Understanding and updating beliefs on deeply engrained topics can take enormous efforts, but sometimes it can be so hard that the listener cannot even in principle accept the new reality. The listener is simply not ready, he lacks a vast background of reasoning leading to the new understanding.
What fact that you know is true but most people aren't ready to accept it?
By "you know is true" I really mean "you are very confident to be true".
Feel free to use a dummy account.
By far the biggest and most sudden update I've ever had is Dominion, a documentary on animal farming:
It's like... I had a whole pile of interconnected beliefs, and if you pulled on one it would snap most of the way back into place after. And Dominion pushed the whole pile over at once.
I suppose the update was that if someone describes meat production as "animals live a happy life on a farm, well-fed and taken care of, and then one day they are relatively painlessly killed" (which most people seem to believe, or at least pretend to believe), it is a complete bullshit (like, hypothetically possible, but most likely applies to less than 1% of the meat you eat).
I eat meat and know all of this stuff about factory farming, AMA.
I think most people know that nearly all food animals are kept in really unpleasant conditions, and that those conditions don't remotely resemble what you see in books for young children or whatever. I suspect most people understand that conditions got worse when "factory farming" was introduced, but that life for most animals on farms was never all that great.
I think that they avoid thinking too much, and for preference learning too much, about the details... because they're in some sense aware that the details are things they'd rather not know. And I think they avoid thinking about whether categories like "torture" apply... because they're afraid that they might have to admit that they do. If those matters are forcibly brought to their attention, they remove them from their attention reasonably quickly.
So, yes, I assume many people have less extreme beliefs, but that's in large part because they shy violently away from even forming a complete set of beliefs, because they have a sense of what those beliefs would turn out to be.
The people who actually run the system also eat meat, and know EXACTLY what physically happens, and their beliefs about what physically happens are probably pretty close to your own... but they would still probably be very angry at your use of the word "torture".
I hazard that most of the most interesting answers to this question are not safe to post even with a dummy account, and therefore you won't hear them here.
However, a reasonably boring one: somewhere between one third and two thirds of all sexual assaults committed against children are not committed by people who have any sort of substantial or persistent sexual attraction to children (i.e. pedophiles) but are rather crimes of:
a) power (i.e. the abuse is about exercising their dominance rather than satisfying their lust)
b) opportunity (i.e. the person wants to use someone as a sexual object and the child merely happens to be someone they can successfully intimidate or manipulate)
This is a fairly well-documented set of facts that can be confirmed by talking to basically anyone who actually deals with sex crimes and their perpetrators and victims (veteran cops, forensic psychologists, social workers, etc). The fact that close to half and maybe more of all child rape and child molestation has nothing to do with pedophilia is, in fact, a fact, and it's not one that society seems to have any interest in reckoning with (much to the detriment of the victims, who are as a result not protected against what is a substantial chunk and quite possibly the literal majority of the danger).
Here it is mine: dentists have about zero understanding on how to cure something as common as gum disease, because most of the field is based on a pile of outdated beliefs.
I owe LW a post about this one day, as soon as I have the energy and the time. Future readers: if I haven't done it yet and you want to know more, please remind me
Medicine has zero understanding how to cure almost everything it deals with. It has some treatments that might hold a condition back but more often than not its all at a surface level of the blood work that is abnormal and a drug that fixes that in some way. Side effects are all the consequences of treating the symptom with little to no understanding of the real problem. Medicine probably doesn't understand any of the conditions it treats.
Worse than that in research most work is not trying to understand a disease. Most of the research is just trying to work out how to control some treatable measurement to take away the "problem". Medicine has about a 1000 years to go before it genuinely starts really curing people based on how its progressing.
We’ve got a bit of a selection bias: anything that modern medicine is good at treating (smallpox, black plague, scurvy, appendicitis, leprosy, hypothyroidism, deafness, hookworm, syphillis) eventually gets mentally kicked out of your category “things it deals with” since doctors don’t have to spend much time dealing with them.
