it equals .25. I was like, "Uhm, why?"...when other people are like, "Okay, then by induction 2/4=.5"...it's not that I don't understand, but do not accept. Only when I learnt that .25 is a base-10 place-value notation, which really is an implicit fraction, with the denominator being a power of ten, I was beginning to accept that it works (it took a lot more actually, like understanding the concept of prime factorization etc.). Which might be a kind of stupidity, but not something that would prevent me from ever understanding mathematics. The concept of a function is another example: * f:X->Y (Uhm, what?) * f(x) : X -> Y (Uhm, what?) * f(x) = x+1 (Hmm.) * f(1) = 1+1 (Okay.) * y = f(x) (Hmm.) * (x, y) * (x, f(x)) * (1,2) (Aha, okay.) * (x,y) is an element of R (Hmm.) * R is a binary relation (Uhm, what?) * x is R-related to y (Oh.) * xRy * R(x,y) (Aha...) * R = (X, Y, G) * G is a subset of the Cartesian product X × Y (Uhm, what?) ...so it goes. My guess is that many people appear stupid because their psyche can't handle apparent self-evidence [http://spacecollective.org/XiXiDu/5751/The-selfevident-nature-of-simple-tools-Ignorance] very well.

What bothers you about Less Wrong?

by Will_Newsome 1 min read19th May 2011162 comments


Or, what do you want to see more or less of from Less Wrong?

I'm thinking about community norms, content and topics discussed, karma voting patterns, et cetera. There are already posts and comment sections filled with long lists of proposed technical software changes/additions, let's not make this post another one. 

My impression is that people sometimes make discussion posts about things that bother them, and sometimes a bunch of people will agree and sometimes a bunch of people will disagree, but most people don't care that much (or they have a life or something) and thus don't want to dedicate a post just to complaining. This post is meant to make it socially and cognitively easy to offer critique.

I humbly request that you list downsides of existing policies even when you think the upsides outweigh them, for all the obvious reasons. I also humbly request that you list a critique/gripe even if you don't want to bother explaining why you have that critique/gripe, and even in cases where you think your gripe is, ahem, "irrational". In general, I think it'd be really cool if we erred on the side of listing things which might be problems even if there's no obvious solution or no real cause for complaint except for personal distaste for the color green (for example).

I arrogantly request that we try to avoid impulsive downvoting and non-niceness for the duration of this post (and others like it). If someone wants to complain that Less Wrong is a little cultish without explaining why then downvoting them to oblivion, while admittedly kind of funny, is probably a bad idea. :)