All of anonymous259's Comments + Replies

Or actually: a "law" in the sense of "predictable regularity", not "rule that one will be punished for violating".

In which case the post exemplifies it, rather than violating it.

Is anyone else distressed by the fact that, at the time of writing this comment, all of the "Recent Comments" displayed on the front page of the site are on a topic called "How to deal with someone in a LessWrong meeting being creepy"?

I'm not usually the kind of person who worries about "marketing" considerations, but....

Discussion section, ffs!

Since this comment got more upvotes than the article itself, I'm moving to Discussion.

It won't help.

Racism as it's presently conceptualized isn't a simple matter of fear or hatred of ethnic others, unfortunately.

Of course not. That would subject accusations of racism to falsifiability.

I find this a complete non-sequitur. If you stay alive and become a bum, you will consciously experience a (potentially large) loss of status. Whereas if you commit suicide, you won't.

Maybe being dead is low-status too, but at least you're not around to experience it.

I think the fact that "you're not around to experience it" is the tricky part of reasoning about the utility of suicide. Visualising walking away helps because it puts the more selfish aspects of suicide in stark contrast. If I walked away from my life I'd carry with me a lot of guilt and I'd have to live with the awareness of how my absence has affected others. If I kill myself, the primary advantage is that I don't have to experience that guilt and that, I think, makes suicide easier to contemplate than making a serious commitment to walking away. That's why I say if I'm not ready to walk away from my life (and face all the consequences of my actions), I'm not ready to commit suicide.

Ironically, Obama is exactly the kind of person to whom that term should refer, if it means anything at all. Descendants of African slaves taken to the Americas a long time ago should have another term, such as "American blacks".

Despite his lack of membership in it, Obama self-identifies with the latter group for obvious political reasons; after all, "children of foreign exchange students" is not an important constituency.

No, I didn't

Yes, you did. Here is what you said:

While I think physical violence usually adds to the wrongness of a crime, I'd still call blackmail-for-sex wrong

This clearly implies that you didn't think I would call it wrong; you were setting up what you perceived as a contrast between your view and mine. If you disagreed with me but correctly understood my position, you would have written "I'd still call blackmail-for-sex as wrong as violent rape" or something similar.

How do you think the link in the grandparent fits into my motives? ETA: People, if you downvote me and I can't tell why I may give you more of the same just to annoy you. In this case, I'd feel surprised if anon259 considered knife-play wrong after thinking about it. And I'd feel downright shocked if said user called it "10-years-in-prison bad". This seems inconsistent.

I don't want to have a mind-killing argument

Then don't just tell us what the moral categories are without explaining how you decided this.

That is precisely the argument (read: flamewar) that I am trying to avoid! The point is I didn't want to get into a detailed discussion of sexual ethics, how wrong rape is, and what constitutes rape. This is something that is emotionally controversial for many people. It's what we might call a "hot-button issue".

While I think physical violence usually adds to the wrongness of a crime, I'd still call bl

... (read more)

I don't agree that they are particularly idiosyncratic.

But, more to the point, they are chosen so that the semantic categories match the moral ones, thereby resisting "moral equivocation" of the sort that happens when people try to sneak in connotations by calling things less than the physical coercion of sex "rape".

Another (hardly less charged) example of such moral equivocation would be the word "racism", which is often used to subtly suggest that people guilty of far less are in a similar moral category to those who would p... (read more)

I think you will find that many people, perhaps specifically LW people, will be confused if you describe coercing sex by the threat of firing from a job as either of violence or not-rape. I am.
Then don't just tell us what the moral categories are without explaining how you decided this. While I think physical violence usually adds to the wrongness of a crime, I'd still call blackmail-for-sex wrong and I'd still point to the same reason that makes violent rape wrong. In fact, I'd say that true consent makes a lot of seemingly violent acts morally fine. So explain to me why I shouldn't view this as a natural dividing line.

Do you disagree that, say, drugging or blackmailing someone in order to have sex with them is rape?

Drugging I would consider physical violence, so that falls within my definition; blackmailing, no.

But we should not be having this discussion on this forum.

Okay, though you should probably be aware that those are somewhat idiosyncratic definitions of rape and violence.
The question is an interesting one to me. At least the aspect that relates to the ethics of blackmail and how the abuse of some kinds of power relates to the ethics of sex.

The person you are replying to is unfortunately no longer with us. :-(

0Ronny Fernandez12y
Jeeze, I don't really know what to say.

If you don't know "what on earth [your interlocutor is] talking about", this should make you less sure of your footing.

