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I just returned from the CFAR workshop! Would people be interested in a top-level Discussion post about this?

Hi Qiaochu! This is Aaron! Here's something I wrote about it on Facebook:
I'd be interested. My guess is that other LWers would be, too.
I would.

I was homeschooled. I have pretty mixed feelings on whether this was a good thing or not. Kawoomba asked, so here:


  • No bullies

  • Teaches you how to teach yourself

  • No PE/sports

  • Go to college early


  • Go to college early

  • Limited contact with others left me pretty socially inept.

  • No resources (chemistry experiments, etc)

  • After Algebra II, you're on your own.

  • With Saxon math books.

  • No sense of position among one's peers, no sense of why one might go to college, higher learning, etc. I'm maybe +1 S.D. appearance and +3? S.D. IQ but had no idea until much much later.

  • History books tend to be extremely biased (America is a christian nation, gosh darn it) (but my parents somehow mostly avoided this)

  • Biology books tend to be completely wrong because you have to lie a lot when you don't believe evolution (I'm still pissed about this)

  • Science/astronomy books tend to have wrong sections because you have to lie a lot when you believe the earth is 6000 years old

Of these problems, most of the really bad ones seem easy to prevent if you're aware of them. I expect I could do a really awesome job of homeschooling myself and a really terrible job of homeschooling a more normal ... (read more)

