If it's worth saying, but not worth its own post (even in Discussion), then it goes here.
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So, I think I've... not really 'unlocked an achievement', I guess, but hit a milestone of some sort: my first mockery in an academic publication. From the PhD thesis "Effectiveness of n-back cognitive training: quantitative and qualitative aspects", Vladimír Marček ("polar") 2014:... (read more)
Making the news today is MIT taking down all Walter Lewin videos (most now, some at the end of the term) as a result of their investigation into sexual harassment allegations. This seems like a gross and unprecedented overreaction (a rough equivalent of removing all Bill Cosby videos), so I would estimate that this decision will be partially or fully reversed within 1 year, with probability of 75%.
In our ridiculous societal climate, if you're not the chief inquisitor you'll be the target of the next shitstorm yourself, #MIThateswomen. You're mostly getting punished for underreacting, so you err on the side of overreacting.
If you can't beat'em, join'em. If they are crazy, the best way to be safe is to (pretend to) lead them (unless you can avoid them, which wasn't an option).
Welcome to the brave new world. Blood and games, keeps us busy from dealing with the issues that matter.
Last week I was going to ask if anyone had recommendations for nerd-friendly resources on public relations. Then I remembered where I was, and went "ha ha ha!"
This was possibly unfair.
Out of the many people who read Less Wrong, it feels like one or two of them should be able to recommend a good entry point for any given subject. We've got physics, mathematics, statistics, computer science, et al covered, but other areas don't enjoy the same coverage.
It does seem to me that if there were someone on Less Wrong with a background in PR (or constitutional law, or the Yugoslav conflict, or whatever), they'd probably have some ideas about what material other Less Wrongers might find accessible or valuable. With that in mind, does anyone want to volunteer an unusual-for-LW academic or professional background we can mine for information?
I motion to make the Stupid Questions threads monthly.
Start posting it monthly then.
At the Less Wrong meetup yesterday we played the Less Wrong Name Game. You may know the regular Name Game by another name. It involves all players having the name of a celebrity, historical figure, fictional character, etc., attached to their forehead. The identity of each figure is not known to the player labelled with it, and they must deduce this identity by asking a series of yes/no questions. In the Less Wrong variant, we gave each other identities from the Less Wrong memeplex/ideosphere.
We played this fairly late on at the meetup when we were down to six attendees. Our identities were Peter Singer, Aubrey de Grey, Yvain, Moloch, Philip Tetlock and The Sorting Hat.
This was fun, informative and pleasantly in-groupish. That said, when labelling someone else, I'd suggest being very sure that they've heard of the person you're assigning to them. We now know quite a few obscure facts about Philip Tetlock.
Harper's Magazine seems to be featuring LW, among others, in its January 2015 issue in the article "Come With Us if You Want to Live: Among the apocalyptic libertarians of Silicon Valley" (apparently features Vassar, MIRI, and LW survey stats).
It's paywalled, there don't yet seem to be any copies floating around, and I can't get it through my university proxy or Libgen. Can anyone get a copy?
And here it is, as a pdf! (I finally thought of trying to log in as a subscriber)
Further thoughts on Imaginary Expertise...
I'm currently studying a final-year undergrad course in the mathematical underpinnings of statistics. This course has three prerequisite courses, all of which have the word "statistics" or "statistical" in the title. While the term has obviously come up beforehand, it was only a couple of chapters ago that we were given a formal definition for what a "statistic" is, (in the context of parameter sufficiency).
It occurred to me that if someone was ignorantly mouthing off about statistics, and you wanted to shut them up, you could do a lot worse than to ask "so, what exactly is a statistic?"
I've noticed beforehand that "so what exactly is money?" has a similar effect for economics pseudo-blowhards, and "so what exactly are numbers?" for maths. It's worth noting that these questions aren't even the central questions of those disciplines, (insofar as such broad categories have central questions), and they don't necessarily have canonical answers, but completely blanking on them seems indicative of immature understanding.
I've now taken to coming up with variants of these for different disciplines I think I know about.
