This is a thread where people can ask questions that they would ordinarily feel embarrassed for not knowing the answer to. The previous "stupid" questions thread went to over 800 comments in two and a half weeks, so I think it's time for a new one.
This is a thread where people can ask questions that they would ordinarily feel embarrassed for not knowing the answer to. The previous "stupid" questions thread went to over 800 comments in two and a half weeks, so I think it's time for a new one.
I have never liked music. Why do people like it?
Upvoted for blowing my mind.
Every time I think I've finally taken the measure of the Typical Mind Fallacy... Anyone want to announce that they dislike oxygen and rainbows? Let's get it over with!
Actual answer: for many people, including me, it's an incredibly useful mind-altering drug, that allows powerful immediate manipulation of my emotional state. In fact, I should really abuse it a lot more strategically than I do.
I've been looking into how to blind this, but I'm afraid the hood just makes the whole thing that much more sexy and erotic.
Just a couple of thoughts about this. First, as far as anyone can tell music enjoyment is a remarkably multifaceted phenomenon (and "music" itself is a term that describes a pretty giant range of human behaviors). There's no single reason, or even manageably short list of reasons, why people like it. It seems to be wrapped up in many different physical, neurological, cognitive, emotional, social, and cultural systems, any of which (in any combinations) could be responsible for a certain person's reaction to a certain kind of music. Some of the aspects of that seem to be relatively innate, like finding certain sonic timbres inherently pleasurable, while others are highly learned, like the kind of pleasurable "understanding" that comes from knowing how a classical sonata movement is ordinarily structured.
In your case, I'd guess that you have an atypically low physiological/neurological enjoyment of things like instrumental timbres, which makes the more cognitively demanding aspects of music-listening no more than a chore. For comparison, this is why we don't generally listen to spoken words (e.g., audiobooks) as background listening: there's nothing to be gained f... (read more)
There is evidence that people with amusia tend to report lower levels of musical appreciation. Perhaps you have amusia?
There are a few online tests that claim to test for amusia, such as this or this. If its not too unpleasant for you, you might consider taking one of them.
Interesting! I took the first test and they always sounded alike so unless the test was a cruel trick I clearly have some kind of pitch perception problem.
I doubt anyone has sufficient introspective powers over their own brains to answer this satisfactorily.
Or: I expect answers more complicated than "because it sounds good (to me)" to be mostly confabulation...
What things do you find pleasant? Could you tell me why food tastes good or paintings look pretty?
You can talk about certain repeated and near completed patterns but I think it's largely subconcious
I don't believe you can. All you can do is point to surface features like 'I like how red the explosions in Star Wars are and the feeling you get when they win at the last moment', all of which is merely description of the parts you like and not what actually you like, and which do not serve to convey the qualia. If someone who just saw flickering lights on the screen asked you why you liked movies and that's what you said, they would not be satisfied any more than you would be satisfied by a music fan going 'the 4/8th time and the timpanni descending into a glissando in the third measure thrill my heart, and that is why I like music'.
If you really want to know what red looks like, you could try getting your hands on a psychedelic; they seems to be heavily linked to musical enjoyment.
Then 'drains attention' was not a relevant fact.
Here's a tautological answer: It's because music is designed to be exactly the kind of sound that people want to listen to!
This seems like a fake explanation, or curiosity-stopper. I mean, natch, the difference has to be cognitive in some sense, in that it's a mental phenomenon and therefore relates to James_Miller's brain. But giving "cognitive dissimilarity" as an answer and treating it as an open-and-shut case seems pretty unenlightening.
For me, it's not something I have to look for at all. It just, happens...
Being introspective (which is notoriously unreliable), it feels like my enjoyment of it is basically a combination of enjoying repetition/structure plus valuing novelty (so the repetitions change enough to avoid being boring), in the auditory modality. I enjoy the same sort of thing in other modalities as well:
Sight: looking at highly patterned art, for example, this visualization of the Mandelbrot set.