Good thing you were homeschooled then. The latter is much more common than the former. What is this mythical thing you speak of? Oh, wait, you did say "America". At the risk of being annoying by repeating myself on this point: Outside the US, UK and Tokyo (and more recently some parts of China), there is no such thing as "public schools with good gifted programs". In fact, for most of the population, there is simply no such thing as "public schools with gifted programs". I suspect that for a significant fraction of countries, you could even drop the "public" part altogether. On another note, most of the "Cons" listed after "After Algebra II, you're on your own" seem to be situational and just as likely to occur in a public school as in homeschooling. Including the part about a sense of position. Public high schools don't always give you a good accurate sense of your position applied in the real world, they usually instead give you a sense of how much things are broken. So all in all, I'd say as far as education goes for most people in the world, or even for most people in first-world countries, or even for most middle-class-or-higher children living in urban environments, if the listed cons are really the worst of it then you've had a comparatively superb education.
For a few years I was teaching in a public school for giften children in Slovakia. It required IQ at least 2 standard deviations above the mean (i.e. Mensa level). Originally the requirement was both for students and teachers. Later, the requirement for teachers was dropped (because these days the schools in Slovakia consider themselves lucky to find any teachers), but it seems to me most of the teachers there would fulfill the requirement anyway. I was told we should be lucky that such school exists, because in most European countries, the mere existence of such school would be "politically incorrect". (In Czech Republic, a similar project had to be done as a private school. And in some countries, probably even that would be impossible.) Even here, many people seem driven mad by the idea that the nature already gave advantage to some people and now the society is going to help them even more. It's like only the unlucky people deserve any help. Many people express the opinion that the smart children should stay in the same schools as the less smart children, because it is somehow supposed to help the less smart children. And we should not care whether it harms the smart ones; they already are privileged, aren't they? Or there is a rationalization that for a gifted child, being separated from you equally smart peers and spending all times with the average kids is a good thing, because when they grow up, they will have to deal with the average people most of the time, so they better learn it while they are young. It is as if people believed that a gifted child spending their time with other gifted children will inevitably become an autist or member of some evil mastermind clique, but surrounded with average children they will become a happy normal kid. (Ironically, most parents don't care about IQ of their kids, so many gifted children are discovered by being sent to psychologist after having problems in their "normal" school. Seems like the data contradict the folk
I've gotten the same kind of response up here in Canada, heard at least one account to that effect for Russia (Moscow specifically), and south america / africa can arguably be excused because they should start by having schools in the first place (they kind of do, but not enough and not everyone has access to basic education). As for the middle-east, well, you're either Taliban or you're a poseur heretical scrub, as far as I can tell. So the only "gifted" education available is to be a distinguished and promising elite of the religious teachings of [Insert locally favored sub-sect or religious curriculum]. Overall, your post very much nails all I've seen, though if I had to conjecture the simplest hypothesis I can to explain this behavior and connotation, it would be that people have this belief that everyone has an equivalent amount and distribution of strengths and weaknesses; There cannot be one human who is physically fit, much more intelligent than normal, good-looking, hard-working, and psychologically stable. If all the observable traits are there, one of the less-observable ones must be broken - "This kid is not normal, stay away from him, he could be dangerous."
This seems dubious and hard to ascertain. What evidence do you have that most other countries lack such schools? (There are public schools for gifted children in Russia, and I'd guess in many places. The usual setup is not to filter directly by IQ, as Viliam_Bur describes (which does seem potentially socially inappropriate) but to admit students based on hard competitive tests in math/physics, and have as teachers either college professors or former math/physics olympians.)
Filtering by mathematics correlates positively with filtering by IQ, but it is not the same thing. Most gifted people are not great in maths. One of advantages of teaching in a school of children filtered specifically by IQ was that it disproved my many prejudices about high-IQ people. Those children were different from the average, but it was not easy to say how exactly; the simple explanations all failed. For example some of them were great at maths, certainly much higher ratio than in the average school, but most of them were not. Similarly with other traits -- many interesting traits were more frequent than in the normal population, and yet, even within the gifted population they remained a minority; just a greater minority than usual. If you try to filter by these traits, you will find many gifted people, but even more gifted people you will filter out. As a student I was in a math-oriented high school. I would say most people there were highly intelligent too. Yet, it was different. The interesting aspect of the IQ-filtering school for gifted children is that you get many talents of a different kind together. Often you have one child with multiple talents -- in a math-oriented school they would probably develop some of them and supress the rest. In IQ-oriented school, they can develop their math talent during the math lessons, and e.g. artistic talent during their art lessons. Without an IQ-oriented school they would have to choose, either math or art; or at least only one of them at school, and other only in afternoon activities. As an example: on the school for gifted children we started organizing a high-school competition in making computer games. That is not exceptional per se; there exist many other programming competitions. The difference is that in a typical programming competition, you have an exact problem, and you get points for algorithm that solves the problem. In this game-making competition you get points for multiple aspects of the game: gra
My primary evidence is that Canada is more on the liberal and open side of things relating to most countries in the world, has a higher diversity of educational programs than in most places AFAIK, and is quite high up the prosperity and economic stability scale by current worldwide standards - yet it has no such things as public schools with gifted programs. The closest to "gifted" programs there is is the International Baccalaureate program, and yet even that gets diluted and stretched into an additional unnecessary year in Quebec (the rest of Canada implements the program a bit more directly, without the additional stretch year). There is no additional content, and the program that I took here barely meets the basic requirements for the certificate of accomplishment for Middle Years of the Baccalaureate program (this I obtained together with my local Diplome du Secondaire, slightly inferior to an actual High School diploma, at age 17.) Basically, If you're gifted here in Canada, the best you can hope for is to either get lucky with a private school filled with awesome teachers, or have excellent homeschooling. Since Canada scales rather high on the aforementioned global metrics, and I have a decent prior that Canada has a bigger per-capita education budget than most countries, it seems likely that Canada not having any such schools is much more likely in worlds where having such schools is a very rare or special thing for a country, rather than in worlds where Canada is somehow a strange cultural outlier and represents the exceptions. I have specific evidence of such schools in the US, I remember hearing of two examples in the UK (but I don't remember the examples themselves - sorry), and I've read or heard many times of such schools in Tokyo. China pumping lots of money into anything makes the news, and I've seen a few articles that says they're expanding their current programme to get more geniuses working for them in the future. ----------------------------
(My objection is primarily to your apparent overconfidence in the strong claim about the absence of such programs in most countries, for which you do seem to lack adequate evidence, and so it is incorrect to assert it in that form.)
I agree. It felt like I had more evidence, and I had a strong belief of comparative mental category to things that warrant such confidence. Thanks for leading me to debunk this.
Well, as I recall the gifted program I attended (in the States, in Texas specifically) was just harder busywork. Logic puzzles featured prominently, and there were crosswords instead of wordfinds. It was there that I formalized my hatred of formal logic problems. (The problems frequently featured concepts or information which, if you used knowledge which came from outside the puzzle, would lead you to the wrong answer. Not uncommon in logic puzzles, and completely wrongheaded; it always reeks of doublethink to me.)
Thanks for the input! Could you clarify if this means "an answer marked as wrong, but probably correct in the real world" or rather "an answer clearly wrong in the real world, with the premises of the puzzle broken"? I also notice that the latter interpretation leaves ambiguous whether those answers would usually be marked correct or wrong, which might be intentionally left out if there's no specific correlation there.
I'm uncertain what you mean by the latter - the former is one case, but if you mean that the correct answer to the logic puzzle would clearly be wrong in the real world, the latter is also true. So possibly both; I was referring to a pretty broad category of poorly-considered logic puzzles.
Ah, yes, upon re-reading my wording wasn't quite clear either. What I was referring to is an annoying category of puzzles that require certain specific outside knowledge bits to arrive to the "correct" answer as would be marked, even though by the premises of the puzzle and the information given this is clearly a wrong answer and the desired answer isn't even applicable to the real world in non-contrived scenarios. In other words, a specific subset of the broad category of poorly-considered logic puzzles. Since you were referring to its parent/superset, the point is rather moot.
I got a heavy dose of "think for yourself" from my parents that not all homeschool kids get. Some kids I knew got really huge amounts of religious indoctrination. I was well into my 20's when I finally deconverted, so I guess I did, too. (I'm not entirely sure if they expected me to actually "think for myself" or not if it meant changing my mind about something like evolution, but regardless, I certainly did learn to do that.)
I guess enough people have said similar things to me that it's time to update my opinion. Certainly, it could have been much worse.
Indeed. I do agree that by the standards we should hold ourselves to, or at least the standards I wish we had, your education doesn't sound all that appealing at all.
To add to the other countries people have mentioned, Australia has them too.
Doing no sport isn't good. It helps to develop a healthy body. I would however prefer methologies like Feldenkrais or Martial Arts over the standard school curriculum. Most of the negatives that you list have to do with the way that your parents chose the books. If your parents wouldn't have been fundamental Christians they could have given you much better books.
My younger siblings did end up in some sort of group homeschool PE class. My mom tried a few things before finding that, which apparently was nice. I put it in the "pro" category only because I think I would have really hated PE. I wouldn't say my life was completely devoid of physical activity, just probably less than average. Agree, but it's my understanding that most homeschoolers do so for religious reasons. I trust the average LWer to do a lot better on this score than the average christian.
Doing no sport isn't good, but doing no PE can be good, given that a possible consequence of PE is that you learn to hate sport and end up doing even less of it than you would have otherwise.
My first skim of this made me think I was reading and advertisement for Dapoxetine. Perhaps it's been too long since I've been in highschool...
