All of Blackened's Comments + Replies

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 19, chapter 88-89

I will throw in several predictions. I myself am not completely confident of some of those.

  1. Time-turners, prophecies and similar devices, which predict that something will happen, work by exerting some mind control upon people in the form of unexplicable urges, such as the urge to take the left turn this one time. I'm not sure how far can they go in order to fulfill themselves.

  2. The events in the magical world are not just dictated by the already-discovered laws of physics, but also by the laws of fairy tales. Dumbledore is pretty damn rational, at many p

... (read more)
Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 19, chapter 88-89

I'm surprised to see everyone overlook the most obvious possibility: Voldemort.

Point one: The earlier prophecy was probably about the same person, and he hadn't arrived yet at the moment. Even if it was about something different. 'he has come' in the last prophecy implies that he had just arrived.

Point two: Voldemort appears to love destruction. I still don't know how someone as intelligent as him hadn't killed everyone in the ways Harry thought of -. Harry's intent to kill, which is presumably very Voldemort-like, is extremely creative and effective even ... (read more)

What are your rules of thumb?
  • If something sounds certainly correct, check it up on Wikipedia anyway - it takes less than a minute. Likewise if it sounds almost certainly wrong.
  • If I don't know why exactly someone went to his conclusion, do not assume he thinks it for the wrong reasons.
  • If I can predict I will be too busy to go to gym in the next few days, do a 5-minute (1-set) exercise - this is at least 50% of the efficiency of a normal exercise.
  • When I feel the drive to argue, do careful judgement on whether it's efficient to do so.
  • Never blame people for their biases. If they don'
... (read more)
Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 18, chapter 87

It doesn't fit my model of human behavior. But that's possibly just me.

I'd imagine that if Snape got really angry, but it's only because Harry offended him without knowing, well, he wouldn't be close to harming him. I guess it would be appropriate to say "you almost died" if it's not true, but then Harry acted as if Snape might reconsider his decision to not kill him, rather than being just apologetic, or something like that. Or maybe he was indeed, and I am likely to be underestimating the strength of the impact that Harry's words had on Snape.

But if others interpreted it like me, then I got it right. Hmm.

1anotherblackhat8yCannon!Snape has loved Lily since the two of them were children - considerably longer than 11 years. I don't think it's unrealistic at all. While I wouldn't call such a love typical human behavior, it's also not particularly rare. There are thousands of people who still profess love for Princess Di for example. I doubt that it was telling Snape what an idiot he is that angered him, but rather saying Lily was shallow and unworthy. I agree that it's weird that someone who could carry a torch for that long would stop just because an 11 year old boy gave them random advice. I think it's likely that when Snape kills Dumbledore, it's going to be because of his love for Lily and Dumbledore's interference in that. His love hasn't diminished at all.
Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 18, chapter 87

There was something that has always been bugging me. It's actually several things I don't understand.

When Snape says "You almost died today, Potter", what does he mean? Maybe it's because I'm not a native speaker, but I can't understand that part. My best guess is that Snape got so upset with what Harry said that he almost killed him in his rage. But that seems very counterintuitive to me.

Second, Snape had possibly changed after his conversation with Harry? Does this mean that Snape took Harry's words and thought that Lily is actually not worth h... (read more)

