All of B_For_Bandana's Comments + Replies

Rationality Quotes Thread April 2015

So raise your glass if you are wrong in all the right ways!

  • Pink, virtually alone among the pop-singer community in her early endorsement of the post-rationality movement.

(Epistemic status: frivolous wordplay on the different meanings of "wrong.")

Rationality: From AI to Zombies

The code of the shepherds is terrible and stern. One sheep, one pebble, hang the consequences. They have been known to commit fifteen, and twenty-one, and even even, rather than break it.

Open thread, Jan. 19 - Jan. 25, 2015

There were sixteen other students in the class. For all we know, theses about fun things could have been in the majority.

Yeah, maybe.

If you accept what I wrote in the GP, where do you see a contradiction in the four statements? And if you don't, could you try to articulate why?

No, no I don't think you had a contradiction either. I was just saying that you could do the same thing with "fun." And maybe other kids did, as you say.

Open thread, Jan. 19 - Jan. 25, 2015

Sure, but the point is that the same argument applies to the flipside: everyone could've written essays like "X is fun" or "Y is fun" without contradiction. But they chose "hard" instead. Why?

0Gondolinian6yThere were sixteen other students in the class. For all we know, theses about fun things could have been in the majority. If you accept what I wrote in the GP, where do you see a contradiction in the four statements? And if you don't, could you try to articulate why?
Rationality Quotes January 2015

I want to climb a mountain, not so I can get to the top, but because I want to hang out at base camp. That seems fun as shit. You sleep in a colorful tent, grow a beard, drink hot chocolate, walk around... ‘Hey, you going to the top?’ . . . ‘Soon.’

  • Mitch Hedberg on fun theory and the complexity of human values.
7lmm6yEverest is probably an atypical example (though maybe not in the context of a joke), but Into Thin Air made it sound like base camp is a pretty unpleasant place to spend any time, because no-one really cares much about making it a nice place (and thus there is e.g. terrible hygiene, litter everywhere)
Rationality Quotes January 2015

One of the replies there is,

@RachelHaywire diverse sci/astro ppl I follow, male+female believe far more women driven from phys sci by harassment than men by geekshaming.

Reminds me of Twain's comparison of the two Reigns of Terror.

Edit: Not to mention that we didn't lose Matt Taylor. He still has the same job as a scientist with the ESA.

7Viliam_Bur6yThis seems to silently assume that women are not geekshamed. Otherwise the proper comparison would be "more women driven from phys by harassment than both men and women by geekshaming", if we want to argue that geekshaming is not a problem. We should not automatically assume that focusing public attention on a scientist's shirt instead of their scientific results will have zero impact on geek women.
2fubarobfusco6yIn other words, the original quote is, simply, a lie. Perhaps the "rationality" aspect is to remind people of all affiliations how readily people will lie for politics?
Rationality Quotes January 2015

An escalator can never break -- it can only become stairs. You should never see an "Escalator Temporarily Out Of Order" sign, just "Escalator Temporarily Stairs. Sorry for the convenience. We apologize for the fact that you can still get up there."

0moorethunder6y'I got an idea for sweatshops - air conditioning' Mitch Hedberg Development Economists are say we shouldn't close sweatshops as they are the workers best options. I don't see why altruists can't pay for air conditioners to be installed in sweat shops.

I have seen escalators sufficiently out-of-order that they were completely non-traversable.

Rationality Quotes January 2015

Some people seem terribly smug about being right about one thing. It makes me wonder if this is, in fact, the only thing they’ve ever gotten right in their whole lives.


That's not literally true. It's just booing irrational people. Which is appropriate for Ozy on zher own blog, but not for this thread of useful quotes.

Open thread, Dec. 15 - Dec. 21, 2014

For GiveWell in particular, if you do not believe they can do this, why do you think they can evaluate other charities' effectiveness?

Yeah, I think that's right. I'm the same as people who don't want to give to charities who have too much "overhead," leading to perverse incentives, as you say. GiveWell itself can be looked at as overhead for the charities it recommends, even though technically it's a different organization. As such they deserve to be supported too.

