All of AlexU's Comments + Replies

Why has this comment been downvoted so much? It's well-written and makes some good points. I find it really disheartening every time I come on here to find that a community of "rationalists" is so quick to muffle anyone who disagrees with LW collective opinion.

I can't speak for anyone else, but I downvoted it because of the deadly combination of:

  • A. Unfriendly snarkiness, i.e. scare-quoting "rationalists" and making very general statements about the flaws of LW without any suggestions for improvements, and without a tone of constructive criticism.

  • B. Incorrect content, i.e. not referencing this article which is almost certainly the primary reason there are so many comments saying "I donated", and the misuse of probability in the first paragraph.

If it were just A, then I could appreciate ... (read more)

Downvoted parent and grandparent. The grandparent because:

  • It doesn't deserve the above defence.
  • States obvious and trivial things as though they are deep insightful criticisms while applying them superficially
  • Sneaks through extra elements of an agenda via presumption.

I had left it alone until I saw it given unwarranted praise and a meta karma challenge.

I find it really disheartening every time I come on here to find that a community of "rationalists" is so quick to muffle anyone who disagrees with LW collective opinion.

See the replies to all similar complaints.

It's been downvoted - I guess - because it sits on the wrong side of a very interesting dynamic: what I call the "outside view dismissal" or "outside view attack". It goes like this:

A: From the outside, far too many groups discover that their supported cause is the best donation avenue. Therefore, be skeptical of any group advocating their preferred cause as the best donation avenue.

B: Ah, but this group tries to the best of their objective abilities to determine the best donation avenue, and their cause has independently come out as th... (read more)

-1Kaj_Sotala13y
I agree that it's been downvoted too much. (At -6 as of this comment, up from -7 due to my own upvote.)

Half the more "philosophical" posts on here seem like they're trying to reinvent the wheel. This issue has been discussed a lot by philosophers and there's already an extensive literature on it. Check out http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/scientific-realism/ for starters. Nothing wrong with talking about things that have already talked about, of course, but it would probably be good at least to acknowledge that this is a well-established area of thought, with a known name, with a lot of sophisticated thinking already underway, rather than having the mindset that Less Wrong is single-handedly inventing Western philosophy from scratch.

6sfb13y
Alternately, Western 'word salad' Philosophy might benefit from a bit of reinventing: http://www.paulgraham.com/philosophy.html

The difficulty of answering this question suggests one possibility: pain might very well be the only intrinsically bad thing there is. Pain is bad simply because it is bad, in a way that nothing else is. It could be argued that the "goodness" or "badness" of everything else is reducible to how much pain qualia it causes or prevents.

2Nick_Tarleton15y
I don't buy this, but at least you should include pleasure as well.
0thomblake15y
You certainly wouldn't be the first to suggest this. Bentham once asserted that he couldn't even imagine badness reducing to anything other than pain.

Lots of great stuff in this post. Don't have time to comment on anything in particular, but just wanted to say: this is the best-written piece I've ever seen on lesswrong. Keep writing.

Quick: is there an 85 year old former plumber by the name of Saul Morgan eating a breakfast of steak and eggs in a diner in North Side of Chicago right now? Who knows, right? You certainly don't have an affirmative belief that there is, but it's also true that, perhaps up until this moment, you didn't affirmatively believe that there wasn't such a man either. Lacking a belief in something is not the same as believing in its converse. To affirmatively believe in the non-existence of every conceivable entity or the falsity of ever proposition would require an infinite number of beliefs.

3prase15y
As V. Nesov said, not having thought about it isn't important. I have no evidence about plumbers in Chicago, but if I am presented with the question, I can think for a while and assign some probability to the proposition. I assume population of cca. 1 million, out of which former or present plumbers are, say, 1%, from what the age group select another 1%, the name and surname make another factor... so I am almost sure that there isn't such a man. Affirmatively, if you want. Another point is that even if I accept that I hadn't had an affirmative belief about Saul Morgan before you have presented the question, I find the analogy misleading, because practically all atheists have heard about the hypothesis of God. Of course you can meet a claim and decide to not care about it. But it seems to me that it's almost always case of very unimportant questions. I can't imagine a person who wilfully suspends judgement about eternal damnation and torture in hell, meaning of life, basis for morality and all other important subjects traditionally associated with religion. You can quickly conclude that religion is bogus and then go thinking about something else. But to leave the question genuinely open?