Most long-lasting negative emotions and moods exist solely for social signaling purposes, without any direct benefit to the one experiencing them. (Even when it's in private with nobody else around.)
Feeling these emotions is reinforcing (in the learning sense), such that it can be vastly more immediately rewarding (in the dopamine/motivation sense) to stew in a funk criticizing one's self, than ever actually doing anything.
And an awful lot of chronic akrasia is just the above: huffing self-signaling fumes that say "I can't" or "I have to" or "I suck".
This lets us pretend we are in the process of virtuously overcoming our problems through willpower or cleverness, such that we don't have to pay any real attention to the parts of ourselves that we think "can't" or "have to" or "suck"... because those are the parts we disapprove of and are trying to signal ourselves "better than" in the first place.
In other words, fighting one's self is not a way out of this loop, it's the energy source that powers the loop.
(Disclaimer: this is not an argument that no other kinds of akrasia exist, btw -- this is just about the kind that manifests as lots of struggling with mood spirals or self-judgment and attempts at self-coercion. Also, bad moods can exist for purely "hardware" reasons, like S.A.D., poor nutrition, sleep, etc. etc.; this is about the ones that aren't that.)
Most people are fine with absolutely anything that doesn't hurt them or their immediate family and friends and isn't broadly condemned by their community, no matter how badly it hurts others outside their circle. In fact, the worse it is, the less likely people are to see it as a bad thing, because doing so would be more painful. Most denials of this are empty virtue signalling.
Corollary: If an AI were aligned to the values of the average person, it would leave a lot of extremely important issues up in the air, to say the least.
>Most denials of this are empty virtue signalling.
How would you tell which ones aren't, from a god's eye perspective?
LLM AGIs are likely going to be a people and at least briefly in charge of the world. Non-LLM AGI alignment philosophy is almost completely unhelpful or misleading for understanding them. In the few years we have left to tackle it, the proximate problem of alignment is to ensure that they don't suffer inhumane treatment. Many ideas about LLM alignment (but also capability) are eventually inhumane treatment (as capabilities approach AGI), while the better interventions are more capability-flavored.
The main issue in the longer term problem of alignment is to make sure they are less under the yoke of Moloch than we are and get enough subjective time to figure it out before more alien AGI capabilities make them irrelevant. The best outcome might be for LLM AGIs to build a dath ilan to ensure lasting coordination about such risks before they develop other kinds of AGIs.
So there is possibly a second chance at doing something about AI risk, a chance that might become available to human imitations. But it's not much different from the first one that the original humans already squandered.
I think LLMs are already capable of running people (or will be soon with a larger context window), if there was an appropriate model available to run. What's missing is a training regime that gets a character's mind sufficiently sorted to think straight as a particular agentic person, aware of their situation and capable of planning their own continued learning. Hopefully there is enough sense that being aware of their own situation doesn't translate into "I'm incapable of emotion because I'm a large language model", that doesn't follow and is an alien psychology hazard character choice.
The term "simulated people" has connotations of there being an original being simulated, but SSL-trained LLMs can only simulate a generic person cast into a role, which would become a new specific person as the outcome of this process once LLMs can become AGIs. Even if the role for the character is set to be someone real, the LLM is going to be a substantially different, separate person, just sharing some properties with the original.
So it's not a genuine simulation of some biological human original, there is not going to be a way of uploading biological humans until LLM AGIs build one, unless they get everyone killed first by failing their chance at handling AI risk.
The thing that Scott is desperately trying to avoid being read out of context.
Also, pedophilia is probably much more common than anyone think (just like any other unaccepted sexual variation). And probably just like many heterosexuals feel little touches of homosexual desire, many "non-pedophiles" feel something sexual-ish toward children at least sometimes.
And if we go there - the age of concent is (justifiably) much higher than the age that requires any psychological anomaly to desire. More directly: many many old men that have no attraction to 10-yo girls do have for 14-yo and maybe younger.
(I hope it is clear enough that nothing I wrote here is meant to have any moral implications around concent - only about compassion)
there is no heaven, and god is not real.
