All of Brillyant's Comments + Replies

It's extremely weird that atomic weapons have not been used in anger since WW II, and we know that humanity got lucky on several occasions, UFOs seems to like to be around ships that have nuclear weapons and power so I assign some non-trivial probability to aliens having saved us from nuclear war. 


Bird watchers also tend to see more birds. 

I'd imagine there are more sensors and eyeballs looking in the skies at high security facilities, thus more UAP. 

What is the name of this bias?

In America, many people are searching for the extreme versions of success, and we've been conditioned to see significantly above average levels of success as the baseline.

Drake meme:

  • Working out, sleeping well, and eating reasonably to stay in shape = meh
  • Having 8 pack abs, 20" biceps & being able to 360 dunk a basketball = YEAH, that's what I'm talkin' bout!

If you're going to have extreme success, I think it often takes some extreme variables in the equation. That might be extreme talent (or extreme wealth or extreme-ly valuable personal/professional ne... (read more)

Plenty of evidence.

Any that you find particularly clear and compelling?

Anyone following the role American football may play in long term brain injuries? Subconcussive hits to the head accumulating to cause problems?

Anyone have thoughts?

Yes, US football and boxing are very bad for the brain. Plenty of evidence.

I was criticising the criticism of this post.

I feel like you're taking all of this way too seriously.


This answer has too many upvotes in my view.

I suspect it was here early in the discussion and people upvoted for whatever reason it is people upvote early comments.

Note that neither Lumifer, nor Dagon, nor Brillyant have ever made a top-level submission of original content to Less Wrong. It's easy to be a critic.

Since Lumifer, Dagon, and Brillyant seem to want a site that never has anything new on it, may I suggest It hardly ever changes.

...what did people say they'd need to rejoin [Less Wrong]?

Feel free to read these yourselves (they're not long), but I'll go ahead and summarize: It's all about the content. Content, content, content. No amount of usability improvements, A/B testing or clever tric

... (read more)
0Elo6y [] Also lesswrong post about it - []
Will publish in a few days, after I present at my local dojo . No guarantee it works because my description is possibly rough and in person I can get feedback on your understanding of the description and say, okay try this explanation instead...

Things you cannot control directly - what your metabolism actually does with the food you put in your mouth

Agreed. Some people have significantly higher metabolisms.

Things this model doesn't even mention - there are other important things about the food, not just calories

Agreed. I'm not talking about nutrition, just weight loss.

I mentioned the nutrition because that used to be my problem in the past. I had low level of iron, so the answer "just exercise and burn some calories" was quite useless to me -- I was barely able to wake up in the morning. Repeatedly I tried to exercise regularly for a few weeks, but the outcome was always pathetic: after a few moves I was exhausted, and there was no visible long-term progress. Of course, after doing a difficult thing with zero benefits, after a few weeks my motivation was gone. Meta problem was that "checking my levels of iron" wasn't even on the list of things I was thinking about, when I was thinking about how to get rid of some fat. (People around me assumed the opposite causal model: I have a problem with energy, because I am not doing any sport or exercise, duh!) It happened quite randomly; a friend of mine was reading somewhere on internet a list of symptoms of iron deficiency and mentioned it to me, and I was like "huh, sometimes I have similar symptoms, too". Yet it took a few years until once I asked a doctor to measure my iron level. Turned out, it was at the lowest end of the "healthy" interval... so, according to the doctor, not worth mentioning unless I ask explicitly, because I am still technically healthy. I guess being technically healthy is important from the official medicine point of view, but I would rather get closer towards the optimal health, so... I bought some iron supplements, and... With the level of iron fixed, it was a completely different game. I suddenly felt full of energy, which was something I only remembered happening decades ago. Suddenly, exercising hard became possible. (At the risk of making a pseudoscientific explanation, I suppose that iron plays an important role in the process of converting "calories in" into energy available for exercising.) Then, after a few months of exercising hard I lost some fat, gained some muscles; people who haven't seen me for a longer time say I have visibly changed. (I don

To the extent people yo-yo, I think the novelty wears off and old habits come back. You're often dealing with months or years of new diet versus decades of old habitual diet.