Will click "Unrestricted" in the future.

Entropy and Temperature

I didn't read your comment carefully enough. Yes, we agree.

Entropy and Temperature

Right, but we don't think of a tennis ball falling in a vacuum as gaining thermal energy or rising in temperature. It is "only" gaining mechanical kinetic energy; a high school student would say that "this is not a thermal energy problem," even though the ball does have an average kinetic energy (kinetic energy, divided by 1 ball). But if temperature of something that we do think of as hot is just average kinetic energy, then there is a sense in which the entire universe is "not a thermal energy problem."

[This comment is no longer endorsed by its author]Reply
0Lumifer6yThat's because temperature is a characteristic of a multi-particle system. One single particle has energy, a large set of many particles has temperature. And still speaking of high-school physics, conversion between thermal and kinetic energy is trivially easy and happens all the time around us.
Open thread, Dec. 15 - Dec. 21, 2014

When you go to GiveWell's Donate page, one of the questions is,

How should we use your gift? We may use unrestricted gifts to support our operations or to make grants, at our discretion:

And you can choose the options:

  • Grants to recommended charities

  • Unrestricted donation

I notice I'm reluctant to pick "Unrestricted," fearing my donation might be "wasted" on GiveWell's operations, instead of going right to the charity. But that seems kind of strange. Choosing "Unrestricted" gives GiveWell strictly more options than choo... (read more)

1VincentYu6yHolden has written about donation restrictions [] on the GiveWell blog back in 2009 (bold and italics in original): See also the following on the GiveWell blog: * The comments by GiveWell analysts Alexander Berger and Timothy Telleen-Lawton on giving to GiveWell in this recent post [] . * Holden's post on GiveWell's funding needs in 2013 [] where he asked more donors to donate unrestricted to GiveWell. (For their latest budget and revenue forecasts, see this document from September [] .)
7mindspillage6yI wouldn't make a restricted donation to a charity unless there was a cause I really cared about but I didn't think the charity behind it was well-run and I didn't know a better way of helping that cause. I do not consider money to keep a good charity running as "wasted"--if anything I am deeply dubious of any charity which claims to have minimal to no administration costs, because it's either untrue (the resources to manage it effectively must come from somewhere, maybe from the founders' own personal resources) or a likely sign of bad management (they think that skimping on the funds needed to manage it effectively in the name of maximizing the basket of "program expenses" is a good organizational strategy). An organization that I think is well-run wants to spend on its cause as much as possible, but is mindful of needing to spend on itself also. If it cannot spend on itself--to hire good staff, to have good training, to use resources that cost money and save time, to plan its strategy and maintain regulatory compliance, to do whatever else an efficient organization needs to do--how can it possibly have the capacity to spend well on its programs? The money to sustain that charity is providing for its cause to be effectively addressed now and into the future. "Unrestricted" says that you believe GiveWell is competent to make these allocations correctly between itself and its recommended charities. For GiveWell in particular, if you do not believe they can do this, why do you think they can evaluate other charities' effectiveness? Presumably you want to give to the other charities because GiveWell has told you they are worth it, because you think GiveWell is competent at assessing organizational effectiveness. (For other charities, I would have lower expectations for assessment ability--but still I expect that I want to give to one in particular because it is effective at spending for its cause. There are few causes where you do not have much choice of how to di
2DanielLC6yThere's a big difference between trusting someone about a third party and trusting someone about themselves.
2Emily6yMaybe this would be a coherent position: * You trust GiveWell's judgement on which charities are the best choices * You think they've done enough work to establish this, at least for the time being * You don't plan to give more money in the immediate future * Therefore, you want your money go to to the charities, not to a decision-making process that you now see as having diminishing returns I'm not sure I'd buy it myself... it seems like it really only makes sense if you don't think anybody else is going to be giving money to GiveWell in the immediate future either (or perhaps ever?).
Entropy and Temperature

An alternate phrasing (which I think makes it clearer) would be: "the distinction between mechanical and thermal energy is in the mind, and because we associate temperature with thermal but not mechanical energy, it follows that two observers of the same system can interpret it as having two different temperatures without inconsistency."

