Open Thread March 7 - March 13, 2016

by Elo1 min read7th Mar 2016125 comments

9

Open Threads
Personal Blog

If it's worth saying, but not worth its own post (even in Discussion), then it goes here.

 

Notes for future OT posters:

1. Please add the 'open_thread' tag.

2. Check if there is an active Open Thread before posting a new one. (Immediately before; refresh the list-of-threads page before posting.)

3. Open Threads should be posted in Discussion, and not Main.

4. Open Threads should start on Monday, and end on Sunday.

125 comments, sorted by Highlighting new comments since Today at 11:22 AM
New Comment
Some comments are truncated due to high volume. (⌘F to expand all)Change truncation settings

So, science.

Let me offer a scientific paper in a peer-reviewed journal: Glaciers, gender, and science: A feminist glaciology framework for global environmental change research. And here is the abstract:

Glaciers are key icons of climate change and global environmental change. However, the relationships among gender, science, and glaciers – particularly related to epistemological questions about the production of glaciological knowledge – remain understudied. This paper thus proposes a feminist glaciology framework with four key components: 1) knowledge producers; (2) gendered science and knowledge; (3) systems of scientific domination; and (4) alternative representations of glaciers. Merging feminist postcolonial science studies and feminist political ecology, the feminist glaciology framework generates robust analysis of gender, power, and epistemologies in dynamic social-ecological systems, thereby leading to more just and equitable science and human-ice interactions.

I don't know about you people, but I'm very excited about a possibility of more just and equitable human-ice interactions.

Oh, and that research, evidently, was funded by the National Science Foundation to the tune... (read more)

