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Scary Mark Zuckerberg interview on AI risks where the Facebook founder says:

"I think that along the way, we will also figure out how to make it safe. The dialogue today kind of reminds me of someone in the 1800s sitting around and saying: one day we might have planes and they may crash. Nonetheless, people developed planes first and then took care of flight safety. If people were focused on safety first, no one would ever have built a plane."

Yes, but if the crash of a single airplane would cause the extermination of mankind we would all be dead. A better analogy is scientists in 1940 considering whether detonating an atomic bomb would ignite the atmosphere.


I wonder if Zuckerberg is familiar with the concept of "hard takeoff". I've been under the impression the concept has become mainstream, but I've been in the OB/LW sphere for the entirety of my adult life, and I have no idea how big the inferential distance has gotten.

Yeah, I don't understand why safety should equal 'stop working on the thing'. If anything, AI friendliness will further the advancement of AI, allowing a more widespread use.
There is a good chance that if the first super-intelligent AI isn't carefully designed to be friendly it will destroy us, but creating a friendly super-intelligent AI is much harder than merely creating an AI, so our species only chance of survival is to go very slow with AI development until we have put a lot more resources into researching friendliness. Imagine that it was 1850 and you knew that the crash of a single airplane would destroy mankind, but you couldn't convince others of this. You would be scared if people started to work on creating airplanes.
I get that, but I think that "working to make a plane a lot safer" would still tick the box "working on a plane project". I would say this is even what happens in reality, otherwise you could just strap a jet engine under a bus. I am all in favor of slowing down AI work to better focus on safety, and I would contest Zuckerberg telling him: "you know Mark, even if we are focusing on AI safety that doesn't mean we are slowing down progress on AI, if anything, we are accelerating it."
I worry that a lot of discussions about AI are all being done via metaphor or being based on past events while it's easy to make up a metaphor that matches any given future scenario and it shouldn't be easily assumed that building an artificial brain is (or isn't!) anything like past events.
I agree that using metaphors to predict the future is problematic, but predicting the future is really hard and if we don't have a good inside view of what's likely to happen the best we can do is to extrapolate from what has happened in the past.

moderator action: Old_Gold is banned

Another account of Eugine_Nier / Azathoth123 / Voiceofra / The_Lion / The_Lion2 is banned, effective now. I am posting this as a comment in Open Thread to avoid writing articles about banning the same person again and again, thus reducing the administrative cost of enforcing the already existing ban.

This specific change of policy does not apply to other potentially banned users (unless they are obvious spammers or scammers) who still deserve a separate post.


Is it ever likely to be feasible to undo all Eugine's votes? It seems clear that whack-a-mole banning is not terribly effective; since the main thing (I think) we want to disincentivize is unproductive mindkilled mass-downvoting, making that less effective (because likely to be undone after a while) might be worth the effort.

(My feeling is that this is an obvious enough point that probably it hasn't been done because doing it would be difficult, or because there's some strong objection I haven't thought of.)

[EDITED to add:] In the interests of full disclosure, I should perhaps mention that undoing all Eugine's votes would benefit me personally; I have fairly often (though not, I think, as severely as some) been one of his targets.

The database isn't a straightforward SQL database and nobody volunteered to put in the effort to write the code.
I agree that this is a plausible explanation ("not a straightforward SQL database" is an understatement) but have no specific information about whether it's actually correct; do you?
It's the same database structure as Reddit -- a database in a database anti-pattern. Quoting Wikipedia: LW database is exactly like this. Look at the existing scripts and despair.
Yup, it's pretty horrible. But on the face of it -- I know that appearances can deceive -- it seems like you could iterate (inefficiently, but it's not like this is going to be done often) over all the votes with a given voter-ID as in the "slow" case of user_downvote_karma and call Vote.vote with dir=None as defined in vote.py for each. Something along these lines, though it probably consists entirely of bugs: from r2.models import Account, Link, Vote user = Account._by_name('Eugine\_Nier') # list() to make sure enumeration is done before we start changing the votes # (dunno if we actually need to do that) votee_ids = list([v.c._thing2_id for v in Vote._query(Vote.c._thing1_id == user._id)]) # dir = None to remove a vote # ip = None because ip isn't needed when not creating a new vote for votee_id in votee_ids: Vote.vote(user, Link._byID(votee_id), None, None)
I doubt undoing the votes will disincentivize anyone. I suspect that mass-downvoting is either an expressive act or it's the stick in a conditioning exericise (disagree with me and watch your karma go down right now). In both cases undoing the votes many moons later is quite useless.
I'm not convinced. I think Eugine wants to win, where winning means making those nasty commie SJWs go away, or at least look bad, so that the glorious Rightness of comments like his own can shine forth. So: not a purely expressive act. I don't think it's a conditioning exercise intended to make disagreeing with Eugine immediately painful, because his actual practice has frequently been to delay the large-scale downvoting and spread it out. Rather, I think he wants (1) to make participation here painful for his victims and/or (2) to make it look as if his victims are generally disliked and disagreed with. He wants to remove them or reduce their credibility.
Imputing motives to people doing things on the 'net is a very traditional and popular activity, of course :-) In any case, is there a testable assertion here? Do you think that if you wipe all his votes, Eugene, in the immortal words of Gollum, will "go away and never come back"?
(Let it be noted that I was doing so neither more nor less than you were.) Depends what you mean by testable. I don't know what Eugine will do in any given circumstances; he's a free agent and my mindreading powers are sadly limited. I think he is more likely to go away, and (conditional on not going away) likely to do less mass-downvoting, if he has reason to think that such activity will be noticed and reversed on a timescale of at most (let's say) weeks. But of course I could be wrong. Perhaps his actual reaction would be to go completely apeshit and try to do something very destructive. It's not clear to me that he could actually do serious damage, but he could probably cause inconvenience for the moderators if he didn't care about ever again being thought a constructive member of the community by anyone.
It wouldn't be so much a matter of disincentivizing Eugen3 etc., (though that might happen) as reincentivizing the people who were downvoted.
I agree, this is more important.

PSA: if you have chronic, low-level respiratory/sinus problems, there is a good chance it is caused by poor air quality in your place of residence. There are a lot of possible causes, including mold, bad carpeting, and poorly maintained HVAC systems.

I may be especially vulnerable, but I've experienced significant respiratory problems caused by bad air in several different apartments over the years. A couple of years ago, I was going through a particularly bad episode, and I thought I had simply developed adult-onset allergies to standard allergens (pollen, etc) but I noticed that when I spent a week away on a family visit, the symptoms almost went away. Then I moved out of the place with bad air, and the problems disappeared in a matter of weeks.

The good news is: it should be easy to tell if your apartment is causing problems, by staying elsewhere for a couple of days and noticing changes in the symptoms. The bad news is, if you'd prefer to fix the problem instead of moving to a different place, it might be hard to do, or even to identify the problem exactly.

Thank you for sharing this tip! :) I bet that sharing accurate health advice is important enough to instrumental rationality that we could have recurring health tip threads, at least for a while.
I would be wary of the quality of the tip once you have them recurring and pressure to produce content.

I have an idea for a billion dollar company in the space of health care. It's a bit similar to metamed but has much better business model. I'm at the moment not sure whether to persue it commercially. From an EA perspective I would also be happy if someone else builds the company.

At the moment I'm thinking about writing a longer document laying out the idea but don't know about the best venue for it. Are you aware of any competitons for ideas where money can be won by writing a document about health care innovation without having an startup working on the idea?

This probably isn't anything you didn't already know, but since no one else responded - you might try Hacker News, to run it by startup-interested people.

I have been thinking a lot about Trump and I would like to start a discussion thread on him but I recognize that this would obviously violate LW's implicit rule against discussing politics so I thought I would run a poll to see if I have permission.

Should we have a discussion thread on Trump?

Update: I won't be starting a Trump thread because of these poll results.

Would doing so Make Less Wrong Great Again?

I think Omnilibrium is a better place for those discussions.

Exactly. I voted 'no' because Omnilibrium is far more apt, and still quite high in quality of the Discussion.
See also Prof. Noam Chomsky's recent answer on Quora: https://www.quora.com/Why-is-Donald-Trump-having-so-much-success-during-this-election-cycle
There also is a reddit thread on Trump from a while ago with 14,000 comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/3gd3hh/serious_redditors_who_want_trump_to_become/
As someone who voted yes, and currently seeing how the margin is 32 'yays' (52%) to 29 'nays' (48%), I don't think you should start this discussion simply because there is a majority in favour of a discussion thread on Trump. I mean, I wouldn't like to see 48% of users put off by this discussion. So, I think it's safe to say the discussions should really only start if you get a supermajority, something like 2/3rds in favor of starting the discussion. If that's not the case whenever you decide the poll is closed, I don't think it's worth the costs of hosting the discussion here. I thus agree with ChristianKI to move the discussion to Omnilibrium.
I agree.
presently the scores are close to tied with 23 votes. (ROT13 of the current score (guvegrra lrf naq gra ab)) If the tie continues I would encourage you to not post it.
1. "just show me the answers" 2. What benefit would you propose it would bring?

