All of AndyCossyleon's Comments + Replies

I think an obvious difference between the last one and the first two is that the last one includes a number. There is no uncertainty when comparing numbers, no wriggle room for subjectivity. A real number is either smaller, bigger, or equal to another real number. Period. This rigidity does not mesh well with the flexibility that comfortable social interaction requires. I don't think this is the only reason why the third is so inappropriate, but it definitely contributes.

There's plenty of uncertainty when comparing numbers when there's uncertainty in how the numbers were generated. IQ tests aren't completely uniform across space and time. Worst case, 170 IQ Joe might have taken some random online test. I think the simplest explanation is the Bayesian one: most people who introduce themselves using their IQ are socially inept, so introducing yourself using your IQ is Bayesian evidence of social ineptitude and other unpleasant things.
An unexpected point. Thank you.
This is an interesting point, but let's try a thought experiment to see if it holds up. Consider the following statements you could make about yourself 1. You are an X-level black belt in a martial art. 2. Your top bowling score is X. 3. You can benchpress X amount of weight. 4. You have an IQ of X. Where X is some value that is impressive and/or noteworthy. How strong of a negative reaction do you think each of these would get? Here's what my intuition says: 1. Probably no negative reaction. 2. Probably no negative reaction. 3. Possibly somewhat negative, sounds like bragging. 4. Strong negative reaction. Looking for a pattern in the results, I have a theory: it seems like what is most unacceptable is making it sound that you are superior to the other people in the room in an objective sense. The reason martial arts and bowling are acceptable is that skill in those pursuits is not relevant to the other people in the room who do not engage in them. On the other hand, bragging about your weightlifting is somewhat more annoying since it seems like you are saying you are more healthy/fit/muscular than other people in the room--traits which are more broadly valuable. Claiming high intelligence gets the worst response of all because it is the most absolute and broad claim of superiority one can make, since being intelligent generally makes you better at a broad range of tasks in the modern world, all else being equal. Also, IQ is associated with controversy and suffers from addtional negativity from that -- just like if you say you are for/against abortion. I think Andy may be right that the objective number makes it worse in some way. If you said "I am really smart" that wouldn't be quite as offensive, since it is less objective. If someone can think of counterexamples to my theory, replies are welcome.

And this is all that people mean when they say that Race is a social concept, not a genetic one.

That is what some people mean. Others truly believe there are literally no differences between human populations apart from skin color and bone structure, and of course culture.

Yes, there are no doubt some people who believe that.

Perhaps HFCS in particular encourages LPS bacteria. Or perhaps LPS bacteria particularly stimulates thirst for sweet liquids. It's impossible to know without (preferably both of) historical LPS and a controlled experiment. Also, your link does not establish a causal link between sugary drink consumption and obesity, merely that they've been correlated for a few decades.

Well, from that link Which you would expect if the sodas had a causal relationship with obesity, and probably not if they didn't. See also this article. Can you think of any observations, in humans, which favor the LPS bacteria model of obesity, rather than simply being reconcilable with it given enough ad hoc additions?

Perhaps the presence of LPS bacteria and the corresponding immune response provoke a larger appetite.

That's a possibility, but it's one under which I would antipredict findings like this.

From your other comments, I believe you're confusing "I don't believe men who say they are bisexual" with "I don't believe men can be bisexual."

It's clear to me that, in American society at least, the majority of bisexual men are to be found among the ranks of men who would never identify as anything but straight, sometimes even to the men they have sex with(!). Conversely, many of the men that DO identify as bisexual are merely finding a graceful way to transition to a homosexual love life.

Thus, that a man who identifies as bisexual is... (read more)

As I've said elsewhere, possibly even on this thread... if my culture makes it more difficult for men to identify as queer than as straight, then even if sexual orientation varies (like many other things) continuously within the population, I should expect the majority of more-than-negligably male-oriented men to identify as straight.

AlexSchell, "scant" is essentially a negative, much like "scarce(ly)" or "hardly" or "negligible/y". Rewriting: "The decriminalization of drugs in Portugal has scarcely seen an increase in drug use." I'd argue that these sentences mean the same thing, and that together, they mean something different from "The decriminalization ... has seen a small increase ..." which is what you seem to have interpreted my statement as, though not completely illegitimately.

I would still read that as an increase. "Scant," "scarcely," etc., all mean "an amount so small it is negligible." But that's still an increase. 1 + 99^99 isn't 99^99. I understand what is trying to be said in the argument concerning decriminalization, but strictly-speaking, that is an increase in drug use.