It would be good to have some officially recommened (not mandatory, just offered as a standard solution) list of textbooks for homeschooling, preferably free online. So everyone who would want to know what they are missing, could just read the textbooks. Also it would be helpful for parents that avoid schools for reasons other than disagreeing with the curriculum. Perhaps one day Khan Academy or someone similar will make it. (On the other hand, one day the fundamentalists will have their own alternative version, probably called Jesus Academy.)
Several fundamentalist christian groups do exactly that, except for the free online part. Makes indocrina--er, teaching easy for people. My mom mixed and matched and mostly evaded the worst stuff everywhere except science.
Martial arts are good for getting some people who aren't interested in usual team sports to enjoy being active, but they're also very bad at getting many people who do enjoy more standard activities to be active. This brings to mind Yvain's experience teaching, where he found that the most effective methods to getting to most students were exactly the ones he'd found boring as a kid. I've never participated in a Feldenkrais session, but looking it up, it doesn't strike me as something most students would be enthusiastic about either.
My issue isn't so much with methods of teaching as with content. I don't think that there any reason that justifies teaching a kid to jump as wide or as high as possible. The same goes for activities like shot putting. If you optimize your jumb for distance you aren't optimizing it for using your body in a way that prevents you from hurting your back. A goal of present sport eduction is to train children to be good at the Olympic activities. I object to that goal. As far as team sports go they aren't as bad but I still don't think they are optimzed to teach useful life skills.
Not in theory. If you ask school administrators or state education officials, they're more likely to tell you that it's about teaching kids discipline, teamwork, getting in shape and so on. In practice, kids' sports have become increasingly specialized and competitive, with parents investing huge amounts of time and money into their kids' training, and sports injuries, especially overuse injuries which were almost unheard of in child athletes a few decades ago, have shot up dramatically. It's hard to restructure kids' sports programs to better address the purposes they're nominally geared towards though, because the sports activities are strongly driven by parents who want to see their kids compete.
Getting kids to do broad jumps doesn't seem to me to maximize either discipline, teamwork or getting in shape. Schools should just cut out the whole track and field athletics business. If you want kids to do basketball, I have no problem. Let them compete in basketball. The sport was created in the late 19th century by a physical education professor who thought a bit to create a good team sport. While we are at a topic, there are also team sports created in the 20th cenutry. Underater hockey seems like a good candidate for a sport that provides benefits.
Track and field does do quite a lot to get students in shape; most of the fittest students I knew in high school were track athletes. And it certainly requires considerable discipline. A large part of the trouble with changing the athletic curriculum though, is that the people who're most in need of basic, safe athletic training to improve their fitness are those who, along with their parents, are least involved in the current system. The people who participate in the system, who have the most power to shape it, are mostly sports practitioners, coaches and enthusiasts, for whom the bottom line is already written.
Not completely. If you go as an adult to a gym they might give you crossfit which is a modern system. They are not likely to tell you to do broad jumps.
Gyms make money by catering to what the clients want. School gyms don't care what the clients want, because the clients are a captive audience. School gyms give kids what the parents and coaches want for the kids. Suppose that instead of paying to go to the gym voluntarily, all adults were made to go to the gym, and all adult competitive sports practitioners were selected from among gym attendees and encouraged to get into sports based on their gym performance. Gym activities would tend to become highly sports oriented, even if the nominal reason for mandatory gym attendance was to promote fitness.
These three seem like one point (biased curriculum.) I'm surprised by the socialization ones; I thought there were studies saying homeschoolers were actually socialized just fine, thank you? (It's possible you were just unusual in this regard, I guess.)
Agree, similar points, I split it out because it's apparently possible to be relatively sane about american history and relatively insane about evolution, which I wouldn't have expected. From my large sample size of two or three, other homeschoolers I know got both or neither. I have two hypotheses; first, most of my social-interaction-hours growing up were spent with adults. As a result I got (I think) very good at impressing adults, but pretty much didn't understand my peers at all. I'm not sure if the studies can confirm or refute this, I haven't looked in detail. I wouldn't trust homeschoolers themselves to be rational about this. It's also worth noting that homeschooling is not terribly unified, my experience may have been atypical. Second hypothesis is that I started life out with -3 S.D. social skills and public school wouldn't change that.
Incidentally, I suspect that it would be great if most kids spent most of their time interacting only with adults, so that when they did meet each other kids, much of the painful conflict and pointless costly signaling associated with typical teenage years could just be skipped over.
Hm. I was going to say that I don't think that policy will have that effect-- but after a bit of thought, I'm not quite sure if I know what you mean by "painful conflict and pointless costly signaling associated with typical teenage years." Can you give an example? ...maybe this supports your point...
Things like smoking and excessive drinking for the sake of showing that you're Cool and Rebellious for doing the exact things that the adults say you shouldn't do, for example. It's easy to see why that kind of behavior might emerge in an environment where other kids your age are your ingroup that you want to impress, and adults are the outgroup that you can attack in order to distinguish yourself. But if adults were actually the ingroup you were trying to impress, it seems like people would be more likely to try to impress them by actually acting more mature, and that "maturity is high status" would carry over even to the more limited interactions they had with folks their own age.
I see. I guess I am an example in favor of your theory. I'm not entirely sure that this is an unambiguously good thing, though, because sometimes you should impress your peers in ways adults would not approve. Or, to put it another way, the optimal balance of grown-up-ness and fun shouldn't have a factor of 0 for either category... (I suppose if the adults were never wrong about classifying things as fun-but-harmful, then I'd change my mind.)
Ooh, I hadn't though of that one. On the one hand, I don't think these were conducted by homeshoolers or based on surveys. On the other hand, I only think that this is supported by studies because a homeschooling-related website told me so, while I was looking for material to support my argument regarding a specific individual (who I'm pretty sure was at -1 S.D and wasn't likely to improve in public school.) I hadn't seen anything to contradict it till your comment, and it seemed like it should have a fairly high prior, so...
This may be only anecdotal evidence, but I would consider being bullied for a bit a positive net influence in my life for a couple reasons: * I have always been somewhat arrogant. While being bullied did not decrease said arrogance, or even immediately result in any changes, when I looked back and saw how people treating me made me feel, it became somewhat of a motivator to mask some of my arrogance to spare others feelings. As knowing the right people can make a large difference in various opportunities, I feel some opportunities I have received had I not learned to mask said arrogance. * Eventually you learn to deal with it. While bullying to the extreme someone kills themself is clearly bad, and in other cases it can seriously damage people's psyches, for others "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger". I learned that while there are some people you can "make" like you by acting differently, some people are just shitty people and not worth your time. There's a balance between the social benefits of people liking you and the stress of ping too far to being a people pleaser. This is far from an advocation of bullying, but without it those lessons would have been much harder to come by. I feel the social benefits, even accepting the risk that bullying could happen and have a significantly negative influence, outweigh a lot of the benefits of homeschooling. I would most likely take an approach similar to my own parents'. I went to a public school, and when I came home I had a library of thousands of books to browse and read from. I still was able to get the benefits of being able to teach myself, but without the loss of social interaction (even parentally provided social interaction doesn't match up, in my opinion, as the people you're interacting with will likely be far less varied in nature).
(No argument with anything you're saying, but I'd like to record my skepticism that uncontrolled bullying is the best way to provide people like you with that particular service, and skepticism that there are very many people who require that service.)
Also keep in mind that you're going to have to deal with assholes once you hit the real world. While protecting children from them at young ages is an idealistic goal, at some level you will have to learn to face them. In a lot of less than extreme circumstances, you can learn and improve strategies to handle them.
I'm not trying to imply that bullying is good by any means. I also don't think it is nearly as terrible as it is portrayed to be. It is extremely dramatized by the media because of the few instances where it is extreme and the bullied takes extreme action. In a lot of cases "bullying" is minor in nature and not significantly different than other "initiation rites" at higher ages. I am all for teachers doing their best to prevent bullying, but some minor things should be let go. As for homeschooling, for a parent considering it I would add the pro that you can increase the pace of the cirriculum to keep your child from getting bored by mindless repetition. Again from personal experience, I could have learned several classes (particularly math) much faster than it is taught in a public school environment, and as a result I didn't do homework (I would get 70's in classes counting homework as 30%) because I didn't think I was learning anything. So being able to pace classes efficiently would be a significant pro for homeschooling. I would once more emphasize the positives of social interaction, and find a way, whether through sports, or preferably a way involving both sexes, to make sure your child is getting that interaction. My point on bullying isn't that I think it's a net positive, just that the negatives aren't as extreme as portrayed in the media and aren't enough to seriously cut into the benefits of the socialization.
What was bad about the Saxon program for you? I liked its spaced repetition; though being taught in a private school by a retired engineer probably masked any shortcomings in the textbooks. Should I stop recommending Saxon math?
Well, I don't actually know. I do know that math/physics in college was a lot easier, not sure if due to teacher or that it was review for me or what. I'm the sort of person that just wants to understand the concepts and really hates rote repetition, so I can't say I enjoyed it. (I write computer programs to do the rote repetition!) Mostly I was saying that because I had a public school math teacher express pity upon learning that I learned with Saxon. Maybe it's just fine for some people?
When I read this I thought “yes they are, but aren't teachers biased as well?”, but then I read the following two bullets and I realized you might have had in mind a waaaaaay higher level of bias than I had.
Some of the books have a lot of material on how "godly" the founding fathers were, how america is like the fulfillment of prophecies, etc. I have no idea how bad normal history books are, though. For my folks, the opposite meme sort of won ("christians are a tiny, persecuted minority in this country"). Some people manage to believe both memes at the same time, but not my parents.
I don't know much about the US, but here in Italy, until one or two decades ago, some people say history textbooks tended to have a left-wing bias whereby communists in the 20th century (esp. WWII) were depicted in a more favourable light; and then they were called out for this and they've probably overcompensated for that. (I don't know much about 20th-century history from anywhere else, so I won't judge myself.)