Beliefs are procedural, you don't need them all written out explicitly. This allows to hold infinite number of beliefs, each of them equipped with a specific level of certainty. I never before thought about the question of what the value of 385+23 is, but I still have a belief that 385+23=408 and also that 385+23 is not 409.

I eat anything. Make a conscious choice to eat healthy stuff and avoid junk food and simple carbs when convenient. Preferred eating pattern is to basically graze all day long. That, as well as a general indifference toward food (I find eating to be a bit of an irritating necessity, and never have cravings for anything) are enough to keep me trim. Probably worth noting that I wasn't always this way; up through college, I loved eating crap foods, sweets, carbs, soda, etc. Permanent preference changes take time, but can happen.

Most vegetarians/vegans strike me as sanctimonious twits, who are more often than not no healthier than anyone else.

1zipadee15y
I don't know what AlexU meant by "sanctimonious twits"... Like others on this thread, I have not encountered evangelical vegetarians. In fact, a lot of vegetarians don't want to talk about it, for fear of getting criticized. But consider what Emily said A lot of why people are vegetarians is to be admired for doing something difficult. It's important that they have some kind of reason as an excuse for doing it--they can't admit to showing off--but it's impressive and admirable to people who think that it is pointless.
8Nick_Tarleton15y
Can we please have a norm of not doing this?
-2[anonymous]15y
Well that's constructive.

I get that you're being sarcastic, but I'm not sure what you're driving at.

-13Lojban15y

However, if the holodeck hypothesis is true, then someone outside the simulation might decide to be nice to me, so the probability that it will win is more like 10^-3.

Um, what?

Your conception of "theism" -- a tremendously broad concept -- is laughably caricatured and narrow, and it pollutes whatever argument you're trying to make: absolutely none of the logic in the above post follows in the way you think it does.

Discounting an argument because of the person making it is pretty much the textbook definition of ad hominem fallacy.

Also, it should go without saying that being a theist doesn't automatically mean one believes in a loving and all-powerful god watching over us. And anyway, I still don't follow the logic that being a theist means one can't make sensible decisions about the Singularity (insofar as one can say there are "sensible decisions" to be made about something that's basically a sci-fi construct at this point.)

God's non-existence isn't predicated on any positive evidence for the proposition, but on lack of any evidence whatsoever, which was just as lacking in previous centuries as it is today.

Anyway, a list of Nobel Prize winners in the sciences is going have a substantial number of theists on it (probably a majority).

3pjeby15y
FWIW, the thing that pushed me over into atheism vs. a vague agnostic "maybe there's something" point of view was my study of the human mind. Nothing debunks the idea of a loving creator better than examining just how f*ed up he built his "children". So for me at least, there was definitely positive evidence that wasn't available in previous centuries. (Technically, that's not really rational, of course; lowering the probability of a creator deity really shouldn't have affected my probability of "maybe there's something". I suppose it's more that it confirmed for me the absence of the need for that "something" to exist, or at least the improbability of that "something" sharing human values in any relevant way.)

You've never heard of the ad hominem fallacy, I take it?

0Roko15y
The fact that a believer in a loving and all powerful god can't really be taken seriously on the singularity is not a claim about their character, and thus doesn't qualify as ad-hominem. It is a claim about the arguments they are going to put forward: in the presence of the background assumption that there's a loving god watching over us, you can't make sensible decisions about the singularity.

You do realize that on any list of historically significant "geniuses," the majority are going to be theists, right? I'm sure it must be nice to pat yourself on the back for being "smarter" than people like Goethe, Thomas Aquinas, and Kierkegaard, but that would seem to be a reductio ad absurdum against the use of theism as an automatic disqualifier for "smartness," to my mind.