In other words, if you fall into the sun, your atoms will be strewn far and wide, yes, but your atoms will be equally strewn far and wide if you fall into an ice-cold mechanical woodchipper. The distinction between the types of energy used for the scattering process is what is subjective.

2Lumifer6yThe high-school definition of temperature as "a measure of the average kinetic energy of the particles" (see the grandparent comment) actually erases that distinction as it defines temperature through kinetic (mechanical) energy.
October 2014 Media Thread

Whether this is intentional is not clear to me, probably not.

I think it was intentional -- other characters frequently remark on how dumb she is. My impression is that Swan's character was some kind of artistic/political statement by Robinson -- that the adventures of a screwed-up, clueless person are just as valid and meaningful as those of more traditional heroes, or something. I wasn't too impressed by this, but the book's worldbuilding was amazing and that made up for everything else.

October 2014 Media Thread

Wait a minute, there's such a thing as fan fiction of fan fiction? What a time to be alive.

1Risto_Saarelma7yThis thing goes back at least to the 90s and Adam Cadre's take [] on Stephen Ratliff's rather special Star Trek TNG fanfiction [].
4ArisKatsaris7yThere's whole ficverses that usually get built around a popular enough fanfic. That's even more usual when the fic in question introduces a unique enough setting: e.g. most relevant to LessWrong would be The Optimalverse [], the ficverse built around Friendship is Optimal [], but I imagine the ficverse built in the setting of "Fallout: Equestria" to be the biggest one by far.
Rationality Quotes October 2014

When you get to a fork in the road, take it.

(I will keep doing this. I have no shame.)

October 2014 Media Thread

I just finished Red Plenty by Francis Spufford, which I bought because of this review on Slate Star Codex. It was a thoroughly enjoyable and interesting mix of history and fiction about the Soviet Union in the late 1950's and early 1960's, when it was actually plausible to hope that politicians and scientists could get central planning right and build an economy that provided a first-world standard of living to everyone. (Spoiler alert) it doesn't work out, and Red Plenty gives you a good look at how and why it failed.

I'm not usually a person given to inte... (read more)

Rationality Quotes September 2014

Always go to other people's funerals; otherwise they won't go to yours.

Yogi Berra, on Timeless Decision Theory.

9timujin7yIf only I cared about who goes to my funeral.
Me and M&Ms

Can I ask a silly question? My understanding of your situation is that you want to get your work done, but sometimes you don't have the willpower, so you use your M&M system for motivation. But then you are faced with the possibility of just eating a bunch of M&M's without doing anything. And there is no meta-M&M system to motivate you to keep from eating M&M's. So I don't see how this can actually help you. Empirically, it clearly does, but I have trouble understanding how. Why is it easier to keep from eating M&M's "on your own&q... (read more)

4coyotespike7yWhat Emile said, although I do have to make sure I don't cheat! (Also, the M&Ms are in a desk drawer where I can't see them) Before I tried this, every time I goofed off during a pomodoro, the mild buzz of surfing the internet served as a reward. Now, I tell myself, "don't goof off, or no M&M for you!" There's a second reward as well, which may not apply to everyone equally. I work full-time, basically in legal research. I used to spread 10 pomodoros out over the day (okay, 8). Now I do 10 as fast as possible, and then switch to personal research. This makes the day much more pleasurable. The M&Ms reinforce this faster-moving, more engaging schedule.
6Emile7yI'm assuming because "don't eat undeserved M&Ms" is a clear, simple and binary rule - breaches are obvious, so there's not much of a temptation to rationalize them. "Work on my stuff" is broad and fuzzy and has plenty of room for excuses like "I'm a bit tired today", "I deserve to rest", "I'll do it tomorrow', etc.
Ethics in a Feedback Loop: A Parable

Hang on. I'm a "group" of sapients (a group of one, but a group). Everyone else is another group. Are you saying that I will never be convinced, or should never be convinced, by moral philosophy written by someone else?

And why call the assertions arbitrary? The humans in the story seem to share axioms like "pain is bad, cet par" with the Martians. Neither side is Clippy here.