Kinesthetic: things like dancing, tapping patterns on my leg, sex.
Taste: I like alternating bites of my food to make the flavors form a pattern. For example, when I eat rice, I will often split it into two portions, and put soy sauce on one, and lemon juice on the other, and alternate the bites so I get a pattern of flavors. And sometimes I switch it up to a few bites of each alternating, etc...
Abstract thought: enjoyment from thinking about math seems to be a similar thing as well. In particular, abstract algebra. Going through the proof of the Sylow theorems, for example, gives me enjoyment analogous to listening to a grand symphony.
I can't think of anything like this for smell, but I have a ve... (read more)
Why are so many rationalists polyamorous? I don't see why this idea is linked to the LW ideology, unlike transhumanism, atheism, effective altruism, etc. which all seem to follow logically.
Question presupposes that it is linked to the LW ideology (wow, let's not use that phrase ever again), which isn't clear to me.
I don't think they are, except in a waffly 'compared to the general population' sense; look at the surveys.
Some fraction of the population is naturally poly, some naturally mono, some can go either way depending on circumstances. In the general population many naturally poly people are 'conformed' into being mono the same way they might be conformed into being religious. Thus 'people who want to be poly can be' would reasonably be expected to correlate with elements of the Correct Contrarian Cluster, and you would expect to find more polyamorous atheists or (he predicted more boldly) polyamorous endorsers of no-collapse quantum mechanics than in the general population, even outside LW. There are also specifically cognitive-rationality skills like 'resist Asch's conformity' and 'be Munchkin', and community effects like 'Be around people who will listen with interest to long chains of reasoning instead of immediately shunning you.'
How should I know?
You could've read some papers on the topic for example. (I'm answering this because it is after all in the stupid questions thread)
I would say that's a typical case of an antiprediction. Humans differ in all sorts of things (IQ, height, sexual orientation), so why shouldn't they differ in relationship-preferences?
I have seen people end up in monogamous relationships, later on realize that loving one person doesn't prevent them from falling in love with other people as well, and then be unable to even really talk about the issue with their partner, since Western culture tends to interpret falling in love with somebody else as an automatic sign of the relationship having fundamentally failed.
I think it's the influence of San Francisco
More seriously: I think it follows perfectly well from rationality which is at it's core about doing non obvious things that result in better outcomes once you do the math. Obviously it comes down to preferences but many people seem to prefer multiple partners and only refrain because society condemns it. Polyamkry is more honest than cheating and more preference satisfying than monogamy for those with poly amorous inclinations.
Plus there's all the conveniences.
Historical note: Started in OBNYC and spread to the Bay.
Don't neglect the obvious things that result in better outcomes.
More specific benefits: you can get sex more often with less scheduling disruptions
You can have mutually fulfilling partial relationships that would not be sustainable if they had to be monogamous. Eg: someone can get most of their affection from you but indulge their foot fetish with someone else. Or if you simply have a different sex drive than your partner.
More widespread emotional support network. If you're prone to loneliness, having more people you can connect with will help you not lean all your metaphorical weight on one person
Less inhibition: depending on the rules of your polyamory you no longer have to kill your own urges when seeing someone attractive to you. This may be a downside if you want to get work done.
If one or more of you is bi you get to talk about people you find hot and seducing them to your bed. This is lots of fun.
Less stress: the converse of 3, you don't have to b the entire emotional support for another person.
I think this is mostly a community thing: it just so happened that some key figures in the two largest rationalist communities (SF and NY) were polyamorous, so it became popular relative to the general population, and probably also popular relative to the coasts' populations.
I think that the effect is stronger than just that. Of the poly people associated with LW that I know, at least a quarter knew they were poly before they got into LW. Sure, it's a small sample size, but I would be surprised if polyamorous people were less likely to be interested in rationality.