1Roko15y
Irrelevant, they didn't have the evidence that we do today.

Isn't there an equally well-known bias toward thinking we'll react differently to future events (or behave differently) than most people? That is, we observe that most people don't become happier when they become rich, but we convince ourselves that we're "different" enough that we nonetheless will? I think Dan Gilbert wrote pretty extensively on this in of those recent "happiness studies" books. Anyway, it seems like there's an obvious tension between the two tendencies.

4bigjeff513y
That sounds like either the optimism bias or the positive outcome bias. They are related, but I think the optimism bias fits best. People tend to over-estimate their chances of success, and under-estimate their chances of failure. If 90% percent of people eventually go broke after winning the lottery, chances are more than half of them were certain it wouldn't happen to them. The UK government has special procedures in place to help avoid project failures due to the optimism bias.

Of course, different worldviews may be qualitatively very different, but the point I'm making is that our personal reasons for adopting one over the other aren't all that different. My reasons for believing various scientific findings have much more to do with the sociology of my upbringing and current environment than with the actual truth or falsity of those findings. I did some lab experiments in high school and college, but to extrapolate from those personal verifications to the truth of all scientific findings is to make quite an inductive leap.

1Vladimir_Nesov15y
When you are still weak enough to be shaped into a zealot by any community, independently of their goodness, of course you don't make that choice, by definition. You may well remain unable to make that choice, if this ability is taken away from you by the worldview you were fed with. But rocks don't have that power either. So, there are two questions on the table: whether there is objective difference, relative to your implicit own goals, between different worldviews instilled in you by the environment of your upbringing, and whether the people are capable of noticing that difference and acting on it. On the presence of objective difference, I wrote in the comment to which you replied, and you seem to agree. Whether you ever grow strong enough to consider the decision to change your worldview currently significantly depends on your initial worldview, and on your native intelligence. With native intelligence a given, we can only improve this situation by spreading empowering memes.

I'm not sure those categories are as meaningful as you think. How many scientific findings are you capable of verifying personally, right now? And believing you're capable of verifying them, "in principle," is quite different altogether...

Right. The idea that we as individuals arrive at our scientific beliefs via perfect rationality is a fiction. It's good to keep in mind that our scientific beliefs are a product of a particular social network -- we believe things largely because people and institutions we trust believe those things. The difference between being a Mormon and being a scientific materialist is less a qualitative difference (i.e., one person is rational, the other is not) than one of degree, circumstance, and where you place your faith.

4Vladimir_Nesov15y
The historical causes of the different kinds of worldviews held by different people may be similar, but it doesn't make the different worldviews themselves similar. The evolution was implemented on the same kind of physics that fires up the stars, yet a snail is nothing like a giant ball of plasma. The answer to "2+2=" doesn't depend on where you place your faith. Even if you zealously believe that the answer is 78, even if that's what you were taught in school, just like the other kids who were taught different answers, the answer is still 4. And there is a rational reason to believe the global scientific community, once you grow strong enough to pose the question: they are often right, and they self-check their correctness.

A problem I have with the LW community is this background assumption that infinite life somehow equals infinite utility, that living forever is clearly the rational goal, and that anyone (the vast majority of people, it seems) who doesn't express any particular zeal for this notion is deluded, irrational, or under religion's spell. A long, healthy life is certainly desirable to most people, but I think there are good, irreligious, perfectly sensible reasons for not placing any great value on immortality or living to see the distant future.

3lessdazed13y
My pet peeve is when people equate living for a long time with living forever or immortality. Pet peeves are like opinions, everybody has one.

Pretty doubtful, especially controlling for IQ and education...