1therufs7yNo, but no one said anything about the Martians being convinced, or about the Martians being entitled to offer any opinion at all. Because they are about how other people than the ones making the assertions should behave.
Ethics in a Feedback Loop: A Parable

Yes, I meant less than if the green Martian was more cavalier about tickling humans.

And of course, providing value, and getting recognized for providing value, are two completely different things. Each can and do happen without the other happening.

Ethics in a Feedback Loop: A Parable

His values bring no value to him, or to anyone else.

Well, not quite. The humans really are being stung less.

1Salemicus7yStung less than what? What's the baseline? The ever-Green Martian is going to tell himself that the baseline is if he went around stinging humans, and so expect praise for being so ethical. But from the human point of view, the baseline is if this Martian never existed - in which case certainly no humans would get stung by him. So he will get no praise.
Ethics in a Feedback Loop: A Parable

Recruit the subset of rare humans who enjoy green tickling and employ them as tickling punchbags for green Martians to practice on.

The laws of Earth prohibit tickling for pay. Interestingly, the laws of Earth do not prohibit paying a Martian and a human actor to act as if the Martian is zapping the human's brain with a ray gun (which in real life is way worse than tickling, even by a green Martian, and which no humans or Martians actually enjoy doing) and then selling the video. It's weird. [ETA: I misunderstood the analogy. Doing experiments on the mot... (read more)

0[anonymous]7yThe laws of some countries of Earth prohibit tickling for pay. In other countries it's perfectly legal (but you may be required to have your tentacles periodically screened for infectious diseases).
1polymathwannabe7yI think I get what tickling is supposed to be a metaphor for, but I'm clueless as to what the human and two Martian factions represent.
Jokes Thread

"I lack all conviction," he thought. "Guess I'm the best!"

5pragmatist7yI hate to be "that guy", but could you explain this one? I'm not sure I get it. Is it making fun of LW's "politics is the mindkiller"/"keep your identity small" mindset?
Politics is hard mode

then the lone contrarian party gets to decide everything

How often do the center-right and center-left coalitions look the crazy thing the lone contrarian party wants to do, go "lol, nope" and make a centrist compromise with each other? Is that possible/common?

0[anonymous]7yThat was covered by “except questions on which the centre-right coalition and the centre-left coalition agree” but Nornagest said it better.
2Nornagest7yThe trouble with being a kingmaker is that you can't choose the people that have a shot at becoming king. The lone contrarian party isn't in a position to dictate terms; all it can do is decide whether it wants the country to be center-left or center-right on a given issue, which sounds okay for preventing partisan insanity but bad for coherence on anyone's part. I can only see compromise being a winning move if one of the mainstream coalitions wants to do something that won't work without agreement between several different policy domains, and if it's willing to sacrifice a lot to get it. Otherwise there's no incentive: pissing off the crazies isn't a good strategic move if it implies concessions to your real enemies.
Rationality Quotes July 2014

In times like these I really have to wonder why it's never (or at least rarely, to my eye) stressed that self-awareness is probably the single most important component of a healthy life. We're constantly handed very specific definitions of good behavior, complex moral and legal codes, questionable social constructs, and so on. I don't remember ever really being told to take a step back--to step back as far as possible--and look constructively at myself. But increasingly I feel that the only dividing line between being "that guy" and being a net

... (read more)
New organization - Future of Life Institute (FLI)

If we want ease-of-use, the fact that you typed out "backwards-E existence symbol" instead of "∃" isn't encouraging...

May 2014 Media Thread

An old Ikea commercial gives an amusing example of the difference between fuzzies and utilons:

2Ben Pace7yMwahahahahahahahahahaha. I see Spike Jonze directed it.
Rationality Quotes May 2014

One afternoon a student said "Roshi, I don't really understand what's going on. I mean, we sit in zazen and we gassho to each other and everything, and Felicia got enlightened when the bottom fell out of her water-bucket, and Todd got enlightened when you popped him one with your staff, and people work on koans and get enlightened, but I've been doing this for two years now, and the koans don't make any sense, and I don't feel enlightened at all! Can you just tell me what's going on?"

