All of Bryan-san's Comments + Replies

This is for SquirrelInHell. rot13 to avoid spoilers.

Gur frevrf vf n engvbany svpgvba orpnhfr Yrk Yhgube'f ernpgvba gb Fhcrezna'f npgvivgvrf vf gur fnzr nf lbhef. Ur fnlf, "guvf vf vzcbffvoyr onfrq ba xabja culfvpf" gura "tvira gung vasbezngvba, jung gur uryy vf npghnyyl tbvat ba?". Gur fgbel cebprrqf sebz gung birenyy fpvragvsvp crefcrpgvir bajneq.

How did this end up going? Any chance of us getting an update?

Yup! I will copy this into an edit of the main post: I decided to go to public school, because I was tired of all the little annoying stuff at my current school--especially the entitled kids and the entitled attitude in general. Everybody acts like they deserve something. It's very irritating. The other reason I came to that decision was "exploration value". By moving to a new situation I learn whether I really am better off in the kind of environment offered by the public high school; even if it ends up being worse for me, at least I know what to avoid. If it's good, I know it's good; and if it makes no difference, I know that, too.

I have several recommendations.

First things first, I strongly recommend reading this blog post by Siderea on the possible values of attending University. The difference between a public and private high school for you may very well be similar to the difference between a lower and higher status university. This article will expand your list of possible benefits and detriments to the two (and more) options. Spending lots of time around higher status and higher income people has a lot of benefits that aren't immediately obvious. (I'm assuming the private scho... (read more)

That seems like really useful advice. One of things I actually don't like about the private school is that on the one hand it's rather high status, but on the other hand a lot of the people there are not very smart and most of them are quite superficial in a weird, ironic way (our school has an obsession with racism that borders on hysterical considering that the vast majority of students are white, a substantial minority are boarders from China, and as far as I know there has been only one isolated case of actual discrimination against anyone.) I'm going to read through the goal factoring page tonight; hopefully I can get a grip on it and try to apply it to this situation in addition to the other techniques explained by ScottL (thanks again, ScottL!). And read the starting university advice page. I'll report back soon.

Does that include the grade inflation at major universities or the universities with specific classes that have their difficultly increased and grading deflated so that they fail out students at a more regular rate? (I know some universities do the second type on the introductory science courses while others do it at 3rd year courses.) Or were you referring to something else like bribes?


I think your posts are awesome and a much needed breath of fresh air.

In terms of virtue ethics: you are the kind of person we want here. And if someone doesn't, then that's a personality failing on their part.

Please stick around.

AlphaGo will be playing against a top Korean player, Lee Se-dol, in March. Lee is a 9 dan player (highest tier) whereas Fan Hui was only a 2 dan. AlphaGo beat Fan 5-0 so it's hard to tell how good of a player it is in comparison. I'm very interested in seeing the results of the next match.

Note: There seems to be some misreporting on the rank of Lee Se-dol on some American news sites. He's definitely a top Korean and world player, but I don't think he's #1 right now. Someone else is welcome to correct me on this.

Agreed, while Lee Se-dol is one of the strongest player of the 21st century, he is at the moment being superseded by Lee Changho. In Korea though (the strongest nation at Go right now), there are five"official top tournaments", so is difficult to say who is on top...

Very impressive article by Sidrea on the real reasons and value behind university

I think that even making guesses about someone's identity on an anonymous account is in very poor taste and actively discourages participation by people who are attempting to use anonymity as a tool to, "share [their] mind authentically". I consider that sort of thing d̶o̶x̶i̶n̶g̶ similar to doxing because it takes actions on identity outside of the anonymous person's terms. These days I'm generally against anything that has the potential to decrease activity on LW. (And even if Clarity is a generally ridiculous poster, he does foster discussions on the site at the very least.)

How am I ridiculous?
Should I feel bad about this []? Granted, neither of those accounts is linked to a meatspace identity [], but...
I think it's a bad idea to have the same person have multiple prolific accounts here. I think calling what I am doing "doxxing" is a fnord. "Fnord" is also a fnord.

