All of baiter's Comments + Replies

2satt8yGamete donation is lower-hanging fruit.
8ikajaste8yLowest-hanging? I consider having children to be quite a huge investment of my personal resources. How is that a low-hanging fruit?
3Locaha8yNot everybody see their lives as a big genetic experiment where their goal is to out-breed the opponents. ^ See this? This is one of the reasons this forum is 90% male.
3private_messaging8yThe issue is that impact of actions on the future is progressively harder to predict over longer timespans, and the ignorance of even the sign of the true utility difference due to an action makes the expected utility differences small. Thus unusual concerns with the grande future leave people free to pick what ever actions make them feel good about themselves, with no real direction towards any future good; such actions are then easily rationalized.
1ChristianKl8yCould you explain how a dysgenic society could result in 90% of the human population dying by 2100? To me that seems widely overblown.
Rationality Quotes July 2013

If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.

English proverb

-1DanielLC9yIf wishes were horses, then My Little Pony would be about wishes. Who wants to watch a cartoon about wishes?
7Xachariah9y* Jayne Cobb, Objects in Space, Firefly

It should also be noted that if one doesn't start wishing for a horse, the probability of obtaining one decreases furtherly.

I know this is meant to be a call to action instead of contemplation, but sometimes I've heard it quoted intending : "Be and adult, stop whishing for very-difficoult-to-obtain things", and this is a statement I don't agree with.

Post ridiculous munchkin ideas!

So far not too much; I've been adapting some exercise routines from The 4-Hour Body which has a strongly minimalist approach. Shoulder Press (seated), Bench Press, Kneeling Rows, and Squats. Doing just the basics seems to be working!

Post ridiculous munchkin ideas!

Are you sure White names do better than ALL non-White names? The papers you sourced compare US White to Black names and Swedish to "immigrant" names -- both kind of hyperbolic examples. Nothing about White names vs Asian names, which I would expect to get different results. Also, in some industries or cases having a foreign/ethnic/unique name could be a positive.

FWIW, if I met an Asian guy with a WASPy name like John Adams I would think either he is adopted or changed his name/identity, which might send me negative signals such as duplicity, cunning, and cowardice.

2Vaniver9yLots of Asian Americans are adopted, or are mixed European/Asians. European male / Asian female pairings (which would lead to a European last name) are about three times as common as European female / Asian male pairings. In general, first name assimilation is seen positively by most Americans I know, and has been very common in the Asian American community, both for first-generation immigrants and their descendants. (Last name assimilation is less common, but I think still seen positively.) Of the Eastern Asian grad students I know, it is common to adopt a Western first name (especially if they're Chinese; the transliteration from Chinese to English [] was clearly not designed by an English-speaker, as Chowchew [] can attest).
Post ridiculous munchkin ideas!

The Scientific 7-Minute Workout

In 12 exercises deploying only body weight, a chair and a wall, it fulfills the latest mandates for high-intensity effort, which essentially combines a long run and a visit to the weight room into about seven minutes of steady discomfort — all of it based on science.

0diegocaleiro9y7 minutes scientific workout [] Just tried it. it is tiring, but far from 8 on 0 to 10 discomfort level which was claimed somewhere in Lesswrong, though maybe it is for people who weight more than 75 kilos.
Post ridiculous munchkin ideas!

Can you share which books worked best for you regarding productivity and depression?

4gothgirl4206669yI would recommend for productivity Succeed: How We Can Reach Our Goals by Heidi Halverson and Switch: How to Change When Change is Hard by Chip and Dan Heath. The Procrastination by Piers Steel is also pretty good but lukeprog's summary of it on this site basically contains all the useful information. For depression, Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy by David Burns. I can't recommend this book enough.
Post ridiculous munchkin ideas!

For those that don't have a convenient place to hang a pullup bar, or as a general alternative/addon, I recommend dumbbells. I bought a nice set (2 x 20kg, 0.5, 1.25, 2, 5kg increments) for around $100 and cancelled my gym membership. They paid for themselves in 2 months time. Now I'm saving money and more fit then ever because I actually workout, instead of making excuses why not to go to the gym (it's too cooold, it's raaaining, I don't have tiiiime, etc.)

