All of BillyOblivion's Comments + Replies

Head is an achin' and knees are abraded
Plates in my neck and stitches updated
Toes are a cracking and Tendons inflamed
These are a few of my favorite pains

But yes, the author of those books is mostly correct, there's some kinds of pain that serve as a useful warning function. Those are good and we should be grateful.

Others are artifacts of historical stupidity. I've learned those lessons and reminding me of them is useless.

Then why do you keep ignoring them?

Interestingly enough there is some evidence--or at least assertions by people who've studied this sort of thing--that doing this sort of problem solving ahead of time tends to reduce the paralysis.

When you get on a plane, go into a restaurant, when you're wandering down the street or when you go someplace new think about a few common emergencies and just think about how you might respond to them.

Pain is good, it tells you you're still alive.

All in all though, I'd rather have the alive w/out the pain. At least as far as I know.

That depends on precisely what is meant by living without pain [].

Dunno mate, I could name a few US Presidents and non-US leaders.

I don't think this is a good heuristic. I would call it a fallacy; I don't know if it has an official name, but in my head I've been calling it "syntactic similarity implies semantic similarity" (this being the fallacy). Ideas that sound similar don't necessarily map to close points in ideaspace. There's been some LW discussion, e.g. Talking Snakes: A Cautionary Tale [], about the specific application of this fallacy to ideas that sound similar to obviously absurd ideas.

If you knew nothing about vaccines, but you knew that homeopathy was hooey, and someone told you about vaccines, you might consider them "nearby" to homeopathy — combating a disease by administering a tiny amount of a disease-causing agent — and thus dismiss them as hooey.

(Also, just so ya know — "hooey" is Russian for "cock", pretty much.)

It is entirely possible that I might be confused.

I read "Life" to be a reference to a game played while immersed in, and as an escape from Real Life(tm), and this confusion comes from the term "microtransation", which is rather hard-linked in my skull to "micropayments", aka "the millicent ghetto"

In the version of Real Life I am playing microtransations don't get you out of much of anything worth getting into in the first place.

It just makes the game more realistic. After all, IRL you can almost always pay your way out of a situation if you have the coin and the connections.

I think you've misread the comment. DaFranker is already talking about RL.

What good does getting mad do? What does it accomplish?

Asks the guy who routinely gets mad at a video game that was made for WIndows 95.

What Luke said. Also, signalling "don't mess with me" though perhaps that use isn't relevant here.
Activates the fight or flight response, which increases your power output and generally has effects that in some cases would be useful. We do not frequently encounter these cases these days. And in particular, it's very unlikely that either of the cases described above would be useful times to get mad, unless I'm skilled at sublimating anger into effective writing (first case) or more effective gameplay (second case). Also, it could get you to stop playing.


It's an honest assessment of the state of the world.

I'm not agreeing with that position, I'm just saying that there are folks who would prefer an efficient program that yielded the wrong results if it benefited them, and would engage in all manner of philosophicalish circumlocutions to justify it to themselves.

That's not very relevant to the benefits or otherwise fo consequentialism and deontology.

That very much depends on who benefits from those wrong results.

so I can say moral system A outperforms moral system B just where A serves my selfish purposes better than B. Hmm. Isn't that a rather amoral way of looking at morality?

Not always from some ancient war.

This is quite true.

I don't consider it, I assume it.

But "dumb" and "ignorant" are not points on a line, they are relative positions.

To quote this bloke at a climbing gym I used to frequent "We all suck at our own level".

To prevent lines from being merged together, add two spaces at the end of each one.

Is ruthlessness necessarily unethical in a military leader?

Sometimes compassion is a sharp sword.

Agreed; as Sun Tzu points out on several occasions, fighting should usually be considered a measure of last resort.

I'm sigquoting that if you don't mind.

Not that that means anything anymore, but I'm old school that way.

I think that both you and Mr. Franklin are correct.

To wreak great changes one must stay focused and work diligently on one's goal. One needn't eliminate all pleasures from life, but I think you'll find that very, very few people can have a serious hobby and a world changing vocation.

Most of us of "tolerable" abilities cannot maintain the kind of focus and purity of dedication required. That is why the world changes as little as it does. If everyone, as an example who was to the right of center on the IQ curve could make great changes etc., then ... (read more)

If you're a football (American, not Eurasian) coach you're routinely going to frame your aphorisms in terms of battles, or "fights" as you put it.

Those two sets aren't always disjoint.

Didn't say they were. Tesla, Erdős.

What exactly was the war on heresy?

You mean then, or now?

Remember what happened to Larry Summers at Harvard when he merely asked the question?

Does the phrase "Denier" cause any mental associations that weren't there in the late 90s?

At least Copernicus was allowed to recant and live his declining years in (relative) peace.

