This thread is for asking any questions that might seem obvious, tangential, silly or what-have-you. Don't be shy, everyone has holes in their knowledge, though the fewer and the smaller we can make them, the better.
Please be respectful of other people's admitting ignorance and don't mock them for it, as they're doing a noble thing.
To any future monthly posters of SQ threads, please remember to add the "stupid_questions" tag.
I've been a bit out of touch from the community the past year or so, so I think I've rather missed things about the "Future of Life Institute", which mostly came to my attention because I think Elon Musk gave that big donation to it.
I don't quite understand what's the precise connection of FLI with everything else? How does it relate to MIRI/LessWrong/CFAR/FHI, historically/in the present/in its planned future?
I am reposting my question from February thread since it got no response last time:
Is Occam's Razor a useful heuristic because we can observe a certain 'energy frugality' in nature? More complex hypotheses are possibly correlated with a higher energy demand and are thus less likely to happen.
For those of you who know real-life coding: I started watching CSI: Cyber and I'm hooked. I'm loving it. But is it rubbish?
Which cryonicist to thaw?
Say that, in thirty-plus years, you're still alive and I've been cryonically preserved for a while. What could I have done during my life to convince you to apply your finite resources to resurrect me, rather than someone else?
Would it make a difference if the only potentially available resurrection method was destructive mind uploading, for which a vitrified brain would happen to be an ideal test subject?
Setting up a trust fund to pay whoever resurrects you would help.
Can comforting lies be justified in certain circumstances or do the downsides of this thinking habit always outweigh its benefits? (Example: Someone takes homeopathic remedies to cure pain and benefits from the placebo effect.)
Does anybody want to write a rat!BatmanBegins fic set right after the movie ended? I think it would be a great opportunity to explore several issues we have been accustomed to in HPMOR. The premise is: Batman learns that Ras'al'Ghul (sorry if misspelled) was trying to develop industrial-strength technique to produce the psychedelic gas. (Basically, to have the poppy in an in vitro culture, maybe modify it genetically and have an almost fail proof way to obtain unlimited and cheap substance.) RaG wasn't himself a specialist in this, so he hired a lab to wor... (read more)
Recently I became active in EA (effective altruism) movement but I'm kind of stuck on the issue of animal welfare. While I agree that Animals deserve ethical treatment and that the world would be a better place if we found a way to completely eliminate animal suffering I do have some questions about some practical aspects.
Is there any realistic scenario where we could expect entire world population to convert to non-meat diet , considering cultural, agricultural and economic factors?
Would it be better if instead trying to convert billions of people to
Where can I find recipe listings that 1. are relatively quick to make (because time is precious), 2. have ingredients that cannot be used as finger food (I have no self-control), and 3. are easily adaptable for picky eaters (there's a huge array of things I just can't abide eating)?
Suppose you became deeply religious as a young adult and married someone of the same religion with a traditional promise to be loyal to them until death. Divorce was unthinkable to your spouse and you had repeatedly reassured them that you fully meant to keep your promise to never leave them, no matter what changes the future brought. You are now no longer religious and remaining married to this person makes you miserable in ways you are sure you can't fix without betraying who you currently are. Is it moral to leave your partner? Why and why not? (Don't worry, this is a hypothetical situation.)
The amount of fossil fuels extracted in a year is equal to the amount of fossil fuels burned in a year (give or take reserves, which will even out in the long run). So if fossil fuel extraction were reduced, CO2 emissions would be reduced, regardless of any taxes, cap-and-trade, alternative energy sources, etc that may or may not be in effect. Indeed, the only way that traditional environmental measures such as the above can reduce carbon emissions is if their effect on fossil fuel prices eventually causes less extraction.
Therefore it seems logical that th... (read more)
Sorry, never been here before and know nothing about this place and all the other "stupid questions" here seem super formal so I feel really out of place here but, how common is it for the users on this site, the likes of whom likely all refer to themselves as rationalists to be misanthropes?
I hate humans. I hate humans so much. I used to think I could change them. I used to think every human who exhibited behavior I found to be inferior was simply ignorant of true rationality. Mines is a very long story that I no longer want to tell but it was m... (read more)
If I cook a fixed amount of raw rice (or couscous, or other things in that genre) in a variable amount of water, what difference does the amount of water make to calories, nutrition, satiety, whatever?
For example, if I want to eat fewer calories, could I cook less rice in more water to get something just as filling but less calorific?
Okay, so I have a "self-healing" router that ostensibly reboots itself once a week to "allow channel switching" and to "promote network health", and given that this seems to NOT mess up my internet access in one of several ways every tuesday morning only MOST of the time, it has been causing me stress absurdly out of proportion with the actual danger (of being without internet access/my ONLY link to the outside world, for a short time).
So, my question is, what the HECK does "channel switching" or "promoting network health" even mean, and is it actually important enough that I shouldn't just flat out disable my router's "self-healing" feature?
Do other people like clothes when they buy them and dislike them after putting in the wardrobe? I mean, I personally think it is true for myself because my relatives like to give me clothes as easy gifts and I always feel like they remind me that I am a child, which is why I learned to smile and say thank you regardless whether I like something. Lately, when I have to buy something for myself, I just wander and use the Force. How do you unlearn such a habit (it seems wasteful and ungrateful not to accept a gift, but also wasteful and stupid not to learn to choose)?
We have an economic system with N actors. Each actor has its own utility function that it uses to attempt to spend/invest money in areas that will grow. The system as a whole doesn't know these functions and the nodes can't see them internally. They just make a judgment and spend/invest. If they spend in an area that grows, more money comes to them via an agent in the system that redistributes cash as it flows to the originators of cash in a node.
For example, If N1 pays a dollar to N2 for a bottle of wine, N1 gets a share in N2. As cash flows through ... (read more)
Duhigg's The Power of Habit is great but very hard to use. The idea is to keep the trigger, keep the reward, but change the action that leads to the reward. But it is not trivial to find less harmful or more helpful actions leading to the same rewards. Can we try to make a list together? I.e. e-cigs, non-A beer, similar ideas.
The stupid part is how incredibly hard to come up with replacements that in the hindsight seem extremely d'uh. I mean people are still buying the sugared version of Coke not the Zero, right? Probably more ugh field than cognitive difficulty, still.