Dentin's Comments

Kialo -- an online discussion platform that attempts to support reasonable debates

Off the top of my head I'd say it's doomed to forever be a minor niche platform, because what the general public wants is not "reasonable debate". They want drama, and reasonable debate doesn't provide that.


Yudkowsky's 'Four Layers of Intellectual Conversation'

TL/DR based on my understanding: You can tell whether a participant in a conversation is serious based on how they respond to criticism. This effectively means a three way handshake: poster, critique, rebuttal. For a serious conversation with serious critics, this means that at least four layers must be present in order to cover both sides: poster, critique, rebuttal, critique rebuttal. The rebuttal shows that the poster is serious; the critique rebuttal shows that the critique is serious. These four layers are referred to as layers 0 through 3.

Unfortunately, in most common web discourse, we typically only see layer 0, and sometimes layer 1. In academic discourse, we often see layer 2, but not layer 3, which usually means that the criticism either isn't serious or isn't very good. Places which do show evidence of all four layers are generally more healthy in terms of conversation.

There's more to it and a lot of good examples, but knowing the above up front may make it easier to frame.

Communication is violent by nature

Downvoting as incoherent and objectively wrong. Also because bad grammar.

The New Little Ice Age Has Started (2016)

Multiple reasons: one paper does not science make, this is a very political topic, the paper is highly likely to be wrong, and the title is sensationalist. Downvoting due to poor quality.

Do you want to be like Kuro5hin? Because this is how you get to be like Kuro5hin.

They probably could, but that ends up being a very toil-based setup as new targets are found and selected. I wouldn't consider this anything more than a short term stopgap.

As an example, even if Elo was protected, it's pretty clear the eugine is willing to downvote anyone who comments on Elo material.

Open thread, Jul. 25 - Jul. 31, 2016

This has gotten bad enough that it needs to be dealt with. I have changed my mind; removing downvotes entirely seems like the best way to handle this in the short term.

The Thyroid Madness : Core Argument, Evidence, Probabilities and Predictions

My apologies, I misread your intent. I thought that you were attempting to get feedback on what appears to be a viable hypothesis for improving the lives of a large number of people with debilitating diseases. I thought you were lining up ducks, proofing your arguments, improving probabilities, and investigating attack vectors to possibly make the world suck less. I thought you were trying to Win :P

I have mentioned these harmless conclusions in order to get people to think that the idea might be more important than it seems on the face of it.

In this, for me at least, you have succeeded. However, you have not (yet) made a convincing enough case for me to burn my resources pushing it. This is a low probability, high reward scenario. Convince me that this is worth dropping other important things, as my time is limited.

If [extremist thought experiments] make me easier to refute or disbelieve, that is a good thing.

If your plan is to Win, and in order to Win you need to convince others, then it is a very dangerous, risky, and often counterproductive strategy.

If you have the right sort of friends, approach them with whatever version of this argument you think you need to get them to think about it. If they can think, they will draw all my conclusions for themselves in a few weeks.

If they can't, I don't care about their opinion, there are plenty like them in the world, they will believe whatever someone eminent tells them is true, as long as it is not too scary.

I not only have the right sort of friends, I have the sort of friends that are in the "someone eminent" category that could help your idea gain significant traction. However, those friends have massive demands on their time, and none are so superhuman that they could investigate every probable idea. Do I ask a friend to drop work on treating respiratory disease with ChlorHex oral rinse to investigate your idea? Can I in good conscience argue that it would be worthwhile? At the moment, I cannot.

So again, what is it that you're trying to do? This topic is clearly near and dear to your heart, and you've got a workable combination of incentive and intelligence to make sure this gets investigated fully, for better or for worse. However, the road is long and arduous, and it will likely require you to interface with others and swallow your pride if you truly want to Win and succeed.

On the other hand, if you just want to philosophize, then by all means carry on.

The Thyroid Madness : Core Argument, Evidence, Probabilities and Predictions

To increase the credibility of the article, IMHO you need to ditch pretty much the entire "SOME SELECTED POSSIBLE IMPLICATIONS / PREDICTIONS" section. Reading through that, it sounds very much like you're trying to solve unrelated problems with your newly found hammer:

Dieting - you're not really predicting anything here. Turn it into a prediction of some sort or it's just dead weight.

Diabetes - you've got no evidence for any kind of common hormone suppression mechanism, and my understanding of how hormone chemistry works places the probability of a common mechanism at 'pretty damn low'. Occam's razor says you should prune this.

Heart disease - if this was once an indicator, you could instead propose a "weak prediction" that heart disease may be more prevalent across the broad spectrum of disorders you're trying to link.

Smoking - prune this as well for 1) lack of evidence 2) the fact that smoking has so many harmful effects that it will completely swamp your signal, and 3) the fact that smoking is still highly politicized and it's likely to mindkill your audience. It doesn't contribute to or strengthen your case, rather it (strongly) indicates that you're trying too hard to pattern match your model. Leaving this in pretty much screams 'crackpot'.

Regarding what you have to say to get someone to look at it seriously: stick to the facts, form a model, prune dead weight, make predictions, publicize your predictions in a centralized consistent location, research your predictions and see if they pan out, and publish. Address criticism, fix issues, make contacts, update your model and predictions and republish. There are anonymized medical databases that can be used for at least some of your research. I do not know how mortals get access to them, but I do know they exist. What you have right now is barely at the hypothesis stage.

TL/DR - formalize your model, use that model to make predictions, publicize those predictions so you can't cheat, test those predictions, lather, rinse, repeat. If you can put this together in a sufficiently coherent way, I can get a few people to look at it.

How It Feels to Improve My Rationality

This all seems pretty ordinary and uncontroversial to me. It's about what I'd expect when 'doing it right'.

AlphaGo versus Lee Sedol

Update: given the most recent win by Lee Sodol, my hypothesis above seems much less likely. AlphaGo may only be in the 3600-3800 range.

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