All of dhoe's Comments + Replies

LessWrong and Miri mentioned in major German newspaper's article on Neoreactionaries

I think the article is mostly correct in seeing a connection. This community does not have a particularly good immune system against modes of thought that appear like contrarian cold realism, and is easily tempted to reach for a repugnant conclusion if it feels like you earn rationality brownie points for doing so.

Open thread, Oct. 10 - Oct. 16, 2016

My partner has requested that I learn to give a good massage. I don't enjoy massages myself and the online resources I find seem to mostly steeped in woo to some degree. Does anybody have some good non-woo resources for learning it?

4ChristianKl5yThe standard way to learn massage is through taking a course. I would also recommend Betty Martin's 3-Minute game as a secular message like practice: []
Open thread, Mar. 14 - Mar. 20, 2016

Doctors being dumfounded is a hallmark of irrationalist stories. Not saying this one is - I don't even know the story here - but as someone who grew up around a lot of people who basically believed in magic, I can conjure so many anectotes of people thinking their doctors were blown away by sudden recoveries and miraculous healings. I mostly figure doctors go "oh cool it's going pretty well" and add a bit of color for the patient's benefit.

0ChristianKl6yA lot of doctors will be suprised if someone walks over hot coals and afterwards has no blisters or burning marks. Yet, at Anthony Robbins seminars thousands walk over hot coals and most of them don't develop blisters. The human body is complex there are a lot of real phenomena that can dumfounded doctors. If you think doctors are infallible you might want to read [] Whether you take that as evidence that magic exists is a different matter.
Open Thread, Apr. 20 - Apr. 26, 2015

I have this half-baked idea that trying to be rational by oneself is a slightly pathological condition. Humans are naturally social, and it would make sense to distribute cognition over several processors, so to speak. It would explain the tendencies I notice in relationships to polarize behavior - if my partner adopts the position that we should go on vacations as much as possible, I almost automatically tend to assume the role worrying about money, for example, and we then work out a balanced solution together. If each of us were to decide on our own, ou... (read more)

2Kaj_Sotala7yMercier & Sperber [] made a similar argument, commenting that e.g. things that seem like biases in the context of a single individual (such as confirmation bias) are actually beneficial for the decision-making of a group. An excerpt:
1passive_fist7yThat's a powerful idea and it actually goes deeper than you may think. We are divided even internally inside ourselves. There is reason to think that your internal rational decision-making processes consist of multiple sub-processes that combine and compare various points of view. Each sub-process has the same level of interaction with other sub-processes as you would have when speaking to another person. Your mental sub-processes may not even distinguish between thoughts and ideas coming from another part of your brain and coming from another person.
9Gunnar_Zarncke7yThere are studies that compared performance of couples with randomly assigned pairs (from the same group) and found that couples perform better than random assignment. This suggests that couple specialize and at the same time rely on the specialization of the other part ("I knew you'd make the appointment"). The other side of the coin this breaking-up: You feel like a part of your brain has been ripped off - namely the part you outsourced to your partner.
3Viliam7yYes, it is difficult to maintain balance when the other person is pushing in some direction. You feel the instinct to push the other way, as if to provide a balance on average. The problem is, balance on the average means imbalance in your head, if the other person is unbalanced. It's like when we have a debate about how much is 2+2, and the other person insists that it is 3, then when I say 4, there is a risk that in the future we will achieve a compromise value of 3.5, which I already perceive as wrong. So people have the social instinct to say at least 5, so that the future compromise value may be 4. Even if they originally did not really believe it was 5. One possible solution would be to make everyone write their opinion before hearing the opinions of others. But that can be done in artificial settings, not in real life -- we usually already heard the opinions of some people. Also, if we have iterated debates about the same topic (e.g. the vacations), we can already predict what our partner will say. To me it simply means that to have a rational debate, it is better to exclude the people who are strongly mindkilled about something. (Obviously, deciding who they are, is a problem on a higher level.) Maintaining balance is difficult on its own, and almost impossible when someone keeps pushing you on one side: you either fall on the side you are pushed, or you tilt to the opposite direction and fall down later when you are alone. We should not overestimate our own ability to be reasonable in difficult situations. I can imagine a debate where you flip a coin and you either present your true opinion, or you role-play a selected opinion. Problem is, how would you create the set of the role-played opinions? What if you forget to include something important? What if most of the supposedly "random" opinions are actually variants of one side (which is already overrepresented in the sincere part of debate), and the other side is underrepresented (and some third [ht
How urgent is it to intuitively understand Bayesianism?

