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Prediction: Government regulations greatly reduce economic growth. Trump, with the help of the Republican Congress, is going to significantly cut regulations and this is going to supercharge economic growth allowing Trump to win reelection in a true landslide.

Do you want to put a probability on that? Also, break it down into a bunch of steps. Be precise. Include timelines.

Has anything like that every happened in the entire history of the world? In four years? For example, most of what Reagan is credited with doing to the economy was either done by Carter or in Reagan's second term.

Why do you believe that federal regulations are a significant portion of the total?

Has anything like that every happened in the entire history of the world

Yes, China after Mao.

It might not just be federal regulations. For example, if Republicans passed a freedom to build law that allowed landowners to quickly get permission to build we would see a massive construction boom.

3Douglas_Knight5yYou made a strong conjunction that deregulation lead to economic growth lead to popular support for the regime in four years. That definitely did not happen to China in the first four years after Mao's death. Maybe if you cherry-pick 1980-1984 as the beginning of Deng's real hold on power it is an example, but I doubt it. Sure, if you want to open up the pathways and no longer predict a conjunction, I can't stop you, but I do complain that this is a new prediction. But predicting that Trump will abolish States' Right so quickly to have economic effects doesn't seem very plausible to me. I wouldn't be focusing on elections in that scenario.
0drethelin5ythe US regime operates on popular support in a way very unlike that of China.
0ChristianKl5yThe difference is that the regime in China actually has popular support while the US regime doesn't.
2ChristianKl5yGiven that land use is mostly legislated by the individual states, why do you think a Republican congress would infringe on state laws that strongly?
0James_Miller5yThe commerce clause + big cities are controlled by the left so Republicans would be willing to step on their power+Trump is a builder.
0ChristianKl5yWhat's you credence for this event?
0James_Miller5yOver the next 4 years, 50% that Republicans will enact such a law or that Trump with use regulations to make it easier to build by, for example, claiming it's racist for San Francisco to restrict the building of low income housing. But I'm not willing to bet on this because it would be hard to define the bet's winning conditions.
8gjm5yWould you like to quantify that enough that we can look back in a few years and see whether you got it right?
0knb5yI think it's a clear enough prediction, but putting some actual numbers on it would be useful. Personally, I would put the odds of a Trump landslide well under 50% even contingent on "supercharged" economic growth. Maybe 25%. Politics is too identity-oriented now to see anything like the Reagan landslides in the near future.
2ChristianKl5yCould you operationalize the terms? What's a landslide? And what probability do you attach to that event?
0knb5yKudos for making a clear prediction. I voted for Trump but I don't think there is any realistic possibility of a Trump landslide, even if the economy grows very well for the next 4 years. The country is just too bitterly divided along social lines for economic prosperity to deliver one candidate a landslide (assuming a landslide in the popular vote means at least 10% margin of victory.) In terms of economic growth, I wonder what you mean by "supercharge". I think 4% is pretty unlikely. If the US manages an annual average of 3.0% for the next 4 years that would be a good improvement, but I don't think that could really be called "supercharged." Trump job approval [http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/other/president_trump_job_approval-6179.html] looks pretty good right now considering the unrelenting negative press, so right now I think Trump is likely to be re-elected if he chooses to run in 2020.
2satt5yAssuming that 1. the US does in fact hold a nationwide presidential election in 2020, 2. the Democratic & Republican parties get > 90% of the votes in 2020, and 3. US military fatalities in new, unprovoked, foreign wars are minimal (< 3000), I predict: * a Trump landslide with probability 20%, assuming 2% weighted growth over Trump's term * a Trump landslide with probability 70%, assuming 3% weighted growth over Trump's term * a Trump landslide with probability 95%, assuming 4% weighted growth over Trump's term using your definition of landslide, and defining "weighted growth" as annualized growth in quarterly, inflation-adjusted, disposable, personal income per capita, with recent growth weighted more heavily with a discount factor λ of 0.9. (See Hibbs [http://www.douglas-hibbs.com/HibbsArticles/HIBBS-PS-2012-ONLINE.pdf] for more details.) This is a clear prediction. I'm more doubtful [http://lesswrong.com/lw/m52/open_thread_may_4_may_10_2015/cc50] of chatter about rising political polarization than I am about fundamentals-based models of voting, and those models highlight the economy & war as the factors that most matter. As such I reckon sufficient economic prosperity could in fact produce a landslide for Trump (and virtually any incumbent, really).
0waveman5yYou should take into account that tariff and other barriers to trade are a form of government regulation.
0satt5yI doubt the remaining trade barriers imposed by the US government are making much difference to overall US growth. As far as I know, models which don't crowbar in optimistic second-order effects (like big jumps in productivity) estimate [http://www.epi.org/publication/ib233/] that trade liberalization would raise US GDP by ~ $10 billion a year. That's a big number, but surely one has to compare it to existing [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_the_United_States] US GDP: $18,560 billion a year. This gives me the back of the envelope estimate that trade barriers are depriving the US of about 0.05% of GDP. American voters would scarcely notice that.
0waveman5yTrump was saying he would increase trade barriers, so current levels are not the point.
0satt5yI think in January I read you as amplifying James_Miller's point, giving "tariff and other barriers" as an example of something to slot into his "Government regulations" claim (hence why I thought my comment was germane). But in light of your new comment I probably got your original intent backwards? In which case, fair enough!

Derek Parfit (author of "Reasons and Persons", a very influential work of analytic philosophy much of which is concerned with questions of personal identity and which comes up with decidedly LW-ish answers to most of its questions) has died. (He actually died a few weeks ago, but I only just heard of it, and I haven't seen his death mentioned on LW.)

2lifelonglearner5yAlso our namesake for Parfit's Hitchhiker [https://wiki.lesswrong.com/wiki/Parfit's_hitchhiker]

A few years ago I used to be a hothead. Whenever anyone said anything, I’d think of a way to disagree. I’d push back hard if something didn’t fit my world-view.

It’s like I had to be first with an opinion – as if being first meant something. But what it really meant was that I wasn’t thinking hard enough about the problem. The faster you react, the less you think. Not always, but often.

-- Give it five minutes

0MrMind5yAbsolutely thumbs up. I strive to achieve this: often when I write my first thoughts it becomes clear only later that I misread, or that I missed the main point, or that I'm completely wrong. On the other side, it's true that people have very little and precious attention span: if you reply the day after there's already nobody listening. So try to struck a balance between impulse and reflection...

Hi everyone,

I'm a PhD candidate at Cornell, where I work on logic and philosophy of science. I learned about Less Wrong from Slate Star Codex and someone I used to date told me she really liked it. I recently started a blog where I plan to post my thoughts about random topics: http://necpluribusimpar.net. For instance, I wrote a post (http://necpluribusimpar.net/slavery-and-capitalism/) against the widely held but false belief that much of the US wealth derives from slavery and that without slavery the industrial revolution wouldn't have happened, as well ... (read more)

How do you weight the opinion of people whose arguments you do not accept? Say you have 10 friends who all believe with 99% confidence in proposition A. You ask them why they believe A, and the arguments they produce seem completely bogus or incoherent to you. But perhaps they have strong intuitive or aesthetic reasons to believe A, which they simply cannot articulate. Should you update in favor of A or not?

1TheAncientGeek5yTrying to steelman arguments by talking to people you know in real life isnt a good method. You will find the best arguments in books and papers written by people who have acquired the rare skill of articulating intuitions.
2Gunnar_Zarncke5yYes, that may be true, but that's doesn't address the question. A stronger version would be:
0ChristianKl5yIf I don't understand a topic well I'm likely to simply copy the beliefs of friends who seem to have delved deep into an issue even if they can't tell me exactly why they believe what they believe. If I on the hand already have a firm opinion and especially if the reasons for my opinions aren't possible to be communicated easily I don't update much.
0Dagon5yWhat's your prior for A, and what was your prior for their confidence in A? very roughly speaking, updates feel like surprise.

I'm curious if anybody here frequents retraction watch enough to address this concern I have.

I find articles here very effective at announcing retractions and making testimonies from lead figures in investigations a frequent fallback, but rarely do you get to see the nuts and bolts of the investigations being discussed. For example, "How were the journals misleading?" or "What evidence was or was not analyzed, and how did the journal's analysis deviate from correct protocol?" are questions I often ask myself as I read, followed by an ur... (read more)

4morganism5yA blog list of bogus journals just went down too... http://ottawacitizen.com/storyline/worlds-main-list-of-science-predators-vanishes-with-no-warning [http://ottawacitizen.com/storyline/worlds-main-list-of-science-predators-vanishes-with-no-warning] "Beall, who became an assistant professor, drew up a list of the known and suspected bad apples, known simply as Beall’s List. Since 2012, this list has been world’s main source of information on journals that publish conspiracy theories and incompetent research, making them appear real."
3waveman5yCrimes and trials are the same. Much goes on in closed rooms. You rightly feel that you are in the dark. Often there is some material on pubpeer which can help understand what happened.
3Lumifer5yGelman's blog [http://andrewgelman.com/] goes into messy details often enough. No, you're not. You are offered some results, you do NOT have to trust them.
0dglukhov5yThanks for the tool. Indeed, but I suppose the tool provided solves my problem of judging when data was misanalysed as I could just as easily do the analysis myself.
0Douglas_Knight5yWhy are you consuming research at all? If you are a researcher considering building on someone else's research, then you probably shouldn't trust them and should replicate everything you really need. But you are also privy to a lot of gossip not on LW and so have a good grasp on base rates. If you are considering using a drug, then it has been approved by the FDA, which performs a very thorough check on the drug company. The FDA has access to all the raw data and performs all the analysis from scratch. The FDA has a lot of problems, but letting studies of new drugs get away with fraud is not one of them. But if you want to take a drug off-label, then you are stuck with research. You say that you don't trust the intentions of a multi-billion dollar corporations. Have you thought about what those intentions are? They don't care about papers. Their main goal is to get the drug approved by the FDA. Their goal is for their early papers to be replicated by big, high quality, highly monitored studies. Whereas, the goal of multi-billion dollar universities is mainly to produce papers with too much focus on quantity and too little on replication.
2dglukhov5yI'm no researcher, and you're right, if I did want to improve upon my study, I would, given the materials. However, I am not that affluent, I do not have such opportunities unless the research was based on coatings and adhesives (these materials I do have access to). The retraction I linked was merely presented on retraction watch as an example. An example for what? Let's continue to... My understanding is that as a public company your primary concern is bringing in enough value to the company to appease investors. A subset of that goal would be to get FDA approved. I don't trust the company because of the incentive system, and that is my gut reaction that stems from companies getting away with unscrupulous business practices in the past. Though now that I think about it, however, Pfizer would have nothing to gain from retracting papers they knew they couldn't back up if someone asked them to. My guess is that either: a) Min-Jean's managers were planning on gambling with her research only to find out their moles in the FDA wouldn't cooperate or, b) there was no conspiracy, and Min-Jean was incentivized to fabricate her work on her own volition. I do see your point, since a) is a more complicated theory in this case. But I distrust the situation. I smell a power play, at worst. But I can’t support that, unfortunately, from the articles alone. I can support power plays happening in big companies, but I can’t show those situations are related here. Not yet, anyway… EDIT: With all that said, you seem to err on the side of trusting the FDA to do their job and trusting Pfizer to comply. Would you be able to back up that trust in this case alone? I think waveman made my point clearer in that I don't like the fact that I don't know the details of the investigation. Down to the painfully detailed process of verifying image duplication. I'm not so sure a quick phone call to Pfizer or Min-Jean would help me either...
0waveman5yI think you have an overly sunny view of how effective the FDA is. (leaving aside the question of cost effectiveness and the opportunity cost of the delays and even outright prevention of useful drugs getting to market and their effect on the cost of drugs) There are plenty of cases of the FDA being hoodwinked by drug companies. Regulatory capture is always a concern. Statistical incompetence is very common. I still cannot believe that they let Vioxx on the market when the fourfold increase in heart attacks had a P value of about 10-11%. . This is the sort of stupidity that would (or should) get you as F in Statistics 101. My experience over many decades is that over time the benefits of drugs often turn out to be way overstated and the dangers greatly underestimated.
0Douglas_Knight5yI stand by my narrow claims. Here is another narrow claim: you are wrong about what happened with Vioxx.
0waveman5yPeople can read about it for themselves. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rofecoxib [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rofecoxib]

In a crack of time between doing my last data analysis for my PhD and writing my thesis, I couldn't stop myself from churning out a brief sparsely-sourced astrobiology blog post in which I argue that the limited lifespan of planetary geospheres and the decay of star formation rates means that even though the vast majority of star-years are in the distant future around long-lived small stars, we are still a typical observer in that we are occurring less than 15 billion years into an apparently open-ended universe.