I think it's far from ideal, but that d̶o̶x̶i̶n̶g̶ things similar to doxing are at least 100x worse as a community norm.

This isn't doxxing, I am not revealing otherwise difficult to get info, like address and phone and social security number, with the aim to harass. In fact, I am not revealing anything, I am just stating a guess. I have no inside info on either Clarity or Gleb.

I think there is very high value in sincerity, that both of the qualities you've described are heavily attached to sincerity, and that the effective and regular signaling of sincerity is going to be pretty much impossible to maintain without actually being sincere. If you really want to be effective in these areas, you might try to become easygoing and less selfish rather than trying to figure out how to fake those things.

For both if true and if not true: do you think posting this publicly is productive or a good idea when Clarity just said he didn't want to cross pollinate?

If true: don't think it's a good idea to have this sort of thing as a valid community norm.

What % do you define as "many"? Those percentages of content already known sound very high to me in regards to the first 1/3rd of the Sequences. (I'm still working on the rest so can't comment there.) Also, they can use the Article Summaries to test out whether they've seen the concept before and then read the full article or not. I don't recommend just reading the summaries though. I think a person doing that would be doing a disservice to themselves because of the reasons supplied by Vaniver above.

If someone has anxiety about a topic, I suggest they go after all the normal anxiety treating methods. SSC has a post about Things that Sometimes Work If You Have Anxeity, though actually going to see a therapist and getting professional help would likely help more.

If he wants to try exposure therapy, good results have apparently recently occurred from doing that while on propranalol.

Immediate ideas that come to mind: lots of CFAR goal-oriented techniques like goal factoring, pre-hindsight, murphyjitsu, seeking strategic updates, and urge propagation. You can learn those at CFAR itself or Anna might be writing up something on them at some point during this year.

From other stuff I've been exposed to: Generating 3rd option alternatives Noticing and rejecting Fool's Choices (presented with A but not B and B but not A, which you reject and then find a way to obtain both A and B) being sure to write down actual models for decision trees an... (read more)

Thanks! I hope to connect with CFAR later this year, so ideally I'd be able to learn more about good planning. The bit about avoiding past failures is something I haven't appreciated until recently; I used to think that I had to learn everything the hard way (first-hand).

In what specific areas do you think LWers are making serious mistakes by ignoring or not accepting strong enough priors from experts?

As I said, the ideal is to use expert opinion as prior unless you have a lot of good info, or you think something is uniquely dysfunctional about an area (its rationalist folklore that a lot of areas are dysfunctional -- "the world is mad" -- but I think people are being silly about this). Experts really do know a lot.
AI, general singulatarianism, cryonics, life extension?

I'm curious: what were your direct motivations for posting this in a thread instead of as a comment in the Open or Media threads?

I thought this was an important enough new book to give it higher attention than just an open thread. But I see now what the motivation of people would be downvote it, and will duly update.

This article looks like a good Part 1 of Many. I would normally expect this article to be followed by several more that go into detail about what good, rational planning actually looks like and how to do effective and useful research on topics like these.

Breaking things down into smaller parts and doing research sound like good ideas #1 and #2 of 20 or 30 needed to do really awesome planning.

That's really true. This started as an effort to catalog my own planning processes, but I have tons more to learn. I'll definitely be thinking more about the points you've raised (what good rational planning looks like/good research), but I know that I, too, haven't got the whole picture in my head yet. I would like to add more to this idea of good planning as I learn more. Do you have any suggestions for further reading I might benefit from (and eventually write about)?

Nate Soares' recent post "The Art of Response" on Minding Our Way talks about effective response patterns that people develop to deal with problems. What response patterns do you use in life or in your field of expertise that you have found to be quite effective?

Finally completed my dieting goal of losing 20% of my original body weight.

You put the person's name on both sides of the badge (this is a flat badge on a lanyard) so that if it gets turned around it's still visible.

CFAR uses double sided badges and they helped me substantially in memorizing people's names by the end of the workshop.

Double-sided? How does that work?

