All of Douglas_Knight2's Comments + Replies

True Ending: Sacrificial Fire (7/8)

Eliezer tries to derive his morality from stated human values.

In theory, Eliezer's morality (at least CEV) is insensitive to errors along these lines, but when Eliezer claims "it all adds up to normality," he's making a claim that is sensitive to such an error.

The Level Above Mine

Does anyone have a reputable source for Feynman's 137? google makes it look very concentrated in this group, probably the result of a single confabulation.

Sykes and Gleick's biographies both give 12x. Sykes quotes Feynman's sister remembering sneaking into the records as a child. This seems important to me: Feynman didn't just fabricate the 12x.

The Cartoon Guide to Löb's Theorem

Eliezer's password is [correct answer deleted, congratulations Douglas --EY].

Newcomb's Problem and Regret of Rationality

the dominant consensus in modern decision theory is that one should two-box...there's a common attitude that "Verbal arguments for one-boxing are easy to come by, what's hard is developing a good decision theory that one-boxes"

Those are contrary positions, right?

Robin Hason:
Punishment is ordinary, but Newcomb's problem is simple! You can't have both.

The advantage of an ordinary situation like punishment is that game theorists can't deny the fact on the ground that governments exist, but they can claim it's because we're all irrational, which doesn't leave many directions to go in.

Pascal's Mugging: Tiny Probabilities of Vast Utilities

Nick Tarleton,
Yes, it is probably correct that one should devote substantial resources to low probability events, but what are the odds that the universe is not only a simulation, but that the containing world is much bigger; and, if so, does the universe just not count, because it's so small? The bounded utility function probably reaches the opposite conclusion that only this universe counts, and maybe we should keep our ambitions limited, out of fear of attracting attention.

Hold Off On Proposing Solutions

Luis Enrique, See above about "We Change Our Minds Less Often Than We Think"; my interpretation is that the people are trying to believe that they haven't made up their minds, but they are wrong. That is, they seem to be implementing the (first) advice you mention. Maybe one can come up with more practical advice, but these are very difficult problems to fix, even if you understand the errors. On the other hand, the main part of the post is about a successful intervention.

Avoiding Your Belief's Real Weak Points

Science was weaker in these days

Could you elaborate on this? What do you mean by Science? (reasoning? knowledge?)

The thing whose weakness seems relevant to me is a cultural tradition of doubting religion. Also, prerequisites which I have trouble articulating because they are so deeply buried: perhaps a changing notion of benevolence.

4Danfly10yI'll take a wild stab in the dark and say that he probably meant that the method of reasoning was not as sophisticated back then. You could call the Aristotelean method of reasoning from empirical observation a "strengthening" of science. Nevertheless you could still say that "science" was much weaker back then compared to Popper's critical rationalism, with its emphasis on falsification. Nevertheless, I'm sure I will be informed if this interpretation is wrong, which will hopefully help me be less wrong in the future.
Human Evil and Muddled Thinking

You probably won't go far wrong if you assume I agree with you on the points I don't respond to. I probably shouldn't have talked about them in the first place.

overcoming heuristics:
If we know a bias is caused by a heuristic, then we should use that heuristic less. But articulating a meta-heuristic about when to use it is very different implementing that meta-heuristic. Human minds aren't eurisko that can dial up the strength on heuristics. Even if we implement a heuristic, as in Kahneman's planning anecdote, and get more accurate information, we may simp... (read more)

Human Evil and Muddled Thinking

Tom Myers,
Systematic but unexplained: sure, most errors are probably due to heuristics, but I'm not sure that's a useful statement. A number of posts here have been so specific, they don't seem like useful starting points for searching for heuristics.

Most people don't seem to have sufficiently clear goals to make sense of whether something benefits or costs them, let alone balancing the two.
People live normal lives by not thinking too much about things, so it shouldn't be so surprising that they don't think in psych experiments in which it is ofte... (read more)

Human Evil and Muddled Thinking

Tom Myers,
I think the convention on this blog, among the small set of people who have such a precise definition, is that not every heuristic is a bias, that only heuristics whose errors are worth overcoming should be called biases. I don't like this usage. For one thing, it's really hard to know the cost of overcoming particular biases. It's easy to look at an isolated experiment and say: here's a procedure that would have been better, but that doesn't cover cost of actually changing your behavior to look out for this kind of error.

Also, there are other ... (read more)

The Crackpot Offer

While many people have mentioned similar disappointments, no one has echoed "I'll get that theorem eventually...even though my first try failed!" That was what seemed like a really bad sign when I read the essay before the comments. But I think we're really bad at communicating feelings, so I don't know how the feelings relate, how strong they were, and especially, how the commenters see the parallels with their reactions.

While many people have mentioned similar disappointments, no one has echoed "I'll get that theorem eventually...even though my first try failed!" That was what seemed like a really bad sign when I read the essay before the comments.

I think it's worse than that. Many people mentioned that they have tried to solve open conjectures, which is something that would require exceptional intelligence, expecially without many years of experience. But if you are a smart teenager, thinking that you are exceptionally intelligent falls in the range of norma... (read more)

4Quill_McGee9yDoes it count if the state of trying lasted for a long(but now ended) time? because if so, I kept on trying to create a bijection between the reals and the wholes, until I was about 13 and found an actual number that I could actually write down that none of my obvious ideas could reach, and find an equivalent for all the non obvious ones.( 0.21111111..., by the way)
The Crackpot Offer

The ancient Greeks themselves played around with the rules. Archimedes used a "marked straightedge" to trisect an angle.