It's one of the most important and surprising events of our time and much of the discussion is anti-rational, i.e. bad people support Trump so Trump is bad; many are claiming that electing Trump would be catastrophic and discussing potential catastrophes is supposed to be one of the purposes of LW.

I think a question of how Trump interacts with x-risk is a potentially interesting conversation topic. I think an analysis of class that uses Trump as an example is a potentially interesting conversation topic. But I worry that even here a direct discussion of Trump will be anti-rational / along cultural lines instead of about rational expectations, and I'm not sure what actions we would take differently as a result of having that conversation.
Then name three more important events that have transpired mostly in the last 6 months?
You said (emphasis mine): "one of the most important and surprising events of our time" I tend to interpret "our time" as a period that is a bit longer than the last six months. But even if you want to look at recent news, here are three things which I consider to be much more consequential than Donald Trump: (1) the European refugee crisis; (2) the Chinese economic troubles; (3) the Russian direct military intervention in Syria. May I politely suggest paying less attention to the idiot box?
I'm not sure that argument goes through--if the European refugee crisis is important, then aren't Merkel, Obama, and Clinton important? And if they're important once they're in office, isn't the process by which they enter office important?
That argument involving the idiot box actually looks like this: Mass media optimizes for outrage. Estimating the importance of the topic by the amount of air time it gets is a mistake. No. Not in the sense that Merkel, etc. are unimportant, but in the sense that a systemic crisis is not reducible to the importance of whoever happens to be in the office at the moment. If James_Miller wanted to discuss the crisis of the "establishment" center of the mainstream US parties and the rebellions within them, it might have been an interesting topic. But James_Miller want to discuss Donald Trump, personally. Of course, that's what Donald Trump wants as well X-)
The reason I picked those particular people is because of Clinton's role in the removal of Qaddafi, Obama's role in the continued destabilization of Syria, and Merkel's public pledge to take in refugees (which exacerbated the degree to which it is a European crisis, instead of a Syrian or Africa crisis). "Whoever happens to be in the office at the moment" is a factor in many of these crises.
I have a feeling we're slowly slipping towards the conflict between the "impersonal forces" and "great people" views of history :-) But I guess the question here is whether you want to discuss people or whether you want to discuss systems. Of course they are related and interdependent, but still. Going back to the source of this subthread, I find thinking about tensions between "rebels" and "nomenklatura" in US political parties to be moderately interesting (especially in the context of how they deal with the need to overpromise during the campaign). I find Donald Trump to be very uninteresting. YMMV, of course.
A synthesis of the two views clearly outperforms either view on its own. There seems to be a difference between, basically, forest fires and earthquakes--both rely on long build-ups (the impersonal forces contribution) and when they happen may be surprising (I couldn't tell you when the housing bubble would burst until it had but I could tell you that it would eventually), but the while there's little control over when an earthquake happens and how the consequences shake out, there's quite a bit of control over when a fire happens and how the consequences shake out (the great people contribution).
Of course -- they are just endpoints and the discussion is about where in the middle the proper balance is struck. That's an interesting distinction -- can you say more about it?
It seems to me that events and changes vary quite a bit in how much control various people have over them. For things like the Chinese economic difficulties, it looks to me like this is the result of lots of malinvestment over the years, and there's not too much control over whether or not things get worse / no clear single point of failure. Then there are other issues where there does seem to be a single point of failure, or a single failure avoidance point. Even in those cases, there are systemic forces that created the fuel for the conflagration. One example that comes to mind is Arkhipov voting against firing nukes during the Cuban Missile crisis. The things that put the missiles there and made their standing orders to fire if attacked (and the officers agreed) might be better thought of as 'systemic forces,' but it seems hard to argue that 'systemic forces' are a better explanation of a 2-1 vote instead of a 3-0 vote than the 'great people' view. Similarly, one can imagine many forest fires that almost happened, and then didn't because of direct action by a person on the scene. (Or many forest fires caused by direct action of a person on the scene.)
Even if she did greatly exacerbate it by doing something really stupid?
Yes, even, because there are reasons she did that and those reasons don't have much to do with her personally. It wasn't like she buckled the entire German consensus.
The refugee crisis is very interesting. Not quite "Camp of the Saints", but it's a huge acceleration of frictions I expected to take much longer to play out, and not really hit the fan so soon. Chinese economic troubles? Recessions are big things, but they happen. Economies go up, they go down. Russian intervention in Syria. Russian satellite state getting military support. Shrug. Turkey seems much more interesting to me. I suppose the Russians intervention does make it possible for some serious confrontation with the US, but I don't see Putin or Obama having much interest in that.
There are some complicated wrinkles to this one, including the observation that the (current) legitimacy of the Communist Party rule to a great extent depends on it being able to provide visibly and rapidly rising standards of living. And, of course, the question whether China is done with its growth spurt or it's merely a hiccup has major geopolitical consequences a decade or two away. The first time post-Soviet Russia puts boots on the ground outside of the former USSR. The overarching theme is the global assertiveness of Mr.Putin and Middle East is always an... interesting place. And there is Iran nearby :-/ I agree that Turkey is interesting, too, but nothing "big" happened there recently and were were talking about events.
Um, shooting down a Russian plane.
And... nothing happened.
No, Russia started providing it's bombers with fighter escorts with orders to shoot in self-defense. This is a situation that can easily escalate the next time one of these planes passes through Turkish airspace.
How about the various welfare states around the world finally starting to run out of other people's money. The biggest manifestations of this so far have been the financial crisis in the EU, and the various pension crises in US local governments. Heck, in my more conspiratorial moods I'm inclined to suspect that these migrant crises are an excuse to import a bunch of convenient scapegoats who can than be blamed for the collapse of popular entitlement programs.
That's not one of the events "that have transpired mostly in the last 6 months" :-) But yes, I'm watching Japan with great interest :-D
I think Trump's rise is interesting for a number of issues that people here have particular interest in. How he wins. How his attackers lose. The power of his signature issues in trade and immigration. The potential for a political realignment with the Republican Party, and how that realigns US politics as a whole. The media has been outraged, they have attacked, and they have failed to bring him down. His poll numbers just go up and up and up. That's interesting, and merits discussion.
I'm saying this in hindsight, but I disagree about this being surprising. Anti-immigration parties are on the rise all across Europe. The National Front in France are probably to the right of Trump, and Golden Dawn in Greece are genuine neo-nazis. More generally, non-mainstream parties are on the rise, probably powered by the ability to organise grassroots activism via the net. Even the Pirate Parties are winning seats. Given this, is it really surprising that non-mainstream candidates would happen in the US too, both with Trump and Bernie Sanders? I'm actually surprised that Sanders isn't the Democratic frontrunner, especially when his only opponent is being investigated for espionage.
The ideological gate keepers are losing control. The Cologne cover up looks like a pretty significant event for discrediting the Top Men. On Sanders, all the Democratic Powers that Be lined up behind Clinton, and even Sanders got in lock step to maintain that Clinton's email catastrophe is much ado about nothing. The Democratic Party has spent a couple of decades dealing with Clinton scandals. It's all just a cast right wing conspiracy, don't you know? Probably the biggest hit Hillary has taken is from younger women, turned off by HIllary "standing by her man" and attacking his sexual abuse accusers, Gloria Steinem belittling Bernie gals as boy crazy for Bernie Bros, and Albright playing the Vote Vagina or Go to Hell card.
Depending no who you listen to, so's the National Front, Putin, anti-Putin, Trump, mainstream Republicans, insufficiently left-wing Democrats, etc. Ok, so what's your reason for believing Golden Dawn are actually neo-nazi? (Edit: and what do you mean by "actual neo-nazi" anyway?)
Just look at their flag: https://www.google.co.uk/imgres?imgurl=https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/17/Meandros_flag.svg/150px-Meandros_flag.svg.png&imgrefurl=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_Dawn_(political_party)&h=100&w=150&tbnid=CDly4gAodIMPcM:&tbnh=80&tbnw=120&docid=g-53Bx9BWHOy2M&usg=__gcjSL8sDC3eM9-5mVj4vERTCyW8=&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi-oezK-bfLAhVpQpoKHY3fANQQ9QEIITAA) It looks just like a swastika. Sure, Putin and Trump and anyone who is nationalistic can be compared to Nazis, but this cheapens the term 'Nazi' or 'fascist'. By "actual neo-nazi" I mean a group which has significant use of Nazi imagery and when significant members explicitly endorse Nazism.
Glad you asked, Eugine: Of course, society normally finds it easy to recognize and ostracize such blatantly dishonest Nazism. It doesn't create any actual confusion - unless people have gone out of their way to weaken society's immune system, eg by deliberately signalling Nazism when the reality is more obscure.
I think it weakens the immune system more when anyone who isn't in favour of completely unrestricted immigration gets called a Nazi. And there's a failure mode where constantly calling people Nazis (or sexists/racists) makes them more favourable towards Nazis (the theory is that on a subconcious level they think 'if I'm a Nazi, maybe Nazism isn't so bad).
Or the more straightforward, if anyone proposing sensible immigration policy gets called a Nazi, eventually people conclude that "Nazi" means someone in favor of sensible immigration policy.
I agree, and I am trying to use words in a precise manner. Trump is not a Nazi. The Golden Dawn are.
What do you mean by "normally" and can you find any examples of society that actually operated like you describe? Keep in mind the word "Nazi" was already being applied to anything and everything the speaker disliked as early as 1942.
scores are still at the same place with 54 votes ROT13 (gjragl avar lrf, gjragl svir ab). Mostly tied. As I said before:
I vastly prefer voting "no" on a poll like this, vs. the idea of downvoting a post I think doesn't belong here but is fine otherwise.
What is this asking for permission via a poll thing? Make a thread and watch its karma. It will tell you all you need to know.