This made me realize I didn't even know whether there were reliable estimates of polyamory prevalence in the general population. A cursory Google Scholar search didn't net me anything, but the Wikipedia article has a data point:
Meanwhile, 13% of LWers in the 2012 survey said they preferred polyamorous relationships, although only 6% reported having multiple current partners. While 13% is appreciably higher than the Finnish survey's 8%-9%, the discrepancy could just be because the Finnish survey's from a different time & place and has a more even gender ratio.
Over two years ago, lukeprog made this post. After that time, has MIRI gotten any closer to publishing in mainstream journals?
MIRI's journal publications:
Carl Shulman and Nick Bostrom (2012). How Hard Is Artificial Intelligence? Evolutionary Arguments and Selection Effects. Journal of Consciousness Studies 19 (7–8): 103–130.
Kaj Sotala (2012). Advantages of Artificial Intelligences, Uploads, and Digital Minds. International Journal of Machine Consciousness 4 (1): 275-291.
Kaj Sotala and Harri Valpola (2012). Coalescing Minds: Brain Uploading-Related Group Mind Scenarios. International Journal of Machine Consciousness 4 (1): 293–312.
(Bostrom and Shulman both work for FHI, and Bostrom doesn't work for MIRI. I'm not sure how mainstream the International Journal of Machine Consciousness is. ETA: It was one of the original journals Luke mentioned as targets, so I assume it qualifies.)
MIRI also has a larger number of CS conference papers, which this claims are higher status in CS than journal publications; Luke was presumably biased towards journals because he had less of a background in CS.
I'm not sure if this question is stupid enough, but here goes:
There is a set of skills, mostly in the arts, that are typically taken up as a child and pursued throughout life -- Musical instruments, for example, or art of varying kinds. Hence most beginners are children.
There is a set of people consisting of me that wants to take up skills of this sort (...all of them), but cannot stand being around children. Where can relatively inexpensive beginner-level training in arts-type skills be found that doesn't involve lots of interaction with kids and is available to non-college students?
What do other people subjectively experience when they are thinking? To me its like talking to myself (in verbal english sentences) but I'm told that isn't universal.
A combination of that and brief flashes of visual imagery.
Why do people downvote questions in the thread entitled "stupid questions"? The entire point seems to be "If asking this question would ordinarily result in a status loss, you can safely post it here." Yet I've come across a few questions in this and the previous thread with negative karma at the time that I read them. The message I take away from that is that "Of the people reading this question, the majority believe it so stupid that it doesn't belong in a thread explicitly for stupid questions." Is this the wrong message to take away from such patterns?
How do I learn to accurately model other people?
Spend more time around them. Form hypotheses about what they're going to do and test them.
Along the lines of James_Miller's question: Why do people like poetry?
How do I get myself to like poetry? (Reading poetry seems like a cheap and respectable way to spend leisure time, if only it were pleasurable for me!)
I want to find an appropriately-sized "small" pond to be a big fish in. Any advice?
I had the high school resume to get into highly selective universities. For financial reasons, I instead went to my flagship state university. I expected the big fish in small pond effect to play to my advantage, and I did develop a reputation as "(one of) the smartest student(s) in the room" (which I'll at least admit was a boon to my romantic desirability), but the most salient result was extreme loneliness. I wasn't able to find many people I could have stimulating conversation with, and while I did make a few friends, none of them shared my degree of passion for intellectual subjects. This summer I've been at Hacker School, which I think is a correctly-sized pond for me, but the damage to my mood and social expectations from three years of being stuck in too small a pond has definitely impeded my ability to make friends and feel socially engaged. As of right now I'm attempting to find a job as a software developer so I can drop out of college in relative security, because college is that intolerable and I think I have a much better chance of finding more correctly-sized ponds on this path. (Transferring to a more selective university is still not a finan... (read more)
Binary search? Find a pond. If it's too big for you to conquer, try a pond half its size. If that's so small you're unsatisfied with being its biggest fish, try a pond 50% larger, etc.
I really would focus on these major problems before spending time on running from pond to pond with a measuring tape (or figuring out which raiding guild to join).