I think either you're misunderstanding the paper, or I'm misunderstanding you. (Or of course both.) The point isn't that scientists should be looking at consensus instead of actually doing science; of course they shouldn't. It's that for someone who isn't an expert in the field and isn't in a position to do their own research, the opinions of those who are experts and have done their own research are very useful information. (In cases -- such as this one -- where there is near unanimity among the experts, I think the only reasonable options are "accep... (read more)

1cousin_it5yMaybe check out this [https://arxiv.org/pdf/1304.6053v1.pdf], then this [http://www.maths.ed.ac.uk/~aar/books/knot.pdf] if you're hardcore.
0Thomas5yThanks. Hyper knots are still knots, however. I am more looking for something conceptually new in higher dimensions. Like the rotation is a new concept in 2D, unknown in Lineland. Or knots are unknown concept in Flatland. I think every dimension has something unfathomable to offer for people used to only lower dimensions - like their own number of dimensions and bellow that. I also think, that at least in principle, a 3D dweller might be able to simulate a 4D or more space vividly. I doubt there is already one such, but it should be possible. Here is a sneak preview on tomorrow Open Thread's link about my new problem: https://protokol2020.wordpress.com/2017/01/29/a-topological-problem/ [https://protokol2020.wordpress.com/2017/01/29/a-topological-problem/]

I'm new to writing resumes and am currently writing one for an internship application. I don't know if trying to optimize for uniqueness or quirkiness comes at significant social costs, or if there are many benefits. If anyone is good at this sort of thing (listing / bragging skills), general tips would be very welcome.

4moridinamael5yIt probably depends on the type of job you're looking for. In school I was taught to make my resume fit on a single page. As far as I can tell, this is nonsense. In my professional life have never seen a resume that was less than two pages. Mine is several pages. The point of a resume is (a) to give the company a broad first-pass sense of whether you're qualified and (b) to provide a scaffolding of prior knowledge about you around which to conduct an interview. Constructing your resume with the point in mind may simplify things. I would personally avoid going out of my way to broadcast uniqueness or quirkiness. But I suppose it depends on what exactly you mean. If you hold the world record for pogo stick jumps, that would be something interesting to put on there, partly because that's the kind of thing that connotes ambition and dedication. If you are an ardent fan of some obscure fantasy series, that's not something that's going to conceivably help you get a job.
2lifelonglearner5yThanks for the information. I saw the one-page-sheet recommendation in a lot of places, but this didn't match up with actual CVs I've seen on people's pages. Clearing that up is helpful. The general point to keep in mind is also helpful.
1satt5yExpanding on this, acceptable & typical lengths for CVs seem to vary between sectors. My feeling is that 1-page CVs are a bit uncommon in business (though some people do make it work [https://github.com/danluu/tex-resume]!), with CVs more often 2-4 pages long. But academic CVs are often a lot longer, and can be pretty much arbitrarily long [https://sydney.edu.au/business/__data/assets/pdf_file/0016/5245/davidh-cv.pdf]. (I suspect highly eminent academics' CVs tend shorter [https://www.bsfrey.ch/cv.html]. Presumably they have less to prove.)
3mindspillage5yIn general, don't optimize for uniqueness or quirkiness; you have limited space and your potential workplace is probably using the resume to screen for "does this person meet enough of the basic desired qualities that we should find out more about them with an interview". You can add a few small things if they really set you apart, but don't go out of your way to do it. A better opportunity to do this is in your cover letter. The best reference for workplace norms and job-hunting advice that I know is Ask A Manager [http://www.askamanager.org]; you may want to browse her archives.
3[anonymous]5yI would look strongly into the company culture before making a decision. I would default towards being more professional, but there are certain companies (e.g. Pixar from what I heard at a talk they gave at my school) who value individuality more than others. I would generally say that cover letters are a better place to emphasize personality rather than a resume. Resumes should mostly be to demonstrate qualification.
2Dagon5yAll of the responses so far seem reasonable to me. A bit of theory as to why: How much quirkiness to show a potential employer is a great example of countersignaling [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Countersignaling]. If you're trying to distinguish yourself among a group that the observer ALREADY classifies as high-achieving, then showing that you can afford not to be serious can indicate you're at the top of that group. If you haven't established that you belong in that category, you should focus first on doing so, or your quirkiness will be taken as further evidence that you are not that good in the first place. Oh, you might also show some quirkiness as a reverse-filter, and an honest sharing of a matching trait - if you want to only consider employers who'll tolerate (or appreciate) your quirks, this is one way to accomplish that. Usually, I'd save that for later rounds of discussion.
0lifelonglearner5yThanks for expanding on this. I think it makes more sense (given where I'm at) to be more conservative for right now.

On a lighter note (Note: this is open access)