0Friendly-HI9yNot sure if I can recommend this suggestion, because for me exactly the opposite worked out fine. I never used fitness crap lying around my home regularly but once I started paying for a gym membership there was no way I would just stay at home and pay for nothing. In other words I used the sunken cost fallacy for my benefit. Once I was more advanced it wasn't the money I spent on my membership that kept me going but knowing that I'll actually get weaker if I started to only go 2 times a week instead of keeping up my 3 times a week routine. So every time I didn't visit my full 3 days a week it felt like I essentially wasted a few of my last trips to the gym because I wouldn't see any progress and at the very best just keep my performance at a plateau. I trained quite hard for 1,5 years and missed maybe 4 training sessions, until a knee injury from squatting with too much weight coupled with moving to a new location put a stop to my training days.
0maia9yWhat do you do with the dumbbells? I'm curious because I only know a few things to do with them, and they're all mostly upper-body.
Rationality Quotes July 2012

"New rule: If you handle snakes to prove they won't bite you because God is real, and then they bite you -- do the math."

– Bill Maher, Real Time with Bill Maher, 6/8/2012

video article

2RichardKennaway10yIt is promised that "these signs will follow those who believe". So if they do bite you, then God is still real, but you didn't have enough faith. Just doing this [].
3lavalamp10yWhy does this have 12 upvotes? The fact that this is slightly funny and for our "side" doesn't make it good logic. We've no reason to think snakebites and deities ought to be correlated at all. Reversed stupidity is not intelligence and all that. This ought to be below the visibility threshold.
7Desrtopa10yStrictly speaking, the bible says of Jesus's followers "they will pick up serpents." It doesn't say "they will pick up serpents and not get bitten." Of course, it does also say they can drink deadly poison without being harmed. As it happens, I am related to and share my last name with this guy [].

Sure. But if I handle snakes to prove they won't bite me because God is real, and they don't bite me -- you do the math.

More seriously, though: the sentiment expressed in the quote is flawed, IMHO. Evidence isn't always symmetrical. Any particular transitional fossil is reasonable evidence for evolution; not finding a particular transitional fossil isn't strong evidence against it. A person perjuring themselves once is strong evidence against their honesty; a person once declining to perjure themselves is not strong evidence in favour of their honesty; et ... (read more)

(An important lesson, but I wonder if it's wise to teach it in the context of politics. Among other things, I worry that the messages "boo religion!", "yay updating on evidence!", "boo religious conservatives!", "yay pointing out my enemies are inferior to me!", "yay rationality!", "yay my side for being comparatively rational!", &c. will become mixed up and seen as constituting a natural category even if they objectively shouldn't be. (Related.))

June 2012 Media Thread

I thought Jiro Dreams of Sushi was a really great documentary. Yes, it is about sushi, so for anyone who loves sushi it's a must-see (and I know there are a lot of general Japanophiles here...). But much more than that it is about two things: dedication to your craft and father-son relationships.

Jiro Ono exemplifies the concept of conatus. I always thought and was taught to be well-rounded and know and be good at a lot of things. That still holds true, but only recently I've realized that, at least professionally, you should probably choose one thing and ... (read more)

4gwern9yI just watched it. I don't think we should worry about spoilers, especially with non-fiction documentaries - there's no twist ending. Anyway, I thought it was a very nicely done documentary with many delicious images, avoided the obvious mistake of putting Jiro on a pedestal & ignoring his staff, and did a good job of highlighting the double-edged nature of being a shokunin (great term). I found very true a comment from The New Yorker [] : One does wind up feeling sorry for the kids - and while Jiro may be happy, are they? Why did he have kids if he wasn't going to do a good job, one wonders, and was just a stranger? (He says he convinced them to not go to college (so they could work for him immediately!); one wonders how loud that conversation was...) I was shocked when he spoke of his wife in the present tense because we hadn't seen hide nor hair of her, and I had assumed she simply died a few years or decades back. I was strongly reminded of the passage about professional athletes from David Foster Wallace I quoted in my subcultures essay []. Sometimes a sacrifice may just make one lesser. Still, Jiro Dreams of Sushi provoked some interesting blog posts: * Robin Hanson [] takes the expected tack of defending Jiro as a proto-em. With Hanson, if a workaholic comes up, you can expect him to either say that as an em, he would have a life worth living; or you can expect him to say that we should praise him because he is producing so much value for other people and consuming so little himself (possibly with some half-baked evopsych theorizing that any criticism is due to the workaholic perhaps being a less valuable ally). Personally, I found interesting someone's observation that women appear only as consumers towards
June 2012 Media Thread

At the risk of sounding like a sappy old grandmother, I really enjoyed Faces of America and the current follow-up series Finding Your Roots. You can watch them for free on PBS. They're both done by Henry Louis Gates (the Harvard professor that famously got arrested entering his own house).*

The show features extensive research into the genealogies of a whichever celebrities are on that episode. We learn interesting details about their ancestors but it's much more about the historical context in which those ancestors lived. Once the paper trail runs out (fo... (read more)

1Emile10yRazib Khan has some criticism [] of that show (a consultant for 23andme who worked with Gates for the show shows up in the comments).
Rationality Quotes May 2012

My function is to raise the possibility, 'Hey, you know, some of this stuff might be bullshit.'