That's a problem you have to fix. Not knowing you I cannot offer any advice on how, but I can predict with high confidence that your success in solving this problem will have a major impact on your life.
You don't know until you try. Also, since you have no job at the moment, your downside is zero.
Pond in what sense? Online community, company, soccer league, town, what? Or do you not care?
Non-thinking-of-customers-as-fish is not a business plan.
How do you pronounce 3^^^3?
Three to the to the to the three / is how you say it if you're M to the P
I've heard "three up up up three."
That isn't correct no matter where the parentheses go: 3^^^3 isn't 3^(3^(3^3)) or ((3^3)^3)^3.
How do you calibrate yourself against the 'average' person when self assessing personality traits?
For example, when a standard big five or myers briggs test asks you if you are more extraverted than normal, how on earth are you meant to answer? The people I interact with are obviously a non-random sample, and I've no idea what a 'normal' level of extraversion (or whatever) would look like.
How does one best optimize personal opinions for purposes of status-acquisition?
Presumably, you are asking how to hack the status detectors of other people? If not, then you need to put a lot of work and energy into doing something that other people value, and not be shy about letting the kinds of people who value that thing know what you have done and can do. I think this is usually called "earning it."
But if you are seeking to acquire status as status, essentially, the reputation for something which you are not, then you are asking how to hack people's status detectors. The answer will very much depend on WHO you want to think you are high status, as different people will have different status. If it is biker chicks, for example, you should get the biggest hog (motorcycle, not mammal) you can, get a pot belly, go to some biker clothes stores and get the outfit, get some bitchin' tatoos. You should lie about having been in the marines, having been in jail, probably a crime of passion carries more status than a crime of violence, and either of those would be better than a white collar crime. Of course, you can lie about these but you will need to do some research to get the lie going.
If you want to hack the status of some other group, you'll have to do some research on what they think of as status-ful and then do enough research to come up with a good false story, and make yourself look like a high status individual in that crowd.
If my answer seems funny, it did seem like a funny question to me. Maybe I missed the point, if so I apologize in delay.
Are they? They seem to always be attached to rising star or second in command and so on. Also you forgot brown-noser and the one I think most illustrative: teachers pet. The teachers' or bosses esteem is exactly whose you should care about if you want to rise high, not jealous or anti-elite drones.
Eg "he only got the job by sucking up to the boss" is used pejoratively but guess who has the job? It's not the complainer.
Is there some way to get all the comments in a thread to display? "Show all comments" actually only shows some comments in long threads.
What is the evidence that thought can be usefully divided into "System 1" and "System 2"?
Do the transhumanist & manosphere subcultures overlap to any significant degree? If so, what might they have in common?
Large amounts of male nerds
What are actually the reasons for saying that the meaning of words are things-in-the-mind rather than things-in-the-world?
(Prompted by a philosophy course on metaphysics)
Taboo the word "word", and what does your question become?
A word is already partly a thing-in-the mind, and partly a thing-outside-the-mind, the latter being a sound when spoken or a string of glyphs when written. Neither the sound nor the glyphs are, or contain, meanings. If you define "word" to mean the whole arrangement, including the meanings, then you have merely answered the question by definition: meanings are contained in words. The same is true if you define "word" to mean just the sound and string of glyphs: meanings are not contained in words. This method of answering a question is incapable of being a discovery about the world.
So the question becomes "what is the relationship between the sound and the meaning?" The answer is that people learn from the speech of those around them to associate a given sound with a given meaning, and that these agreements are what enable meanings to be communicated. However, there is no necessary connection between the two, and no correlation not explained by the shared history of related languages, borrowings, and a few onomatopoeic regularities. Contemplating the meaning will not tell you the sound... (read more)
I am a transhumanist and a futurist, but I've been depressive recently while thinking about the far future. This rarely happens. I found myself being scared of getting smarter due to a Singularity-like event. I was also scared by the arbitrariness of our goals and values. Simply put, I don't fit in to the present. I'm theorizing about intelligence, reading scientific papers, and participating very modestly in the brony fandom. I've made it my life's goal to make major steps towards safe AGI. Living to the point past that, I see aimlessness. Besides my one ... (read more)
Having a meaningful life is a very strong human value, and if FAI is done right, it will have something to keep your life meaningful post-singularity.
