I would like to see a page like TalkOrigins, but about IQ. So that any time someone confused but generally trying to argue in good faith posts something like "but wasn't the idea of intelligence disproved scientifically?" or "intelligence is a real thing, but IQ is not" or "IQ is just an ability to solve IQ tests" or "but Taleb's article/tweet has completely demolished the IQ pseudoscience" or one of the many other versions... I could just post this link. Because I am tired of trying to explain, and the memes are going to stay here for a foreseeable future.
Perhaps the mental health diagnoses should be given in percentiles.
Some people complain that the definitions keep expanding, so that these days too many kids are diagnosed with ADHD or autism. The underlying reason is that these things seem to be on a scale, so it is arbitrary where you draw the line, and I guess people keep looking at those slightly below the line and noticing that they are not too different from those slightly above the line, and then they insist on moving the line.
But the same thing does not happen with IQ, despite the great pressure against politically incorrect results, despite the grade inflation at schools. That is because IQ is ultimately measured in percentiles. No matter how much pressure there is to say that everyone is above the average, the math only allows 50% of people to be smarter than the average, only 2% to be smarter than 98%, etc.
Perhaps we should do the same with ADHD and autism, too. Provide the diagnosis in form of: "You are more hyperactive than 85% of the population", controlled for age, maybe also for sex if the differences are significant. So you would e.g. know that yes, your child is more hyperactive than average, but not like super ex... (read more)
Moving a comment away from the article it was written under, because frankly it is mostly irrelevant, but I put too much work into it to just delete it.
But occasionally I hear: who are you to give life advice, your own life is so perfect! This sounds strange at first. If you think I’ve got life figured out, wouldn’t you want my advice?
How much your life is determined by your actions, and how much by forces beyond your control, that is an empirical question. You seem to believe it's mostly your actions. I am not trying to disagree here (I honestly don't know), just saying that people may legitimately have either model, or a mix thereof.
If your model is "your life is mostly determined by your actions", then of course it makes sense to take advice from people who seem to have it best, because those are the ones who probably made the best choices, and can teach you how to make them, too.
If your model is "your life is mostly determined by forces beyond your control", then the people who have it best are simply the lottery winners. They can teach you that you should buy a ticket (which you already know has 99+% probability of not winn... (read more)
America is now what anthropologists call a Kardashian Type Three civilisation: more than fifty percent of GDP is in the attention economy.
Stories by Greg Egan are generally great, but this one is... well, see for yourselves: In the Ruins
I was thinking about which possible parts of economy are effectively destroyed in our society by having an income tax (as an analogy to Paul Graham's article saying that wealth tax would effectively destroy startups; previous shortform). And I think I have an answer; but I would like an economist to verify it.
Where I live, the marginal income tax is about 50%. Well, only a part of it is literally called "tax", the other parts are called health insurance and social insurance... which in my opinion is misleading, because it's not like the extra coin of income increases your health or unemployment risk proportionally; it should be called health tax and social tax instead... anyway, 50% is the "fraction of your extra coin the state will automatically take away from you" which is what matters for your economical decisions about making that extra coin.
In theory, by the law of comparative advantage, whenever you are better at something than your neighbor, you should be able to arrange a trade profitable for both sides. (Ignoring the transaction costs.) But if your marginal income is taxed at 50%, such trade would be profitable only if you are more than 2×... (read more)
Thinking about relation between enlightenment and (cessation of) signaling.
I know that enlightenment is supposed to be about cessation of all kinds of cravings and attachments, but if we assume that signaling is a huge force in human thinking, then cessation of signaling is a huge part of enlightenment.
Some random thoughts in that direction:
The paradoxical role of motivation in enlightenment -- enlightenment is awesome, but a desire to be awesome is the opposite of enlightenment.
Abusiveness of the Zen masters towards their students: typically, the master tries to explain the nature of enlightenment using an unhelpful metaphor (I suppose, because most masters suck at explaining). Immediately, a student does something obviously meant to impress the master. The master goes berserk. Sometimes, as a consequence, the student achieves enlightenment. -- My interpretation is that realizing (System 1) that the master is an abusive asshole who actually sucks at teaching, removes the desire to impress him; and because in this social setting the master was perceived as the only person worth impressing, this removes (at least temporarily) the desire to impress people in general.