I mean you notice the differences more in the first phase of a diet. You may have some New Diet Energy! that gives you a boost and helps counter the differences.

After a while, you can get accustomed to less food.

Some random barely-edited thoughts on my experience with weight loss:

In the midst of a diet where I will lose 15 lbs (15.9lb, from 185.8 lb to 169.9, to be exact) in 40 days.

I have 95% certainty I will reach this goal in the appointed time. Even if I don't reach exactly 169.9lb, I'll be close, so whether or not I hit the exact number is arbitrary for my purposes. (I'm losing some weight to see if it helps a lingering back injury.)

I'm just eating a disciplined diet and working out according to a consistent schedule.

My diet is simple and not starvation-y at... (read more)

Good luck with your weight loss!
You can steelman no-CICO by saying that CICO is a good physics model, but a bad control model. CICO has a simple direct link, while in the body there exists all kind of feedback loops: from fat cell to food intake, from food intake to NEAT, from exercise to NEAT, etc., all mediated by poorly-to-moderatedly understood hormones and neurological triggers.
As far as I understand the literature suggest that many people succeed with the first 2-5 weeks of big diet changes only to have the yoyo-effect later in the process.
My opinion is that it is a "motte-and-bailey" type of a model. Technically correct, but skips some of the important parts. Things you can control directly: * amount and type of food you put in your mouth * type and amount of exercise you choose to do * whether you really start doing the exercise each day, and keep doing it as long as possible Things you cannot control directly: * what your metabolism actually does with the food you put in your mouth Things this model doesn't even mention: * there are other important things about the food, not just calories As a consequense, these things happen in real life that the model does not predict: If you are lucky, you can actually put a lot of calories in your mouth without getting fat as a result, even if you are not exercising hard. Not sure what exactly happens, my uneducated guess is that the metabolism only takes as much calories as needed, as the rest goes to shit. (So yes, technically it is "calories out", but it is not what people proposing this model typically mean, and you have no direct control over this, i.e. you can't simply decide to lose weight by going to the bathroom more often.) If you are unlucky, the "calories in" get converted into something that is somehow not easily accessible as an energy source. (Either because your metabolism is fucked up generally, or because your body is low on some important component, such as iron.) You know you should burn some calories, but at the same time you are weak as a fly, so you really can't. (Not because "math doesn't work", but because the linear model ignores some parts of the reality.) But you mentioned this in the "random thoughts" part. ...however, assuming that the metabolism is working more or less correctly, the model is useful. My recommendation would be: Step 1 -- get checked by a doctor, whether you are low on something; start taking supplements; Step 2 -- start exercising regularly, without worrying about the "calories in" yet, just to
Good luck on your weight loss! :-)
In many towns in the US, high school sports (especially football) are not just a recreational activity for students, but rather a major social event for the whole community.

It's sort of silly to say that that means it should be called the "irrationality community." Tyler Cowen is implicitly putting himself at the vantage point of a more objective observer with the criticism, which I find ironic.

It did seem to be a pretty bold and frontal critique. And "irrationality community" is probably silly. But I agree LW, et al has at times a religious and dogmatic feel to it. In this way the RC becomes something like the opposite of the label it carries. That seems to be his point.

As an aside, I think Lumifer i

... (read more)

Susan Rice was involved in wiretapping Trump

Found Sean Hannity.

You were supposed to be looking for Waldo :-P

The tallest player to ever play in the NBA was Gheorghe Mureșan, who was 7'7". He was not very good.

He wasn't? He average 15 pts and 10 rebounds (and 2 blocks) as a 24 year old in the NBA. He had injuries, but was effective for a time when healthy.

I agree Ashton Kutcher doesn't pass my initial presidential smell test. But I'm not sure Trump did either, especially as a GOP candidate...

Thrice married. Foreign born trophy wife. Only recently pro life. Just fine with gay marriage. Not terribly fiscally conservative. Prone to vulgarity. Bromantic af with Putin. Proud adulterer & pussy grabber. Orange.

GOP: We'll take it!

Actually, I think it was more like this: No. No! No!!! Nooooooo!!!!! OK, whatever... Wait, what?
Yeah, definitely the "pretty boy" thing is the biggest problem for Kutcher - even if it turns out he's a better businessman than Trump. There's something about that kind of personality where I think most people would have a hard time taking him seriously.