8gjm5yHere's more about the NSF grant [http://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward?AWD_ID=1253779]. It doesn't sound to me as if very much of that $460k went to funding this "research". [EDITED to add, in explanation:] It's a five-year grant, with two-and-a-bit years still to run. The NSF page describing it lists three papers, none of which is this one and none of which sounds like it's very much like this one. The NSF page also lists a number of topics, none of which has much to do with "feminist glaciology". So this looks like it's very much a sideshow.
-2Lumifer5yThe grant went to Mark Carey (notice how he's the lead author for all the publications arising out of this grant) to study "ways in which science, nature, and society intersect". The paper in question easily falls under this umbrella. The grant also mentions "employment and training of undergraduate students in specific research projects" (that undergrad is Jaclyn Rushing, one of the paper authors) and "mentoring of a postdoctoral fellow" (who is Alessandro Antonello, another author of that paper). By the way, another interesting feature of this NSF grant: Advancing science, I see. P.S. Oh, and the U of Oregon press release just outright says [http://around.uoregon.edu/content/glaciers-melt-more-voices-research-are-needed] : "The National Science Foundation supported the research as part of a five-year grant to Carey for his studies on glacier-societal interactions." QED.
4gjm5yOh yes, I'm not denying that. But, e.g., the discussion under that tweet you linked to includes someone confidently claiming that every cent of that $460k went to "this research", which is surely completely false unless by "this research" is meant "a much broader project of which this paper is a small and peripheral part". Again, I think you have misunderstood what I was saying; my apologies for being unclear. I was not, at all, saying that the work done on the paper was not in any way supported by that NSF grant. I was saying only what I actually said: It doesn't sound to me as if very much of that $460k went to funding this "research". The $460k is for the whole of this CAREER thing. Not for this peripheral paper on "feminist glaciology." (I have no idea whether any of the other work of the CAREER project is more valuable. And there might be a useful idea or two buried in the "feminist glaciology". So the above is in no way a comment on whether the NSF's money is being well spent overall.)
-4Lumifer5yLOL. So some comments to a tweet are written by idiots. News at 11. Notice that the tweet itself says only that the NSF funded this paper. This looks to be correct. I suspect that in practice the NSF grant basically just paid a part of Mark Carey's salary and provided some money to pay his collaborators.
4gjm5yAnd someone who I presume is not an idiot wrote here [http://lesswrong.com/lw/ndk/open_thread_march_7_march_13_2016/d5rl] "that research, evidently, was funded by the National Science Foundation to the tune of $460,000". Which is, y'know, not true unless you take "this research" in an outrageously broad sense. Me too. Which, again, does not mean that the NSF spent $460k on feminist glaciology research.
-3Lumifer5yBut I do. Given this paper which many people suspected to be Sokal-style satire (it's not), I very much doubt the quality of research put out by the recipient of the grant, Mark Carey. Why did the NSF spend any money on feminist glaciology research?
2gjm5yMy guess is that this particular bit of "research" was largely done by one of the other named authors, but they have some rule that the more senior person's name goes on everything. Carey's list of publications [https://honors.uoregon.edu/faculty/mark-carey#publications] doesn't look particularly bullshitty. (Note that he's a historian rather than a scientist; these do not purport to be science publications.) Because it gives out grants for broad general projects, and the proposal for funding for this broad general project didn't say anything about feminist glaciology, and it would not be a good use of anyone's time for the NSF to vet every single thing done by any academic it funds. (That's my guess, anyway.)
0Viliam5yI looked at a random paper called "The History of Ice: How Glaciers Became an Endangered Species" and I was like: well, at least he studies something about glaciers per se, i.e. how they became endangered. Then I clicked at the abstract and saw this: So again, it's not about glaciers per se, but about, uhm, the cultural symbolism of glaciers. So it's still the same thing. When talking about "glaciology", I expect something like "here are the physical processes how glaciers are made, and how they melt", but instead the guy produces something like "here is what glaciers mean in fairy tales, and here is how glaciers are compared to penises by feminists". The difference is that to write the former, you actually have to study the glaciers, while to write the latter, you only have to collect stuff people said about glaciers. Technically, "collecting stuff people said about something" could be called science, but then it's not a subset of glaciology but rather a subset of culturology or whatever. And even in that case it should be done more scientifically, i.e. include some numbers. For example, if we are really collecting "stuff people said about glaciers", I would like to see data about how many people believe that glaciers symbolize penises, et cetera. Without those data, the research is worthless even as a subset of culturology.
2bogus5yIt's not about glaciers persay, but it very much is about 'glaciers in popular culture'. You could call what he does scholarship as opposed to science, but either way it's something related to glaciers, that people might be interested in [https://xkcd.com/446/].
0Viliam5yIt reminds me of a scene in The Twelve Chairs [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Twelve_Chairs] where Ostap Bender, a con man, pretends to be a chess grand master and gives a lecture about chess, for money, despite actually being quite a bad chess player: The idea is: pretend to be an expert on X despite not being an expert on X. After saying a few introductory words about X, move to a meta level where you already have an experience in bullshitting. Many people will not notice the trick, because they will automatically assume that you moved to the meta level because you are such an expert on X that everything object-level is already beneath your status and now you are using your vast wisdom to generalize. While in fact you are merely talking high-status sounding platitudes. Ostap pretends to be an expert on chess, then he switches the topic to an idea of chess, and then he presumably makes the whole lecture about ideas in general. The feminist glaciology researchers pretend to be experts on glaciology, then they switch the topic to patriarchal oppression in glaciology, and then they write an article about patriarchal oppression in general, sprinkled with some glaciology trivia. To illustrate what I mean, I will now give you an outline of an article about feminist zymurgy that you could write in an afternoon. I actually don't know what "zymurgy" means, I just noticed it twenty years ago as the last word in my English dictionary and it somehow stuck in my memory; all I remember is that it is some kind of science. Doesn't matter; I can still write an article about feminist zymurgy! Here is the outline: If there is some wannabe Sokal reading this comment, feel free to use this template, and please tell me the results.
0Good_Burning_Plastic5yNow look it up and find out whether your example is less or more appropriate than you thought. ;-)
1fubarobfusco5y"Collecting stuff people said about something" is pretty much a definition of the classic form of the discipline of history. History is based on written primary sources; that's why "prehistory" refers to the time before written sources. More recent history has added archaeology, economics, statistics & demography, and other sources in addition to documentary ones — but the core of it is still about using what people wrote in the past as sources for what happened in the past. (To ask whether history is "science" is kind of like asking whether medicine is "chemistry". History is much older than natural science as a discipline, although a great deal of current history makes use of scientific evidence. This doesn't mean that all [or even most] historians have a scientific mindset or make good use of scientific evidence, of course.)
