All of arborealhominid's Comments + Replies

Rationality Quotes December 2013

Good point; I hadn't really thought about it that way! I had interpreted it as reminding you to update your probability estimates based on observed evidence.

Rationality Quotes December 2013

If we work around this assumption of being cis as the default… like, for example, if we stop thinking about the fact that as an abstract, general question a random human being is much more likely to be cis than trans, and instead consider the question in terms of whether, given everything we observe in ourselves, and everything we feel, and how strong our feelings are about this question of gender, which (cis or trans) is more likely for us… if we consider “is it really all that likely that I’m just a cis person who has somehow managed to convince myself

... (read more)

Given that this quote essentially advises ignoring priors, I don't see what's so Bayesian about it.

Rationality Quotes September 2013

Another good one from the same source:

Truth can be sliced and analyzed in 100 different ways and it will always remain true.

Falsehood on the other hand can only be sliced a few different ways before it becomes increasingly obvious that it is false.

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 27, chapter 98

I wonder if this will somehow play into Quirrell's plot to have both Ravenclaw and Slytherin win the house cup.

6undermind8yYes, obviously. Even in the unlikely event this wasn't all planned by Quirrell with his talk of unity, and role in the Hermione Affair, it is now really easy for him to accomplish this goal.
Cult impressions of Less Wrong/Singularity Institute

Moreright.net already exists, and it's a "Bayesian reactionary" blog- that is, a blog for far-rightists who are involved in the Less Wrong community. It's an interesting site, but it strikes me as decidedly unhelpful when it comes to looking uncultish.

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 25, chapter 96

I don't actually remember why I retracted it. I tried to un-retract it afterwards, but I don't think that's possible.

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 25, chapter 96

If you put the cloak over someone who is dying, they would stay alive, at least until the Cloak is removed and death can find them again.

I'm surprised Harry didn't try this for Hermione, then. Maybe he wouldn't have expected it to work, but it's still an easy hypothesis to test.

It was amazing how many different ways there were to kill your best friend by being stupid.

[This comment is no longer endorsed by its author]Reply
3mavant8yIt's a shame you retracted this, because I wanted to +1 it.
Rationality Quotes July 2013

The emphasis I used was in the original, but I agree that it would work better with the emphasis on "think."

0aphyer9yNot sure I agree with that. Emphasis on "think" undercuts the point: I wouldn't say that I "think you can't jump over the moon", even though I do not have a formal proof of impossibility handy for that, I'd just say "you can't do that." In fact, I almost like it better without the word "think" at all: "Whatever can't be done, someone will come along and do it." YMMV, though.
Rationality Quotes July 2013

Whatever you think can't be done, somebody will come along and do it.

Thelonious Monk

I would be happier with this quote if the emphasis were on "think," because impossibility proofs are possible sometimes.

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 23, chapter 94

On the Wild Mass Guessing page on TVTropes, someone made the following prediction: "Hermione is the enemy Voldemort will use in his resurrection... which will result in female!Voldemort(e), after using his mother's bone in the ritual." (They also mentioned that he would use Bellatrix's flesh for said ritual.) When I first read this, it seemed rather silly. However, now I'm starting to wonder if it's an actual possibility. Hermione's body is missing, and although I think it's more likely that Harry took it to resurrect Hermione, there's definitely... (read more)

"Stupid" questions thread

And there are, in fact, several people proposing this as a solution to other anthropogenic existential risks. Here's one example.

