Nominated Posts for the 2019 Review

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The Real Rules Have No Exceptions

It seems like the core thing that this post is doing is treating the concept of "rule" as fundamental. 

If you have a general rule plus some exceptions, then obviously that "general rule" isn't the real process that is determining the results. And noticing that (obvious once you look at it) fact can be a useful insight/reframing.

The core claim that this post is putting forward, IMO, is that you should think of that "real process" as being a rule, and aim to give it the virtues of good rules such as being simple, explicit, stable, and legitimate (having... (read more)

Building up to an Internal Family Systems model

The back-and-forth (here and elsewhere) between Kaj & pjeby was an unusually good, rich, productive discussion, and it would be cool if the book could capture some of that. Not sure how feasible that is, given the sprawling nature of the discussion.

Dishonest Update Reporting

This post seems to me to be misunderstanding a major piece of Paul's "sluggish updating" post, and clashing with Paul's post in ways that aren't explicit.

The core of Paul's post, as I understood it, is that incentive landscapes often reward people for changing their stated views too gradually in response to new arguments/evidence, and Paul thinks he has often observed this behavioral pattern which he called "sluggish updating." Paul illustrated this incentive landscape through a story involving Alice and Bob, where Bob is thinking through his optimal strat... (read more)

Heads I Win, Tails?—Never Heard of Her; Or, Selective Reporting and the Tragedy of the Green Rationalists

Crucial. I definitely remember reading this and thinking it was one of the most valuable posts I'd seen all year. Good logical structure.

But it's hard to read? It has jarring, erratic rhetoric flow; succinct where elaboration is predictably needed, and verbose where it is redundant. A mathematician's scratch notes, I think.

Asymmetric Justice

I really like this post. I think it points out an important problem with intuitive credit-assignment algorithms which people often use. The incentive toward inaction is a real problem which is often encountered in practice. While I was somewhat aware of the problem before, this post explains it well.

I also think this post is wrong, in a significant way: asymmetric justice is not always a problem and is sometimes exactly what you want. in particular, it's how you want a justice system (in the sense of police, judges, etc) to work.

The book Law's Order explai... (read more)

The Schelling Choice is "Rabbit", not "Stag"

Self Review.

I still endorse the broad thrusts of this post. But I think it should change at least somewhat. I'm not sure how extensively, but here are some considerations

Clearer distinctions between Prisoner's Dilemma and Stag Hunts

I should be more clear about what the game theoretical distinctions I'm actually making between Prisoners Dilemma and Stag Hunt. I think Rob Bensinger rightly criticized the current wording, which equivocates between "stag hunting is meaningfully different" and "'hunting rabbit' has nicer aesthetic properties than 'defect'".&nbs... (read more)

Where to Draw the Boundaries?

I've alluded to this in other comments, but I think worth spelling out more comprehensively here.

I think this post makes a few main points:

  1. Categories are not arbitrary. You might need different categories for different purposes, but categories are for helping you think about the things you care about, and a category that doesn't correspond to the territory will be less helpful for thinking and communciating.
  2. Some categories might sort of look like they correspond to something in reality, but they are gerrymandered in a way optimized for deception. 
  3. You
... (read more)
Coordination Surveys: why we should survey to organize responsibilities, not just predictions

I agree it would be good to add a note about push polling, but it's also good to note that the absence of information is itself a choice! The most spare possible survey is not necessarily the most informative. The question of what is a neutral framing is a tricky one, and a question about the future that deliberate does not draw attention to responsibilities is not necessarily less push-poll-y than one that does.

"Other people are wrong" vs "I am right"

One good idea to take out of this is that other people's ability to articulate their reasons for their belief can be weak—weak enough that it can distract from the strength of evidence for the actual belief. (More people can catch a ball than explain why it follows the arc that it does).

Dual Wielding

Agreeing that just the final paragraph would be a good idea to include; otherwise, I don't think this passes my bar for "worth including as best-of."

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Make more land

I think one of my favorite things about LW is that it has a clear-eyed view of the future, and things will be different and we should pick which way to make them different. While I don't think the theory of change underlying this specific proposal is here, I think having these sorts of proposals around, and being the sort of people who share these proposals instead of write them off, is important, and I think I've moved more in this direction over the intervening year, in part because of how positive my reaction was to this post.

Literature Review: Distributed Teams

In addition to my general comments when I curated this piece... it turns out that understanding how distributed teams work was pretty important in 2020. 

How Much is Your Time Worth?

The people around me reason this way a lot, and I think it's for some reason really unintuitive for most people to start doing. This post is clearly written and I like it as an artifact I can point people to, rather than explaining the thing from scratch myself every time.

Risks from Learned Optimization: Introduction

So, this was apparently in 2019. Given how central the ideas have become, it definitely belongs in the review.

Coherent decisions imply consistent utilities

I don't particularly like dragging out the old coherence discussions, but the annual review is partly about building common knowledge, so it's the right time to bring it up.

This currently seems to be the canonical reference post on the subject. On the one hand, I think there are major problems/missing pieces with it. On the other hand, looking at the top "objection"-style comment (i.e. Said's), it's clear that the commenter didn't even finish reading the post and doesn't understand the pieces involved. I think this is pretty typical among people who object... (read more)

Everybody Knows

Everybody knows this post belongs in the 2019 Review.

You Have About Five Words

I use this concept often, including explicitly thinking about what (about) five words I want to be the takeaway or that would deliver the payload, or that I expect to be the takeaway from something. I also think I've linked to it quite a few times.

I've also used it to remind people that what they are doing won't work because they're trying to communicate too much content through a medium that does not allow it. 

A central problem is how to create building blocks that have a lot more than five words, but where the five words in each block can do a reasonable substitute job when needed.

Being the (Pareto) Best in the World

This post is on the Pareto frontier of insight and brevity.

Some Thoughts on My Psychiatry Practice

This post steps into a larger picture than what I see as normal rationality style optimization of life. I think on the margin people do far too little of this sort of dive into their motivations.

Building up to an Internal Family Systems model

Really what I want is for Kaj's entire sequence to be made into a book. Barring that, I'll settle for nominating this post. 

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