Link Sharing Thread - April '11

by Alexandros1 min read11th Apr 201188 comments

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Sharing interesting links via the discussion section seems to have too much overhead. I suspect we all find things that are quite interesting but don't bother to share them on LW. This is an experiment to see if a dedicated thread can work better.

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2fubarobfusco11yHere's the article in Nature. The answer is the one I expected, but not the one I would have expected had I been asked a few years ago. The question is the Molyneux problem: would a person blind from birth whose sight is restored, be able to match up seen and touched objects? http://www.nature.com/neuro/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nn.2795.html [http://www.nature.com/neuro/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nn.2795.html]
3Sniffnoy11yI see the actual article makes the important clarification that the objects they were tested with the second time around were new ones, so they really did make the whole connection within the week.

Edit: apparently people here can't detect sarcasm, so I'm changing the header.

So, I took this thread as an excuse for going thought my lists of interesting websites accumulated over the years, and make a selection of things I think will specifically interest LWers. There are still a lot of links, because I sift through large swats of information. This is a valuable recourse, don't dismiss it just because it's badly organized.

I've also tried adding some descriptions because people were complaining about that.

I recommend checking out every one of these, and spreading it out over a few weeks.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/breathmed.html (meditation is a useful habit, this is a very concrete tutorial on how to do it.)

http://www.epicsplosion.com/epicsploitation/38 (A silly thing, please contribute to make it better!)

http://www.mspaintadventures.com/ (one of the most epic stories of our time, with great characters and concepts. It's long and starts slow, so just be patient.)

http://www.ted.com/ (ideas worth spreading)

http://dresdencodak.com/ (Awesome art, and deals more directly with the singularity than any other webcomic i know of)

http://vihart.com/ (distille... (read more)

