All of Dan_Moore's Comments + Replies

Survey: What's the most negative*plausible cryonics-works story that you know?

Society is completely different and technologically advanced. The only employment offered to mom and popsicles is as a historical icon from your approximate youth era, tasked with wandering the streets and acting your part, analogous to a Disney character at Disneyland. Your role choices are Elvis Presley, Albert Einstein, and someone else you've never heard of.

If they're a technologically advanced society, why is employment considered necessary?
If they know that few names from my era, they probably know similarly little about each one. I play "Albert Einstein", but it's obvious to any popsicles from the same era that I'm actually Rick Sanchez []. This develops into an in-joke where basically every "Albert Einstein" is really playing Rick Sanchez. We ruin everything with drunken debauchery, then ???, profit, take over the degenerate binge-drinking wasteland society becomes.
Clothing is Hard (A Brief Adventure into my Inefficient Brain)

Most underwear has a label that should be on your back facing in. Thus, there are 4 possibilities: (label in) front, back, facing in, facing out. Hope this helps.

Journal 'Basic and Applied Psychology' bans p<0.05 and 95% confidence intervals

Neat in what sense? (i.e., in a popcorn-worthy or a methodological progress sense?)

Also, does this ban make sense for the entire field of psychology, or perhaps just for 'feelings' parameters that range from icky to awesome?

As they explain, at the link, they are realio trulio banning null hypothesis significance testing. This is neat!
Low Hanging fruit for buying a better life

Visit a Toastmasters club - for free. If you decide to join, the annual cost will be < $100. The meetings are fairly organized, with people talking in turn. Prepared and short impromptu speeches are delivered. Usually a friendly and supportive environment. I look forward to our weekly meeting.

December 2014 Bragging Thread

I asked and answered a question on Math StackExchange- the first of three related questions. The third question will characterize all faces of the Tridiagonal Birkhoff polytope. The first question is about vertices of certain Tridiagonal Birkhoff faces, and the second will be about the combinatorial type of the facets of these certain faces.

How to write an academic paper, according to me

I have seen at least one math paper where the title was suggestive of a more general result than actually delivered in the paper. I wish the title of the paper was given as much thought as the abstract. In the case I'm thinking of, a well placed 'some' or 'certain' in the title would have fixed it.

Rationality Quotes October 2014

My greatest inspiration is a low bank balance.

Ludwig Bemelmens

A similar thought from Heinlein: Source. [] I have heard both my father and my brother, professional musicians, mention the tremendous difference between professionals and amateurs. There is their differing levels of skill, of course, but the more fundamental difference is the seriousness that a professional brings to the work. There's nothing like having to put food on the table and a roof over your head, to give yourself that seriousness and get the work done, no matter what.
Rationality Quotes October 2014

Thankfully, they have ways of verifying historical facts so this [getting facts wrong] doesn't happen too much. One of them is Bayes' Theorem, which uses mathematical formulas to determine the probability that an event actually occurred. Ironically, the method is even useful in the case of Bayes' Theorem itself. While most people attribute it to Thomas Bayes (1701 - 1761), there are a significant number who claim it was discovered independently of Bayes - and some time before him - by a Nicholas Saunderson. This gives researchers the unique opportunity to use Bayes' Theorem to determine who came up with Bayes' Theorem. I love science.

John Cadley, Funny You Should Say That - Toastmaster magazine

The rational way to name rivers

It seems clear that the first existing name was Mattaponi, and since the 4 feeder rivers are close together, the syllable names were chosen for the 4 streams, south to north. The Matta (and especially Poni) Rivers look pretty short on the map.

This is why we can't have social science

A mentor of mine once told me that replication is useful, but not the most useful thing you could be doing because it's often better to do a followup experiment that rests on the premises established by the initial experiment. If the first experiment was wrong, the second experiment will end up wrong too. Science should not go even slower than it already does - just update and move on, don't obsess.

If you're concerned about the velocity of scientific progress, you should also be concerned about wrong turns. A Type 1 Error (establishing a wrong result by... (read more)

Yeah, there's definitely an "exploration / rigor" trade-off here (or maybe "speed / accuracy") and I'm not sure it's clear which side we are erring on right now. I'm not terribly surprised that LW favors rigor, just due to the general personality profile of the users here, and that my favoring of exploration at the cost of being wrong a few times is in the minority. I definitely think a rational agent would be more exploratory than science currently is, but on the other hand we've got systematic biases to contend with and rigor might offset that.
This is why we can't have social science

The goal is to set up the experiments to make it solely about the results and not about colleagues. If 'scientific integrity' means sloppy, porous experimental setup, then impugning this is not a bad thing. Ideally the experimental design and execution should transcend the question of the researchers' motives.