The first hit on google for trisect an angle is about ways to do it, not discussions of impossibility.

Science as Attire

I think people should be more careful about the word "science." Here are some meanings I see attached to it:

  1. knowledge of nature
  2. naturalism
  3. "the scientific method"
  4. institutions practicing the scientific method
  5. rules of a particular institution
  6. the output of institutions

I feel compelled to add that what I mean by "the scientific method" is that observation should drive belief and that we can put effort into obtaining useful observations (experiments, stamp collecting). Also, it may be useful to distinguish between institutio... (read more)

Conservation of Expected Evidence

Eliezer Yudkowsky, The word "normative" has stood in the way of my understanding what you mean, at least the first few times I saw you use it, before I pegged you as getting it from the heuristics and biases people. It greatly confused me many times when I first encountered them. It's jargon, so it shouldn't be surprising that different fields use it to mean rather different things.

The heuristics and biases people use it to mean "correct," because social scientists aren't allowed to use that word. I think there's a valuable lesson about... (read more)

1Jotto99910yI agree - it can be especially ambiguous if you're also used to the economics context of normative, meaning "how subjectively desirable something is".
The Apocalypse Bet

(parody, I think) story

The story was for real. The site, I dunno, but it does accept money through paypal.

Scope Insensitivity

Your conclusion matches your data, but the data is suspiciously focused on charity. Is scope neglect easier to elicit in such contexts? Other explanations include it being hard to make large numbers relevant, and lack of imagination by researchers.

Think Like Reality

interpretations which postulate an infinitely sliced spatial manifold which is fundamentally real

Strictly speaking, I suppose that is part of the interpretation, but it's a pretty mild part of the interpretation of QM, or at least QFT. Many people expect that this to stop being true in a unification with GR, but that's about physical law, not interpretation.

Universal Fire

randomly subject to anthropic constraints, for instance

That might lead us to simulations, quite close to the operating system example.

Consolidated Nature of Morality Thread

TGGP, You used an example of moral progress produced by a philosopher: the word consequentialist.

Consolidated Nature of Morality Thread

TGGP, What do you mean that you are a consequentialist, if you are so sure ethics is meaningless?

New Improved Lottery

Eliezer, did you mean to evoke stock markets with "You could feed it to a display on people's cellphones"?

Surely financial markets are well-calibrated for events that happen once a month. Then an option that such an event will happen tomorrow is should be about right. Some claim that there is systematic bias in options against rare events, that on a long shot you do better than even.

Marginally Zero-Sum Efforts

the social dilemma is that neither writing grant proposals, nor showing up at your office desk, is inherently an evil deed.

One answer is that grant-writing is an evil deed. I don't tend to that belief, or the more plausible one that offering grants is an evil deed, but I think they're worth mentioning.

Promotion based on hours at the office, or working at a company that does that do seem to me like evil deeds, but human bias means that practically all companies have this effect, to some extent.

The Majority Is Always Wrong

the argument about how noise traders survive

Surely the argument you give--that false beliefs can lead to extra risk, increasing expected returns while decreasing expected utility--is older than the noise trader literature?

Blue or Green on Regulation?

Perhaps this is because of the larger power distance between the security people and the protected.

How do you measure this distance? The FDA has a monopoly, too. Here's another theory: drug companies are a third player. Moreover, they are concentrated interests, so they affect the public choice. (Airlines play a similar role in the security theater, but their interests are more diffuse. Also, getting rid of airline security is a public good, while getting a drug approved helps one drug company relative the others.)

That's not to say I disagree with Anders's psychology, but I discount it because I find it harder to judge than public choice arguments.

Outside the Laboratory

GPS? You can do better than that! I believe special relativity because it's implied by Maxwell's equations, which I have experienced. Normal human speeds are enough to detect contraction, if you do it by comparing E&M.

3TimFreeman11yDoes anyone know how to do this? Looks like Douglas_Knight2 hasn't been here for a while, so he probably isn't going to say. I don't think the path ahead of me is going to have its colors shift as I run faster, so the simplest approach isn't going to work. This would be a really cool science experiment if it were really possible.
Outside the Laboratory

Apparently it is very hard to teach and test regarding the underlying reasons.

Does "apparently" (in general) mean you aren't using additional sources of information? In this case, are you concluding that it's difficult simply from the fact that it isn't done? That only seems to me like evidence that it's not worth it. Unfortunately, the value driving the system is getting published, not advancing science.

The Modesty Argument

It is certainly true that one should not superficially try to replicate Aumann's theorem, but should try to replicate the process of the bayesians, namely, to model the other agent and see how the other agent could disagree. Surely this is how we disagree with creationists and customer service agents. Even if they are far from bayesian, we can extract information from their behavior, until we can model them.

But modeling is also what RH was advocating for the philosophers. Inwagen accepts Lewis as a peer, perhaps a superior. Moreover, he accepts him as rati... (read more)