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Edit: Yvain, the great guy that he is, is handling this amazingly. In my eyes, consider this resolved.

(This is an anonymous nick for the moment, but this issue needs to be raised and I'm not comfortable at this point doing it publicly under my own name.)

tl;dr as provided by Daniel_Burfoot: "Yvain is awesome, it's a shame he locked up his old stuff, let's lobby him to open it back up". I heartily endorse this summery, and it pretty much sums up what I have been saying.

[Due to some remarks, have redacted the links to Yvain's blogs, old and new. This is absurd, in my opinion. Yvain's new blog is a Rationality Blog in the Recent on Rationality Blogs part of the sidebar, and his old livejournal blog is linked to in many of his old posts. So I do not think that it is even meaningful to redact them. However, in the interest of not inciting argument, I have redacted them regardless.]

All of us here know of Yvain. He has posted much great stuff both here on Less Wrong, and on his blog. Insightful, brilliant stuff. If you go and look at the list of top rated Main posts, Yvain's stuff top's the lot.

A year ago, he switched blogs, from [old blog] to [new blog]. Well and fine. He had g... (read more)

All right, I'll look through my old stuff later this week, find a very few embarrassing or controversial things I want to hide, and unlock the rest.


Is there a means by which one might buy you a virtual beer as thanks for all the writing?

I've unlocked my old blog minus five or ten private articles. You should be able to read the rest. If you can't, let me know.

This is the best Christmas present I've had all day.

All right, I'll look through my old stuff later this week, find a very few embarrassing or controversial things I want to hide, and unlock the rest.

Obvious question: will the Meditations on assorted social subjects (notably including 'privilege' and 'conceptual superweapons') make the cut? (I could see this going either way, hence I'm asking.)

For the record, Bryan Caplan, of Myth of the Rational Voter fame, recommends one of these posts as "possibly the most reasonable piece I've ever read" on the relevant controversy. I tend to ascribe higher relevance to such reactions than the trollish commentary that may be found in some blog comment sections.

Thank you very much.
Thank you. Merry Christmas!
Thanks Yvain!

Oh. Does that mean I can no longer send people the link to "Last Temptation of Christ"? Yvain, please repost that one!

This is my point. This a hundred or a thousand times over. That story, and the story of Emily and Control, and all his posts about conceptual superweapons, and the non-central fallacy, and so on and so on for a hundred or a thousand nuggets of awesomeness. That is why I make my plea.

If I understand correctly, one of the posts in the creepiness is male weakness / conceptual superweapons sequence was linked to recently by Marginal Revolution. The comments weren't kind, and this was the immediate cause of Yvain locking down his blog, even if he had planned to do so for a while. I wouldn't want any gender discussion linked to under my Real Name either. As much as I'm disappointed that I can't read his posts, I can't say that I would have reacted any differently.
Yes, I know why he locked it. It is a real issue, I agree. I still feel that it shouldn't impact us from reading those posts, as he did make some quite good points about conceptual superweapons. That's why I proposed a karma threshold: Established LWers should be able to access it, without the problems that emerge from it being open to the entire internet.

I'm Livejournal friends with Yvain and can see all his archives. If he gives me permission to do so (and not otherwise), I am willing to fetch and carry specific posts that people wish to have dug up out of flocking obscurity so he doesn't have to deal with the requests.

If he wants to delete his old blog, it's up to him, he isn't accountable to anybody. Don't punish people for posting quality material on the internet.

What solutions are there? There are a few. My favorite so far is for Scott to restrict access by LW karma, which would allow him to maintain his privacy against the web, while still not denying those brilliant, humorous, and insightful posts to those who would truly appreciate them.

Are you willing to fork out the money to hire a programmer to implement something like that? It's not trivial at all.

Also, Yvain's policy of reposting worthwhile stuff to his new blog seems like a very sensible solution to what you're complaining about.

I actually agree with you: He is under no obligations whatsoever. None. But I still am allowed to plead my case to him, for him to decide as he wills, and to spread the issue and discuss it so that the best possible solution can be reached.

As to programming something like that: I am willing to personally implement something like that if asked, although I was more thinking of the manual method of those who want access PMing Yvain or his designated representative and asking for access. Again, I am willing to have the burden of such a task placed on my own shoulders, should Yvain agree. I honestly am trying to find a solution, and am willing to invest a fair amount of personal effort in this.

About the reposting: Yes, I agree. However, there was a lot of stuff on the old blog. Literally thousands of posts, and it would be impractical to repost them one by one. A possible alternative though is for Yvain to repost them en masse, simply redacting the few that he doesn't want around. That is actually a workable solution, if Yvain agrees, all we need is for this to come to his attention. (And again, if that takes grunt work and effort, I am willing to invest it.)

This seems like the best current solution to me. The karma requirement needs the person who wants to read it to not only have the amount of Karma, but also know that the links are available to them. If he uses a non-automated method, Yvain also has to take the effort to respond to every request as well.
On the other hand, anyone could volunteer to help with the repost, and more people can split the task, but the programming requires some skill level, and splitting the task further complicates it. Also, it is not necessary to restore all articles; we could start by the most popular ones and finish when the volunteers run out of interest. But before proposing solutions we should make clear which goals are we optimizing for. * As readers, we want to be able to read the beautiful articles written by Yvain, and forward them to our friends. In this regard, some articles are more important that the others. * Yvain desires a relative anonymity, probably (my guess) for firewalling his professional life from some of the topics mentioned in his articles. Hiding the articles from people who don't have high LW karma (or other technical obstacle) does not let me send the link to someone else. I think it would be better to have those articles freely available; just remove any traces to Yvain. And that cannot be done automatically, because some articles may contain personal information. So the exposed articles need to be checked by humans, and modified to hide the personal details, if necessary. I am not sure about exactly what level of anonymity Yvain wants. Perfect anonymity is not available if the articles remain available; all the discussions on LW, including this very thread, provide connection between the author and the articles. But my guess (which has zero value unless explicitly confirmed by Yvain) is that he simply wants to prevent a possibility of his colleague randomly connecting him to the articles, using only five minutes of googling, without actually trying hard. I mean, if the colleague is a LW reader, then Yvain is already exposed to them. But suppose that the colleague does not read LW, only finds a link to some "sensitive" article posted on their friend's Twitter; and he considers the article very interesting; let's say interesting in a wrong way -- he i
For what it's worth, the reason the earlier blog was locked wasn't to maintain a personal/professional wall. It was the commentariat at a respectable blog (one where I think the comments have gone downhill quite a bit) being nasty about some personal information in the earlier blog.
No, Scott has stated many times that the reason is to avoid connection to his real name, including the recent change. Scott claimed that being told about the link and commentary was a reminder to make changes. It is not entirely clear to me that he even knew that the comments were nasty.

I view this as a crime against humanity, almost

This comment makes you seem crazy. You should have just said "Yvain is awesome, it's a shame he locked up his old stuff, let's lobby him to open it back up".

OK, fine. I guess I got carried away in the heat of the moment. I do suppose I got a bit to worked up over this. I will go back and edit it state this a bit more calmly.