Are the sequences still going to be made into a publishable book? If so, how is that process coming along?
Why can't I post an article I wrote? No matter what I do, it only appears under drafts. Under Submitted it always says "There doesn't seem to be anything here." and what I wrote is invisible unless I am logged in. I have tried clicking on all the buttons except for "unsave" which I dare not press. I click on the "CC" button on the bottom right which LOOKS the most promising because it says "post licensed under creative commons attribution 3.0 license" but that takes me to a page which describes what a creative commons license agreement is, and also has no "submit" buttons. How does ANYONE submit ANYTHING?
A question for polyamorous people: What, to you, is the difference between a secondary partner and a friend with benefits?
If you can use Bayes Theorem to see what the evidence does to the probability of a hypothesis, can you also use BT to see what happens to the hypothesis upon the absence of evidence?
Or, if you can use P(H | E) = P(E | H)P(H) / P(E) Can you formulate it as P(H | ~E) = P(~E | H) P(H) / P(~E) for absence of evidence?
What course of action has MIRI taken to attain a provable FAI?
When you read a comment how often are you consciously aware of who wrote it? How often do you read the username before you read the comment?
I am almost always aware if the author is someone with a distinct name that posts a fair amount. Otherwise it doesn't really register.
(its almost impossible for me not to read the username before the comment unless I put real effort into it)
I imagine that there are three kinds of "unsolved" problems in mathematics: problems that are unsolved because people have tried and failed to solve them, problems that people haven't yet tried to solve but aren't particularly difficult to solve once attempted, and problems that both haven't been tried but would likely result in failure anyway.
How much math does one have to study before one has a reasonable chance of encountering a problem of the second type - one that an "average" tenured mathematics professor at an "average" university of no special prestige is likely to be able to solve once the problem is brought to their attention? Do they even exist?
I'd say the average Mathematics PhD student that has a publication has already solved such a problem!
There's usually a fair amount of low-hanging fruit in niche disciplines--for certain subdisciplines of mathematics, you really can count the number of people working on that discipline on one hand.
Why are lesswrongers so against involvement in politics? The fact that tribalism exists and is bad is fairly well known, but it remains the case that the vast majority of power and resources in the world as it exists at the moment is controlled via political processes.
My understanding is that it's not that involvement in politics that is somehow bad, but that discussing politics here is perilous, just like discussing feminism and PUA is, or sports, or any other subject matter where identity and opinions are intertwined. If anything, MIRI/CFAR should be doing more in terms of lobbying.
I value that not everyone is like me. I am better than some people at some things and I like that. If I practice or try harder and achieve more than others that also makes me feel good. I enjoy playing games in which winning means others must lose and vice versa.
Would I change my values if I knew more? If yes, then I have the wrong values now? If no, but I want others to be happy as well, what then?
Does trans-humanism end up just making everyone the same person? Will there be no diversity? Will everyone be just a... (read more)
...are just a proxy for "Should I think this is morally wrong on my own terms?" - I don't think invoking CEV helps on this.
And because you also will that these things should continue into the future of the galaxies, even to the children's children, therefore, you are of the Competitive Conspiracy and its secrets will be made yours.
Doesn't imply everyone is equal in all respects. If you can get better at anything by practicing, screw talent, it doesn't mean everyone has to spend the same amount of time practicing the same things.
If you demand that you be more formidable than some others in all respects so that they lose at the very game of life, then this I may dispute, but this the Competitive Conspiracy does not hold as an ideal. Though there may be some within the Erotic Conspiracy who would endorse that their masters be truly higher than them at any given point in time.