-- Robert Anton Wilson

Contrarians of LW, if you want to be successful, please don't follow this strategy. Chances are that many people have raised the same possibility before, and anyway raising possibilities isn't Bayesian evidence, so you'll just get ignored. Instead, try to prove that the stuff is bullshit. This way, if you're right, others will learn something, and if you're wrong, you will have learned something.

Rationality Quotes March 2012

"...I always rejoice to hear of your being still employ'd in experimental Researches into Nature, and of the Success you meet with. The rapid Progress true Science now makes, occasions my regretting sometimes that I was born so soon. It is impossible to imagine the Height to which may be carried, in a thousand years, the Power of Man over Matter. We may perhaps learn to deprive large Masses of their Gravity, and give them absolute Levity, for the sake of easy Transport. Agriculture may diminish its Labor and double its Produce; all Diseases may by su

... (read more)
2Peter Wildeford10yBenjamin Franklin sure knew how to use the caps. I miss the old days.

We've made really decent progress in only two hundred and thirty-odd years. We're ahead of schedule.

One of the first transhumanists?

Spend Money on Ergonomics

This exercise ball chair helped me a lot with lower back pain. It's also a lot of fun and stress-relieving to bounce around while working! Additionally I built a high table to occasionally type standing up, which is also fun/effective.

Rationality Quotes December 2011

God created the Earth, but the Dutch created the Netherlands.

-- Dutch proverb

3Ezekiel10yCan someone please explain this one to me? I'm just getting "living things shape their environment", which while inspirational doesn't have much to do with rationality.
List of potential cognitive enhancement methods

Surprised LSD is not mentioned.

I remember reading in one of Robert Anton Wilson's books than an early LSD study suggested a significant increase in IQ after several "therapeutic" sessions. I don't have the original book with me and can't find any info online.

I'm skeptical that LSD will have such a direct impact on measured IQ, but it definitely does something (probably acting on traits associated with creativity rather than intelligence). Wish it could be tested though...

0gwern8yMight find my [] interesting.
5gwern10yOn the strength of the psilocybin research, it wouldn't surprise me to learn LSD increased Openness as well.
Rationality Quotes November 2011

Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.

John Adams, Argument in Defense of the Soldiers in the Boston Massacre Trials

2011 Less Wrong Census / Survey

I took the survey and really enjoyed it. Thanks! It was mostly clear but I'm not gonna lie -- had to look up the morality definitions (except consequentialism). Perhaps a very brief definition would help.

Rationality Quotes October 2011

Things are entirely what they appear to be and behind them…there is nothing.

Jean-Paul Sartre, Nausea

6Teal_Thanatos10yI've downvoted this for the following reasons. Appearances are deceiving and also people may present false appearances for their own benefit. What cannot be seen is still in effect (Gravity) Etc. In a practical demonstration, what appears to be a piece of stone. Behind it, It's sand. It's pressed together over time, precipitation of minerals causes binding. Inside there could be some old fossil. Who knows.
Rationality Quotes August 2011

Obviously I went out on a limb here, but I stand by the lyric as a good rationality quote.

It succinctly and elegantly echoes one of Eliezer's 12 virtues: relinquishment. Biggy is basically telling his audience to update their beliefs based on new evidence which he reveals throughout the song. He is systematically destroying untruth.

Also, the word "nigga" is mostly devoid of racial connotations, especially in this context. It's much more akin to "brother", "comrade", "man," "friend", etc. -- it's emphasizi... (read more)

4baiter10yObviously I went out on a limb here, but I stand by the lyric as a good rationality quote. It succinctly and elegantly echoes one of Eliezer's 12 virtues: relinquishment. Biggy is basically telling his audience to update their beliefs based on new evidence which he reveals throughout the song. He is systematically destroying untruth. Also, the word "nigga" is mostly devoid of racial connotations, especially in this context. It's much more akin to "brother", "comrade", "man," "friend", etc. -- it's emphasizing the communal nature between the artist and his audience. He's inviting them into his private world of truth. I would roughly interpret it like this: "You may not have known before, but now you do know, my friend [and that is a good thing]."
1shokwave10yShould it be "if you didn't know, now you know" and aesthetic concerns (ie lyrics flow better with don't) changed it? Because I'm not sure I agree with deducing knowledge from ignorance in the general case.
8MixedNuts10yWhile the racially charged term was likely appropriate in the source material, it severely restricts the domain of application of the quote, especially but not exclusively when removed from context.
The benefits of madness: A positive account of arationality

For those interested in these topics I suggest reading Robert Anton Wilson's nonfiction, specifically the Cosmic Trigger series and Prometheus Rising.