9erratio11yRequest that you split these up by topic. For example, I see at least half a dozen webcomics that I recognise in there mixed in with artwork, essays, Nick Bostrom and links whose URLs give me no hint at all as to what they're about. EDIT: Thank you, that's a vast improvement
0Armok_GoB11yI deliberately didn't try to classify them because the majority are either unclassifiable, or the only information communicated by the classification would be stereotypes that doesn't apply to the particular work. "what I like" explicitly selects for things where classifications are useless, that break boundaries between classifications and the best off many worlds.
7erratio11yok, to make the reasons behind my request more concrete - I am very bad at reading just half an archive, watching just one TED talk, or stopping halfway through a story or video. As such, I prefer my memetic hazards to be as clearly labelled as possible.
3RichardKennaway11yIs "unclassifiable" like "unexplainable" [http://xkcd.com/566/]?
-1Armok_GoB11ySome of them, some not.
3Mercy11yI very much like Dresden Codak as a comic, it fills the hole in my heart left by A Lesson is Learned but the Damage is Irreversible, and I really like that sort of comic book science fantasy but it's a classic example of what the XKCD writer dismissed as "shouting science in the same way you'd shout Alakazam!", I'm not sure I'd pitch it for it's treatment of the singularity.
2CuSithBell11yI was wondering how long it would take for this to hit LW, and in what context. Also, one of the few grayed-out links in your post (i.e., in my browser history). Heartily seconded!
2Armok_GoB11yYou'll like another thing I'm working on. :D
0[anonymous]10yLinking for posterity. [http://lesswrong.com/lw/5oc/rationality_exercise_my_little_pony/]
1Alicorn11ywhy is this so compelling
2Armok_GoB11yBecause it's really really good art, great characters, great story, etc.? Because it's in the nowadays very rare category of things that have a real plot but dosn't build it on sex/violence/grimdark? Because it has antidepressant properties and teaches lessons that are often valuable to a rationalist? Because it's very different from everything else you've seen, and keeps subverting your expectations? Because you find pleasure in subverting meatspace expectations, and with this you can comfortably do it in a way that's still acceptable from other contexts?
1CuSithBell11yIt's adorable! It's happy! And however it might rankle the physicalist majority, I think the most parsimonious explanation is that Friendship Is Magic.
2cousin_it11yThanks for the link to Homestuck. It managed to amaze me more than HP:MOR. It's unbelievably awesome, as in, I cannot quite believe that something so awesome can exist on the internet.
1Cyan11yWhich one is the link to Homestuck? I can't tell, and your comment makes me really want to know.
2AdeleneDawner11yThis one. [http://www.mspaintadventures.com/]
0Cyan11yThanks.
0Armok_GoB11yExactly.
2RichardKennaway11yThank you for adding the descriptions.
2EStokes11yI can't second the recommendation of Homestuck [http://www.mspaintadventures.com/] enough! It does start slow, I stopped reading it the first time because I thought it was some kid's random shenanigans with a weird inventory system... Was I ever wrong!
2AdeleneDawner11yIs there a point at which one can clearly say that if they don't like it by that point they probably aren't going to like it at all? I got pretty far into it - a good bit past the explanation of troll relationships - and it just never seemed to pick up for me.
0EStokes11yHmm. I don't know... It might be a lost cause (on the other hand, if you do end up liking it it'll have been worth sinking some more hours into.) I liked it by then, though.
0Armok_GoB11yThe end of Hivebent might be a good point... but not really before that.
0AdeleneDawner11yWhat happened at the end of Hivebent that I might remember? It's been a few months since I gave up on it, and that name isn't ringing a bell, but names rarely do for me.
0Armok_GoB11yHivebent is the part focusing entirely on the trolls, it ends with Karkat watching John grow up.
0AdeleneDawner11yThat's about where I was when I left off, I think. I don't remember John growing up (unless you meant the bit with the time-transporter thing and the babies) but I do remember a part that focused on the trolls and went into some depth about their society and biology and stuff. Not worth getting back to, then, I'm going to say.
0Armok_GoB11yYes, this really can't be stressed enough.
1kurokikaze11yThanks for these links (also, fellow DF player here :)).
1Armok_GoB11yOk, why was this downvoted? There is no way you've actually checked out a significant number of them yet. Is someone actually down-voting just because I posted MANY links without caring about the quality of the stuff they link to?
6RichardKennaway11yNo shit, Sherlock! My rule for posting links, anywhere on the web, not just here, is this: the reader must be told enough to know whether they are interested in following the link, without following the link. And please, keep it relevant to LessWrong.
4TheOtherDave11yI suspect you read the OP as meaning (down-voting (just because I posted MANY links (without caring about the quality...))), whereas I suspect the OP meant ((down-voting (just because I posted MANY links) (without caring about the quality...)). That said, I completely agree with your main point.
0Armok_GoB11yUmm, then you either never post links to anything or you have a really bad case of Double Illusion of Transparency. You can try to provide evidence for if people are more or less likely to like the link, but only in very rare cases will the probability stray even outside 10%-90% probability for most people.

Oh, come on.

It's clear to me that a link with a description that lets me make even a 50%-accurate judgment, let alone a 90%-accurate judgment, of whether I'll like it is far more useful than a link with no description at all.

Do you disagree?

0Armok_GoB11yNo, obviously not, I spend a fair amount of cognitive resources every day trying to sort through online content and am partial to norms conductive to that purpose indeed. I just interpret "knowing without following the link" as "at least 99% sure it'll be worth it".
6Risto_Saarelma11yNo downvotes from me, but I can imagine that someone might think that people posting long lists of basically random stuff from their browsing history they themselves found interesting without any kind of commentary on what they are about, whether there's an unifying theme to the list or why LW readers in particular might be interested in the links is not something they would like to see more of here.
3Alexandros11yI haven't downvoted, but I assume it is because it is overwhelming to the reader. I would second erratio's suggestion to post them separately, and add that this could happen over several months (assuming this thread idea takes off).
2AdeleneDawner11yEven with the descriptions, that's a pretty random list of things. I haven't even clicked any of them - there's some good stuff in the ones I recognize, but also a lot of stuff that doesn't seem to have anything to do with LW at all (Hyperbole and a half? Really? Allie's funny, sure, but if she has any rationalist tendencies I haven't noticed 'em, and her kind of humor isn't even the same general type as what seems to be popular here), so my overall impression is that you haven't done a very good job of filtering things, and the rest of the stuff probably isn't worth spending my time exploring.
0Armok_GoB11yHuh? Hyperbole and a half has a bunch of anecdotes that illustrate interesting human behaviour, that's totally relevant to LW. There is the possibility that people who have an actual social life already knew that things I've learnt from there since so long they don't notice it's knowledge, that's probably the source of confusion.
1Alicorn11yCan you list some things you have learned from Hyperbole and a Half? Allie's a fantastic storyteller but I don't find her especially didactically inclined.
0Armok_GoB11yNot any explicit, declatative facts that I can think of, more an quantitative improvent in intuition about the kind of things humans might do.
0NancyLebovitz11yThis Is Why You'll Never Be an Adult [http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2010/06/this-is-why-ill-never-be-adult.html] has a clue about how grandiosity can make motivation collapse. My Boyfriend Doesn't Have Ebola... Probably [http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2010/02/boyfriend-doesnt-have-ebola-probably.html] is good about the difficulties of communicating qualia. However, I think they're mostly brilliantly funny about neurotic states of mind rather than an obvious rationalist resource.
1Armok_GoB11yhow's not being obviously rational an argument against it? Linking rationalists to somehting they might have just rejected as irrelevant otherwise and pointing out how to learn from it seems more valuable than just pointing at somewhere so obvious they'd have found it themselves eventually no matter what.