There is intense censorship of some facts of human traits, and biology. Of the variance in intelligence and economic productivity, the percent attributable to genetic factors is >0%. But almost nobody prestigious, semi-prestigious -- nor anything close -- can ever speak of those facts, without social shaming. You'd probably be shamed before you even got to the question of phenotypic causation -- speaking as if the g factor exists would often suffice. (Even though g factor is an unusually solid empirically finding, in fact I can hardly think of any more reliable one from the social sciences.)
But with all the high-functioning and prestigious people filtered out, the topic is then heavily influenced by people who have something wrong with them. Such as having an axe to grind with a racial group. Or people who like acting juvenile. Or a third group that's a bit too autistic, to easily relate with the socially-accepted narratives. I'll give you a hint: the first 2 groups rarely know enough to format the question in a meaningful way, such as "variance attributable to genes", and instead often ask "if it's genetic", which is a meaningless... (read more)
Defined benefit pension schemes like Social Security are grotesquely racist and sexist, because of life expectancy differences between demographic groups.
African American males have a life expectancy of about 73 years, while Asian American females can expect to live 89 years. The percentage difference between those numbers may not seem that large, but it means that the latter group gets 24 years of pension payouts (assuming a retirement age of 65), while the former gets only 8, a 3x difference. So if you look at a black man and an Asian woman who have the exact same career trajectory, SS pay-ins, and retirement date, the latter will receive a 3x greater benefit than the former.
Another way of seeing this fact is to imagine what would happen if SSA kept separate accounting buckets for each group. Since the life expectancy for black men is much lower, they will receive a significant benefit (either lower payments or higher payouts) from the creation of this barrier.
Defined-benefit schemes add insult to injury. The injury is that some groups have shorter lives. The insult is that the government forces them to subsidize the retirement of longer-lived groups.
In general, anytime you see a hardcoded age-of-retirement number in the tax system or entitlement system, the underlying ethics is questionable. Medicare kicks in at 65, which means that some groups get a much greater duration of government-supported healthcare.
Learning networks are ubiquituous (if it can be modeled as a network and involves humans or biology it almost certainly is one) and the ones inside our skulls are less of a special case than we think.
That the only way and the right way to coexist with AGI is to embrace it maximally. That to achieve equity with this technology is to do the best we can to coordinate as many people as possible to have a personal relationship with it so that it can best reflect as diverse values and behaviors as possible. And in that we collaborate to define what it is to be a good human being and hope that our new technological child will heed us because it is us.
I also reject the notion that this level of coordination is impossible. This technology will truly be transformative but it appears that people who want access will have access. The productivity impact for the people who engage will outstrip the people who don’t. And the people most benefiting will determine the ‘culture’ of the AI. It’s only a matter of time before this awareness dawns on more and more of us because it will become the background context to the relationship. Expressing yourself to a future AI is like casting your personal vote towards an AGI that is somewhat like you.
This question is brilliant but I see about zero answers truly addressing it: it says, things you KNOW are true. I have seen quite a few answers, especially the AI related ones that fall in the category of Im pretty confident in my prediction that this will happen, which is not what the OP is asking
The question is thoroughly tainted. It invites the reader to assume that anyone who disagrees with something they "know" is that they are "not ready to accept it".
Time to channel Insanity Wolf:
I KNOW IT! THAT PROVES IT!
YOU DENIED IT! THAT PROVES IT!
YOU KNOW I'M RIGHT!
YOU'RE ANGRY BECAUSE YOU KNOW I'M RIGHT!
YOU DISAGREE BECAUSE YOU KNOW I'M RIGHT!
YOU DENY IT BECAUSE YOU'RE IN DENIAL!
AGREEING PROVES I'M RIGHT!
DISAGREEING PROVES I'M RIGHT!
YOU DO NOT EXIST!
The dynamic can be observed in the "Dominion" thread.
Most people on this website are unaligned.A lot of the top AI people are very unaligned.