What is this asking for permission via a poll thing?

It's called politeness.

I find it strange, and counter to my own values, that telling people "shut up, I don't want to hear what you want to talk about" is considered "polite", while talking about what you want to talk about, without asking permission first, is considered rude.
It's about the defaults. The problem with political debates is that it is difficult to contain them -- they are likely to grow (because for almost any topic you can find a political point of view), and they attract new people who are interested more in promoting a political idea than about improving their own rationality. So we can either explicitly support the norm "we don't debate politics (unless there is an exception)", or we can either explicitly or implicitly have the norm "political debates are okay". We have the former. Maybe there are other possible solutions, such as trying to contain politics in specific threads, this was tried in the past (if I remember correctly, some people kept making more and more treads for debating NR pretending to be general political threads; or maybe it was other way round and all general political threads were hijacked to debate NR). In theory, it should be possible to debate politics rationally, but in practice, we have problems keeping the debates civilized.
And having more to talk about is a problem how? NR? Neoreaction? If you have Neoreactionary views, your general politics will naturally be Neoreactionary. So some people wanted to talk about it. Why is that a problem? When I see a thread that I don't want to read, I don't. It doesn't cause me any problem. Wouldn't that be a significant opportunity to get LessWrong?
Sorry for yesterday, I'll try to post a more coherent reply now. . Once in a while someone accuses Less Wrong of having a specific political bias and being intolerant towards the dissidents. The alleged political bias depends on who made the accusation. For example, neoreactionaries believe that Less Wrong is politically correct and left-wing; they would probably use the word "demotist", which pretty much means anyone who is not a neoreactionary. Meanwhile, RationalWiki (an "Atheism+" website) believes that Less Wrong contains "cringe-inducing discussions of the merits of racism", and the supposedly "non-political" debates in reality promote libertarianism and neoreaction. Looking at the 2014 survey results, Less Wrong members identify mostly as Social Democratic, Liberal, Libertarian, approximately in equal numbers. Can this result be interpreted as a unified political bias? I don't know. Maybe yes. Maybe there is an idea of society that most Less Wrong members would approve of -- I imagine something like: universal basic income, universal healthcare, minimal government required to provide security and the basic income, freedom for entrepreneurs, freedom of sexual expression and identity -- while they may disagree on some technical details (such as affirmative action: yes or no) and mostly on which label is most appropriate for this idea. Or maybe I am completely wrong here. If we map this to the traditional American politics (Democrats vs Republicans), Democrats would obviously win, cca 4:1. But this shouldn't be surprising, considering that Less Wrong is an openly atheist website (Republicans associate with religion) and that half of members are non-American (Republicans associate with American jingoism, which non-Americans have no reason to share). Correcting for these two factors, I think the ratio is pretty much what we should expect. My conclusion (which anyone is free to disagree with) is that the accusations of political bias more or less express frus
Right. And let me quote from a post (again): So at issue is democracy. Given this, with respect to that belief, it's easy to see how LW is politically unified. In fact, doubting democracy is pretty much outside of Overton window (that's part of what makes neoreaction interesting).
Not sure how many neoreactionaries actually agree with that definition. But anyway... So the belief is that societies that (1) accept democracy (2) will inevitably (3) meet their progressivism-caused doom. (1) We would need a working definition of "democracy". Specifically, what about countries like USSR or Burma or North Korea that nominally have elections, but the winner is reliably known in advance. Do they also count as "democracies" for the purpose of our belief; that is, does even half-assed pretext of democracy inevitably bring the doom? Or do we need people to participate in real elections? What if the elections are real, but most media are in hands of a few rich owners, and most voters believe the media? I am asking this to avoid rationalizations from hindsight, like: "Singapore seems to be doing pretty well despite being a democracy -- nah, they are a democracy only in name, it's actually People's Action Party ruling since 1959"; "North Korea seems like hell -- well, they do have elections, so this is an example of a democracy that already met its doom". (2) The word "inevitably" actually doesn't predict any specific outcome, because if the prophesied thing didn't happen, you can always add "...yet". Could it be made a bit more specific? For example, do countries with a lot of democracy meet their doom faster, on average, than countries with only little democracy? (For example, should we expect Switzerland to meet their doom sooner than North Korea?)
I am not a neoreactionary, so you'll have to find somebody else to argue their side -- shouldn't be a problem, since you mentioned that they can't shut up :-P However I'll explain why I find their ideology interesting. The thing is, in contemporary political discourse in the West democracy became a sacred cow. One could talk about better or worse implementations, point out issues with specific governments or policies, etc. but the notion that democracy is the best and you should always try to have as much of it as possible seems to be sanctified, enshrined, and maybe even embalmed :-) And that is a bit of a problem. It's a problem mostly because democracy (even in an idealized state) is not perfect and has systemic faults and shortcomings. Discussing those is... difficult because of the sacred-cow status of democracy. Trying to mitigate and ameliorate them is also difficult because that usually involves something other than "moar democracy!" and publicly suggesting it can be less than wise. Note that debates about the merits of democracy were common in the XVIII and XIX century, but are almost extinct now (again: in the West. Asia is quite different in that respect). And me, I don't like blinders but I do like sacred-cow steaks :-)
I also find neoreaction interesting, or rather I did while the idea was new for me; later it became rather repetitive. But I do care about this "map reflecting the territory" thing more than I care about things being interesting. Maybe I fail to appreciate this, living in eastern Europe, having communists and nazis in parliament, hearing "democracy doesn't work", "Jews are controlling everything", "vaccination causes autism" et cetera on a regular basis. And I guess that in Russia, 90% of what neoreactionaries believe is a mainstream opinion, and you just have to turn on your TV to hear it directly from Putin. So I have a problem empathising with the argument by bravery. I agree that everything should be open to debate, there should be no dogmas. But there is a difference between saying that, and embracing reversed stupidity. I'd rather know what makes some democracies work and other democracies fail. For example, Switzerland does a few things that neoreactionaries would agree with, despite having more democracy than any other country I know.
The first item in your list is relevant to NRx, but I'm not sure about the rest. Are you implying that from "these people believe in A" you can conclude that "they also must believe in B, C, and D"? I don't think that is true. It looks like you have a tendency to put all the people and all the views you dislike into one big bucket and say "They are all the same". That's not a very good idea. You are not interested in what makes some political systems work and others fail..? :-)
That's why I said 90%. There are also obvious differences: Putin still keeps a democratic facade in Russia, he supports Orthodox Christianity, and ethnic Russians are considered the superior race. As far as I know, NRs would abhor even pretend-democracy, would support religion but not Christianity because that inevitably leads to progressivism; and would support an idea of superior ethnic group but probably only if it includes themselves. But they could have a nice debate about how Western civilization is weak, decadent, and doomed to failure; how giving rights to homosexuals is obviously stupid; how religion is necessary for a strong society; etc. You still haven't convinced me that Switzerland is a failure. I also don't know an example of a real country without elections where I would be tempted to move. Shall we discuss fictional evidence?
Depending on which neoreactionary. The neoreactionaries I'm familiar with, admittedly a tiny subset, are pro-traditional, i.e., non-progressive Christianity. How many real countries do you know without elections, period? I here the UAE is rather nice.
That's part of what I mean by saying that you put everyone you dislike into one big bucket. Let me link again the post I already mentioned. I don't notice it talking about homosexuals or religion, do you? Do you expect the author to broadly agree with Putin? I do not believe I have tried.
Um, you were the one who first brought up that term in this discussion. In fact, the only reason we're having this meta-debate is because a bunch of people didn't want to have an object-level discussion about Donald Trump.
My objections are not about having bias, but enacting a bias institutionally and through social pressures to shut up people you disagree with. That impulse to shut others up by power and pressure has a marked tendency to go in one direction. Your projection of "why don't these people all agree with me?" sounds ridiculous to me. Can you point to a few discussions where NR folks were shocked, just shocked, that there was someone in the world that disagreed with them? I'd think that they're probably well used to that by now. I wouldn't expect them to be shocked. I'll share my conclusion. In many circles, the Left is accustomed to being able to proselytize their ideology while silencing Unbelievers. LW has a rare density of Libertarian leaning people, who generally aren't the types to sit silently and assent. Failing to ideologically bully, the Left resorted to pressure to just not talk about politics, which achieves the main goal of silencing the Unbelievers. LessWrong is not supposed to be a claim, but a goal. We have all sorts of wrong ideas that we share and mutually critique on our path to becoming LessWrong. But for politics, no go. More important to shut up those heretical ideas than actually get LessWrong about them. No. The desire to speak, and the desire to be free to speak without being pressured to shut up, is not the demand or expectation that everyone agree. Yeah, the best approach is to UnIdea "neoreaction". As for your suggested LWSpeak dictionary for political speech, that's conveniently another method of control. You can't use these symbols. You can't talk this way. How about instead we criticize each other's ideas if we want, and don't criticize them if we don't?
According to LW census liberals and social democrats make up about two thirds of the whole population. If anything, the fact that talk about politics is discouraged here is good for ideological minorities, such as conservatives, communists or neoreactionaries, because there are plenty interesting LW topics that are unrelated to politics. A few years ago people understood that. Discussing specific ideas one by one is different from discussing vague blobs of ideas that have a lot of connotations. The first one is much more productive than the second, because in the second case people tend to constantly move the goalposts and usė motte and bailey tactics. Discussion of specific mechanisms how elections may lead to outcomes that are contrary to the interest of population is different than discussing a vague blob of ideas that contain people as different as Moldbug's techno-commercialists and religious traditionalists who have basically nothing in common. For any neorectionary proposal there is another idea that is almost an opposite. You can't discuss it unless you specify exactly which ideas you are discussing. That is what tabooing the word "neoreaction" means. Discuss ideas that are specific and concrete, ideas that have empirical content, not some kind of vague symbols.
Is the implication that other third, made up of libertarians, wouldn't want to be in a political conversation where they are outnumbered? If so, that's a pretty good joke. "It's good that we don't talk about X, because there are a lot of NotX things to talk about" is a rather peculiar claim. I suppose one could argue that Trump the political animal is in fact a vague blob of ideas, but as a topic of conversation, it's fairly specific, and yet the poster asking for permission to discuss him was effectively told to "shut up" by 40% of respondents. And he did so. But that is not what "shut up" means. Can he discuss Trump, as long as he doesn't use his name? Shall it be "He Who Must Not Be Named" then?