Leonardo DiCaprio, Meryl Streep, Katy Perry, Rosie O'Donnell and Beyonce are on the list and seem to fit the criteria I'm curious about.

Acting skill seems as if it would be very helpful in a political campaign. And just general confidence in a public forum.

You don't need to actually know anything; you just need to convince people you know things.

Trump's last speech has been mostly praised as one of his most presidential. This is, in large part, because he read what other people wrote for him in a president-sounding voice and didn't deviate much from the sc... (read more)

Media celebrities are used to adoration. I wonder about their resilience -- how would they handle deliberate, sustained, and direct hostility in a public forum. I suspect this is not as easy as it looks, especially when you need to remain convincing over many months in the face of opposition. In general, there is an important requirement for presidential candidates: they must be able to survive a team of smart, persistent, and malicious lawyers digging through their past and their private life for any dirt. I suspect the process is highly unpleasant for the target and I suspect many celebrities will... have difficulties here.
Poe's law, dude!

Sure. (Though he isn't U.S. born) Or Bill Gates.

(But) I'm most interested in considering the probability of people whose primary draw as a candidate is fame they gained through something like the entertainment industry, for example. Because the skill set necessary to succeed seems to have little to do with being an effective POTUS.

Trump is still a "business man", so Lumifer is right that it's reasonable to assume he's at least a competent manager. The same could be said of Musk or Gates.

Ashton Kutcher might be a better possibility - investor, venture capitalist, manager of a human rights organization. Highly well known (but only because of acting), and would almost certainly be a foil to Trump in many ways.
As far as I can tell from the evidence gathered online, he was. Do you have access to other evidence strongly pointing to the contrary?

Well, timeframe & circumstances are important to note here.

In, say...2012, I think a 1% probability of Donald Trump being POTUS (elect) in Nov 2016 would have seemed far too high to most.

By Nov 1 of 2016, 20% seemed more reasonable.

The probability spikes dramatically after the candidate wins their party's nomination.

Ha. No.

I got that part.

The jokes, bro. I didn't get the jokes. You're typically kinda funny.

I guess probability says you're bound to miss the mark occasionally.

Jack understands the game-theoretic implications of negotiating with someone slightly insane very well. Probably better than a Chinese civil-service mandarin whose experience with slightly insane people is, I suspect, limited. As to Rocket, well... I think his typical approach [] would be just right for the Middle East.
Democracy allows anyone, even a simpleton from humble background, be elected leader. Democracy allows anyone, even a simpleton from humble background, be elected leader. Or let me put in an LW way: if you are sampling from the whole distribution, you will eventually get some values from deep in the left tail :-D

How about Tom Hanks? Oprah? Mark Zuckerberg? George Clooney?

I dunno :-) I still like Captain Jack Sparrow best. If I can't have him, I'll take Rocket Raccoon. He can deal with the Middle East and Captain Jack Sparrow can be appointed to be the US representative in the trade negotiations with China. You know what the greatest strength of the American democracy is? Anyone can become President :-P


And I go through lots of apples if I'm still hungry (or I just have a not-hungry-but-want-to-eat mood going) after I'm done with dinner and it works for me in the same way people are describing below.

I think you got hung up on the name Beyonce. Don't.

Maybe experts-at-looking-in-the-rearview-mirror but those don't seem to be terribly useful.

Agreed. :)

LOL Are my alternatives Ellen Degeneres and Justin Timberlake? X-D No Bieber? Are you sure you don't want Lena Dunham to run as the Democratic candidate? I understand Beyonce has advantages [], though...

Second point: the electorate does not care about "actual credentials" and has not been caring for many decades by now. I'm not sure what credentials would those be, anyway.

Well, you suggested having manager skills...

But we seem to agree that skills relevant to doing the job of POTUS aren't necessarily of primary importance in regard to being elected. Is this an accurate statement of your view?

Third point: social media has NOT demonstrated its ability to elect a president. Trump was not elected on the strength of his social media game.