0Qiaochu_Yuan8yYes, but in canon, Snape doesn't get over Lily. Everything heroic Snape does in canon, up to and including becoming a double agent and dying for the cause, is because of Lily. He dies more than twenty years after he and Lily were friends at Hogwarts.
2LauralH8yPoint one: Snape originally stayed in love with Lily because of the lost chance. He actually did think he had a shot with her till he called her a mudblood, but Harry pointed out that in fact he never did. I mean some people fall in love and if their loved one dies, never date again, so I was assuming Snape's feelings were of that variety. He knew they weren't actually "dating" but he thought he'd had a chance before That Day. Now, Harry tells him "Sounds like this Guy never had a chance with that Girl ever, because she's shallow." So, yeah, hearing that he's held on to these feelings for no reason instead of "if only I'd not called her a mudblood we'd have married" - I can see how hearing that you've really wasted your past 11 years of life can piss you off. His rage was due to changing his mind, but clearly Snape finds it hard to Not Shoot The Messenger. Point two: It's more that Dumbles probably had been insisting for years (in a more subtle way than I'm about to do) that Loving Lily made him a better person so he should continue to do so. But the axiom for Loving Lily - that he could possibly have been with her if he'd been a better person in the first place - has indeed shattered. I don't think he's mad b/c Lily was shallow specifically, but just that she never, ever, ever, would have been with him. So yeah, he's trying to update on that new axiom. Point three: as others have said, Snape Loves Lily is canon, but if you take that axiom above, it's not quite that unrealistic. I knew a girl in college who didn't date for 4 years after her boyfriend was killed in a car accident. And remember Snape thinks it's his fault she died, too.
775th8yYes, but sometimes very slowly. I can tell you from first-hand experience that fixations on people with whom the fixator has zero contact for eight years do exist, and from second-hand knowledge that upwards of 13-year-long ones almost certainly exist as well. It's quite unhealthy and quite irrational, but it happens.
5gwern8yThat was always my interpretation, unless I'm thinking of some other chapter. What's counterintuitive about it?
4Alicorn8ySecond thing is possible, but if it's not a lie, it's not Eliezer's absurdity but J.K. Rowling's.
5Viliam_Bur8yThis is why: If you haven't read the whole article, well, maybe the answer was there. Or maybe it wasn't. Anyway, it seems that you consider your own time too precious to read the whole article just to get the answer, but you don't mind spending other people's time reading your question and answering it. Generally, contributing to a discussion below an article saying "I didn't read the whole article" (or even not saying it, just: not reading the article and yet discussing with people who did) is impolite. The discussion is supposed to provide additional value for people who did read the article.
Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 13, chapter 81

I'd love to see a list of spoilers about things that were hinted at and reasonably sounding hypotheses, if anyone ever made one. Please do reply to this post with your discoveries and speculations. I'm also going to post mine, once I finish rereading HPMOR.

LessWrong IQ Survey

I did notice the title didn't sound right to me. But I also couldn't find the right words (English isn't my native language). Any suggestions?

0roland8yHOW about: LessWrong IQ Poll better: LessWrong IQ Survey
LessWrong IQ Survey

It strongly depends on the person, some are faster than others.

JCTI takes at least an hour for nearly all people with high scores. 2-3 hours isn't too much.

CFNSE takes 2 to 5 hours, according to the estimation on the website - it's an accurate estimation IMO. A possible strategy is to do it "quickly" (for 2-5 hours or so) and leave everything you couldn't answer definitely for the last. Then spend 30-60 minutes on each of those. I think this isn't going to artificially inflate your score, and I'm quite certain that someone with 100-110 IQ can't figure out the patterns for any of the hardest questions, even if he spends hours/days on each.

LessWrong IQ Survey

Fortunately, we can still view individual replies.

5gjm8yIf at least one person is being obnoxious enough to enter completely nonsensical numbers, then probably some people are being less blatantly obnoxious -- e.g., entering plausible but wrong answers (such as their own estimates of their IQ). Not that any poll of this sort is immune to such things.
2ESRogs4yI don't think that's true. It's my impression that the SAT correlates with IQ tests about as much as IQ tests correlate with each other. On IQ and SAT correlations [https://www.quora.com/Are-IQ-estimations-based-on-SAT-results-accurate/answer/Ryan-Farmer-8] : Meanwhile, the correlation between the Stanford-Binet test and Raven's is about .72 [http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.2466/pms.1987.64.2.461].
4RobertLumley8yI have said all I wish to on this topic and others are expressing any points I would make. I am now tapping out [http://wiki.lesswrong.com/wiki/Tapping_Out].
LessWrong IQ Survey

We can still view the individual responses and ignore this one.

LessWrong IQ Survey

Yes. And I thought I reread the thing xD

LessWrong IQ Survey

Ahh. For some reason, I was convinced that the link worked before I edited my post, during the process of which I didn't touch the link. So I just left it there, out of frustration, it was clickable anyway. Fixed.

Maybe HTML does suggest something about LW's IQ, but it is not really useful, given the current evidence we have so far. The way I interpret it, it says that the average IQ is probably over 110-120 (no upper limit), with a quite weak reliability. Even if we don't take into account that 20-70% of the users know programming (many people don't study computer science, but still use programming).

9NancyLebovitz8yI was making something of a joke. Are we smart because we are mostly able to handle a system which requires both markup and html, or are we stupid because we put up with it?
LessWrong IQ Survey

I couldn't find any relevant discussion on the topic. Can anyone give me a link?

I'm looking for one where people have posted their scores on a reliable IQ test, rather than answering to the question "what is your IQ?".