I've also talked to many of the prominent posters who've left about the decline of LW, and pointed out that the coordination problem could be deliberately solved if everyone decided to come back at once. Everyone that responded expressed displeasure that LW had faded and interest in a coordinated return, and often had some material that they thought they could prepare and have ready.

High value is assigned to many original top posters. This leads me to three questions:

  1. What demand will LW 2.0 satisfy that will keep these prominent original posters ret

... (read more)

Could you expand on this further? I'm not sure I understand your argument. Also, intellectual humility or social humility?

Re: your last question: yes. (a) It is very difficult to perceive qualitative differences for people 1 sigma+ above "you" (for any value of "you"), but it is enormous. (b) How much "science process" does this community actually understand? How many are practicing scientists, as in publish real stuff in journals? The outside view worry is there might be a bit of a "twenty something knowitall" going on. You read some stuff, and liked it. That's great! If the stuff isn't universally adopted by very smart folks, there are probably very good reasons for that! Read more! -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- My argument boils down to: "no, really, very smart people are actually very smart."

A few points:

  1. I would hate to see LW close and I don't think that would be a helpful step in getting people exposed to rationality unless a new central hub rose to take its place. I found LW through HPMOR just this year and have very little idea of what LW looked in it's supposed glory days. Things aren't great now, but if LW had been completely dead I likely wouldn't have moved from wanting to be rational to reading 600+ pages of Rationality:From AI to Zombies, making tons of connections and rationalist friends, attending CFAR, starting a LW meetup in my

... (read more)
I suggest ignoring karma.

This is a perspective I hadn't seen mentioned before and helps me understand why a friend of mine gives low value to the goal-oriented rationality material I've mentioned to him.

Thank you very much for this post!

It's worth noting that, from what I can tell at least (having not actually taken their courses), quite a bit of CFAR "rationality" training seems to deal with issues arising not directly from Bayesian math, but from characteristics of human minds and society.

•Discourage/ban Open threads. They are an unusual thing to have on a an open forum. They might have made sense when posting volume was higher, but right now they further obfuscate valuable content.

I don't think this is a practical idea. The site is hostile enough to new users who lack much rationality knowledge and perspective on the content. The Open threads (and even moreso the Stupid Question threads) give people a place to pose questions and try out ideas that they aren't confident enough in to make into Discussion posts. People are less harsh in th... (read more)

What are the strongest arguments that you've seen against rationality?

It is hard, sometimes, to follow epistemic rationality when it seems in conflict with instrumental one. Like, when a friend and colleague cries me a river about her ongoing problems, I try to comfort her but also to forget the details, in case I betray her confidence next minute speaking to our other coworkers. Surely epistemic rationality requires committing information to memory as losslessly as possible? And yet I strive to remember the voice and not the words. (A partial case of what people might mean by 'rationality is cold', I guess.)
Well, it depends on what you mean by "rationality". Here's something I posted in 2014, slightly revised: -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- If not rationality, then what? LW presents epistemic and instrumental rationality as practical advice for humans, based closely on the mathematical model of Bayesian probability. This advice can be summed up in two maxims: 1. Obtain a better model of the world by updating on the evidence of things unpredicted by your current model. 2. Succeed at your given goals by using your (constantly updating) model to predict which actions will maximize success. Or, alternately: Having correct beliefs is useful for humans achieving goals in the world, because correct beliefs enable correct predictions, and correct predictions enable goal-accomplishing actions. And the way to have correct beliefs is to update your beliefs when their predictions fail. We can call these the rules of Bayes' world, the world in which updating and prediction are effective at accomplishing human goals. But Bayes' world is not the only imaginable world. What if we deny each of these premises and see what we get? Other than Bayes' world, which other worlds might we be living in? To be clear, I'm not talking about alternatives to Bayesian probability as a mathematical or engineering tool. I'm talking about imaginable worlds in which Bayesian probability is not a good model for human knowledge and action. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Suppose that making correct predictions does not enable goal-accomplishing actions. We might call this Cassandra's world, the world of tragedy — in which those people who know best what the future will bring, are most incapable of doing anything about it. In the world of heroic myth, it is not oracles (good predictors) but rather heroes and villains (strong-willed people) who create change in the world. Heroes and villains
"It's cold-hearted." This isn't actually a strong argument, but many people find it persuasive.
People discard artificial constructs after they are beaten a few times, and return to simply powering through.
Rationality takes extra time and effort, and most people can get by without it. It is easier to go with the flow -- easier on your brain, easier on your social life, and easier on your pocketbook. And worse, even if you decide you like rationality, you can't just tune into the rationality hour on TV and do what they say -- you actually have to come up with your own rationality! It's way harder than politics, religion, or even exercise.
Superstition hasn't worked in the past, so it's due to be right soon.