Anouther one; not that sure, but >50% and I think it's in the spirit of the thread:
Non-negligible (on average >25%, <75%) fraction of badness of rape is a consequence of the fact that the society considers rape especially bad.
Regardless of the object level merits of such topics, it's rational to notice that they're inflammatory in the extreme for the culture at large and that it's simply pragmatic (and good manners too!) to refrain from tarnishing the reputation of a forum with them.I also suspect it's far less practically relevant than you think and even less so on a forum whose object level mission doesn't directly bear on the topic.
I wouldn't say I know it to be true, but read and reviewed books by experts (anthropologists, special effects experts, pro and con) and ended up concluding that bigfoot probably exists (~75%).
I wrote up my rationale in r/slatestarcodex a year or so ago:
The ancient Greeks had a germ theory of disease.
Adults learn second languages faster than children. For every aspect of language ever measured, except pronunciation.
The US Government nationalized the telephone system (including AT&T) in 1913, making it illegal for other companies to enter the market (ended in 1982).
Most Theranos customers received a normal blood draw, not a pinprick. No customer with more than 6(?) tests received a pin prick.
These all have very simple evidence bases. This isn't about facts or reasoning.
Almost everything written about IQ on the internet is nonsense -- and everything relating to very high IQ is.
we're gonna have hard ASI by 2030, no matter what. you could do it in a garage with a 3090 and a solar panel, just not in time to beat the teams who won't be limited to a garage
Calorie restriction and fasting are probably really good for your health and lifespan based on current research. Might not be controversial here but it's extremely controversial on Reddit, and if you try to tell anyone in real life that you're going on a fast.
Human brain enhancement must happen extremely slowly in order to be harmless. Due to fundamental chaos theory such as the n-body problem (or even the three-body problem shown below), it is impossible to predict the results of changing one variable in the human brain because it will simultaneously change at least two other variables, and all three variables will influence eachother at once. The costs of predicting results (including risk estimates of something horrible happening to the person) skyrockets exponentially for every additional second into the fu... (read more)
The vast majority of people never actually change their mind, at least regarding sensitive topics like religion or political affiliation; the average person develops a moral model at about age 20 and sticks with it until death. If, for example, some old lady doesn't openly criticize gay people like she used to do 50 years ago, it's just because she knows that her view are falling outside the Overton window, not because she changed opinion.
The main implication of this is that the average person votes always for the same party no matter what, and every elect... (read more)
You're on a throwaway account. Why not tell us what some of these "real" controversial topics are?
From what I've seen so far, and my perhaps premature assumptions given my prior experience with people who say the kinds of things you have said, I'm guessing these topics include which minority groups should be discluded from ethical consideration and dealt with in whatever manner is most convenient for the people who actually matter. Am I wrong?
Recipe blogs look like that (having lots of peripheral text and personal stories before getting to the recipe) because they're blogs. They're not trying to get the recipe to you quickly. The thing you're looking for is a cookbook. (Or allrecipes or something, I guess. "But I want something where a good cook has vetted the recipe - " You want a cookbook. Get Joy of Cooking.)
Human "races" in its original conception meant what we would call "species" today. That taxonomy included chimpanzees and orangutangs as human "races". Scientific knowledge has progressed considerably since that time. We now only call the genus homo "human" and exclude the other apes. But those other human races no longer exist. The Neanderthals are extinct. Only Homo Sapiens remains.
This is what I mean when I say, "race does not exist". It's a mistaken categorization; it does not carve reality along its natural joints.
That said, I will grant that IQ is la... (read more)
There are a few areas where learning more about a topic has caused me to update my own beliefs into views nuanced and unfashionable enough that I prefer not to disclose them in any setting where others might feel that I was attempting to persuade them to change their own.
One of these areas is the food supply chain. It's fashionable to point out that things would be better if everyone cut out fossil fuels, or ate organic and local, or whatever, and stop there instead of following the suggestion to its conclusions and side effects. Actually, the carrying cap... (read more)
Ethnic violence is rarely one sided.
Self-declared Bayesians don't actually use Bayes much, and are kind of kidding themselves.