4NancyLebovitz9yI would like to think that people who have the answer for each question in their FAQ open in a new tab aren't competent enough to do much of anything. This is probably wishful thinking. Just to mention a science fiction handling.... John Barnes' Daybreak books [http://www.amazon.com/Daybreak-Series-by-John-Barnes/lm/R3FJ1T10G96V2B]. I think the books are uneven, but the presentation of civilization-wrecking as an internet artifact is rather plausible.
Rationality Quotes June 2013

The word gentleman originally meant something recognisable: one who had a coat of arms and some landed property. When you called someone 'a gentleman' you were not paying him a compliment, but merely stating a fact. If you said he was not 'a gentleman' you were not insulting him, but giving information. There was no contradiction in saying that John was a liar and a gentleman; any more than there now is in saying that James is a fool and an M.A. But then there came people who said- so rightly, charitably, spiritually, sensitively, so anything but usefully

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6[anonymous]9ySo Lewis grants that people really can be brave, honorable, and courteous, but then denies that calling someone so is descriptive? This passage does't make any sense.

When a word ceases to be a term of description and becomes merely a term of praise, it no longer tells you facts about the object; it only tells you about the speaker's attitude to that object.

This is because a speaker's attitude towards an object is not formed by the speaker's perception of the object; it is entirely arbitrary. Wait, no, that's not right.

And anyway, the previous use of the term "gentleman" was, in some sense, worse. Because while it had a neutral denotation ("A gentleman is any person who possesses these two qualities"), it had a non-neutral connotation.

Rationality Quotes May 2013

"If someone tells you their results before the results are gathered, be suspicious."

Rationality Quotes May 2013

Thanks for the fact-check! In retrospect, it probably would have been a good idea for me to fact-check this before I posted it.

And yes, the other story is odd indeed. I actually hadn't read it before I posted the link.

9evand9y... And I have no upvoted both of you for the irony of failing to fact-check an anecdote about the importance of proper fact-checking.
Rationality Quotes May 2013

One of the biggest tasks, according to Gardner, was tracking information and beliefs back to their roots. This is always important, but especially in a field as rich in hearsay as herbal medicine. One little piece of information, or an unsubstantiated report, can grow and become magnified, quickly becoming an unquestioned truism. She used as an example the truism that the extracts of the herb Ginkgo Biloba might cause dangerous bleeding. Everyone says it can. The journalists say it. The doctors say it. The herbalists say it. Even I say it! It's nearly imp

... (read more)

Upvoted initially because this seemed like a good example of what I've taken to calling a "leprechaun" - a fact that spreads in spite of limited empirical backing; however a quick Google search (fact-checking the fact-check, as it were) leads to this article which at the very least suggests that the second-hand story told above is somewhat exaggerated: the evidence for bleeding associated with Gingko Biloba is rather more solid than "one case report - of a single person". Upvote retracted, I'm afraid...

(ETA: also, the other story at that link makes for... interesting reading for a rationalist.)

Rationality Quotes March 2013

There’s a funny irony in “tell your story” and “speak your truth”, in that those two things are fundamentally at odds with each other. Stories and narratives aren’t, and can’t be, the truth of our actual lived experiences. Real lives don’t follow the structures of narrative, they don’t move in linear tidy sequences of causes and actions and effects and consequences. Real lives are big jumbled messes that are almost impossible to make real sense of, and the act of imposing a narrative on them, sorting out our “life story”, is always an act of editing.

-Natalie Reed

[Poll] Less Wrong and Mainstream Philosophy: How Different are We?

I'm not totally clear on the distinction between representationalism and sense-datum theory. Do you think you could explain it in a bit more detail?

LW Women: LW Online

Thank you! I voted on both.

LW Women: LW Online

I'm nonbinary (that is, I do not identify with either gender), and I feel that my social experience is somewhat in-between that of most men and that of most women. Would it be acceptable for me to vote on these questions, or would that distort the data?

4Sarokrae9yI'm happy for you to vote on one, both or neither depending on whether you think your experiences are relevant to the question.
Rationality Quotes January 2013

Extremely good point! I liked this quote because I thought it was a funny way to describe taking the outside view, but you're completely right that it advocates reversed stupidity (at least when taken completely literally).

Rationality Quotes January 2013

Whenever I'm about to do something, I think, "Would an idiot do that?" And if they would, then I do not do that thing.