Whoever is running the meetup needs to make Meetup Posts for each meeting before they show up on the sidebar. IIRC regular meetups are often not posted there if the creator forgets about it. You can ask the person who runs the meetups to post them on LW more often or ask them if you can post them in their stead.

I run the San Antonio meetup and you are very welcome to attend here if it's the nearest one to you!

Not sure what you mean by this. I actually posted the meeting for the Baltimore area myself. The Baltimore and Washington DC meetups do show up if I click on "Nearest Meetups", just that they appear in the 5th and 8th spots. That list appears to be sorted first by date and then alphabetically. The San Antonio meetup appears at the #4 slot, and the Durham meetup does not appear at all. Basically the "nearest" part of nearest meetups seems to be completely broken.

From our different observations of anecdotal evidence on this and the other comment thread I think that the university environments and populations you and I were exposed to were very different from one another. My environment was not with exceedingly intelligent people (likely below LW average) and was at a decent but not great university. My observations were from when I was a Freshman in college and observing other people that age though.

I've seen and heard of people who were older (grad school or working) and had much better experiences managing their ... (read more)

That's reasonable. And admittedly, I've personally avoided MMOs precisely for the time management reasons, so one might say that my words were in conflict with my actual actions... but then I've also gotten the impression that other, less addiction-prone people than me have gotten a lot of genuinely valuable things (e.g. friendships, management and organization skills, etc.), so I'm inclined to object if people present what seems to be an unfairly negatively slanted view of the genre.

Evaporative Cooling in that situation should lead to readers and commenters being only people who like you and people who hate you and want to verbalize it on a regular basis.

On a seperate note, your karma history is 44% positive. I think people both often agree with your comments and often disagree with your comments. They just disagree slightly more often. I think this is a good reason for you to keep posting for the time being.

Depends on the amount and specific interval of time investment. MMOs create demands like playing 3-4 hours every tuesday and thursday evening without fail for raids. This now requires a 6-8 hour time investment a week minimum with strong social pressures from online friends. That's not going to be helpful if you have a test on wednesday or friday. If you had a normal RPG or other hobby you could pick it up and put it down without social pressures and regular time investments at intervals in the middle of the week.

Given that I know plenty of people who play MMOs and participate in raids while still managing to pursue their studies/work/parenting/etc. successfully, this description of the absoluteness of the MMO time demands seems a little overblown. Granted, I don't actually play them myself, but it seems hard to believe that you couldn't have a good time playing an MMO while also finding an in-game social group that was reasonable about participation requirements.

Let's go with a minimum of:

  • Immediately delete or throw away all MMOs and games that require regular time investments
  • Stick to games that can be picked up or put down easily so that they don't cause harm to your study schedule, sleep schedule, or social commitments
Would you also recommend giving up all other hobbies that required regular time investments?

Two important questions to ask yourself about the job a major will get you:

  1. What is the unemployment rate on these jobs?
  2. Will this job be automated in 5-10 years?

-Your health is very important for your success
-Getting enough sleep, having a good diet, maintaining energy levels, and being healthy will contribute to your long-term happiness and success.