A few koans are o... (read more)
Out of curiosity (about constructivism) I started reading Jean Piaget's Language and Thought of the Child. I am still at the beginning, so this comment is mostly meta:
It is interesting (kinda obvious in hindsight), how different a person sounds when you read a book written by them, compared to reading a book about them. This distortion by textbooks seems to happen in a predictable direction:
(I guess the lesson is that if you learn about someone from a textbook and conclude "this guy is just another boring... (read more)
To understand qualia better, I think it would help to get a new sensory input. Get some device, for example a compas or an infrared camera, and connect it to your brain. After some time, the brain should adapt and you should be able to "feel" the inputs from the device.
Congratulations! Now you have some new qualia that you didn't have before. What does it feel like? Does this experience feel like a sufficient explanation to say that the other qualia you have are just like this, only acquired when you were a baby?
After reading the Progress & Poverty review at ACX, it seems to me that land is the original Bitcoin. Find a city that has a future, buy some land, and HODL.
If you can rent the land (the land itself, not the structures that stand on it), you even have a passive income that automatically increases over time... forever. This makes it even better than Bitcoin.
So, the obvious question is why so many people are angry about the Bitcoin, but so few (only the Georgists, it seems) are angry about the land.
EDIT: A possible explanation is that land is ancient and associated with high status, Bitcoin is new and low-status. Therefore problems associated with Bitcoin can be criticized openly, while problems associated with land are treated as inevitable.
While I think much of the anger about Bitcoin is caused by status considerations, other reasons to be more upset about Bitcoin than land rents include:
When you tell people which food contains given vitamins, also tell them how much of the food would they need to eat in order to get their recommended daily intake of given vitamin from that source.
As an example, instead of "vitamin D can be found in cod liver oil, or eggs" tell people "to get your recommended intake of vitamin D, you should eat every day 1 teaspoon of cod liver oil, or 10 eggs".
The reason is that without providing quantitative information, people may think "well, vitamin X is found in Y, and I eat Y regularly, so I got this covered", while in fact they may be eating only 1/10 or 1/100 of the recommended daily intake. When you mention quantities, it is easier for them to realize that they don't eat e.g. half kilogram of spinach each day on average (therefore, even eating spinach quite regularly doesn't mean you got your iron intake covered).
The quantitative information is typically provided in micrograms or international units, which of course is something that System 1 doesn't understand. To get an actionable answer, you need to make a calculation like "an average egg has 60 grams of yolk... a gram of cooked egg yolk contains 0.7 IU of vitamin D... the recommended ... (read more)
I noticed recently that I almost miss the Culture War debates (on internet in general, nothing specific about Less Wrong). I remember that in the past they seemed to be everywhere. But in recent months, somehow...
I don't use Twitter. I don't really understand the user interface, and I have no intention to learn it, because it is like the most toxic website ever.
Therefore most Culture War content in English came to me in the past via Reddit. But they keep making the user interface worse and worse, so a site that was almost addictive in the past, is so unpleasant to use now, that it actually conditions me to avoid it.
Slate Star Codex has no new content. Yeah, there are "slatestarcodex" and "motte" debates on Reddit, but... I already mentioned Reddit.
Almost all newspaper articles in my native language are paywalled these days. No, I am not going to pay for your clickbait.
So... I am vaguelly aware that Trump was an American president and now it is Biden (or is it still Trump, and Biden will be later? dunno), and there were (still are?) BLM protests in USA. And in my country, the largest political party recently split in two, and I don't even know the name of the new one, and I don't ev... (read more)
Elsevier found a new method to extract money! If you send an article to their journal from a non-English-speaking country, it will be rejected because of your supposed mistakes in English language. To overcome this obstacle, you can use Elsevier's "Language Editing services" starting from $95. Only afterwards will the article be sent to the reviewers (and possibly rejected).
This happens also if you had your article already checked by a native English speaker who found no errors. On the other hand, if you let your co-author living in an English-speaking cou... (read more)
1) There was this famous marshmallow experiment, where the kids had an option to eat one marshmallow (physically present on the table) right now, or two of them later, if they waited for 15 minutes. The scientists found out that the kids who waited for the two marshmallows were later more successful in life. The standard conclusion was that if you want to live well, you should learn some strategy to delay gratification.