Theoretical question. I have a character in a fanfic I'm writing with an 'infinite will' superpower they can turn on and off. Besides the obvious problems with forgetting to eat/sleep etc, what realistic downsides should overuse of this power have?
What is the gender of gothgirl420666?
I was confused about Solomonoff induction a while ago. Since code from any part of whatever program is running could produce whatever string is observed, why would shorter programs be more likely to have produced the observed string? My understanding of the answer I received was that, since the Turing machine would produce its output linearly starting from the beginning of the program, a program with extra code before the piece that produced the observed string would have produced a different string. This made sense at the time, but since then I've thought... (read more)
Are there any users of the spaced repetition software Mnemosyne that could help me with a technical issue? I just got the software for my Mac, and I've read in multiple places that you can import plain text files as a card deck. But on my version of Mnemosyne, I see no button saying "import files," and in fact no way at all to add more than one flashcard at a time.
My text editor is Word, and while I can save my vocabulary as a .txt file with Unicode encoding, I don't see any way to export it to Mnemosyne from there. Just to test if I understood ... (read more)
Another stupid question about Bayes Theorem.
Let's say I go to the doctor and take some sort of screening test for cancer. Only 1% of the population has this cancer, and this test has an 80% success rate and 10% false positive rate. The test says I have the cancer, so this means that I'm now at approx. 7% probability that I have the cancer. If I go to a different doctor's office the next day and take the same test, am I updating on the original 1% or am I updating on the new 7%?
I have a problem. My mom sleeps about four to five hours a night and needs help getting into and out of bed. My father goes to sleep around 1 AM and gets up at around 10 AM or so, and gets her up shortly afterward. I usually end up taking my mom into bed some time between 4 AM and 6 AM, going to sleep a little while later, and waking up around 3-4 PM or so. Is there anything social to do in the world outside my house between, say, 2 AM and 5 AM?
Why does FAI have to have a utility function that's such a close approximation of the human utility function? Let's say we develop awesome natural language processing technology, and the AI can read the internet and actually know what we mean when we say "OK AI, promote human flourishing" and ask us questions on ambiguous points and whatnot. Why doesn't this work? There are probably humans I would vote in to all-powerful benevolent dictator positions, so I'm not sure my threshold for what I'd accept as an all-powerful benevolent dictator is all that high.
How can blind people kill mosquitoes? (I've asked blind people about this, and most of what I got was "You mean there are sighted people who can kill mosquitoes?")
Mosquitoes are quite populous where I live, and while I don't expect them to give me any horrible diseases, they are a nuissance at best. There are the obvious first lines of defense--minimize their opportunities to enter, eliminate standing water and excess vegetation, encourage bats to hang out nearby, various plants/candles/technology whose efficacy is questionable--but for now all o... (read more)
Whats MWI? and whats FAI?
What do LW-ers in general think of embodied cognition? Upon first impression, it smells like pseudo-science to me, but I would love to hear the opinions and thoughts of those who have devoted more attention to the subject than I have. Thank you!
I'm not sure whether to revive a thread on Pascal's Mugging to ask this question, but why is it specified that the person says "Give me five dollars, or I'll use my magic powers from outside the Matrix to run a Turing machine that simulates and kills 3^^^^3 people"? Let S = "the person has the power to do so, and will do so unless you give $5". Suppose you assign a probability 1/3^^^3 to the P(S| person claims S), and suppose you assign a probability of 10^-100 to P(does not claim S|S). Then shouldn't you assign a probability of 1/((10^... (read more)
How do you resolve situations in which you experience disinterest towards any/most things?
This is assuming that you are interested enough to want to work against the disinterest. Also, note that disinterest and lack of motivation are different things. A lack of motivation implies that there is still some presence of a goal, just not the interest to work towards it, whereas blatant disinterest is indicative of a lack of a goal... or at least the clear perception of one.
I suspect that one feature people want from this thread is that all top-level replies/questions are safe from downvoting, so maybe it's worth adding to the rules, if not to the code.
How do I convince someone that Open Individualism is false?