3lifelonglearner5yWow, this is very neat. Thanks for sharing! (I'll be giving a talk to students about climate change and psych next month, and this looks to be very helpful.) Do you have any other papers you'd recommend in this vein?
3[anonymous]5yThis handbook [https://www.skepticalscience.com/Debunking-Handbook-now-freely-available-download.html] is about climate change and how debunking can actually backfire. John Cook is an instructor on EDX's Making Sense of Climate Science Denial course.
2Lumifer5yLOL. "How to prevent crimethink". I recommend introducing global-warming Newspeak and phasing out Oldspeak -- it should help with that "inoculation" thing.
2gjm5yHow would you distinguish between "giving people the tools to detect misinformation" and "preventing crimethink", and why do you regard this one as the latter rather than the former (which is what it claims to be)? (Or do you think the first of those is always bogus and best thought of as the latter in disguise?) EDITED to add: The description of "inoculation" near the start of the paper gives the impression that the procedure amounts to "make people less likely to be convinced by misinformation X by presenting a strawman version of X and refuting it", but when they go on to describe the actual "inoculation" they tried it doesn't sound strawman-y at all to me.
2Lumifer5yBy looking at who makes the decision. If you let the people decide, you gave them tools. If the right answer is preordained, you're just preventing crimethink.
2gjm5yI'm not sure how that distinction actually cashes out in practice. I mean, you never have the option of directly controlling what people think, so you can always argue that you've "let the people decide". But you (generic "you", not Lumifer in particular) often have a definite opinion about what's right, so someone can always argue that "the right answer is preordained". Suppose I write some stuff about mathematics, explaining (say) how the surreal numbers work. Am I "preventing crimethink"? I haven't told my audience "of course this stuff is as likely to be wrong as right", I haven't made any attempt to find people who think there's a contradiction or something in the theory; I've just told them what I think is right. What if I do the same with evolution? What if I do the same with anthropogenic climate change?
2Lumifer5yThe difference is in whether you think that disagreeing with your views is acceptable or not. You tell people how you think the world works and why do you believe this, they say "I don't think that's right", you shrug and let them be -- it's one thing. You tell people how you think the world works and why do you believe this, they say "I don't think that's right", you say "This will not stand, you need to be re-educated and made to disbelieve the false prophets" -- that's quite a different thing.
2gjm5yAh, OK. Then the paper we're discussing is not about "preventing crimethink": it is not saying, nor advocating saying, anything like what you describe in that last paragraph. However, I suspect you will still want to characterize it as "preventing crimethink". Perhaps consider whether you can give a characterization of that term with a bit less spin on it? (I think the authors are pretty sure they are right about global warming. They believe there is a lot of misinformation around, much of it deliberate. They suggest ways to pre-empt such misinformation and thereby make people less likely to believe it and more likely to believe what the authors consider to be the truth. But they do not say it is "unacceptable" to take a different view; they just think it's incorrect. And they aren't concerned with what you say to someone who has already made up their mind the other way; they are looking at ways to make that less likely to happen as a result of misinformation.)
2Lumifer5yWhy? :-P The problem is, I bet they believe all the misinformation is coming from the sceptics' side.
0gjm5yMaybe they do. Maybe they're wrong. But holding a wrong opinion is not the same thing as attempting Orwellian thought control. (My guess is that what they actually think is that almost all the misinformation, and most of the worst misinformation, is coming from the skeptics' side. It appears to me that they are in fact correct.)
2Lumifer5yIt appears to me that they are not, but I'm disinclined to do another dance round the same mulberry bush...
0jimmy5yAre they looking at your thought processes or your conclusions? If they have nothing to say when you choose the "right" conclusion, but have a lot to say when you choose the "wrong" one (especially if they don't know how you arrived at it), then it's crimethink. If you can have the whole conversation with them without being able to tell which conclusion they personally believe, then they're legit. Without reading further than the title, my money is on them being on the "global warming is real and if you don't think so you're an idiot" side. (am I wrong?)
2gjm5yNeither, I think. I mean, your question seems to rest on an incorrect presupposition about what the paper's about. They're not trying to judge people for their opinions or how they reached them. They're saying "here's a topic with a lot of misinformation flying around; let's see what we can do to make people less likely to be persuaded by the misinformation". Well, the authors clearly hold that global warming is real and that the evidence for it is very strong. Does that invalidate the paper for you?
2ChristianKl5yEven if you grant that global warming is real that doesn't mean that there also isn't a lot of misinformation on the global warming side. If I quiz a random number of liberal on the truth as the truth has been found by the IPCC, there are many issues where the liberals are likely saying that specific scenarios are more likely than the IPCC assumes.
2gjm5yCould be. As I've said elsewhere in the thread, I think the relevant question is not "is there misinformation on both sides?" (the answer to that is likely to be yes on almost any question) but "how do the quantity and severity of misinformation differ between sides?". My impression is that it's not at all symmetrical, but of course I might think that even if it were (it's much easier to spot misinformation when you disagree strongly with it). Do you know of any nonpartisan studies of this?
2ChristianKl5yThere was a letter by Nobel Laureates that suggested the probability of global warming is in the same class as evolution. Given the probability I have in my mind for evolution, that's off more orders of magnitude from the IPCC number than the positions of global warming skeptics. Who would have to fund a study like this to be nonparitsan? How do you make that judgment? Did you read the IPCC report to have the ground truth for various claims? The great thing in the report is that it has probability categories for it's various claims. In reading most of the claims that the IPCC report makes about global warming are a lot less than 99% certain. Media reports generally have a hard time reasoning about claims with probability 80% or 90%.
2gjm5yI can only guess what letter you have in mind; perhaps this one [http://www.pacinst.org/climate/climate_statement.pdf]? (Some of its signatories are Nobel laureates; most aren't.) I'll assume that's the one; let me know if I'm wrong. It doesn't mention probability at all. The way in which it suggests global warming is in the same class as evolution is this: They don't claim that the probabilities are the same. Only that in all these cases the probability is high enough to justify saying that this is a thing that's been scientifically established. I don't know. Probably best not the fossil fuel industry. Probably best not any environmentalist organization. I think claims of bias on the part of government and academia are severely exaggerated, but maybe best to avoid those if only for the sake of appearances. A more pressing question, actually, is who would have to do it to be nonpartisan. You want people with demonstrated expertise, but the way you demonstrate expertise is by publishing things and as soon as anyone publishes anything related to climate change they will be labelled a partisan by people who disagree with what they wrote. I don't have a good answer to this. It's not a judgement; my use of the rather noncommital word "impression" was deliberate. I make it by looking at what I see said about climate change, comparing it informally with what I think I know about climate change, and considering the consequences. It's not the result of any sort of statistical study, hence my deliberately noncommittal language. I have read chunks of the IPCC report but not the whole thing. I agree that it's good that they talk about probabilities. The terms they attach actual numerical probabilities to are used for future events; they usually don't give any numerical assessment of probability (nor any verbal assessment signifying a numerical assessment) for statements about the present and past, so I don't see any way to tell whether they regard those as "a lot less than
2ChristianKl5yI would judge the chances that evolution is incorrect by lower than 10^{-6}. When the IPCC uses 10^{-2} as the category for global warming that off by many orders of magnitude. A person who would believe that the chances of human-caused global warming are 10% would be nearer at the truth than a person who think that it's in the same category as evolution. Basically given the information to which you have been exposed you have a strong impression that the IPCC is making a mistake in the direction that would align with your politics. The outside view suggests that most of the time experts are a bit overconfident. The replication crisis suggests that scientists are often overconfident. With climate science we are speaking about a domain that doesn't even have access to running real controlled experiments to verify important beliefs. That makes me doubt the idea that IPCC are underconfident. If those IPCC scientists are that good at not being overconfident, why don't we tell the psychologists to listen to them to deal with their replication crisis?
2gjm5yThere are some contexts in which the difference between 99.999% and 99.9% is about the same as the difference between 10% and 90%. However, I do not think this is one of them. I repeat: the letter you are talking about did not say anything about probabilities; it said "some scientific theories have a shedload of evidence and are well enough established that we can reasonably call them facts; here are some familiar examples; well, global warming is also in that category". I think it's probably 100x more certain that the earth is more than a few thousands of years old than that our universe began with a big bang ~14Gya. Does that mean the people who wrote that letter were wrong to group those together? Nope; all that matters is that both are in the "firmly enough established" category. So, they suggest (and I agree), is global warming. (Not every detail of global warming. Not any specific claim about what the global mean surface temperature will be in 50 years' time. But the broad outline.) The outside view suggests to me that much of the time experts are horribly overconfident, and some of the time they are distinctly underconfident (at least in what they say). The picture doesn't look to me much like one of consistent slight overconfidence at all. Hey, psychologists! Go read the IPCC reports, and follow their example! There you go. I did. It won't actually do any good, because the problem isn't that no one has ever told psychologists to be cautious and avoid overconfidence. And that's the answer to your question "why don't we ...", and you will notice that it has nothing to do with the people who wrote the IPCC being overconfident.
6Viliam5yThe problem is probably that psychologists afterwards always nod their heads and say: "uhm, uhm, that's interesting... please tell me more about your feelings of anxiety." :D
2ChristianKl5yIt's not 99.9% in the IPCC report. Events that happen with 0.005 probability are worth planning for when they have high impacts. We care about asteroid defense when that probability is much lower. Humanity has a good chance of getting destroyed in this century if decision makers treat 0.001 the same way as 0.0000000001. In what examples are are experts underconfident when they give 0.9 or 0.95 probabilities of an event happening.
4gjm5yI wasn't trying to suggest it was; my apologies for (evidently) being insufficiently clear. Yup, strongly agreed. But here the low-probability events we're talking about here are things like "it turns out global warming wasn't a big deal after all". It would be sad to have spent a lot of money trying to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in that case, but it wouldn't be much like (e.g.) being hit by an asteroid. I don't have examples to hand, I'm afraid (other than the IPCC example we're discussing here, though actually all we know there is that their probability estimate is somewhere between 0.95 and 1, and is probably below 0.99 since they didn't choose to say "virtually certain". (Only "probably" because when they list what the terms mean they say 95-100% and not 95-99% for "extremely likely", and the best explanation I can see for that is that they are reserving the right to say "extremely likely" rather than "virtually certain" sometimes even though they think the actual probability is over 99%. This is one reason why I suspect them of understating their certainty on purpose: they seem to have gone out of their way to provide themselves with a way to do that.)
0jimmy5yI'm not addressing the paper specifically, I'm answering your question more generally. I still think it applies here though. When they identify "misinformation", are they first looking for things that support the wrong conclusion and then explaining why you shouldn't believe this wrong thing, or are they first looking at reasoning processes and explaining how to do them better (without tying it to the conclusion they prefer). For example, do they address any misinformation that would lead people to being misled into thinking global warming is more real/severe than it is? If they don't and they're claiming to be about "misinformation" and that they're not pushing an agenda, then that's quite suspicious. Maybe they do, I dunno. But that's where I'd look to tell the difference between what they're claiming and what Lumifer is accusing them of. The fact that they hold that view does not. It's possible to agree with someones conclusions and still think they're being dishonest about how they're arguing for it, you know. (and also, to disagree with someone's conclusions but think that they're at least honest about how they get there) The fact that it is clear from reading this paper which is supposedly not about what they believe sorta does, depending on how clear they are about it and how they are clear about it. It's possible for propaganda to contain good arguments, but you do have to be pretty careful with it because you're getting filtered evidence. (notice how it applies here. I'm talking about processes not conclusions, and haven't given any indication of whether or not I buy into global warming - because it doesn't matter, and if I did it'd just be propaganda slipping out)
2gjm5yWhat makes misinformation misinformation is that it's factually wrong, not that the reasoning processes underlying it are bad. (Not to deny the badness of bad reasoning, but it's a different failure mode.) They pick one single example of misinformation, which is the claim that there is no strong consensus among climate scientists about anthropogenic climate change. It would be quite suspicious if "global warming is real" and "global warming is not real" were two equally credible positions. As it happens, they aren't. Starting from the premise that global warming is real is no more unreasonable than starting from the premise that evolution is real, and not much more unreasonable than starting from the premise that the earth is not flat. I disagree. If you're going to do an experiment about how to handle disinformation, you need an example of disinformation. You can't say "X is an instance of disinformation" without making it clear that you believe not-X. Now, I suppose they could have identified denying that there's a strong consensus on global warming as disinformation while making a show of not saying whether they agree with that consensus or not, but personally I'd regard that more as a futile attempt at hiding their opinions than as creditable neutrality. I think you have, actually. If there were a paper about how to help people not be deceived by dishonest creationist propaganda, and someone came along and said "do they address any misinformation that would lead people into being misled into thinking 6-day creation is less true than it is?" and the like, it would be a pretty good bet that that person was a creationist. Now, of course I could be wrong. If so, then I fear you have been taken in by the rhetoric of the "skeptics"[1] who are very keen to portray the issue as one where it's reasonable to take either side, where taking for granted that global warming is real is proof of dishonesty or incompetence, etc. That's not the actual situation. At this poin
2ChristianKl5yBoth are quite simplistic positions. If you look at the IPCC report there are many different claims about global warming effects and those have different probabilities attached to them. It's possible to be wrong on some of those probabilities in both directions, but thinking about probabilities is a different mode than "On what side do you happen to be?"
2gjm5yIncidentally, the first comment in this thread to talk in terms of discrete "sides" was not mine above but one of jimmy's well upthread, and I think most of the ensuing discussion in those terms is a descendant of that. I wonder why you chose my comment in particular to object to.
2gjm5yI don't know about you, but I don't have the impression that my comments in this thread are too short. Yes, the climate is complicated. Yes, there is a lot more to say than "global warming is happening" or "global warming is not happening". However, it is often convenient to group positions into two main categories: those that say that the climate is warming substantially and human activity is responsible for a lot of that warming, and those that say otherwise.
0jimmy5yYes, and identifying it is a reasoning process, which they are claiming to teach. Duh. Sure, but there's more than one X at play. You can believe, for example, that "the overwhelming scientific consensus is that global warming is real" is false and that would imply that you believe not-"the overwhelming scientific consensus is that global warming is real". You're still completely free to believe that global warming is real. "What about the misinformation on the atheist side!" is evidence that someone is a creationist to the extent that they cannot separate their beliefs from their principles of reason (which usually people cannot do). If someone is actually capable of the kind of honesty where they hold their own side to the same standards as the outgroup side, it is no longer evidence of which side they're on. You're assuming I don't hold my own side to the same standards. That's fine, but you're wrong. I'd have the same complaints if it were a campaign to "teach them creationist folk how not to be duped by misinformation", and I am absolutely not a creationist by any means. I can easily give an example, if you'd like. Nothing I am saying is predicated on there being more than one "reasonable" side. If you take for granted a true thing, it is not proof of dishonesty or incompetence. However, if you take it for granted and say that there's only one reasonable side, then it is proof that you're looking down on the other side. That's fine too, if you're ready to own that. It just becomes dishonest when you try to pretend that you're not. It becomes dishonest when you say "I'm just helping you spot misinformation, that's all" when what you're really trying to do is make sure that they believe Right thoughts like you do, so they don't fuck up your society by being stupid and wrong. There's a difference between helping someone reason better and helping someone come to the beliefs that you believe in, even when you are correct. Saying that you're doing the f
2gjm5yI don't think they are. Teaching people to reason is really hard. They describe what they're trying to do as "inoculation", and what they're claiming to have is not a way of teaching general-purpose reasoning skills that would enable people to identify misinformation of all kinds but a way of conveying factual information that makes people less likely to be deceived by particular instances of misinformation. Not only that. Suppose the following is the case (as in fact I think it is): There is lots of creationist misinformation around and it misleads lots of people; there is much less anti-creationist misinformation around and it misleads hardly anyone. In that case, it is perfectly reasonable for non-creationists to try to address the problem of creationist misinformation without also addressing the (non-)problem of anti-creationist misinformation. I think the situation with global warming is comparable. I'm not. Really, truly, I'm not. I'm saying that from where I'm sitting it seems like global-warming-skeptic misinformation is a big problem, and global-warming-believer misinformation is a much much smaller problem, and the most likely reasons for someone to say that discussion of misinformation in this area should be balanced in the sense of trying to address both kinds are (1) that the person is a global-warming skeptic (in which case it is unsurprising that their view of the misinformation situation differs from mine) and (2) that the person is a global-warming believer who has been persuaded by the global-warming skeptics that the question is much more open than (I think) it actually is. Sure. (Though I'm not sure "looking down on" is quite the right phrase.) So far as I can tell, the authors of the paper we're talking about don't make any claim not to be "looking down on" global-warming skeptics. The complaints against them that I thought we were discussing here weren't about them "looking down on" global-warming skeptics. Lumifer described them as trying
3Lumifer5yThis is factually [http://dailycaller.com/2016/06/02/california-lawmakers-poised-to-make-it-illegal-to-question-global-warming/] incorrect [http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/melanie-hunter/ag-lynch-doj-has-discussed-whether-pursue-legal-action-against-climate] (and that's even without touching Twitter and such). Oh, all right. You don't like the word. How did you describe their activity? "...not a way of teaching general-purpose reasoning skills that would enable people to identify misinformation of all kinds but a way of conveying factual information that makes people less likely to be deceived by particular instances of misinformation." Here: brainwashing. Do you like this word better?