It se... (read more)

Manager skills are like instrumental rationality: they are not a signal to the electorare, they are for you to achieve what you want to achieve. Yes, that is an accurate statement of my view. By the way, I think you lack proper appreciation for point one :-) Trump also employed his money effectively and this helped him win. Trump also employed his campaign staff effectively and this helped him win. Trump also employed public statements effectively and this helped him win. Trump also... Surely you will be able to produce tons and tons of evidence in support of your position, then. Still not experts :-D Maybe experts-at-looking-in-the-rearview-mirror but those don't seem to be terribly useful.

What would keep other celebs from doing that?

Can you explain, in your view, what Trump did to get a lot of attention that another huge celebrity could not do?

From my view, he seemed to get lots of headlines just for being a celebrity and running for POTUS simultaneously.

Not unlike OJ made headlines for being a celeb and being on trial for murder at the same time.

It cannot be just that: Trump has run for presidency other times, but it didn't get the same coverage. This time something else has changed, whether in him or in his sourroundings.
He made headlines by saying outrageous things. Then he stranded his ground.

Thank you for the fair warning.

The question is more about celebrity and social media having the ability to get people elected regardless of that person's actual credentials to be the CEO of America.

You seem to be getting hung up on the particular names of the celebrities I am mentioning. Why?

Ronald Reagan was a shitty actor before his gov't career; Arnold Schwarzenegger was the same; Jesse Ventura was a wrestler/actor.

Trump seems to me to be more a result of the phenomenon whereby a celebrity uses their profile and name recognition as the overwhelming mean... (read more)

"Managerial competencies" aren't visible on TV but they affect a lot of decisions that have to be made while running a campaign. Decisions that can be good or bad and given that the margin by which he won wasn't that big making slightly worse decisions might have cost him the election.
Some credible experts had given him about 1% chance of winning, but IIRC most of them gave him chances of the order of 20%, which hardly counts as "virtually impossible" IMO.
First point: a president is not a CEO. The distinction matters. Second point: the electorate does not care about "actual credentials" and has not been caring for many decades by now. I'm not sure what credentials would those be, anyway. Third point: social media has NOT demonstrated its ability to elect a president. Trump was not elected on the strength of his social media game. So draw the conclusion: your success as an actor/celebrity/etc. is not really relevant to your chances at getting elected to a political office. Being a celebrity is useful, but it's about as useful as, say, being tall. Citation needed. I do not think this is the case with Trump. So draw the conclusion: these were not experts and their words are not credible. Nah. Hillary was famous for her pantsuits. Didn't help :-P


Like at the correspondents dinner where Obama, et al mocked Trump's chops for/chances of being president?

Or all through out the 18 months leading up to last Nov?

How'd that work out for the LOLers?

Competent Manager

Hm. What sort of skills do you think this involves? Confidence? The ability to motivate & communicate ideas clearly?


I don't think this is as likely as somebody like Beyonce, Ellen, Justin Timberlake—someone who has displayed intelligence and charisma.

It's about the a) simplicity of voting, b1) the ... (read more)

Delegating complex tasks to other people and see that they get done..
You are making an error in equating all lollerskates. But in the spirit of fair warning I will disclose upfront that I'm not taking this subthread seriously and that I'm going to snort and giggle, make indecent gestures and bad jokes (example: do you know what the mascot of the Democrats is? It's an ass! That would be so appropriate for Bey's presidential bid!) Do you know any competent managers? What kind of skills do they have? Ahem. You know they all min-maxed for charisma and treated int as the dump stat, right? Well, you've figured out the US elections. Do you think you have a bright future as a political consultant? If not, why not?

I don't think he has the broad popularity to win.

Maybe Ellen Degeneres?

We're not talking about realistic scenarios. But is your list of candidates filtered by (not white) OR (not straight)? X-)

Given that you are not referencing any media article

It's Pew's data, if I recall. It was widely cited after the election.

This was just one instance of many I recall where non-alt-right/NRx types were found to vote for Trump in significant numbers.

Could a mega celeb win the U.S. Presidency?

Say, Beyonce in 2024?

I'm thinking someone with a huge active social media following, universal name recognition, attractive and charismatic, significant financial resources, history of political activism, strategic demographic appeal, progressive politics as a backlash to whatever Trump gets done over the next 8 years...

