All of Ape in the coat's Comments + Replies

Morality is Scary

It seems that our morality consists of two elements. First is bias, based on game theoretical environment of our ancestors. Humans developed complex feelings around activities that promoted inclusive genetic fitness and now we are intrinsically and authentically motivated to do them for their own sake. 

There is also a limited capability for moral updates. That's what we use to resolve contradictions in our moral intuitions. And that's also what allow us to persuade ourselves that doing some status promoting thing is actually moral. One the one hand, t... (read more)

Worst Commonsense Concepts?

Related to facts vs opinions but not quite the same is objective/subjective dichotomy, popular in conventional philosophy. I find it extremely misleading and contributing a lot to asking wrong questions and accepting ridiculous non sequiturs.

For instance, it's commonly assumed that things are either subjective or objective. Moreover, if something is subjective it's arbitrary, not real and not meaningful. To understand why this framework is wrong, one requires good understanding of map/territory distinction and correspondence. How completely real things ... (read more)

[Book Review] "The Bell Curve" by Charles Murray

There are a couple of books pointing out mistakes and methodological problems with the Bell Curve. Maybe we will get their reviews as well in the future.

If you are not alergic to long youtube videos you may be interested in this fairly reasonable and thorough approach to critique of the Bell Curve from the left.

In a nutshell, Murray bases his conclusions on a bunch of very epistemically poor research, often uses shady methodology, contradicts himself in a way that hints at writing the book in a bad faith and despite all his neutral tone, smuggles harmful p... (read more)

Everything Studies on Cynical Theories

Standpoint Epistemical Status: I live in a second world country, and monitor USA politics from across the ocean because it's less depressing than the politics of my own country.

I've heard about Pluckrose, Lindsays and Boghossian social experiment. They framed it as a strong evidience that social sciences went astray and are now producing bad science for ideological reasons. Ironically, however, what Pluckrose, Lindsays and Boghossian did, is an example of bad science itself. For instance, they had no control group. A third of their junk papers were actuall... (read more)

2DanielFilan1moRegarding the authors' attempts to get papers published in these journals, the review doesn't make it seem like the book relies on that experiment being valid (and the review itself does not) - it just talks about various features of these fields and theorizes about their causes and effects. I also don't think that their experiment was 'bad science' in the sense of being uninformative. If 'grievance studies' journals are willing to publish bad papers, that does tell you something about those journals, even if 'hard science' journals are also willing to publish bad papers (which we know, thanks to the replication crisis and bloggers like Andrew Gelman, that they are). Also, Wikipedia [] says "By the time of the reveal, 4 of their 20 papers had been published; 3 had been accepted but not yet published; 6 had been rejected; and 7 were still under review.". It seems unfair to include the papers that were under review in the denominator, since their efforts ended early, so I'd evaluate their success rate at 1 in 2, rather than 1 in 3, which isn't so bad. This is really not what the review portrays the arguments to be, so I'm having difficulty engaging with this paragraph. Could you perhaps quote an example of that argument in the book or in the review that you think is invalid? I'd say that liberalism is a sufficient immune system - altho I'm obviously interested in ways that it isn't. I think the idea is to give a certain strain of thinking a name, and analyse what its like, to make it easier for people to figure out if that strand of thinking is somehow bad and avoid it if it is. Presumably you're sometimes in favour of this kind of thing, so I'd like to know what you think makes this effort different I think liberalism allows the idea that many people can have a wrong worldview! Regarding how the 'second secularism' deals with issues like de facto segregation in the US: I agree that that's the sort of thing th
[Book Review] "The Bell Curve" by Charles Murray

I'm not saying that you literally have nothing against fashists. I'm pretty sure you disagree with them on nearly every subject, find them generally evil and do not really want to associate with them. I'm saying that they are not your outgroup in the same sense that Osama bin Laden wasn't outgroup for blue tribe while Margaret Thatcher was:

...Blue Tribe – can’t get together enough energy to really hate Osama, let alone Muslims in general. We understand that what he did was bad, but it didn’t anger us personally. When he died, we were able to very rationall

... (read more)
3Said Achmiz1moWhat do you mean, “would’ve”? That wasn’t a hypothetical scenario. I wasn’t using Mein Kampf as an example of anything; I was talking about the actual thing []. As for the rest of your comment—there’s no “assume” about it.
Quick general thoughts on suffering and consciousness

4. Similarly, I frequently hear about dreams that are scary or disorienting, but I don't think I've ever heard of someone recalling having experienced severe pain from a dream, even when they remember dreaming that they were being physically damaged.