0Pfft5yHe is a historian, studying history of science. That subject is exactly about studying what people (scientists) are saying.
-2Lumifer5yOuch! I think you're wrong about that. You don't think he self-identifies as a scientist? Among other things, he is one of the IPCC authors... :-/
2gjm5yHere's his university home page [https://honors.uoregon.edu/faculty/mark-carey]. Associate Professor of History; "Mark Carey specializes in environmental history and the history of science", etc. I don't see anything suggesting that he thinks he is a scientist. The IPCC's reports make some attempt to assess the impact of (any given degree of) climate change. It seems perfectly reasonable for someone who's spent much of his career looking at things like "the global history of human-glacier interactions" to be involved in that. That webpage says: "He is working in particular on detection and attribution of climate change impacts", and the IPCC publications listed are: "A new social contract for the IPCC"; "Detection and attribution of observed impacts"; "Polar regions". The first two of those are explicitly about the effects of climate change on human societies; I bet his contribution to the third is too. ... Ah, yes, both of those two are parts of something called "Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability". So: no, indeed, I don't think he self-identifies as a scientist, and I don't see any reason why he should.
-2Lumifer5yJust to be sure, you think that if you ask him "Are you a scientist?" he will say "No" -- right?
2gjm5yThat's my guess. Maybe he'd want to hedge it a bit. I certainly wouldn't expect an outright "yes". Given how clear I thought I already was, I'm wondering whether you have a gotcha in mind and are about to present me with an interview where he calls himself a scientist, or something. I will be happy to recant to whatever extent the evidence justifies doing so.
-2Lumifer5yNope, no gotchas. It's just that I feel very certain that he would call himself a scientist and perceive himself that way. It's strange to me that you think otherwise. Clearly one of us is mistaken :-)
2gjm5yAt least one of us. (He might hold some intermediate view of himself that would surprise us both.) Here [https://www.lsa.umich.edu/UMICH/eihs/Home/Events/Climate%20Forum,%20EH-2014-Carey-354-364%20%281%29.pdf] is an article he wrote. Some brief quotations, which seem to me like things he wouldn't have written if he numbered himself among the scientists: ("Our capacity and willingness to collaborate with scientists".) (Not, e.g., "why we need more people like me who are both scientists and historians", but collaboration between these groups. The general thrust of the paper is that scientists need to listen to environmental historians, who have useful and distinctive things to contribute.) I can't find anything Carey's written, or anything written about Carey, that suggests to me that he would call himself a scientist.[1] Why do you think he would? (Is it, e.g., just out of a sense that science is high-status and therefore people doing anything with any connection to science will tend to call themselves scientists?) [1] ... Except for a passing mention of "social scientists" in the paper I linked above, which may indicate that he reckons historians "social scientists". If he defines "scientists" so broadly as to include historians generally then meh, maybe he would call himself a scientist, but he would probably also willingly agree that he isn't what-most-people-call-scientists. My guess is still that he would answer "no" to "are you a scientist?", though as I say he might want to hedge.
-2Lumifer5yThis is a silly discussion, but, briefly, try to look at the situation from the inside point of view. Carey is a professor at a university, he gets grants from NSF, he publishes books and papers in peer-reviewed journals. A "scientist" is a high-status label [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sEbSABWJiJc] and refusing to call himself a scientist would banish him to the bottom of the totem pole in his social circles. You probably think of science as "hard sciences". But there are also soft sciences, aka social sciences and I believe historians, sociologists, etc. would not take kindly to being told that what they do is not science. Their internal perspective is that they engage in science, not in diddling with pot shards in their navels. Look at yourself [https://xkcd.com/435/] :-) and avoid the typical mind fallacy.
2gjm5y(Is there something about my style of posting that encourages people on LW to bulverize me so much?) Anyway, you could simply have answered yes to my question "Is it, e.g., just out of a sense that science is high-status and therefore people doing anything with any connection to science will tend to call themselves scientists?". I'd try actually asking Carey, but right at the moment I think it would be tactless. (The story of the feminist glaciology paper is doing the rounds and I wouldn't be surprised if he's deluged by people asking "do you consider yourself a scientist?" with hostile intent.)
0gjm5yHere's an interview with Carey [http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/03/qa-author-feminist-geology-study-reflects-sudden-place] . His initial description of himself is as a "historian of science and environmental historian", but later on he does refer to "social scientists like myself". So, you were right and I was wrong (in, at least, a way I predicted I might be [http://lesswrong.com/lw/ndk/open_thread_march_7_march_13_2016/d5ym]): he does, at least in some contexts, call himself a scientist.
2MrMind5yThe underlying question "is gender biasing the production of scientific knowledge and scientific narratives?" I think is important and deserving of careful consideration, and the application of that question to the area of glaceology no more narrow than something like "the categorial semantics of the pi-calculus". De-biasing knowledge in psychology is a recurrent theme in LessWrong, and gender is possibly a bias that is hampering scientific discovery. It is doubly unfortunate that the theme is treated as if it were literary critique or politology, instead of experimental psychology: on one side, narrative instead of experimental exploration gets us no closer to the truth, on the other side it exposes the whole field to ridicule, thereby pushing away positive contribution. Am I steel-manning too much? There were no such things as "feminist study" when I attended university, and even now it's not so widespread here in Italy, so I don't know if such disciplines are well-known academic jokes or not.
9Viliam5yI agree that we should pay more attention to biases, including gender biases. Unfortunately, it seems to me that people who talk loudest about these topics are even worse than average; that their strategy is more or less "reversed stupidity plus strong political mindkilling". They usually don't care about scientific method at all, because they see this whole process as a fight between the good side and the evil side, and the scientific method itself is a part of the evil side. (They seem unable to understand the difference between "a white cis het man said '2+2=4'" and "'2+2=4' is an evil white cis het fact".)
0ChristianKl5yNo. The would go after Kuhn and the majority of people who investigated scientifically what scientists do and say that there isn't one method that can be called the scientific method. The standard HPS belief is that scientists in different fields use different methods.
-1Lumifer5yThe scientific method is a tool of fascist oppression! You think I'm joking? Let me quote you from a presumably peer-reviewed International Journal of Evidence-Based Healthcare: (source [http://www.ucl.ac.uk/Pharmacology/dc-bits/holmes-deconstruction-ebhc-06.pdf])