Is the probability non-negligible? More so now that Trump won, right?

0Good_Burning_Plastic6y,_2020#Speculative_candidates_2 [,_2020#Speculative_candidates_2]
Elon Musk? He's definitely a celebrity in some sense, if not an entertainer, and he at least carries the full list of adjectives you laid out.
Of course. Celebrity and POTUS-y go hand in hand since the beginning of time. Reagan, Schwarzenegger, Trump...
Kanye West would be MUCH more entertaining in this scenario X-D

At the same time there's a pretense in the media that Trump voters (who might be 100 as large in numbers) automatically belong to either of those categories.

This* seems obviously false. Do you have any evidence for this?

For instance, 81% of white Evangelicals voted for Trump. From my background in that community and many discussions with current members, I can tell you there are many reasons they voted for Trump...almost none of them overlap with anything I know of the neoreactionary or alt-right movements.

Edit - The idea there is a "pretense in the media seems as false as the claim itself. Outlets I watch/read often note the Trump constituency is diverse.

Given that you are not referencing any media article I don't see how "for instance" makes sense here. But you are right that I have overstated the case, I likely have red too many articles about Milo.

"Stupidity" is a...word that we apply to different conditions which may be caused by deep subconscious conditioning (e.g., religion).


Do you think it's factually untrue, or normatively wrong, or something?

Seems a bit harsh, though after you've debated a few creationists, it doesn't seem so unsupportable.

Looks like the 'RECENT ON RATIONALITY BLOGS' section on the sidebar is still broken.

Is this a difficult fix?

I see like 10 posts there.

Perhaps you are looking at the "RECENT POSTS" section rather than the section I mentioned?

Maybe you should do some debiasing, practice being well-calibrated, read the sequences and try again later?

I'll work on this.

Maybe you could work on reading?

No it's definitely "RECENT ON RATIONALITY BLOGS" section ;)

My "RECENT ON RATIONALITY BLOGS" section on the right sidebar is blank.

If this isn't just me, and remains this way for long, I predict LW traffic will drop markedly as I primarily use LW habitually as a way to access SSC, and I'd bet my experience is not unique in this way.

It looks that way to me as well, and I don't think that should be the case. I'll investigate what's up.

Maybe you're just not rational enough to be shown that content? I see like 10 posts there.

MIRI has invented a proprietary algorithm that uses the third derivative of your mouse cursor position and click speed to predict your calibration curve, IQ and whether you would one-box on Newcomb's problem with a correlation of 95%. LW mods have recently combined those into an overall rationality quotient which the site uses to decide what level of secret rationality knowledge you are permitted to see.

Maybe you should do some debiasing, practice being well-calibrated, read the sequences and try again later?

EDIT: Some people seem to be missing that this is intended as humor ............

I think you are factually mistaken about whether life has a purpose.

What is life's purpose?

Evidence that reality is purposeless, for me, would be a reality where there are no tendencies.

What does this mean to you? And why are tendencies evidence of purpose?

I believe life has no absolute purpose. This is probably a costly belief compared to other, more rosy (i.e. religious) beliefs with which I am very familiar.

Nonetheless, I hold the belief I do, despite it's negative consequences (emotional, motivational, psychological, etc.), because I'm compelled to believe this way based on the evidence.

As I said, I don't see any reason someone couldn't believe in a non-honest god. I've talked to deists who don't consider "honesty" a characteristic that applies to the sort of hyper-powerful entity they believe created all things.

If our conscious experience is a simulation, then are the creators of that simulation (i.e. the gods) being "honest"?