4gjm5yOh, one other thing. I've got no problems with the word. What I don't like is its abuse to describe situations in which the totality of the resemblance to the fiction from which the term derives is this: Some people think a particular thing is true and well supported by evidence, and therefore think it would be better for others to believe it too. If you think that is what makes the stuff about "crimethink" in 1984 bad, then maybe you need to read it again.
2Lumifer5yAs usual, I like my points very very sharp, oversaturated to garish colours, and waved around with wild abandon :-) You don't.
2gjm5yOr, to put it differently, I prefer not to lie.
2Lumifer5yWould you like to point out to me where I lied, with quotes and all?
2gjm5ySure. Just a quick example, because I have other things I need to be doing. I take it that saying "That is factually incorrect" with those links amounts to a claim that the links show that the claim in question is factually incorrect. Neither of your links has anything to do with anyone saying it should be illegal to disbelieve in global warming. (There were other untruths, half-truths, and other varieties of misdirection in what you said on this, but the above is I think the clearest example.) [EDITED because I messed up the formatting of the quote blocks. Sorry.]
0Lumifer5yAn unfortunate example because I believe I'm still right and you're still wrong. We've mentioned what, a California law proposal and a potential FBI investigation? Wait, but there is more! A letter [http://web.archive.org/web/20150920110942/http://www.iges.org/letter/LetterPresidentAG.pdf] from 20 scientists explicitly asks for a RICO (a US law aimed at criminal organizations such as drug cartels) investigation of deniers. A coalition of Attorney Generals of several US states set up an effort to investigate and prosecute [https://ag.ny.gov/press-release/ag-schneiderman-former-vice-president-al-gore-and-coalition-attorneys-general-across] those who "mislead" the public about climate change. There's Bill Nye [http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/criminalizing-climate-change-denial/] : Of course there is James Hansen, e.g. this [http://www.commondreams.org/news/2008/06/23/put-oil-firm-chiefs-trial-says-leading-climate-change-scientist] (note the title): or take David Suzuki [http://www.nationalpost.com/Jail+politicians+ignore+climate+science+Suzuki/290513/story.html] : Here [https://theconversation.com/is-misinformation-about-the-climate-criminally-negligent-23111] is Lawrence Torcello, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, no less: Hell, there is a paper in a legal journal: Deceitful Tongues: Is Climate Change Denial a Crime? [http://scholarship.law.berkeley.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2014&context=elq] (by the way, the paper says "yes"). Sorry, you are wrong.
2gjm5yNice Gish gallop, but not one of those links contradicts my statement that which is what you called "factually incorrect". Most of them (all but one, I think) are irrelevant for the exact same reason I already described: what they describe is people suggesting that some of the things the fossil fuel industry has done to promote doubt about global warming may be illegal under laws that already exist and have nothing to do with global warming, because those things amount to false advertising or fraud or whatever. In fact, these prosecutions, should any occur, would I think have to be predicated on the key people involved not truly disbelieving in global warming. The analogy that usually gets drawn is with the tobacco industry's campaign against the idea that smoking causes cancer; the executives knew pretty well that smoking probably did cause cancer, and part of the case against them was demonstrating that. Are you able to see the difference between "it should be illegal to disbelieve in global warming" and "some of the people denying global warming are doing it dishonestly to benefit their business interests, in which case they should be subject to the same sanctions as people who lie about the fuel efficiency of the cars they make or the health effects of the cigarettes they make"? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- I'm not sure that responding individually to the steps in a Gish gallop is a good idea, but I'll do it anyway -- but briefly. In each case I'll quote from the relevant source to indicate how it's proposing the second of those rather than the first. Italics are mine. Letter from 20 scientists: "corporations and other organizations that have knowingly deceived the American people about the risks of climate change [...] The methods of these organizations are quite similar to those used earlier by the tobacco industry. A RICO investigation [...] played an important role in stopping the tobacco industry f
0Lumifer5yI was never a fan of beating my head against a brick wall. Tap.
4gjm5yYour first link is to proposed legislation in California. O NOES! Is California going to make it illegal to disbelieve in global warming? Er, no. The proposed law [https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billCompareClient.xhtml?bill_id=201520160SB1161] -- you can go and read it; it isn't very long; the actual legislative content is section 3, which is three short paragraphs -- has the following effect: If a business engages in "unfair competition, as defined in Section 17200 of the Business and Professions Code" (it turns out this basically means false advertising), and except that the existing state of the law stops it being prosecuted because the offence was too long ago, then the Attorney General is allowed to prosecute it anyway. I don't know whether that's a good idea, but it isn't anywhere near making it illegal to disbelieve in global warming. It removes one kinda-arbitrary limitation on the circumstances under which businesses can be prosecuted if they lie about global warming for financial gain. Your second link is similar, except that it doesn't involve making anything illegal that wasn't illegal before; the DoJ is considering bringing a civil action (under already-existing law, since the DoJ doesn't get to make laws) against the fossil fuel industry for, once again, lying about global warming for financial gain. "Brainwashing" is just as dishonestly bulshitty as "crimethink", and again so far as I can tell if either term applies here it would apply to (e.g.) pretty much everything that happens in high school science lessons.
2Lumifer5yLet me quote you yourself, with some emphasis: We're not talking about making new laws. We're talking about taking very wide and flexible existing laws and applying them to particular targets, ones to which they weren't applied before. The goal, of course, is intimidation and lawfare since the chances of a successful prosecution are slim. The costs of defending, on the other hand, are large. "Lying for financial gain" is a very imprecise accusation. Your corner chip shop might have a sign which says "Best chips in town!" which is lying for financial gain. Or take non-profits which tend to publish, let's be polite and say "biased" reports which are, again, lying for financial gain. You point was that no one suggested going after denialists/sceptics with legal tools and weapons. This is not true.
2gjm5yIt also is not my point. There are four major differences between what is suggested by your bloviation about "crimethink" and the reality: * "Crimethink" means you aren't allowed to think certain things. At most, proposals like the ones you linked to dishonest descriptions of[1] are trying to say you're not allowed to say certain things. * "Crimethink" is aimed at individuals. At most, proposals like the ones you linked to dishonest descriptions of[1] are trying to say that businesses are not allowed to say certain things. * "Crimethink" applies universally; a good citizen of Airstrip One was never supposed to contemplate the possibility that the Party might be wrong. Proposals like the ones you linked to dishonest descriptions of[1] are concerned only with what businesses are allowed to do in their advertising and similar activities. * "Crimethink" was dealt with by torture, electrical brain-zapping, and other such means of brute-force thought control. Proposals like the ones you linked to dishonest descriptions of[1] would lead at most to the same sort of sanction imposed in other cases of false advertising: businesses found guilty (let me remind you that neither proposal involves any sort of new offences) would get fined. [1] Actually, the second one was OK. The first one, however, was total bullshit. Sure. None the less, there is plenty that it unambiguously doesn't cover. Including, for instance, "disbelieving in global warming".
0Lumifer5yPlease stay on topic. This subthread is about your claim that "No one is suggesting that it should be illegal" Are you implying that you can disbelieve all you want deep in your heart but as soon as you open your mouth you're fair game?
4gjm5yA claim I made because you were talking about "crimethink". And, btw, what was that you were saying elsewhere about other people wanting to set the rules of discourse? I'm sorry if you would prefer me to be forbidden to mention anything not explicit in the particular comment I'm replying to, but I don't see any reason why I should be. No. (Duh.) But I am saying that a law that forbids businesses to say things X for purposes Y in circumstances Z is not the same as a law that forbids individuals to think X.
0jimmy5yOh. well in that case, if they’re saying “teaching you to not think bad is too hard, we’ll just make sure you don’t believe the wrong things, as determined by us”, then I kinda thought Lumifer’s criticism would have been too obvious to bother asking about. Oh… yeah, that’s not true at all. If it were true, and 99% of the bullshit were generated by one side, then yes, it would make sense to spend 99% of one’s time addressing bullshit from that one side and it wouldn’t be evidence for pushing an agenda. There’s still other reasons to have a more neutral balance of criticism even when there’s not a neutral balance of bullshit or evidence, but you’re right - if the bullshit is lopsided then the lopsided treatment wouldn’t be evidence of dishonest treatment. It’s just that bullshit from one’s own side is a whole lot harder to spot because you immediately gloss over it thinking “yep, that’s true” and don’t stop to notice “wait! That’s not valid!”. In every debate I can think of, my own side (or “the correct side”, if that’s something we’re allowed to declare in the face of disagreement) is full of shit too, and I just didn’t notice it years ago. This reads to me as “I’m not. Really, truly, I’m not. I’m just [doing exactly what you said I was doing]”. This is a little hard to explain as there is some inferential distance here, but I’ll just say that what I mean by “have given no indication of what I believe” and the reason I think that is important is different from what it looks like to you. Part of “preventing crimethink” is that the people trying to do it usually believe that they are justified in doing so (“above” the people they’re trying to persuade), and also that they are “simply educating the masses”, not “making sure they don’t believe things that we believe [but like, we really believe them and even assert that they are True!]”. This is what it feels like from the inside when you try to enforce your beliefs on people. It feels like the beliefs you have are
0gjm5yThose awful geography teachers, making sure their pupils don't believe the wrong things (as determined by them) about what city is the capital of Australia! Those horrible people at snopes.com, making sure people don't believe the wrong things (as determined by them) about whether Procter & Gamble is run by satanists! What makes Lumifer's criticism not "too obvious to bother about" is not doubt about whether the people he's criticizing are aiming to influence other people's opinions. It's whether there's something improper about that. In your opinion, is anti-creationist misinformation as serious a problem as creationist misinformation? (10% as serious?) Yes, it is. But it's also what it feels like from the inside in plenty of other situations that don't involve enforcing anything, and it's also what it feels like from the inside when the beliefs in question are so firmly established that no reasonable person could object to calling them "facts" as well as "beliefs". (That doesn't stop them being beliefs, of course.) (The argument "You are saying X. X is what you would say if you were doing Y. Therefore, you are doing Y." is not a sound one.) The trouble is that the argument you have offered for this is so general that it applies e.g. to teaching people about arithmetic. I don't disagree that it's possible, and not outright false, to portray what an elementary school teacher is doing as "make sure these five-year-olds hold the same beliefs about addition as me"; but I think it's misleading for two reasons. Firstly, because it suggests that their goal is "have the children agree with me" rather than "have the children be correct". (To distinguish, ask: Suppose it eventually turns out somehow that you're wrong about this, but you never find that out. Would it be better if the children end up with right beliefs that differ from yours, or wrong ones that match yours? Of course they will say they prefer the former. So, I expect, will most people trying to propagate
0jimmy5yI'm not criticizing the article, nor am I criticizing you. I'm criticizing a certain way of approaching things like this. I purposely refrain from staking a claim on whether it applies to the article or to you because I'm not interested in convincing you that it does or even determining for sure whether it does. I get the impression that it does apply, but who knows - I haven't read the article and I can't read your mind. If it doesn't, then congrats, my criticism doesn't apply to you. You're thinking is on a very similar track to mine when you suggest the test "assuming you're wrong, do you want them to agree or be right?". The difference is that I don't think that people saying "be right, of course" is meaningful at all. I think you gotta look at what actually happens when they're confronted with new evidence that they are in fact wrong. If, when you're sufficiently confident, you drop the distinction between your map and the territory, not just in loose speech but in internal representation, then you lose the ability to actually notice when you're wrong and your actions will not match your words. This happens all the time. I've never had a geography or arithmetic class suffer from that failure mode, and most of the time I disagreed with my teachers they responded in a way that actually helped us figure out which of us were right. However in geometry, power electronics, and philosophy, I have run into this failure mode where when I disagree all they can think of is "how do I convince him he's wrong" rather than "let me address his point and see where that leads" - but that's because those particular teachers sucked and not a fault of teaching in general. With respect to that paper, the title does seem to imply that they've dropped that distinction. It is a very common on that topic for people to drop the distinction and refuse to pick it up, so I'm guessing that's what they're doing there. Who knows though, maybe they're saints. If so, good for them. Agreed.
0gjm5yThat seems like the sort of thing that really needs stating up front. It's that Gricean implicature thing again: If someone writes something about goldfish and you respond with "It's really stupid to think that goldfish live in salt water", it's reasonable (unless there's some other compelling explanation for why you bothered to say that) to infer that you think they think goldfish think in salt water. (And this sort of assumption of relevance is a good thing. It makes discussions more concise.) For sure that's far more informative. But, like it or not, that's not information you usually have available. Yup, it's a thing that happens, and it's a problem (how severe a problem depends on how well being "sufficiently confident" correlates, for the person in question, with actually being right). As you say, there's an important difference between dropping it externally and dropping it internally. I don't know of any reliable way to tell when the former indicates the latter and when it doesn't. Nor do I have a good way to tell whether the authors have strong enough evidence that dropping the distinction internally is "safe", that they're sufficiently unlikely to turn out to be wrong on the object level. My own guess is that (1) it's probably pretty safe to drop it when it comes to the high-level question "is climate change real?", (2) the question w.r.t. which the authors actually show good evidence of having dropped the distinction is actually not that but "is there a strong expert consensus that climate change is real?", and (3) it's probably very safe to drop the distinction on that one; if climate change turns out not to be real then the failure mode is "all the experts got it wrong", not "there was a fake expert consensus". So I don't know whether the authors are "saints" but I don't see good reason to think they're doing anything that's likely to come back to bite them. I think this is usually the correct strategy, and it is generally mine too. Not 100% alway
0jimmy5yIf someone writes "it's stupid to think that goldfish live in saltwater" there's probably a reason they say this, and it's generally not a bad guess that they think you think they can live in salt water. However, it is still a guess and to respond as if they are affirmatively claiming that you believe this is putting words in their mouth that they did not say and can really mess with conversations, as it has here. Agree to disagree. A big part of my argument is that it doesn't matter if Omega comes down and tells you that you're right. It's still a bad idea. Another big part is that even when people guess that they're probably pretty safe, they end up being wrong a really significant point of the time, and that from the outside view it is a bad idea to drop the distinction simply because you feel it is "probably pretty safe" - especially when there is absolutely no reason to do it and still reason not to even if you're correct on the matter. (also, people are still often wrong even when they say "yeah, but that's different. They're overconfident, I'm actually safe") I note that you don't. I do. The point is that I don't see it as worth thinking about. I don't know what I would do with the answer. It's not like I have a genie that is offering me the chance to eliminate the problems caused by one side or the other, but that I have to pick. There are a lot of nuances in things like this, and making people locally more correct is not even always a good thing. I haven't seen any evidence that you appreciate this point, and until I do I can only assume that this is because you don't. It doesn't seem that we agree on what the answer to that question would mean, and until we're on the same page there it doesn't make any sense to try to answer it. I am very careful with what I presuppose, and what I said does not actually presuppose what you say it does. It's not presupposing that you are wrong or not worth engaging with. It does imply that as it looks to me - and I
0gjm5yIn my experience, when it messes with conversations it is usually because one party is engaging in what I would characterize as bad-faith conversational manoeuvres. I'm not sure there's anything I could say or do that you would take as such evidence. (General remark: throughout this discussion you appear to have been assuming I fail to understand things that I do in fact understand. I do not expect you to believe me when I say that. More specific remark: I do in fact appreciate that point, but I don't expect you to believe me about that either.) I am generally unenthusiastic about this sort of attempt to seize the intellectual high ground by fiat, not least because it is unanswerable if you choose to make it so; I remark that there are two ways for one person's argument not to be well understood by another; and it seems to me that the underlying problem here is that from the outset you have proceeded on the assumption that I am beneath your intellectual level and need educating rather than engaging. However, I will on this occasion attempt to state your position and see whether you consider my attempt adequate. (If not, I suggest you write me off as too stupid to bother discussing with and we can stop.) I will be hampered here and there by the fact that in many places you have left important bits of your argument implicit, chosen not to oblige when I've asked you questions aimed at clarifying them, and objected when I have made guesses. So. Suppose we have people A and B. A believes a proposition P (for application to the present discussion, take P to be something like "the earth's climate has warmed dramatically over the last 50 years, largely because of human activity, and is likely to continue doing so unless we change what we're doing") and is very confident that P is correct. B, for all A knows, may be confident of not-P, or much less confident of P than A is, or not have any opinion on the topic just yet. The first question at issue is: How should A speak o
2Lumifer5yWithout restarting the discussion, let me point out what I see to be the source of many difficulties. You proposed a single statement to which you, presumably, want to attach some single truth value. However your statement consists of multiple claims from radically different categories. "the earth's climate has warmed dramatically over the last 50 years" is a claim of an empirical fact. It's relatively easy to discuss it and figure out whether it's true. "largely because of human activity" is a causal theory claim. This is much MUCH more complex than the preceding claim, especially given the understanding (existing on LW) that conclusions about causation do not necessarily fall out of descriptive models. "and is likely to continue doing so" is a forecast. Forecasts, of course, cannot be proved or disproved in the present. We can talk about our confidence in a particular forecast which is also not exactly a trivial topic. Jamming three very different claims together and treating them as a single statement doesn't look helpful to me.