1philh5y"The evidence-based movement in the health sciences" is not the scientific method. It's a movement.
-1Lumifer5yIt's a movement to use the scientific method.
8philh5yRight, but criticising the movement isn't the same thing as criticising the scientific method. For example, doors the writer believe that the movement actually succeeds in applying the scientific method? To be fair, I haven't checked out the source, and I'm unlikely to, on mobile. The quote doesn't establish what you want to say, but maybe the source does, and I should have considered that in my first reply.
-1Lumifer5yThe writer is interested in power structures and fighting the fascists: As far as I can see, basically the authors of the paper want decouple the idea of "truth" from empirical reality and evidence. Demanding evidence to support your claims is an act of oppression and intolerance.
2ChristianKl5yThat's not true. The ‘regimes of truth’ used by judges at court don't decouple truth from empirical reality and evidence. At the same time it's not the same ‘regime of truth’ used in EBM. They argue against monoculture and that there's one standard of truth that everybody in science has to follow. That not only means that the existing questions might get biased answers but also that important questions don't get scientific investigation because they are not interesting in the EBM paradigm. That's classic Kuhn. Scientific paradigms not only determine answers but also questions and old questions often get forgotten with new paradigms. They bring the question: How should a woman assign meaning to the diagnosis she just received that, genetically, she has a 40% probability of developing breast cancer in her lifetime? What will this number mean in real terms, when she is asked to evaluate the meaning of such personal risk in the context of her entire life, a life whose value and duration are themselves impossible factors in the equation? Under classic EBM that's not a question about which you can write a scientific paper.
-2Lumifer5yYes, I think that's about correct -- there should be. Whether a question is "interesting" has nothing to do with single or multiple standards of truth. That's not a question for science. It's a question for a psychotherapist, lay or professional. Correct and I like it this way. Not everything has to be science.
2ChristianKl5yIn high-energy physics there seems to be a 5-sigma standard. Does that mean that climate scientists shouldn't say they found strong evidence for global warming when climate scientists don't have 5-sigma's? No. It's quite alright for the climate scientists to use different standards. Bioinformatics isn't part of medical statistics because the bioinformatics community uses different standards of evidence. It least that's how my statistics professor explained why a distinct bioinformatics community developed. When we look at 23andMe we see the conflicts of those standards. Risk profiles developed by 23andMe are reasonable from a bioinformatics perspective. At the same time they don't fulfill the values of the medical statistics community. Science doesn't profit from forcing the same standards on everyone. That doesn't mean that the FDA can't have a uniform standards for approving drugs but the scientific community as a whole benefits from plurality. That might be true, but is besides the point. Their claim doesn't focus on standards of truth but on regimes of truth, with they equate with Kuhn's term paradigm. The fact that Kuhnian paradigm change comes with a change of the questions that interest scientists, seems to be well-established to me. Do you think that's wrong? How does that make the question non-scientific? Do you consider psychotherapy a non-scientific field? Saying that the question isn't scientific also opens up the area for lunatics. There are pro-life Christians who's insistance on doing everything to keep people alive results in old people getting effectively tortured. Our society would profit if we had good scientists who would work on the topic of how to provide old people a dignified way to die.
4Lumifer5yYou are still confused. In the context of this thread the standard that we are talking about is the standard of the objective reality. Things are measured and evaluated by how well they match the reality. This is the standard -- common to physicists and (hopefully, though I have my doubts) climate scientists. Still confused. Here you are not even talking about standards of evidence (which determine what kind of evidence would you find acceptable). You are talking about standards of proof where "proof" is defined as "enough to convince us to accept the following as true". That can certainly be different in different fields. Even from the theoretical-optimal point of view, it should vary depending on how much you stand to gain if the hypothesis turns out to be actually true and how much you stand to lose otherwise. The standard of proof for physicists is five sigmas, usually. But those are not the standards about which we are talking in this thread. Yes. At best it's at a proto-science stage, trying to gather evidence. I don't think it had much success in systematising it yet. No, I don't think so. In fact, I think it would be very harmful for the society to decide that there is a single, objective, "scientific" dignified way to die.
-2ChristianKl5yNo, you are confused because you try to build up a strawman. The criticism of EBM made in the article isn't that the authors want that truth isn't evaluated by how well something matches reality. It's that the particular way of checking how well something matches reality used by EBM claims a monopoly and that this monopoly is bad. In practice the authors consider it facism that the FDA forbids 23andMe for giving patient data interpretation. 23andMe doesn't provide evidence for their product that's high in the Cochrane hierachy and that's why the FDA blocks them. In addition they also argue that focusing on objective measurements isn't enough. It's easy to find subjective measurements that are generally believed to be of importance: Statements of conflicts of interest. If a paper declares a conflict of interest that's not about the objective facts the paper investigates but about a subjective feature of the investigator. Having knowledge about that subjective feature helps the reader to know how well the paper matches up with reality. It's a complete strawman to assume that requiring papers to report conflicts of interest and having the readers take them into account somehow moves the reader away from reality. Apart from the the IPCC report does contain subjective expert credence as a standard for whether certain statements have something to do with reality. It's not just that the particle-physics community has a higher bar for discoveries. The whole point of this discussion that to be able to have good scientific view on the topic, medicine would need to move away from focusing on trying to provide a single objective answer.
-2Lumifer5yWhy did I even bother. Tap.
0ChristianKl5yI don't know. I bothered because he thought you might see that your characterization of the views of other people as not thinking that truth should be about reality is a strawman. I don't know why you believed that you could convince me that the evil outgroup holds that view. Especially without really doing anything besides saying: "Look those morons don't believe in reality".
9ChristianKl5yThe problem is that the article doesn't just focus on that question. It also frequently makes deontological claims about how natives knowledge should be more respected. Including knowledge that supposes that glaciers don't like certain smells.
3Lumifer5yNot quite -- your question belongs to the field of sociology of science, more or less, and this is a paper in an Earth sciences journal. The authors don't ask questions about gender bias, they specifically propose a "feminist glaciology framework", in part because they unconditionally assume that this bias exists and severely impacts the study of glaciers. I see no evidence whatsoever that this paper has any interest in what you or I might consider "truth" of the scientific kind. It depends on who you ask :-/