It just makes him seem hyperbolic to me.
Maybe someone can volunteer to host/repost the content of the blog while keeping his name away from the content?
Hey, that's far from a bad idea. This was the kind of idea I was looking for when I asked for people to post additional ideas. I offer myself as a willing volunteer to do this, if Yvain is interested.
https://web.archive.org/ still has it.
As I said to ChristianKl, the wayback machine has only a very incomplete archive of it.
It was my impression that he didn't really want these blogs or identities associated so strongly. Respecting his wishes for increased privacy-by-obscurity would suggest not discussing these blogs by name openly.
[Edit: My points still stand, but this isn't an issue worth fighting over. I've gone back and edited my post.] Good point, although I think that by this point that ship has already sailed. That said, if people really think that it is an issue I will redact the name of his old blog. Note, however, that Yvain's old Less Wrong posts are heavily sprinkled with links to things on his blog, so its not like they are remotely unconnected.
This response strikes me as a bit odd. It reminds me of calling up an ISP and reporting a service outage, only to be told, "We don't have any reports of an outage in that service area." Or bringing up a newly-arisen relationship problem with a partner, only to be told, "Why didn't you tell me!?" Or telling someone their floral perfume is making your face swell up, only to be told, "I've never heard of anyone being allergic to perfume!" For some reason, it seems that people exclude the conversation they are now having from the set of all conversations. It seems like a failure to apply the self-sampling assumption or something. Maybe it's a short-term/long-term memory thing. In case it's not clear: Yes, I (who am a person) do really think that your comment above disrespects the apparent wishes of the person whose writing you're talking about.
No, I think it's more of an issue of refusing to generalize from a single data point. It is entirely correct to say "This conversation is a starting piece of evidence for your position, but I need to wait to gather more evidence." You are a person, but not all people. Not even two people. So I do not wish to act on your say so alone. That said, I will repeat my earlier statement: If people [people in general, that is] really think that it is an issue I will redact the name of his old blog.
it doesn't really matter if people think it's an issue as long as yvain does.
Perhaps. Do note that it is listed in the Recent On Rationality Blogs sidebar, so its not really that secret at all. Nevertheless, I have redacted the relevant parts, in order to avoid unseemly bickering, as this discussion has little to no relevance to my main thesis.
If you really want to read content that was posted years in the past there archive.org to your service. As long as Yvain's doesn't try to get the archive.org archive of his site taken down all should be fine.
Not true. While archive.org is great, it is missing huge chunks of the blog. Sad, but true. It doesn't succeed at archiving everything. And while having half is great, that says nothing about the other half. See here the listing of all pages on squid314.livejournal.com that were captured by the wayback machine.
Yvain has explicitly asked people not to link to his new blog publicly, including on LessWrong. Please remove the link from your post. ETA: Apparently he has not actually explicitly requested this, although I do believe that he is trying to maintain some degree of anonymity, which associating his old and new blogs publicly makes somewhat more difficult.
No, quite the opposite.
Sorry about that, I apparently mis-remembered. Although I do believe he is trying to maintain some degree of anonymity, and did ask when closing his old blog that it not be associated too strongly with his new blog (unless I'm also misremembering that?).
[Edit: My points still stand, but this isn't an issue worth fighting over. I've gone back and edited my post.] Look for the bar at the right side of the page. Look down to the part where it says "Recent on Rationality Blogs". The current top link there is the same link as what I gave. I therefore disbelieve that he asked that he asked not to link to it from Less Wrong, or that he still supports such a request if he did make it, because Less Wrong itself links to it in the sidebar! If it is true that we shouldn't link to his new blog, shouldn't the site itself be abiding by that as well? I trust the administrators of Less Wrong to not go against Yvain on that.

Speaking of the sidebar, is there any way to make it optional whether a post goes up there? Maybe by including [LW] in the title or something? I enjoy blogging about rationality, but I also enjoy blogging about random things that go on in my personal life, and it's kind of embarrassing to have those show up on the LW sidebar.

Better and easier than cluttering the title, you should just be able to choose a tag for the purpose: WordPress provides feeds for posts with specific tags, so you could ask Tricycle to use that tag-specific feed's URL in the sidebar configuration instead of the entire-blog feed.

It appears that if you post a comment in response to a thread, and any upstream post in that thread is subsequently voted down to -4 or below, your comment will no longer appear in your own overview page (the one reached by clicking on your username). However, it will still appear in your comments page (/user/yourname/comments).

This confused the heck out of me for about ten minutes just now.

Reminder: You have two days left to take the 2013 Less Wrong Census/Survey


I've been exercising every morning lately (pushups and situps), and am looking for ways to optimize my morning routine without it taking too much time.

So, where can I find good tips on a morning ten-minute exercise routine, that doesn't require any special equipment? Preferably from a credible source.

I'm not trying to lose weight (I'm pretty skinny as is), just to be healthy.

(I found some tips here, but it's a bit more than what I want to do right now, and requires a Gym)

I use my android smartphone for this purpose. I do push-ups, pull-ups, squats, and sit-ups coupled with supermans in a four day cycle different muscle group every day. That's less than 10 minutes every day. The smartphone apps calculate how much you should rest between sets and how many you should do the next cycle based on how many you did and how difficult it felt. If you do every muscle group every day that might be better for your cardiovascular health, but expect to gain strength and muscle stamina much slower. Your muscles need to get some rest too. Most apps aren't designed for no resting. The exercises don't target every muscle group possible but if your goal is just to stay healthy I think they're balanced enough for that purpose. If they start to feel too easy, add some free weights or make your posture more difficult. If you don't have a pull-up bar home and don't want to buy one, find one outdoors. For cardiovascular benefits I would recommend aerobic exercise. It doesn't really matter what it is, as long as you get your heart rate high enough often enough. If you want to make sure the exercise doesn't become too anaerobic (would become more difficult to do often) but don't want to buy a heart rate monitor, try breathing only through your nose and slow down if that becomes too difficult. You might start with brisk walking, but over time even running while breathing this way should become effortless.
That is a solid plan, but I'd recommend adding something for hip extension, like a deadlift or back bridge. That will hit most of what you're missing in your routine. Three days of rest for each exercise is likely too much to be optimal. Bodyweight exercises are very easy for the body to recover from, and don't require that much time. If you paired an upper body, lower body, and core exercise (ie squat/pushup/situps and deadlift/pullup/super man) and did that on a two day cycle, you'd probably experience just as much benefits in a shorter time frame.
Thanks for those exercise suggestions! I'll add back bridge to the routine coupled with squats so that I can still use the software. This is not completely necessary since squats and supermans target hip extensors a bit too if done correctly. Adding some calf exercise in the leg day might make sense too, and some flank exercise on sit-ups day. I agree one rest day might be enough if you're not a complete beginner, rest needs vary. The problem is, the exercises become longer, and I might have to eat more to recover faster. Doing one exercise a day just after waking up is so trivial the habit is easier to keep. Do you know any good body weight exercises for deltoids?
Bodyweight squats really don't have enough load on the hip extensors to work them adequately. Even the barbell squat mostly targets the quadriceps (full depth Olympic/front squats involves the glutes a lot, and squatting low bar powerlifting-style involves the hamstrings). Incline pushups (ie with your feet on a box) will involve more deltoids and less pectoralis. By continually increasing the incline, you can progress the difficulty of the exercise until you're doing handstand pushups. The recommendation I make for folks is to buy an adjustable dumbbell set. Small cash investment, minimal space investment, and adds a bunch of exercises you can do. I've expanded the set with a pair of 10s and a quad of 25s, so the max weight I can put on a handle is 125lbs, and it holds up great.
Thanks! I'll try alternating between those (I just installed the apps), and running back from work breathing through my nose.
I use calendar reminders to do them first in the morning. It's important you keep techniques consistent so that you don't fool yourself when measuring progress. Pushups I do eyes straight ahead chest touching the ground, hand positioning I alternate a bit and push as high as I can. Pull-upps with just slightly bent elbows when down and go as high as I can, hand positioning alternating a bit but keep palms facing me. Don't help with the legs. Sit-ups neck straight, hands behind neck, knees 90 degrees, elbows and shoulder blades touching the floor and back as straight as possible when down and elbows touching the knees when up. Supermans I just do as high as I can. Squats I don't go lower than my butt on the knee level to avoid hurting my knees and don't straighten my knees going up either. I keep my hands stretched in front and back straight. Have fun! It's almost as awesome as Anki.
I'm not sure if you've considered any of the various High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT / HIIE) type programs like Tabata which have been floating around, but they were a huge help for me in the last year or so. Essentially the idea is that you do short bursts of highly intense exercise separated by short rests, usually using a timer app, giving you a fairly compact (4-20 mins is typical) workout which is paradoxically very good at building muscular endurance. In terms of credibility, it's pretty solid seeming; the Tabata program was developed by the eponymous scientist Izumi Tabata in the late nineties and looks to have accumulated a fair amount of confirming evidence (and avoided disconfirmation) as it and HIIT in general have become more popular and thoroughly researched since then. I'm not comfortable saying it's a sure thing, since I haven't really read much of the literature in detail and it's not really my field, but as I said before it seems solid from what I have read. Usually people do this with traditionally aerobic exercises like running or cycling and tend to use treadmills and stationary bikes, although since the advantage is really just about the timing you can adapt it to use pretty much any exercise and don't need any equipment outside of a free app; I personally do body weight Squats/Push-Ups/Sit-Ups/Dips according to Tabata timing (20s on, 10s off, 8x sets per exercise), and it requires ~20mins my free smartphone app and a chair for the dips. Originally, I didn't even need the chair because I did jumping jacks in place of dips, but that leads into my next paragraph... There is a real risk of injury doing any HIIT workout. The high intensity, especially with jumping/running type exercises, can be really tough on your joints so if you, say, have had undiagnosed tendinitis / bursitis for years it's generally a poor idea to do four minutes of high-intensity jumping jacks every day for six months. I got off fairly easy and am still doing a modif
I'll put in a good word for The Five Tibetan Rites, a cross between yoga and calesthenics. I've found it helps with strength and endurance, and can be done at home with a yoga mat as the only equipment. If you want more detail than the standard online resources, there's The 10-Minute Rejuvenation Plan: T5T: The Revolutionary Exercise Program That Restores Your Body and Mind -- the author has taught some 700 people, and has a lot of good advice about dealing with common problems.
This is not a credible source. Yoga is less efficient in terms of the benefits you get out of it per time spent when compared to other activities (like high-intensity activities).
The Tibetans are fairly high intensity, at least by my non-athletic standards. Doing 21 reps of sitting to table position is some degree of work.
I've been doing the "7 min scientific workout" every morning for the past month and I've seen great results. http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/05/09/the-scientific-7-minute-workout/
Am I doing them wrong or do none of those exercises exercise muscles in the back?
The squats and lunges will exercise back and core. I also add supermans for mid back
Mark's Daily Apple has some body weight exercises described and somewhere there's video links. Bascially he recommends squats, push-ups, pull ups, and planking (kind of a prolonged push-up), with modificiations for various fitness levels.
There are five essential movements: Push (pushup), pull (pullup), squat, hip hinge (single leg deadlift), and weighted carry. If you can find some way to incorporate all of this into your training, then you'll have a totally balanced training routine. Alternating squats+pushups with deadlifts+pullups and walking with a weighted backpack or vest will hit almost all of the bases with minimal time and equipment.