"Well you see," Roshi replied, "for most people

... (read more)
1satt7yI don't think there's such a thing as "unmediated experience of the world". (I like the quotation a lot for giving a plausible, lucid reason why Zen might spurn the usual sort of analytical discourse. But it's so clear an explanation of an idea that I think it's revealed a basic problem with the idea, namely that it points towards a non-existent goal.)
Open Thread April 16 - April 22, 2014

Yes, of course. I was mostly just trying to be funny. One could keep the joke going and compare the monthly meetups, Winter Solstice meetup, the Effective Altruist movement, the Singularity, and so on to their complements in Christianity.

1ErinFlight7yUnlike religion, here no one claims to be all-knowing or infallible. Which, from my point of view at least, is why LessWrong is so effective. Reading the arguments in the comments of the sequences was almost as important as reading the sequences themselves. I wouldn't mind the paradise part or the living forever part though.
0[anonymous]7yWe? That's generalizing a bit wouldn't you say? It's "LessWrong," not after all.
Rationality Quotes April 2014

(Edited to add context)

Context: The speakers work for a railroad. An important customer has just fired them in favor of a competitor, the Phoenix-Durango Railroad.

Jim Taggart [Company president, antagonist]: "What does he expect? That we drop all our other shippers, sacrifice the interests of the whole country and give him all our trains?"

Eddie Willers [Junior exec, sympathetic character]: "Why, no. He doesn't expect anything. He just deals with the Phoenix-Durango."

  • Atlas Shrugged

It gets at the idea talked about here sometimes th... (read more)

Without context, it's a bit difficult to see how this is a rationality quote. Not everyone here has read Atlas Shrugged...

What are some science mistakes you made in college?

Yes, my mistake, it was indeed the pole piece. Not something that's supposed to be in close proximity like with an AFM. If I had broken an AFM tip it would've been less of a problem, because those are expected to wear out every so often.

It was a few years ago, but I remember that we were doing e-beam lithography, and that did make it necessary to move the stage around. I think the idea was that our circuit was pre-drawn using software, after which we could just put the diagram into the SEM computer and it would scan around and draw the pattern we wanted. B... (read more)

What are some science mistakes you made in college?

I once crashed the scanning tip of a scanning electron microscope into the sample when my attention wandered for a few seconds while I was adjusting the focus. The lab techs had made it very, very clear to me beforehand that I was never to let the tip and sample get less than a few centimeters (I forget the exact value, but it was specified) apart, because the scanning tip was very expensive and fragile. My moment of inattention ended up costing the lab $10,000, and me any possible friendships with the lab staff.

One lesson is, "Be careful!" but t... (read more)

4Luke_A_Somers7yThe 'scanning tip' of an SEM? Do you mean the pole piece? It's not at all a 'scanning tip' in the same sense as an AFM or STM. Like, there's no reason for an SEM to get closer than a few millimeters from the sample. A crash like that could only happen if you're moving the stage... were you trying to focus by moving the piece around instead of adjusting the electron optics? I guess every SEM I've used has had very specific, easy-to-follow instructions on how to avoid crashing.
3satt7yUpvoted especially for noticing that "Be careful!" is unhelpfully vague, and bothering to think of a usably specific piece of advice.
Rationality Quotes February 2014

Madolyn: "Why is the last patient of the day always the hardest?"

Costigan: "Because you're tired and you don't give a shit. It's not supernatural."

The Departed

Open thread for December 24-31, 2013

Because each step in the food chain involves energy loss, the shorter the chain, the fewer plants need to be killed to support you. Thus being a vegetarian saves plant lives too.

1aelephant7yActually grazing cattle don't kill plants, they just trim off the ends.
Open thread for December 9 - 16, 2013

Today is the thirty-fourth anniversary of the official certification that smallpox had been eradicated worldwide. From Wikipedia,

The global eradication of smallpox was certified, based on intense verification activities in countries, by a commission of eminent scientists on 9 December 1979 and subsequently endorsed by the World Health Assembly on 8 May 1980. The first two sentences of the resolution read:

Having considered the development and results of the global program on smallpox eradication initiated by WHO in 1958 and intensified since 1967 … Decl

... (read more)

The virus currently only still exists as samples in two freezers in two labs (known to the scientific community). These days I think that that is overkill even for research purposes for this pathogen, what with the genome sequenced and the ability to synthesize arbitrary sequences artificially. If you absolutely must have part of it for research make that piece again from scratch. Consign the rest of the whole infectious replication-competent particles to the furnace where they belong.