Or of question ambiguity. If the word exists on many layers, and they're not sure which one you're asking about, they might get stuck there. I notice that I mostly agree with your questions (a 'statistic' and 'money' are both fairly crisp ideas that have a clear use in their respective fields, and so even just pointing at what they're used for is a decent definition), but that bramflake's suggestions all seem problematic.
I am a graduate student of physics and I am inclined to say that I now know even less about what energy is.
It is variously said that we share 99% of our genes with a chimpanzee, 95% of our genes with a random human, and 50% of our genes with a sibling. Explain how these can all be true statements.
I recently started reading up on the standard approaches to epistemology. Much of the primary discussion seems to be focused on the question "what constitutes knowledge?". The basic definition used to be that to count as knowledge it needs to be a belief, it needs to be justified, and it needs to be true. But there's the Gettier Problem which points out that there are cases that satisfy the above criteria but which we wouldn't normally consider "knowledge". Numerous alternative "theories of knowledge" have been proposed, new counter-examples have been pointed out, philosophers have split into competing camps (each under its own "-ism" title), and hundreds if not thousands of papers have been published on this topic.
But I'm totally confused. It sounds like they're just arguing about basically arbitrary definitions. So agree on a definition and get on with it. Or define different types of knowledge if that suits you better. And if that doesn't perfectly capture everything we might mean by the word "knowledge", what difference does it make? If they'd taboo the word "knowledge" would there be anything left to discuss?
I assume I'm just missing something. But if in fact they could just taboo the term and get on with more important discussions, then could someone please explain to me why so many highly intelligent, extremely thoughtful philosophers have spent so much time on a (seemingly) ridiculous discussion?
SIA/anthropics strike again? "Fantastically Wrong: The Scientist Who Thought 22 Trillion Aliens Live in Our Solar System":... (read more)
In the spirit of asking personal questions on Less Wrong I'd be pleased if some of the community's brainpower could be directed in my direction. (It's a minor problem.)
After about a year of being unemployed, I found a job (hooray), but it's not a job I want to do for a long time. This means looking for a new job, but due to the long and unpredictable hours of my current job I'm left without time to look for a new job. The time away from the job is spend, in decreasing order: sleeping, quality time with girlfriend, internet, food and personal entertainment/projects. As it stands, I don't feel like I can touch either of the non-work activities without going insane, or at least not to an extent where I can shave of an hour to allocate to looking for a new job (I know from previous experience that doing it for less than an hour doesn't result in anything) without going insane.
Current options (I can see):
Are there any LessWrongers at NIPS (in Montreal) this week? Perhaps we can have a mini meetup. Send me a PM or reply if you're here. I'm here till Sunday.
23andMe/SNPs: so I recently decided I might as well get around to getting my own data since the price has not dropped much for a while and I figured out how to work around the state restrictions. I now have my raw SNP data, and I'll be posting some random notes soonish. Does anyone have any ideas for what to do with this data?
I have a question about a seemingly complex social issue, so I'm interested if anyone has any insights.
Do protests actually work? Are e.g. the Ferguson/police crime protests a good way of attacking the problem? They seem to me to have a high cost, to be deflecting from the actual problem, and not enough sustained effort by people who care to push through to actual social change in the U.S.
There should be a sustained writing speed measurement unit. I would name one after Wildbow: 1 bow = 100k words a month. An average fiction writer would do well to write at 0.1 bow.
I'm seeing a doctor in two weeks, in an attempt to obtain some sort of something to attack my chronic akrasia (chronic in the sense that it appears to get worse over time). Bloodtesting is planned. Aside from thyroid hormone, iron and testosterone, is there anything specific I should ask about? If I get the chance to bring up alternatives (I.E. citing uncooperative sleep to try and aim for a -afinil), are there any in particular I should focus on?
For the record, I tried Focalin briefly in 2010, followed by Prozac. The Focalin appeared to help with focus bu... (read more)
table top particle accelerator
Does anyone consider the recently deceased Nathaniel Branden an important intellectual? He based his career on making grandiose claims about "self-esteem," yet mainstream psychological research doesn't support his views:
This relates to the phenomenon of getting on in years and realizing that the books which mattered to you earlier in life don't seem to have aged well when you revisit them.