Open thread, 9-15 June 2014

I just read an AI thriller by Greg Iles called 'The Footprints of God'. Don't want to spoiler it, so I'll just say that it strikes me as singularity-lite.

Also, here's an objectivist Harry Potter treatment.

Downvoted for linking a memetic vaccine. (Yes, memetic immune reaction to memetic immune reactions.)
Self-serving meta: Whoever keeps block-downvoting me, is there some way to negotiate peace?

If individuals want less of things they ought to want more of, I endorse opposing the incorrect values of those individuals.

Downvoted per your request.

Awesome! So, what is it that I want less of, which I ought to want more of?
The Universal Medical Journal Article Error

Perhaps a clearer title would have been 'A Universal Quantifier Medical Journal Article Error'. Bit of a noun pile, but the subject of the post is an alleged unjustified use of a universal quantifier in a certain article's conclusion.

By the way, I think PhilGoetz is 100% correct on this point - i.e., upon failure to prove a hypothesis using standard frequentist techniques, it is not appropriate to claim a result.

Open thread, 24-30 March 2014

Some of the effects will depend on details of the implementation. For example, if self-driving cars are constrained to obey highway speed limits, the commute time may increase in some cases, at least initially. Upon achieving saturation of self-driving cars, I would expect shorter commute times on non-highways. Also, upon saturation, it may be seen as desirable to raise the highway speed limit.

Keep in mind that non-self-driving cars will always be cheaper and will always have a market no matter how good autonomous ones get since autonomous vehicles have more parts and maintenance needs. You will never have an area with only autonomous vehicles, absent massive government intervention.
Open thread, 24-30 March 2014

I am wondering about the effect of the advent of self-driving cars on urban sprawl. Will it increase or decrease sprawl?

Urban sprawl is said to be an unintended consequence of the development of the US interstate highway system.

Here's an economics analysis: self-driving cars reduce the effective cost of a commute, by allowing the passenger to focus on other things than driving during the commute (reading, watching TV, playing games, etc). Since a significant limit to sprawl is the cost, broadly construed, of long commutes, self-driving cars will increase sprawl.
Passive voice / finding causes is hard / compare LA and SF. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- This is not really a haiku.
Some factors pointing towards an increase: decreased emotional, health, and financial cost of commutes. Some factors pointing towards a decrease: decreased cost and increased flexibility and convenience of car-sharing services, which work better in higher density locations. I think the primary driver of urban sprawl is schooling (and thus home prices), not commuting. The growing acceptance of online schooling will likely decrease urban sprawl significantly.
Based on the idea that you get what you incentivize, and irrespective of other factors, I'd expect a marginal to mild increase. Self-driving cars can make commutes a bit more pleasant and substantially less dangerous, but they can't reduce commute times (until they reach saturation or close to it), and time's the main limitation.
Efficient Charity: Do Unto Others...

The Pollination Project is run by a guy who gives $1,000 a day, to a different recipient every day. Rational justifications for this approach include minimizing the model risk - i.e., perhaps the model you used to decide which single charitable cause is the best is wrong. Also, small donations seem likely to produce a high velocity of the money donated.

What are you working on? March / April 2014

I've taken an interest in steepled arrangements of quadrilaterals; i.e., an arrangement of n quadrilaterals with 2n vertices such that the intersection of any two quadrilaterals is either a vertex or the empty set, and each quadrilateral meets four others at its vertices. The implication is that n >=5, and I'm focused on the 3 dimensional case. A link from an earlier open thread shows that such an arrangement is possible.

The term steepled refers to a hand position where the corresponding fingers of each hand meet at the fingertips, forming a 'steeple'.... (read more)

In favour of terseness

Here is an example of a long post that requires a good deal of reader perseverance to arrive at its main point. To wit, CDC obesity studies since the mid-20th century underwent a change in demographic sampling partway through (with more blacks and Hispanics sampled), resulting in a likely overstatement of obesity trend statistics.

The post title gives a hint, but the article would have been improved by indicating where it was headed much earlier on.

In contrast, this post delivers its message regarding the interpretation of "accurate more than 90% of th... (read more)

Open Thread: March 4 - 10

Are you saying that each pair of quadrilaterals intersect at a mutual vertex and nowhere else, and that each vertex is common to exactly two quadrilaterals?

Yes, exactly.

Open Thread: March 4 - 10

Here is another puzzle.