What are the practical benefits of having an intuitive understanding of Bayes' Theorem? If it helps, please name an example of how it impacted your day today

I work in tech support (pretty advanced, i.e. I'm routinely dragged into conference calls on 5 minutes notice with 10 people in panic mode because some database cluster is down). Here's a standard situation: "All queries are slow. There are some errors in the log saying something about packets dropped.". So, do I go and investigate all network cards on these 50 machines to see if the firmw... (read more)

0[anonymous]7yFunny, I am trying to use LW knowledge for IT related troubleshooting (ERP software) and usually fail, so far. I am trying to use the Solomonoff induction, to generate hypotheses and compare them to data. But data is very hard to mine. I could either investigate the whole database, as theoretically the whole could affect any routine, or try to see what routines ran and which branches of them, which IF statements were fulfilled true and which false, and this gets me to "aha the user forgot to check checkmark X in form Y". But that also takes a huge amount of time. Often only 1% of a posting codeunit runs at all, finding that is a hell. And I simply don't know where to generate hypotheses from. "Anything could fail" is not a hypothesis. We have user errors, we have bugs, and we have heck-knows-what cases. Maybe I should try the Bayesian branch, not the Solomonoff branch. As data, evidence, is very hard to mine in this case, maybe I should look for the most frequent causes of errors, instead of trying to find evidence for the current one. This means I should keep a log, what the problem was, and what caused it. Thank you for the concept [] I think I will spread this in the ERP community and see what happens.
3IlyaShpitser7yTroubleshooting is a great example where a little probability goes a long way, thanks. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Amusingly, there was in fact an error in the GRE Subject test I once took, long ago (in computer science). All of the 5 multiple choice answers were incorrect. I agree that conditional on disagreement between test and testtaker, the test is usually right.
Signalling with T-Shirt slogans

Drinking has surprisingly little impact on those parts of mathematics where you just mechanically apply a couple of rules, btw. Just mentioning this in case others didn't try to solve integrals as teenagers as a sort of self-check - it totally doesn't work. Your ability to walk is a better indicator of drunkenness.

On topic: don't wear these shirts if you aim at anything more than signalling affiliation with a particular tribe. It's also inefficient if you accept the existence of interesting people outside this very small tribe.

4VAuroch7yI retain my ability to walk after losing my ability to not throw up. What things you lose in what order is highly idiosyncratic.
3Gunnar_Zarncke7yI performed an experiment regarding this and at least for me the ability to do mathematics was the first that suffered. Long before balance or speech. This has been recorded by a non-drunk non-biased outside observer. It may be that this is due to the way math was checked, namely by relatively simple calculation on-the-fly. I started to make small slips or oversights. And I didn't do routine calculations. I don't do boring calculations by rote but by doing more or less clever short-cuts and these failed.
A quick calculation on exercise

I've started running more seriously a couple of months ago, and it's just fantastic. Once I got to the point that 30 minutes became easy, it really started to be its own reward. I get to explore my town - Strava allows me to see the routes of other runners, and if you pick the more experienced ones, they tend to run in beautiful places I'd never see otherwise. I get to see the seasons change. I get out of my head and away from the keyboard. I lost 10kg since summer. Can't recommend it enough.

Open thread, 16-22 June 2014

The Schizophrenia Classification Challenge. I haven't done anything difficult, which is the biggest surprise; when I read the description I doubted I'd even be able to produce anything useful.

Open thread, 16-22 June 2014

I'd be interested. More in awesome stuff than R itself. I'm currently at #22 out of 99 in a Kaggle contest and am doing it in R, but don't really know what I'm doing. I do find that participating there is not a bad way to practice.