(A less known result is that the optimal strategy to get two marshmallows was to stop thinking about marshmallows at all. Kids who focused ... (read more)
Anthropic Chesterton fence:
You know why the fence was built. The original reason no longer applies, or maybe it was a completely stupid reason. Yes, you should tear down the stupid fence.
And yet, there is a worry... might the fact that you see this stupid fence be an anthropic evidence that in the Everett branches without this stupid fence you are already dead?
I noticed that some people use "skeptical" to mean "my armchair reasoning is better than all expert knowledge and research, especially if I am completely unfamiliar with it".
Example (not a real one): "I am skeptical about the idea that objects would actually change their length when their speed approaches the speed of light."
The advantage of this usage is that it allows you to dismiss all expertise you don't agree with, while making you sound a bit like an expert.
Today I learned that our friends at RationalWiki dislike effective altruism, to put it mildly. As David Gerard himself says, "it is neither altruistic, nor effective".
In section Where "Effective Altruists" actually send their money, the main complaint seems to be that among (I assume) respectable causes such as fighting diseases and giving money to poor people, effective altruists also support x-risk organisations, veganism, and meta organisations... or, using the language of RationalWiki, "sending money to Eliezer Yudkowsky", "feeling bad when people eat ... (read more)
One would also think that the 'risk' of 'exhausting the AMF's room for more funding' would be something to celebrate.
Paul Graham's article Modeling a Wealth Tax says:
The reason wealth taxes have such dramatic effects is that they're applied over and over to the same money. Income tax happens every year, but only to that year's income. Whereas if you live for 60 years after acquiring some asset, a wealth tax will tax that same asset 60 times. A wealth tax compounds.
But wait, isn't income tax also applied over and over to the same money? I mean, it's not if I keep the money for years, sure. But if I use it to buy something from another person, then... (read more)
David Gerard (the admin of RationalWiki) doxed Scott Alexander on Twitter, in response to Arthur Chu's call "if all the hundreds of people who know his real last name just started saying it we could put an end to this ridiculous farce".
Dude, we already knew you were uncool, but this is a new low.
There is no movement, said the bearded sage.The other remained silent, and began to walk before him.He could not have argued more strongly;Everyone praised the clever answer.But, gentlemen, this funny caseBrings another example to my mind:After all, every day the Sun walks before us,Yet the stubborn Galileo is right.
There is no movement, said the bearded sage.
The other remained silent, and began to walk before him.
He could not have argued more strongly;
Everyone praised the clever answer.
But, gentlemen, this funny case
Brings another example to my mind:
After all, every day the Sun walks before us,
Yet the stubborn Galileo is right.
-- A. S. Pushkin (source)
Some people express strong dislike at seeing others wear face masks, which reminds me of the anti-social punishment.
I am talking about situations where some people wear face masks voluntarily, for example in mass transit (if the situation in your country is different, imagine a different situation). In theory, if someone else is wearing the mask, even if you believe that it is utterly useless, even if for you wearing a face mask is the most uncomfortable thing you could imagine... hey, it's other person paying the cost, not you. Why so angry? Why not let t... (read more)
Project idea: ELI5pedia. Like Wikipedia, but optimized for being accessible for lay audience. If some topics are too complex, they could be written in multiple versions, progressing from the most simple to the most detailed (but still as accessible as possible).
Of course it would be even better if Wikipedia itself was written like this, but... well, for whatever reason, it is not.
One Thousand and One Nights is actually a metaphor for web browsing.
You start with a firm decision that it will be only one story and then it is over. But there is always an enticing hyperlink at the end of each story which makes you click, sometimes a hyperlink in the middle of a story that you open in a new tab... and when you finally stop reading, you realize that three years have passed and you have three new subscriptions.
Technically, Chesterton fence means that if something exists for no good reason, you are never allowed to remove it.
Because, before you even propose the removal, you must demonstrate your understanding of a good reason why the thing exists. And if there is none...
More precisely, it seems to me there is a motte and bailey version of Chesterton fence: the motte is that everything exists for a reason; the bailey is that everything exists for a good reason. The difference is, when someone challenges you to provide an understanding why a fence was built, whethe... (read more)
Could you recommend me a good book on first-order logic?
My goal is to understand the difference between first-order and second-order logic, preferably deeply enough to develop an intuition for what can be done and what can't be done using first-order logic, and why exactly it is so.
I am confused about metaantifragility.