In my childhood I used to have a reoccuring nightmare about a shapeshifting monster that killed me in a really unpleasant way. The best way I can describe this feeling is as being pushed through something very narrow, like a syringe needle. I used to describe this as severe pain and I did my best to evade it. T... (read more)

I Really Don't Understand Eliezer Yudkowsky's Position on Consciousness

While I agree with mostly everything your model of Eliezer said, I do not feel less confused about how Eliezer arrives to a conclusion that most animals are not conscious. Granted, I may, and probably actually am, lacking an important insight in the matter, but than it will be this insight that allows me to become less confused and I wish Eliezer shared it.

When I'm thinking about a thought process that allows to arrive to such a conclusion I imagine something like this. Consciousness is not fundamental but it feels like it is. That's why we intuitively app... (read more)

8So8res1moI don't think the thought process that allows one to arrive at (my model of) Eliezer's model looks very much like your 2nd paragraph. Rather, I think it looks like writing down a whole big list of stuff people say about consciousness, and then doing a bunch of introspection in the vicinity, and then listing out a bunch of hypothesized things the cognitive algorithm is doing, and then looking at that algorithm and asking why it is "obviously not conscious", and so on and so forth, all while being very careful not to shove the entire problem under the rug in any particular step (by being like "and then there's a sensor inside the mind, which is the part that has feelings about the image of the world that's painted inside the head" or whatever). Assuming one has had success at this exercise, they may feel much better-equipped to answer questions like "is (the appropriate rescuing of) consciousness more like a gradient quantity or more like a binary property?" or "are chickens similarly-conscious in the rescued sense?". But their confidence wouldn't be coming from abstract arguments like "because it is an algorithm, it can either be executed or not" or "there are good reasons to assume it would be developed by evolution only among social animals"; their confidence would be coming from saying "look, look at the particular algorithm, look at things X, Y, and Z that it needs to do in particular, there are other highly-probable consequences of a mind being able to do X, Y, and Z, and we difinitively observe those consequences in humans, and observe their absence in chickens." You might well disbelieve that Eliezer has such insight into cognitive algorithms, or believe he made a mistake when he did his exercise! But hopefully this sheds some light on (what I believe is) the nature of his confidence.
Mental health benefits and downsides of psychedelic use in ACX readers: survey results

Completely agree! Such possible explanations are the reason why I'm only mildly worried about psychedelic values drift. Cautious curiosity still seems to be the reasonable response. 

Book Review: Being You by Anil Seth

Well of course I was already familiar with map-territory distinction, and while insightful itself, it wasn't the insight I grasped from that paragraph.

The new insight is deeper understanding to what degree consciousness is functionally necessary for human behaviour. Literally as necessary as thermostats for air conditioning system. Also, while understanding that I have maps of reality in my consciousness, I suppose, I wasn't explicitly thinking that my consciousness is itself a map.

4Alexander1moIndeed! The good regulator theorem certainly gives concreteness to the abstract notion of a map. I find clarity in viewing intelligence/consciousness as analogous to the processes of mapmaking—walking around, surveying the territory, recording observations, and so on—rather than simply the map. In my view, this analogy to mapmaking makes more explicit the relationship between physical processes and intelligence/consciousness and the ever-changing nature of the map. I find it a little mind-blowing to conceptualise the map as the territory modelling itself. The Wheeler EyeI recommend chapter 5 (and related chapters) of A Thousand Brains by Jeff Hawkins for a physiological explanation of the idea of a map and how it manifests in the brain's structure. [Disclaimer: I have not completed reading A Thousand Brains and I have not scrupulously scrutinised it yet.] I’ve come across this idea about the similarities between brain structure and the structure of our physical environment in several places now (both K Friston and J Hawkins talk about it). * Brains have thin and long connections between neurons, which we can compare to forces that appear to act at a distance, such as light reflecting off an object and reaching our eyes almost instantaneously or gravity acting on a falling apple. * The deeply nested hierarchical structure of the connectome is analogous to the hierarchical nature of physical systems (composition and abstraction). * The human brain processes whatness and whereness in different regions. If we lived in a reality where an object changed its nature every time it moved, it would be more efficient to combine whatness and whereness processing into the same region. All this is highly speculative but hints at a map-territory correspondence between brains and their environments.
Mental health benefits and downsides of psychedelic use in ACX readers: survey results

It seems reasonable to be extra sceptical towards evidence that is obtained when your evidence-evaluating-engine is distorted and extremely sceptical toward evidence which can only be obtained in such state.