Intelligence is a multidimensional concept that is not amenable to any single definition or quantization. Take for instance the idea of "the size of a tree." Size could mean height, drip radius, mass, volume of smallest convex polyhedron that contains the whole organism, volume of water displaced if the tree was immersed in a tank, trunk girth at 6 feet, etc. The tallest redwood is taller than the tallest sequoia, but isn't the sequoia bigger? Why is it bigger? Because it has greater mass? But what of the biggest banyan? It has a greater mass tha... (read more)

I find it much more convenient to, instead of lying, simply using ambiguous phrases to plant the false idea into someone else's mind. The important part is to make the phrase ambiguous in such a way that it can be plausibly interpreted truthfully. Say you don't want someone to know you went up the stairs, then you say "I didn't walk up the stairs" because you in fact ran up the stairs. Even if your lie is found out, this reduces the social cost since, if you are political enough, you can convince others that you didn't actually lie. And if you ar... (read more)

Perhaps referring directly to Goedel was not apt. What Goedel showed was that Hilbert/Russell's efforts were futile. And what Hilbert and Russell were trying to do was create a formal system where actual self-reference was impossible. And the reason he was trying to do that, finally, was that self-reference creates paradoxes which reduce to either incompleteness or inconsistency. And the same is true of these more advanced decision theories. Because they are self-referencing, they create an infinite regress that precludes the existence of a "best"... (read more)

Someone may already have mentioned this, but doesn't the fact that these scenarios include self-referencing components bring Goedel's Incompleteness Theorem into play somehow? I.e. As soon as we let decision theories become self-referencing, it is impossible for a "best" decision theory to exist at all.

There was some discussion of much the same point in this comment thread One important thing to consider is that there may be a sensible way to define "best" that is not susceptible to this type of problem. Most notably, there may be a suitable, solvable, and realistic subclass of problems over which to evaluate performance. Also, even if there is no "best", there can still be better and worse.
Self-reference and the like is necessary for Goedel sentences but not sufficient. It's certainly plausible that this scenario could have a Goedel sentence, but whether the current problem is isomorphic to a Goedel sentence is not obvious, and seems unlikely.

Yay free karma. Can I exchange the karma for a lunch?

The drug addict doesn't want to change his disposition towards drug use; he wants to stop using drugs. Behavior begets character begets the person--lukeprog argues that you can change your behavior (and therefore yourself) by changing your situation.

The End of My Addiction is by a man who's a cardiologist and was an alcoholic. He considers craving alcohol to be a problem in itself, and found that taking Baclofen (a muscle relaxant) caused him to not have the craving. Only a little research has been done to test the usefulness of Baclofen for that purpose.

Doesn't the human inside qualify as an observer? For all we know, WE outside the box could be the ones tortured for 50 years and then incinerated once the button is pushed.

The state of affairs (not State of Affairs) wherein nothing exists cannot possibly by inconsistent, for it contains nothing. The question is, why this populated, consistent world (presumably it is not inconsistent) and not the other?

Perhaps this question is a wrong question because nothing, in fact, does exist. I'm envisioning something beyond the multiverse, alternate realities that are exactly that, other realities, totally disjoint from ours, inaccessible in every possible and impossible way. Like the universe under your fingernail... except it's not un... (read more)

Only 80%? I hope you've brushed up on your physics in the past three years.

The speed of light isn't some arbitrary speed limit. The speed of light is the speed of masslessness. Everything without mass (prime example: photons), must travel at that speed. Further, anything traveling at that speed does not witness the passage of time, experiencing the entirety of its trajectory at once.

Stated even better, everything travels at the speed of light; it is merely that massive particles divert most of that velocity into traveling through time. There is an intimate... (read more)

Hey, go easy on him. For a brief moment of insanity I considered the probability of anti-gravity being discovered greater than a LW poster thinking the law of gravity was s=4.9t^2

My fundamentalist father has stated, albeit reservedly, that fire did not exist before the fall of Adam, for fire symbolizes judgment. My response: what is metabolism but controlled fire?

A very good point!

However, the God hypothesis allows for the coexistence of deep rules (a world in which conscious beings exist) and surface rules (a world in which tsunamis and earthquakes [do not] kill hundreds of thousands of them), so this "best" answer falls flat: theodicy still fails.

The problem is this:

There are only two rules: quantum chromodynamics and universal gravitation, and hopefully they can be united into one. "[I]f you rewrote physics with added rules" is a non-starter.

It is actually quite astounding that so much physical behavior is allowed in such a paltry context. The things that do happen are in an extremely select set of events.

A very good point. I'm the type to stay home from the polls. But I'd also one-box..... hm.

I think it may have to do with the very weak correlation between my choice to vote and the choice of those of a similar mind to me to vote as opposed to the very strong correlation between my choice to one-box and Omega's choice to put $1,000,000 in box B.