-Melatonin is a supplement that many rationalists take to get better sleep at night
-Sleep Cycle is a good app that monitors your REM sleep cycles and wakes you up in a 30 minute time peri... (read more)

This actually goes both ways: I always heard the Freshman 15 as "you either gain or lose fifteen pounds your first year." (I know I missed a number of dinners due to inattention.) Especially if you're used to eating home-cooked food most of the time, eating cafeteria/restaurant food most of the time will most likely lead to weight gain. You may want to prioritize getting access to a kitchen and preparing food for yourself.

I do this, though I hadn't heard of other people doing it before and use it slightly differently. Mine is set to 9:30pm and it is a marker point for me to use when keeping track of time late at night.

If you have the kind of schedule where you get home at 6pm and use a computer until late, then it's easy to lose track of time until it's suddenly 2am. Having a marker point closer to your sleep time (say 9:30pm for a 11pm bedtime) helps in keeping up your internal clock and signals when you need to make schedule modifications in order to finish things up bef... (read more)

I might agree with your rationale, but not with following the conclusion. It can be very important to attend lectures in order to hear about most likely topics that will be on tests, any possible changes in test or project details and deadlines, to keep good rapport with the professor (so you aren't one of those "students who never show up to class"), and to keep yourself focused on following the material at the rate from which you will be tested on it.

This may also vary by University and professor since some may care more about attendence and some are better than others at emailing information about test and project changes to students rather than just announcing it in class.

Probably. There have been a couple of courses where I'd probably done better on tests if I'd attended the lectures, but these have been rare exceptions. For the most part, skipping the lectures has only been beneficial, and I'm far from the only student who has found this to be the case. I also never got the impression that most professors particularly cared about lecture attendance, if they were pure lectures. Classes that involved actual discussion are different, of course. (There's probably a correlation with the fact that in order to have useful discussion in a class, the class size can't be too large, so pure lectures tended to be mass lectures where the professors were unlikely to notice your presence or absence anyway.)

80000 Hours
The 80000 Hours Career Guide
An impressive career guide that helps people maximize future impact and future earnings. It gives lots of strong advice on a variety of career choosing topics as well as looking in-depth into a few specific ones. (This website was created for Effective Altruists, but can be used by others very easily.)

Adulthood Fallacy?
This is purely me talking. Do not trust someone to be wise, emotionally mature, responsible, or trustworthy just because they are old. This applies to everyone you meet in the future and everyone you al... (read more)

Correction: first is an example of weak man argument mixed with personal uncomfortability. However, we could also strong man that as character 1 being agnostic and annoyed at people's attempts at arguing for certainty on the topic.

Second comment is a variant on "my opponent believes something" (noncentral fallacy territory) but breaks into genetic fallacy with the emotion part. My opponent feels annoyed by two opposing groups which is kind of like he thinks that they are intrinsically inferior which is kind of like he thinks he is better/smarter ... (read more)

Is this a quote from something? Please rephrase in plain English so every user who reads it doesn't have to take time decoding it.

It's not a quote from something. It's very abstract and includes technical language that doesn't capture very well the concepts I'm trying to articulate. The absence of terminology to describe what I want makes it hard to understand. This isn't aimed at everyone.

That's very interesting and I would be interested in seeing her proof. Was it a new idea that religious people had not thought of and spread before?

I should change my claim. People would be likely to think of "loads" of attempted proofs.

The theory I was trying to state is that certain perspectives or states of mind may be more effective at finding certain ideas than others. Calling "being a contrarian" might not be a good name for a perspective but I'll treat it as such for the moment. Do you think if people at CFAR and LW (our local c... (read more)

I like the idea of verified experts and fact-checking, though in practice I have a much smaller expectation of the mass public obtaining high quality experts.

I feel like my post is going to be way too negative and I'm sick right now with my cognition mildly compromised, but I like the idea of effectively spreading good ideas so I'll make it anyway.

It also makes it much easier for people with shared interests to get in contact.

This is red flag #1 for me. Even with the ability to use the internet to connect to massive networks of people who have differe... (read more)

Given that one of the people working in CFAR produced a genuine new proof for it making sense to believe in God that made her convert to Catholicism while being employed in CFAR, I don't see where you get that idea. In my experience this community is very open to thinking all sorts of contrarian ideas.