Yvain had what I thought was a very thorough discussion in the original thread. If you're unhappy with that, I don't think there's really anything to say but I'm sorry. Because we're not going to get any better data - realistically, any survey you conduct isn't going to get the response rate that the general census did, especially when your tests are going to take a long time. Furthermore, I have no faith that your tests are any better than the one that was given in the census. Lastly, the correlations with SAT and ACT have settled the question to what I feel is a reasonable degree of accuracy, and sitting around talking about how smart we are doesn't send signals to onlookers that I think are in the best interests of LessWrong.

LessWrong IQ Survey

CFNSE score [pollid:259] Here is the percentile convertor for CFNSE. http://www.etienne.se/cfnse/norm.htm

Note that the best strategy is to look at Adults percentile, even if this is less accurate than the age group. We are looking at the intelligence compared to all humans, not compared to all humans at the same age range.

LessWrong IQ Survey

JCTI score [pollid:257] Please don't use this field for scores from other tests, except for clinical ones - note that there are some that are not free and are still not valid (one costed a few hundred Euros!). You can post scores from other tests if you are really sure they are valid, but don't forget to convert it to SD15. As far as I know, some Mensa admission tests are not accurate.

Mean 89222.75
Median 137.0

Somebody's being a douchebag.

If you don't like a topic, proper responses can include: 1) Don't participate, 2) Downvote, 3) Make a comment saying why you dislike discussion of the topic.

The proper response is NOT to sabotage the topic.

The reason this site maintains relatively high levels of rational discourse, rather than trolling and flame wars, etc, is because we all do our best to follow the social contract of this site. Breaking the contract (via actions such as sabotaging polls, karmassassination, etc) pushes the LW... (read more)

3Tenoke8y'but don't remember to convert it to SD15' did you mean don't forget?
-1Blackened8yCFNSE score [pollid:259] Here is the percentile convertor for CFNSE. http://www.etienne.se/cfnse/norm.htm [http://www.etienne.se/cfnse/norm.htm] Note that the best strategy is to look at Adults percentile, even if this is less accurate than the age group. We are looking at the intelligence compared to all humans, not compared to all humans at the same age range.
Meetup : 02/12 London Meetup

I really wanted to come, but coursework deadlines are very close, so I had to skip this one. How did it go? How many people came?

0philh8yIt was good. I think about 16 people over two tables; we didn't get the round tables this week, but I'm looking into booking them for next time.
2012 Less Wrong Census/Survey

Took the survey + all the extra questions. I just noticed this thread today. In my opinion, it is underadvertised.

Concerning the IQ test, I've seen this one before and I know it's not reliable, because it is not based on a statistic and there's no reason to believe it's reliable in the first place. There are only two culture-fair free online IQ tests: JCTI and CFNSE. I am extremely curious to see the average score for LW.

Here's how to make sense out of your IQ score: http://www.iqcomparisonsite.com/iqtable.aspx

1[anonymous]8yThanks. I'll try those when I have some time.
Open Thread, November 16–30, 2012

How do I improve my persuasion skills?

How do I translate a valid logical argument to a persuasive, intuitive argument that would work for most people? I have read a lot of psychological literature. I have also gotten to the point where I can recognize an intuitive argument that would be persuasive. So, I can recognise my arguments as non-persuasive before I say them and I avoid most debates with people who aren't convinced by scientific evidence and stuff that works for rationalists and is technically a good argument. However, generating a persuasive argument isn't the same as evaluating the persuasiveness of already existing arguments.

Any good, readable, concise literature on this?

Open Thread, November 1-15, 2012

Any tips for productivity (links to good articles are highly appreciated)? I was thinking that I knew all the main simple rules, until a few months ago I discovered nootropics.

Does My Vote Matter?

I have thought about this, to destroy my past erroneous belief that a single vote doesn't make a difference. Imagine that you know a secret that few people know, which tells you that the right candidate to vote is definitely candidate X. All the people who know the secret also might think in the same way as you - that a single vote doesn't matter. But the difference between all of those people voting and no one of them voting is winning the election. So there's the two situations:

  1. Nobody votes, you lose the election.
  2. Everyone votes, you win the election.
... (read more)
[Link] "Fewer than X% of Americans know Y"

I remember when a few years ago, on the news on TV, there was an article about how 40-70% (forgot the exact number) of the interviewed people said that Beethoven is a dog. I was frustrated at how shocked the other people in the room were.

Open Thread, October 1-15, 2012

I'm talking about personal statement. Not sure if this is the same as cover letter, but I do know that they require it. And it appears that mine is going to significantly increase the overall quality of the CV.