I thought I'd share this story about a recent, very strange event involving fixing a problem with a large inferential distance. I don't know what I should conclude from it, but, even with what I've said about "real understanding", I didn't expect this to happen.

At work, my technical lead wanted to spend a day with me to fix a bug that was causing major problems in our site. In order to be helpful on this task, however, I had to get up to speed on the infrastructure of the website. So my lead started the day by explaining it to me, and I made sure to ask for clarification on anything I either didn't understand OR (and this is important) that I could not connect with the rest of the system (in my mental model of it).

The discussion eventually turned to the matter of what happens when you commit a change to the code, i.e., update it to a slightly newer version.

On that topic, he eventually explained, "Next, the 1st server tells the other (redundant) servers to act as if they were upgraded to the new version of the code (in technical jargon, it changes the "dependencies" of the other servers and their resulting "virtual environment".) But before i... (read more)

This isn't uncommon. I've had lots of experiences where I go over to someone else's desk to help with some bug/compile error/etc, but they figure out the cause while explaining the problem, or after I ask a "stupid" question. Conclusion: try explaining your problems to an inanimate object on your desk. Sometimes the solution is obvious, if you can activate all the necessary concepts in your brain at the same time...
Its called rubberducking, after a guy who (allegedly) used a rubber duck as the inanimate object.

I'm moving to Los Angeles. I leave on the 21st. If anyone along this or another route wants to give me a shower and bed for a night, it will soon be your chance to do so!

By the way, I am Grognor. I created this account because I didn't want to get karma for posting open threads or the monthly rationality quotes threads.


That's a particularly clever way of circumventing this. Almost against the spirit of the prediction...

If you need a shower and a bed after just two hours of driving, you're probably doing something wrong; but I'll wave when I guess you're going past Tampa.
Downvoted for being mean.
I think khafra was trying to say that he's too close to the starting location to be of any use.
Yes; thank you for getting it, and thanks to MileyCyrus for letting me know I succumbed to the illusion of transparency.
Yeah, your original statement is a tricky type of communication to pull off. I think it only works if everybody knows that everybody knows that "OpenThreadGuy is smelly" is so obviously false that it's not even in your hypothesis space. (And unfortunately, the fact that it's not in your hypothesis space makes it difficult to notice the other way to read the comment.) I think that makes it basically impossible for it to work over the internet.
Your route comes within 10 minutes of my place in Phoenix. PM me if you want to coordinate.

I'm writing this from an airplane on the way to Berkeley CA for the CFAR workshop. Thank you Yvain, Alicorn, and MBlume for lending me a couch before the workshop, and ShannonFriedman for doing the same after.

Edit: Thanks also to Shannon's Zendo housemates Nisan, AlexMennen, and Peter_de_Blanc.

I would like to be president. That way, I could do what I think would be best for the country. Now, people always like to be very very modest and say "Well, I don't particularly want to be the president, but if the people want me..." I think that's a lot of nonsense. If you are a politician and you're the leader of a party, then you should want to get government power in your hands that you may be able to work out all these ideas and visions that you've harbored so long for your country.

--Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma on BBC's Desert Island Disks.

I'm posting this because a while ago, someone linked to a Moldbug piece about it not being socially possible for politicians to admit that they want power. The interviewer says that Aung San Suu Kyi is the only politician she's interviewed who was willing to say that she wants power.

The other unique thing Aung San Suu Kyi did was to ask for a piece of music she hadn't heard before for one of her eight disks for the desert island.


I'm Starting a New Blog

As suggested by some I'm starting a new blog. I prefer communities to lonely things such as one man blogs, especially if the latter have long periods of inactivity. Originally discussed here.

Some problems have been noted by several users on discussing topics from a perspective rather interesting to me on LessWrong. I don't think this is likely to be a better venue for them in the future and has been degrading in this regard for several months, so we've decided to discuss them elsewhere. It still is a great site for some other topics and I may hang around for this, I don't want to be a splitter though we will probably have blackjack and hookers. LWers having blogs elsewhere is a good thing!

So far ErikM, nyan_sandwich, Athrelon, paper-machine, KarmaKaiser and MichaelAnissimov as well as several other LWers have said they would like to join as co-authors. If anyone else is interested please respond to this post or PM me your email adress? Details on the new blog will be discussed via email.

I don't have a good idea for a name yet, so I'd very much appreciate any suggestions. :)

I think it would be a good idea to cross post or link to your blog posts in Discussion, at least until people like myself get a feel for whether this blog is something we want to follow on its own. I don't know if there are strong community pressures against making posts that are just links to your own blog, though.
I don't think there are any such community pressures, as long as a summary accompanies the link.
I also wish to subscribe to your newsletter.
You're still in the 2012 thread. Edit: No, wait, this is apparently posted in 2013 but labeled 2012. Bah.

I'm moving to SF bay area next month. (Hired by large well-known tech company!) It seems like a number of you live there. I'm interested in misc tips, suggestions on where to live, upcoming meetups, etc. I know a few people in the area, but not that many, so I'm looking to expand my social circle, something I'm traditionally not very good at... Feel free to PM me or comment here.

Welcome! There are weekly LW meetups in Mountain View and in Berkeley. Subscribe to the bayarealesswrong list to find out more.

Link to an article polling attendants to a quantum foundations conference:

A Snapshot of Foundational Attitudes Toward Quantum Mechanics.

Those who chose Everett as their favorite interpretation were 18% (that is 6 respondents out of 33). Copenhagen (however interpreted) is still dominant, and only 9% believe in objective collapse.

Some weird results in that poll... 42% believe Copenhagen is the correct interpretation, but only 30% believe that Bohr's view of QM is correct or will ultimately turn out to be correct. So at least 12% don't think Copenhagen is Bohr's view, which leaves me wondering what they think it is. The natural assumption would be that they think of Copenhagen as an objective collapse theory (in contrast to Bohr's instrumentalism), but that can't be right because "objective collapse" was a separate and much less popular answer. I do notice, though, that the percentages on the interpretation question add up to more than 100, so perhaps some (or all) of the people who chose "objective collapse" also chose "Copenhagen". Also surprised that while 18% of respondents chose Everett, only 9% believe that the randomness in quantum mechanics is neither fundamental nor irreducible. What the what?
Because most determinists aren't everettians? Quite simple
No, look at the stats again. There are fewer determinists than there are Everettians. That's what I found puzzling. Some of the Everettians in that poll evidently believe in fundamental or irreducible quantum randomness, which suggests they don't really know what Everettianism is.
(Or, conceivably, that they are using 'randomness' differently and/or wrongly).
I think we discussed that earlier; at least, I remember adding it to the Wikipedia list of polls based on a LW mention.

I just finished Marginal Revolution University's first (and currently only) course, on Development Economics. My thoughts are: there's some pretty interesting content there, and the material itself seems correct & fair. There's no shortage of content, including far more material on India than I expected, and there's many interesting topics.

But the course has teething pains. What problems does it have?