If people on LW are using Bayesian updating properly and check comments for refutations (which some commenters love to do), then this shouldn't be as large a problem.

This is an interesting heuristic! Has it led you to any unexpected situations or conclusions?

Well, the unexpected thing was how many people it screened out. I started asking "What do you love" as a conversation starter as a way to bring out the best side of people as quickly as possible - but I was surprised to see how many people didn't have a satisfactory answer. Pretty quickly, I found that those people tended to be the people who I didn't enjoy

What traits do you look for when making friends?

Also, what clues or tells do you use to identify these specific traits?

I'd be interested in hearing your answer if you're willing to share.

They know what they love, and it's more than money, sex, and relationships.

* Common interests * Has functioning brain cells * Broadly compatible in temperament and e.g. energy levels * Passes some basic filters (e.g. is not annoying/creepy/etc.) * You just like him/her
Clearly some commonality of value and at least a shared interest, but also, after some negative experiences of friends crashing at my house uninvited, a high degree of independence. I usually meet new friends when attending at new hobbies, so the first two are easily checked, but I remain on the fences for the third trait for some months before lowering my guard...

I hope they're as hard to come by as you think they are.

Alternatively, Roko could be part of the 1% of people who think of a dangerous idea (assuming his basilisk is dangerous) and spread it on the internet without second guessing themselves. Are there 99 other people who thought of dangerous ideas and chose not to spread them for our 1 Roko?

At the end of the day, I hope this will have been a cowpox situation and lead people to be better informed at avoiding actual dangerous information hazard situations in the future.

I seem to remember reading a FAQ for "what to do if you think you have an idea that may be dangerous" in the past. If you know what I'm talking about, maybe link it at the end of the article?

Perhaps the article you read was Yvain's The Virtue of Silence []?
I think genuinely dangerous ideas are hard to come by though. They have to be original enough that few people have considered them before, and at the same time have powerful consequences. Ideas like that usually don't pop into the heads of random, uninformed strangers.

Thank you for posting this. I think it goes a long way in updating the idea that a sane person with average intelligence would let an AI out from low chance to very high chance.

Even if a person thinks that they personally would never let an AI out, they should worry about how likely other people would be to do so.

So there are some relationships where you gain emotional energy from the time you spent with the person? This is different from basic extroversion 'recharging'?

I am very glad I asked this question because I did not realize that was even an option. Thank you very much!

Right - and you should avoid relationships where both people aren't on net gaining energy and time. Extrovert/introvert "recharching" works because extroverts/introverts by definition like social activities/solitude. The general principle here is that people are recharged by spending time in a manner which they find simultaneously comfortable and engaging ("flow"?). An intellectual is recharged by thinking, an artist is recharged by creating, a romantic by romance, etc. Beyond the obvious foundation of mutual love and affection, a good relationship is somehow creating or enhancing these dimension of life that you are energized by. On top of that it should ideally actually seem to free up time, as cooperating with a partner to tackle things generally cuts down work load, but even if it doesn't, if you've got the mutual love and mutual energizing in place I'd count it as a win. .
Yes, that is normal in healthy relationships. You should gain emotional energy and emotional stability from them. My girlfriend and I are both introverts, but we can spend hours together with no problem, while if we spend the same amount of time with other people we are very drained. We still do need alone time, but it's not the same as spending the time with other people, even close friends.

Do you think the sex alone makes it all worth the time and emotional investment?

Separately (and now we're getting completely hypothetical), what if sex was unavailable or impossible, would it still be worth it to you?

Yes, I do. In my opinion, people in general underestimate the sense of emotional fulfilling that good, regular sex has on the male brain (I'm assuming you're male). That would depend more on how challenged you are to find a suitable partner, I would still say yes, but in a narrower range of investment.
  1. Because I am occasionally terribile at phrasing questions (though my odd phrasings usually get me the answers I'm searching for anyway)
  2. Because the question was more of a ramblingly phrased question than a highly specific and carefully crafted framing
  3. Because I have no intention of ever having children and the question pertains to me
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