How much did humanity try applying science to science itself?

For example, let's say that we have a hypothesis "if we force scientists to publish a lot, they will produce better science". Well, that's a testable hypothesis. We could take a large set of scientists, randomly split them into two groups, provide unconditional income to one group, and tell the other group they will be fired if they don't meet their quota of published research. Wait ten or twenty years, and then compare which group has more Nobel prices.

Okay, that was exaggerated, but I... (read more)

4Good_Burning_Plastic5yI'd guess most of it is based on neither, and is just the result of coordination [http://slatestarcodex.com/2014/07/30/meditations-on-moloch/] problems [http://slatestarcodex.com/2013/03/03/reactionary-philosophy-in-an-enormous-planet-sized-nutshell/] (Ctrl-F for "Tsars" in the latter link).
0ChristianKl5yThat still leaves the question of how you decide who get's to be a scientist. There's not enough money to fund everybody who wants to be a scientist with a decent salary. Science also often isn't funded with the goal of producing Nobel price winners.
0polymathwannabe5yIt appears to be an active [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Science,_technology_and_society] field [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Science_studies] of study [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Science_of_science_policy].
0Viliam5yThe first two links seems mostly about how science influences culture. The third one seems like what I wanted; too bad that the Wikipedia page doesn't contain any conclusions of that research.
0ChristianKl5yThe last Wikipedia article has to be written by a cynic:

"A Push for Less Expensive Hearing Aids"

Almost two-thirds of Americans over age 70 have meaningful hearing loss, experts say, and I probably will be among them. I should do something about it. One reason I haven’t is the average price for hearing aids: roughly $2,500, often more — and most of us need two. That helps explain why only 20 percent of those with hearing loss use hearing aids. Medicare declines to cover a number of products and services that older beneficiaries need. Dental care ranks high on my personal list of exclusions that make

... (read more)
0Viliam5yCould it possibly be that the costs of fixing all health problems of old people simply skyrocket after some age? Thus, given limited resources, we only have the following options: * cure as much as we can, and watch the whole national budget spent on healthcare for old people; * decide that some things will not be cured, at least for average people; or * have mandatory euthanasia at some age. I am not saying that even if this is the case, that the decision where to draw the line was optimal. Just that a line has to exist somewhere. (And it's not just old people, of course. There is always a surgery that could save someone's life, but won't be done for budget reasons. Etc.)
6gwern5yI'm all for cost-benefit analysis. I'm just appalled by the sheer cruelty of writing into law a ban on specific treatments. Perhaps my reaction is due to having spent a life wearing hearing aids, and so I have a rather strong reaction to condemning indefinite millions to the same fate.
2Error5yI'm astonished that hearing aids cost so much, given how thoroughly the personal-audio-hardware space has been colonized by cheap electronics. What's up with that?
9James_Miller5yMy guess [http://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/ProductsandMedicalProcedures/HomeHealthandConsumer/ConsumerProducts/HearingAids/] : "FDA regulates hearing aids, which are intended to compensate for hearing loss." Regulation limits competition which keeps prices high.
1CAE_Jones5yI've heard the phrase "disability markup" used to describe how almost everything ever targeted toward physical or sensory disabilities are absurdly expensive. That name implies more intentional malice than I expect is at work; I'd generally round off to "market forces"--it's difficult to take advantage of mass market capitalism when selling to a minority, but it is possible to take advantage of government assistance programs. It seems like, though, based on my (very limited) understanding of hearing aids, a charitable version of "disability markup" might be closer to reality. After all, if it's treating a disability, especially one found in old people, either those who need it are going to be rich from a lifetime of savings, or poor and getting the government to pay for it anyway, right? It isn't hearing aids so much as screen readers, but Chris Hofstader implies as much might be a component of business models for such companies in this article [http://chrishofstader.com/anarchy-leadership-and-nvda/]: James_Miller's guess wouldn't apply so much to screen readers (but would apply to things like the Brain Port [http://wicab.com/], which opened at a price of $10,000US), but I wouldn't be surprised if going through the FDA is a big part of the markup on hearing aids.

Puzzle playtesters needed! I'm looking to beta test a whole bunch of puzzles for the Microsoft Puzzle Hunt. I've got many types - logic, math, words, uncategorizable, etc. Best done with a friend or 7. PM me for details if you're interested. Example of (an easier version of) the kinds of puzzles I mean, insofar as any one puzzle could possibly be an example: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BwYx-fx5mJcaa3kxSUFHVjAtVG8xQlZYcHpKS25ZSHhTSTdN

0TheAltar5yShould "pop slurper" be 10 letters?
0GuySrinivasan5yLooks like 9 to me. It's not crazy.
0TheAltar5yAh. Found it. Saw a different one that also matched but had 10 letters.
0philh5yNerd sniped! Finally solved it though. Which is why I probably shouldn't volunteer to playtest for you, sorry.
0Elo5yWhy?
2GuySrinivasan5yFun. [http://lesswrong.com/lw/xy/the_fun_theory_sequence/]
-5[anonymous]5y

Responding to a point about the rise of absolute wealth since 1916, this article makes (not very well) a point about the importance of relative wealth.

Comparing folks of different economic strata across the ages ignores a simple fact: Wealth is relative to your peers, both in time and geography.

I've had a short discussion about this earlier, and find it very interesting.