Max More just put out a response to Michio Kaku's video on the topic of cryonics. Seems to be getting some coverage (KurzweilAI, io9, geek.com).

"The topic" being cryonics.
Sorry, I didn't notice my wording. Fixed.

The trailer for the movie Transcendence is out.

Is Johnny Depp playing Ben Goertzel? :P

Something I want to write before I forget it:

In the Sequences there are many links to books. Some of those links go to Amazon, some of them go to Google Books. Please make sure the book links in the e-book have the MIRI referral code.

This should be quite easy to check: Just make a script that selects all Amazon or Google Books hyperlinks from the book source.

Also add this to the list of things the proofreaders should check for.

In the first place

by Gregory Cochran

We hear a lot about innovative educational approaches, and since these silly people have been at this for a long time now, we hear just as often about the innovative approaches that some idiot started up a few years ago and are now crashing in flames. We’re in steady-state.

I’m wondering if it isn’t time to try something archaic. In particular, mnemonic techniques, such as the method of loci. As far as I know, nobody has actually tried integrating the more sophisticated mnemonic techniques into a curriculum. Sure, we all know useful acronyms, like the one for resistor color codes, but I’ve not heard of anyone teaching kids how to build a memory palace.

I’m just suggesting taking the idea out for a spin, see if it works well in some small, statistically-careful trials. I’m not talking about foisting it on everyone nationwide, willy-nilly. Which shows just how out of it I am.

I wish someone would test spaced repetition software for high schoolers or undergrads. That even has the excuse of everyone needing a PC or a tablet to do it, and we being able to easily afford that only recently, for why it hasn't been done before. Mnemonics are great for quick low-effort cramming for remembering things overnight, but spaced repetition can be for life.

I'm having trouble coming up with any complex instruction given in schools that doesn't directly lead to being tested in an exam. Can think of very few lessons in any sort of metacognition, some half-hearted mindmap thing mostly, and none at all where a specific metacognition method was being used in concert with an actual course.

What makes you think they haven't? When I look through the cites in http://www.gwern.net/Spaced%20repetition the majority of stuff was done with students of various age levels between elementary & college.
It might be an issue of how broad you define spaced repetition. I think a lot of those cites use a fairly broad definition but no Anki/Memosyth/Supermeno is involved.
Spaced repetition alone has probably been floated around, but giving students tablets and making them use Anki themselves to study at home might be new. Spaced repetition in instruction might work great as long as the single teacher running the experiment is doing it, and is then going to go away after the experiment stops. Some of the students exposed to Anki might keep using it by themselves after being taught to.
That depends a lot on the school. Mathematical proofs that take an hour to complete don't lend itself to testing in exams. Mostly I think the problem is that schools are really bad at teaching things that don't lend itself to being tested. I had multiple teachers who did taught the idea that success is due to talent instead of being about the amount of time you put in. If someone would have set me down and explained to me that hard work is really important, that would have done a lot. Most subjects where some form of emotional intimacy is involved don't lend itself well to being tested.
Spaced repetition requires sincerity and discipline. You need to look at the question, understand it, decide just how well you remember the answer and act accordingly. And you need to do it every day. Moreover, efficient spaced repetition, as I found, requires custom-taliored questions. You have to use your own cards. I don't see most high schoolers adapting it.
If I was actually running this experiment and had ideal resources, I'd * Set up the students' default SRS server to be hosted by the school, and give them extra credit if they log in every day and do their daily reviews. * Add some automated checks to detect usage patterns that probably represent just clicking through the thing without thinking. * Provide a small common set of new cards to everyone based on each lecture, after the lecture. Everyone sat through the same lecture, so they can handle some of the same questions. * Have instruction about making good cards, and have the students make their own cards as homework at the beginning of the course. The homework exercise cards would be reviewed like any homework. * Would give extra credits to students for up to tripling the default deck with their own questions, which would pass some sort of spam filter check for random gibberish and a human inspection in questionable cases. Yes, I know, overjustification effect and everything for using credit as the carrot to make the students use the system. Still, should be worth a try. Also could just make the finished deck the "course project" which you'd submit along with doing the final exam for review, and which would contribute to your grade. So you'd want to have covered the material with good questions and have a good review profile. Could also give students the choice between a SRS course and a regular one, where in the regular one their grade would be entirely defined by the exam, while in the SRS course points from the review of the deck they made would be added to their test score for determining the grade. "You do some random busywork and you'll get a guaranteed grade lift on that nasty calculus course."
I don't think sincerity is such an issue with SRS. It's relatively easy to understand that it's unfun to have cards that you don't know at all coming up because you hit good the last time when you should have hit again. As far as having to do it every day, I don't think that's true. If you skip a day that's not optimal and you have to answer the cards the next day. It will also be a bit harder to answer them the next day. I think that teaches something to the kid about consequences.
Connotational disclaimer. Good education is complex. To do things right, you have to do many details right. If just a few of them are missing, the whole thing may start falling apart. It is good to be reminded than an important or helpful piece is missing. The sad thing is that the following internet discussions often quickly move from "X is missing, we need to somehow integrate X into the system" to "just throw all the other useless pieces away and focus on X, that will fix everything". I am not saying it will happen here -- this is LessWrong after all -- just that this is a typical thing that happens. If someone would make a specific LessWrong site for educators, this effect should be one of the minor sequences. So, it would calm down the anxious people like me, if all proposals of changes in education included an upper bound of the proposed change. Like: how much time do you think it would be appropriate to spend in a typical elementary school teaching... in this specific case, the method of loci... assuming that we still have to teach the thousand other things (you know, like math and science and stuff). Would it be a new subject? Or just a lesson or two? (Or perhaps a new subject called "Meta", where this would be just a lesson or two among other learning-how-to-learn techniques, and the whole subject would be one hour per week during one year? And perhaps another year on a high school, to refresh the memories.) Now if we agree on an estimate that a lesson or two should be enough for the method of loci, then it gives us a specific time frame, which is good for proposing specific solutions. Assuming you have a lesson or two for teaching the method of loci, how would you do it? -- And please note that these lessons are actually quite easy to try in real life: Just do it with volunteers in the afternoon. That's not good enough to scientifically measure the impact of the method, but you get some rough estimates by asking the same students a year later whether t
I'm curious as to what examples of good education you are basing this on. If there's somewhere out there providing good education, I'd be very interested in their methods and product. Or is this perhaps based on theory?
Just my experience of many things that can go wrong. Many people notice just one of them and suppose that this is the problem of education, and if you optimize for fixing it, everything will automatically be allright. The most popular example among non-teachers on internet is "creativity", I believe. Just throw everything out of the window, maximize for "creativity" and you are done. Even worse, those people usually can't even taboo "creativity" and tell you what specifically they mean and how specifically would they optimize for it. It's just an applause light; in best case, they will give you a hyperlink to some TEDx talk with some smart kid doing something that happens to be creative and say: more of this. Silently assuming that if you would put all children into exactly the same situation, you would get exactly the same results, reliably. And by this I am not saying that "creativity" (however we define it) is bad; merely that it is just one important goal among many. Not merely guessing the teacher's password is another value, obvious for a LW reader. It is good to give students freedom to explore the topics they are interested about; but we should also take care they don't have huge blind spots in areas that for whatever reason didn't catch their interest. It is good to teach them to find their own sources in books or online; but there is also a lot of pseudoscience and other bullshit out there. This whole process has to be done within some financial constraints. Putting more students together, we need to take care about some social issues, e.g. to prevent bullying. We need a way to deal with actively malicious students. We need some system of evaluation, at least for feedback while studying; some people think it is a good idea to also include certification. Etc. And don't forget that children are diffferent and what works perfectly for one of them can fail horribly for another.
The idea of teaching the method of loci is that it will make it easier for the students to store information in their brain. Few of the things taught are essential. There no reason why every student needs to learn calculus or trigometry. I think go and look for all the information that most adults forget it. I have interacted with a few Go students from Korea. They went to a school that focused mainly on teaching them Go instead of teaching the usual subjects. The whole curriculum is Go. They still survive as adults. Schools attempt to teach a lot that isn't essential and which students forget anyway soon afterwards. My abilities of using Word wouldn't be worse if there wouldn't have been classes in school trying to teach students to use the program. The first step to do something about education is to recognize that a huge part of what goes on in schools is either teaching stuff that gets forgotten after the next test or it's about teaching birds to fly. But you wouldn't even do something as revolutionary as scrapping the existing curriculum. It's easy to throw enough year dates at students in history classes that a student who doesn't use mnemonics for them utterly crashes but a student who uses mnemonics can follow. Then you do two years of that kind of history education for 9 and 10 year olds with the teacher reiterating mnemonics constantly. You can teach the basic concept in a lesson or two but you don't teach the skill of actually using mnemonics on a habitual basis in that timeframe.