  • Video chunks generally make under-use of visual aids; later videos often are really just Cowen or Tabarrok talking but with a generic background hiding them.
  • The questions after each segment are very low-quality - I was often able to answer them without even watching the video, but others were just random factoids like an exact percentage for a random paper.
  • They name sources and papers for further reading (great!), but fail to actually link them so you would have to manually type down each paper title into Google and maybe find a copy. More than a trivial inconvenience.
  • Ordering of videos can be weird: I think quite a few videos appear in the course listing twice, which is both confusing and wastes my time. I must have watched a dozen videos on Amartya Sen...
  • There are any numbe
... (read more)

How Bitcoin Dies by Mencius Moldbug

I encourage readers to see the whole thing, but I wished to emphasise a few points (bolded them).

Obviously, I have no inside information at all and am just speculating - as a devout student of the fascinating organism that is USG. However, my guess is that this event will happen soon - ie, probably in 2013. Why? Because of the ECB report on Bitcoin, which quoth:

All these issues raise serious concerns regarding the legal status and security of the system, as well as the finality and irrevocability of the transactions, in a system which is not subject to any kind of public oversight. In June 2011 two US senators, Charles Schumer and Joe Manchin, wrote to the Attorney General and to the Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration expressing their worries about Bitcoin and its use for illegal purposes. Mr Andresen was also asked to give a presentation to the CIA about this virtual currency scheme.

Further action from other authorities can reasonably be expected in the near future.

Neighbor, if you're at all involved with BTC, I'd advise you to heed this remarkably direct warning. You'll note that (a) the people who wrote this report do ha

... (read more)
If the government is competent enough to shut down BTC by force (which I kinda doubt), then they're probably competent enough to do something (for them) better: spread the meme that BTC is untraceable and then trace the illicit transactions. I don't think the average user of BTC is capable of pulling off an information-theoretically-untraceable transaction, if such a thing is possible at all. And how can you be sure that the FBI/CIA isn't actually running the coin-mixers? Either way, I give a low probability of bitcoin vanishing in the next year. 5%? 10%? I think I put down 5% on gwern's predictionbook entry.
This makes sense if you assume the USG shutting down bitcoin is likely to actually be about the illicit transactions. Moldbug isn't making that assumption. Neither would I.

reads article

He seems to model government as a single agent that plans and executes according to its best interests.

I model government as a collection of agents, mostly incompetent, with different incentives and interests.

If BTC indeed drops to zero via the mechanism he outlines in the coming year, I will be impressed and increase my opinion of him, which is (at the moment) somewhat low (this article being the only thing of his I've read).

It's also worth noting that most (all?) of BTC's supposed regime destroying powers depend on its magical ability to allow untraceable transactions (e.g., to avoid income tax). Since I don't think it has that ability, it follows that I don't think it's as much of a threat to governments.
Interesting, I can't recall an article Moldbug wrote with which I would agree as strongly as with this one. Maybe his recent spur of activity is worth following after all, just ignore the comment section.

I see Moldbug continues to ignore TGGP's offer of a bet on his claim that Bitcoin will probably go to zero in 2013. I'd be happy to bet, say, $50 with either you or Konkvistador that it won't go to - zero seems unfair, so maybe 5 cents - in 2013.

I wish he accepted the bet, it would increase how seriously I take him (not very much except this article). I'm willing to predictionbook it and make a karma bet on it. Sorry I'm really poor and waaaay to risk averse. Its irrational I know :( I put 30% chance on BitCoin on your 5 cents benchmark by January 1st 2014.
Gwern's comment was good but about two thirds of the commenter's are horrid.

I've noticed that LessWrong is really hard to read and navigate on a mobile device. The right side-bar takes up a significant amount of the screen, and when entering text into a comment box it tends to zoom in so that you can only see half of what you are typing. You can zoom out, but then it becomes rather hard to read. I'm using a fairly large Android phone with the default Chrome browser. When I switch to Firefox, there is a weird issue where sidebar text is tiny but main body text is readable. Is there any chance of a mobile-optimized version of the site?

Journal article link


Despite the prominent loss of motor skills, artistic capacities remain preserved in Parkinson's disease (PD). Furthermore, artistic creativity may emerge in art-naïve PD patients treated with levodopa and dopamine agonists. The present review discusses reported PD patients who developed enhanced artistic skills under anti-Parkinsonian therapy and the course of this phenomenon in the clinical context. It is unclear whether creative drive is related to dopamine dysregulation, and the mechanisms remain speculative. The delineation of the particular constellation that enables this emergence in PD patients may shed light on the comprehension of the concept of creativity in general.

From the OP's Science Daily link:

It's possible that these patients are expressing latent talents they never had the courage to demonstrate before, she suggests. Dopamine-inducing therapies are also connected to a loss of impulse control, and sometimes result in behaviors like excessive gambling or obsessional hobbies. An increase in artistic drive could be linked to this lowering of inhibitions, allowing patients to embrace their creativity. Some patients have even reported

... (read more)
Levodopa (L-DOPA) seems to be legally and commercially available as a supplement.
Yeah, I thought it would appeal to transhumanists. The interesting question is how you get increased artistic ability without the gambling. It might be a variant on wireheading. What makes for a hunt for significance which isn't sidetracked by a mere feeling of significance? I've heard that part of the hook for gambling is a feeling that winning and losing have meaning beyond the money.

Did a post purporting to solve the decision theory by srn347 just vanish from the forum, including all the comments? I thought one cannot delete other people's comments.

This being possible is a known bug. (I saw a cache of the post on Google Reader; it was a well-known observation elevated to the status of an all-powerful epiphany, and the post was also probably an early draft, since it was missing details mentioned at the beginning, which might be why it got deleted or hidden by the author.)
Huh, well apparently one can, if one deletes their own post.
As far as I know, actually deleting a post requires admin access: if you delete your own post, it just removes your authorship notice and de-indexes it from the list of posts, but it's still available if you know the URL. E.g. Roko's ugh fields post is still around.
How about moving it to drafts?
Ah, I hadn't thought of that.

At a Meetup recently we were talking about various qualities people have. Someone mentioned agreeableness / disagreeableness. I consider myself agreeable while the group said that disagreeableness is a valuable quality (Steve Jobs was given as an example of someone highly successful & highly disagreeable). I brought up another quality, which I tried to describe as "true to self-ness" -- that is, I can get along with people easily, reply to things I disagree with by saying, "I see what you're saying", but in the end, my true belief i... (read more)

I think it is valuable to signal agreeableness in most but not all contexts; in the context in which Steve Jobs worked it might have been valuable to signal disagreeableness to enhance an impression of brilliant iconoclasm. Privately, it's probably a bad idea to think of yourself as either particularly agreeable or particularly disagreeable; the extent to which you agree or disagree with people in private should vary a lot more than either of those adjectives suggest (depending on who you're agreeing or disagreeing with). I don't have an answer to your actual question, though.

An article that may be of interest to some was posted by the New Yorker criticizing Nate Silver's focus on Bayesian statistics. I don't find the arguments particularly compelling, but here it is: link

Wei Dai's tool to show all of a user's contributions on the same page no longer seems to work. Does anyone have an alternative?

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Funny, it's broken for me too. I know it was just working on 10 January because I did a full archive of all my comments/posts.

You know what, I bet that it was the update to the user profiles where http://lesswrong.com/user/gwern got moved to http://lesswrong.com/user/gwern/overview/

So probably an easy fix.