EDIT: I found a paper in which smallpox DNA was extracted and viruses o... (read more)

With any luck, Polio will be next.

This deserves some music:

Old King Plague is dead,
the smallpox plague is dead,
no more children dying hard
no more cripples living scarred
with the marks of the devil's kiss,
we still may die of other things
but we will not die of this.

Raise your glasses high
for all who will not die
to all the doctors, nurses too
to all the lab technician who
drove it into the ground
if the whole UN does nothing else
it cut this terror down.

But scarce the headlines said,
the ancient plague was dead,
then they were filled with weapons new
toxic waste and herpes too,
and the AIDS sc

... (read more)
Yet More "Stupid" Questions

I expect them to be less mindkilled than they seem.

(Nods) that's really what I was trying to say, yeah.

Also it's worth an NB that the AAT only applies to epistemic agreement, right? It doesn't prevent groups from competing over resources: we agree that the pie is tasty, which is precisely why we're fighting over it. Of course if you're committed to fighting, then screwing with your enemy's, and partially-committed ally's, models of the world is a valid combat tactic.

Yet More "Stupid" Questions

Probably an obvious point: epistemically that's an error, but politically it's probably an indispensable tactic. Say you do an honest and perfectly reliable utilitarian analysis, and find that chimpanzees really should not be used in research; the real substantial medical advances are not worth their suffering. But frustratingly the powers that be don't care about chimps as much as they should. Your only hope is to convince them that chimp-using research is nearly useless to humans, so that even their undersized compassion for chimps will convince them to ... (read more)

2Eugine_Nier8yThe problem is that these kinds of lies create a viscous cycle. Someone who shares your utility function and honestly believes your lies will want to shut down research even in cases you wouldn't and will feel justified inventing lies (on top of the lies he believes to be true) to promote that position. Then people start believing those lies and so feel justified inventing further lies, etc.
3Viliam_Bur8yThat would be nice. But if all the politicians were so rational, then why in the name of Aumann's agreement theorem would they disagree with each other so much? Unless that too would be some kind of deception, necessary to achieve maximum utility. Maybe the average stupid humans (non-politicians) simply need to see a few battling factions, so if all these rational politicians suddenly stopped pretending to disagree with each other, the angry voters would vote for someone genuinely stupid, just to have more variety. Well... I suppose politicians are on average more rational than average humans. At least instrumentally; this is why they are in politics, have power and make $$$, while the average citizen spends their time merely watching them on TV. And probably even epistemically; because I expect epistemic rationality to correlate somehow positively with instrumental rationality. And because there are some things that politicians must pretend, strategically, I expect them to be less mindkilled than they seem. And they also have better information on political topics. -- But all this considered, I think they are also prone to all human biases, just perhaps a bit less than the average human.
Greatest Philosopher in History

Either the AI itself, or, if the AI is very well-designed, anyone and everyone who would really enjoy being the greatest philosopher in history.

Rationality Quotes July 2013

I agree in principle, but I have basically no confidence in my ability to figure out what to do to help people in the future. There are two obstacles: random error and bias. Random error, because predicting the future is hard. And bias, because any policy I decide I like could be justified as being good for the future people, and that assertion couldn't be refuted easily. The promise of helping even an enormous number of people in the future amounts to Pascal's Wager, where donating to this or that charity or working on this or that research is like choosi... (read more)

Newbomb's parabox

This isn't a paradox, the bomb will go off no matter what, assuming Omega is a perfect predictor.