I guess you have read something about "professing and cheering", "applause lights", "affective spirals", "rationalist taboo", "anticipated experiences", and "replacing symbols with substance". Political debates are not a separate magisterium. Neoreaction is not a separate magisterium within politics. If your belief has the ambitions to describe the territory, you should be able to describe the same thing without using the shibboleths. A marxist could transform "capitalists exploit workers" into "people who control resources can achieve transactions disadvantageous in long term to people who must participate in transactions with them in order to survive". A libertarian could transform "free markets lead to progress" into "when interactions between people are free of coercion, people are more likely to fully use their creativity". A theist could transform "homosexuality is a sin" into "if you live in a universe with an omnipotent being who infinitely punishes people for sexual relationships with people of the same sex, it is prudent to avoid such relationships". But if your beliefs are merely cheering for your team, or if the words you use are merely mysterious formless substances, you cannot transform them. Or if your beliefs are wrong (do not match the territory), unpacking the keywords can make the wrongness more obvious. Refusing to unpack your keywords means that on some level you already know that it wouldn't end well. Just say loudly: "countries with a lot of democracy, such as Switzerland, have lower quality of life than countries with no democracy, such as North Korea, because democracy makes people selfishly destroy the society, while a dictator will optimize for long-term prosperity" if that happens to be your belief with the symbols replaced by the corresponding substance. Reality check: is Eliezer supposed to be that leftist bully who oppresses the rare libertarians at LW? I'm asking because he wrote the articles about anticipated experiences, tabooing
The problem was they were not able to stop talking about it. Because they had no other platform than Less Wrong where they could present their ideas to wider audience and try recruiting new people. Also they loved to pretend that the rationalist community as a whole somehow supports their political beliefs, despite the polls showing cca 3% support. Then at some moment Eliezer became tired of being known as "the guy who hosts the neoreactionary website" and publicly disowned them. They moved their politics to their own website called "More Right" (as you see, they still couldn't stop making hints that they are somehow connected with LW), so they finally had some other outlet. (It also didn't help their PR that the known vote-manipulator Eugine was their supporter. I know, that's merely an argument by association, but it doesn't help to keep the debate rational and try avoiding mindkilling, if one side has a member that keeps mass-downvoting everyone who disagrees.)
Thank you for the history. That was before my time. Or maybe I just missed that. But this is consistent with my observations. It's not really politics that is the target of the ban, it's a certain type of politics. By your own reporting, they were connected to the LW site. That's where they came from, until they were booted off as untouchables. It's part of their own history that LW was the incubator for their site. And given that they were booted from LW for their views, sticking a thumb in the eye of LW is entirely predictable. The name is triply appropriate, given the politics. It would have been too obvious and too good a name to pass up. I would have used it.
Nope, it's a certain type of behavior. Nope. Yes, this attitude is a part of the behavior. Generally, you guys love to behave like predators. Never take "no" for an answer, double down when someone refuses to debate with you (but when someone does, it's obvious you don't listen anyway), then switch to karma assassinations when arguments fail, or otherwise threaten revenge. You probably believe that this is the right (pun intended) strategy, and if only you stay persistent enough, everyone will sooner or later bend over and take it in the ass. Thus sayeth Gnon or whichever idiotic abbreviation you worship today. Meanwhile, in the real world, being an asshole often works short-term, but in longer term, there are some complications. Such as being publicly recognized for what you are, and not being welcome among people who have higher standards of interaction. By the way, you guys are much less different from the SJW predators than either side would admit, except that they are pros (because they were selected from a much larger pool of candidates) and you are mostly wankers. Just saying, because you are going to downvote this comment anyway. But don't mind me. Follow your own strategy and see where it leads you.
Oh, boy. Who's that "you guys"? I don't think bbdd is one of the NRx. In any case, let me point out that you just threw a hissy fit. That wasn't a good move... X-/
Sure. I'm going to spend the rest of the day offline, to clear my mind.
Downvoted for the kind of attitude actually described in Politics Is The Mind-Killer, the NRxs historically tending v to be the worst offenders is irrelevant.
Nope. Banning a certain type of behavior was used as cover for banning a certain politics. I don't see behavior as the issue identified here, I see being associated with certain political ideas. If you want to be nitpicky, then yes, they personally weren't booted, just discussion of the offending ideas was booted. Are you passing out honorary NR degrees? Don't think I'm entirely on board, though they make a lot of good points. It's predatory to discuss ideas. It's not predatory to prevent people from discussing ideas through institutional power. Isn't it inconvenient when people you disagree with won't shut up? Don't worry, you can probably make them. Ah yes. Maybe I was around. I do recall discussing someone's equivalence of "NR" = "Assholes". Or maybe that was a PUA discussion. Basically, I disagree with you, therefore you're an asshole. And you're right in the sense that having unpopular ideas often comes with a cost. Funny, you seemed just like a SJW predator to me. "Shut up" is also their answer to ideas they disagree with. Actually, I've upvoted one of your comments in this thread, hadn't downvoted any others, and had no intention of downvoting this one. But don't let that keep you from feeling persecuted by a mean old predator.
FWIW, I agree despite being very unfavourably disposed towards their political views.
Apparently they've also splintered to another site: http://thefutureprimaeval.net/ LW announcement on More Right - A Good Time Thread http://lesswrong.com/lw/hcy/link_more_right_launched/
Too bad they already deleted the reasons why.
I believe there was some discussion of the motivation on the LW announcement link.
The LW announcement link discusses the motivation for launching More Right. I was linking at the (already deleted) motivation for later abandoning More Right and launching The Future Primaeval.
I saw that in there as well. That's where I got the link for the new site.
In which way is this is a problem on an internet forum the purpose of which is to let people talk about things? I know some people who can't stop talking about existential risk or quantum immortality X-) Is that a problem, too? If you want to say "I don't want to be associated with people of such political beliefs", well, just say so.
I don't want LW to be a recruitment place for a political cult. If the political cult is unable to find a better recruitment place, well, sucks to be them.
Banish the Heretics!
You're unable to see the difference between "banish heretics" and "banish cult recruiters"? Or, more to the point, between "banish heretics" and "forbid cult recruitment"? (I am not sure how good a metaphor either of these is for neoreactionaries on Less Wrong, but the two are quite different things and it's in no way ambiguous which Viliam is arguing for.)
First, calling them a cult when they exhibited none of the means of indoctrination and control associated with cults seems inaccurate and a boo light. Those who successfully banned discussion of NR ideas from LW seem more accurately called cult members, using the usual cult tactic of driving out ideas that challenged their cherished beliefs, thereby refusing to engage with critiques of their ideas. On the flip side, the supposed NR "cult" was doing the rather uncultish thing of choosing to stay in the midst of ideas predominantly hostile to their own, until forced to take their discussion elsewhere. As for "recruitment", what do you mean? How is that different from wanting to discuss and share ideas that they found valuable? To me, it sounds like Viliam disliked the ideas, disliked that others exposed to them found them attractive, and approved of having what power could be mustered to prevent those ideas from spreading at LW. It's two ways to spin what he was proposing - shutting down ideas he disapproved of. A common sarcastic definitions of a cult is "religion I disapprove of".
I agree. "Cult" is not a great description. No one has successfully (or for that matter unsuccessfully) banned discussion of NR ideas on Less Wrong. Eugine has been banned again and again because he misbehaves again and again. advancedatheist was banned for allegedly suggesting that women should be forced to have sex with men they don't want to have sex with[1]. I can't offhand think of anyone else who has been banned lately, nor do I recall ever hearing any moderator say anything at all like "no discussion of NRx on LW". [1] It's less than clear that that was his actual intent, but that's the reason that was given. The fact that he had a narrow range of topics that he kept going on and on and on about (and kept being downvoted heavily for it, so it's not like these were topics LW was crying out for opportunities to talk about more) presumably didn't help. There is, and has been for some time, more discussion of NRx ideas on LW than anywhere else I know of that isn't explicitly a right-wing site. It doesn't look to me as if NRx advocates on LW are actually getting much traction. So maybe "disliked the idea that others exposed to them might find them attractive" would be better. But actually I think what Viliam wants to avoid is having LW used for that purpose, whether or not the "cult recruiters" have any success -- the point being that being proselytized at is annoying, regardless of whether the proselytism is ever successful. Yeah, that's a common complaint. But it doesn't actually match how most people use the word "cult". Very few people would call Christianity or Islam a cult, for instance, even among those who strongly disapprove of Christianity or Islam. (I don't mean that that never happens. But it very seldom does.) So, is Viliam using "cult" to mean "movement I disapprove of" here? I don't think so. I think he's using it to mean something more like "very small movement with extreme views that most here find unpleasant and/or highly implausible". If y
Cryonics? EA? Occasional animal welfare? There is a traditional definition out of The Devil's Dictionary: * Religion -- a large successful cult * Cult -- a small unsuccessful religion :-) I think it was just a pretty clear fnord.
I see little proselytizing for cryonics here; back in the OB days there was more of it, much of it coming from Eliezer, and yes I did find it a little annoying. (Only a little, because there wasn't very much even then.) I'm a fan of EA myself, so am not in the right target audience to be annoyed by it. My impression is that most LWers are too. There's maybe one bit of animal welfare advocacy a year. None of this much resembles the situation with NRx, where it seems like any time anyone says anything about race or gender you can rely on someone coming along to point out the inferiority of black people and women. I expect it isn't actually that bad, of course; these things usually feel worse than they are. But the proselytism to pre-existing support ratio is, I'm pretty certain, much higher for NRx than for those other things. Yes, I already acknowledged that it's a common complaint that people use the word "cult" that way. I am suggesting that that isn't actually how people use it. (You are well aware that TDD is a big mass of snark and doesn't in any useful sense purport to give actual definitions, I assume.) Not a fnord but an overt criticism. (Possibly an unfair criticism, but that's not the same thing as a fnord.)
First, I don't think that's true. Second, you're conflating NRx and HBD/race-realism/etc. and these are quite different things. And I haven't seen anyone pointing out the general inferiority of women in a long while. Inferiority in specific areas (like upper body strength), certainly, but I don't see why this is a problem.
No, I'm observing that they seem to overlap a lot. No, it's usually just a claim that women are less intelligent, or (in the more nuanced cases) not so good at the kinds of thinking required for, say, science or mathematics.
No, I think that's usually the point of the snarky definition of a cult as a "religion I disapprove of", i.e. Christianity and Islam have the same characteristics as organizations called cults, but are not called cults because they're popular.
Note that "unpopular movement" and "movement I disapprove of" are very (and relevantly) different things.
So let's take the Cult of Cryonics. What do you think "banish cult recruiters" might look like? I would bet that it would look like prohibiting discussions of cryonics and be indistinguishable from "banish the heretics" in practice. And of course NRx isn't a cult, Yvain's offhand comment notwithstanding.
What do you mean by "cult"? Many people would consider the founding purpose of LW to be a recruitment place for a cult. Or do you mean you don't want anything that might convert people to a political position different from yours?
We are not a phyg! We are not a phyg! We are not a phyg! Because nothing says "we are not a phyg!" quite like having to rot13 the Unholy Word.