Yes, you're right, thanks for the diagnosis. It should be fixed now. Next time somebody please PM me, or reply to one of my comments, so I'll get the red envelope. (Or visit my website and email me, in case I take a break from LW.)

Looks fixed.
Works fine for me now. Thank you.

An early version of Suicide Rock.

(BTW, anyone played Adventure Story by Matt Roszak? Later levels feature a monster that made me think of Suicide Rock.)

I've played and loved all of Matt Roszak's games. He is good at making games.
Heh, I saw the reddit thread for that and was going to link Suicide Rock.

I'm Starting a New Blog

As suggested by some I'm starting a new blog. I prefer communities to lonely things such as one man blogs, especially if the latter have long periods of inactivity. Originally discussed here.

Some problems have been noted by several users on discussing topics from a perspective rather interesting to me on LessWrong. I don't think this is likely to be a better venue for them in the future and has been degrading in this regard for several months, so we've decided to discuss them elsewhere. It still is a great site for some other topics ... (read more)

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Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.
You impressed me in several virtual LW meetup and IRC conversations, I'm quite excited to hear you wish to join. Welcome aboard!
Well this is embarrassing... I guess the reactionary is always a few years behind the times. Moved comment. Edit: I thought I made the mistake but apparently there was a mistake in the title.

Are donations to the Singularity Institute tax deductible in Australia?

From what I have been able to research they are not. See for example.

This article is interesting, particularly as the topic of LW parenting does come up occasionally.

What the author describes doesn't exactly promote rational thinking in the kids, rather telling them how to win arguments, but there is a degree of evaluation-of-argument in there ("Mary should give you the car because she's a pig?") and it teaches a useful skill early. Rationalists should win after all.

I recently noticed "The Fable of the Dragon-Tyrant" under the front page's Featured Articles section, which caused me to realize that there's more to Featured Articles than the Sequences alone. This particular article (an excellent one, by the way) is also not from Less Wrong itself, yet is obviously relevant to it; it's hosted on Nick Bostrom's personal site.

I'm interested in reading high-quality non-Sequences articles (I'm making my way through the Sequences separately using the [SEQ RERUN] feature) relevant to Less Wrong that I might have miss... (read more)

The featured articles are controlled by the wiki, and thus the history is accessible, if awkward.

I'm running a bookclub on my blog for Naming Infinity: A True Story of Mysticism and Mathematical Creativity about how the development of set theory was influenced by Russian Orthodox theology and vice versa. Folks are welcome to pop back in Feb, when posts on the topic go up, but you should PM or email me if you're interested in reading along and contributing guest posts.

Dear MIRI:

This is ludicrous behaviour.

What the fuck are you thinking? I mean, really. What the fuck?

I'm not MIRI affiliated, and not saying this to proudly display my banners. But when an account is labelled as destructive/trollish and it is explicitly stated that his/her comments are subject to be removed whenever encountered, then such deletions should come as no surprise. Consider you labelled someone as a troll and wanted to dissuade him/her from having a presence at your forum. Would you need to sift through every comment of his/her checking whether it has some merit or not? That's asking for a lot and may be counter productive, allowing that person to build credibility which can then be used to have a more attentive audience when presenting the content that's considered trollish/destructive.
You're using the passive voice a lot there ... who decided these things?
Well, fair enough. It still strikes me as problematic, potentially quite severely so, but it is in fact yours to keep all the pieces of.
8Paul Crowley
David - you're a strong critic of lots of stuff about CFAR, MIRI, Less Wrong. Have any of your comments ever been deleted?
I recall that I'm in quite a few of the vast fields of comment deleted, though I don't have a string to show you to hand (my comment history is long and annoying to dredge through a page at a time), so I offer only my admittedly fallible memory. I haven't noticed individual targeted zappings of any. I suspect I've had less deletions than Dmytry because I like LW really, I just find its all-too-human stupidities as annoying as any and have an unfortunately defective tact filter.

No, you've "had less deletions" because you're often mistaken, but you're not a fucking troll and there's an obvious fucking difference. I don't think you've ever run afoul of the deletion policy unless you were in a general thread that was getting stomped.

It seems to me that the claim that criticism is being targeted for deletion is obviously false, and I remark that it is amazing what people will talk themselves into when they find it politically convenient to believe. But I'm not deleting your comments claiming so, because that's got nothing to do with the stated and practiced moderation policies.

Obviously, trolls will post "critical" comments to provoke reactions and so that they can scream censorship afterward (concern trolling) but there's lots, and lots, and LOTS of non-troll criticism on LW which doesn't get deleted. Like, you know, the meta stuff in this open thread. It brought the trolls out to play and the trolls got deleted - and what's left is more than 50% critical, which is a normal day on LW.

I hope that clears things up.

From my limited experience running and helping to run channels and forums, life is easier when you have clearly defined ground rules, and any deletion is stamped with something like "violation 3.1 (a)", the way it is on traffic tickets. Additionally, a simple and clear appeal process goes a long way toward reducing temper flare-ups. Some of the meta rules tend to be * appeal request can only be made by the original post/comment author in PM. Appeal decisions are final. * appeal notice and appeal outcome is posted in the thread, which is locked for the duration of the appeal and permanently if the decision stands, with all downstream comments deleted at the discretion of the moderator. * all discussion of forum rules and moderation decisions must happen in a single thread "forum rules". * no public discussion allowed of a particular moderation decision in the moderated thread itself or any thread other than the "forum rules" thread (redundant, but usually necessary). The main goal is, of course, shifting the discussion from the cries of "censorship!" over a particular moderation decision to that of forum rules.

Some of what people call "trolling" (on the net in general, not LW specifically) amounts to asymmetrical resource starvation attacks against humans. This sort of troll can be modeled as thinking, "What's the least work I can do, that will elicit the costliest response from the mods / regulars / other suckers?"

If the process for dealing with alleged trolls is itself costly for mods or regulars, then it becomes a vulnerability.

Or, for example, the most-upvoted post in LW's history.
It's been deleted now AFAIK, but this post was dismissed as an outlier due to Karnofsky's relative celebrity. Establishing an historical trend (which does exist, as far as I recall) would be more useful evidence.
E.g. check out the anonymous multifoliaterose's numerous positive balance SI and specifically EY-critical posts, some of them rather harsh indeed in content, although mostly following usual conversational and politeness norms (with some striking exceptions): http://lesswrong.com/lw/2l8/existential_risk_and_public_relations/ http://lesswrong.com/lw/2lh/other_existential_risks/ http://lesswrong.com/lw/2lr/the_importance_of_selfdoubt/ http://lesswrong.com/lw/2m5/transparency_and_accountability/ http://lesswrong.com/lw/3aa/friendly_ai_research_and_taskification/
No, not deleted. You can find it easily by visiting the top posts page. More recent examples include this and this.
I meant that the comment expressing the sentiment that Karnofsky is an outlier has been deleted, AFAIK. Of course the actual post hasn't been deleted, or else it couldn't be used an example at all.
Deleted posts are still visible on user pages.
Really? That doesn't seem to be the kind of comment that it would be appropriate to delete. (Unless it was in a trollish-subthread or by a troll sockpuppet.)
It was by Dmytry, and Eliezer has been mass-deleting comments written by Dmytry and peterdjones, by user rather than by comment/thread. Huge swathes of my own comments from conversations with Dmytry have been deleted, to my chagrin.
It was, IIRC.
Why was this downvoted? It's a reasonable question with a real answer.
What had the comment been saying before deletion?
1Eliezer Yudkowsky
User is welcome to post in the page referenced here: http://lesswrong.com/r/discussion/lw/gkv/official_lw_uncensored_thread_on_reddit/

I'm beginning research for a literature review on the up-and-coming use of Bayesian methods in experimental psychology (as part of my MSc course). Does anyone have any cool examples/references they'd like to point me at? Thanks!