I'm pretty sure the question was rhetorical.

I do not trust everyone to judge the effects of their actions on others,

Unfortunately, the mere fact that you are raising this concern specifically in this context communicates a certain stance on the underlying issue(s), or, more bluntly, alignment with a certain faction in this particular power-struggle.

...and I'm probably communicating the opposite alignment by replying in this manner. So it goes.

I do have a stance. Stances. I'm arguing here that 1) wedrifid and MixedNuts are talking past each other, 2) we need to be more careful about PUA than many think. In particular, the idea of somehow just diving in while avoiding any discussion of ethics seems awfully ill-advised, if it's even possible. It does seem like a valuable topic for some of LW to pull apart, if it can be done properly (on the one hand, how likely is it that sex & sexual politics is a mindkiller topic? on the other, if LW can't handle a little sex & politics, I'd like to know.) And branching off of your comment about factions - to whom it may concern, I wish to explicitly distance myself from any given LW faction, real or illusory. Yes, even yours, even if I may agree with you on some / many topics.
Indeed. It's a figure of speech that I didn't even consider when using. I suppose it could be replaced with "That's utter nonsense and it is amazing that something so nonsensical appeared in a context where it doesn't seem to fit!" - but the question seems to be a bit milder.
Indeed. I have a policy of not commenting on the "underlying issue(s)", but I will permit myself the meta-level remark that the topic in question really does apparently amount to a hot-button dispute in contemporary social politics. In which case, quite frankly, it should be avoided as far as possible on Less Wrong.

Coercing sexual intercourse via physical violence or the threat thereof.

Legally speaking this is far off the mark in most jurisdictions. I would call this "archetypal rape". However lots of other things still qualify as rape, although they typically attract lighter sentences, in exactly the same way that different things that qualify as murder typically attract different sentences. Obtaining sex by deception, or bullying which does not involve physical violence or the threat thereof, for example, is still going to get you charged with rape in most places. In a recent case a man was jailed for obtaining sex by deceiving a woman about his religion. I've got no problem with that. (I do have a problem with the likelihood that there would have been no conviction if a Jewish woman had obtained sex by deception from a Palestinian man, but that's a separate issue touching on sexism and racism).
This seems a lacking definition. Do you disagree that, say, drugging or blackmailing someone in order to have sex with them is rape? Note: This post is explicitly not about PUA. I do not believe that I have heard of any PUA technique involving roofies or blackmail.

But you see, women don't find men who try to be nice to them attractive...Women are genetically programmed to only let alpha sperm in

Oversimplified to the extent that it is basically not true.

And yet I would bet that it is still closer to true than I approve of. In particular, closer to true than the mental model used by the naive "nice guy"/"beta".

Bad: There is no longer any visible difference between promoted and non-promoted posts (all circles are green).

Extremely Bad: It is no longer possible to delete comments, only "retract" them (with usernames remaining displayed).

Extremely Bad: It is no longer possible to delete comments, only "retract" them (with usernames remaining displayed).

Actually, I think I like this. You can still edit, so if there's something that you don't want even under a strikethrough, you can get rid of it; but the default is just to cross it out, and this encourages people to do that instead. Deleted comments with replies have been seriously disruptive in the past, so this is an improvement.

This is a test.

[This comment is no longer endorsed by its author]Reply

1) I think the increase in probability of suicides is non-tiny

What would be the mechanism linking this post to future suicides? (See also below.)

2) I don’t value “not having taboos” particularly highly

That would certainly help to explain your reaction. I, however, value it very highly indeed, and think that taboos are incompatible with rationality and "enlightenment" values (such as freedom of speech) more generally. (There could be exceptions, but they must always be considered, and never knee-jerk or uncritically inherited from general s... (read more)

But I suspect that you're depressed yourself

I am not, in fact, currently depressed, although I have been in the past. But I (in my non-depressed state) respect the feelings, wishes, and preferences of my depressed self, just like those of someone else like Chris.

Many commenters here have reacted to the suicide not with "how must he have felt" but with "how can we prevent more such things from happening?" It seems you think this reveals a lack of empathy or respect

I haven't said much of anything in response to most comments here; ... (read more)

I really don't understand your objection to this post specifically. I tried to craft it in the most sensitive way possible, it wasn't directly addressed to suicidal people themselves, and you agree that all subjects are fitting subjects for rationality. Furthermore, many commenters (including yourself) have in fact used it as an opportunity to reach out to those in the community suffering from depression.