Experiencing divine grace under lsd is as much evidence in favour of god actually existing as witnessing psychic with an earphone telling you the details of your life is an evidence in favour of telepathy. Both performances can be impressive, but the design of the experiments is completely flawed.

I expect rationality adjacent people to understand it. An... (read more)

7Kaj_Sotala1moIt also depends on how one defines "religious". A commonly used definition, which seems to be same as the one you're using, is something like "believes in the objective existence of supernatural entities". But while that may be a reasonable description for many of the Abrahamic religions in particular, it's not a universal part of all religions, nor does it even accurately describe the psychology of many followers of those religions (even if it does describe the psychology of some). For instance, someone might get a feeling of all experience being sacred and beautiful in some sense, in a way that is not strictly incompatible with traditional atheism (as it implies no difference in factual beliefs, at least not beliefs with regard to what actually exists or not), but nonetheless feels so different to them than what they had previously associated with atheism that it feels more right to identify as being spiritual from that moment on. Or psychedelics might unlock intuitive access to phenomena which have traditionally been associated with religion, e.g. experiences of energies or seeing auras, that can be non-supernaturally interpreted as a native way for the brain to represent subconscious judgments of the emotional states of self and others [] . Those kinds of things are currently mostly discussed in the context of religion/spiritual practices, in which case one might describe themselves as "becoming religious" if they then start practicing systems for making use of that information that have been developed in the context of specific religions - which again doesn't require belief in anything supernatural. Or if one starts more strongly intuitively picking up on other people's emotional states, perceiving states and moods most strongly associated with people e.g. causing each other to get upset in certain predictable and repeatable patterns (e.g. the same arguments playing out over and over betw
Mental health benefits and downsides of psychedelic use in ACX readers: survey results

I've heard quite a lot about psychedelic-related values changes. This mildly worries me and makes suspicious about respondents being happy with their personality changes. 

One example from the data of this survey. I doubt that people from rationality adjacent communities would endorse becoming more religious, than they are now and would like to take a pill that would make them so in 24% causes. Yet the majority of respondents tend to endorse their personality changes from psychedelics.  

2ChristianKl1moThat depends to what extend the change is through by having new data. While some people have belief-in-belief of being atheists, many are just atheistic because they think it matches the available evidence best.
Why is multi worlds not a good explanation for abiogenesis

Theistic proof from abiogenesis just passes the buck of improbability from abiogenesis to the existence of God that wills abiogenesis to happen. 

Invoking many worlds here will do more harm than good. Next thing we will have theistic proof from many worlds.

Book Review: Being You by Anil Seth

The Good Regulator Theorem asserts that "every good regulator of a system must be a model of that system." Therefore, the air conditioning system must have some heat-map (e.g. via thermostats) of the building (i.e. a model). Similarly, for an organism to maintain its existence, it must have a model of the system it is trying to sustain, i.e. a model of itself and its surrounding environment. This way, the organism can remain within a narrow set of favourable physical states (the organism's attractor set) which allow it to stay alive.


This was insightf... (read more)

9Alexander1moIf I recall correctly, I was first introduced to the map-territory meme via LessWrong, and I've found it a useful idea in that it has helped me conceptualise the world and my place in it more clearly (as far as I can tell). I hear with great interest that you, too, have found this perspective insightful! [The following are speculative ramblings.] I wonder what the limits of map-territory convergence are and what those limits tell us about the limits of intelligence. Is complete convergence possible? Or is the limit determined by computational irreducibility (the idea that you cannot model some systems perfectly, you simply have to watch them unfold to find out what they do)? Is the universe a map that perfectly reflects the territory (itself)? Or is the universe yet another map of a yet deeper reality? I guess these questions belong to the realm of metaphysics.
Is moral duty/blame irrational because a person does only what they must?

First of all, notice how all the talk about predestination and fate doesn't change anything in our decision making process.

 - Your honour, I may have killed all these kids but, I was to do it due to the laws of the universe! It's unfair to punish me!

 - Be it as it may, but I'm to sentence you to life in prison due to these laws of the universe. It's useless to nag about it.

 - But I was predestined to nag about it, so it's useless to ask me not to nag!

 - And I'm fated to ask you to shut up, also we've already exceed 3 levels of recursion... (read more)

What do determinists here think about free will and Chalmer's hard problem of consciousness?