Plants and intelligence-- plants do a lot more problem-solving than you might think.


My labmate is doing research on the interaction between the plant circadian rhythm and the plant immune system. Their various immune hormones (along with all kinds of other things) are modulated by a rhythm that anticipates the diurnally-varying likelihood of fungal infection and can be phase-shifted not just by light but by humidity. The hormones that modulate this are systemic and get carried throughout the plant and can easily be taken up through roots.

After poking his plants in the lab he came up with the idea of getting our tomato plants we were growing together this summer to sacrifice a little bit of biomass in favor of fungus resistance by watering them with dilute aspirin (a slightly modified version of a plant immune system hormone originally extracted from willow bark) in the early mornings, and we discovered that other people had been doing this successfully for decades without any particular known mechanism. That chemical is easy enough for them to make and some plants (like willows) are absolutely full of it. Would not be surprised if they secreted it into the soil and if it bled over into adjacent plants. They also do not limit their interactions to other plants - I have seen research to the effect that most plants actively secrete sugars into the soil around their roots to attract bacteria which break down minerals and nutrients into forms they can absorb, and that they actively allow many symbiotic fungi into their roots without mounting immune responses.

How much reliable is the International Journal of Parapsychology?
Why did you bring that up?
It was in the article you linked. EDIT: Okay, now I see other sources were mentioned later. But that was the point when I stopped reading. Sorry, it's a heuristic that works pretty well outside of LW.
And perhaps outside The New Yorker?
The discussion seems to be interesting, maybe we can use the same criteria to decide whether plants are intelligent that are used to decide whether computers are intelligent?
What criteria do we use to decide that we're intelligent?
And yet those horrible vegetarians continue to murder & eat these sentient lifeforms!

Because each step in the food chain involves energy loss, the shorter the chain, the fewer plants need to be killed to support you. Thus being a vegetarian saves plant lives too.

Actually grazing cattle don't kill plants, they just trim off the ends.
Depends on plant species (not all survive trimming well) and cattle density (trampling certainly kills plants). However, most meat and dairy are not sustained purely by grazing. That said, harvesting grain to feed to cattle doesn't have to kill plants either, unless we consider the embryo in a seed to have the same moral status as a mature plant. In practice, growing grain to feed to cattle to feed to humans will involve killing a lot more weeds than growing grain to feed straight to humans.
Feeding grain to cattle is an awful practice that needs to stop; the sooner, the better. Re: grazing cattle, have you seen Allan Savory's TED talk? http://www.ted.com/talks/allan_savory_how_to_green_the_world_s_deserts_and_reverse_climate_change.html
If plants are intelligent without neurons that raises the likelihood that there something to human intelligence that also beyond neurons. As a result head cryonics is less likely to offer full recovery of human minds.
My smartphone is intelligent without neurons.
It relatively easy to understand how the smart phone makes the decisions. There a central processor. Plants on the other hand have no central processor.

I have several relatives, and want to keep them alive.

There is a high likelihood of death occurring in India. As far as I can tell, no cryo-institutions in india - source

Assuming I can convince at least one of them to get on board with this, would it even be possible? I'm think freezing / transport to a facility is the only option - but if there are other ways I'd like to know.

You are approaching this problem from the wrong angle. You are asking "how do I set up cryonic arrangements in India", which as far as I know nobody has ever done and is probably going to be very complicated and risky and expensive to figure out and carry out by yourself. Instead, you should ask "how do I bring my relative from a 3rd world country to America", which is a MUCH more studied problem, with already established methods and infrastructure that are known to reliably work.

Convincing them to get frozen is hard enough as it is...I'm up against belief-in-reincarnation for at least 40% of them.

Also, I myself doubt that completely uprooting the life you do certainly have, in exchange for a shot at immortality which has a high likelihood of not actually working, is worth it. There are established business in place, and losing proximity to extended family together is a huge deterrent, even for most of the younger generation.

At best, it would be worth it for the very oldest relatives who are nearing the end of their lives...but those are both the hardest to convince ideologically and the ones who are most attached to the family infrastructure to survive and the ones for whom the nifty life-insurance trick doesn't work.

I'd still try to convince them, but the likelihood of me succeeding is reduced with each additional deterrent. I'm looking for a way to remove at least some of these deterrents before making my sales pitch.

You'd think that moving to the first world would be the sort of thing that sells itself to at least some of them.

By some metrics, my relatives actually have a higher quality of life in India than my own family does in America. The absolute income is lower, but the purchasing power for common goods and services is higher. It's harder for them to buy a computer, for example...but much easier to buy housekeeping services (though this is quickly changing as income disparity decreases).

Practically speaking, this translates to a better diet and much more free time.

If more people in the 1st world countries understood what sort of purchasing power they could have in the 3rd world, I'd suspect that many of them would move - though maybe not to India, which is accelerating fairly rapidly as of late.