More than two years ago, Vladimir Nesov linked to Tim Minchin's beat poem Storm. More recently, it's been animated -- very nicely, I think.

Summary: a rationalist goes to a London dinner party and meets an astrology-spouting, truth-is-just-opinion opining girl and goes off, much to the annoyance of everyone else in the room.

2Armok_GoB11yI already linked this in this thread.
7Costanza11yI see now you did indeed [http://lesswrong.com/r/discussion/lw/56z/link_sharing_thread_april_11/3wg2] -- my apologies. However, if there's a mitigating factor in my defense, you did link to quite a bit of stuff (which is great), but without much description or classification (which makes the greatness hard to identify). I did search for "Storm" and "Tim Minchin" before posting this link, but I didn't find any duplicates in this thread. No intent to step on anybody's toes.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6f5bcn_z0Qg

3 minute animated video with enough going on to make at least 10 movies. Maybe 100.

0Armok_GoB11yhow is this relevant to LW? I'm not saying it's not, that'd be hypocrisy, I just can't find the obvious connection that makes it more relevant than any good art.
2NancyLebovitz11yI'm using the standard of interesting-- something I think LWers are likely to like, rather than relevant. However, I think it's plausible that working on following what's going on might improve some types of attention.
0Alexandros11yI'm quite happy if these threads to have cluster-relevant to lesswrong material rather than necessarily definition-relevant.
0AdeleneDawner11yI like it. Needs a minor earworm warning on the music, though.
0jwhendy11yWow.
1XFrequentist11yThat was fascinating, and seems really relevant to self-learning. I'm sure I do this all the time ("this" meaning "Believing that I'm learning when I'm really just strengthening my confidence in my misconceptions"). Any thoughts on how to avoid/combat this? I'm open to anything from mantras to tests to chemicals.
1David_Gerard11yThis is worth going to for the text attached. It sets out an interesting phenomenon in teaching people with video.
3AdeleneDawner11yThe phenomenon doesn't just apply to videos. [http://www.learner.org/vod/vod_window.html?pid=9]
0SilasBarta11yI just read the text, and I didn't see why I should be less optimistic about Khan. What are these studies/tests that show students aren't really learning the science? Remember, Khan does its own tests to check that you learn the material. The relevant question is, are students learning more or less than they would through standard classroom instruction, and is this an artifact of Khan's lesser skill in science teaching specifically, or the entire enterprise of teaching science through a video? Consider that it seems to accept Khan can teach the other subjects just fine...
0jsalvatier11yThat is fascinating. It really says something interesting about the learning process. I am curious how far the results generalize. Is this still a serious problem with more knowledgeable students? Is it a problem with math education?
4RichardKennaway11yCan we tell whether the number of neurons is shrinking, or the neurons themselves are getting smaller?
2Clippy11yModern humans aren't so smart.
1David_Gerard11yOh wow. We are living in idiocracy! (And we still managed quantum physics and a technological civilisation.)
4JoshuaZ11yThis raises a semi-serious question: Many major advances have occurred due to people who have an intelligence that is far higher than the norm (e.g. Newton). However, many other advances seem to occur at a slow and steady pace, and many practical technologies occur from people who we wouldn't necessarily think of as intelligent but are rather extremely skilled tinkerers(e.g. Thomas Edison or John Harrison) . So, how much slower would technological progress be if humanity never had the top 1% of the population by some reasonable intelligence metric (like say IQ)? Is there some tech level that we would never reach. Would we for example never work out Kepler's description of the solar system or never get Newtonian mechanics? I'm not sure that this question is well-defined. I'm wondering also if this helps explain the Fermi paradox- maybe there's a lot of intelligent life out there but most of it lacks many outliers in degrees of intelligence? If so, most species will stay for extended periods of time at relatively low tech levels. This isn't as absurd as it might seem at first glance since humans spent hundreds of thousands of years with little advancement.
1TheOtherDave11yWhee!