0Peter Wildeford8yCongrats! Which competition?
Bragging Thread, June 2014

Finally decided to enter a Kaggle contest. Apparently my bits and pieces of self-taught stats paired with good intuition is enough for (currently) position 14 out of 81 participants.

On not getting a job as an option

I'm sure there are moral systems where living off your children is an acceptable moral choice, but I can't say I'm very motivated to check them out.

Their actions were rational from their point of view, however. They just radically overestimated the probabilities of total societal collapse. If that's what you expect, moving out of the city and trying to live from your garden and some goats might not be the worst course of action.

On not getting a job as an option

As someone spending a pretty solid part of my earnings on maintaining my aging former hippie parents, I'd like to point out that it's a radically egoistic choice to make, even if it doesn't appear at the time.

They dropped off the grid and managed many years with very little money, just living and appreciating nature and stuff. Great, right? But you don't accumulate any pension benefits in those years, and even if you move back to a more conventional life later, your earning potential is severely impacted.

0Neotenic8yThat depends on your stance on many things: First of all having children or not. Second of all population ethics. Third of all if you think it is worth it to have a child whose life is better than neutral, or even than average, but not better than your own. Existentialism and First Mover Advantage are also related concepts. I feel your pain though, and my life would have been much worse if my Father had not been an instrumental Flower for part of his life. But if you consider your life worth living, there are several philosophical paths that do not consider your parent's actions to be unworthy of moral appreciation. Check Toby Ord on population ethics for deeper insight.
Open Thread for February 3 - 10

I do, but it's mostly because doing it helps me focus. I rarely go back to read my notes. Here's an example, for a book about SQL query tuning.

Decision Auctions aka "How to fairly assign chores, or decide who gets the last cookie"

If this is something that can be looked up in your PhD dissertation, where can I get a copy?

Edit: here (pdf)

Open thread for December 17-23, 2013

But is there a rational argument for that? Because on a gut level, I just don't like humans all that much.

9Oscar_Cunningham8yI think you're wrong about your own preferences. In particular, can you think of any specific humans that you like? Surely the value of humanity is at least the value of those people.
9RolfAndreassen8yThen there may, indeed, be no rational argument (or any argument) that will convince you; a fundamental disagreement on values is not a question of rationality. If the disagreement is sufficiently large - the canonical example around here being the paperclip maximiser - then it may be impossible to settle it outside of force. Now, as you are not claiming to be a clippy - what happened to Clippy, anyway? - you are presumably human at least genetically, so you'll forgive me if I suspect a certain amount of signalling in your misanthropic statements. So your real disagreement with LW thoughts may not be so large as to require force. How about if we just set aside a planet for you, and the rest of us spread out into the universe, promising not to bother you in the future?
Open thread for December 17-23, 2013

Bringing life to the stars seems a worthy goal, but if we could achieve it by building an AI that wipes out humanity as step 0 (they're too resource intensive), shouldn't we do that? Say the AI awakes, figures out that the probability of intelligence given life is very high, but that the probability of life staying around given the destructive tendencies of human intelligence is not so good. Call it an ecofascist AI if you want. Wouldn't that be desirable iff the probabilities are as stated?

4MathiasZaman8yAs a human, I find solutions that destroy all humans to be less than ideal. I'd prefer a solution that curbs our "destructive tendencies", instead.
Open thread for December 17-23, 2013

What's so great about rationality anyway? I care a lot about life and would find it a pity if it went extinct, but I don't care so much about rationality, and specifically I don't really see why having the human-style half-assed implementation of it around is considered a good idea.