Yes, and Summers has gone on to be a presidential adviser.
Nicolaus Copernicus was never charged with heresy (let alone convicted). Moreover, he was a master of canon law, might have been a priest at one point, was urged to publish De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium by cardinals (who also offered to pay his expenses), and dedicated the work to Pope Paul III when he did get around to publishing it. Also, one of his students gave a lecture outlining the Copernican system to a crowd that included Pope Clement VII (for which he was rewarded with an expensive Greek Codex). Even had he lived two more decades, it is very unlikely he would ever have been charged with heresy.

Or that both of them (to reference a previous Rationality Quotes entry on arguments) are wrong.

OTOH it could be that the "you" in the above knows little to nothing about computer simulation.

For example a moderately competent evolutionary virologist might have theory about how viruses spread genes across species, but have only a passing knowledge of LaTeX and absolutely no idea how to use bio-sim software.

Or worse, CAN explain, but their explanation demonstrates that lack of knowledge.

I apologize. I was being lazy and assumed that since it was used multiple times above that folks following the conversation would get it from context. I didn't realize that this conversation would so disquiet some people that they would get hung up on that, rather than addressing what many people think is a moderately serious problem, if not for society, then for the students who are basically being set up to fail.

But by all means let's first have this silly little pissing match about not being able to track abbreviations through a conversation. It's far more important.

No slight intended and I hope you'll pardon my tangential reply. I know you weren't the first to introduce the acronym.

All I argued was that if their thesis is correct, then unless you've had some very odd experiences, no one can give you an example because everyone you meet is similarly bounded.

That is the limit of what my statement was intended to convey.

I don't know enough neurology, psychology and etc. to have a valid opinion, but I will note that we see at most 3 colors. We perceive many more. But any time we want to perceive, for example, the AM radio band we map it into a spectrum our eyes can handle, and as near as I can tell we "think" about it in the ... (read more)

Follow the link, he explains it there.

So if Majus's post (on Pinker) is correct, and the underling processing engine(s) (aka "the brain") determine the boundaries of what you can think about, then it is almost tautological that no one can give you an example since to date almost all folks have a very similar underlying architecture.

So what I argued was that thoughts are by nature commensurable: it's just in the nature of thoughts that any thinking system can think any thought from any other thinking system. There are exceptions to this, but these exceptions are always on the basis of limited resources, like limited memory. So, an application of this view is that there are no incommensurable scientific schemes: we can in principle take any claim from any scientific paradigm and understand or test it in any other.

I've spent a lot of time on the conservative side (between the guns, being in the Military and working in/around the Defense Industry, and in general being a tradition oriented more-or-less libertarian) and many of them aren't any different.

"Gay Marriage will ruin the institution" "Uh. How many times have you been divorced?" "COMMUNIST!" (no, not literally, but YKWIM)

Heck, even the Implicit Association Test assumes that if you're "liberal" on Gun Control (whatever that means) you're also Liberal on Gay Marriage and Abortion. Anyone wanna make some assumptions on the Implicit Associations of the writers of that test?

It certainly ruins some aspects. How will the state know which partner to favor in the divorce proceedings if both are the same sex?

One of the criticisms of colleges engaging in "AA" type policies is that they often will put someone in a slightly higher level school (say Berkeley rather than Davis) than they really should be in and which because of their background they are unprepared for. Not necessarily intellectually--they could be very bright, but in terms of things like study skills and the like.

There is sufficient data to suggest this should be looked at more thoroughly. In general it is better for someone to graduate from a "lesser" school than to drop out of a better one.


So if a minority takes the Implicitly Association Test and finds out their biased against the dominant "race" in their area, are they a Racist1, or not?

I would also really question the validity of the Implicit Association Test. It says "Your data suggest a slight implicit preference for White People compared to Black People.", which given that blacks have been severely under-represented my social sub-culture for the last 27 years(Punk/Goth), the school I graduated from (Art School), and my professional environments (IT) for the last 20... (read more)

Looks like we need more "racism"s :D A common definition of racism that reflects the intuitions you bring up is "racism is prejudice plus power," (e.g., here []) which isn't very useful from a decision-making point of view but which is very useful when looking at this racism as a functional thing experienced by the some group.

The biggest is solar flares and coronal ejections. Not your normal day to day solar winds and stuff, but honking great gouts of energy and/or coronal mass that are flung out.