Open Thread, October 1-15, 2012

Why do you think so? I would personally like more people who are actively talking about their good and bad sides, although I'm not sure if I'd do that in an interview, because it might mean they don't know what appears to be the most effective strategy.

0blashimov9yI think, just like you have been recommended to assume the person conducting the interview is not rational, that person has as a default you are not rational. To expand: in general someone filling a job position will have many applicants. They will go through a negative search procedure: looking for ways to quickly discard applications. Since most applicants are overconfident, sounding less confident means you are perhaps less skilled than the overconfident applicants. Furthermore, employees who are confident about their deadlines (and meet them of course) are most valued. To rephrase colloquially: if you aren't confident about your skills/accomplishments/whatever, why should the person making the hiring decision be confident in them, when they know less about you than you do?
4Epiphany9yI don't know man, but that weird habit of humans drives me up a friggin wall.
Open Thread, October 1-15, 2012

I'm writing my CV now and was wondering whether I should indeed be "as confident as possible" (which basically means, according to some people, that I'm limited to sentences that don't even contain words like "but", "mostly", "although" etc.). Overconfidence is a killer of rationality, and displaying it might signal that you're irrational. I would personally trust much more someone who actively doubts in many things he says, rather than someone who is always confident. However, some people say the opposite.

I was wond... (read more)

4[anonymous]9yAs a first approximation, assume everyone you're dealing with is default-level irrational and incapable of recognizing or appreciating rationality. This is true > 98% of the time. Also be aware that even a rationalist in a hiring situation might just interpret your "self skepticism" as attempted tribal-affilation signalling. They are hiring, not looking for beer buddies. Very different thought process.
3Epiphany9yI've heard that cover letters are not very popular these days, some people are doing away with them and viewing them as just another thing that can get you rejected. Before you put a lot of effort into this, you might want to check around and see if anyone even wants cover letters anymore. I know at least one significant company that does not even accept them.

Yes you should be as confident as possible.

In interview, you can admit that you used to have flaws, which you identified and corrected, but this is as close as you can get.

Open Thread, October 1-15, 2012

That's because I wanted to see what their programmers study and computer science was the closest I found. I assume that their programmers would study that? And that it's better than study software engineering in a significantly worse university?

0thomblake9yIt really depends on what field you're going into and what specifically the employers you'll be courting will be looking for. For example, having a degree in philosophy was a major boost at my current job, because there are (oddly) so many CS majors out there with no critical thinking skills. I was going to give various detailed advice here, but I realized I have no idea what the tech jobs are like in the UK. I assume they involve a lot of paperwork.
Open Thread, October 1-15, 2012

Any good books on mathematics for software engineers? I've been looking at the best universities in UK, they all have much more mathematics in their degree than what I'm taught.

Also, any good books for probability theory and all the things needed for AI development? I'm doing this course: https://www.edx.org/courses/BerkeleyX/CS188.1x/2012_Fall/about

Edit: These are the programs I've been talking about.

Imperial college: http://www3.imperial.ac.uk/ugprospectus/facultiesanddepartments/computing/computingcourses http://www3.imperial.ac.uk/computing/teaching/u... (read more)

0thomblake9yIt looks like you're talking about software engineering, but looking at computer science courses. No, they teach mathematics because it is necessary for computer science. They probably have little care for what is useful to software engineers.
2Larks9yOxford's course is unusually pure. My freinds reading it don't actually use, you know, computers. They just write their algorithms down on paper.

I assume they teach mathematics, because it's useful for software engineers.

Be aware that computer science and software engineering are different disciplines, and don't assume that people who design university curricula are experts on teaching software engineering. You can find top-notch computer scientists at universities, but top-notch software engineers tend to end up in the industry instead of academia.