What aspects of this post are so harmful that you think they outweigh the benefits, and how could it have been better written so as to allow the topic to be discussed while minimizing harm?

I don't think your post was irresponsible, but it does frighten me. Your reaction to the suicide -- to try to put yourself in the man's shoes, to understand the mindset and grievances of a person who might make such a decision, and to withhold the judgement that his decision was a mistake -- is clearly borne of kind and humane impulses. But I suspect that you're depressed yourself, and that your depression has hijacked and perverted those impulses. Many commenters here have reacted to the suicide not with "how must he have felt" but with "how can we prevent more such things from happening?" It seems you think this reveals a lack of empathy or respect, and that someone who understood better what it's like to "not always be enthusiastic about their own existence" would approach the issue differently -- in the way you're approaching it. I wonder if it's occurred to you, and I hope that you'll consider it, that your understanding of what depression is like might actually be poorer than those making the banal and maudlin point that this was a tragedy and a mistake, precisely because depression can rob you of perspective.

Has this been debunked in some way, or is this thread a really terrible idea?

Those are not the only two alternatives.

If minimizing the number of suicides were the only consideration, then you might have a (weak) argument that this post is a bad idea. (But note that gimpf's link specifically discussed television coverage; more generally, the "copycat effect" is generally considered to be a result of sensationalizing or glorifying suicide, not merely discussing it.) However, there are other, competing, values involved, such as:

  • not having taboo
... (read more)
Yeah, I figured someone would call me out on the false dilemma. Of course if there were other major benefits to the discussion, it could still be worth having. But my disagreement with you is as follows: 1) I think the increase in probability of suicides is non-tiny, 2) I don’t value “not having taboos” particularly highly, 3) I think there are better ways to express regret than by saying, essentially, “So did he do the right thing or what?” If you somehow found out that someone had decided to kill themselves because of this thread, how confident would you be that they made the right decision? Would you feel glad that you had helped them think it through rationally? Or would you say “Oh shit”? Edit: Hey guys, I have a bad habit of snarking people into hardening their positions. Sorry for being kind of a jerk here.

from a utilitarian perspective, committing suicide generally makes everyone around you absolutely miserable, and will then always cause pain for them. In that regard, committing suicide is either misguided or selfish.

Not necessarily; it depends on whether the pain they will experience is enough to outweigh the pain that the suicidal person will experience by staying alive.

Sure. Hence my use of the term "generally". When one is depressed, existence really sucks. But one also massively underestimates how much other people care and benefit from having one around.

b) a lot of women have trouble saying "no" directly (we're socialized not to).

I cannot possibly stress enough how non-obvious this is to "geeky" males.

I think that there are cultural differences about that, too: where I am, ISTM that (assuming it's unambiguous that you're asking for a date, which is what siduri was recommending) “I'm not interested in dating at the moment” is perfectly socially acceptable.
I used to have trouble with this. (I was a geeky male at the time.) I knew perfectly well to accept No as an answer, but I never quite seemed to get that answer. (There were other problems too.)
I don't think this is accurate. People generally don't say "no" directly. It's not a matter of gender socialization, it's just how language works. A direct "no" is seen as rude, and refusals are usually couched in vague or tentative language.

If you are paying less than $30 in most markets you are getting a dreadful haircut


That sounds highly female-specific (but even so, I still find it shocking). My idea of haircut price range is $10-20.

You can't get a $30 haircut if you're a woman. It's $40-$60, minimum. Let's not even get started on styling. I used to get my hair cut at barbershops because of the price; lately I don't live near a barber who'll make an exception for me, unfortunately. (No, I don't have a man's haircut. Some barbers will just cut a woman's hair if you ask nicely.) Honestly, I would be surprised if being more "serious" about hair (blow-drying, styling product, straightening) made much of a difference in my appearance and people's impression of me. Am I underestimating the importance of hair?
A $15 haircut looks like a $15 haircut. A good haircut looks good wet, dry, with product, without product, straight out of bed, straight out of the shower, and six weeks after you got it. For this, if you have curly hair? You pay big money. Period. It's also worth it.
I concur. In my opinion, men are best served by a proper barber, not by a "hair stylist" at a strip mall Fantastic Sam's. A good barber knows not only what kind of haircuts look fashionable for men, but the also how to cut the hair so it's easy to maintain. You know you've found a decent barber when you get a hot lather and straight-razor shave for your neckline at the end of the cut. Further, a good barber won't charge more than $20 for a haircut. $15 is average. I pay $18, but I really like the place. This from a fellow who averaged one haircut a year for 15 years, and now keeps it cut rather short.