Rational agents defect against a bunch of irrational fools who are mostly choosing for signalling purposes and who may well vote for the other guy even if they cooperate.

Na-na-na-na-na-na, I am so sorry you only got $1000!

Me, I'm gonna replace my macbook pro, buy an apartment and a car and take a two week vacation in the Bahamas, and put the rest in savings!


Point: arguments don't matter, winning does.

Oops. I had replied to this until I saw its parent was nearly 3 years old. So as I don't (quite) waste the typing:

Do you believe, as you sit there with the two boxes in front of you, that their contents are fixed?


That there is a "fact of the matter" as to whether box B is empty or not?


Or is box B in a sort of intermediate state, halfway between empty and full?


If so, do you generally consider that things momentarily out of sight may literally change their physical states into something indeterminate?


Do you picture b

... (read more)

Note: The idea that we all 'do our part' and so on is good propaganda but it appeals to a sort of collective action fallacy. The fallacy presents itself when someone says "If I do X it will not make a noticible difference, even though if many do X it will make a difference." and someone replies "But what if everyone thought that way?" Logically it's irrelevent what everyone might or might not do - expecially if the person that dissents is in no position to change many other peoples actions.

This is why I don't vote. The vote is very ver

... (read more)

Sam Harris does not believe in a god exterior to the human experience. This accords perfectly well to most definitions of "atheist." He thinks that religious experience is valid insofar as it is a psychological phenomenon and that in eliminating sentient humans and similar creatures, this experience, along with "God," would vanish from the universe.

"Group" selection is fundamentally different when the genetic or reproductive prospects of that group lie in a small subset of itself. Any two members of a "group" like a gaggle* of geese can reproduce together, and even create a new group. HOWEVER, any two members of a "group" like a body or ant community cannot reproduce together and create a new group.

In the latter group, what is good for the gonads or good for the queen is good for group. In the former, that is absolutely not the case: every goose is an independent quonad.... (read more)

You did not make any sense to me. What is the difference between ant colonies and geese gaggles that you care about? Why is this difference important to understanding group selection?

Portugal, anyone? There is a point when arguments need to be abandoned and experimental results embraced. The decriminalization of drugs in Portugal has seen a scant increase in drug use. QED

The same goes for policies like Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Many countries around the world have run the experiment of letting gays serve openly and there have been no ill effects.

Abandon rationalization, embrace reality.

There is something fishy about the words "legalize" and "decriminalize." Buying, selling, making and consuming wine are legal activities in Portugal. Not marijuana.
So you think an increase in drug use following decriminalization supports your view? And you were upvoted?

"whether Earthly life arose by natural selection" was a bad example of Eliezer's.

Natural selection does not account for how life arose, and dubitably accounts for how even the diversity of life arose*. Natural selection accounts, and only accounts, for how specified (esp. complex & specified) biological artifacts arose and are maintained.

An infinitely better example would have been "whether terrestrial life shares a common ancestor," because that is a demonstrable fact.

*This has probably mostly to do with plate tectonics carting around life forms from place to place and with genetic drift.

I was amused by the fact that "púa" is "guitar pick" in Spanish.

mattnewport -> mattnew port -> matthew port


This is how I felt as well, that my personal discovery of atheism was merely the next step in my life having been raised as a Christian. Losing religion and coming clean about it was the test of my integrity, which was formed under the wing of the Bible and Christianity.

Daniel Everett was a missionary to the Piraha of Brazil and a husband and father.

Well the incarcerated* Kent Hovind did used to say that evolution is a religion. But I never heard him saying it was "just" a religion.

*HAD to include that

I have to point out that Kent Hovind is in prison for tax evasion, not for being wrong about evolution (though I'm sure he'd like you to think that!).

I've actually met the man, I went to a Christian school as a child and he was a guest speaker at more than one assembly. It's only years later that I realize how ignorant and intentionally blind to the facts he is, and that his arguments rested entirely on straw men and a misunderstanding of the evidence. It slowed my understanding of science by at least five years, maybe more, and I'm more than just a litt... (read more)

Part of the brain's function is to provide output to itself. Consequently, even though I would be quite happy saying C-3PO is conscious, I wouldn't be so quick to say that about a GLUT.

Still, it seems remarkable to me that everyone is treating consciousness as an either/or. Homo sapiens gradually became conscious after species that weren't. Infants gradually become conscious after a fertilized egg that was not. Let us put essentialism to rest.

And as an aside, I would state roughly that an organism is conscious iff it has theory of mind. That is, consciousness is ToM applied to oneself.

Depends what I'm thinking about.

Sometimes, thinking is talking to myself or to somementalbody else. Sometimes, thinking is floating about somewhere experiencing it mostly visually. Sometimes, thinking is just living the moment. Sometimes, thinking is having mental fun, like rotating cubes in my head. Sometimes, thinking is just self-awareness, 'about' nothing.