0Pfft9yMaybe, but I think a bigger reason is that it is useful for computer scientists, and these courses aim to prepare you for research as well as for work in industry.
5Risto_Saarelma9yWhat kind of problems in particular would you like to be able to solve better? I don't really find myself needing much mathematics in everyday programming. That said, Knuth's Concrete Mathematics [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concrete_Mathematics] comes to mind as a book on the sort of mathematics used in computer science, and Alexander Stepanov's Elements of Programming [http://www.elementsofprogramming.com/] takes an interesting mathematics-like first-principles approach to constructing programs in a C++-like language (Stepanov came up with the STL for C++). There are also people claiming that category theory can be used as a foundation for software engineering, but I'm not able to point to many convincing examples of a real-world software engineering problem solved neatly using category theory. I could sort of follow some of the bananas and barbed wire [http://academic.research.microsoft.com/Paper/296068.aspx] paper, which constructs CT-ish algebraic representations for basic looping constructs in programs. Actual category theory stuff just puts my brain to sleep by the time it jumps to the third level of abstracting categories into categories with me still without a motivation for connecting the thing to something I can do something with, but Pierce's Basic Category Theory for Computer Scientists [http://www.amazon.com/dp/0262660717] is at least thin and has a title which makes you think you should read it. There's also Conceptual Mathematics [http://www.amazon.com/dp/052171916X/] that explains categories at a college freshman reading level with several examples, which I should probably get back to reading at some point. I could actually follow it, but still came out with no idea what I would actually want to use categories for. For AI and probability, Bishop's Pattern recognition and machine learning [http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/um/people/cmbishop/prml/] comes up a lot. I haven't actually read any of these to the end, though I'm pretty sure I've r
Open Thread, September 1-15, 2012

I didn't say that sexuality is entirely shaped by this, only that it's influenced. Say, when I read that hourglass-shaped women bodies are supposed to be attractive, I started noticing that I think I'm attracted to that, although one can argue that I used to be before I read it, so I only started noticing that. However, it worked for me for other things, many of which are not liked by many people.

Open Thread, September 1-15, 2012

Sexuality is a strange thing. If you consciously think something is sexy, it then becomes sexy for you. At least that's how it works for me, I'm generalizing from one example here.

2[anonymous]9yIn our society the consensus seems to be it doesn't quite work like that, at least when it comes to things like say homosexuality.
Open Thread, September 1-15, 2012

That would only makes sense if vitamin D is the only one that has any real significant effects or if the other ones who do, are too included in small dosages (this doesn't seem improbable at all).

I remember seeing studies which doubt that vitamin C would help healing from common cold. No wonder if most other are as insignificant.

Also, just checked some pills of vitamins (for hair, skin and nails) I bought 1-2 years ago. It says "take 3 times a day" and it has 100 IU of vitamin D. It's also apparently 50% of RDA - most other vitamins/minerals in it are up to 200-250%, and my vitamin D pills are 1250% RDA. Mystery solved, I guess.

Open Thread, September 1-15, 2012

Well, so it was a good decision to play lottery after all!

(I'm joking)

But anyway, congratulations for the success and thanks for the contributions! I personally am going to donate huge amounts of money on similar causes if I get rich. It seems to be the most rational way (according to my goals) to spend them.

Open Thread, September 1-15, 2012

I am very confused right now.

A few years ago, I learned that multivitamins are ineffective, according to research. At that point, I have heard of the benefits of many of them, they were individually praised like some would praise anything that's good enough to take by itself, so I was thinking that multivitamins should be something ultra-effective that only irrational people won't take. When I learned they were ineffective, I hypothesized that vitamins in pills simply don't get processed well.

Recently, I was reading a few articles about Vitamin D - I thoug... (read more)

1Epiphany9ySupplements have quality issues often. You'd be surprised what they get away with. Sometimes the coating doesn't digest, so the nutrients aren't absorbed. Sometimes they use the wrong form of the substance because it is cheaper. Sometimes they're even contaminated with lead. I only buy vitamins that have been tested by an independent lab. So far, the best brands I've found were Solgar and Jarrow.
4gwern9yI don't really follow. A multivitamin != vitamin D, so it's no surprise that they might do different things. If a multivitamin had no vitamin D in it, or if it had vitamin D in different doses, or if it had substances which interacted with vitamin D (such as calcium), or if it had substances which had negative effects which outweigh the positive (such as vitamin A?), we could well expect differing results. In this case, all of those are true to varying extents. Some multivitamins I've had contained no vitamin D. The last multivitamin I was taking both contains vitamins used in the negative trials and also some calcium; the listed vitamin D dosage was ~400IU, while I take >10x as much now (5000IU). Is that unsatisfactory?
1dbaupp9y(Links are created by writing [ text ] then ( url ), you seem to have used parentheses for both.)
Open Thread, September 1-15, 2012

it says that accupuncture (both "real" and "sham") was seen to be effective in combatting pain

Oh damn I missed that. I got too distracted by the Effectiveness research section. So there you go, I found a reasonable explanation, although I was more looking forward to some sort of fundamental bias that effects everyone, which I must have somehow missed. Would have been a good explanation to some things.