Thank goodness, because I was starting to wonder whether I should be worried about Ben Goetzel's AGI project. This puts my mind at ease, at least for a while.

Thank goodness, because I was starting to wonder whether I should be worried about Ben Goetzel's AGI project. This puts my mind at ease, at least for a while.

It shouldn't (not as a general rule; Ben's case might have other valid reasons to come to the same conclusion). Being confused in one area doesn't necessarily make you confused in another (or prevents from being capable despite confusion). Not getting the problem of FAI doesn't prevent you from working towards AGI. Believing in God or Santa Claus or flying yogi doesn't prevent you from working towards AGI. Evolution didn't even have a mind.

I'll come out of the shadows (well not really, I'm too ashamed to post this under my normal LW username) and announce that I am, or anyway have been, in more or less the same situation as MixedNuts. Maybe not as severe (there are some important things I can do, at the moment, and I have in the past been much worse than I am now -- I would actually appear externally to be keeping up with my life at this exact moment, though that may come crashing down before too long), but generally speaking almost everything MixedNuts says rings true to me. I don't live wi... (read more)

Hope this doesn't turn into a free-therapy bandwagon, but I have a lot of the same issues as MixedNuts and anonymous259, so if anyone has any tips or other insights they'd like to share with me, that would be delightful. My main problem seems to be that, if I don't find something thrilling or fascinating, and it requires much mental or physical effort, I don't do it, even if I know I need to do it, even if I really want to do it. Immediate rewards and punishments help very little (sometimes they actually make things worse, if the task requires a lot of thought or creativity). There are sometimes exceptions when the boring+mentally/physically-demanding task is to help someone, but that's only when the person is actually relying on me for something, not just imposing an artificial expectation, and it usually only works if it's someone I know and care about (except myself). A related problem is that I rarely find anything thrilling or fascinating (enough to make me actually do it, at least) for very long. In my room I have stacks of books that I've only read a few chapters into; on my computer I have probably hundreds of unfinished (or barely started) programs and essays and designs, and countless others that only exist in my mind; on my academic transcripts are many 'W's and 'F's, not because the classes were difficult (a more self-controlled me would have breezed through them), but because I stopped being interested halfway through. So even when something starts out intrinsically motivating for me, the momentum usually doesn't last. Like anon259, I can't offer any money — this sort of problem really gets in the way of wanting/finding/keeping a job — but drop me a PM if gratitude motivates you. :)
PM me with your IM contact info and I'll try to help you too. Look, I'll do it for free too!

I've got a weaker form of this, but I manage. The number one thing that seems to work is a tight feedback loop (as in daily) between action and reward, preferably reward by other people. That's how I was able to do OBLW. Right now I'm trying to get up to a reasonable speed on the book, and seem to be slowly ramping up.

I have limited mental resources myself, and am sometimes busy, but I'm generally willing to (and find it enjoyable to) talk to people about this kind of thing via IM. I'm fairly easily findable on Skype (put a dot between my first and last names; text only, please), AIM (same name as here), GChat (same name at gmail dot com), and MSN (same name at hotmail dot com). The google email is the one I pay attention to, but I'm not so great at responding to email unless it has obvious questions in it for me to answer. It's also noteworthy that my sleep schedule is quite random - it is worth checking to see if I'm awake at 5am if you want to, but also don't assume that just because it's daytime I'll be awake.

With probability 50% or greater, the long-term benefits of the invasion of Iraq will outweigh the costs suffered in the short term.

Do you still maintain the statement, in 2015 with ISIL attacks?
I can see the reasoning though I don't quite agree for two reasons. 1) If the Lancet report is at all accurate that's a lot of deaths for the long-term benefits to make up for. 2) How much more extreme has that made the rest of the middle east? How has it hurt the possibility of peace in Israel. I was, and still am against the start of the war, though I've been fairly consistent in thinking they should stay since then. (Oddly enough I thought the surge was a good idea when virtually no-one else did, though have since started to think it didn't really do anything now that everyone is moving on board!).

Costs and benefits to whom? America and allies, Iraq, or the world in general?

I believe this about climate change as well.

It's worth pointing out that the original comment concerned living or dying, not torture.

Myself, I would avoid the torture button, but would give serious consideration to pressing one that delivered a delicious pie at the cost of painlessly puffing a random faraway person out of existence.

If the button delivered a sufficiently large amount of money, I would press it for sure. Would require much more money for torture than death, however. (Like $1 million versus a few bucks.)