Also, how does the capacity for eidetic imagery correlate with ability to count visual objects? I can't instantaneously count more than about six things (e.g. marbles) at once or up to a dozen or so depending how they're arranged. If you asked an eidetic imager to imagine a bar code, and then asked them how many lines there were, would they be able to respond quickly?

Eidetic imagery seems to be more a matter of degree. If asked to imagine a table, I can tell you instantly the number of chairs around it, but I would fail the tiger test. So perhaps passing the tiger test has more to do fast counting than vivid imagining.

If you know the derivative at 0 is 1, then you know the value of pi... just sayin'.

That's not strictly true, seeing as... %5En}{(2n+1)!}\,x%5E{2n+1}) ...but I agree that general-shape + derivative-at-zero is not really enough to form estimate of pi.

I think the real issue here is not that it is unacceptable to perceive real phenomena as weird or bizarre, but that it is unacceptable to think that something real ought not be so (based on some model of reality) and continue without updating the model or understanding why the weirdness or bizarreness leaks in.

To pick on C.S. Lewis and the religious in particular, Lewis conflates many times the Laws of Nature with the 'Laws' of Morality. Laws of nature cannot be broken; those of morality most definitely can be and are. And perhaps as another facet of the n... (read more)

I was pondering the philosophy of fantasy stories, and it occurred to me that if there were actually dragons in our world - if you could go down to the zoo, or even to a distant mountain, and meet a fire-breathing dragon - while nobody had ever actually seen a zebra, then our fantasy stories would contain zebras aplenty, while dragons would be unexciting.

You don't seriously think that, do you???

Dragons: fly, breathe fire, ginormous | Zebras: gallop, have stripes

Dragons >> zebras. In no world would zebras feature more prominently in fiction than dragons, regardless of which was real. I get the general point, that nonexistence breeds excitement, but this was a horrible example.

Zebras vs Unicorns probably would be better.

P(Christian God exists) = vanishingly small. Does that answer your question, random_guy?

Good post. For a question to receive a specific answer, it must be itself specific. "Does God exist?" is not a specific question and can therefore not receive a specific yes/no/dunno answer. "Does Yahweh exist?" on the other hand, is quite specific and requires the equally specific answer of "No."

There are some perfectly well-defined generalizations, for instance "Was our portion of this universe designed in detail by an intelligent mind?" (Of course, I take the Simulation Hypothesis seriously enough to answer either "Maybe" or "Yes and No", though further well-defined questions do distinguish between that hypothesis and more traditionally theist ones.)

The catchiness of the name "Einstein," mostly in the interior rhyme and spondee stress pattern but also in its similarity to "Frankenstein" (1818), cannot be discounted as a factor in his stardom.

My visualization was thus: he was walking away from me, on the right side of the street, while I was on the left side. The street was also at incline, such that he was walking uphill, the sidewalks were rather wide, and the buildings were contiguous. it was afternoon, because the sun was even more to the right of the man (I guess that means he was also walking south), though I couldn't see it. The drugstore door swung out (oddly) around the left hinge, and it was on the left side of the drugstore. There were also cars parked on the street.

Basically, I visualized a random scene from a familiar inner city locale.

Einstein was a pantheist. He had no belief along the lines of a personal God meddling with the universe.

Quote: "I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it."

Also relevant: "A man's ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he h... (read more)

douglas said that Einstein believed in an underlying intelligence to this universe, not that he believed in a personal God. In your opinion, is belief in an underlying intelligence to this universe not belief in God?

Or, Can an omnipotent being create a black calico cat?

I wish I could vote you up so much more! The distinction between a-convincing-argument and what-it-would-take-to-convince-me is very real and overlooked by almost everyone posting here.

To take my own experience in becoming convinced of atheism, I sometimes like to think I accept atheism for the same reason that I accept evolution--because of the evidence/lack thereof/etcetera. But that is simply not the case. I accept atheism because of a highly personal history of what it took to get me, personally, to stop believing in Christianity, and start believing i... (read more)

It's possible that the reason you accepted atheism is different to the reason you currently accept atheism. To make an analogy, I use the QWERTY keyboard now because it's the industry standard and therefore the most likely keyboard layout for me to encounter on an unfamiliar machine, regardless of the fact that I learned the QWERTY keyboard because that's what was the setting on my computer when I started posting obsessively in the Dominic Deegan forums.


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Welcome to Less Wrong! You seem to know your way around pretty well already! Thanks for introducing yourself. Also, I really appreciate this: The article says that of naturalistic pantheism: Wow, I had no idea you could believe all that and still count as a kind of theism! Best. Marketing. Ever.