This is a great post because it shows just how hard one has to stretch the meaning of "win" to find a way in which atheism always "wins." In the example, it seems that Wedesday "wins" by remaining a Mormon, unless she just happens to place some kind of high personal value on metaphysical truth that can only be satisfied by holding the epistemically correct belief. There's no reason why that should be for everyone, though -- there's a pretty strong case both for not caring at all about these questions, as well accepting one's &... (read more)

8badger15y
I agree that there is no reason atheists always "win". Maybe becoming a theist while holding all other beliefs constant will be an improvement, but I don't think this is a practical analysis. Ceteris paribus, Wednesday should stay Mormon, but the cognitive algorithms would make her stay Mormon are very likely to have detrimental effects on net.
9MBlume15y
Personally I would consider the debilitating sexist and sex-negative messages packaged with Mormonism to be a profound sort of losing in and of themselves, but that's beyond the scope of this blog.

Are you so confident in your perfect, unerring rationality that you'll consider that particular proposition completely settled and beyond questioning? I'm about as certain that there is no God as one can get, but that certainty is still less than 100%, as it is for virtually all things I believe or know. Part of maintaining a rational outlook toward life, I'd think, would be keeping an attitude of lingering doubt about even your most cherished and long-held beliefs.

5Technologos15y
Yes, that will always be technically true--no belief can be assigned a probability of 100%. Nevertheless, my utility calculations recognize that the expected benefit of questioning my stance on that issue is so small (because of its infinitesimal probability) that almost anything else has a higher expected value. Why then should I question that, when there is so much else to ask?
1Nick_Tarleton15y
Where are you getting the idea that Annoyance said this?

The site is about rationality, not dogma -- I think. Posts should be judged on the strength and clarity of their ideas, not the beliefs of the individual posters who espouse them. To categorically exclude an entire class of people -- some of whom are very good rationalists and thinkers -- simply because they don't subscribe to some LW party line, is not only short-sighted, but perversely, seems to run entirely counter the spirit of a site devoted to rationality.

The consequences, I imagine, would be less interesting, less broad discussion, with a constricti... (read more)

2Annoyance15y
"To categorically exclude an entire class of people -- some of whom are very good rationalists and thinkers -" But that's the point. No one who belongs to that class is a good rationalist. I'm sure there are people who belong to that class who in limited contexts are good rationalists, but speaking globally, one cannot be a rationalist of any quality and exempt some assertion from the standards of rationality. This isn't about the perfect being the enemy of the good. It's about minimum standards, consistency, and systematic honesty. If you possess evidence that shows theism to be rationally justifiable, present it.

Observe: Although this post has the same conclusion, because it has different arguments, it is voted up while similar-concluding different-argued comments by the same poster are voted down. (I agree with this judgment; this is how it is supposed to be.) Those wondering exactly what it takes to get voted up or voted down have here a good example before them.

8steven046115y
Aumann is a mathematician-of-rationality, not a rationalist. Completely different skillset. It would be great to have him here, but not because he agrees with the site's basic goals and premises.
3steven046115y
I think you may be underestimating the degree of irony with which we're using religious language.
6Annoyance15y
A well-made point, AlexU. Unfortunately, while the point is correct, the argument which it is a part of is not. Atheism isn't axiomatic. It follows necessarily from the axioms of reason applied to the available evidence. If someone is a theist, that means either that they reject reason, or they have shocking evidence which is not available to others... and which they need to make available if they want others to recognize that their position is a sane one. At present, there is absolutely no reason to think that anyone is in possession of such hidden evidence. Given the non-existence of such data, it follows that theists reject reason - which other, independent evidence confirms. In this world, one cannot be informed, sane, and believe that the Earth is flat. The available evidence simply does not support that position. Nor does it support belief in a deity or deities.

AlexU, could you re-phrase your comment to have more descriptive discussion of the consequences you want to avoid, or of the evidence that leads you to disagree with ciphergoth? Right now, your comment mostly reads as "I really really want to express how aligned I/we am with niceness/tolerance/etc., and how socially objectionable ciphergoth's comment is." If you can think through the reasons for your response, and include more testable descriptions per connotation, the conversation will probably head more useful places.