In particular, I sincerely do not care about my relative wealth. I used to think that was universal, then found out I was wrong. But is it typical? To me it has profound implications a... (read more)

6ChristianKl5yHow do you know?
0pangel5yI see it as a question of preference so I know by never having felt envy, etc. at someone richer than me just for being richer. I only feel interested in my wealth relative to what I need or want to purchase. As noted in the comment thread I linked, I could start caring if someone's relative wealth gave them power over me but I haven't been in this situation so far (stuff like boarding priority for first-class tickets are a minor example I did experience, but that's never bothered me).
4Lumifer5yHave you ever been poor?
0pangel5yNo. Thanks for making me notice how relevant that could be. I see that I haven't even thought through the basics of the problem. "power over" is felt whenever scarcity leads the wealthier to take precedence. Okay, so to try to generalise a little, I've never been really hit by the scarcity that exists because my desires are (for one reason or another) adjusted to my means. I could be a lot wealthier yet have cravings I can't afford, or be poorer and still content. But if what I wanted kept hitting a wealth ceiling (a specific type, one due to scarcity, such that increasing my wealth and everyone else's in proportion wouldn't help), I'd start caring about relative wealth really fast.
5Viliam5ySimilarly to you, unless the rich people use their money to abuse me, I care more about my absolute than relative wealth. My struggles are not with comparing myself to other people, but with getting what I want. Give me everything I want, and I won't care if you give other people 10 times more. If you took the wealth existing today and distributed it more flatly, many people would have higher absolute wealth. So I don't see how caring about absolute wealth makes current system fine. We do have the data point that a capitalist economy provides higher average wealth than a communist one. But that doesn't imply that e.g. a capitalist economy with basic income couldn't provide even more. (Maybe the problem with communism was lack of competition and the micromanagement of everything by political nitwits, not the flatter distribution of wealth per se.)
5Lumifer5yIn capitalist economies scarce resources are effectively auctioned off to the highest bidder. If you're noticeably poorer than people around you, you will likely be unable to get to these resources. A simple example: buying a house. At one level, no, it doesn't. But at the same level it also doesn't imply that a capitalist economy with X (where X can be anything) couldn't provide even more as well. At another level yes, it does, because there are reasons why a capitalist economy works and a command economy doesn't. These reasons are relevant to evaluating whether a basic income is a good idea.
1pangel5yCould you expand on this?
3Lumifer5yConsider incentives. Under capitalism one incentive is the possibility of becoming rich, but another, more basic one, is the desire not to starve. Under a command economy you won't usually starve (because you're a useful labour unit), at least in a situation where you can do something about it. You still might starve because of incompetence or a political decision. A large number of people do not enjoy their jobs and, given the opportunity, would... take early retirement, let's put it this way. That's a problem. Command economies solve it by command (recall that being unemployed was a criminal offense in the Soviet Union). Capitalist economies solve it by saying "OK, I'll wait till you get hungry". A livable basic income would make that incentive disappear. Yes, some people would be happy. The consequences for society, though, are debatable :-/
0ChristianKl5yDo you think what the people around you have doesn't effect what you want?
1Viliam5yTo some degree it does, but often doesn't. For example, many people around me are obsessed with travelling to exotic countries. I am okay with staying home, or I travel to meet interesting people, but the idea of travelling to the opposite side of planet just to see a beach or a jungle seems completely silly. Some people spend a lot of money on fashion. Many people love to eat and drink in restaurants; I am okay with soylent. I only bought a smartphone because I wanted to develop mobile games. If the mass transit is reliable, I don't want a car. Things that I value most are: having free time, and talking with interesting people. Also having a computer with internet connection, but that is relatively cheap today. If I would win a lottery, I would mostly try to achieve the situation where I never have to work for money again. (That doesn't mean I wouldn't do anything productive. It just means I would be doing things that I choose to do, and doing them my way.)
0ChristianKl5yAttending conferences is a way to get to talk with a lot of interesting people. Seats at the TED conference or LeWeb are expensive and limited.
1NancyLebovitz5yIs that an optimal way of finding interesting people to talk with?
0Viliam5yI guess the question is, if other people would get a lot of money, what fraction of that would go into competing for resources I care about. (I assume it's smaller than 10%, but I didn't think about this too much.) Then I wouldn't want other people to become so rich that even that fraction of their income would be higher than my whole income.
0pangel5ySorry, "fine" was way stronger than what I actually think. It just makes it better than the (possibly straw) alternative I mentioned.
2knb5yIt's complicated. It seems clear to me that right now a huge number of people want to increase their absolute wealth more than their relative position. People who move from poor countries to rich countries often wind up in a lower percentile in the new country, but are better off in an absolute sense. Relatively few independently wealthy first-worlders move to poor countries to increase their relative wealth (although a handful of people do, admittedly.) This is complicated somewhat by the fact that recent migrants might still have enough connections to their old country that their higher relative position in the old country is more salient to them than their lower relative position in the new country.

What exactly needs to be done to get this picture on the top of the title page of LessWrong, linking to this page?

-7[anonymous]5y

https://wiki.lesswrong.com/wiki/Less_Wrong/Article_summaries

Thanks to the reading group I noticed this link for the first time. Didn't know we had such a resource.

edit: this one too https://wiki.lesswrong.com/wiki/List_of_Blogs

Lee Sedol vs. AlphaGo is underway. I'm betting on Lee Sedol.