Amusingly, this wouldn't seem like a paradox if something good was guaranteed to happen if Omega guessed right. Like if the problem was that you're locked in a box, and you can only avoid getting a million dollars if you do the opposite of what Omega predicts. Answer: "cool, I get a million dollars!" and you stop thinking. In the problem as stated, you're casting about for an answer that doesn't seem possible, and that feels like thinking about paradoxes, so you think the problem is a paradox. It isn't. You're just trapped in a box with a bomb.

9[anonymous]8yAgreed. This isn't really interesting. It's basically "If you have access to a RNG you have a 50% chance of survival, otherwise death."
Do Earths with slower economic growth have a better chance at FAI?

Or are we taking seriously the possibility that the course of the economy is largely driven by quantum randomness?

Isn't everything?

8Eliezer Yudkowsky8yThis comment was banned, which looked to me like a probable accident with a moderator click, so I unbanned it. If I am in error can whichever mod PM me after rebanning it? Naturally if this was an accident, it must have been a quantum random one.
Rationality Quotes June 2013

I'm someone who still finds subjective experience mysterious, and I'd like to fix that. Does that book provide a good, gut-level, question-dissolving explanation?

2nigerweiss8yI've read some of Dennet's essays on the subject (though not the book in question), and I found that, for me,his ideas did help to make consciousness a good deal less mysterious. What actually did it for me was doing some of my own reasoning about how a 'noisy quorum' model of conscious experience might be structured, and realizing that, when you get right down to it, the fact that I feel as though I have subjective experience isn't actually that surprising. It'd be hard to design to a human-style system that didn't have a similar internal behavior that it could talk about.

I've had that conversation with a few people over the years, and I conclude that it does for some people and not others. The ones for whom it doesn't generally seem to think of it as a piece of misdirection, in which Dennett answers in great detail a different question than the one that was being asked. (It's not entirely clear to me what question they think he answers instead.)

That said, it's a pretty fun read. If the subject interests you, I'd recommend sitting down and writing out as clearly as you can what it is you find mysterious about subjective experience, and then reading the book and seeing if it answers, or at least addresses, that question.

3tingram8yI think it does. It really is a virtuoso work of philosophy, and Dennett helpfully front-loaded it by putting his most astonishing argument in the first chapter. Anecdotally, I was always suspicious of arguments against qualia until I read what Dennett had to say on the subject. He brings in plenty of examples from philosophy, from psychological and scientific experiments, and even from literature to make things nice and concrete, and he really seems to understand the exact ways in which his position is counter-intuitive and makes sure to address the average person's intuitive objections in a fair and understanding way.
Rationality Quotes June 2013

Stepan Arkadyevitch subscribed to a liberal paper, and read it. It was not extreme in those views, but advocated those principles the majority held. And though he was not really interested in science or art or politics, he strongly adhered to such views on all those subjects as the majority, including his paper, advocated, and he changed them only when the majority changed them; or more correctly, he did not change them, but they themselves imperceptibly changed in him.

Stepan Arkadyevitch never chose principles or opinions, but these principles and opinio

... (read more)

Stepan is a smart chap. He has realized (perhaps unconsciously)

  • that one's political views are largely inconsequential,
  • that it's nonetheless socially necessary to have some,
  • that developing popular and coherent political views oneself is expensive,

and so has outsourced them to a liberal paper.

One might compare it to hiring a fashion consultant... except it's cheap to boot!

Research is polygamous! The importance of what you do needn't be proportional to your awesomeness

You left off the most important point. If you think a topic is important and that someone smarter than you is already working on it, it would seem like your best move is to try and help.

Maybe they already have good lab assistants, and the best way for you to help is to work at the coffee shop that gives them their afternoon caffeine jolt, or the nuclear plant that powers their lab, or the daycare where their kids go -- in other words, have a normal job in the non-research economy. Those kinds of jobs are absolutely necessary to support more blue-sky stuff, so many people will have to do them. Why assume you are so much smarter than that entire group?

Post ridiculous munchkin ideas!

This isn't much use now (at least not in the northern hemisphere) but in wintertime, an uninsulated attic is effectively a refrigerator your parents don't know about. Whether you use this knowledge to store secret artisanal cheeses, or beer, is up to you.

4MugaSofer8yMy first thought :)
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