What would it take for there to be cryonics facilities in India?
I would presume that the demand for it is roughly similar to Western cryonics. The population is so large enough that the population of people who can afford it is also reasonably large, as is the number of people within that population who would consider it, maybe. Biggest hurdle would probably be the difficulty of doing business in India in general - corruption, power outages, frequent strikes, etc. Things just don't run very smoothly over there - you can't depend on local infrastructure for anything. I don't suppose you can keep things frozen easily under those conditions. The argument that it's selfish would probably carry much more weight in India, as global poverty is more visible in that region and anti-wealth sentiments are stronger. On the other hand, I think the self-identified Hindu's belief in re-incarnation is much less firmly established than the self-identified Christian's belief in Heaven, which probably moves things in cryonic's favor. But my opinion on this matter doesn't carry any more weight than the opinion of the average globally aware person.
I don't know your family, obviously, but my prior probability is that migration to America would be an incentive, not a deterrent. The reason bringing relatives from 3rd world countries is such an studied problem is that so many people want to come here.
I think your prior is off...not to mention that if they wanted to, they would have done it long ago. In my experience, immigrants are a rather unusual group of humans with a unique personality profile - most people wouldn't voluntarily move to a new place where they don't know anyone. (If you don't think it is that unusual to be willing to move, do keep in mind that America's culture is unusually individualistic.) Among those who would leave their homeland, America has been a popular destination...but most people wouldn't leave their homeland.
It's not as though the majority of any third world country has left it. My impression is that at least some of the incentives are for a few relatives to move to a first world country and send money back. Whole families leaving is a refugee response to violence rather than poverty. On the other hand, this is just an impression. Anyone have actual information?
To talk about this in a useful way, you'd probably have to isolate 3-7 distinct demographics of immigrants...for example, refugee populations are very different in terms of incentives and outcomes when compared to populations who come seeking degrees, who in turn are very different from those who come for the purpose of wealth and a higher quality of life. My family is in the "education / science" demographic - lots of grad students, post-docs, and professors come to the US because of the better quality of education / more research opportunities. The US natural sciences in general have very high immigrant populations at every level.
Contact cryonics companies. If someone is familiar with the process of organizing cryopreservation of foreign citizens, it must be them. I'm aware of 3 cryonics companies worldwide: Alcor, Cryonics Institute (USA), KrioRus (Russia) KrioRus's prices should be the most affordable: 12000$ for neuro. Despite situated in Russia, somewhat isolated country, I remember I heard that they did cryopreserve foreign citizen. Get informed and prepared beforehand, and good luck.

And it even gives a mostly accurate description of the relevant risk factors!

These researchers are not exactly thinking about a Battlestar Galactica-type situation in which robots resent their enslavement by humans and rise up to destroy their masters out of vengeance—a fear known as the “Frankenstein complex,” which would happen only if we programmed robots to be able to resent such enslavement. That would be, suffice it to say, quite unintelligent of us. Rather, the modern version of concern about long-term risks from AI, summarized in a bit more detail in this TED talk, is that an advanced AI would follow its programming so exactly and with such capability that, because of the fuzzy nature of human values, unanticipated and potentially catastrophic consequences would result unless we planned ahead carefully about how to maintain control of that system and what exactly we wanted it to do.

More people are starting to think about these issues now: http://www.nature.com/srep/2013/130911/srep02627/full/srep02627.html

After trying and failing to grasp Objective-C for quite a while, I stopped Googling things like "Objective-C tutorial," "Objective-C documentation," and "Objective-C examples," and instead looked for "Objective-C for C++ Programmers" and "Objective-C for Python Programmers" because those are my two strongest languages. This was just tremendously efficient for a large number of reasons, the most obvious of which is that new information is expressed explicitly in terms of direct contrast to information with which you are familiar. The typical "computer language tutorial," in contrast, is in my opinion a very shoddy document from a pedagogical standpoint, usually appearing totally clear to anyone familiar with the language but vague and ambiguous to its target audience.

As someone who spends a lot of time reading Internet, I don't recall ever reading this advice before - learn new languages faster in context of languages you know - so I thought I'd post the thought here.

Brent Yorgey's "monad tutorial fallacy" points out a possible cause of this problem: the authors of tutorials mistake a summary of an insight as being the path to that insight. A related problem I've seen newer programmers struggle with is that even reasonably good tutorials are often written in the context of specific older, popular languages, typically C. And if they are written for C, they are not titled "Foo for C Programmers"; they are just titled "Foo Tutorial". And they say things like, "Whenever you would use XYZ in C, you can use PDQ in Foo." This is useless for learners who are not coming from C. I'm put in mind of the Red Queen from Through the Looking Glass:
Maybe, but here are two other hypotheses: 1. People who think about pedagogy write more specific tutorials, but what makes the tutorial good is a separate effect of thinking about pedagogy. 2. There was nothing special about the last tutorial; you just needed repeated exposure to the concepts.
I heard that Objective-C is something like "Smalltalk implemented within C"; a solution trying to combine the advantages of both languages. Since you already have experience with C, I guess it could be useful to also learn some Smalltalk tutorials; not to become a fluent Smalltalk programmer, but to get an awareness of how things are approached in that language. And perhaps then, some things in Objective-C would make more sense as you would know what the authors of the language were trying to accomplish. More meta: A few times I tried to write a programming tutorial or textbook, but I usually stopped at asking myself: "I am going to teach X to people who already know what?" Because when I am teaching, that is the essential question; I can't imagine doing it otherwise. I always start by asking my students what they already know, verifying that they really know it instead of just guessing my password. But how would you do the same thing with a textbook?! Then the remaining options seem to be just assuming some background knowledge (and I feel any specific assumption will usually be wrong), or start by explaining everything from some common base (e.g. high school math), but then the tutorials would be extremely long and a lot of starting material would be repeated in different tutorials. So to avoid the repeating, maybe I should separate the shared parts and actually make a tree of tutorials... and at that moment I usually see the amount of work, how much would it take... and I give up.
May I ask why are you learning Objective-C? Programming for Mac?
Originally for iOS programming and since buying Apple computers I've acquired a more general interest in programming for Mac.

So recently I've been toying with a new idea. It seems that for many of us -- at least for my friends and I -- living a maximally efficient rational life is difficult as one's irrational emotions tend to get the best of us.

To overcome this I have been experimenting with living my life as if I were in a game.

Let me explain:

If I view my life as a (potentially) single shot 'spawn' in an open ended MMORPG, I seem to be able to do more high risk/high reward things with much less irrational restraint.

My first method is to set up a HUD in my head. By visualizing... (read more)

Short answer, "yes," and I always normalize to my baseline way of viewing the world, or else in some way habituate such that the trick stops feeling novel enough to feel valuable even if it's still providing value. It's difficult/impossible to tell in retrospect whether I have given up on some new perspective or framing or worldview because it didn't work, or whether it did work and I got used to it and stopped noticing it. This is a source of continuing frustration.
Very interesting, I default to the same behavior. I notice it working best when I 'play in game mode' in bar situations and other highly social events where high risk/reward behavior has multiple advantages. Other than that I seem to default about 70% of the time to a non game mode way of thinking. What are the primary other perspective/framings you have found to be beneficial?

They said "There'll be snow at Christmas" They said "There'll be peace on Earth", But instead it just kept on raining, A veil of tears for the Virgin's birth.

I remember one Christmas morning A winter's light and a distant choir And the peal of a bell and that Christmas-tree smell And their eyes full of tinsel and fire.

They sold me a dream of Christmas They sold me a Silent Night They told me a fairy story Till I believed in the Israelite

And I believed in Father Christmas And I looked at the sky with excited eyes 'Till I woke with a yaw

... (read more)

Recently I ordered some free info material from my government in Germany about preparing for catastrophes and correct behaviour in case of one. It was surprisingly informative to read and I missed the long list of cited sources at the end but still I am willing to believe their advise.