-Dwight K. Schrute

4[anonymous]9yReversed stupidity is not intelligence. Would an idiot drink when they're thirsty? Yes they would.
Rationality Quotes January 2013

Well, the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis is the idea that language shapes thought and/or culture, and Whorfianism is any school of thought based on this hypothesis. I assume pop-Whorfianism is just Whorfian speculation by people who aren't qualified in the field (and who tend to assume that the language/culture relationship is far more deterministic than it actually is).

0Toddling9yThanks.
Rationality Quotes January 2013

Tobias adjusted his wings and appeared to tighten his talons on the branch. "Maybe you’re right. I don’t know. Look, Ax, it’s a whole new world. We’re having to make all this up as we go along. There aren’t any rules falling out of the sky telling us what and what not to do." "What exactly do you mean?" "Too hard to explain right now," Tobias said. "I just mean that we don’t really have any time-tested rules for dealing with these issues... So we have to see what works and what doesn’t. We can’t afford to get so locked i

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Rationality Quotes January 2013

Never in my life did I expect to find myself upvoting a comment quoting My Nationalist Pony.

Ritual 2012: A Moment of Darkness

I agree with what you're saying, but just to complicate things a bit: what if humans have two terminal values that directly conflict? Would it be justifiable to modify one to satisfy the other, or would we just have to learn to live with the contradiction? (I honestly don't know what I think.)

1Multiheaded9yAh... If you or I knew what to think, we'd be working on CEV right now, and we'd all be much less fucked than we currently are.
Ritual 2012: A Moment of Darkness

I genuinely don't know how I feel about the "rational confession" idea. On the one hand, the idea of "confession of sins" squicks me out a bit, even though I enjoy other rituals; it reminds me too much of highly authoritarian/groupthink-y religions. On the other hand, having a place to discuss one's own biases and plan ways to avoid them sounds seriously useful, and would probably be a helpful tradition to have.

3Rob Bensinger9yIt sounds like you like the content, but not the way I framed it. That's fine. I only framed it like a religious ritual to better fit Adelene's question; in practice we may not even want to think of it as a 'ritual,' i.e., we may not want to adorn or rigidify it beyond its recurrence as a practice.
Can the Chain Still Hold You?

Technically accurate, but not general enough. A futanari, as I understand, is a person who has a penis, but otherwise has the physical characteristics typically designated "female" (breasts, wide hips, etc.). A no-op trans woman would fit this description, but so would someone who started out with the typical "female" phenotype but had their genitals modified and kept the rest of their body the same. (As far as I know, this hasn't happened in real life, but it's theoretically possible.) Also, though I'm not aware of any such condition, I suppose there could be an intersex condition that produces a "futanari" phenotype. (If anyone is aware of one, I'd be curious to hear about it.)

Can the Chain Still Hold You?

I don't think the genderqueer BDSM pornographers usually call themselves "radical feminists"; they do call themselves both radicals and feminists, but they don't usually combine the terms. The term "radical feminist" seems to have been largely monopolized by the Andrea Dworkin/ Mary Daly/ Twisty Faster crowd.

2MixedNuts9yI don't know if unpleasant second-wavers are the most common radfems or just the noisiest on the Internet. I tried doing a bit of a research but couldn't bear it, so you'll have to dig the everything-positive radfems up yourself if you're interested. There are a few I've talked to, but they apparently don't blog.
Rationality Quotes December 2012

The exposure of truth sometimes results in tragedy. However, no matter how tragic the truth may be, it would be an even greater tragedy to avert one's eyes from it.

  • Edgeworth, from Phoenix Wright (which I haven't actually played)
5MugaSofer9yFixed that for you.

If you are hiding in a basement from the Nazis, this isn't true. If you are going to be tortured for the whereabouts of people hiding from the Nazis, you should also avert your eyes and avoid finding out where they are hiding. The fact that instrumental and epistemic rationality are sometimes at odds is another tragic truth.