Have you looked at http://www.indiana.edu/~kruschke/ 's papers?
I have - thanks, though!

Does the

"If you don't know what you need, take power"

quote have any origin before Final words? I searched for it but only found it in a post on heuristics that linked back there.

The quote appeals to me to the extent that I'm considering adopting it as a general life strategy, but I'd like more discussion around it and arguments for or against. (If you have any feel free to post here.)

I haven't seen anything, and I thought it was original to Eliezer's story.
Possibly relevant: What You'll Wish You'd Known.

So something I've mused about before..

I think it'd be good to train yourself as an accurate reporter somehow - for example the ability to accurately summarise an article, or report on something someone said.

This is an area where I feel personally slightly weak, in that I often tend to exaggerate and use hyperbole when it's not appropriate.

I have visions of some sort of game - one person picks an article, and the other has to write an accurate summary of it, without distortion. Maybe a third person then grades the two versions? I'm not sure how to inject the fun part.

It seems likely this is already some sort of recognised writing technique, perhaps studied by journalists.

Is there a discussion anywhere of the epistemic issues involved in timeless or acausal decision theory? For example, if it's about acausal trade between agents: how do you know about the other agent's existence and properties? How do you figure out what agents are out there, that care about what you do, and about whose actions you should care? If you don't have a rational basis for your beliefs about the existence and nature of the agents you imagine to be on the other side of an acausal trade, can you even be said to be trading?

Eliezer's latest sequence may answer some of your questions.
Isn't acausal trade supposed to be able to work with agents that could have existed, but don't?

Does anyone know about Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation? It can apparently be used to stimulate concentration, 'flow' and allow low level wireheading.

Seems like if its as easy as the article implies it might be cheaper and more effective than nootropics for cognitive enhancement etc.

There's a reddit on the topic.
If you search LW, you'll see it's come up before. No one's reported impressive results yet.
I'm tempted to self experiment on this. But I suspect that without a background in neuroscience I might end up accidentally taking stupid risks.

What is the exact origin of the term 'confirmation bias'? Wikipedia asserts it was coined by Wason, but cites only a 2002 article (of which I can only see the abstract); the Wason paper linked by our own wiki article doesn't seem to use the phrase.

A quick search on Google Scholar returns this article as one of the top hits. The citation is to
Google doesn't find "confirmation bias" in that book. (It does find "confirmation" and "bias"---the latter appearing at least twice in the phrase "bias towards verification". The "verification" terminology suggests Popper's verification|falsification dichotomy, which at least according to Johnson-Laird was the inspiration for Wason's 2-4-6 task.) (Also, how did you get an OCR error in your quote there?)
Copied the quote from the PDF of the paper, which somebody had presumably run through OCR.

I'm seeing things like

P(A|B) = \frac{P(B | A)\, P(A)}{P(B)}

in the wiki (instead of rendered math), and I can't figure out why.

Thanks for the report. I've created a ticket on the issue tracker.

Empirical estimates suggest most published medical research is true


OK, so now we need a meta-analysis of these meta-analyses...

I don't think it works in the sense of refuting the earlier results by Ioannidis etc. Remember that much of that previous work is based on looking at replication rates and changes as sample sizes increase - so actually empirical in a meaningful way. This simply aggregates all p-values, takes them at face value, and tries to infer what the false positive rate 'should' be. It doesn't seem to account in any way for the many systematic errors involved or biases or problems in the process, only covers false positives and not false negatives (so ignores issues of statistical power, which is a serious problem in psychology, anyway, although I think medical trials are better powered). I'd take their estimate of a 17% false positive rate as a lower bound. I also question some other aspects; for example, they dismiss the idea that the false positive rate is increasing because it hits p=0.18 - but if you look at pg11, every journal sees a net increase in false positive rates from the beginning of their sample to the end, although there's enough variation that the beginning/end difference doesn't hit 0.05. So there is a clear trend here, and I have to wonder: if they looked at more than 5 journals over a decade, would the extra data make it hit significance? (A 0.5% increase each year is very troubling, since that implies very bad things for the long-term.) I liked their data collection strategy, though; scraping - not just for hackers!
Yep, I agree. This is definitely an (optimistic) lower limit. Good that these studies are gaining attention, though a systemic change would be needed to get us out of this.
Gelman's comments: One of the authors replies in the comments:

So I was watching my daily Glenn Beck when I found this passionate video of his talking about a coming Singularity, uploaded 1/17/13.

Kurzweil, law of accelerating returns, exponential growth with that famous Chinese chess board example, the whole shebang.

Also doing powers of 2 like a baws.

2Eliezer Yudkowsky
Well, there's not much interest in the Singularity around LW. Did he say anything about an intelligence explosion?
He also had a chapter on it in a recent book, discussed here.

Aaron Jacob aka Graaaaaagh, has been doing a reading of the Open Letter to Open Minded Progressives sequence from Moldbug on his Youtube channel. So far:

Nicotine gum users survey: http://www.stoptabac.ch/en/Gums/

Takes about 10 minutes; you can not answer any question that is inapplicable (as a great many of them are, since I have never used a tobacco product).

Past research using this survey:

Do you still use Nicotine gums, following your tests?
Yes. EDIT: I should explain that a little more: the one test was not definitive. It would've been nice if I could have shown a real effect on WM, but effect or no effect, the literature on nicotine & mental performance seems solid enough to override one particular kind of test.

Site question: In my miniprofile, near the karma score, there is another number. What is the meaning of that number?

It's your karma for the past 30 days. (It should say this if you hover your mouse pointer over it, which doesn't help if you don't have a mouse pointer.) It's not computed in real time so it's sometimes out of sync with your total karma.

Are the Ratonalist Conspiracy anything to do with LW?

Yes. That's Alyssa Vance's blog and she's one of us.
At least on article has been cross-posted and I saw a lot of LW related terms just skimming it so I assume it at least has a LWer writing it.

I have a question about timeless physics. If the future state of the universe is only based on the current state with no reference to time then what determines how much the universe changes from state to state? Removing time seems to reintroduce Zeno's paradox. Either the universe changes in discrete steps or something else has to keep track of how much the universe changes at each step and the only way I can think of to measure how much it changes is a derivative with respect to "time".

Any better insights?