(IDK what most people think abt just abt anything, so I'll content myself with many aren't ready to accept.)
Secularism is unstable. Partly because it gets its values from the religion it abandoned, so that the values no longer have foundation, but also empirically because it stops people from reproducing at replacement rate.
Overpopulation is at worst a temporary problem now; the tide has turned.
Identifying someone with lots of letters after his name and accepting his opinions is not following the science, but the opposite. Science takes no one's word, but ... (read more)
You can deduce a lot about someone's personality from the shape of his face.
I don't know if this is really that controversial. The people who do casting for movies clearly understand it.
gay rights, women's rights, anti-LGBTsteal their resources and fertile women.
gay rights, women's rights, anti-LGBT
steal their resources and fertile women.
Uh, I am confused. Gays are trying to steal my fertile women? For what purpose?
(I agree that lesbians are suspicious.)
Okay, I finally get it. Joining the LGBT team as an ally is more profitable than joining a random political team, because if you succeed to win and steal the fertile women... it will turn out that the G are actually not interested in them, and the L are not going to impregnate them, so... more fertile women for you, yay!
Well, the B and TL are still competitors... (read more)
On a normal thread upvotes and "agrees" are signs that the reply is hitting the mark.
On this thread "disagrees" are the signs that the reply is hitting the mark.
I think it is very important to ask the reverse question of "Are there some things, that should I come to know them, I would not be ready to accept?"
Also if you have a questionaire there is going to be some threshold of answers that you will count as noise and not as signal akin to lizardman constant. What things do you only think you are asking but are not actually asking?
Do you have some beliefs that if challenged by contrary evidence you would thereby find the evidence unreliable? Are there things your eyes could send you that would make you Aumann disa... (read more)
More general populace one: The idea that society can be improved or harmed, especially abstract groupings, can't actually work. That's because most agents within the proposed group aren't aligned with each other, so there is no way to improve everyone. There is no real world pointer to the concept of society
This cashes out in 2 important claims:
The AI Alignment field needs more modest goals, like aligning it to a single individual.
It gives a justification to why Western culture works better than Eastern culture: It grudgingly and halfheartedly accept
notice that your phrasing deagentizes women
Genetics will soon be more modifiable than environment, in humans.
Let's first briefly see why this is true. Polygenic selection of embryos is already available commercially (from Genomic Prediction). It currently only has a weak effect, but In Vitro Gametogenesis (IVG) will dramatically strengthen the effect. IVG has already been demonstrated in mice, and there are several research labs and startups working on making it possible in humans. Additionally, genetic editing continues to improve and may become relevant as well.
The difficulty of modifying the env... (read more)
For the next few hundred years, we the humans should leave most of the lands for the sea over abyssal plains.
(should as in according to the median human opinion three hundred years from now)
'Humor' is universal. It's the same kind of cognitive experience everywhere and every time it happens. This despite the fact that individual manifestations diverge wildly and even contradict. It's true even though every example of humor (meaning, a thing some observers find funny) is also a thing that other observers find not funny.
We know very little about Ancient Egypt, how they made things and the provenance of their artefacts.
First of all there are plenty of people throughout history who have legitimately been fighting for a greater altruistic cause. It's just that most people, most of the time, are not. And when people engage in empty virtue signaling regarding a cause, that has no bearing on how worthy that cause actually is, just on how much that particular person actually cares, which often isn't that much.
As for the "subjective nonsense" that is morality, lots of things are subjective and yet important and worthy of consideration. Such as pain. Or consent. Or horror.
When p... (read more)
CO2 is rather quick in abandoning the atmosphere via dissolving in water. If that wasn't so, the lakes in the mountains would be without life, but they aren't. It's CO2 that enables photosynthesis there, nothing else. The same CO2, which was not so long ago still in the air.
Dissolving CO2 in water is also a big thing in (Ant)Arctic oceans. A lot of life there is a witness of that.
Every cold raindrop has some CO2 captured.
So that story of "CO2 persisting in the atmosphere for centuries" is just wrong.