This made me then wonder: What other quite 'fundamental' info of that kind is out there? I am wondering more specifically about info about infrequent but important events - either positive or negative - because that is where human rationality tends to fail horribly. Edit: I a... (read more)

Big wodge of information about first aid, emergency preparedness, and what to do if the emergency happens, posted at Making Light, which has smart well-informed commenters. I would assume that it's an accurate summation of what was known when it was written.

Now that seems interesting, I will take a look at that.
I always recommend that people who are even remotely interested in this kind of stuff take a wilderness medicine course. Wilderness medicine is all about decision making under conditions of limited time and information, so it seems like the kind of thing that would interest LWers.
Even if the information is German, could you provide a link?
You'll have to specify "fundamental" better. What are you looking for? How to stop bleeding? How to start a fire in the rain? How to build a house with no tools other than an axe? How to run a farm with no engines or fertilizer? In the US at least there is a large community/meme/circle of "survivalists" who are preparing for life after TEOTWAWKI -- The End Of The World As We Know It. They have active forums and LOTS of information about what to do after a catastrophe.
See my edit. I know of that community as I read about them in a mixture of social and practical fascination. I ordered the info material mentioned because I was curious what my government specifically advises to do in different scenarios they deem plausible and they range from 'simple' house fires to large-scale contamination of air by biological or nuclear material.
Is there an English translation? It sounds interesting.
There is a direct translation of a older version of what I ordered: Link. Also available are translations in Turkish, French, Italian, Polish, Russian, ... However, there are equivalent organisations in all modern countries, the relevant agency in the Unted States is FEMA with their info website ready.gov. I didn't look into it very much as I do not suppose that there are huge differences in quality of information. One thing that comes just now to mind but I can't recall being mentioned is to complete a first aid course. In Germany everyone who wants to have a driver's licence is required to complete a course in lifesaving immediate actions which is a subset of a proper first aid course focused on injuries usually sustained in a car accident.
I doubt that many people remember much of this after even a couple of months, though.
That is why first aid certificates are only recognised if you take a booster course every year. Nonetheless, the rationale behing this rule is to increase the ability to save a life in case of accident. Me taking a proper first aid course is something I could do to save the life of a person I care deeply about or just some stranger.

Anyone else finds it rather annoying that the anglophone internet is full of USA citizens who consider themselves to be the default human condition (not to mention those who seems not to even realize anyone but Americans actually exist)? You ask a question about something and people casually throw FDA this, IRS that, like they are fucking universal constants.

/rant off

I do. See also this old thread.
Just include your country (or just "I am not an American") explicitly in your question. Trust me, it used to be much worse ten or more years ago. I remember people switching into panic mode after discovering that someone in their virtual environment didn't share all their cultural background. (I guess it felt like if you went to your high-school reunion, and suddenly some quiet guy in the corner takes a mask off their face and you see a strange brown man with a long beard looking dangerously in your eyes and screaming: Allahu Akbar!) And I don't blame them... the prior probabilities were on their side. More precisely, the prior probabilities of a random English-speaking person on internet not being an American were slowly changing and they still used a version from five or ten years ago when they developed their internet habits. The internet didn't feel like an "outside" place for them. These days they may assume you are an American, but if you correct them, you won't become the topic of the week. :D Ten years in the future maybe we will read complaints about people assuming that someone is from outside of India.
This illustrates a general principle-- if you know people are likely to offer advice which is irrelevant to you, do a pre-emptive strike to head it off.
The hard part is to balance the benefits of preempting the wrong answers with the harm of priming the readers. :D
I'd love to see that.
And the resulting problem of thinking your country is like USA.
If you don't want people to treat you as an American it might make sense to put your country of origin in your profile.
Not really. I don't usually check people's profiles before answering questions.

Robert Wright's 'The Moral Animal' is a popular introduction to the field of Evolutionary Psychology for a lay audience, and was third on Yudkowsky's bookshelf of 'Books that changed my life' and also third on 'Books of knowledge'.

I'm looking to gauge interest on a post about it - I'm currently working on a summary for my own benefit. Are people more interested in a short review with a couple of key quotes/ideas, or a longer summary which covers the whole book? Contrast Lukeprog's extensive summary of How to Measure Anything with his shorter review of Thin... (read more)

There is a much nicer way to do a poll in a comment. See here. Also, if you are going to conduct a poll via upvote, you may want to add a karma dump option as well, where people can downvote to counterbalance their upvotes. Some people might not want to provide upvotes for reasons other than quality control.
Please don't use that in the latest open thread though, since it makes it impossible to subscribe to the RSS feed of the thread.
Ah, I was not aware of this. Thanks for letting me know.
2Ben Pace10y
Oops, you're right, thanks!
Up vote this comment for an extensive summary.
Up vote this comment for a simple review.
Up vote this comment for a briefer summary.

I recently bought an e-reader. I found that PDFs of technical books or scientific papers are quite small. Does anyone around here use e-readers to read technical material? If so, is there an easy way to have a better reading experience on a kindle or do I just have to deal with it?

I often find myself reading PDF material on my Kindle, and I think I found some pretty decent workarounds. My three workarounds are:

  • If possible, try to find an epub or mobi version. For the more obscure, technical stuff, this is impossible, but for the more popular stuff, this is doable.

  • Try to use calibre to convert the PDF to a mobi. For some PDFs, this comes out with a good quality mobi, but often the PDF is formatted so that it does not.

  • But what often end up doing is a lot simpler: I turn the screen rotation sideways. Rather than the height of the Kindle being the height of the page, if it is the width of the page, you actually get a decent view. The width of the e-book reader becomes the height of the part of the page you can see, but thats what scrolling is for.

The third option works so well that I often don't bother with the first two, but all three are on the table for when I find a PDF I want to read.

Use K2pdfopt, briss, and/or soPdf. Also, what ygert said. Converting from ePub to mobi is easy with Calibre, and converting from html to ePub is easy with Web2FB2. Even doc, docx, and, rtf stand a chance of being converted to ePub with LibreOffice and the correct plug-in (and that's if you can't just increase the font size on everything and export as PDF). Furthermore, some books have PDF versions optimized for smartphone or e-ink reading; it's pretty rare, but its a treat when it happens. More commonly, if you can find a Powerpoint presentation that covers the material you are interested in, that would be great; converting to PDF will leave it in a much more suitable aspect ratio. If all else fails, consider buying a Kindle DX.
That's exactly why I bought a tablet with 8" 4:3 display. It's quite good for reading A4 sized PDF - a bit to the smallish side in portrait mode, but still very readable. And the rotate and zoom can more than compensate. I won't bother you with naming the model - it was a cheap Chinese one, which I selected as a compromise of screen size (7" 16:9 is too narrow), weight (10" ones are heavy as hell) and battery life (10h of use).
If the OS is android, there's this neat app called Repligo reader that can intelligently reflow the text of pdf files so that you don't have to hassle with zooming.
Double-dipping to add: Calibre recommends not using PDFs as your source format if at all avoidable. I feel like I should emphasize that it's not just that the format is ill-suited to conversion, but that Calibre's conversion routine for it is particularly poor; I quit using it when I noticed that the output was frequently truncated early. Better conversion options: * The Amazon Send to Kindle application's built-in conversion function * Opening in a PDF reader and copying and pasting into a word processor * Searching online for key text and seeing if you can find the document on a Web page; or, if you find the PDF online, saving Google's HTML-converted cached copy All of those could potentially mess up equations and the like, though; so you might just have to deal with it or get a bigger device.
In addition to what others said, I find that turning the contrast to maximum helps somewhat.
I found that I need resolution first, screen size second. A vanilla Kindle with the 600x800 resolution won't work very well for PDFs, because the low resolution turns small elements into mush. But I find my 800x1280 resolution first generation Nexus 7 quite acceptable for most PDFs viewed in full-page mode.