You are doing a thing where you misunderstand me because you are filtering my statements through your beliefs.

Of course our inferential distance is huge. It's no surprise. Neither do I feel that you are really trying to cross it. Also, considering that OP question was about determinism, it seems very appropriate that i talk from determinist position. However, as it happens, I'm indeed interested in better understanding indeterminism and libertarian free will. I accept that your usage is different but currently I don't understand it so it doesn't make ... (read more)

1TAG19dPart of that is inevitable, and part avoidable. Believing in determinism is fine, but building it into your definitions is not. That makes the inferential gap worse In order to define counterfactuals, I don't need any fundamentally new resources. For instance:- Indeterminism can easily be expressed in terms of probability: its the claim that an event B, and the conditional on an event A, can have an objective probability of less than 1.0. With the corollary that further alternatives, C and, and D can also happen since they have probability greater than 0.0. Given the premise, such alternatives have to exist, since the overall probability has to add up to one.. So a counterfactual is just a possible, but not actual, event, an event with a probability greater than 0, an event that could have happened, but didn't. Under determinism, there are no such alternatives, because whatever event happened had probability 1.0 .. and therefore had all the probability mass And of course, the point of real counterfactuals as opposed to logical counter factuals is that the probabilities it's defined in terms of are real, objective probabilities,not subjective, ignorance-based probabilities. What you are asking for is a full metaphysical account, not a definition. (And that might be part of the communication problem. There is no causal determinism without causal laws...but can you say exactly what a law is? Is it an idea on the mind of an observer, a platonic thingy, a material entity, an immaterial but physical entity, or what? I haven't asked you before because it isn't necessary to answer that kind of question to get a basic understanding of someone means by a term). I would say that many worlds is less conducive to the accepted ideas of free will than indeterminism AKA real counterfactuals , because MW doesn't allow of your counterparts will perform any action that has more than zero probability. Why ask that question? The concept of a counterfactual doesn'
What's the evidence on falling testosteron and sperm counts in men?

Isn't the current consensus that fitoestrogens from soy and grain do not affect male fertility or testosterone level? 

What do determinists here think about free will and Chalmer's hard problem of consciousness?

What? Where did I say that?

You said that some people would feel more free if counterfactuals and probability, which are part of our decision making algorithm, existed somewhere outside of our mind.

I don't know what you are referring to. Counterfactuals follow from indeterminism because indeterminism means an event could gave happened differently. It's quite straightforward.

There seem to be a huge gap between "something could have happened differently" and "there actually exist a parallel universe where this indeed happened differently". If we conside... (read more)

1TAG2moNo I didn't. For future reference, you should respond to that kind of question using direct quotation. In particular, I had no intention to comment on the feeling of freedom as opposed to actual freedom. I think you have been mentally translating "free will" into "feeling of freedom" because you believe in the doctrine that "free will just is the feeling of freedom" ....but I don't believe in it, so it doesn't represent my views. Similarly, I don't believe that counteractuals are only only logical or "in the mind". You are doing a thing where you misunderstand me because you are filtering my statements through your beliefs. You are also doing a thing where you change the usual meanings of words to fit a certain worldview. That makes it impossible for to me express any other worldview ...unless you accept that my usages differ from yours Yes. So what? I have never claimed that real counteractals are the same thing as parallel worlds. Nor have I claimed that they are the same thing as logical counterfactuals. There are at least four possible stances 1. No counterfactuals 2. Logical but not real counteractals 3. Logical and real counteractals. 4. Multiple worlds. I don't. I have already stated that the argument is invalid. If "the one" is parallel worlds and "the other" is real counterfactuals, I never asserted that. But maybe you meant something else. Please read AND write carefully. So why bring in counterfactuals? There is no reason to believe immortality is possible. Please understand that I don't agree with most Rationalist doctrine.
What do determinists here think about free will and Chalmer's hard problem of consciousness?

I don't see how what you explained is more than decision making. As soon as we understand that probabilities are part of the map, not the territory, it's clear that causing the future is exactly the same thing as influencing it in a way that makes future A more likely than future B. I also do not understand why would anyone feel more free if their decision making algorithm existed outside of their mind and how it's even possible in theory.