It seems like there are a few predictions that the famous antifragility literature got wrong (and if you point it out on Twitter, you get blocked by Taleb).
But the funny part starts when you consider the consequences of such failed predictions on the theory of antifragility itself.
One possible interpretation is that, ironically, antifragility itself is an example of a Big Intellectual Idea that tries to explain everything, and then fails horribly when you start relying on it. From this perspective, Taleb lost the game ... (read more)
So I was watching random YouTube videos, and suddenly YouTube is like: "hey, we need to verify you are at least 18 years old!"
"Okay," I think, "they are probably going to ask me about the day of my birth, and then use some advanced math to determine my age..."
...but instead, YouTube is like: "Give me your credit card data, I swear I am totally not going to use it for any evil purpose ever, it's just my favorite way of checking people's age."
Thanks, but I will pass. I believe that giving my credit card data to strangers I don't want to buy anything from is ... (read more)
What is the easiest and least frustrating way to explain the difference between the following two statements?
Does fallacy to distinguish between these two have a standard name? I mean, when someone criticizes Y, and the reponse is to accuse them of supporting X.
Technically, if Y is proposed as a cure for X, then opposing Y is evidence for supporting X. Like, yeah, a person who supports X (and believes that Y reduces X) would probably oppose Y, sure.
It becomes a problem when this is th... (read more)
When internet becomes fast enough and data storage cheap enough so that it will be possible to inconspicuously capture videos of everyone's computer/smartphone screens all the time and upload them to the gigantic servers of Google/Microsoft/Apple, I expect that exactly this will happen.
I wouldn't be too surprised to learn that it already happens with keystrokes.
People say: "Immortality would lead to overpopulation, which is horrible!"
People also say: "Population decline is a big problem today, the economy requires population growth!"
These are the days when AI is good enough to give us nice pictures from non-existing movies, but not good enough to give us the whole movies.
Anime: Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Dune.
There will be an entire new industry soon.
If smart people are more likely to notice ways to save their lives that cost some money, in statistics this may appear as a negative correlation between smartness and wealth. That's because dead people are typically not included in the data.
As a toy model to illustrate what I mean, imagine a hypothetical population consisting of 100 people; 50 rational and 50 irrational; each starting with $100,000 of personal wealth. Let's suppose that exactly half of each group gets seriously sick. A sick irrational person spends $X on homeopathy and dies. A sick rationa... (read more)
What is the actual relation between heterodoxy and crackpots?
A plausibly sounding explanation is that "disagreeing with the mainstream" can easily become a general pattern. You notice that the mainstream is wrong about X, and then you go like "and therefore the mainstream is probably also wrong about Y, Z, and UFOs, and dinosaurs." Also there are the social incentives; once you become famous for disagreeing with the mainstream, you can only keep your fame by disagreeing more and more, because your new audience is definitely not impressed by "sheeple".
On th... (read more)
There is this meme about Buddhism being based on experience, where you can verify everything firsthand, etc. I challenge the fans of Buddhism to show me how they can walk through walls, walk on water, fly, remember their past lives, teleport across a river, or cause an earthquake.
He wields manifold supranormal powers. Having been one he becomes many; having been many he becomes one. He appears. He vanishes. He goes unimpeded through walls, ramparts, & mountains as if through space. He dives in & out of the earth as if it were water. He walks on wat
I started a new blog on Substack. The first article is not related to rationality, just some ordinary Java programming: Using Images in Java.
Outside view suggests that I start many projects, but complete few. If this blog turns out to be an exception, the expected content of the blog is mostly programming and math, but potentially anything I find interesting.
The math stuff will probably be crossposted to LW, the programming stuff probably not -- the reason is that math is more general and I am kinda good at it, while the programming articles will be narrow... (read more)
Prediction markets could create inadvertent assassination markets. No ill intention is needed.
Suppose we have fully functional prediction markets working for years or decades. The obvious idiots already lost most of their money (or learned to avoid prediction markets), most bets are made by smart players. Many of those smart players are probably not individuals, but something like hedge funds -- people making bets with insane amounts of money, backed by large corporations, probably having hundreds of experts at their disposal.
Now imagine that something lik... (read more)
There is an article from 2010 arguing that people may emotionally object to cryonics because cold is metaphorically associated with bad things.
Did the popularity of the Frozen movie change anything about this?
Well, there is the Facebook group "Cryonics Memes for Frozen Teens"...