Prizes for Last Year's 2018 Review

Congrats to everyone!

Feedback for next year though: To be honest, including Eliezer Yudkowsky in the competition feels a bit silly given that he founded the site. But I don't know, maybe he feels that the existence of this competition would greatly increase his motivation to actually write things here?

No Causation without Reification

I thought that the argument you made was quite assertive. I don't think it's nearly as obvious as you claim that causality is in the map, even though it is a possibility that is often underappreciated.

Moderator's Dilemma: The Risks of Partial Intervention

Excellent article btw:

"And then, in every sample, you’re likely to have a tiny minority of completely batshit crazy moron assholes... A lot of things can put someone into this last group. Maybe they’re performing for attention and don’t care how destructive they’re being. Maybe they have a bunch of pain in their lives and they’re trying to share it. Maybe they were raised in some messed-up abusive environment and aggressive hate is their normal. Maybe they just aren’t very good at communicating. It doesn’t matter. They’re broken, and as a moderator you don’t have the power to fix them. The problem is in their heart, and nothing you say or do can make them care about others.

Most communities are built around the idea of getting these people to behave. This is a mistake. Broken people cannot be fixed by rules. If you make the rules loose, they will find weak spots and exploit them. If you make the rules tight and specific, they will rules-lawyer you to the brink of insanity. They will haggle over the specifics of the rules, and they will insist everyone be held to precisely the same standards. If you let someone else slide, the nut will condemn you as a hypocrite or accuse you of injustice.

... Instead of making rules to compel crazies to behave – which can become a full-time enforcement project – I allow them to act out. And then I ban them. I want to know who the crazy people are, as fast as possible. The sooner they reveal their character, the sooner I can pull them out of the pool before they make a mess. This isn’t hard. Problem People are usually easy to spot.

Now, in the context of an open system like this blog, “banning” doesn’t mean much. People can change personal details and come in as someone new. But so what? If someone assumes a new identity, they still have to pass the sanity test. They still have to behave like a human being. And if a banned person assumes a new identity and then behaves in a civilized manner? That’s not a flaw in enforcement. That’s mission accomplished."

Oops, this was still meant to be a draft.

Rationalists from the UK -- what are your thoughts on Dominic Cummings?

This doesn't quite answer your question, but I wrote a post about his ideas here.

He has quite the negative reputation due to his association with Brexit (particularly certain claims made) and the lockdown industry, so hopefully rationalists don't get tarred with the same brush.

Epistemic Progress

Yeah, for a long time I'm thought that it's been somewhat unfortunate that LW-style rationality hasn't been able to penetrate into academia like Effective Altruism has. This would have the advantage of leading to more rigorous research on these topics and also more engagement with other points of view.

On Arguments for God

"But in your post, you cast that reasoning as... wrong?" - I didn't say that at all.

The point of this post is identifying a particular pattern.

The claim is that just because X is false doesn't mean that there aren't some pretty strong arguments for X that are correct, so long as there are even stronger arguments against X.

I'm curious what made this post confusing. I've reread it a few times and I can't see which part is unclear, but then again this is always hard as the author of the post.

On Arguments for God

"This post is about God, but of course, it isn't really about God, but about a particular pattern in general"

But it's not so much about uncertainty, but about how our desire to support our pre-existing beliefs can distort our perspective, even those beliefs are true.

Zeno's Paradoxes - Dichotomy + Archilles and the Tortoise

Well, if you assume that a line is made up of points, but that you can't have an actual infinity, then there's your contradiction right there - "The former requires allowing the existence of an  actually infinite set, which modern math is fine with but the ancient Greeks mostly were not. "

Zeno's Paradoxes - Dichotomy + Archilles and the Tortoise

My current write-up of the arrow paradox is here. In short, I start with a time interval being divisible into point-intervals, then I reverse that and say that an aggregate of point-intervals can cover a proper time-interval. I then suggest that this means that point-intervals can cover a space interval. I think I'm onto something here, but it still doesn't feel completely persuasive to me.

You're using (already-substituted) the equations for distance and velocity, which is essentially just asserting the validity of calculus and taking as given that motion is possible and both space and time are continuous. Which is fine, but wouldn't have convinced Zeno, I think.

I'm confused b/c nominally this claims to be addressing the arrow paradox, but it sounds like you are discussing the equations in Archilles and the Tortoise. The equations are being used to determine where they will cross IF they cross. To be absolutely clear, I'm not assuming they cross. I just need to know where the point will be in order to transform it to the dichotomy paradox (actually it's not quite the dichotomy paradox, but this paradox in reverse). And there's absolutely no need for calculus for a constant velocity.

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