I think you are factually mistaken about whether life has a purpose. Of course to see whether we actually disagree about this I would have to know why you added the word "absolute" there. But it looks to me like you just agree with Eliezer that reality in itself is indifferent. As I have said in other threads, I think reality in itself is good. Evidence that reality is purposeless, for me, would be a reality where there are no tendencies. Of course it is hard to imagine such a world, and it may be entirely impossible. But there is nothing strange about this: since I think that reality is fundamentally good, I think that trying to imagine a reality which is not good is trying to imagine a reality that lacks the fundamental stuff of reality -- i.e, an unreal reality, which is a contradiction. In any case, I accept that this is your opinion and that you think you are compelled by evidence to hold this. But in that case, you think that you benefit by having an accurate map of reality. And this benefit could offset the costs you mention. If it does not offset them, then perhaps you should reconsider your opinion. And about being "compelled to believe," you are not compelled to believe anything. There are clearly people who reject evidence, and you are as human as they are, so you can reject evidence if you wish to do so. Whether or not people do so will depend on whether or not they value having an accurate map of reality, or at any rate how they value that compared to other things, since everyone has at least a little bit of desire for an accurate map. So you are only "compelled" because you think that the benefit of the accurate map outweighs those other costs you mention. As I said, I agree that there is no reason why the causes of the world would have to be "honest." I said that there can't be a good reason to believe in an all powerful dishonest being, because there are no benefits to that belief which could offset the costs. Having an accurate map of reality coul

I did not say that everyone believes that God is honest. I said no one believes in a dishonest God

Meh. Okay. It might depend on definition. You've offered no evidence anyway.

The reason people do not believe in a dishonest God is not cultural, but it is the same reason that no one believes in any skeptical scenario, namely that such beliefs cannot be useful for any purpose whatsoever.

I don't see any reason people can't believe things they also see as lacking purpose.

Further, I don't really know what you are talking about.

People can "believe things they also see as lacking purpose," if you mean that they believe the thing lacks purpose, e.g. I might believe that the stone lying on the ground over there is pointless. But the fact that I hold the belief is not pointless. In the case of the stone, I hold the belief about it in order to navigate the surrounding terrain. And in general, as onlytheseekerfinds noted, beliefs are costly by impeding alternative beliefs, and they also have a cost even in physical energy, since it consumes resources to express them, even mentally. So no one would hold a belief unless there were some corresponding benefits to outweigh the costs. Robin Hanson talks about this a bit here [].
Because believing in something - really believing in it - is not costless. It comes at the cost of those other beliefs incompatible with the one in question. This doesn't make it impossible to harbour beliefs without any useful purpose, but it's a reason to expect to to be uncommon. Should an idea be incorrect merely because it's uncommon? No; but if it's both rare and intrinsically unappealing - lacking both the force of reason and the weight of mass assent, why then should it be taken seriously?

And that is clear from the fact that no one believes in a dishonest God

They don't? Says who?

I'm not opposed to the idea of some hyper-powerful creative entity, and I see no reason to believe it is honest or dishonest, or that such a classification would even apply.

The idea that "God must be honest" seems to be an ideal derived from culture and attached to a deity as a necessary condition.

I did not say that everyone believes that God is honest. I said no one believes in a dishonest God, and you did not contradict this or provide an example of such a believer. The reason people do not believe in a dishonest God is not cultural, but it is the same reason that no one believes in any skeptical scenario, namely that such beliefs cannot be useful for any purpose whatsoever.

You won't believe this life changing equation!

Interesting. You received lots of downvotes (-8) for confirming Eugine; MrMind is at -1 for doubting it was Eugine.

I'm down -7 for suggesting Eugine.

It's a pretty transparent, frontal strategy by this guy. DOWNVOTE MY PERCEIVED OPPONENTS!!! I like that.

It seems reasonable to conclude there is something like a "Good at Being President" rating composed of some mix of appropriate skills.

It also seems there is a "Good at Winning Elections" rating that overlaps with the "Good at Being President" rating in some ways.

And then there is a "Good at Being Popular and Having a Large Online Following" rating because of the ever-growing internet, which may be starting to overlap more and more with the "Good at Winning Elections" rating, and which itself has less overl... (read more)

Guessing by the number of downvotes you received, probably yes. This garden [] is officially dead now.
He doesn't seem to be, at least by the scrolling the history of his posts.
I believe you have your answer.

Like everything else democracy has its failure modes. Neoreactionaries think they are a big deal (though their list of the failure modes of democracy is probably different from yours).

What is the list of neo-reactionary failure modes for democracy?

I'm too lazy to compile one, maybe one of our local NRx people will provide :-/ Or you can go read Moldbug, Nick Land, and such. "Being gamed by demagogues" is probably in there and I'm sure some derivative of the word "cuck" will make an appearance.
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