Can you take ten points, forming the vertices of five convex quadrilaterals in three dimensions, such that every quadrilateral intersects each of the other four at a vertex? Solution

0Scott Garrabrant8y
I got it. Nice.
The problem is confusing. Are you saying that each pair of quadrilaterals intersect at a mutual vertex and nowhere else, and that each vertex is common to exactly two quadrilaterals?
Anthropic Atheism

I'm not seeing why atheism is included in the post title.

Rationality Quotes December 2013

Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better. -Samuel Beckett

They do not move.
December Monthly Bragging Thread

I answered my own question on Math Stack Exchange, and thus avoided a pocket veto, wherein a question gets deleted if it has a negative vote total and no answer after 30 days.

Open Thread, December 2-8, 2013

The phrenology guy isn't showing up on the homepage for me. Did LW take him off?

That's because the stylesheet link in the homepage is: and that link should be to: []
2013 Less Wrong Census/Survey

I completed the survey & had to look up the normative ethics choices (again). Also cisgender. I cooperated with the prisoner's dilemma puzzle & estimated that a majority of respondents would also do so, given the modest prize amount.

Also, based on my estimate of a year in Newton's life in last year's survey, I widened my confidence intervals.

What are you working on? October 2013

I've worked it out, and now I'm not sure that this function is OEIS-worthy (although it's at least as worthy as Jenny's constant). I will definitely post a question on Math StackExchange, and not answer it (if even necessary) for a month or two, in honor of my namesake.

Here is a link to the question.

Here is a link to a related question that is more fun.

What are you working on? October 2013

I am calculating the first several terms of a combinatorial function that is useful in the counting of certain elements of a polytope I'm studying. The combinatorial function has three integer parameters, so it forms a tetrahedral array. It's not in OEIS.

I have a recursive means of calculating the function. Next, I'm going to figure out the function as a rational expression in integers i, j, k. Then, I'll post it on Math Stackexchange. Then, I'll submit it to OEIS.

Too many OEIS submission mention xkcd to take it seriously :)
Inferential silence

Another possible interpretation:

Disagree with the post; can't personally refute it, but believe that someone who shares my views (and is more knowledgeable) could.

Satisficing versus optimizing in instructor selection

Like me (back in the day), I think a lot of students do not choose their instructor, just the courses.

New Monthly Thread: Bragging

I like that this thread provides an incentive to finish a project so that you can brag about it.

New Monthly Thread: Bragging

As this is the first bragging thread, even if this happened over a month ago, it should be admissible. (Heck, even if it weren't the first bragging thread.)

Point conceded. but no doubling up by mentioning this in future bragging threads .
New Monthly Thread: Bragging

It must be this you are referring to. Congratulations!

Meetup : West LA - Randomness: Why We Want It, How We Get It

One option you can rule out: Excel RAND(), because it's not random.

Why one-box?

Two-boxers think that decisions are things that can just fall out of the sky uncaused.

It seems that 2-boxers make this assumption, whereas some 1-boxers (including me) apply a Popperian approach to selecting a model of reality consistent with the empirical evidence.

Why do theists, undergrads, and Less Wrongers favor one-boxing on Newcomb?

It seems to me that there is backward causation under the decoherence interpretation, as the world we inhabit is affected by the experimental set-up (there's either a diffraction pattern on the back screen characteristic of a wave, or a pattern characteristic of a single slit). I really think people tend to overestimate the latitude that exists among the various quantum interpretations. They are just interpretations, after all.

I don't think that Omega knowing a person better than they know themselves is sufficient to explain the 100% accuracy of Omega's prediction.

Why do theists, undergrads, and Less Wrongers favor one-boxing on Newcomb?

It may be that two-boxers perceive the key issue as the (im)possibility of backwards causation. However, Wheeler's delayed choice experiment demonstrates what seems to me to be backwards causation. Because backwards causation is not categorically impossible, I'm a one-boxer.

This is a bad reason to one-box. First, there is no backward causation in Wheeler's delayed choice, unless you accept a Bohm-spirit interpretation of QM (that photons (counterf)actually travel as particles), because you do not measurably affect the past from the future. Second, no backward causation is required for one-boxing to make sense, only that Omega knows you better than you do yourself.
The Paucity of Elites Online

Gil Kalai also has a nice blog.

Actually, I hadn't checked this site in a while. There is some awesome stuff there, including some questions probably of interest to many LWers.

Antijargon Project

The list of LessWrong Jargon contains plenty of non-neologisms like that.