Still, I'm waiting for someone to appear with a very good hypothesis of the cancer case. I'm not saying there has to necessarily be one... (read more)

Open Thread, September 1-15, 2012

I need help in explaining this case to myself.

I just talked to someone and she praised her doctor, because she complained from chest (armpit) pain, and the doctor, untraditinally, cured her with accupuncture on the spot. I asked her and she said the pain was going on for a few weeks (and was quite intense), and it disappeared on the next day. Some bias IS expected of her (more so than from the average person).

Maybe it's just random chance plus unconscious exaggeration, but I doubt it could have been so strong. After I started writing this, I looked up on W... (read more)

3ArisKatsaris9yDo you need a different explanation? The super-surprising effectiveness of placebo feels a bit offensive to us truth-seekers; but the universe and our brain-architecture isn't required to play fair with us, alas. In certain occasions, the deluded and deceived may have an advantage. ? Am a bit confused because when I read the Wikipedia article, it says that accupuncture (both "real" and "sham") was seen to be effective in combatting pain. So where did you read that it was ineffective?
Open Thread, July 1-15, 2012

Ha, I got the idea for nootropics from your dual n-back article in the first place.

I'll certainly try some nicotine gums, but would that be strong? I'd like something strong, like Adderall, but I know that Adderall is illegal without prescription (damn stupid laws), and I will likely never be in the state of having an ADHD diagnosis.

1gwern9yThe Adderall I used was apparently a lower dose than some people use and I haven't tried nicotine double-blinded yet (soon though!); with those caveats, my impression has been that 2mg of nicotine is somewhat weaker than the Adderall but without the more negative side-effects of 'tweaking'.
Open Thread, July 1-15, 2012

Can anyone recommend me any nootropics for raising concentration (executive functions, working memory) that are effective, legal in the UK, not too expensive, and without too much side effects? My concentration is quite bad, if that's relevant.

1gwern9yWhat do you make of nicotine [http://www.gwern.net/Nicotine]?
Open Thread, August 1-15, 2012

In case (b), 1307 is as close to 1337 as are the example numbers 4337, 1037, and 1334 (among others). The found number could be closer to 1337 if it were instead 1347 or 1327 (among others).

This is the case I meant to (at least one that would be very close to what someone would use in real life). The point is to choose your own criteria for the example situation to determine whether that person is a real magician.

This can't be. If nothing else, the one group uses their left hand and the other uses their right. You need an "except" or "o

... (read more)
Open Thread, August 1-15, 2012

Why the answer is different: Because 1.C asks what are expectations are, and 1.B asks what the state of the class is

For b) and c), the questions were supposed to be the same - my bad, I have edited it. Please edit your answer accordingly.

Not all of your answers were correct (unsurprisingly, because I find some of the questions extremely hard - even I couldn't answer them at first :D). I'll wait for a few more replies and then I'll post the correct answers plus explanations.

0OrphanWilde9yOddly, my answers remained the same, but for different reasons. Also, I changed my answer to 1.D, and would recommend you change the wording to "Expected average" wherever you merely refer to the average.
Open Thread, August 1-15, 2012

I meant to say, a close match to what the person said. And I'm not entirely confident that 2 makes sense, I'd like to clarify something but that would give out the answer. Please tell me of the other questions you don't understand.

1Alicorn9yThis still doesn't clear up my confusion. I'll clarify. In case (a), 1307 is as close to 1337 as are the example numbers 7337, 1937, and 1330 (among others). The only way 1307 could be closer to 1337 is if it were exactly 1337. In case (b), 1307 is as close to 1337 as are the example numbers 4337, 1037, and 1334 (among others). The found number could be closer to 1337 if it were instead 1347 or 1327 (among others). In case (c), 1307 is as close to 1337 as is 1367. The found number could be closer to 1337 if it were 1338, or 1336 (among others). This can't be. If nothing else, the one group uses their left hand and the other uses their right. You need an "except" or "other than" clause. Did it just happen to turn out that we found ten, so we can proceed, and if we didn't find ten we'd skip this problem - or does this problem solely use classes that have ten and throw out other classes? In the entire class? Because that's not clear. Went around shaking hands until locating a left-handed person, or grabbed the first person you saw and they were left-handed? This is a weird and misleading way to put it if we're still assuming the people in the class are independent of each other. Yes, even with the word "average"; I'm talking about writing, not math. What, really? These are both heavily correlated with a third thing but not at all with each other? Are there real phenomena that act like that? It is unlikely to have good grades and a low score on either one, but they're not correlated? I'm just nitpicking here, but this made me wonder if a won $35 would be taxed where the $10 wouldn't. This is bad wording if this is supposed to be an expected value question. The most money possible is just $35; you don't even have to work out the expected value. If you take the ten dollars you are not getting as much as you could possibly have gotten.
Open Thread, August 1-15, 2012

