All of afeller08's Comments + Replies

Propinquity Cities So Far

I haven't studied this in general, but I have read a decent amount about the history of a couple cities, and based on those examples, can say with confidence that no modern city comes remotely close to the density that people would choose absent regulations keeping density down.

Tokyo today is less densely populated per square meter ground than late medieval Edo was, and late medieval Edo had no plumbing and basically no buildings taller than three stories. (I don't think there are historical examples of cities with no height restrictions and no density res... (read more)

That seems doubtful to me. It's my impression that when people can only afford smaller flats because prices are high they are going to rent flats with less floorspace/inhabitant. It's likely both that high density produces economic opportunities that make it desireable to move to high density and the high price getting people to live more dense.
Open Thread, Apr. 27 - May 3, 2015

If I were designing the experiment, I would have the control group be to play a different game instead of having it be maths instructions.

You generally don't want test subjects to know whether they are in the control condition or not. So if you're going to make it be maths instructions, you probably shouldn't tell them what the experiment is designed to test at all, until you're debriefing at the end. If you tell people you are recruiting that you are testing the effects of playing computer games on statistical reasoning, then the people in the control con... (read more)

16 types of useful predictions

I find that playing the piano is a particularly useful technique for gauging my emotions, when they are suppressed/muted. This works better when I'm just making stuff up by ear than it does when I'm playing something I know or reading music. (And learning to make stuff up is a lot easier than learning to read music if you don't already play.) Playing the piano does not help me feel the emotions any more strongly, but it does let me hear them -- I can tell that music is sad, happy, or angry regardless of its impact on my affect. Most people can.

Something th... (read more)

16 types of useful predictions

The person proposing the bet is usually right.

This is a crucial observation if you are trying to use this technique to improve your calibration of your own accuracy! You can't just start making bets when no one else you associate regularly is challenging you to the bets.

Several years ago, I started taking note of all of the times I disagreed with other people and looking it up, but initially, I only counted myself as having "disagreed with other people" if they said something I thought was wrong, and I attempted to correct them. Then I soon ad... (read more)

16 types of useful predictions

Precisely for this reason, there was a time when I wrote in Elverson pronouns (basically, Spivak pronouns) for gender ambiguous cases. So, if I was writing about Bill Clinton, I would use "he," and if I was writing about Grace Hopper, I would use "she," but if I was writing about somebody/anybody in would use, I would use "ey" instead. This allows one to easily compile the pronouns according to preference without mis-attributing pronouns to actual people... I've always planned on getting around to hosting my own blog running... (read more)

16 types of useful predictions

More jarring than that is if one set of gender pronouns gets used predominantly in negative examples, and the other set gets used predominantly in positive examples.

I try to deliberately switch based on context. If I wrote an example of someone being wrong and then someone being right. I will stick with the same gender for both cases, and then switch to the other gender when I move to the next example of someone being wrong, right, or indifferent.

Occasionally, something will be so inherently gendered that I cannot use the non-default gender and feel reason... (read more)

Moral Anti-Epistemology

I changed my mind midway through this post. Hopefully it still makes sense... I started disagreeing with you based on the first two thoughts that come to mind, but I'm now beginning to think you may be right.

So it's hard to see how timeless cooperation could be morally significant, since morality usually deals with terminal values, not instrumental goals.


This statement doesn't really fit with the philosophy of morality. (At least as I read it.)

Consequentialism distinguishes itself from other moral theories by emphasizing terminal values more than oth... (read more)

Instrumental values can clash too. The instrumental-terminal axis is pretty well orthogonal to the morally relevant/irrelevant axis.
Moral Anti-Epistemology

Anti-epistemology is a more general model of what is going on in the world than rationalizations are,


so it should all reduce to rationalizations in the end.

Unless there are anti-epistemologies that are not rationalizations.

The general concept of a taboo seems to me to be an example of a forceful anti-epistemology that is common in most moral ideologies and is different from rationalization. When something is tabooed, it is deemed wrong to do, wrong to discuss, and wrong to even think about. The tabooed thing is something that people deem wrong b... (read more)

This is a much better explanation of the OPs point than the OPs own posting.
Happiness and Goodness as Universal Terminal Virtues

Welcome to LessWrong! I wouldn't comment if I didn't like your post and think it was worth responding to, so please don't interpret my disagreement as negative feedback. I appreciate your post, and it got me thinking. That said. I disagree with you.

The real point I'm making here is that however we categorize personal happiness, goodness belongs in the same category, because in practice, all other goals seem to stem from one or both of these concepts.

Your claims are probably much closer to true for some people than they are for me, but they are far fro... (read more)

Hi, thanks for your reply! I'm not yet sure that we actually disagree. What do you think of with the word happiness? If you're thinking of happiness simply as "pleasure" then I would agree, that pleasure and goodness alone are not the only psychological motivators. I used happiness to describe someone's preferred mind-state, the mind-state in which someone would feel the most content. So it's different for everyone. Some people are happy just to follow their impulses and live in the moment, but other personality types are happier when they have a strong sense of identity, which seems to be what you're describing. You also say you want to matter. I think the belief that we will be remembered after our deaths is a one that would lead to happiness, too, so we want to act in such a way that would encourage this belief in ourselves. I identify with a lot of what you're saying. I'm less identity-driven than most people, but there are still certain things about myself (being frugal, for example) that, even if I knew changing them would bring me pleasure, I wouldn't want to simply because I consider them part of my identity. Although it doesn't make complete sense to me, I think that this small sense of identity contributes to my happy mind-state. So I'm guessing that your idea of happiness was just a bit more narrow than mine was? But we probably still agree?
Do people actually believe that no one in England drinks coffee at all?
Have you changed your mind recently?