I would like to talk a LWer for advice about romantic relationships. PM me if interested.

however it pleads don't fall in love with the AI in the box

Meaning offering or requesting them?
I'm requesting advice.
Assuming your partner is not closely associated with LW or rationalist-transhumanist movement, you might be better of looking for advice elswhere. Just saying.
It's easy to take advice from multiple sources. You don't have to take all of it. Whenever it comes to important decisions I usually take perspectives from multiple sources.
* Beware of other-optimizing. You and your partner probably know each other way better than someone living thousands of miles away who's never met either of you ever will, especially if they might be prone to generalizing from one example. * Beware of fictional evidence -- fictional relationships are usually optimized for being fun to watch from the outside, rather than for probability of working out times desirability for the partners themselves. (Much of the first couple hours of The Blueprint Decoded, besides being a primer on cognitive biases, are about correcting misconceptions which I guess originated from Disney and Hollywood.) If anything, take them as cautionary tales about what not to do. * I think most of what Mark Manson says is basically kind-of reasonable. YMMV.

I came across a study that showed that when women are given a romantic prime, they publicly volunteer more. I'm wondering if this explains what I see in my swing dance community, where the people who volunteer are mostly women (e.g. possibility of meeting and entering a romance with a high status dancer = more volunteering?). Has this study been replicated?

I found a slightly related study, where when women are romantically primed, they choose more "helpful" careers like those in the humanities and shy away from STEM fields.

I don't see how being a English major is more "helpful" than studying chemistry.
As a one-to-one comparison, being a student working towards an English major or possessing an English major gives higher odds of satisfying romance than working towards or posessing a STEM major. I believe that's the claim that was made. I don't have any evidence for or against it myself, but my priors would put it as more than 1:1 likely.
I'd agree about “working towards” but not so sure about “possessing” -- which ones do you think make more money in average? ;-)
Good point. I was blurring the line between how it is perceived as helping by the subject and how much it actually helps towards that goal statistically. The impact of money and skills and other second-order effects cannot be discounted if we're talking about actual outcomes.
If that's the claim, then why use the word "helpful"?
The "helpful" is meant in relation to the studied women's goals of achieving romantic success; it is more "helpful" to be stylish, fashionable and other English-Major-promoted traits towards being a desirable woman who easily achieves romantic satisfaction than it is "helpful" to be tech-savvy, intelligent and other STEM-promoted traits towards being a desirable woman who achieves romantic satisfation -- ...given the context that most women do not find geeks and other individuals attracted to tech-savvyness and geeky girls to be attractive, and thus will skew statistics in this direction I'm tempted to edge my estimates towards the idea that if we restricted the studied population only to women who are attracted to geeks and scientists (or whatever other groups would tend to be attracted by geeky women), the data may find itself reverted and the subjects appear more motivated to solve hard equations when primed with pictures of a couple playing Strip Scrabble or having a fine lightsaber-illuminated evening over a game of Zendo.
Than I think you are missing the point of the original question. In the article which it's cites "helpful" means: "publicly visible prosocial behavior". I can see how studying medicine to become a doctor to safe ill patients is "publicly visible prosocial behavior". On the other hand I don't see how being an English major is "publicly visible prosocial behavior" and studying chemistry isn't. If you try to stretch the meaning of words to broad, that's not useful.
My initial thought was what I replied above. Then when I re-read, I thought I was wrong and had misinterpreted, so I started writing a reply echoing your question: "What makes those things more 'helpful'?" But in the second article, it's about those careers being more useful towards romance. The paragraph break seems to indicate a slight change of context, so I assume now that that's what this helpful referred to. So I think a proper decomposition of this gives us: * English majors are more useful towards achieving romance. * STEM careers are, generally speaking at least as helpful (probably more, but that's not the point) towards benefiting society. * Humanities are perceived more as blatantly benevolent. * STEM careers are often perceived as a useless waste of time. * Medicine is a glaring exception to the above; Medicine is seen as very benevolent as an abstract, or as students, but in tangibles the nurses and MDs are often seen as cold and "just doing their job". Their overall impact and benefits for society varies, but the contributions of a single nurse are arguably much lesser than the contributions of one researcher developing new drugs.
I'm not sure usefulness has anything to do with the results of romantic priming. The simplest explanation seems to be that STEM careers are associated in our culture with unsexy attitudes and groups: aesthetically uninspiring, analytical as opposed to emotional, attractive to socially clumsy people, etc. If you've got romance on your mind, you're likely to find those associations at least mildly aversive without needing to go into cost/benefit analysis -- and indeed I predict that the results of a cost/benefit analysis, even limited to romantic opportunities, would be a lot less favorable to the humanities.
This happens as a cost-benefit-like calculation anyway, somewhere in some part of the human brain not selection-pruned to be used for this at all. After this, it becomes a struggle of definitions and lines drawn in the air to delimit one Thingspace cluster from another. Is it a cost-benefit analysis if it's run by the "Instinct" sub-processes in the brain? Is it a good cost-benefit analysis if it takes this parameter into account instead of that one? What if it ignores this other parameter? We know we won't get all of the parameters, not enough cycles for that. And we don't actually know which parameters are relevant and to what extent, let alone being able to calculate second- and n-order effects. In function and practice, I agree. It's about their sexy vs unsexy appeal in some biased way, and good analysis would probably favor things the other way around.
I don't think you missed the first part of my question "If that's the claim". I can certainly think up a vague definition of helpful that applies, but what to I gain by using that label? I can surely better label than helpful if I want to speak about behavior that society generally associates with femininity. The issue is basically that you either agree that the first post is wrong and non-STEM careers get picked for a different reason than being perceived as being helpful or that there a way to see non-STEM subjects as more "publicly visible prosocial behavior". It's bad to try to be to vague to be wrong.

Talk by Mike Hearn on autonomous agents enabled by bitcoin.

Interesting, but could be better thought out. Why does he assume people would be generous enough to crowd fund autonomous cars, but not generous enough to crowd fund emergency drink delivery? Or even non-emergency drink delivery? Depending on how smart those autonomous cars are, they might crowd-fund advocates so they have legal protections against being scammed by humans. Or humans who like autonomous cars (either like them because they're a valuable service or because the humans are fans of autonomous cars) might crowdfund advocates.

Does anyone have any recommended "didactic fiction"? Here are a couple of examples:

1) Lauren Ipsum (http://www.amazon.com/Lauren-Ipsum-Carlos-Bueno/dp/1461178185) 2) HPMoR

I remember enjoying the "Uncle Albert" series of children's books on physics.
Rebecca Newberger Goldstein writes philosophical fiction. She is my favorite contemporary literary fiction author. Her biographies of Gödel and Spinoza are also brilliant.
The Lost Kafoozalum-- sf which has some utopian education that is a surprisingly good introduction to rationality. Stop and think, consider consequences, utilitarianism, there's no guarantee of success....

The reason I'm not optimistic about cryonics is because I don't think it's likely that I'd be revived in the future, even if the technology would work perfectly if used properly. Imagine modern-day explorers find 5000 people cryogenically frozen in a cave 1000 years ago, and we can revive any number of them. How many would be revived? I doubt even half of them would be - because, if revived, what would they do? What would 5000 people from around 1000 AD do in modern times? And the faster pace of social and technological change compounds the problem. So if ... (read more)

cryonics organizations are all designed to provide for revival when it becomes possible. This is like asking "Why would your life insurance pay out after you're dead?"
Because if they don't, someone (the beneficiary of your policy) has an incentive to take them to court. Who has that incentive in the case of cryonics?

All the people currently signed up for cryonics but not dead.

Alcor at least also requires boardmembers to have loved ones currently in suspension so there's another incentive.

Let's suppose it's 50 years in the future and you're signed up for cryonics with, say, Alcor. How confident are you that you'd know if Alcor had quietly disposed of some of their patients from 50 years ago?

If your answer, like mine, is "not very", then how strong an incentive do you think the fear of lawsuits from other signed-up people is, against any temptation to dispose of old patients to increase their profits?

(I am not suggesting that they do, or should do, that. Only that that particular incentive probably doesn't change their behaviour much.)

That would be a good reason to be very public about having signed up with Alcor. Unfortunately, being frozen has such strong connotations of weirdness that it probably doesn't make sense for Alcor to be public about its whole client list.

All the people currently signed up for cryonics but not dead.