9CellBioGuy5yAlphaGo system won first game. Not a go player, but the commentary I've seen suggests it was quite close until the very end. Hypothesis 1: The cluster plays to maximize odds of a win, not magnitude of a win, and is exploiting a class of close wins that humans have a hard time with. Expect sweeping near wins. Hypothesis 2: The cluster and the champion are indeed evenly matched. Expect wins and losses. May imply that the game saturates at high levels of analysis, and that there is no such thing as a 'superhuman' go player because the best humans hit the point of diminishing returns. *EDIT: evidence accumulating in favor of #1. *EDIT2: final results suggest something between the two.
2James_Miller5yPerhaps (2) because the AlphaGo people wanted to have a match as soon as they put a high probability on them winning and they are accurately able to calculate their program's strength.
0gwern5yThat wasn't true for backgammon, chess, or checkers, to name 3 solved games, so why would that be true for Go?
0gjm5yAllegedly Cho Chikun was asked how many stones he would want from God and said "about four". I'm not sure what the corresponding figure would be for chess. (Nor actually what its "units" would be -- chess doesn't have a handicapping system as straightforward as go does, and I wonder whether Elo-like ratings go awry if one player is playing absolutely perfectly.)
2gwern5yYou can actually calculate this now. Regan has noted that for computer chess, they're getting to the point where they are effectively perfect and equivalent; so whatever that gap between them and the best human player ever is can be turned into a piece advantage. (Not that I know how to do this, but I assume anyone already somewhat familiar with ELO and chess engines can take the ELO difference and figure out the corresponding material advantage. Regan thinks it's probably somewhere ~3600 ELO [https://rjlipton.wordpress.com/2015/11/27/thanks-for-additivity/]. Apparently chess AIs can now offer at least "pawn and move, pawn, exchange, and four-move odds." [https://www.chess.com/news/komodo-beats-nakamura-in-final-battle-1331] and still beat US champions & grandmasters like Hikaru Nakamura [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hikaru_Nakamura].) But maybe that was a little hard to answer, so let me put the question the other way: has there ever been a case where a strategy game played seriously & competitively (ie. not tic-tac-toe or blackjack) by adult humans was solved to perfect or superhuman play levels by AI researchers, and the perfect or superhuman play turned out to be identical or so close to the top human's play level that human could win regularly?
0TheAltar5yA game like that could occur between humans and A.I. with online collectible card games. (I'm specifying online because the rules are streamlined and mass competition is far more available.)
0gjm5yI also don't know of any.
0WalterL5yThat strikes me as right on the money.
0ChristianKl5yIs there any commentary by a Go pro available?
2WalterL5yMichael Redmond (only english speaking top pro) is on stream.
0gjm5yThis video [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ZugVil2v4w] has commentary from a Korean 9p.
0Kawoomba5yI wonder if / how that win will affect estimates on the advent of AGI within the AI community.
2Vaniver5yI've already seen some goalpost-moving at Hacker News. I do hope this convinces some people, though.
2dxu5yPeople who engage in such goalpost-moving have already written down their bottom line, most likely because AI risk pattern-matches to the literary genre of science fiction. I wouldn't expect such people to be swayed by any sort empirical evidence short of the development of strong AGI itself. Any arguments they offer against strong AGI amount to little more than rationalization. (Of course, that says nothing about the strengths of the arguments themselves, which must be evaluated on their own merits.)
2[anonymous]5yIt is entirely possible to firmly believe in the inevitability of near-term AGI without subscribing to AI risk fears. I wouldn't conflate the two.
2dxu5yMost of the arguments I've seen against AI risk I've seen (in popular media, that is) take the form of arguments against AGI, full-stop. Naturally there exist more nuanced arguments (though personally I've yet to see any I find convincing), but I was referring to the arguments made by a specific part of the population, i.e. "people who engage in such goalpost-moving"--and in my (admittedly limited) experience, those sorts of people don't usually put forth very deep arguments.
2[anonymous]5yHere's some arguments against AI x-risk positions from an expert source rather than the popular media: http://www.kurzweilai.net/superintelligence-fears-promises-and-potentials [http://www.kurzweilai.net/superintelligence-fears-promises-and-potentials] http://time.com/3641921/dont-fear-artificial-intelligence/ [http://time.com/3641921/dont-fear-artificial-intelligence/] In any case I think you have unnecessarily limited yourself to considering viewpoints expressed in media that tend to act as echo chambers. It's not very interesting or relevant what a bunch of talking heads say with respect to a technical question.
0Furcas5yThe Time article doesn't say anything interesting. Goertzel's article (the first link you posted) is worth reading, although about half of it doesn't actually argue against AI risk, and the part that does seems obviously flawed to me. Even so, if more LessWrongers take the time to read the article I would enjoy talking about the details, particularly about his conception of AI architectures that aren't goal-driven.
0[anonymous]5yI updated my earlier comment to say "against AI x-risk positions" which I think is a more accurate description of the arguments. There are others as well, e.g. Andrew Ng, but I think Goertzel does the best job at explaining why the AI x-risk arguments themselves are possibly flawed. They are simplistic in how they model AGIs, and therefore draw simple conclusions that don't hold up in the real world. And yes, I think more LW'ers and AI x-risk people should read and respond to Goertzel's super-intelligence article. I don't agree with it 100%, but there are some valid points in there. And one doesn't become effective by only reading viewpoints you agree with...
3username25yHave you actually bet on him?
0WalterL5yI did. I lost the initial bet, but then dude doubled down that Lee wouldn't win even one game. I won that bet, so back to 0.

I don't know if this is the right place to ask, but... Less Wrongers, do you believe in falling in love after 20-25? For me it seems that I am no longer able to feel anything as intensely as I was able to feel when I was 18. I don't know what happened. I am not saying that people over 25 don't love, just that it is no longer the same thing. Maybe I'm just generalizing from one example, but although I am still young, I feel like I've lost something significant. Can you relate to any of that?