2mwengler8yRationality is the process of humans getting provably better at predicting the future. Evidence based medicine is rational. "traditional" and "spiritual" medicine are not rational when their practitioners and customers don't really care whether their impression that they work stands up to any kind of statistical analysis. Physics is rational, its hypotheses are all tested and open to retesting against experiment, against reality. When it comes to "winning," it needs to be pointed out that rationality when consciously practiced allows humans to meet their consciously perceived and explicitly stated goals more reliably. You need to be rational to notice that this is true, but it isn't a lot more of a leap than "I think therefore i am." One could analyze things and conclude that rationality does not enhance humanities prospects for surviving our own sun's supernova, or does not materially enhance your own chances of immortality, both of which I imagine strong cases could be made for. While being rational, I continue to pursue pleasure and happiness and satisfaction in ways that don't always make sense to other rationalists and to the extent that I find satisfaction and pleasure and happiness, i don't much care that other rationalists do not think what I am doing makes sense. But ultimately, I look at the pieces of my life, and my decisions, through rational lenses whenever I am interested in understanding what is going on, which is not all the time. Rationality is a great tool. It is something we can get better at, by understanding things like physics, chemistry, engineering, applied math, economics and so on, and by by understanding human mind biases and ways to avoid them. It is something that sets humans apart from other life on the planet and something that sets many of us apart from many other humans on the planet, being a strength many of us have over those other humans we compete with for status and mates and so on. Rationality is generally great fun, like
0passive_fist8yCAE_Jones answered the first part of your question. As for the second part, the human-style half-assed implementation of it is the best we can do in many circumstances, because bringing to bear the full machinery of mathematical logic would be prohibitively difficult for many things. However, just because it's hard to talk about things in fully logical terms, doesn't mean we should just throw up our hands and just pick random viewpoints. We can take steps to improve our reasoning, even with our mushy illogical biological brains.
8CAE_Jones8y"Rationality" as used around here indicates "succeeding more often". Or if you prefer, "Rationality is winning". That's the idea. From the looks of it, most of us either suck at it, or only needed it for minor things in the first place, or are improving slowly enough that it's indistinguishable from "I used more flashcards this month". (Or maybe I just suck at it and fail to notice actually impressive improvements people have made; that's possible, too.) [Edit: CFAR seems to have a better reputation for teaching instrumental rationality than LessWrong, which seems to make sense. Too bad it's a geographically bound organization with a price tag.]
1Viliam_Bur8ySo far, humans are the life's best bet for surviving the day our Sun goes supernova. Because we don't have better one (yet?).
4Lumifer8yTry this []. Do you care about achieving your values?
[Link] Good Judgment Project, Season Three

I started partecipating, but got turned off by the ridicolously detailed questions outside my area of expertise. Do I think a sack of rice will fall over when the Ethiopian delegation visits Ecuador in March? How sure am I about my prediction? It doesn't seem to help me to achieve better calibration. I'm curious if people that are partecipating are getting value out of it, and what kind of value.

5jefftk8yI also stopped participating (partway through season 1) because the questions weren't the sort of thing I was interested in.
Meetup : Amsterdam

I'm interested in potential future meetups, but probably won't make this one (flying back from San Francisco on the 23rd).

Education control?

"Mandatory school attendance" in Germany means exactly that though. The legals concepts are Bildungspflicht or Unterrichtspflicht in Austria (mandatory education) which can be satisfied by homeschooling, while Schulpflicht (mandatory school attendance) prescribes visiting an actual school.

Where did you get that "Hitler did it" from?

Education control?

Are you sure? It seems like the Weimar constitution (article 145) introduced mandatory school attendance in 1919?

-2Eugine_Nier9yThat's not the same thing as banning homeschooling. For example, the US had mandatory schooling, but that requirement can be satisfied by homeschooling.
[LINK]s: Who says Watson is only a narrow AI?

Thanks for that "How Watson reads a clue" paper, that made it much clearer for me.

[LINK]s: Who says Watson is only a narrow AI?

I've spent a bit of time trying to understand what Watson does, and couldn't find a clear answer. I'd really appreciate a concise technical explanation.

What I got so far is that it runs a ton of different algorithms and combines the results in some sort of probabilistic reasoning to make a bet on the most likely correct answer. Is that roughly correct? And what are those algorithms then?