An interesting question -- when are cryopreserved people supposed to be revived? Obviously when it becomes possible, but are there any other criteria? Let's say we learned how to unfreeze people but there's no effective immortality in sight (through uploading or biohacking or anything else) -- should they be revived at this point?

That question is relevant here because at the point where effective immortality is possible no one has any reason to sign up for cryonics. Everyone has already uploaded/ascended/whatever, so why would they revive a bunch of frozen primitives?

I think it's unlikely that we'll have the technology to revive cryopreserved people without also having at least a significant amount of life extension technology. Many of the same kids of human body repair you would need to do to revive a frozen person would be helpful in lengthening lifespan. If we invent immortality before we invent unsuspension then hopefully the people running the cryo foundation become immortal and continue to care enough to revive their friends and relatives.
I don't think this is realistic. About the only two plausible ways I can think of reviving a cryonics patient are brain uploading and some of the more optimistic projections for nanotechnology, either of which should be sufficient for effective immortality. If there is another proposed method of revival which would not facilitate effective immortality, I am not aware of it.
That is true for cryonics as it currently exists. However, our ability to freeze people without damaging them is improving. Perhaps we will be able to freeze and revive people fairly easily before we can make them immortal or revive people who were frozen before it could be done well.
This topic has come up many times before. It's a choice between reviving people, letting them stay in stasis for future revival, or destroying them. Either of the two first options are fine with me as long as I'm revived at some point. And if future morality is such that it is deemed ok to just kill someone rather than keep them in stasis, then that's not a world I want to live in, so I'd rather not be revived. For me cryonics isn't about living forever. It's about living better. A more important concern, for me at least, is revival by a malevolent civilization/AI. My prototypical example of a dystopia is the galactic empire from Warhammer 40,000. I would not want to be revived for use as cannon fodder for the empire's troops (ok, I know the chances of there being a totalitarian galaxy-spanning empire in the future are not very high, but you get the point).
They'd all get hired to have their brains picked by historians. I'd love to talk to them too, but I bet it'd be too expensive...
They would be adults, then. Small children from 1000 AD could just learn what's going on in modern times and start doing whatever everyone else is doing. So what exactly is keeping the adults back here? And would it still be a thing in a world where you can bring frozen human brains back to life?

Here is a puzzle about Relativity that I am not able to solve; please help:

Imagine that Harry Potter is using his magical powers to test Relativity experimentally. He finds a very small room in a tower in Hogwarts, with two windows in opposing walls. He also finds a broom that is just a bit longer than the distance between the windows.

So, Professor Quirrell stands in the room and watches Harry fly through the room very fast. From Harry's point of view, the room became shorter. But from Professor Quirrell's point of view, it's Harry's broom that became shor... (read more)

Lrf, lbhe rkcynangvba bs gur fgnaqneq fvghngvba vf pbeerpg. Va lbhe fpranevb, Uneel bofreirf gur oebbz fgevxr gur jvaqbj orsber gur erne jvaqbj pybfrf. Vs gur oebbz jvaf gur svtug jvgu gur jvaqbj, Uneel syvrf bhg naq bofreirf gur erne jvaqbj pybfr ba gur erthyne fpurqhyr. Ohg jung vs gur jvaqbj fheivirf naq fgbcf gur oebbz? Jryy, bowrpgf va fcrpvny eryngvivgl pna'g or cresrpgyl evtvq. N fgnaqneq rknzcyr bs ubj bowrpgf pna'g or evtvq vf jung vs lbh unir gjb evtvq cbyrf zrrgvat ng na natyr naq lbh gel gb punatr gur natyr? Vs gurl jrer evtvq, gur raq bs gur cbyr pbhyq zbir snfgre guna yvtug. Ohg gur gbedhr gnxrf gvzr gb cebcntngr qbja gur cbyr, cebonoyl ng gur fcrrq bs fbhaq. Ng eryngvivfgvp fcrrqf, gur fubpx jnir vf fhcrefbavp. Fvzvyneyl, gur gnvy bs gur oebbz qbrfa'g srry nal erfvfgnapr hagvy gur vasbezngvba unf cebcntngrq sebz gur pbyyvfvba, ng fybjre guna gur fcrrq bs yvtug. N ernyvfgvp fpranevb vf gung obgu ner qrfgeblrq naq gung gur gnvy bs gur oebbz ragref gur sveronyy abg lrg fybjrq qbja. Dhveery frrf gur pbyyvfvba unccra svefg, gura gnvy syl guebhtu gur jvaqbj, gura gur gnvy ragre gur sveronyy. Uneel frrf vg syl guebhtu jvaqbj, gura gur sebag pbyyvfvba, gura gur gnvy ragre gur sveronyy. Ohg lbh cebonoyl jnag gb xabj nobhg na rynfgvp pbyyvfvba. Obgu bofreiref frr gur oebbz pbzcerff. Dhveery frrf gur oebbz fgneg gb pbzcerff orsber gur gnvy unf tbar guebhtu gur jvaqbj. Ohg ur bayl frrf gur sebag bs gur oebbz pbzcerff. Gur onpx vf fgvyy ng vgf byq qrafvgl. Ol gur gvzr gur jnir bs pbzcerffvba sebz gur gnvy, vg vf vafvqr gur ebbz. Qb lbh pner nobhg pybfvat gur onpx jvaqbj? Va gur vaqrfgehpgvoyr fpranevb, gur oebbz orpbzrf jrqtrq orgjrra gur gjb jvaqbjf, pbzcerffrq gb gur fvmr bs gur ebbz. Haqre na rynfgvp nffhzcgvba, gur raretl unfa'g qvffvcngrq, ohg gur nzbhag bs pbzcerffvba vf n jnir obhapvat onpx naq sbegu orgjrra gur raqf.
Gur svefg cneg vf pbeerpg. Sebz Dhveeryy'f cbvag bs ivrj gur sebag raq bs Uneel'f oebbz uvgf gur sebag jvaqbj nsgre ur'f fuhg gur erne jvaqbj. Nf gur sebag fgbcf vg trgf ybatre, chfuvat onpx ba gur cnegf oruvaq vg, juvpu zhfg rvgure fdhnfu be fanc; gur bayl nafjre V pna tvir gb "gur oebbz vf zntvpnyyl vaqrfgehpgvoyr" vf "gung'f abg culfvpnyyl cbffvoyr". Sebz Uneel'f cbvag bs ivrj, gur sebag bs uvf oebbz uvgf gur sebag jvaqbj naq nppryrengrf encvqyl gbjneqf uvz, fuevaxvat nf vg qbrf fb (guvf vf orsber gur erne jvaqbj pybfrf). Vs ur'f fvggvat va gur zvqqyr gura ng fbzr cbvag ur fgbcf naq uvf senzr orpbzrf gur fnzr nf Dhveeryy'f. Vs ur'f fvggvat ng gur irel onpx bs gur oebbz gura ur tbrf guebhtu gur erne jvaqbj nsgre gur sebag bs gur oebbz "fubhyq" unir cnffrq guebhtu gur sebag jvaqbj, ohg ur pna'g lrg frr gung vg unfa'g (orpnhfr bs gur fcrrq bs yvtug). Fb vg'f culfvpnyyl vzcbffvoyr sbe gur oebbz gb or evtvq rabhtu gb fgbc uvz trggvat cnfg gur erne jvaqbj, orpnhfr gung jbhyq zrna genafzvggvat vasbezngvba snfgre guna gur fcrrq bs yvtug. Bar jnl be nabgure, gur oebbz unf gb pbzcerff. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ladder_paradox
Thanks for both answers, now I feel I understand it. Also thanks for the wikipedia link.
Gur zntvpny oebbz qbrfa'g orunir nppbeqvat gb gur ynjf bs fcrpvny eryngvivgl.

When a person argues that Pinochet was good, because Allende would have been worse - what kind of fallacy is this?

It's not a fallacy, it's just different definitions of the word good. To some people good means better than the most likely alternative, to others good means the best out of all the alternatives.

The problem is, the person compares the real history of Pinochet with the imaginary alternative history of Allende.
That's no real problem. We compare things all the time to imagined alternatives.