Another is comms. How many people would use each server? Really? What's the bandwidth divided by users? From the ground going up you either need a well aimed dish or a honking lot of power (or a shitload of antenna topside)

Third is Putting lots of these up isn't a wonderful idea as they will obsolete quickly and need to be replaced. You then have the choice to de-orbit them (wasteful... (read more)

Oh, I thought it was fine for discussion as popular science with slight local relevance.
If someone with direct expertise on the effects of coronal mass ejections and/or solar flares [] could comment, that would be good. It sounds like it could cause blackouts every so often, if not damage. Note use [] of Gallium Arsenide electronics to minimize radiation damage. Comms question is discussed here [] and here []. Needs more input from radio specialists. Obsolescence discussed here [], here [], and here []. Obsolete thinsats should be useful as ballast for future deployments and as radiation shields, as long as control can be maintained. Bricking [] a single sat wouldn't be too costly. Bricking the whole fleet would be. So patches should be applied in a relatively piecemeal fashion. External attacks are a problem that needs more discussion, I think. Encryption (probably in hardware) does add to the cost, but is probably worth it. On reducing poverty: My mental model is that anything that boosts the economy and makes business transactions happen more easily in a generalized fashion (i.e. one that is not dramatically favorable to particular monopolizing agents) is going to reduce poverty. It is a matter of increased employment and decreased costs. While computer distribution and mesh net access have (I think) high potential for helping people in extreme poverty to do more business and education, there's something to be said for a super-powerful, routinely upgraded computer based in the sky where it can't easily be stolen or broken by local thugs. Also, the relevant utility calculation isn't only a matter of reducing extreme poverty. Unlike mesh networks and so forth this would directly benefit middle class people as well, e.g. millions could cancel their internet s

Sorry, I was attempting to be clever, cynical and hip. This apparently impeded effective communication.

Let me rephrase it so that it is more difficult to misunderstand:

All financial advice should be received with reservation and taken with caution.


Total absence of regulation would result in a drug industry that is only concerned with soundbites, drug colouring, and trademarks. Through most of our history, the medicine worked just like this.

Some would say it still does.

There is a third alternative though. You are, of course, familiar with Underwriters Laboratories?

Oh, I see that Wedrifid has started down that road.

And ultimately the question isn't whether people SHOULD be protected from themselves. The question is, in anything vaguely resembling a modern, pluralistic democratic society CAN peop... (read more)

Well, I am quite a bit of libertarian myself, but not to such extent. The independent labs still need big G to wield big stick to protect trademarks. And perhaps still need anti-trust law. Furthermore, there is a bit of problem with advertisement. Free speech is extremely important, but advertisement makes me think of Langford's basilisk [] . In the universe of Langford's basilisk stories - are you protecting people from themselves by getting rid of the basilisks? Clearly not. But what if the people felt as if it was their free will, to buy product, after seeing a basilisk? As a part of basilisk's function? The Heinlein's approach assumes strong notion of free will. The modus operandi in advertisement is that you do not have free will. In the advertisement based version of Newcomb, omega makes ads so that that you'll buy 2 boxes. The first for a million, and the second for a thousand. And they both will be empty. But you'll be happy. (note, that's meant to be humour). (Note that I currently deal with ads from the other side - the selling side. And I myself made ads for living. So my hidden agendas are towards advertising, not against. And i'm somewhat exaggerating evil impact of ads here. The ads don't work on everyone, but they certainly do bias your 'free will' in the ways that you'd rather not. And yes, we sell great products using ads, too)

Bah. It looks like an eariler, much more detailed and funnier reply got eaten by something.

But to answer, no, I don't think specifically and narrowly his butter eating lead to his rather large size, but rather his eating of almost everything that would taste good, and in quantities that were sometimes moderately impressive.

Given how much he ate and smoked, and how little he moved it's a wonder he wasn't twice as big and that he lived as long as he did.

My father was in the Korean war, on the peninsula.

He did not have access to butter or milk for something like 9 months.

When he got R & R to Tokyo he ate a pound of butter with a knife and fork.

I should note that while I don't know how fast he could do math in his head he could count/remember cards like nobody's business. Also he died of a massive coronary at 64 weighing close to 290 pounds.

Are you implying that there is a causal link between his consumption of butter and his weight gain?

I was reading at the same time and my natural smart ass went for a walk. There's probably a creme for that somewhere.

Do the same with a Chiropractor and let me know if you get different results.

If you read the link, that's exactly the author's point

If I ask you what time it is in Katmandu you'd have to know three things:

1) Where you were in terms of timezone offset from UTC. 2) Where Katmandu was in terms of timezone offset from UTC. 3) What time it was in either UTC or "here".

Well, alternatively you could happen to have the second timezone on your watch set for Katmandu, which would imply those.

If you did not have those you would say "I have no idea" or ask for information about Katmandu or you'd sit down and think about where Katmandu was and work a timezone offset from that ... (read more)

I don't know what is more interesting, the actual paper, or the spin that the referenced graphic puts on it.