5Kaj_Sotala9yDid you see this summary []? (The actual description of the system starts on page 9.) EDIT: Also, the list of papers citing that article [] may provide papers with further detail. For example, that list contained Question analysis: How Watson reads a clue [], which goes into considerably more detail about the question analysis stage.
AI prediction case study 2: Dreyfus's Artificial Alchemy

I read one of his books a long time ago, and the fact that he was basically saying that playing chess was fundamentally too difficult for a computer went a long way in convincing me that we overestimate the magic that happens inside human brains.

4Stuart_Armstrong9yHe's overconfident, as are most experts - "computers will never" is a stupid prediction. But his reasons why the computer chess-playing machines of the 60s wouldn't work were correct. The problem in 1965 was that people were underestimating the difficulty of what went on in the human brain.
Help me refactor my life

If anywhere in the EU is good, consider giving higher priority to places with low unemployment. It simplifies life tremendously if you can count on finding at least some braindead job by next Wednesday.

I have found myself in what sounds like a similar situation in the past and this strategy worked really well. Others I've tried that did not work out equally well were: hitchhike to France and just see what happens (all my stuff got stolen), make lots of money by writing a successful novel (having nothing to eat turns out to be very distracting).

In other words, I recommend a relatively low risk /medium reward strategy until you're in a better place.

What are you working on? February 2013

I wrote a task manager (to-do manager) for myself on January 1, and have been growing it since then. The user interface is inspired by Taskwarrior, but I use an sqllite backend, and therefore it's 300 lines of Python instead of 30k of C++. The small size allows me to be flexible in testing various ideas I have around task management - a new feature is usually just one or two SQL queries away.

My most promising exploration has been to not accept any tasks to be older than 2 weeks. If I haven't managed to do it by then, there's something wrong - it's ill form... (read more)

4DaFranker9yNice! I'd be curious to see some of this. I was just thinking of exploring options in todo-list-management software, as there are a few features and algorithms I'd really like to see in such a program that I think might be really useful to help act and manage the todo list(s) more easily (would need testing, I'm not certain they would be, just a strong hypothesis).
The Zeroth Skillset

Are you attributing dual process theory to CFAR? In any case, situational awareness is not rationality, nor is it indispensable for it. I don't argue that it's nice to have, as are many other things, although I'd worry about trade-offs.

0Qiaochu_Yuan9yI wasn't aware it was called that or pretty much anything about its history until just now. I'll edit.
3Qiaochu_Yuan9yTaboo "processing." There are at least two things you or katydee could mean by this, one of which is processing using System I, and one of which is processing using System II. The former seems extremely valuable to train with respect to the kind of information System I should be good at processing, e.g. fast-moving dangerous things, the body language and facial tics of other humans, etc.
[LINK] Cholesterol and mortality

The conclusion of the authors of the Norwegian study sounds quite a bit weaker: "cholesterol emerged as an overestimated risk factor in our study, indicating that guideline information might be misleading, particularly for women with ‘moderately elevated’ cholesterol (...)".

1NancyLebovitz9yThanks. I've added a quote of the conclusion from the study and a comment that it doesn't match a chart from the study to my post.
Case Study: the Death Note Script and Bayes

I think it does. Bayes gets mentioned a lot around here, but there are not that many clear and accessible examples on how to go and analyze a real question; I recently read Proving History, despite no particular interest in the topic (Jesus' historicity), just to get a better idea of how people do it in practice.

What if "status" IS a terminal value for most people?

H: Person x has no desire for status

E: Person x writes a post about how she's unlike most other people.

You already assigned P(H) as 0.1 (or quite possibly lower). Now you only need to estimate P(E|H) and P(E|~H), plug it all into Bayes rule, and you'll see why people are not really buying it. It doesn't mean you're wrong - it's just unlikely that you're right.

-1handoflixue9yH: Person x has no desire for status E: Person x writes a post about how she has no desire for status Now do the math, and suddenly it seems rather likely... Also... erm... my priors say that "being unlike most other people" is generally LOW status. People don't comment on how they like Obama because he's part of the 1% and has never set foot inside McDonalds...
You Be the Jury: Survey on a Current Event

Having lived for 14 years in Italy, my impression is that several commenters severely overestimate the rationality and fairness of the italian police force.