9moridinamael5yYes, I can relate to feeling like there was no way I could fall in love again after ~25, but I was wrong.
7Viliam5yWhat exactly does "falling in love" mean? Seems to me that the typical components are: * obsession with the other person; * sexual attraction to the other person; * feeling good in presence of the other person; * believing that being with the other person will solve all your problems and make life perfect forever. Assuming that after 25 you become more mentally mature (as opposed to merely physically older), you should be less likely to believe in fixing all your problems by being with the right person. So this mental component of "teenage love" will be missing. You may still believe in fixing a specific problem though. (For example, if the other person is rich, it may solve your financial problems; if the other person is a fan of exercising, just living in their presence may make you more likely to exercise; and generally any person may solve the problem of loneliness.) You can still become strongly obsessed, but assuming the mental maturity, you may have more control over the process. That is, you may be aware that you are obsessed, and it may make you less blind (or blind for a shorter period of time) towards the other person's faults. You should be less likely to do crazy self-destructive actions as a result of the obsession. Your previous experience may make you aware that the obsession phase is temporary, and you could consider this either a very bad thing or a very good thing. You can still feel strongly sexually attracted. Maybe in higher age the libido is weaker, or maybe you already have regular sex with someone else, so the sexual pressure will be smaller. Feeling good with other people probably doesn't depend on age, or the effects of age are smaller than effects of personality or your current situation. I am not very sure about this. Also there are the changes in environment, such as when you are older you are more likely to be busy, so you have less time and opportunity to fall in love with someone, less opportunity to spend time with t
1moridinamael5yI don't find this to be particularly true. I don't even know if the converse ("the worst ones are least likely to be taken") is true. My definition of "the best ones" tends to include people who have invested a lot of energy into themselves and their careers, and thus made themselves less available and appealing on the dating market during their college years and mid-twenties. In fact, when I casually look over my Facebook friend's list, "the best ones" tend to remain single even after thirty, because they're doing their physician's residency, or undertaking a scientific expedition in a remote jungle, or something along those lines. If "best ones" means "hottest ones", well, people become suddenly single later in life for a wide variety of reasons.
1ChristianKl5yDo you use the lack of information on Facebook about the fact that they state that they are in a relationship as a sign that they aren't in a relationship?
3bbleeker5yMy husband and I fell in love when I was 40 and he was 36. I agree with Viliam: the obsession was definitely weaker, and the idea that the other will make life perfect forever was missing. But that's a good thing, IMO.
0MrMind5yI could relate to the same feeling when I was about your age, but at 31 I fell like I was never fallen before, and boy did it hurt like hell when it was over (it still does, in a sense). So, another opposite data point. It's possible that the more experience we accumulate the better we become at manage whether or not to fall in love, but the intensity in my experience never fades.

Does anyone know if Eliezer has updated his Super Ketonic Fluid since the formula was published in Sept. 2013? The only post had a note that the recipe was terrible and unhealthy, but no link to a revised version.

Addendum, did anybody actually live off of the stuff for any length of time?

[-][anonymous]5y 0

The evaluation of mental health policies such as ATAPS (a scheme to pay for 12 free psychology sessions for anyone in Australia referred by a GP) was complicated by the simultaneous rollout all across Australia. If instead the policy was trialed in small areas with iterative improvement and A/B testing we could have a better program and more scope for counterfactual analysis in the evaluation. This issue is shared in the alcohol, tobacco and other drug spcae. An independent mental health and substance abuse policy body to independently devise and evaluate ... (read more)

Apparently, there's a case for detonating more nukes around the world.

WOW AlphaGo beat lee Sedol!

lee was ahead most of the game but the computer beat him in the endgame I think.

Who runs Metaculus? Is it a reincarnation of an older organization?

It is some kind of prediction market. Is it a descendant of one of the teams in the IARPA prediction contest? It reminds me of Twardy and Hanson’s Scicast. Is it related? Or do they all look the same to me? The site mentions no names, but Angelbase lists some. Do they suggest some earlier incarnation?

0Sean_o_h5yFLI's anthony aguirre is centrally involved or leading, AFAIK.

Why do we have monthly media threads ? Can't people just post in open threads ?

8TheAltar5yOpen Threads are already pretty crowded at around 200 posts per thread. Media threads also seem to have slightly different posting rules and are doing just fine as-is.

My comments don't have the button for editing them any more. Have other people's edit buttons disappeared?

2ChristianKl5yNo, I still have edit buttons.
0gwern5yMy edit buttons seem fine.
0NancyLebovitz5yMy edit button has reappeared, but if I use it, the replies to that comment disappear temporarily, so this is looking like a random glitch. Edited to add: The reply didn't disappear, so random glitch.
0Douglas_Knight5yIt has always been true that when you are editing a comment the replies are hidden. Probably the disappearing edit button is that it is not available on one's user page. But it is available on post and permalink pages. Edit: I, too, had a glitch. I went to recent comments [http://lesswrong.com/r/discussion/comments/] and I had two comments visible. This one had an edit button and the other didn't. A reload fixed it. The one that didn't also lacked a reply button, fixed by the same reload. Since only my comments have edit buttons, but all comments have reply buttons, there are more opportunities to observe reply glitches. After the reload my comments were fine, but this comment [http://lesswrong.com/lw/ndh/what_is_the_future_of_nootropic_drugs_why_cant/d5mk] lacked a reply button. Another reload fixed that.
0polymathwannabe5yMe too.