3Skatche11ySeconded and thirded. These books had a very deep and lasting impact on my development and worldview. Fair warning to those unfamiliar with his writings: they're chock-full of memetic hazards, but that's kind of the point. Wilson argues that we stand to benefit a great deal from being able to occupy unusual or even "false" belief systems (I use scare quotes because I think he would be reluctant to use that word), provided we can learn to consciously choose these systems and not get attached to them.
Learned Blankness

Interesting and useful post, but I'm not sure I agree with the analogy to learned helplessness or using the word "learned" at all. The state you are describing seems to vary greatly between individuals (for contrast, I know many people who believe they can do or know almost anything correctly) and probably correlates to such things as intelligence, openness, risk-tolerance, etc. What makes you think this "blankness" is learned?

6strega4211yWe (and by 'we' I mean the general American public) learn it in school, fairly early on. Children who question, explore, experiment, and tinker are often chastised for "jumping ahead" or "not paying attention" or "being disruptive" or a half-dozen other complaints made by harried or exhausted teachers, or fearful parents. Children are not often (anymore) encouraged to simply try things out to see if they work. In school they're not really encouraged to explore, but instead to stay with the group. At home, they're often inhibited from tinkering with pretty much anything. "You might break it!" is a pretty common parental reaction to a child tinkering with anything remotely mechanical. I'm not sure that's what the author specifically had in mind, when calling this behavior "learned", but it's certainly something I've seen fairly often.
Verifying Rationality via

This is really great! I was hoping some sort of rationalist/poker mashup would materialize (and would have organized something like this myself if my rationalist knowledge matched my poker knowledge ;-)

I've always believed poker to be a great test for rationality. OK, maybe it's not perfect -- but who can suggest something better? Also, it's got mainstream popularity going for it which is very valuable.

That said, there are other details which contribute to being good at poker. Last year I conducted an informal study into the personality traits of online p... (read more)

Verifying Rationality via

AFAIK playing online poker is NOT illegal in any state except Washington. What is illegal is for US financial institutions to conduct transactions with online gaming companies.

For a review see:

(Virtual) Employment Open Thread

There is some truth to the fact that online poker is getting tougher, but it is definitely exaggerated. I can assure you that it is still beatable and very profitable by competent players.

Also, don't forget the option of playing live poker. With a little training and practice, I would bet that most readers of this blog (who aren't prone to emotional instability, aka "tilt") would easily dominate at least the low-stakes games.

(Virtual) Employment Open Thread

Gambling online for money is NOT illegal in most states. What's explicitly illegal is for US banks/financial institutions to perform transactions with online gambling companies.

Rationality quotes: May 2010

I think he means that it is irrational to ponder death when those moments can be spent living life productively. Not sure if I agree -- doesn't the thought of one's death often propel us to great action, while lack of such thoughts leads to complacency? Anyways here is the the proof from the Ethics:

Proof.— (67:1) A free man is one who lives under the guidance of reason, who is not led by fear (IV:lxiii.), but who directly desires that which is good (IV:lxiii.Coroll.), in other words (IV:xxiv.), who strives to act, to live, and to preserve his being on the basis of seeking his own true advantage; wherefore such an one thinks of nothing less than of death, but his wisdom is a meditation of life.

Rationality quotes: May 2010

"A free man thinks of death least of all things; and his wisdom is a meditation not of death but of life."

-Baruch Spinoza

0ata12yDoes that mean "a free person thinks that death is the worst of all things" or "a free person thinks less often about death than about any other thing"? (The former doesn't seem to have that much to do with freedom, so I'm guessing he meant the latter... in which case I agree with him, but probably not in the way he intended: yes, we won't think about death very often once we're free from it.)
Attention Lurkers: Please say hi

Cool, I will take a look. I've frequently wondered how things would've developed had the Dutch been able to hold on to New Amsterdam...

Attention Lurkers: Please say hi

Hi all. 25 yo New Yorker here. Been following this site for a while now, since Eliezer was still writing at OB.

Currently I'm working on two tech startups (it's fun to not get paid). My academic background is in cognitive psychology. In addition to AI, rationality, cognitive bias, sci fi, and the other usual suspects, my interests include architecture, poker, and 17th century Dutch history. ;)

1LucasSloan12yHave you read An Alternate History of the Netherlands []? It is a pretty fun what-if about how Dutch history might have gone better for the Dutch. I wouldn't recommend reading past the present day however, the author isn't very good at projecting future technology trends.