Perhaps that's one reason why (to a very good approximation) no one actually does that any more.
I thought he said it pretty clearly. EY didn't want to be associated with NR, untouchable heathens that they are.
It seems to me that Viliam's complaint is not that there would be more to talk about, but that more talk would be politicized. I don't know for sure whether it was (I don't think I ever paid that much attention to the politics threads) but here's one way it could have been: suppose LW has few but very vocal neoreactionaries[1] and that most of the non-neoreactionaries are not very interested in talking about neoreaction[2]. If those few neoreactionaries arrange that every political discussion is packed with NRx stuff, then those political discussions will be annoying to everyone else because in order to read the bits they're interested in they have to wade through lots of NRx comments (and perhaps, though here they may have only themselves to blame, lots of anti-NRx responses). [1] I think there is some evidence that this is actually so. [2] This seems likely to be true, but I have no evidence. (I don't mean that most non-NRx people want never to talk about NRx; only that for most the optimal amount of NRx discussion is rather small.) What about when you see a thread that you would want to read, but in which a few people obsessed with things you find uninteresting have posted hundreds of comments you don't want to read? Of course it doesn't need to be neoreactionaries doing this. It could be social-justice types seizing every possible opportunity to point out heteronormative kyriarchal phallogocentric subtexts. It could be people terrified about AI risk turning every discussion of computers doing interesting things into debates about whether We Are All Doomed -- or people skeptical about AI risk complaining incessantly about how LW promotes paranoia about AI risk. It could be Christians proposing Jesus as the answer to every question, or atheists leaping on every case of suffering or successful scientific explanation to remind us that it's evidence against God. Etc., etc., etc. It might be. Or it might be so only in the sense that for an alcoholic, having a gl
What do you mean by that? Do you mean that they're not interested in becoming lesswrong about the issue or that they only want to become lesswrong to the extent it doesn't involve being similar to those weird NRx's?
Obviously I mean neither (btw: hi, Eugine!). I mean what I say: for whatever reason they are not very interested in talking about NRx here. Possible reasons other than your maximally-uncharitable ones: * They are just not very interested in the things neoreactionaries get excited about (race, gender, political structures -- though it occurs to me that LW's small but vocal NRx contingent appears to be much more interested in race and gender than in any of the other things theoretically characteristic of NRx). * Is that the same as "not interested in becoming less wrong"? No, it's broader and typically indicative of a different state of mind. Contrast a hyperzealously closed-minded Christian missionary, who is extremely interested in his religion and not at all interested in becoming less wrong about it, with an apathetic agnostic, who just doesn't give a damn about religion. Neither will be very interested in a presentation of the merits of Hinduism, but their attitudes are quite different. (It's not clear that one is better than the other.) * They have already given the matter plenty of thought and done their best to get less wrong about it. At this point they find little value in going over it again and again. * They are interested in becoming less wrong about political structures, gender, race, etc., but NRx positions on these lie outside the range they find credible. * Is that the same as "only to the extent it doesn't involve being similar to those weird NRx's"? No, it's about finding the ideas implausible rather than finding the people offputting. (Though of course the two may go together. If you find people offputting you may dismiss their ideas; if you find an idea repellent or crazy you may think ill of people who hold it.) * They have observed some discussions of NRx, seen that they consistently generate much more heat than light, and decided that whatever the facts of the matter an internet debate about it is likely to do more harm than good. *
Interesting theories, let's see how they square with the evidence. On the other hand they are interested in questions where where race, gender, and political structures are relevant to the answers. If that was the case, one would expect them to be able to produce counter arguments to say the "NRx" (although it's not unique to NRx) positions on race and gender. Instead the best they can do is link to SSC (which agrees that the NRx's have a point in that respect), or say things that amount to saying how they don't want to think about it. To the extent that's true its not the "NRx" people generating the heat. These are just rephrasing of my hypothesis that they only want to become lesswrong to the extent it doesn't involve being similar to those weird NRx's. Good to hear you're willing to agree with it.
Maybe, though in some cases their opinion as to that relevance may reasonably differ from yours. But that doesn't in any way mean that they should be interested in NRx. Consider the following parallel. I am making plans concerning the next 10 years of my life -- whether to take a new job, move house, get married or divorced, etc. It is highly relevant to my deliberations whether some time in the next few years a vengeful god is going to step in and put an end to the world as we know it. That doesn't mean that I shouldn't be annoyed when my attempts to discuss the next few years are repeatedly interrupted by people wanting to warn me about the coming apocalypse. Yup. But one wouldn't necessarily expect them to do it. (If I'm talking about the likely state of the world economy 5 years from now and some guy bursts in to tell me excitedly about how Cthulhu will have risen from the depths by then and started eating everyone, I am not going to waste my time telling him exactly why I don't think Cthulhu is real and why I wouldn't expect him to start eating people so soon even if he were.) Heat arises from friction. It takes two to generate the friction. I'm not terribly interested deciding which of the sticks getting rubbed together is responsible for the flames. No, they're not. Your hypothesis is that these people want to avoid becoming like the NRx people; mine is that they want to avoid having to interact with the NRx people. (There might be some overlap. If someone thinks NRx people are unpleasant, they might avoid being convinced lest they become unpleasant themselves or find themselves spending more time around unpleasant people.) I'm not, for the avoidance of doubt, claiming that your hypotheses are never correct. Just that they're a very long way from exhausting the possibilities for why someone might not want to engage in a lot of argument about NRx, which is one reason why it is wrong to take the general statement I made and "explain" it as the more specific
This is an example of these beliefs lying outside the range they find credible, which I addressed in the next point. The difference is that the NRx's (or at least the HBD-people) can present arguments for their beliefs, like the fact that things like race and gender, do in fact correlate with IQ, SAT scores, success in various professions, etc. You're taking the metaphor too literally in an attempt to pretend to be wise. In this case "heat" means bad arguments or no arguments at all. One side presents arguments for its positions, the other side presents a variety of ever-shifting excuses for why the topic shouldn't be brought up at all.
Sure. I was just making the point that you can't get from "X could be relevant to Y, which Z finds important" to "Z should be interested in X". I don't know about actual literal Cthulhu-worshippers, if any there be, but the preachers of pending apocalypse have arguments for their beliefs too. And, again, I think you may be misunderstanding the point I was making, which is simply that you can't get from "Z has good arguments against X" to "Z will present arguments against X whenever someone comes along proclaiming X", and therefore you can't get from "X came up and Z blew it off without presenting counterarguments" to "Z doesn't have good arguments against X". This is far from the first time that you have claimed to know my motives. I'm sorry to inform you that your track record on getting them right appears to me to be very poor. It was I, not you, who made the more-heat-than-light metaphor in this case, and you don't get to tell me what I meant by it. I did not, in fact, mean "bad arguments or no arguments at all"; I meant "rudeness and crossness and people getting upset at one another". As for taking it too literally: no, I am observing that the metaphor happens to correspond to reality in a possibly-unexpected way. "Heat" in an argument really does come from "friction" between people, from them "rubbing one another up the wrong way". (Incidentally, it feels very odd to be criticized for doing that by an admirer of Chesterton, who did the same thing all the time. (More stylishly than me, no doubt, but if writing as well as Chesterton were a requirement for participation here it would be a quiet place indeed.) I think the problem many people have isn't that it's "brought up at all" but that some of those who want to talk about NRx and HBD seem to want to talk about those things all the time. That may mean that the only actually-achievable options are (1) a strict "no talking about this stuff" policy and (2) having every discussion to which race, gender, drawb
Yes, I have a habit of assuming the most sensible interpretation of what my interlocutor says, it appears to be a bad habit with some people. Ok, plugging that definition into your argument, and removing the metaphor, your argument appears to come down to "arguing 'NRx-type' positions gets makes my side upset therefore the 'NRx' side should stop doing it".
That is pretty much the reverse of what you have been doing. I think your actual habit is of assuming the interpretation that makes most sense to you. Unfortunately that isn't the same, and in particular it gives very wrong results when your mental model of your interlocutors is very inaccurate. Not quite. (Though, as entirelyuseless says, that wouldn't in fact be such a bad argument.) Here's a link to where I came in; as you can see, I was explaining how having NRx discussions tend to proliferate could be a problem. My answer was that I didn't know whether it actually is, but it could be so in a situation where (1) there are very few NRx's (but vocal enough to have a lot of impact) and (2) most of the other people aren't interested in NRx discussions. And then we got into a lengthy discussion of why #2 might be; rudeness-and-crossness was one of many possibilities. So the argument is: in this hypothetical situation that may or may not be actual, most LWers don't want to have a lot of NRx discussions. One of the many possible reasons is (as you put it) that these arguments get their side upset. Since (in this hypothetical situation) most LWers don't want these discussions, and very few actively do want them, LWers as a whole would be happier without them. (Although I've adopted your spin-laden language in the paragraph above, I would like to point out that it's actually quite far from what I meant. My hypothetical person-who-doesn't-want-to-talk-about-NRx is concerned not only that his allies might get upset, but also that his opponents might; and that the result of all this getting-upset on both sides is likely to be that no one learns much from anyone else. That's why the metaphor is "more heat than light" and not just "lots of heat".)
Assuming that was his argument, it seems like a pretty good one. You do not persuade people by making them upset. You make them more convinced than ever of their original position.
So, being "less wrong" is measured by "how much time one spends debating neoreaction"? If you refuse to keep endlessly debating neoreaction, you are closed-minded. Don't worry about evidence; the signalling is cool!
I was running monthly politics threads. I don't recall that conversations involved NR specifically, but I do recall that the discussions taking place were so specific they had no general/popular appeal, and conversations were short, muted, and didn't go anywhere. I was left reading the discussions taking place with the impression that people were looking for things to try to argue about, rather than having anything particularly meaningful they wanted to argue about which they previously couldn't. Given that one of my purposes was to try to arrange a safety valve for a perceived growing political pressure (which eventually exploded in the feminism war that got Eugine Nier banned and which caused most of the more prominent feminist-leaning members to leave), they were failing for my intended purpose, so I stopped creating them. The debates didn't generally have an issue staying civilized, though, as I recall.
Is this actually true? I don't think LW is having this kind of problems. Same with "difficult to contain" -- I do not observe these difficulties.
Saying "I don't want to hear that" when specifically asked if you want to hear it is very different from "shut up, I don't want to hear what you want to talk about".
Yes. I was referring to the latter, which I've seen a lot of. So much so, that people tip toe around and ask for permission to speak.
That implies most everyone on LW is impolite most of the time.