ETA: I have the same sugg... (read more)

How is it unfair to him in any way? He's free to choose whether to debate or not debate you; I doubt any reasonable person would be offended by the mere contemplation of a future debate. And any sort of advantage or disadvantage that might be gained or lost by "tipping him off" could only be of the most trivial sort, the kind any truth-seeking person should best ignore. All this does is make it a bit difficult to talk about the actual substance and ideas underlying the debate, which seems to me the most important stuff anyway.

-1PhilGoetz15y
I think Eliezer's reason is good. It would sound like contempt to the More Wrong.

I agree, but the anthropic principle has always seemed like a bit of cheat -- an explanation that really isn't much of an explanation at all.

Can someone explain why we can't name the theist in question, other than sheer silliness?

5Eliezer Yudkowsky15y
Because I consider it unfair to him to talk about a putative debate before he's replied to a request; also somewhat uncourteous to talk about how I plan to handicap myself (especially if it's not a sign of contempt but just a desire to test myself). If people can work it out through effort, that's fine, I suppose, but directly naming him seems a bit discourteous to me. I have no idea whether he's courteous to his opponents outside debate, but I have no particular info that he isn't.

1). There is a lot of, for want of a better term, "mental masturbation" around here: arguing for the sake of arguing, debating insignificant points, flashy but ultimately useless displays of intellect etc. Men tend to enjoy this sort of thing much more than women. Perhaps the female equivalent would be "social masturbation" -- endless gossiping about other people's trivia.

2). There's a major bias toward discussing math and science topics on here, and objective rather than subjective experience. Rationality, as a meta-construct, arguably... (read more)

"Declare your hidden agendas" is somewhat of an oxymoron -- obviously anyone with a true hidden agenda isn't going to declare it. Seems like this idea of disclaimers in front of LW posts is a non-starter.

Your best guesses seem pretty close to how the terms are used on here; I think the community at large should be wary of appropriating terms that already have long histories in certain fields.

0[anonymous]15y
Regarding the classics: to what extent has the field drifted since Descartes? Since Godel's? It's been a while since Phil 101, but didn't Descartes "reason" that God exists? (yes: Trademark argument)

Be careful about how you define those terms, as they may be idiosyncratic. "Rationalism" and "Empiricism" have long philosophical histories, and are typically seen as parallel, not-quite-rival schools of thought, with the rationalists striving to root all knowledge in a priori rational inquiry (Descartes' Meditations is the paradigm example). I'm not sure it's wise to flip that on its head by redefining such a common, well-denoted term.

1byrnema15y
I want to define the terms in the standard way; as it is commonly viewed in this group. I'm new on LW and those definitions were just my best guesses.

I'm certainly not against using chunked concepts on here per se. But I think associating this community too closely with sci-fi/fantasy tropes could have deleterious consequences in the long run, as far as attracting diverse viewpoints and selling the ideas to people who aren't already pre-disposed to buying them. If Eliezer really wanted to proselytize by poeticizing, he should turn LW into the most hyper-rational, successful PUA community on the Internet, rather than the Star Wars-esque roleplaying game it seems to want to become.

1robzahra15y
yes, what to call the chunk is a separate issue...I at least partially agree with you, but I'd want to hear what others have to say. The recent debate over the tone of the Twelve Virtues seems relevant.

What the hell are the "dark arts"? Could we quit playing super-secret dress-up society around here for one day and just speak in plain English, using terms with known meanings?

0Annoyance15y
The clothes make the man, they say, and sometimes the terminology makes the argument.
3robzahra15y
This is the Dark Side root link. In my opinion it's a useful chunked) concept, though maybe people should be hyperlinking here when they use the term, to be more accessible to people who haven't read every post. At the very least, the FAQ builders should add this, if it's not there already.

People are irrational largely because they're stupid. I have yet to be convinced that "rationality" is something entirely distinct from intelligence itself, such that you can appeal to someone to become significantly more "rational" without simultaneously effecting the seemingly tougher feat of boosting IQ a standard deviation or so.

3conchis15y
For some evidence to the contrary (and the beginnings of a theory about when cognitive ability will correlate with rationality and when it won't) try this: * Stanovich, K. E, & West. R. F. (2008). On the relative independence of thinking biases and cognitive ability. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 94, 672-695. JPSP08.pdf (More here.)