I have been recently questioning how worthwhile it is to be perceived as smart. Since I have always wanted to be intelligent, having people affirm my intelligence has always made me feel validated, much more so than receiving other forms of compliments. Either in response to that form of approval or else in anticipation of receiving it, I have gone out of my way to present myself primarily as an intelligent person and to consider any other perceptions others may have of me as secondary to that one.

As I've begun to question whether this is a good image to p... (read more)

Science Isn't Strict Enough

Contrast this to the notion we have in probability theory, of an exact quantitative rational judgment. If 1% of women presenting for a routine screening have breast cancer, and 80% of women with breast cancer get positive mammographies, and 10% of women without breast cancer get false positives, what is the probability that a routinely screened woman with a positive mammography has breast cancer? 7.5%. You cannot say, "I believe she doesn't have breast cancer, because the experiment isn't definite enough." You cannot say, "I believe she

... (read more)
8/108 is not the correct calculation. You want 8/107. That's women with cancer and a positive test divided by all women with a positive test. Out of 1000 women, there are 99, not 100 false positives (10% of 990 women without cancer). or: .01 .8 / (.01 .8 + .99 * .1) = 7.4766355%
To Spread Science, Keep It Secret

I don't know to what extent we can hack our own perceptions of scarcity by intentionally directing our thoughts, but it seems like it's something worth trying to do:

"Scientific information is widely available. As a result, people will pay less attention to it than they would if it was hidden. As a result, it's better hidden than if it were kept partially secret. This means that scientific information is very scarce, and almost nobody knows that it is scarce."

Is there a way to phrase the above statement so that it carries the same psychological we... (read more)

Causal Reference

You're right. My hypothesis is not really distinguishable from the single tier. I'm pretty sure the division I made was a vestigial from the insanely complicated hacked-up version of reality I constructed to believe in back when I devised a version of simulationism that was meant to allow me to accept the findings of modern science without abandoning my religious beliefs (back before I'd ever heard of rationalism or Baye's theorem when I was still asking the question "Does the evidence permit me to believe, and, if not, how can I re-construe it so tha... (read more)

His name was Bayes, not Baye. FYI Congradulations on throwing out bad religious beliefs.
Causal Reference

That would strongly indicate that something caused the zombies to write a program for generating simulations that was likely to create simulated shadow brains in most of the simulations. (The compiler's built in prover for things like type checking was inefficient and left behind a lot of baggage that produced second tier shadow brains in all but 2% of simulations). It might cause the zombies to conclude that they probably had shadow brains and start talking about the possibility of shadow brains, but it should be equally likely to do that whether the shad... (read more)

[This comment is no longer endorsed by its author]Reply
I were talking about the logical counter-factual, where it genuinely is true and knowably so through rationality. It might be easier to think about it like this: there is a large number of civilizations in T4, each of which can observe that almost all the other have shadow brains but none of which can see if they have them themselves.
Causal Reference

Still, we don't actually know the Real Rules are like that; and so it seems premature to assign a priori zero probability to hypotheses with multi-tiered causal universes.

Maybe I'm misunderstanding something. I've always supposed that we do live in a multi-tiered causal universe. It seems to me that the "laws of physics" are a first tier which affect everything in the second tier (the tier with all of the matter including us), but that there's nothing we can do here in the matter tier to affect the laws of physics. I've also always assumed tha... (read more)

So you mean we live in a multitier universe with no bridging laws and the higher tiers are predictable fully from the lower tiers? Why not just call it a single tier universe then? Especially because your hypothesis is not distinguishable from the single-tier, which is simpler, so you have no good reason to ever have encountered it. "Such and such is true, but that has no causal consequences, but it's truth is still somehow correllated with my belief". (note that that statement violates the markov-whatsit assumption and breaks causality). Forgive me if I misunderstood.
Things That Shouldn't Need Pointing Out

Given that I spend a lot of time programming computers and that I occasionally brainstorm my programs through flow-charts, I was shocked, upon realizing that flow-charts can easily be formalized as something Turing complete, by how long it took me to realize this. (Generalized: If I am able to regularly use a particular abstraction as a proxy for another abstraction, it makes sense to ask the question, "Are these two ideas equivalent?")

Rationality: Appreciating Cognitive Algorithms

I agree with Xachariah's view of semantics. I think that the first 'I believe' does imply a different meta level of belief (often associated with a different reason for believing). His example does a good job of showing how someone can drill down many levels, but the distinction in the first level might be made more clear by considering a more concretely defined belief:

"We're lost" -- "I'm you're jungle leader, and I don't have a clue where we are any more."

"I believe we're lost" -- "I'm not leading this expedition. I did... (read more)