Phonetic Clues Hint Language Is Africa-Born

The detection of such an ancient signal in language is surprising. Because words change so rapidly, many linguists think that languages cannot be traced very far back in time. The oldest language tree so far reconstructed, that of the Indo-European family, which includes English, goes back 9,000 years at most.

Quentin D. Atkinson, a biologist at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, has shattered this time barrier, if his claim is correct, by looking not at words but at phonemes — the consonants, vowels and

... (read more)
0Mercy11yLanguage Hat [http://www.languagehat.com/archives/004215.php] has a roundup of responses.

The Science Of Why We Don't Believe Science - details the cognitive biases involved in the way humans deal with information. None of this will be a surprise to LW readers, but still a nice article to spread.

Too Damned Quiet?, arXiv.org - Submitted on 4 Apr 2011

It is often suggested that extraterrestial life sufficiently advanced to be capable of interstellar travel or communication must be rare, since otherwise we would have seen evidence of it by now. This in turn is sometimes taken as indirect evidence for the improbability of life evolving at all in our universe. A couple of other possibilities seem worth considering. One is that life capable of evidencing itself on interstellar scales has evolved in many places but that evolutionary selection, acting on

... (read more)
1James_Miller11yA Harvard string theorist disagrees [http://motls.blogspot.com/2011/04/are-et-aliens-shy.html]
5Nornagest11yThe Fermi paradox is an interesting enough subject for our purposes that I think it deserves the exposure, and I think Motl's opinion is probably close to the truth, but I'm still not really happy with this treatment of it. The style of argument Motl employs seems to be based mainly on ridicule: he rarely seems to go much past stating a claim in such a way as to seem improbable on its face and pointing out that superficial improbability. That's absolutely not a style I want to become normalized around here, dealing as frequently as we do with topics that seem outlandish or counterintuitive, and I didn't find the content very enlightening.

Today's xkcd: A timeline of major events in the next century, generated by Googling things like "in " and "will * by the year ".

(I like juxtapositions like "robots granted same rights as humans" followed shortly by "humans have domesticated robots" ... "Lord Jesus rules Earth from throne in Jerusalem" + "entire world population gay due to chemicals in the water" + "public masturbation legalized" ... "Singularity occurs" + "fishing industry collapses". (I bet...))

This adorable comic seems like some sort of transhumanist metaphor at the end but damned if I can explain how.

2NancyLebovitz11yThat you can bring your home into your new world instead of leaving your new world to go home.

Some bitcoin links:

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/2011/03/30/how-to-get-tenure-at-a-major-research-university/

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/2011/03/31/how-to-get-tenure-at-almost-every-other-research-university/

Pretty interesting discussion of how the criteria for tenure at top universities differ from those at others, especially since the ultra-focus top universities demand actually could be counter-thetical to scientific creativity, as shown in Simonton's "Psychology of Science" books.

Hey! Just found a link that reminded me of LW!

http://www.plausiblydeniable.com/opinion/gsf.html

I just stumbled upon it and am a bit sceptical as to it's accuracy, but it's interesting and relevant enough to link I think.

The always readable Rebecca Solnit has an article in the march issue of LMD that's relevant to Less Wrong's interests, the stuff on mental disaster kits is a nice idea, the anti-nuclear stuff is instructive in it's dishonesty: ArticleHere

This Collection of articles on medical reforms is specific to Britain, but the statistics abuse documented is common the world over, I particularly recommend the article on cancer stats.

I never really understood the fuss over cooking for engineers, but this vaguely similar idea is wonderful.

Also: Webcomics! Comics on the i... (read more)

[-][anonymous]11y 0