I won't dispute this. For some people, a calculated decision to remain overweight in today's world in order to focus on other things may be the best course of action.

Alternatively, if losing weight is that important to you, you can alter your environment so "today's world" doesn't make it so tempting to eat crappy foods. Your body can be screaming out "eat more food!" all it wants, but if you're living in a cabin in some remote corner of Alaska, there's only so much damage that can do.

if losing weight is that important to you, you can alter your environment so "today's world" doesn't make it so tempting to eat crappy foods

What part of "None of the simple cute little solutions that seem like they really ought to work and do work for the metabolically privileged actually work for me" do you not understand? I've lived in a carefully crappy-food-free apartment and gained weight, and back when I was "losing weight thanks to willpower and exercise!" I ate Little Debbie's poison nuggets and lost weight.

You are... (read more)

The message that I'm taking home from your post is that if we wish to be "less wrong" we should avoid sarcasm. Here is my analysis.

The first paragraph alludes to the fattening of America in the recent past. Something has changed. The article about exercise talks about different genotypes responding differently to exercise, but it is not offering a diachronic account of the recent fattening. It seems unlikely that gene frequencies in the population have changed, leaving more people immune to exercise today than in the recent past, and the article ... (read more)

9JulianMorrison15y
Look, a relaxing picture. Deep breaths.

Oh come on. If Eliezer eats fewer calories than he expends, he's not going to die of hunger. I fully buy that will-power is a legitimate issue, but bringing up extreme cases like this to make your point doesn't enhance the conversation.

8SoullessAutomaton15y
But he may spend large amounts of time in a state where physiological and psychological responses are screaming "eat more food!". This state is not conducive to a happy, productive life.

I'm sure you've seen the psych research suggesting people have a finite amount of "willpower" they can exercise at a given time. It probably does make sense for some people to worry about hard-thinking (or other endeavors) than staying in top shape.

7jimmy15y
It's not just that you only have so much "will power" that you ration, it's that your brain doesn't work when you're starving. I had to cut weight for wrestling in high school (from a healthy 185 down to 160) and the will power to not eat wasn't even that difficult (though it did suck), but I still couldn't think well.

Of course not, but you've contrived an odd corner-case that, in fact, doesn't exist in reality. I'm not sure what that goes to show.

4SoullessAutomaton15y
Except that my counterfactual organism seems to more strongly resemble Eliezer Yudkowsky than does whatever model you're working from.

Are you saying it didn't work because it didn't curb your hunger or your desire for other, less healthy foods? Or it didn't work because you stuck to the diet of healthy foods and gained weight nonetheless? The latter seems hard to believe, though I suppose it's technically possible to accumulate an excess of calories via turkey and bananas...

1Jonnan15y
I can honestly say, I actually have healthy tastes - I actually like salad (I have a salad garden for exactly that reason), and do work on a small (3 acres) property when I'm not at my day job. Although I do like most traditional deserts, they are not a typical portion of the meal, barring holidays. I do tend to eat 'candy' when it's around . . . which is one reason I don't keep it around. So I sympathize entirely with the original poster when he says eating nothing but healthy foods doesn't help. My 'Vitamin Pill' version of the Shangra-la diet lost me 30 pounds straight through the holidays when I was eating deserts . . . and stopped. So there are definitely other factors that are being missed. Jonnan
3Eliezer Yudkowsky15y
The latter.

So, maybe staying thin requires Herculean effort for some. Why turn your back on that particular challenge? Elsewhere you seem to take a lot of pride in your determination to "save the world," which seems like no small feat. Don't try to lose weight -- lose weight!

I can starve or think, not both at the same time.

Diet (singular) does work in the sense of consistently, indefinitely eating healthier foods.

No... it... DOESN'T. I tried that. I ate a simple Paleo diet which consists of nothing except healthy foods; my staples were home-cooked turkey and bananas. I did it for months. I lost not a single pound.