Privileging the Question

Both the development of scientific hypotheses and testing them fall under the category of expanding the general knowledge base. Also, both research areas identified are at the fundamental level. Expanding the general knowledge base about the fundamental facts of nature is an inherently valuable activity.

What truths are actually taboo?

I'm also having trouble connecting the dots between the functionalist position that the Holocaust was caused by mid-level Nazi bureaucrats and the assertion that the Holocaust would not have happened were it not for the war.

It's not just a "mid-level vs. top-level" split, but a question of when something like the Holocaust was formulated or became likely to happen. "Hitler planned it all along" sets a much earlier date than "mid-level bureaucrats were competing for Nazi brownies during the War."
What truths are actually taboo?

Bill thinks the war was avoidable. Bill thinks the Holocaust would not have happened were it not for the war, and that some of the Holocaust was a reaction to actual Jewish subterfuge and abuse.

Here's the problem: everything Bill has said is either true, a matter of serious debate, or otherwise a matter of high likelihood and reasonableness.

I wouldn't classify the above statements as either true or likely/reasonable. As to the statements being seriously debated, please provide a link or something.

There were abuses by bankers and capitalists, many of whom were Jewish. There were "Jewish Bolsheviks." And there was resistance and terrorism []. As for the war being a prerequisite for the Holocaust, see the intentionalist vs. functionalist [] debate. The avoidability of the war is a more subtle question. Along with Orwell, I think war was inevitable and obvious by 1936, at least if we consider the conquest by Germany of continental Europe possibly excepting France, Switzerland, Belgium, and other fascist powers unacceptable. Even then, the war might have been confined. I see little historical necessity for e.g. the alliance of Japan and Germany or the attack on Pearl Harbor. At what date would you agree the war was avoidable? 1918? 1930? If you'd like me to find particular historians - I'm not including Pat Buchanan - I will do that. But there's a pretty wide range of opinion here. (Aside: I'd like to find resources that framed the question primarily in terms of German-Soviet relations instead of Anglo-Polish ones.)
Optimal rudeness

You're ugly.

I would call that an opinion. A pejorative one.

Also not likely to be relevant to any serious discussion I would ever have on the internet.

Optimal rudeness

I agree that lofty disdain tends to be rewarded with karma points on this board. Also, rudeness when you are in the minority is a karma loser. I prefer to think of karma points on this board as measuring a person's covariance with the group opinion. So, if you find the group opinion optimal, you should try to maximize karma points.

I'm planning on stating a personal policy of posting that I intend to follow on a different board. Basically, I will refrain from using pejoratives, or 'one-off' pejoratives. However, stating facts are always in-bounds, no matter... (read more)

You're ugly. Well, maybe, I don't really know. But are personal "facts" such as that in bounds?
I would agree with you if you said "group norms" rather than "group opinion". While there are some opinions on LW that function as group norms, the bulk of the norms here are instead procedural.
Is that why the top voted post [] in Main is one by an outspoken critic? If the above were true, if this forum didn't also reward group-contrarian ideas as long as they were well presented, how could LW purport to be about rationality? It's quite the devastating statement that karma is based mostly on "agrees/disagrees with me"/tribal lines.
g, a Statistical Myth

I made it halfway through the comments thinking this post was about the gravitational constant.

It seems to me that it's fine to attack an existing model; however, you should then present an alternative model that does a better job empirically. I don't think the latter has been accomplished.

Decision Theory FAQ

I concur. Plus, the St. Petersburg paradox was the impetus for Daniel Bernoulli's invention of the concept of utility.

When should you give to multiple charities?

Being risk-averse with respect to wealth utility is reasonable, and is empirically verified to be the case with most people. Wealth utility is a special case of the more general concept of utility regarding outcomes. Risk-averseness is reasonable for wealth utility because the risk is personal. The risk that the donation with the highest expected saving of lives in fact saves fewer lives than another donation is not a personal risk. So, I agree that, assuming accurate information about the probabilities, you should donate to get the maximum expected bang for the buck.

[Link] Is the Endowment Effect Real?

Also, in my experience, I buy stuff all the time, but I rarely sell anything. If someone asked to buy my toaster, I would decline. I know it works. If I replaced it with the proceeds of the sale, I might get a lemon.

I think it's plausible that this is a major component, possibly even the entirety, of the basis of the endowment effect. Selling one's possessions is, in general, an unusual activity which requires a break in routine, possibly stepping outside one's comfort zone, and usually requires more effort than buying something. The differences between WTP and WTA may be due at least to some degree to the different levels of inconvenience [] between the processes.
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