Well, yes, but

In the past I've seen people suggest that a controversial topic/thread should have been brought up in a poll beforehand instead of just posting it outright. James_Miller seems to be following the suggested convention.

I am maybe 95% confident that Torchlight_Crimson is yet another Eugine account, and he (or someone) is mass-downvoting my comments (and probably others', but my own are easier to notice).

Will his next account be CopperKettleDrums?
Right poem, wrong fragment.
Likely future names: Golden_Horn, Nameless_Throne, Last_Knight, Strong_Gongs, Red_and_Purple, Gun_upon_Gun, Cross_and_Castle, Scarlet_Running. Less likely: Cold_Queen, Doubtful_Seat, Timeless_Houri, Kissed_in_Galilee, Leprous_White, Sick_and_Sunless, Yellow_Face, Painted_Poop.
The sphexishness is strong with these ones (both Eugene and the LW moderators).
I do wonder whether Eugine is deliberately being obvious as a sort of fuck-you to the LW community in general and its moderators in particular. "You guys are so ineffectual that I can keep just using names chosen the same way and saying the exact same things and being super-obvious about it, and before anything's done I'll have had months to fight the good fight. Hahahahaha!" With, perhaps, a side order of "See how weak and useless the namby-pamby liberal mindset makes you."
A simpler explanation is that there is no reason for him to be non-obvious.
Agreed. (But simpler explanations are not always correct, and my mental model of Eugine -- which admittedly is probably not terribly good -- feels quite likely to do that out of some combination of fun and spite.)
Good catch! (That poem has "The Lion" in it too, as well as old gold and torchlight crimson. But not Eugine, Azathoth, or the Voice of Ra.)

"You could also, if you had a sufficiently good understanding of organic biology and aerodynamics, build an airplane that could mate with birds. I don't think this would have been a smart thing for the Wright Brothers to try to do in the early days."
— Eliezer, in this interview with John Horgan, when asked whether AIs will experience sexual desire

"As you know, birds do not have sexual organs because they would interfere with flight. In fact, this was the big breakthrough for the Wright Brothers. They were watching birds one day, trying to fi... (read more)

Haven't asked in a bit: Is the real book version of AI to Zombies out yet or still just e? I would gladly buy a few copies at textbook-scaled prices, let alone normal book prices, but I want to buy several as gifts for people outside of this community (we've already read the sequences), most of whom take being e-exclusive as a sign of not being good enough to print. As I myself do, frankly, but a fallible one that's wrong here. And besides, you can't wrap it ;)

Anyway, I'd be curious if it's happened yet, and if not, if there's anything I can do to help move it along. Thanks.