The paper-machine household has finally obtained some of this mythical Soylent (v1.2) stuff that has been making waves about the internets.
Shipping: Originally ordered on June 17; shipped December 10, arrived December 13. Supposedly reorders ship in 1-2 weeks -- we shall see.
We intend this to be a breakfast/lunch substitute, as both of us are too busy to prepare breakfast and tired of buying lunch. Of course the boyfriend is one of those rare folks (around here, at least) who both enjoy cooking and are talented at it, so dinner will remain his demense when... (read more)
A recent paper looks at the geography of plagiarism. Paper is here. They looked at preprints on the arXiv and used sophisticated algorithms to look for text reuse that was not attributed. Not too surprisingly, certain countries have much higher reuse rates. China is one of the high rates, but it is interesting to note that Bulgaria and Egypt had higher rates- but that may be due to small sample sizes in those countries. An article about their work can be found here.
David Pizer started a petition to promote more anti-aging research.
"In 40 to 100 years, if the world governments spent money on research for aging reversal instead of for research on building weapons that can kill large numbers of people, world scientists could develop a protocol to reverse aging and at that time people could live as long as they wanted to in youthful, strong, healthy bodies."
To sign the petition, go here
I've noticed that for many LW posts - and EA posts to a lesser extent - it's very common for a comment on them to get more upvotes than the post itself. Since it's usually a lot harder to write a post than to comment on it, it seems like this isn't incentivising people to post strongly enough.
This also seems to apply to facebook posts and likes in the LW and EA groups.
Now we know what kind of sex the British politicians do not like.
I'm glad my Stupid Questions monthly thread idea was well received. I'm also thinking of making a monthly thread for lifehacks in the spirit of this post, though without calling them munchkin ideas, as I worry that might seem weird without context. Any thoughts on that, or should I just go ahead and try to post one?
Wait But Why wasn't too popular last time around, but I find the site really interesting, so I'm trying again. I don't agree with everything there, but I do honestly think it's interesting to read through. Here we go!
Discussion topic of the week from a few weeks back: How long would you live if given the arbitrary choice? http://waitbutwhy.com/table/how-long-would-you-live-if-you-could-choose-any-number-of-years
What would attract you to read an introductory textbook in a field very far from your own? (I have a dream to write a kind of 'Bayesian Botany in Your Backyard and Beyond' introduction into plant ecology on some point later in my life, so if it comes true, I will also ask your opinion on it:)) well, here goes nothing.)
When is it wrong to enable someone to significantly reduce the quality of their life and thereby significantly increase yours, while remaining happy themselves?
In the spirit of Tell culture, I'd like to make known my preference for not being downvoted without a reason given. I'm open to modifying my behavior in response to criticism, but just downvoting something I write doesn't give me much information, and I find it rather unpleasant to know that people disapprove of something I've done, without knowing what I did wrong or what I might be able to do to fix it.
I disagree with this sentiment. If anything, giving criticism and downvoting are alternatives, not things that go together. For example, since I don't like this idea I might have just downvoted this comment. But since I'm responding to it I'm not going to do that; it isn't necessary to downvote if I'm going to express my criticism anyway, and most likely it wouldn't be helpful either, since you'd probably just be annoyed by the downvote.
In other words, your comment is basically a criticizing of downvoting in general; if that is a reasonable preference, we should just remove the possibility of downvoting at all.
(Reposted from http://thinkingornot.tumblr.com/post/104694726216/a-voting-proposal . I'm not taking the time to rewrite this from tumblr-quality to lw-jargon. The idea should be clear enough as written.)
I was thinking about an idea for voting; I don’t know if it’s been talked about before, or how feasible it is. The main purpose is to allow strategic voting in a way that makes a difference.
Basically, every vote should be not for a person, but for a short program. Every candidate is assigned a number. There is a system which maps any name to a number, so as... (read more)