4gjm5yIt would be a probability, actually, and it would need a lot of tightening up before it would make any sense even to try to attach any definite probability to it. (Though I might be happy to say things like "any reasonable tightening-up will yield a statement to which I assign p>=0.9 or so".) Yes, it does. For the avoidance of doubt, in writing down a conjunction of three simpler propositions I was not making any sort of claim that they are of the same sort, or that they are equally probable, or that they are equivalent to one another, or that it would not often be best to treat individual ones (or indeed further-broken-down ones) separately. It seems perfectly reasonable to me. It would be unhelpful to insist that the subsidiary claims can't be considered separately (though each of them is somewhat dependent on its predecessors; it doesn't make sense to ask why the climate has been warming if in fact it hasn't, and it's risky at best to forecast something whose causes and mechanisms are a mystery to you) but, I repeat, I am not in any way doing that. It would be unhelpful to conflate the evidence for one sub-claim with that for another; that's another thing I am not (so far as I know) doing. But ... unhelpful simply to write down a conjunction of three closely related claims? Really?
0Lumifer5yYou can, of course, write down anything you want. But I believe that treating that conjunction as a single "unit" is unhelpful, yes.
2gjm5yIn what sense (other than writing it down, and suggesting that it summarizes what is generally meant by "global warming" when people say they do or don't believe it) am I treating it as a single unit?
2Lumifer5yAs I mentioned, I don't want to restart the discussion. Feel free to discard my observation if you don't find it useful.
0Good_Burning_Plastic5y"The earth's climate has warmed by about x °C over the last 50 years" is a claim of an empirical fact. "It is dramatic for a planet to warm by about x °C in 50 years" is an expression of the speaker's sense of drama.
2Lumifer5yYeah, sure, but I'm skipping over the drama. If we ever find ourselves debating this, I'm sure that X is will get established pretty quickly.
0jimmy5yWhat you say below (“I do in fact appreciate that point”) is all it takes for this. For what it’s worth, I feel the same way about this. From my perspective, it looks like you are assuming that I don’t get things that I do get, are assuming I’m assuming things things I am not assuming, saying thing things I’m not saying, not addressing my important points, being patronizing yourself, “gish galloping”, and generally arguing in bad faith. I just had not made a big stink about it because I didn’t anticipate that you wanted my perspective on this or that it would cause you to rethink anything. Being wrong about what one understands is common too (illusion of transparency, and all that), but I absolutely do take this as very significant evidence as it does differentiate you from a hypothetical person who is so wrapped up in ego defense that they don’t want to address this question. Can you explain what you mean by “attempt to seize the intellectual high ground” and “it is unanswerable”, as it applies here? I don’t think I follow. I don’t think I’m “attempting to seize” anything, and have no idea what the question that “unanswerable” applies to is. However, if you mean “you don’t seem interested in my rebuttle”, then you’re right, I was not. I have put a ton of thought into the ethics of persuasion over the last several years, and there aren’t really any questions here that I don’t feel like I have a pretty darn solid answer to. Additionally, if you don’t already think about these problems the way that I do, it’s actually really difficult to convey my perspective, even if communication is flowing smoothly. And it often doesn’t, because it’s also really really easy to think I’m talking about something else, leading to the illusion that my point has been understood. This combination makes run-of-the-mill disagreement quite uninteresting, and I only engaged because I mistook your original question for “I would like to learn how to differentiate between teaching and thou
0gjm5yI did not accuse you of that. I don't think you've done that. I said that Lumifer did it because, well, he did: I said "no one is proposing X", he said "what about A and B", I pointed out that A and B were not in fact proposing X, and he posted another seven instances of ... people not proposing X. A long sequence of bad arguments, made quickly but slower to answer: that is exactly what a Gish gallop is. I don't think you've been doing that, I don't think Lumifer usually does it, but on this occasion he did. "Attempting to seize the intellectual high ground" = "attempting to frame the situation as one in which you are saying clever sensible things that the other guy is too stupid or blinkered or whatever to understand. "Unanswerable if you choose to make it so" because when you say "I don't think you have grasped my argument", any response I make can be answered with "No, sorry, I was right: you didn't understand my argument" -- regardless of what I actually have understood or not understood. (I suppose one indication of good or bad faith on your part, in that case, would be whether you then explain what it is that I allegedly didn't understand.) I am greatly saddened, and somewhat puzzled, that you apparently think I might think the answer is no. (Actually, I don't think you think I might think the answer is no; I think you are grandstanding.) Anyway, for the avoidance of doubt, I have not the slightest interest in telling anyone else what they are allowed to believe, and if (e.g.) what I have said upthread about that paper about global warming has led you to think otherwise then either I have written unclearly or you have read uncharitably or both. The problem here is unclarity on my part or obtuseness on yours, rather than obtuseness on my part or unclarity on yours :-).The bit about "being seen as rude" was not intended as a statement of your views or of your argument; it was part of my initial sketch of the class of situations to which those views and that a
4satt5yFor whatever little it's worth, I read the first few plies of these subthreads, and skimmed the last few. From my partial reading, it's unclear to me that Lumifer is/was actually lying (being deliberately deceptive). More likely, in my view, is/was that Lumifer sincerely thinks spurious your distinction between (1) criminalizing disbelief in global warming, and (2) criminalizing the promulgation of assertions that global warming isn't real in order to gain an unfair competitive advantage in a marketplace. I think Lumifer is being wrong & silly about that, but sincerely wrong & silly. On the "crimethink" accusation as applied to the paper specifically, Lumifer plainly made a cheap shot, and you were right to question it. As for your disagreement with jimmy, I'm inclined to say you have the better of the argument, but I might be being overly influenced by (1) my dim view of jimmy's philosophy/sociology of argument, at least as laid out above, (2) my incomplete reading of the discussion, and (3) my knowledge of your track record as someone who is relatively often correct, and open to dissecting disagreement with others, often to a painstaking extent.
2gjm5yThis is helpful; thanks.
0jimmy5yI, also, appreciate this comment. I would like to quibble here that I'm not trying to argue anything, and that if gjm had said "I don't think the authors are doing anything nearly equivalent to crimethink and would like to see you argue that they are", I wouldn't have engaged because I'm not interested in asserting that they are. I'd call it more "[...] of deliberately avoiding argument in favor of "sharing honestly held beliefs for what they're taken to be worth", to those that are interested". If they're taken (by you, gjm, whoever) to be worth zero and there's no interest in hearing them and updating on them, that's totally cool by me.
1jimmy5y(comment split because it got too long) It’s neither. I have a hard time imagining that you could say no. I was just making sure to cover all the bases because I also have a hard time imagining that you could still say that I’m actively trying to claim anything after I’ve addressed that a couple times. I bring it up because at this point, I’m not sure how you can simultaneously hold the views “he can believe whatever he wants”, “he hasn’t done anything in addition that suggests judgement too” (which I get that you haven’t yet agreed to, but you haven’t addressed my arguments that I haven’t yet either), and then accuse me of trying to claim the intellectual high ground without cognitive dissonance. I’m giving you a chance to either teach me something new (i.e. “how gjm can simultaneously hold these views congruently”), or, in the case that you can’t, the chance for you to realize it. Quoting you, “Your principal point is, in these terms, that [...] and that "externally" #2 is something of a hostile act if in fact B doesn't share A's opinion because it means that B has to choose between acquiescing while A talks as if everyone knows that P, or else making a fuss and disagreeing and quite possibly being seen as rude.” (emphasis mine) That looks like it’s intended to be a description of my views to me, given that it directly follows the point where you start sketching out what my views are, following a “because”, and before the first period. Even if it’s not, though, if you’re saying it as part of a sketch of the situation, it’s one that anyone who sees things the way I do can see that I won’t find it to be a relevant part of the situation, and the fact that you mention it - even if it were just part of that sketch - indicates that either you’re missing this or that you see that you’re giving a sketch that I don’t agree with as if my disagreement is irrelevant. Right. I think it is the correct approach to describe my position in general. However, the piece of
0gjm5yOn "being seen as rude": I beg your pardon, I was misremembering exactly what I had written at each point. However, I still can't escape the feeling that you are either misunderstanding or (less likely) being deliberately obscure, because what you actually say about this seems to me to assume that I was presenting "being seen as rude" as a drawback of doing what I called "external #2", whereas what I was actually saying is that one problem with "external #2" is that it forces someone who disagrees to do something that could be seen as rude; that's one mechanism by which the social pressure you mentioned earlier is applied. Except that what you are actually doing is repeatedly telling me that I have not understood you correctly, and not lifting a finger to indicate what a correct understanding might be and how it might differ from mine. You keep talking about inferential distances that might prevent me understanding you, but seem to make no effort even to begin closing the alleged gap. In support of this, in the other half of your reply [http://lesswrong.com/lw/oif/open_thread_jan_23_jan_29_2017/dm4i] you say I "seem to be acting as if it’s impossible to be on step two honestly and that I must be trying to hide from engagement if I am not yet ready to move on to step three"; well, if you say that's how it seems to you then I dare say it's true, but I am pretty sure I haven't said it's "impossible to be on step two honestly" because I don't believe that, and I'm pretty sure I haven't said that you "must be trying to hide from engagement" because my actual position is that you seem to be behaving in a way consistent with that but of course there are other possibilities. And you say that I "should probably make room for both possibilities" (i.e., that you do, or that you don't, see things I don't); which is odd because I do in fact agree that both are possibilities. So. Are you interested in actually making progress on any of this stuff, or not?
0jimmy5yRight. I’m not accusing you of doing it. You didn’t say it outright, I don’t expect you to endorse that description, and I don’t see any reason even to start to form an opinion on whether it accurately describes your behavior or not. I was saying it as more of a “hey, here’s what you look like to me. I know (suspect?) this isn’t what you look like to you, so how do you see it and how do I square this with that?”. I just honestly don’t know how to square these things. If, hypothetically, I’m on step two because I honestly believe that if I tried to explain my views you would likely prematurely assume that you get it and that it makes more sense to address this meta level first, and if, hypothetically, I’m even right and have good reasons to believe I’m right… what’s your prescription? What should I do, if that were the case? What could I do to make it clear that am arguing in good faith, if that were the case? If you can tell me where to start that doesn’t presuppose that my beliefs are wrong or that I’ve been arguing in bad faith, I would love to. Where would you have me start?
0gjm5yWhereas I honestly don't know how to help you square them, because I don't see anything in what I wrote that seems like it would make a reasonable person conclude that I think it's impossible to be on your "step 2" honestly, or that I think you "must be trying to hide from engagement" (as opposed to might be, which I do think). My general prescription for this sort of situation (and I remark that not only do I hope I would apply it with roles reversed, but that's pretty much what I am doing in this discussion) is: proceed on the working assumption that the other guy isn't too stupid/blinkered/crazy/whatever to appreciate your points, and get on with it; or, if you can't honestly give that assumption high enough probability to make it worth trying, drop the discussion altogether. (This is also, I think, the best thing you could do to make it clear, or at any rate markedly more probable to doubtful onlookers, that you're arguing in good faith.) The same place as I've been asking you to start for a while: you say I haven't understood some important parts of your position, so clarify those parts of your position for me. Adopt the working assumption that I'm not crazy, evil or stupid but that I've missed or misunderstood something, and Sure, it might not work: I might just be too obtuse to get it; in that case that fact will become apparent (at least to you) and you can stop wasting your time. Or it might turn out -- as, outside view, it very frequently does when someone smart has partially understood something and you explain to them the things you think they've missed -- that I will understand; or -- as, outside view, is also not so rare -- that actually I understood OK already and there was some sort of miscommunication. In either of those cases we can get on with addressing whatever actual substantive disagreements we turn out to have, and maybe at least one of us will learn something. (In addition to the pessimistic option of just giving up, and the intermediat
0jimmy5yAll of the options you explicitly list imply disrespect. If I saw all other options as implying disrespect as well, I would agree that “if you can't honestly give that assumption high enough probability to make it worth trying, [it’s best to] drop the discussion altogether”. However, I see it as possible to have both mutual respect and predictably counterproductive object level discussion. Because of this, I see potential for fruitful avenues other than “plow on the object level and hope it works out, or bail”. I have had many conversations with people whom I respect (and who by all means seem to feel respected by me) where we have done this to good results - and I’ve been on the other side too, again, without feeling like I was being disrespected. Your responses have all been consistent with acting like I must be framing you as stupid/blinkered/crazy/otherwise-unworthy-of-respect if I don’t think object level discussion is the best next step. Is there a reason you haven’t addressed the possibility that I’m being sincere and that my disinterest in “just explaining my view” at this point isn’t predicated on me concluding that you’re stupid/blinkered/crazy/otherwise-unworthy-of-respect? Even to say that you hear me but conclude that I must be lying/crazy since that’s obviously too unlikely to be worth considering? The thing is, that does presuppose that my belief that “in this case, as with many others with large inferential distance, trying to simply clarify my position will result in more misunderstanding than understanding, on expectation, and therefore is not a good idea - even if the other person isn’t stupid/blinkered/crazy/otherwise-undeserving-of-respect” is wrong. Er.. unless you’re saying “sure, you might be right, and maybe it could work your way and couldn’t work my way, but I’m still unwilling to take that seriously enough to even consider doing things your way. My way or it ain’t happenin’.” If it’s the latter case, and if, as you seem to imply, thi
0gjm5yWell, the one I'm actually proposing doesn't, but I guess you mean the others do. I'm not sure they exactly do, though I certainly didn't make any effort to frame them in tactfully respect-maximizing terms; in any case, it's certainly not far off to say they all imply disrespect. I agree that there are situations in which you can't explain something without preparation without any disrespect to the other guy being called for; but that's because what happened was * jimmy says some things * gjm response * jimmy starts saying things like "Before engaging with why you think my argument is wrong, I want to have some indication that you actually understand what my argument is, that's all, and I haven't seen it." rather than, say, * jimmy says "so I have a rather complicated and subtle argument to make, so I'm going to have to begin with some preliminaries*. When what happens is that you begin by making your argument and then start saying: nope, you didn't understand it -- and when your reaction to a good-faith attempt at dealing with the alleged misunderstanding is anything other than "oh, OK, let me try to explain more clearly" -- I think it does imply something like disrespect; at least, as much like disrespect as those options I listed above. Because what you're saying is: you had something to say that you thought was appropriate for your audience, and not the sort of thing that needed advance warning that it was extra-subtle; but now you've found that I don't understand it and (you at least suspect) I'm not likely to understand it even if you explain it. That is, it means that something about me renders me unlikely -- even when this is locally the sole goal of the discussion, and I have made it clear that I am prepared to go to substantial lengths to seem mutual understanding -- to be able to understand this thing that you want to say, and that you earlier thought was a reasonable thing to say without laying a load of preparatory groundwork. See ab
0jimmy5yI suppose I could have said “so I have a rather complicated and subtle argument to make. I would have to begin with some preliminaries and it would end up being kinda long and take a lot of work, so I’m not sure it’s worth it unless you really want to hear it”, and in a lot of ways I expect that would have gone better. I probably will end up doing this next time. However in a couple key ways, it wouldn’t have, which is why I didn’t take that approach this time. And that itself is a complicated and subtle argument to make. EDIT: I should clarify. I don't necessarily think I made the right choice here, and it is something I'm still thinking about. However, it was an explicit choice and I had reasons. Right, and I think this is our fundamental disagreement right here. I don’t think it implies any disrespect at all, but I’m happy to leave it here if you want. I see where you’re coming from, but I don’t think arguments with subtle backing always need that warning, nor do they always need to be intended to be fully understood in order to be worth saying. This means that “I can’t give you an explanation you’ll understand without a ton of work” doesn’t single you out nearly as much as you’d otherwise think. I can get into this if you’d like, but it’d just be more meta shit, and at this point my solution is starting to converge with yours: “do the damn write up or shut up, jimmy” I agree that you can’t address everything (nor have I), but this one stands out as the one big one I keep getting back to - and one where if you addressed it, this whole thing would resolve pretty much right away. It seems like now that you have, we’re probably gonna end up at something more or less along the lines of “we disagree whether “mutual respect” and “knowably unable to progress on the object level” go together to a non-negligable amount, at least as it applies here, and gjm is uninterested in resolving this disagreement”. That’s an acceptable ending for me, so long as you know that
0jimmy5yThe first part I feel like I’ve already addressed and haven’t seen a response to (the difference between staking active claims vs speaking from a place that you choose to draw (perhaps fallacious) inferences from and then treat as if they’re active claims). The second part is interesting though. It’s pretty darn answerable to me! I didn’t realize that you thought that I might hear an answer that perfectly paces my views and then just outright lie “nope, that’s not it!”. If that’s something you think I could even conceivably do, I’m baffled as to why you’d be putting energy into interacting with me! But yes, it does place the responsibility on me of deciding whether you understand my pov and reporting honestly on the matter. And yes, not all people will want to be completely honest on the matter. And yes, I realize that you don’t have reason to be convinced that I will be, and that’s okay. However, it would be very stupid of me not to be. I can hide away in my head for as long as I want, and if no matter how hard you try, and no matter how obvious the signs become, if I’m willing to ignore them all I can believe my believies for as long as I want and pretend that I’m some sort of wise guru on the mountain top, and that everyone else just lacks my wisdom. You’re right, if I want to hide from the truth and never give you the opportunity to convince me that I’m wrong, I can. And that would be bad. But I don’t see what solution you have to this, as if the inferential distance is larger than you realize, then your method of “then explain what it is that I allegedly didn't understand” can’t work because if you’re still expecting a short inferential distance then you will have to either conclude that I’m speaking gibberish or that I’m wrong - even if I’m not. It’s like the “double crux” thing. We’re working our way down the letters, and you’re saying “if you think I don’t understand your pov you should explain where I’m wrong!” and I’m saying “if I thought that you wou
0Lumifer5yI think you're much confused between arguments and evidence in support of a single argument.
4gjm5yIf you go back through my comments on LW (note: I am not actually suggesting you do this; there are a lot of them, as you know) you will find that in this sort of context I almost always say explicitly something like "evidence and arguments", precisely because I am not confused about the difference between the two. Sometimes I am lazy. This was one of those times. Bad arguments and bad evidence can serve equally well in a Gish gallop.