I've just read an interview to a Danish artist/enterpreneur who invented a low cost light bulb, trying to promote it to a poor African village.
The reaction he got when he explained the project was "Yeah, it's a cute idea, but this is a prosperous village, you should try to sell it to the poorer village down the road".
He then moved to the next village, which had the same level of average earning, but proposing his light-bulb as an appliance for rich people, this time receiving a lot more interest. The artist later remodeled the bulb, keeping it lo... (read more)

I had a discussion with a German LW'er who described how "productivity" and things generally targeted towards productivity are frowned upon because the in-group condition in the culture is that "you already got that shit covered". So telling someone to be more productive was like saying, "you are not productive enough right now". And doing so was discouraged. Makes it hard to say why LW is good if you have to avoid the word productivity (and similar words)
Some people get insulted when you say their cognitive biases is something they should pay attention to and not just psychology trivia.
Is this hinting to a general bias of sufficient self-competence in every area? Also, devaluing can be relative: this could be why close relative resists to you improving your life (you show them there's space for improvement) and distant acquaintances attributing it to unfair advantages.
I'd call it a cultural bias.
I think it would be more fitting to say that while productivity is more like a terminal value in the US with the American dream it's not a terminal value in Germany to the same extend. That seems to me to be flawed reasoning. LW is not good at getting it's members to be productive given that a lot of them suffer from akrasia. On the other hand LW is good at getting people to have sophisticated intellectual views on issues. That's more valued in Germany than it is in the US.
admitting to the fact; and then declaring you are trying things. is already uncomfortable. (in that culture)
It being uncomfortable is no proof for it being useful. See also Valentine's post on Why Yin
I've read a book that delves into these issues. It's called The Critical Villager by Eric Dudley. I recommend it.
Put a sticker on it that says "x% of the cost of this product goes to giving a free version to a person in need."
You start by talking to prospective customers to try to understand their values and then design your pitch based on what you learned.

Uruguay proposes to deploy bats to kill mosquitoes.


Quarterly life report: 2016

Mental health

  • No longer chronically suicidal, suicidality more sporadic and it's a rather dull urge mashed up with conflicting other urges

  • Renewed interests in cryonics. Hmmm...

  • Writing, being open socially and back pain exercises are clearly improving my mental health.

  • Attending an outpatient mental health clinic. Approaching their upper age limit and will probably graduate to the clinic downstairs. They are helpful, but less helpful than services attended in the past like the university mental health clinic. Psychologists

... (read more)
Congrats on progress. Possibly useful-- Running with the Whole Body. I got good results (I had arches for quite a while, need to do the exercise again) from the one about the connection between hips and ankles, but you might want to skip the first one, which is self-observation while walking. Both I and someone I recommended the book to found it was too difficult. Uncommon Sensing-- a free Feldenkrais exercise every month. I've generally found them to be excellent, but December's was (I think) much too difficult for most people. The advantage of the site is that you don't have to chose from the large number available.
Thanks Nancy. Neither is available at my university library! Argh, but the online reviews are glowing to say the least. Can't find a pirated version either online :P
Uncommon Sensing is a website, not a book. Are you sure you can't access it?
Found it. Thanks!

I remember reading a few times on LW that psychologists have the same treatement success as non-psychologists. Has someone looked more deeply into this issue and can point me to academic research around that claim?

An interesting article I found a long time ago. Scroll down to the tables. I've found these tables extremely interesting. Way better than the descriptions of what the different personality traits are supposed to mean.

E.g. Openness seems to be your measure of liberal vs conservative/ red tribe vs blue tribe stuff.

Conscientiousness measures focus/akrasia/ADHD.

Introversion is obvious, but what it correlates to is interesting. Extroverts are interest in parties, but introversion correlates very strongly with "nerd" culture stuff.

Agreeableness is athe... (read more)

Apparently, liking rap and hip-hop means you're "conservative & conventional" as well as "calm & relaxed". Yo, m'f'kers. I feel there's a ton of gender and class signaling mixed in there.
Looks like the more you like nature/the outdoors, the less neurotic you are.

If someone is "banned", does it also prevent them from sending private messages? I am asking because of the scam account who doesn't post in the forum anyway.

(Reposted for better visibility.)

Create an alternative account, ban it and then try it.

I am torn as to if I should tie my astrobio bloggery to my professional identity. Primarily because such bloggery is known here and in one or two other online spaces in which I also occasionally piss people off.

What are your reasons for wanting to link now? E.g. do you hope to be seen as broad thinking. Or do you want to pull traffic both ways? You can also try semi-linking: Add the other blog prominently in the blogroll.
I would recommend against it. "I hope you know that this will go down on your permanent record" :-/
In general I think the likely benefits from the linked identities will outweigh the costs. Being known is often better than being unknown even if the reason for which you known isn't super-special.
But he can link the indentities later. Unlinking on the other hand...
do it. or don't. make a new lw account to do it?

Containment thread

Requests for information

  • Why is there is no space where can I dance with strangers in public for free without prior preperation or an exceptional value proposition to prospective partners (e.g. I'll pay you to dance with me, or you get to look at my handsome self - hint: I'm not super handsome). Or is there, and I'm not aware of it? In a foreign country, perhaps?

  • Which life insurer do you use? Anyone know if Commonwealth bank or uni super will payout for cryonics?

  • Recently I've been toying with the notion of political determinism. I'd

... (read more)
Dancing in the streets used to be a thing and still is an many cultures. Seems it got lost in industrialization. Christopher Alexander proposes to use more of this and provide suitable spaces for it (which also got lost though it's unclear what is cause and what effect). The book is hard to get but luckily there is Google Books: A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction - section on dancing in the streets
You're in luck! I found some copies available on this incredibly obscure website called Amazon. (de, uk, fr, jp. The French one appears not to be available from Amazon itself but only from their marketplace sellers; the others are all from Amazon itself.)
OK I agree. The English original probably is OK to get. The very good German translation is almost impossible to get. With some patience I got one for more than 100 EUR.
Given that the orginal is in English, why read a translation? Apart from that the English version seems to be available on the website network that recently got a lot of press attention.
Don't tell me. I tried to get it for my less anglophile friends and family.
There are certainly events in Berlin that fit more or less into that category. However often the people who organize an event want to make money with it. Renting rooms costs money. Dancing with strangers who can't dance (i.e. haven't send time in prior preparation to aquire dancing skills) isn't optimal. In general if you want to dance with strangers it makes a lot of sense to learn dancing.
That could be related to EA being a lot about signalling.Spending is a high value signal. Of course in principle it reduces your fitness in the long term. But being a costly signal is the whole point of signalling. So it keeps the size of the EA population small - which could be seen as the selection against altruism effect mentioned - but intended from a signalling point of view.
That is the topic of Christopher Alexander's series of books on architecture and the patterns behind it. The book I got the most of was A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction which contains lots and lots of architectural patterns large and small for humane living. It is somewhat dated in the examples but less so in the patterns themselves. I recommend against "A timeless way of building" which is more philosophical and less grounded in empirical facts (many of which are given for many patterns in the former). I have applied some of the patterns in my own house to good measure.
http://lesswrong.com/lw/7am/rational_home_buying/ Does this help? Other things that come to mind: being able to walk to places, lack of little things that take more mental energy than they should (on street alternate parking is one of those for me). Your housing should make it easy and enjoyable to do things you value. Live near a gym or a beautiful park if you want to exercise more. Make sure the kitchen is decent if you want to eat out less. I know that socializing is good for me, but I'm bad about making plans and starting conversations. So I live with introverted, nerdy roommates (the sort of people I get along with best), and I'm trying to move to a nearby neighborhood where people hang out and talk outdoors a lot. Your housing should not make you stressed about money. For most people, it's their largest budget category, and not very flexible. The common wisdom is that housing plus debt payments should be less than 1/3 of your income (with possible exceptions if you rent in an expensive city). If you can go lower than this without sacrificing too much, I'd say do it - having extra cash is better for human thriving than fancy housing. (Possible ways to turn cash into thriving: travel, take unpaid vacation or time between jobs to work on a side project, visit far away friends, be able to walk away from a job or living situation that becomes terrible without lack of money stopping you.)
what? say again? I suspect this advice works for some people some of the time; but might be the opposite advice that other people need. As such it is unhelpful in the wrong circumstances. Children really don't have self-determination. That's why we play such games about them and to help them move forward. Also when thinking of a "simple mind" a good example would be a child. I have no problem with that. Cute factor is another matter; and there are probably evolutionary reasons why we find kids and young creatures cute.
Your suspicion is true of any non axiom. For instance, givedirectly helps materialists more than non materialists but materialists are unhappier than materialsts particularly among the poor. Is that evidence against the effectiveness of givedirectly? That's up for debate, but I could have picked just about any example.
Perhaps it's worth understanding - do I fit into the category of "keeping too many options open (and have gotten burned)" or do I fit into the category of "have been trying risk-iterate for a while (and have gotten burned)" before considering the advice and how it might apply.

What do you guys think of the theories of Ernest Becker, and of the more modern terror management theory?