Do you think continuous spatial + temporal dimensions have problems continuous spatial dimensions lack? If so, what and why?
It may be that I don't have a good understanding of quantum mechanics. In Newtonian mechanics the state of the universe is dependent on the prior position and velocity of and forces on all the particles. The velocity and forces are both expressed in terms of the derivative of time so if time was removed from the equations Zeno's paradox would imply that either nothing could ever move or that motion was discontinuous whenever the next state of the universe was calculated. From browsing wikiepdia it looks like that there are time-dependent as well as time-independent Schrödinger equations used for moving and stationary states, respectively. Is it actually possible to express the entire universe as a single time-independent equation? If so, does that mean that what we actually experience at any "time" is just a random sample from the steady-state probability distribution? Does that mean we should always expect the universe to tend toward some specific distribution (maybe just the heat death)?
Yes. If your original question, "what determines how much the universe changes from state to state?", is meant to refer to spacelike "states", then the answer (which requires only general relativity) is the geometry of spacetime. But the "states" in the Wheeler--DeWitt equation are spacetimes, so in that context "the universe" differs "from state to state", but it doesn't "change."

Does the list of all articles include posts in discussion? If not, is there another list that does? Finally, is there some interesting reason that it stops in August 2012, or is that just a result of people not updating it? Thanks.

No. http://lesswrong.com/r/discussion/recentposts It seems useless to me, but I sometimes still update the list when people bring it up (I've just updated it). The original purpose was to have a place to reference concepts that correspond to articles, but people are no longer doing that (for the most part, references to the concepts only got filled in for the earlier posts from the Sequences).
Pretty sure it's just because of people not updating it.

Recently in some thread someone posted a story that they warned against as a mental hazard / basilisk-like / something like that. I think it had three initials starting with "S" and some number after that. I noticed the link but didn't follow at the time, and now I'm failing to find it again though I'm interested in doing so. (the forum's Search function is likewise problematic).

Anyone remember what thread this happened in, so that I can actually follow that damn link? Thanks in advance.

Multiheaded mentioned -- but, for basilisk reasons, refrained from linking to -- SCP-231. I don't find it any more disturbing than Le Guin's "The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas" (summary with spoilers on Wikipedia), to which it bears a strong conceptual resemblance, but if you'd like to try another SCP, here's a funny one about a vending machine. Have a [REDACTED] time.

That was me, and that was SCP-231. It's a horror story that most likely borrows its idea from The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas, but dials everything up to eleven for a more visceral effect on the reader's moral emotion.
Thank you!

Can someone make a Chrome extension that tells me when LW gets a new article (either in discussion or main)? That would help me not check it 100 times a day. It could be as simple as lighting up when this link changes.

This is the feed I use for Main posts: http://lesswrong.com/.rss (but it has a longer lag than my feeds for other sites, but the time it pops up in Greader, there are way more comments than I expect)

I'm looking for a personal event log app for my android phone. The closest thing I've found is Tap Log (thanks to whoever it was on the IRC channel who suggested it), but I'd ideally want something that logs to an online service where I can manipulate the data more easily.

The app does allow CSV exports, so I could cobble together my own online service for doing this, but I'm amazed this doesn't exist already. Does anyone have any suggestions?


I'm planning on teaching myself a programming language (probably Python, via LPTHW) and I was wondering if anyone had any thoughts on whether Anki would be helpful in this endeavor. Normally, I'd just go ahead and do it, but some of my friends who know how to code said it wouldn't be helpful, even though they were hesitant to give reasons when pushed.

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Someone seems to have downvoted all of my comments. And, surmising by what I said to him, it seems to have been private messaging.

(If there is some way to check this and) this is true, this is an abuse of the karma system. I do not have many comments, so it is not so much a big deal, but I liked my comments, except the one I retracted (note it is the only one which did not get any downvotes just now), and I don't like unfairness.

This person has been rightly accused of trolling and causing needless drama and insufficiently epistemic prudence, and he definit... (read more)

That reads like "A WITCH! A WITCH! BURN HIM!" Someone with a negative score can't downvote.
dmytry/private_messaging's main account currently has 873 karma.
Didn't use it. In fact I lost access to it (I was rather pissed off with this whole enterprise and changed password to something I don't remember). I didn't downvote this guy, my guess is one of 14 people that upvoted my retort to his post did, possibly after my retort got deleted and his remark did not get deleted.
This would imply a bug or exploit if you're right about the perpetrator: users get a pool of downvotes equal to 4x their karma (upvotes aren't capped), and private_messaging's karma is deeply negative. Given that I've heard downvoted users complaining about this behavior before, I think it's safe to assume that it's at least partly working. private_messaging does have positive 30-day karma, so it may be indicative of a (presumably unintended?) lower bound on karma for this feature's purposes. Alternately you might be dealing with a sockpuppet with better public behavior. Anything more specific depends on technical details I'm not privy to; might be worth asking someone who knows.

Interesting article about this study:

Older Brain Is Willing, but Too Full

Learning becomes more difficult as we age not because we have trouble absorbing new information, but because we fail to forget the old stuff, researchers say. (...)

Think of it as writing on a blank piece of white paper versus a newspaper page, the difference is not how dark the pen is, but that the newspaper already has writing on it.”

Lots of implications e.g. about life extensions not being identity preserving without memory augmentation. Someone write a discussion post on the s... (read more)

It's a mouse study, and genetically tweaked mice at that... From the sound of the summary, it sounds like it should be directly examined in humans. Until there's a human confirmation, I don't think it's worth a discussion post.
Not exactly something that's easy to confirm in humans. Of course the mice were genetically tweaked, it would be ... hard to measure an effect of a genetic factor without having experimental groups differing in that factor in a closely defined way. Is the conclusion speculative? Absolutely. Then again, so is a lot of what we're discussing around here, and there is a reason the study made it into Nature (Impact Factor of 36).
Ioannidis suggests that better journals produce less accurate research. A separate effect is that generalist journals are spread too a thin and can't competently referee. (eg, one editor can be highly biased towards his friends without the other editors being able to tell)
The statistician Andrew Gelman likes calling Science and Nature "the tabloids" because they attract the sort of research which is most exciting (and hence the most unexpected and most likely to be false).
Memory interference should be measurable just from timings. The more neurobiological claim of there being a lack of synapse downregulation... I'm not sure. Maybe some imaging approach like PET can show it.
Here, have a look. And that's just measuring a surrogate parameter, blood flow. Anything with a neuron-level resolution requires electrodes stuck into the brain. As for memory interference being measured just from timings, can you elaborate on that? The question is on the role of certain genetic factors, do you mean a study with a large number of genetically screened subjects? That may work. I'm still waiting for the sequencing cost to come down further ... it's the great medical bottleneck of our time.

In the Interview with Adam Ford Michael Vasser mentions a series of papers on efficient market biases at presence of risk by Brad Delong and somebody whose name I can not make out (Samus? Samuls?). Does anybody know which papers is he referring to?


@16:00 into the video

The other economist is Larry Summers. I believe this is one of the papers Vasser is referring to.
Thanks! And thank you for the link!