Several state attorneys general have initiated them.

Could you give some examples? I'm failing to find any instances where any such action has actually been brought.

What I can find is an investigation by several state AGs into ExxonMobil, which appears to be focusing on what EM's management knew about climate change; there's some suggestion that they're now digging into possible misrepresentations of how big oil reserves are, presumably with a view to arguing that they misled investors. Note that investigating what Exxon management knew about climate cha... (read more)

OK, and how is this distinction supposed to manifest in practice?

One distinction is that someone accused under (2) could defend themselves by showing that they genuinely didn't believe anyone was paying attention to their expression of disbelief in global warming, whereas that defence presumably wouldn't be open to them under (1).

[..] in any case when (2) happens who exactly will be forbidden to assert that global worming isn't real? Does it matter if [...]?

Since it suffices to give one operationalizable difference between (1) & (2) for gjm's cl... (read more)

Catholic theologians are experts in what the Roman Catholic Church believes. If you claim that the RCC isn't really trinitarian, then "bullshit, look at what all the Catholic theologians say" is a perfectly good response.

They claim (or at least let's suppose arguendo that they do) to be experts on the actual facts about God. It turns out they're wrong about that. So ... is their situation nicely parallel to that of climate scientists?

Why, no. Look at all the people in the world who claim to be God-experts and have studied long and hard, got fancy... (read more)

Suggestion to sticky the welcome thread. Stickying the welcome thread to the sidebar would encourage participation/comments/content. And perhaps in the future add emphasis on communication norms to the thread, specifically that negative reception and/or lack of reception is more obvious on LessWrong – So have thick skin and do not take it personal. I'd imagine that quality control will be what it has always been, critical comments.

I have just read a debate about whether high-IQ kids should be allowed to attend special schools, and the debate was predictable. So I used this as an opportunity to summarize the arguments against "smart segregation". (The arguments in favor of it seem quite straightforward: better education, less bullying, social and professional company of equals.) Here are the results; please tell me if some frequently-made argument is missing.

Note: different arguments here contradict each other, which is okay, because they are typically not made by the same ... (read more)