9 months ago, I designed something like a rationality test (as in biological rationality, although parts of it depend on prior knowledge of concepts like expected value). I'll copy it here, I'm curious whether all my questions will get answered correctly. Some of the questions might be logically invalid, please tell me if they are and explain your arguments (I didn't intend any question to be logically invalid). Also, certain bits might be vague - if you don't understand it, it's likely that it's my fault. Feel free to skip any amount of questions and sele... (read more)

0[anonymous]9yAnd you tell me that now? I had been answering the previous questions assuming I was allowed to round numbers of the order of 1/(world population) down to zero...
0OrphanWilde9y1.A) Approximately. (Originally this was yes, until you stated that there were at least 700 million people on the planet. After that information, I updated this answer, because I realized that the problem had an additional assumption of a finite number of people, thus encountering any one left-handed person reduces the odds, very very marginally, of any different future person I encounter being left-handed, because the pool of people I'm drawing from now has slightly different odds.) 1.B) No. (Still.) 1.C) Approximately. Why the answer is different without resorting to math: In 1.B, we nonrandomly pull 10 right-handed students out of the group. In a pool of 24 10-sided die we've already rolled, we've pulled out 10 of them which did not roll 1; this does not alter the number which did roll 1, increasing their relative proportion. In this case, we've rolled the dice 10 times, and they never came up 1; the remaining 14 times remain fair dice rolls. 1.D) (Modified) Approximately. 1.E) Very very slightly. 2.) [Edited; apparently I screwed up when I added the possibility of an exact match] .41%, still assuming we're not considering the proximity of 0 to 3, and including closer matches. (That is, only considering identical digit matches.) 3.ab) Supposing it's more likely that a higher quality student is A than !A; it's possible that it's extremely unlikely for a person who isn't high A to have high grades while still having more high grade students who aren't A than are A, if the odds of A are substantially lower than the odds of being neither A nor B but still having high grades. So there's not enough information. Assuming it's more likely you're A and have high grades than ~A and have high grades, however, and assuming that this distribution holds for the grade average for each college (p(A|G) > .5 for all three G), you should in all cases favor low-B students, because the remaining pool of accepted students is more likely to be A than !A, because !B limits you to
3Alicorn9yI find these questions unclearly written. For example, in the license plate case, what does "close" mean? Are 1337 and 1307 close because three digits are exactly the same and the fourth one doesn't matter as long as it's not perfect, or because the nonmatching digit is only 3 away, or because the numbers have a difference of 30 out of a possible difference of thousands, or what?
Open Thread, August 1-15, 2012

I've heard that it's often a fraud and that it usually comes at the cost of reduced reading comprehension. But I have no actual experience with it.

Challenge: change someone's mind

Don't sweat about karma, it's there mostly for feedback and filtering, not as a judgment tool.

I didn't get this. Isn't it that people should vote down everything they disagree with?

If you define "rational" as "those who understand what I mean, rather than what I say, and agree with me", then no, you have not.

Maybe you're right, I can't possibly judge how did it look like when read from a different person. Mental contamination.

Famous last words...

Would you still say that if I said "it's 15:00 here, therefore it's not nigh... (read more)

9TheOtherDave9yNot really. The usual convention is "vote down what you want to see less of." People differ in terms of what they want to see less of. For example, some people downvote poorly-reasoned arguments defending positions they agree with, because they want fewer poorly-reasoned arguments. Some people downvote well-reasoned arguments defending positions they agree with about topic X, because they want fewer discussions of topic X. Some people downvote well-reasoned arguments defending positions they agree with in response to known or suspected trolls, because they want fewer response to trolls. Etc.
Challenge: change someone's mind

Unfortunately, it's not as simple as that. My sister (yes, I was talking about her all this time) is so prejudiced against me, she even thinks I'm physically weak (despite that I'm not just average, I'm well above the average and I even receive compliments for that; also, my lifts are significantly above the average, according to some papers I saw).