Another thing that I have troubles understanding, is how the objective existence of counterfactuals follows from, or ev... (read more)

1TAG2moThat's equivalent to assuming determinism. If you assume determinism, then all the best things you have said are indeed the best you can do with regard to decision making. But I am not assuming determinism. The argument that probabilities are only in the map is invalid, because "only in the map" doesn't follow from "in the map". What? Where did I say that? I don't know what you are referring to. Counterfactuals follow from indeterminism because indeterminism means an event could gave happened differently. It's quite straightforward. Why wouldn't it happen? To me that looks like a circular argument: nothing can happen unless it is determined , so everything is determined. Determinism, therefore determinism. Why would it need to be a simulation? You are assuming that a law of physics must be a deterministic law. But it doesn't say that anywhere. Whether indeterminism based freewill makes sense is a separate question from whether indeterminism makes sense. Why haven't we reduced qualia already, if reductionism is an old idea?
Book Review: Free Will

I mostly agree.

I like this. Free will is the feeling when you don't know the causes of your thoughts and actions.

It's definetely a huge part of the puzzle. But not all of it. Free will is also a feeling of not knowing the choices you will make in the future. And the process of determining this choice due to all the causes.

Suppose Omega perfectly knows all the prior causes of my decisions, it has my source code and all the inputs. Omega would still have to run the source code with these inputs, to actually execute my decision making algorithm, so that it ca... (read more)

Book Review: Free Will

I haven't read Harris's book, but my guess would be that he takes appropriate care not to sound like he does more than describing the world he sees.

I had originally expected exactly that from the book! But, in my opinion, it didn't turn out to be the case. I'm pretty sure that Harris could have done it if he intended to. My guess is that he wanted to be more relatable and appealing to a layman reader rather than polish his speech too much.

What do determinists here think about free will and Chalmer's hard problem of consciousness?

I assume by determinists you've meant the so called "boring view of reality" something in a cluster of causal determinism and reductive materialism. I seem to fit quite good in there, so here is my take:

Humans have free will in a sense of decision making, planning, achieving our goals and shaping the future the way we would like it to be. It (spoiler alert) requires causal determinism or, at least, quite a lot of it. It does not require indeterminism or the existence of conterfactual worlds outside of ones mind at all. Libertarian definition of free will d... (read more)

1TAG2moLibertarian free will, if possible, offers more than compatibilist free will. Determinism doesn't allow you to influence the future in a way that makes future A more likely than future B , as a result of some choice you make now. Under determinism, the probabilities of A and B are what they are, and always were -- before you make a decision, after you make a decision , and before you were born. (Note that this is still true of multiversal theories. In multiversal theories, future states have probabilities that differ from each other and change over time, but can't be changed) Libertarian free will allows the future to depend on dcisions which are not themselves determined. That means there are valid statements of the form "if I had made choice b instead of choice a, then future B would have happened instead of future A". Moreover, these are real possibilities, not merely conceptual or logical ones. Under determinism, events still need to be caused,and your (determined) actions can be part of the cause of a future state that is itself determined, that has probability 1.0. Determinism allows you to cause the future ,but it doesn't allow you to control the future in any sense other than causing it. It allows "if I had made choice b instead of choice a, then future B would have happened instead of future A", but without the ability to have actually chosen b.That additional, non-redundant, sense of control is what would have been required to answer the concern that libertarians actually have about what determinism robs them of The Hard Problem is the problem of finding a physical reduction of qualia, so saying "duh, find a physical reduction of qualia" isn't some novel solution that no one thought of before.
SIA > SSA, part 4: In defense of the presumptuous philosopher

I've been genuinely confused about all these antropics stuff and read your sequence in hope for some answers. Now I understand better what are SSA and SIA. Yet am not even closer to understanding why would anyone take these theories seriously. They often don't converge to normality, they depend on weird a priori reasoning which doesn't resemble the way cognition engines produce accurate maps of the territory.

SSA and SIA work only in those cases where their base asumptions are true. And in different circumstances and formulations of mind experiments differe... (read more)

Three enigmas at the heart of our reasoning

I really empathize with being troubled by such questions. I was amused by them a decade or so ago and I've found a way to actually make peace with them before I discovered Less Wrong, which in turn gave me so crucial insights, allowing to solve these enigmas to my own satisfaction. 

The way I originally made peace with these questions was through embracing the doubts rather than running from them. To, as you put it, "surrender to radical skepticism" Suppose that the questions are indeed unsolvable. That there is no ultimate justification, that everythi... (read more)

2alexflint2moYeah thank you for sharing these thoughts. I have not really resolved these questions to my own satisfaction, but the thing that seems clearest to me is to really notice when these doubts are become a drag on energy levels and confidence, and, if they are, to carve out a block of time to really turn towards them in earnest.