3gjm5yI haven't seen a lot of arguments about this issue. Here are some other anti-segregation arguments that occur to me; I make no guarantee that they are common. I do not necessarily endorse them any more than Viliam endorses the ones he mentions. I do not necessarily endorse the conclusion they (in isolation) point towards any more than Viliam does. I'm going along with Viliam's smart/dumb terminology and dichotomous treatment for simplicity; I am well aware, and I'm sure Viliam is too, that actually it doesn't make much sense to classify every pupil as "smart" or "dumb". 2.E -- ...the smart children will grow up with more awareness that not everyone is like them, and a better idea of what other people outside their bubbles are like. (Not the same about 2.C; it applies to some extent even if smart and dumb never even speak to one another.) 2.F -- ...a certain fraction of dumb children is necessary for various sorts of extracurricular activity mostly but not exclusively liked by dumb children to be sustainable, so without the dumb ones the smart ones who would have benefited from those activities will be left out. 3.F -- ...if they are segregated, better teachers will likely want to avoid the "dumb" schools, so the "dumb" children will get a worse education. 3.G -- (same as 2.E with signs reversed) 3.H -- ...the mostly smart and rich people in government will care about improving the quality of education in all schools, not just the ones attended by the children of People Like Them. (Closely related to 3.E but not the same.) 3.I -- ...the smart children tend to be better behaved too, and a school consisting entirely of dumb children will have serious behaviour problems. (Whether this is better overall depends on how behaviour varies with fraction of smart/dumb children, among other things.) 3.J -- ...a certain fraction of smart children is necessary for various sorts of extracurricular activity mostly but not exclusively liked by smart children to be sustainabl
0Viliam5yThanks! What are your central examples of the activities in 2.F? Sport? Craft? Something else? I think I never actually met anyone using 5.B. Probably because using this argument requires assuming that there are enough genuinely smart people to create a community when given a chance; and most people around me seem to believe that high IQ doesn't really matter, and on the "unspecified but certainly very high" level where it does, those people are too few, not enough to create a functional bubble. Alternatively, other people believe that every above-average high school or every university is already de facto a school for high-IQ kids, and the IQ levels above this line don't actually make a difference, so all such bubbles already exist. -- No one seems to believe that there could be a meaningful line drawn at IQ maybe 150, where the people are too few to create a (non-professional) community spontaneously, but sufficiently different from the rest of the population that they might enjoy actually living in such community if given a chance.
0gjm5yFor 2.F I was indeed thinking sport, but actually I have very little idea whether such activities really exist and if so what they actually are. Plenty of smart kids like sport. We're already assuming that there are enough smart-in-whatever-sense people to have their own school. Depending on where the borderline between "smart" and "dumb" is drawn, there may be more or fewer "smart" schools, but each one will have to be of reasonable size.
0Viliam5yWell, specific IQ levels are usually not mentioned in the debates I have seen. Which of course only makes the debates more confused. :( When I think about it quantitatively, if we use Mensa as a Schelling point for "high IQ", then 2% of the population have IQ over 130, which qualifies them as Mensa-level smart. Two percent may seem not too much, but for example in a city with population of half a milion (such as where I live), that gives 10 000 people. To better visualize this number, if you have an apartment building with 7 floors, that is 20 apartments, assuming on average 2.5 people per apartment that is 50 people per building, which gives us 200 buildings. Of course assuming unrealistically that Mensa could somehow successfully convince all people in the city to take the test, and to convince those who pass to move together. But 200 buildings of Mensa-level people sounds impressive. (Well, if Mensa sounds impressive, which on LW it probably does not.) Speaking of schools, let's say that people live about 70 years, but there are more young people than old people, so let's assume that for young people a year of age corresponds to 1/50 of the population, so if there are 10 000 Mensa-level people in the half-million city, that makes 200 children for each grade. That's about 7 classrooms for each grade, depending on size. That's like two or three schools. Again, depending on the assumption that Mensa could find those kids, and convince the parents to put them all into Mensa schools. (Which, under the completely unrealistic assumptions, could be built in the "Mensa district" of the city.) To make this happen, it would require a smaller miracle, but it's not completely impossible. Just making all people in one city interested in Mensa, making them take the test, and making them interested in moving to the "Mensa district" would require a lof of advertising. (And even then, there would be a lot of resistance.) But, hypothetically, if you had a millionaire, who woul
2Lumifer5yYou might find this interesting: The 7 Tribes of Intellect [http://www.unz.com/jthompson/the-7-tribes-of-intellect/].
0Viliam5yWell, I approximately agree, but that's just a classification of people into IQ layers. I'd like to go much further than that. For example -- sorry, today I am too lazy to do a google hunt -- I think there was a research, probably by Terman, about why some high-IQ people succeed in life while others fail, often spectacularly. His conclusion was that it mostly depends on how well connected with other high-IQ people they are; most importantly whether they come from a generally high-IQ family. (My hypothesis is that the effect is twofold: first, the high-IQ family itself is a small high-IQ society; second, the older family members were already solving the problem of "how to find other high-IQ people" and can share their strategies and contacts with the younger members.) If this is true (which I have no reason do doubt), then not allowing high-IQ children to associate with other high-IQ children is child abuse. It is like sending someone on train that is predictably going to crash. I will charitably assume that most people participating in this form of child abuse are actually not aware of what they are doing, so I don't blame them morally... at least until the moment when someone tries to explain to them what are the actual consequences of their actions, and they just stick fingers in their ears and start singing "la la la, I don't hear you, elitism is always bad". But perhaps a more important thing is this: the usual "compromise" solution of accepting that some children indeed are smarter than others, but solving it by simply having them skip a grade (that is, instead of company of children with similar age and IQ, you give them company of older children with average IQ, so that the "mental age" is kinda balanced) is just a short-term fix that fails in long term. Yes, you are providing the children an appropriately mentally challenging environment, which is good. But what you don't give them, is the opportunity to learn the coping skills that seem necessary for hi
1Lumifer5yYou do understand that "true" here means "we built a model where the coefficient for a factor we describe as 'connectedness' is statistically significant", right? I don't think throwing around terms like "child abuse" is helpful. Also, do you think the existence of the internet helps with the problem you describe?
1Viliam5yYeah, it's probably a strategic mistake to tell people plainly that they are doing a horrible thing. It will most likely trigger a chain of "I am a good person... therefore I couldn't possibly do a horrible thing... therefore what this person is telling me must be wrong", which prevents or delays the solution of the problem. Whether you discuss social deprivation of high-IQ children, or circumcision, or religious education, or whatever, you have to remember that people mostly want to maintain the model of the world where they are the good ones who never did anything wrong, even if it means ignoring all evidence to the contrary. Especially if their opinion happens to be a majority opinion. It's just that on LW I try to tell it how I see it, ignoring the strategical concerns. As an estimate, let's say that if normal child development is 0 units of abuse, and feral children are 100 units of abuse, then depriving a high-IQ child of contact with other high-IQ children is about 1 unit of abuse. (I specifically chose feral children, because I believe it is an abuse of a similar kind, just much smaller magnitude.) Sure, compared with many horrors that children sometimes suffer, this is relatively minor. However, people who systematically harm thousands of children in this way are guilty of child abuse. I mean those who campaign against existence of high-IQ schools, or even make laws against them. (As an estimate, I would guess that at least one of hundred such children will commit suicide or at least seriously consider it, as a result of the social deprivation.) I think it helps, but not sufficiently. I may be generalizing from one example here, but internet connection simply doesn't have the same quality as personal interaction. That's why e.g. some people attend LW meetups instead of merely posting here. And generally, why people still bother meeting in person, despite almost everyone (in developed countries) having an internet connection. -- As a high IQ child, you ma
3Lumifer5yI don't think the problem is strategic concerns, I think the problem is connotations. The connotations for child abuse are "call the cops and/or child protective services which will take the child away from the parents and place him/her into foster care" and "put the parents in jail and throw away the key". Child abuse is not merely bad parenting. What do you mean? Finding your tribe / peer group isn't a matter of plopping the right search terms into Google. I think it mostly works through following the connections from things and people you find on the 'net. If you consistently look for "smarter" and follow the paths to "more smarter" X-), you'll end in the right area. Well, of course. But imagine things before the internet :-/
1Viliam5yYeah, the Dark Ages before 1980s were a cruel place to live. I tried this, and maybe I was doing it wrong or maybe just not persistently enough, but essentialy my findings were of two kinds: 1) Instead of "rational smart" I found "clever smart" people. The kind that has a huge raw brainpower, but uses it to study theology or conspiracy theories. Sometimes it seemed to me that the higher-IQ people are, the more crazy they get. I mean, most of the conspiracy theories I knew, I knew them because someone shared them on a Mensa forum, and not jokingly. Or the people who memorized half of the Bible, and could tell you all the connections and rationalizations for anything. They were able to win any debate, they had high status in their community, and they didn't have a reason to change this. Essentially, before I found LW, I was using a wrong keyword to google. Instead of "highly intelligent" I actually wanted "highly intelligent and rational". But I didn't know how to express that additional constraint; it just felt like "highly intelligent without being highly stupid at the same time", but of course no one would understand what I meant by saying that. (Did I mean "even better knowledge of the Bible"? Nope. Oh, so "knowedge of how the illuminati and jews rule the world"? Eh, just forget it.) 2) A few (i.e. less than ten) individuals who were highly intelligent and rational, but they were all isolated individuals. Sometimes lonely and lost, just like me. Sometimes doing their thing and being quite successful at it, but admitting that most people seem stupid or crazy (they would tell it more diplomatically, of course) and it is very rare to find an exception. The latter were usually very busy and seemed to prefer being left alone, so when I suggested something like connecting smart and rational people together, there were like "nah, I don't have time for that, I have already found my own thing that I am good at, it makes me happy, and that's the only rational way for a
0Lumifer5yThis thread started with talking about establishing schools/communities/etc. of high-IQ people. Note: all high-IQ people. Now you are pointing out that IQ by itself is not sufficient -- you want people with both high IQ and appropriate culture/upbringing/interests.
0Viliam5yI wonder... but yeah, this is extremely speculative... whether the reason why high-IQ people don't have more rationality could be analogical to why feral children don't have better grammar skills. That is, whether putting high-IQ people together, for a few generations, would increase the fraction of rationalists among them. Disconnected people don't create culture. High IQ is biological, but rationality is probably cultural. But yeah... changing the topic, and the thread is too long already.
0Lumifer5yI don't know about that. Social skills and culture are not rationality, they are orthogonal to rationality. Epistemic rationality is not cultural -- it's basically science, and science is based on matching actual reality (aka "what works") . There was a comment here recently about Newtonian physics being spread by the sword (the context was a discussion about how Christianity spread) which pointed out that physics might well have spread by cannons -- people who "believe" in Newtonian physics tend to have much better cannons than those who don't. Instrumental rationality is not such a clear-cut case because culture plays a great role in determining acceptable ways of achieving goals. And real-life goal pursuit is usually more complicated than how it's portrayed on LW.
2Viliam5yYeah, I should have said "subculture" instead of "culture". Because as long as people at the key places in the country believe in physics, they can also bring victory for their physics-ignorant neighbors. But you still learn science at school, and some people still decide that they e.g. don't believe in evolution, or believe in homeopathy. So although science means "matching the territory", the opinion that "matching the territory could be somehow important" is just an opinion that some people share and others don't, or some people use in some aspects of life and not in others, free-riding on the research of others.
2Lumifer5yNo, you don't. You learn to regurgitate back a set of facts and you learn some templates into which you put some numbers and get some other (presumably correct) numbers as output. This is not science. That, um, depends. Most people believe that "matching the territory" with respect to gravity is important -- in particular, they don't attempt to fly off tall buildings. The issues arise in situations where "matching the territory" is difficult and non-obvious. Take a young creationist -- will any of his actions mismatch the reality? I don't expect so. If he's a regular guy leading a regular life in some town, there is no territory around him which will or will not matched by his young creationist beliefs. It just doesn't matter to him in practice.
0gjm5yI don't think the concern would be that "they could take over the whole society". It would be more that smart people (more accurately: people in various groups that correlate with smartness, and perhaps more strongly with schools' estimates of pupil-smartness) already have some tendency to interact only with one another, and segregating schools would increase that tendency, and that might be bad for social cohesion and even stability (because e.g. those smart people will include most of the politicians, and the less aware they are of what Ordinary People want the more likely they are to seem out of touch and lead to populist smash-everything moves).
0Lumifer5yThis is a complicated argument. Are you basically saying that it's "good" (we'll leave aside figuring out what it means for a second) for people to be tribal at the nation-state level but bad for them to be tribal at more granular levels? For most cohesion you want a very homogeneous population (see e.g. Iceland). Technically speaking, any diversity reduces social cohesion and diversity in IQ is just one example of that. If you're worried about cohesion and stability, any diversity is "bad" and you want to discourage tribes at the sub-nation levels. The obvious counterpoint is that diversity has advantages. Homogeneity has well-known downsides, so you're in effect trading off diversity against stability. That topic, of course, gets us into a right into a political minefield :-/
0gjm5yJust to clarify, I am describing rather than making arguments. As I said upthread, I am not claiming that they are actually good arguments nor endorsing the conclusion they (by construction) point towards. With that out of the way: The argument doesn't have anything to say about what should happen at the nation-state level. I guess most people do endorse tribalism at the nation-state level, though. If you have a more or less fixed national population (in fact, what we have that's relevant here is a more or less fixed population at a level somewhere below the national; whatever scale our postulated school segregation happens at) then you don't get to choose the diversity at that scale. At smaller scales you can make less-diverse and therefore possibly more-cohesive subpopulations, at the likely cost of increased tension between the groups. (I think we are more or less saying the same thing here.) Yes. (We were asked for arguments against segregation by ability, so I listed some. Many of them have more or less obvious counterarguments.)
0Lumifer5yConcerns about social cohesion and stability are mostly relevant at the nation-state level. This is so because at sub-state levels the exit option is generally available and is viable. At the state level, not so much. In plain words, it's much easier to move out if your town loses cohesion and stability than if your country does. You don't get to choose the diversity, but you can incentivise or disincentivise the differentiation with long-term consequences. For an example, look at what happened to, say, people who immigrated to the US in the first half of the XX century. They started with a lot of diversity but because the general trend was towards homogenisation, that diversity lessened considerably.
0Viliam5yThis again depends a lot on the specific IQ values. There are probably many politicians around the Mensa level, but I would suspect that there are not so many above cca IQ 150, simply because of the low base rate... and maybe even because they might have a communication problem when talking to an average voter, so if they want to influence politics, it would make more sense for them to start a think tank, or becomes advisors, so they don't have to compete for the average Joe's vote directly.

Has the password changed on the username2 account?

[-][anonymous]5y 1

Thoughts on punching nazis? I can't really wrap my head around why there are so many people who think it's 100% ok to punch nazis. Not sure if discussion about this has happened elsewhere (if so please direct me!) . For the purposes of this discussion let's ignore whether or not the alt-right counts as Nazism and speak only about a hypothetical Nazi ideological group.

