Arandur

Embedded software developer in Dallas. Actively seeking friendships.

Arandur's Comments

Mushrooms

That's where randomized controlled trials come in. Rigor! Scholarship! Risks to one's health! That's the scientific method!

Mushrooms

That's where the virtue of experimentation comes in. Let us know what you find! :D

(Purely incidentally, I love what you're doing on We've Got Worm. Didn't know you ran in these circles, though I might have guessed.)

The Journal of High Standards
If you can convince people that the standards of the new journal are actually beter than the existing ones that further helps with making the decision to publish in the journal seem virtuous.

I concur with the implication, but that's a very big "if". It's possible that many scientists know that e.g. the CONSORT standards are good, but how many do you think would be able to differentiate between two sets of standards, and determine which one is "better"? In addition, I'm not sure that "virtue" really is much of a factor when deciding in which journal to publish one's research, otherwise we wouldn't see people following the incentive gradients they are.

Finally I don't see how taking money for publishing instead of taking money from a grant seems more like selling out.

One is status quo, the other is novel. Sometimes that's all it takes. I can easily imagine a conversation like the following:

"Hey Kit, in which journal did you publish your recent research paper?"
"Oh, I published it in The Journal of High Standards."
"Huh, I've never heard of them. Why didn't you submit it to The Prestigious Yet Unvirtuous Journal?"
"Well, The Journal of High Standards paid me a few thousand dollars."
"Really? That sounds suspicious. You sure it isn't a scam?"

The idea of money coming from the government to fund scientific research is already well-established (since it's what we do), it naturally appeals to our democratic ideals, and everyone understands the incentive structure involved. The idea of money coming as a reward from a publisher is novel (and therefore weird), and the incentive structure is murkier (and therefore suspicious).

This all said, I'm speaking solely from my intuition regarding how people would react to this situation, and my intuition seems to differ substantially from yours. I'm not trying to convince you that you're wrong and I'm right; rather, I'm trying to signal that there is a wide possibility space here, and I'm not sure why you've picked "offering money will lead to greater prestige" out of it when other possibilities seem to be just as likely, if not more so.

On Inconvenient Truth

You could try to bite bullets and believe the inconvenient facts.
You could try to find the facts and change your politics to fit.

You mention that you "feel committed to the last". If you had used the word "beliefs" instead of "politics," I would endorse and agree with your commitment. Given that you used the word "politics," though, I'm inclined to believe that the better path is somewhere between the two positions quoted above.

I agree that "[for] almost any political position, there is at least one inconvenient fact." (Or, at least, I think I agree; I think that you are using the terms "political position" and "inconvenient" in the way that is intuitive to me.) But political positions are only sufficiently powerful enough to enact change when multiple people believe in them, or believe in something close enough that they can work together. There are inconvenient facts that I'm aware of which cast doubt on some of my political positions, but the doubts are small enough that I believe it better to hold onto the imperfect position than to abandon it. Politics is not a game of finding optimum solutions; it is a game of coalition-building, of incremental change, of pushing for policies that are better than what existed before. (I would imagine that this fact is part of the source of the frustration many aspiring rationalists feel toward politics. I know that I feel this frustration.)

So let's set aside politics for the moment, because you seem to use the term roughly interchangeably with "belief", e.g. "whatever you wish to believe, there is, somewhere, a fact that will cast doubt on it."

But my beliefs are probabilistic in nature. Seemingly contradictory facts are not enemies -- to the contrary, they are expected. If I believe that a die is weighted such that the number six will show up 25% of the time, I will bet on each roll coming up on six. 75% of the time, the facts will appear to be against me -- and yet, if I bet at the right odds, I'll still expect to win in the long run. It is my intuition that this stance lies closer to "[trying] to bite the bullets and believe the inconvenient facts" than "[trying] to find the facts and [changing] my [beliefs] to fit."

Of course, I should still update the probability based on each roll I see, so maybe that counts as "[changing] my [beliefs]"? I'm not sure. Maybe my point is just that I'm not clear on what difference you're making between those two options. Really, your first option, "[taking] a stance of strong epistemic and moral modesty, and never [taking] a position with confidence," could also describe the situations I touched on above.

Some suggestions (desperate please, even)

Adding to the Markdown parsing comment: if we're going to type in Markdown anyway instead of having a proper WYSIWYG editor (make no mistake; I prefer the former!) (Although I see that highlighting text causes a WYSIWYG panel to open up, which I think is excellent), I think it makes sense to separate the raw input from the formatting. I would prefer a system such as Reddit or Stack Exchange have, where the text-box shows the raw Markdown, and the resultant formatted text is displayed elsewhere for review. Combining the two into one area makes fine editing more difficult.

I'm inclined to believe that this would also go some way toward fixing Jiro's underscore issue, since "[struggling] with a malicious parser" is somewhat easier when you have easy access to the parser's input and output. It might not help as much as I think, though, and it would indeed be easier not to have to struggle. (Jiro, as a workaround I would recommend surrounding the offending text with backticks, e.g. `expand_less`.

The Journal of High Standards
Even if the money alone isn't enough to warrant the scientist to publish in a no-name journal, the journal would soon stop being a no-name journal because scientists would expect that their colleges want to publish in the journal to get the money. That expectation makes the journal more prestigious. The expectations that other people expect the journal to get more prestigious in-turn will increase it's prestige. 

I'm inclined to dispute this point. Setting quite aside the difficulty of setting up such a project, supposing that the money came ex nihilo and we magically caught the ear of prestigious scientists... it is my intuition that our journal would nevertheless fail to gain prestige. I believe that scientists who published with us would be seen as having been "bought", and I expect that this scorn would overpower any demonstrable merit the research or our journal as a whole possessed. "I want to publish in this journal to get the prize money" is a different motivation than "I want to publish in this journal because it has prestige," and I don't think that gap is as easily crossed as you seem to think.

10/19/2017: Development Update (new vote backend, revamped user pages and advanced editor)

The Navbar is transparent on the About page on Android -- when I scroll down, the content and the navbar text overlap each other. Not sure if that's intentional, but it seems a bit awkward to me.

Actually, much of my experience on Android has been buggy -- is mobile performance not a high development priority right now?

High Challenge

... huh. I wonder if Neal Stephenson is a LW reader. See his (most recent?) book, REAMDE, for an implementation of this idea.

High Challenge

I'm not sure that the difference between 4D states and 3D states is meaningful, with respect to eudaimoniac valuations. Doesn't this overlook the fact that human memories are encoded physically, and are therefore part of the 3D state being looked at? I don't see any meaningful difference between a valuation over a 4D state, and a valuation over a 3D state including memories of the past.

In other words, I can think of no 3D state whose eudaimoniac valuation is worse than that of the 4D state having it as its endpoint.

(In fact, I can think of quite a few which may in fact be better, for pathological choices of 4D state, e.g. ones extending all the way back to the Dark Ages or before.)

P.S. Is there a standardized spelling for the term which I have chosen to spell as "eudaimoniac"? A quick Google search suggested this one as the best candidate.

Is Morality Given?

Oh dear; how embarrassing. Let me try my argument again from the top, then.

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