The basic argument as that many, if not all, human behaviors are the result of our knowledge of our own mortality and our instinct to deny and forget about it in order to seek some kind of literal or symbolic immortality (by living forever, or writing a famous book, etc.) Religion exists to tell us that it's okay to die, culture to make us forget about religion, so we don't examine it too closely or think about death in general (it can still be scary be... (read more)

What non-trivial falsifiable assertions (or, better yet, predictions) does this theory make?
The major falsifiable prediction is that reminding people of their own mortality will cause them to increase the strength of their psychological terror defense mechanisms, which may include culture, religion, or social ties. Here is a literature review of the subject from 2010. According to the review, the theory hasn't been falsified:
Can it predict something real/measurable?
Ah well. I do believe that I will die; the question is whether there will be the Third World War...
Freud said its all because we want to f* our mothers.

Cryptography Pioneers Receive 2015 ACM A.M. Turing Award

Whitfield Diffie, former Chief Security Officer of Sun Microsystems and Martin E. Hellman, Professor Emeritus of Electrical Engineering at Stanford University, are the recipients of the 2015 ACM A.M. Turing Award, for critical contributions to modern cryptography. The ability for two parties to communicate privately over a secure channel is fundamental for billions of people around the world. On a daily basis, individuals establish secure online connections with banks, e-commerce sites, email server

... (read more)

Speaking of NRx :-)

Clarkhat (who, I'm pretty sure, is Clark formerly of Popehat) wrote a good post talking about what is neoreaction. A taste:

Neoreaction defines itself more in in terms of what it is opposed to than in terms of what it is in favor of.

Fine. So what is neoreaction against?


Neoreaction is the political philosophy that says that democracy is not merely the well-meaning god that happened to fail, but that our current wreckage was predetermined, because democracy fatally intertwined with progressivism since its birth, that it is a too

... (read more)

Tyler Cowen on mindkilling politics:

Again, both the Democrats and the Republicans have their ready made, mostly true, and repeatedly self-confirming stories about the defects of the other. They need only read the news to feel better about themselves, and the academic contingent of the Democrats is better at this than are most ordinary citizens. There is thus a rather large cottage industry of intellectuals interpreting and channeling these stories to Democratic voters and sympathizers. On the right, you will find an equally large cottage industry, som

... (read more)
Standing above the narrative can also be a narrative for a certain sort of person if that person rejects other narratives without checking their correctness. What are failure modes of this?
That's my failure mode, at least with political narratives (probably other areas too). To the extent that I can influence politics, I'm not going to take that opportunity, because I (generally) disbelieve what everyone else says, but I don't put in the time to have opinions of my own. I think I mostly like this better than the alternatives. But I do have to put a bit of effort into remembering that not having opinions isn't the ideal state.

Containment thread 2

  • Is llyashpster really gone and is it because of me?

saints of effective altruism

  • William MacAskill, patron Saint of Employment
  • Brian Tomasik, patron Saint of Mercy
  • David Pearce, Patron Saint of Pleasure
  • Tony Ord, Patron Saint of Charity,
  • Elie Hassenfeld, Patron Saint of Economics
  • Peter Singer, Patron Saint of Fame

  • I think the biggest issue with the lack of competition in the charity evaluation space is highlighted by begging a question you'd imagine they'd have answered, but haven't: What is the most cost-effective QALY with room f

... (read more)
Please split the two quotes into separate comments.

Which economics websites would you recommend reading? I would prefer websites that write analyses of economies and industry sectors rather than theoretical ones, although good websites of the latter kind are also of interest.

http://marginalrevolution.com/ http://www.econtalk.org/ http://econlog.econlib.org/ https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLqekkRyYeow3eT8I3DhGcZ6g3YAe39eDw
See also the blogroll on OvercomingBias (at the right).

With transhumanist technology, what is the probability that any human alive today will live forever, and not just thousands, or millions of years? I assume an extremely small, but non-zero, amount.

If you mean literally forever, I think the odds aren't good. Admittedly, physics is somewhat in flux, but there doesn't seem to be any guarantee that there will be a universe which which has continuity with ours trillions of years from now, though millions shouldn't be a problem at all. Also, I'm not sure what survival means for the very long haul. You might have a consciousness which has continuity with yours millions of years later, but I suspect there would be so much change that your current self and your far future self would have little or nothing in common.
If you mean 'forever' literally... well, the amount of energy inside our cosmological horizon is finite, and is becoming increasingly unreachable. If you stipulate that there's some means for humans to reach outside of our light-cone, then you have to confront with the possibility of time-travel (as far as we know). The conclusion is that 'forever' is either unreachable or loses its meaning once you consider sufficiently advanced tech.
LOL: "The initiative will be open to U.S. citizens, and all applicants must submit to a background check."
I guess this time providing a proof that the probability of you being an US citizen is above 51 percent won't be enough.

If you find unknown Strong AI and you have to ask it only one question, what it should be? (You can't skip asking)

Some possibly good ideas:

How to create Friendly AI?


The answer will be 42 regardless

Is there a computable infinite sequence of bits, and a constant c>1, such that any algorithm that prints the sequence requires at least c^n time to print the nth bit?

[This comment is no longer endorsed by its author]Reply

Found this website selling very cool mattresses. Anyone tried them?

"very cool" = connected to a smartphone, collecting data about your sleep, adjustable by clicking a button

No, but I've had some decent results with Sleepbot, which is much cheaper (free) if you have a smartphone already. Probably doesn't have nearly as good measurements as the mattress, and obviously doesn't make it adjustable, but it does seem to wake you up at a good time if you turn the accelerometer and microphone sensors on. (My smartphone broke, so as yet I haven't collected real empirical data on how well it works)
I tried SleepAsAndroid and they quality of the measurements is low (on my mid-range smartphone). Less anecdotal: The German computer magazine did a comparison of many sleep Apps including a comparison in a sleep laboratory. Poor guy needing to sleep with all those devices in bed. The result was that the fancy curves as mostly way off the only reliable thing is start and end of sleep. Here it is: http://www.heise.de/ct/ausgabe/2015-25-Schlaftracker-vs-Schlaflabor-2910003.html
The problem with smartphone apps is that they can only measure vibration and sound. Vibration can be used to see how much you move around and sound can get to the breathing frequency. As Gunnar already said, vibration + breathing frequency doesn't seem to be a perfect way to measure sleep stages. The heart rate provides for better data. It would be interesting to know how fine the bed can track heart rate. If it could track HRV it would be really great. The mattress on the other hand can measure the heart rate. At least they claim so on the website. Unfortunately the website is quite poor at providing information about the technological capabilites of the product.
Aren't there wrist devices that can measure your heart rate over time? Not sure how well they work, but they might be cheaper than a gadget bed.
Wrist-worn devices for measuring heart rate work for situations where you don't move much like sleeping when you don't need HRV. On the other hand some people prefer to sleep without something on their wrist. On the other hand the bed does has features like automatically contouring the body and the ability to adjust the firmness of the bed that ordinary beds don't have. For the future it would be interesting to test the effect of dynamically changing firmness and see whether it provides improvement with topics like back pain. It might be interresting to raise the firmness of the bed right before waking up. A lot of people struggle with back pain. If the bed finds a way to relax the back better at night that can be valuable.
The application seems great, but the list of permissions it needs is scary ("perform operations like adding, and removing accounts and deleting their password", "use the authentication credentials of an account").
Ah, yeah, that could be an issue--I suppose I never noticed... I think there are similar apps which might not need so much information. You could google "sleep tracking apps". Last I checked there were at least five or six similar ones.

How do you say in Latin 'Fern imagined' (like a real species name)?

I'm pretty sure "imaginatus" would be fine for "imagined". There are lots of genera of fern -- indeed, multiple classes -- so clearly (1) you can't just steal an existing genus name and (2) any Latin word broad enough to mean "fern" isn't going to be suitable as a genus name, if that's the intention. Perhaps "pteridus", which is post-classical but is the origin of the combining form pterido- as in "pteridophytes", the category of plants that includes ferns and various fern-like things. I think its original meaning might be "bracken". (Note: I am not actually either a classicist or a botanist; treat the above with caution.)
"Fern" is a very broad category, but for the species name (the 'imagined' part) I would go with either fictus or conceptus. The fern that you think of when you think "fern" is probably of the Athyrium genus. So I would say Athyrium fictum or Athyrium conceptum (you have to change the ending of the adjective to match the (probably) neuter gender of athyrium). One of the Latin words for fern is filix, which is feminine, so yo could also do Filix ficta or Filix concepta. EDIT: The genus you'd want is actually Polypodium, so you want Polypodium fictum or Polypodium conceptum. (source: my Latin teacher, who's also into botany). Source: William Whitaker's Words and two years of Latin.
Thanks! I think I will go with "Fernus imaginatus", because I wanted just something fern-like but without allusions to real plants - a name for a spherical fern in vacuum, if you wish.
Ah, yes, if that's the case, definitely your best bed (although generally species names are italicized, if you want it to look at least kind of realistic)

Why was the ban on talking about RB lifted?

The ban didn't work, or there was no reason to have it?
Both. Also no one really cares about it that much. it's not scary. It's not a thing. There's a nice big lw wiki page about it all. it's totally not worth talking about these days. well and truly dead.
Except on Facebook "Less Wrong" group, where once in a time someone discovers the topic and starts a new thread.
Kind of why I asked this, actually.