I understand to some extent the argument that reasonable discussion with Nazis is almost certainly futile and that they are perhaps a danger to others, however my main concerns with punching ... (read more)

8drethelin5yI think a lot of people's intuitive moral framework relies on the idea of the Outlaw. Traditionally an Outlaw is someone who has zero rights or legal protection accorded them by society: it's legal to steal from them, beat them, or kill them. This was used as punishment in a variety of older societies, but has mostly fallen out of favor. However, a lot of people still seem to think of transgressors as moral non-patients, and are happy to see them receive any amount of punishment. Similar to how people think criminals deserve to be raped in prison, people think Nazis deserve whatever happens to them. This is counter to our judicial system and the happy functioning of civilization, but I don't think most people are susceptible to reasoned arguments when they're in a heightened emotional state.
7Viliam5yStep 1: Make a good argument for why punching Nazis is okay. Step 2: Call everyone you don't like a Nazi. Step 3: Keep punching. The steelman version of "punching Nazis is okay" is that one should not bring verbal arguments into a punching fight. That is, we assume that the Nazis are there to punch you, and if you prepare for verbal fight, well, don't expect to return home unharmed. But this makes an assumption about your opponent, and typically, mindkilled people make a lot of wrong assumptions, especially about their opponents.
2Good_Burning_Plastic5yBut that guy didn't just "not bring verbal arguments into a punching fight", he brought a punch into a verbal argument.
0Viliam5yI am not familiar with the specific case, my answer was meant in general. EDIT: I think it was historically the situation that when Nazis (the real ones, i.e. the NSDAP Nazis, not the people who disagree with me "Nazis") were losing a political debate, they often changed the rules of the game, and attacked their opponents physically ("pigeon chess"). Which is why everyone else developed a rule "if Nazis invite you to a debate, you don't participate (or you come ready to throw punches, if necessary)". No idea whether this is a fact or a myth.
2satt5yhttps://www.google.com/search?q=site:twitter.com+is+it+ok+to+punch+nazis [https://www.google.com/search?q=site:twitter.com+is+it+ok+to+punch+nazis]
2username25yI think that people punching other people is the default behavior, and it takes conscious effort to control yourself when you are angry at someone. E.g. drunk people who lost their inhibitions often get involved in fights. And people who are angry rejoice at any opportunity to let their inner animal out, feel the rush of adrenaline that comes with losing your inhibitions and not have to think about consequences or social condemnation. People like the strong and dislike the weak. If Nazis got punched all the time, they would be perceived as weak and nobody would join them. Even if they didn't like the punching, most likely they would simply be a bystanders.
5waveman5yEven here there may be a cultural element. I notice in Japan when I was there, men would be totally drunk without a hint of violence. In some cultures being drunk provides permission to be violent, similar perhaps to the way that men are 'permitted' to hug one another after scoring a goal on the playing field.
0plethora5yTwo thousand years ago, some guy in the Roman Empire got nailed to a piece of wood and left to die. How did that turn out?
0Lumifer5yQuod licet Iovi, non licet bovi
0g_pepper5yFWIW, Reason magazine condemned the punching [http://reason.com/blog/2017/01/20/alt-right-leader-richard-spencer-got-pun].

some clothing, e.g., high heels, is rather impractical

I beg to disagree. To speak of practicality you need to have a specific goal in mind. High heels are very impractical for running, but they are quite practical for attracting the attention of a potential mate.

Do continue trying to put words into my mouth. That's absolutely going to convince me that it's worth responding to you with good arguments.

Note that the people doing the prosecution haven't presented any evidence of "promulgation of assertions that global warming isn't real in order to gain an unfair competitive advantage in a marketplace" beyond the fact that the people in question are asserting that global warming isn't real.

Are there in fact any such prosecutions yet? (I don't think there are, but maybe there are and I missed them.)

Does it matter if they believe it is in fact not real, does it matter if they have evidence?

Yes, because the proposed prosecutions are under la... (read more)

I think that "tribal bias" is the norm, not the exception, and accusing someone of having their reasoning messed with, to some extent, by tribal biases is a little like accusing them of having shit that stinks. I'd much rather hold off and only criticize people when they deal with visible bias poorly, and It's legitimately hard enough to see your own tribal biases and how they affect your thinking that I'm a little hesitant to accuse someone of being blatantly dishonest because they don't see and correct for what looks like a bias to me. Especial... (read more)

I upvoted you because I think your explanation of Lumifer's point there is correct and needed to be said.

However, I'd like to comment on this bit:

Given that gjm has just demonstrated that (3) is false, I'm inclined to believe the real reason for your bias is that you belong to a tribe where agreeing with gjm's conclusion is high status.

I don't think this is fair to take away gjm's entire reputation based on one disagreement or even one confirmed counterexample.

I also think it's premature to conclude that satt is biased here due to tribal beliefs, beca... (read more)

0gjm5yI would just like to mention that I see what you did there. In any case, I am not greatly worried that snark from Yet Another Eugine Sockpuppet is going to "take away gjm's entire reputation".
0jimmy5yI'm guessing that you think I'm passive aggressively hinting that this more of a confirmed counter example than an honest disagreement? I promise you that is not my intent. My intent is that it applies even if it were confirmed, since I suspect that user:math might see it that way, while saying nothing about how I see it. To clarify, no, I see it as a disagreement. I was also not aware that it was Eugine. (and of course, even if it wasn't, that wouldn't remove your reputation in anyone else's eyes, and I was talking about it as an internal move)

I see downvotes are still disabled, so I'll just [throws back head and horse laughs].

We have satellite temperature data since the late 70s. Before that, yes, there is opportunity for shenanigans.

Economic growth basically means that workers get more productive. Less hours of work means more output. GDP growth is not really possible without making workers more efficient.

It's interesting how in the last years the old luddie arguments got revived. The idea that automation means that there won't be any jobs anymore get's more and more popular.

0Good_Burning_Plastic5yIn principle it is possible for GDP to grow even if productivity per hour stays constant provided the number of hours worked goes up. I've heard that's an important factor to consider when comparing the GDPs of France and the US, so it's not that unlikely it also is when comparing the GDP of a country in year X and that of the same country in year X+10. (But of course such a thing couldn't go on arbitrarily far because there are only so many hours in a day.)
0Viliam5yWhen comparing accross countries, I wouldn't be surprised if different countries had different methodologies for calculating GDP. The differences don't have to be obvious at the first sight. For example, both countries may agree that GDP = X + Y + Z, but there may be a huge difference in how exactly they calculate X, Y, and Z. Also, gray economy may or may not be included, and may be estimated incorrectly. (Sometimes such changes are done for obvious political reasons, for example in my country a government once reduced unemployment by simply changing the definition of how unemployment is calculated. Another example of how the same word can correspond to different things is how countries calculate tourism: in some countries a "tourist" is any foreiger who comes for a non-work visit, in other countries only those who stay at a hotel are counted.)
0MrMind5yIs that the best way to slice the problem? It doesn't seem to cover well instances where new resources are discovered, or new services offered, or production processes improved to deliver a higher added value. Well, I think the main worry is that there won't be any more jobs for humans.
0ChristianKl5yThere are plenty of people who want to have more stuff. I don't think that the constraint for building more stuff or providing more services is that we don't have enough raw materials.
0MrMind5yI'm not sure I'm following the analogy. If robots replace humans, we will have an increase in things to buy due to increased efficiency, but a lot more people will become poorer due to a lack of empolyment. If no other factor is involved, what you'll see is at least an increase in the disequality of distribution of richness between those who have been replaced and those who owns the replacement, proportional to the level of sophistication of the said AI.
0ChristianKl5yPeople get employed when their work allows an employer to create more value, that a customer can buy, than their wage costs. Robots need to be designed, built, trained and repaired. When it comes to wealth inequality that's partly true. Automatization has the potential to create a lot of inequality because skill differences lead to stronger outcome differences.
0MrMind5yThe robotic revolution and possibly the next AI revolution means that the source of labor can be shifted from people to robot. Within the usual production model, output = f(capital) x g(labor), labor is to be meant exclusively as human labor, but in the next future, possibly labor will mean robot labor, which can be acquired and owned, thus becoming part of the means of production accessible to capital. In a sense, if AI will take a hold in the industry, labor will be a function of capital, and this means that the equation will be transformed as output = h(capital). Depending on the h, of course, you will have more or less convenience (humans require training and repairing too).
0ChristianKl5yBefore AGI there are many tasks that human can do but that robots/AI can't. It's possible to build a lot of robots if robots are useful. That's the kind of work that's likely a constraint on producing more stuff. I don't think the constraint will be resources. Number of robots is also unlikely the constraint as you can easily build more robots.
0Good_Burning_Plastic5yThat does count as workers getting more productive by the standard definition of the term as usually used e.g. in discussions of Baumol's cost disease.
0MrMind5yI'm confused. If productivity is unit / labor, then switching to another production line which deliveres the same quantity of items but which are sold for a higher price should increase the GDP without increasing productivity. Reading a couple of papers about Bauomol's disease seems to agree with the definition of productivity as output per labor: the labor cost increases while the productions stays the same, so price rises without an increase in efficiency.

Does anyone have an electronic copy of the Oxford Handbook of Metamemory that they're willing to share?

Are there any forums explicitly about how to think about and act to best make humanity survive its future?

2Gunnar_Zarncke5yThere are quite a few points where you can go, e.g. google existential risk [https://www.google.de/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=existential%20risk%20forum]
2WalterL5yOur consensus is pretty unalterably "Build an AI God".

Our consensus is pretty unalterably "Build an AI God".

Kinda. The LW's position is "We will make a God, how do we make sure He likes us?"

2WalterL5yI lounge corrected. What Lum said is right.
0WhySpace_duplicate0.92616921290755275yI checked their karma before replying, so I could taylor my answer to them if they were new. They have 1350 karma though, so I asume they are already familiar with us. Same likely goes for the existential risk segment of EA. These are the only such discussion forums I'm aware of, but neither is x-risk only.
0whpearson5yI'm a cryonaut from a few years back. I had deep philosophical differences to most of the arguments for AI Gods, which you may be able to determine from some of my recent discussions. I still think that it not completely crazy to try and create an beneficial AI God (taking into consideration my fallible hardware and all), but I put a lot more weight on futures where the future of intelligence is very important, but not as potent as a god. Thanks for your pointers towards the EA segment, I wasn't aware that there was a segment.
2WhySpace_duplicate0.92616921290755275yIn that case, let me give a quick summary of what I know of that segment of effective altruism. For context, there are basically [http://effective-altruism.com/ea/nc/cause_selection_a_flowchart_link/] 4 clusters. While many/most people concentrate on traditional human charities, some people think animal suffering matters more than 1/100th as much as a human suffering, and so think of animal charities are therefore more cost effective. Those are the first 2 clusters of ideas. Then you have people who think that movement growth is more important, since organizations like Raising for Effective Giving have so far been able to move like $3/year (I forget) to effective charities for each dollar donated to them that year. Other organizations may have an even higher multiplier, but this is fairly controversial, because it’s difficult to measure future impact empirically, and it risks turning EA into a self-promoting machine which achieves nothing. The 4^th category is basically weird future stuff. Mostly this is for people who think humans going extinct would be significantly worse than a mere 7 billion deaths would be. However, it's not exclusively focused on existential risk. Unfortunately, we have no good ways of even evaluating how effective various anti-nuclear efforts are at actually reducing existential risk, and it's even worse for efforts against prospective future technologies like AI. The best we can do is measure indirect effects. So the entire category is fairly controversial. I would further divide the "weird future stuff" category into Global Catastrophic Risk/x-risk and non-GCR/x-risk stuff. For example, Brian Tomasik has coined the term s-risk [https://foundational-research.org/reducing-risks-of-astronomical-suffering-a-neglected-priority/] for risks of astronomical future suffering. He makes a strong case for wild animals experiencing more net suffering than happiness, and so thinks that even without human extinction the next billion years are likely
0morganism5yB612 Foundation is working on impact risks, by trying to get some IR cameras out to L2, L3 at least, and hopefully at S5. and Planetary Resources say that objects found with their IR cameras for mining, will go into the PDSS database.
0whpearson5yThanks! I'll get in touch with the EA community in a bit. I've got practical work to finish and I find forums too engaging.
0username25yThat is a contentious view.
0CellBioGuy5yTo say the least.
0whpearson5yNot very empiricist/bayesian of you? ;) What is the backup plan? For if that doesn't work.