Rationality Quotes November 2012

Fair point. I can't really think of anything I've done that didn't make at least some sort of sense at the time, but I can think of at least one thing I've done where I seriously have to strain to see how it ever could have made sense to me (though I remember feeling like it did). Looking back on it, I feel like I was carrying the idiot ball.

Rationality Quotes November 2012

In fact, we come to associate having to expend effort and do things with our work, and associate relaxing and not doing anything with leisure time. So, because many of us don't like our jobs, we tend to associate having to do things with being unhappy, while happiness, as far as we ever know it, means... not doing anything. We never act for ourselves, because we spend our whole days acting for other people, and we think that acting and working hard always leads to unhappiness; our idea of happiness is not having to act, being on permanent vacation.

And th

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Rationality Quotes November 2012

If I have a Grand Unified Theory Of Everything, it's this: I believe that people always do things that make sense to them. Hard as it is to believe with all the hurting out there, almost nobody hurts others just to be a jerk. So if you want to change human behavior on a grand scale, you can't tell people "stop being a jerk." You have to dissect and then recreate their models of the world until being a jerk doesn't make sense.

Cliff Pervocracy

While I think there's some truth to this, it's easy for me to come up with examples of things I've done that never made sense to myself.

Why is Mencius Moldbug so popular on Less Wrong? [Answer: He's not.]

De gustibus non est disputandum, I suppose. For what it's worth, I loved the writing style of his earlier posts (like this one), but find the writing style of his more current stuff (like this) kind of obnoxious.

Why is Mencius Moldbug so popular on Less Wrong? [Answer: He's not.]

See my previous comment re: mistaking a vocal minority for a group consensus.

I don't even think they're particularly vocal. I can recall like two loud Moldbuggians: Konk and Vlad_M, who is inactive and doesn't even mention Moldbug by name, to my knowledge.

I think it looks like these Moldbuggians are active because a lot of Moldbuggianism is deconstructing assumptions about how politics works. So there's a lot of mainstream ideological assumptions that aren't seen as ideological at all by most people (democracy is good, the media is an observer not a participant in government, etc) yet are seen as incorrect and/or political claims... (read more)

[anonymous]9y15

I'm not sure vocal is a good word, people who have read Moldbug and his ideas mention him certainly but no more than people who read and cite different bloggers like say Sister Y or Razib Khan.

The main reason I think references to his writing stand out as they seem to is because the models he proposes depart so radically from the formal description our society has for itself, yet is taken seriously by some not obviously crazy people.

Why is Mencius Moldbug so popular on Less Wrong? [Answer: He's not.]

I guess I mistook a small but noticeable minority for some sort of community consensus. In retrospect, that was kind of silly of me.

5[anonymous]9yThe question then becomes why is it noticeable. Edit: Athrelon has since made an interesting observation [http://lesswrong.com/lw/fh4/why_is_mencius_moldbug_so_popular_on_less_wrong/7uke] .
Why is Mencius Moldbug so popular on Less Wrong? [Answer: He's not.]

Thanks; that explains it. Is there a way for me to move this to Open Thread? (I'm new to posting/commenting here, and I haven't fully figured out the site mechanics.)

2Kaj_Sotala9yNo, not really. Just post similar concerns there the next time and you'll be fine. :-)
Rationality Quotes November 2012

Be more than good; be good for something

Henry David Thoreau

2012 Less Wrong Census/Survey

I had both of these questions as well. I've always been confused about the word "spiritual," as some people seem to use it to mean "having feelings of awe or reverence that are cognitively similar to those expressed in religious worship" while others use it to mean "actually believing in spirits." I consider myself spiritual by the first definition, but not the second. On the survey, I described myself as "atheist but spiritual," but now I'm not sure this was the most accurate description, since it falsely implies th... (read more)

2012 Less Wrong Census/Survey

Lurker for the past couple years, posting for the first time. I took it, including a good chunk of the extra credit questions.