I've contradicted her so many times, she didn't bother to change her opinion. Not only that, but I've met a few of her friends who reacted like "wow, you're either an entirely different person, or your sister outright lied me about you", but I haven't done it recently and they might have not expressed this opinion loud enough.

0drethelin9yDoes she think this or does she just say it to put you down to your and others?
Challenge: change someone's mind

I can't understand how this is a popular post, giving the number of assumptions you made.

First, I don't have a brother. In my analogue of the situation, I'm kind to that person and he isn't kind to me. I never did anything bad to him (and I don't do bad things to people, by the way). But this is irrelevant, because the point here is to change the mind of someone you know who didn't change his opinion when the subject of that opinion has changed a lot.

Re your friend: "Change him to be like you" seems like a bad idea in general

By "like you... (read more)

4RobertLumley9yEveryone is the hero of their own story, even the villains [http://lesswrong.com/lw/i0/are_your_enemies_innately_evil/]. Like shminux said, don't sweat karma. It's not a big deal. I cared way too much about karma when I first joined, because this was the first time I'd found an internet community whose opinions I genuinely respected. I still care too much about it, but not nearly as much as I did. I think you got the negative karma primarily because of tone - as several people mentioned, and you've acknowledged, you came across as "a dark lord on the mission to bind people to his will and be like you". My impression is that you have a tendency to write this way. Which isn't a terrible thing, you should just be aware of it. People rarely understand you exactly as you mean them to [http://lesswrong.com/lw/ke/illusion_of_transparency_why_no_one_understands/]. Secondarily, I think you got it because changing other people's mind isn't really an exercise in rationality, as rationality is fairly rarely convincing to people. Lastly, it may be to poor editing "he has devoted his life to already invested a lot of it in religion", and "I haven't been able to change nobody's mind". I make mistakes like this all the time, when I go back and change part of a sentence and forget to change the other. (For the record, if anyone notices mistakes like this in my writing, please point them out to me, because I'm morbidly embarrassed when look at my recent comments and I have a three day old comment with improper subject verb agreement) But it makes your (or my) post look like it's unpolished and you didn't put any effort into it. Alternatively, if English is not your native language, as is the case for many users, you may want to put a disclaimer at the beginning of your posts. The welcome thread [http://lesswrong.com/lw/do9/welcome_to_less_wrong_july_2012/] also has information on people who can give you English help. Well the way you phrase it, no. But there are several reasons I w
6shminux9yDon't sweat about karma, it's there mostly for feedback and filtering, not as a judgment tool. If you define "rational" as "those who understand what I mean, rather than what I say, and agree with me", then no, you have not. Famous last words...
Lotteries: A Waste of Hope

However, we assume that the social interaction itself isn't enough to justify my ticket. Let's say it's just a warm greeting and a short small talk with someone I find sympathetic, but probably won't play a decisive role in my future. And I'm buying the ticket, because I rationally know that I might win the lottery (despite that I find it so unlikely that I don't actually expect it). I have only included the social interaction to offset the wasted time.

1Vaniver9yAh, now I see what you're trying to get at. You might be interested in reading about VNM utility maximization [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Von_Neumann%E2%80%93Morgenstern_utility_theorem] and prospect theory [http://lesswrong.com/lw/6kf/prospect_theory_a_framework_for_understanding/]. The first basically says "let's come up with an imaginary score that we give to potential futures, such that that we can do expected value calculations over probabilistic gambles between those potential futures, and the EV calculation will be correct by definition." This is generally recommended as a good way to make decisions (at least, it clarifies what the difficult parts are- but beyond focusing your attention may not make them easier). The second asks how various descriptive biases coexist, and comes up with a model that has three deviations from risk-neutral VNM but fits how many humans actually behave.
Lotteries: A Waste of Hope

I'm still not convinced that I shouldn't buy lottery tickets.

Assume a hypothetical situation. There's a lottery right next to where I study/work. Also, I realize how silly it is to actually expect to win the lottery after buying a lottery ticket, so I can't use this as a source of positive emotions, even if I want to. However, buying lottery tickets let me engage in certain social situations, which just barely outweigh the time wasted for them (but not the money) - alternatively, you can instead assume that it takes me 0 seconds to buy a ticket and later t... (read more)

0Vaniver9yThe response I would make is that you're not buying a lottery ticket; you're buying a social interaction ticket, and that can be rational. Given the "waste of hope" message, though, hypothetical you should think long and hard about whether that social interaction is positive.
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Registered a few days ago, now trying to run the course, but for some reason it's not working.

Edit: working now.

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