You CANNOT BEGIN TO IMAGINE how much stuff that really truly seems like it ought to work simply DOES NOT WORK when you are metabolically disprivileged.

-1JulianMorrison15y
The above is equivalent to saying "being in state S1 works". S3 is characterized by not being able to consistently, indefinitely eat healthier foods. IOW: the above is a dodge.

Yeah, and I realize that simply recommending "diet and exercise" is a bit too pat. Getting oneself into virtuous cycles, with extremely short-term rewards and consequences, is the most effective meta-tactic I know. There are various ways to do this; the key is just to render willpower moot.

You raise an interesting point I've considered before in relation to Bostrom's simulation argument: if we're living in a simulation, wouldn't that effectively make God real? I can't see a way to deny this without some linguistic legerdemain. It seems like one's probability assignment to the proposition "God is real" should be lower-bounded by the proposition "we're living in a simulation."

It seems like you're questioning the value of diet and exercise -- almost as if they don't work for all people, or they only work for limited amounts of time. This is, of course, untrue, and I know you know this. The real key is to put yourself into a virtuous cycle, where the rewards (or negative consequences) of diet and exercise make themselves apparent to you every day, rather than months down the line, effectively circumventing akrasia.

I am questioning the value of diet and exercise. Thermodynamics is technically true but useless, barring the application of physical constraint or inhuman willpower to artificially produce famine conditions and keep them in place permanently. You, clearly, are one of the metabolically privileged, so let me assure you that I could try exactly the same things you do to control your weight and fail. My fat cells would keep the energy that yours release; a skipped meal you wouldn't notice would have me dizzy when I stand up; exercise that grows your muscle mass would do nothing for mine.

3jimrandomh15y
I have to second Eliezer on this one. Saying "good diet and exercise" is just a disguised way of saying "be more disciplined". While it is true that being more disciplined would cause someone to lose weight, telling someone to be more disciplined does not cause them to actually /be/ more disciplined. The value of advice is properly judged by its effect, and actual observation shows that the "be more disciplined" advice has no effect or even the opposite effect, so it's simply bad advice. The part which is true is already known by the person receiving the advice, so truth is no defense.
3JulianMorrison15y
If a thin person is in state S1, and a fat person is in a state S2, then a thin person who got that way by dieting is in state S3 and despite looking identical, S1 != S3. S1 has no particular tendency to change. S3 has a strong tendency to become S2. Diets don't work. You just don't have the super-senses to distinguish S1 from S3 at a glance.
1SoullessAutomaton15y
Assuming unlimited willpower, burning more calories than you consume will reduce body weight (c.f. thermodynamics, &c.). Easy! The issue is not how to reduce weight, per se, it's about how to do so while also suppressing hunger pangs and other physiological and psychological effects of wanting more food than you're getting. As an aside, exercise itself isn't actually particularly useful unless you devote a lot of time to it, as the calorie burn rate is fairly low. Raising the basal metabolic rate via anaerobic exercise may have value, though.

Right. It's basically a family association; different religions will share different things in common, but there's no real core concept. If anything, I'd suggest "a system of principles and beliefs for living one's life," in which case, yes, rationalism would be a religion as well.

The diet pretty obviously works because fat plays a huge role in satiety. If you can get a certain amount of fat in the lowest caloric form possible (olive oil, most likely), you won't be have to eat massively caloric things like bacon cheeseburgers in order to slake your hunger.

Still, good diet and exercise are the keys to staying thin. Satisfy your hunger by filling up on vegetables and lean protein. Exercise harder, eat less.

See Akrasia and Shangri-La, the sequel, for the reason why I wish there were some way I could strangle you over the Internet.

90sn15y
I find decapitation works the best -- you take about 5kg off right at the start, and continue losing gradually (but not as drastically) from then on.

The "Shorter EY" thing has occurred to me too. It seems like a good idea. Maybe we can get volunteers to do this for every post of his?

0Paul Crowley15y
The wiki would be a good place to do this. We could put the dependency structure there too.
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