From the paper: / Last year, a cross-national comparison of the acceptance of biological evolution by adults in 34 countries found that Americans ranked 33rd in their acceptance of evolution, followed only by Turkey (Miller, Scott & Okamoto, 2006). Can there be any doubt that Americans are among the least scientifically literate adults in any modern industrial nation? /


/* Turning to the principal focus of this analysis, twice as many Americ... (read more)

Which Snopes thing? Quotes are achieved with a > at the beginning of a line. It's all in the help link at the bottom corner of the edit field.

You don't have to have a working definition of a "gene" to answer that question, you have to have the ability to pick an answer out of a lineup. This is called "standardized testing" and is what a lot of western countries base their educational system on.

They aren't writing a paper where they have to explain it, they're responding to a question, so it's very easy for someone who has no knowledge, experience or understanding of science or biology to intuitively assume that "genetically modified tomato" means "tomato modif... (read more)

You have to know that "genetically" refers to "genes" which means you need to know of the terms. Knowing of the terms means knowing basically what they are. At the elementary school level they are described as "the building blocks of life" or "why Tommy has brown hair but Susy has blue eyes." Yadda yadda.

There was no evidence of black swans, until there was.

To many people there is evidence of God, it's just that to others that evidence is (via Occam's razor or other tools) evidence of the vastness of the universe, evolutionary adaptions, the big bang, spontaneous remission etc.

I don't have the tools to evaluate many of their arguments, and at my age i'm fairly certain (not due to age, but due to my track record where advanced math and such is concerned as well as other interests and commitments) that will not be able to acquire the skills and knowledge t... (read more)

A good bayesian will always assign a small chance that anyone is right, even the homeless guy down the street claiming that the aliens are living in the sewers and stealing our nuclear energy. That doesn't mean it is likely. Moreover, how interesting it is to temporarily entertain a claim has nothing to do with how likely the claim is. I entertain myself by discussing minutia of halacha (Orthodox Jewish law). That doesn't mean I need to pretend that that has any more connection to reality than the rules for Dungeons and Dragons. You are posting on a website devoted to improving human rationality and you are wondering why people feel a need to respond to a set of arguments that directly advocate assigning higher chances to certain hypotheses because they make the world more interesting?

Sorry, the definition of Pescetarian I read said "fish but no meat". Since fowl is neither fish, nor "meat" in some circles, and you ate eggs, I thought the full grown chicken/turkey was ok.

How long did you take the magnesium? Week, two weeks? Sometimes this stuff takes days or weeks to 'load up'. My wife started taking B for some memory issues (she was tested low in B something or other) and it took a couple weeks for me to notice an improvement. She never noticed it, but that's because she was the one forgetting.

I took the entire bottle; I think it was about a month.

A denial of knowledge is agnosticism. It's what the word means, and it is mostly in the context of your beliefs, not others.

One can completely disavow the possible existence of the god of every religion on earth and still not be an atheist because he has developed some personal, internal theology.

I've never heard, nor heard of a theology that is plausible, but this does not mean that in the whole of the universe there isn't one. As I was trying to jokingly indicate, a mechanistic clockwork or quantum/clockwork universe with predictable rules does not inhe... (read more)

As others have pointed out to you in this thread and Eliezer has explained in detail, absence of evidence is evidence of absence []. Why on this one topic would you deny the possibility of knowledge based on all the evidence you have?

What makes you think I haven't?

Reading your nearby comments - you don't come across as someone who is deliberately trolling. Yet you still made the statements Emil quoted (and half a dozen similar errors). The likely (and more polite) assumption is that you are merely ignorant of the basic principles of clear thinking rather than that you were deliberately violating them to provoke a response.
You didn't mention that there is also no evidence that Odin didn't make the big bang happen, or His Noodliness, or any of the many possibilities that are just as complicated and just as undisproved. Not mentioning this makes it seem like you didn't take it into account - that is to say, you don't know why Occam's razor makes sense.

So up your intake of fatty fish ( and chicken (chicken is cheap) and (mother)try to get more fresh vegetables.(/mother).

I'm just looking at what you're reporting and seeing a trend of someone who eats worse than I ever did, except for a very short time when I was in school and not working and would eat a plate of rice and soy sauce for lunch, with maybe a bagel and cream cheese if i had extra money, and then dinner would be half a pound of baloney and some french bread. Breakfast was caffeine.

And yeah, I had a LOT m... (read more)

Pescetarian. Not going to eat chicken. I can eat more salmon, tuna, and trout, though. I already eat what seems like a ridiculous amount of eggs; I've been on this egg kick. Didn't use to eat them much. I actually took magnesium supplements during part of the logged period (I was trying to fix my annoyingly high levels of fasciculation). They didn't have any effect on anything. I am not on hormones for anything.

I didn't usually grind them. Well, not in a grinder. I just ate them and let my molars and stomach acids and gut bacteria do the work.

Stoners are not a reliable source of infor...Of anything really.

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