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Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 15, chapter 84

Thanks. The middle paragraph was far too predictable and mundane to exist without the proper punchline.

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 15, chapter 84

Jesus in Potterverse, as a wizard who experimented with turning squib-disciples into wizards so he could eventually do the same with all muggles and be their king. His blood in wine-potions and flesh in bread-potions only gave the recipients as much magic as went into creating those body parts, allowing the occasional "miracle".

Decades after this story, Draco and his Science Eaters isolate and replicate the magic genes and start making potions that turn muggles and squibs into wizards (but also marks them in a way they can't see, for ... researc... (read more)

0LauralH9yWow, now I sorta want to write this... well, the first paragraph anyway. BIBLE/POTTER CROSSOVERS!
4thomblake9yUpvoted for this part.
People who "don't rationalize"? [Help Rationality Group figure it out]

The cues people have for noticing their rationalizations are things they notice before they're done thinking. They have not rationalized; they had a thought that could lead to rationalization or a feeling they associate with rationalizing. And then they stopped. But there was a large enough time between when they started arguing for a conclusion and when they decided to think about it that they noticed their rationalization. Having a reflex to think about a question fast enough compared to the reflex to rationalize can cause someone to not notice their arg... (read more)

6David_Gerard9yI have had periods in my life where I would have been convinced I was thinking absolutely clearly, but in retrospect it was blitheringly obvious that I was rationalising like hell. People's subjective reports turn out to be unreliable, news at 11.
0Mercurial9yThis is helpful. Thank you!
Shit Rationalists Say?

"I want to get my microexpressions analyzed so I can know what I'm thinking."

MIT Challenge: blogger to attempt CS curriculum on own

I imagine some researchers will study learners' processes for learning in terms of cognitive algorithms, mental habits, preferred thinking styles, or whatever it turns out to be that makes some people learn better and faster than others, and then experiment with ways to change the process individuals use to learn. And they'll teach us how to teach how to learn.

7pedanterrific10yYou are a superb straight man.
MIT Challenge: blogger to attempt CS curriculum on own

Well, after that and that's successful implementation on a large scale.

0pedanterrific10yWhat I mean is, who will teach us how to learn how to teach how to learn?
MIT Challenge: blogger to attempt CS curriculum on own

From what you wrote in Holistic Learning about the use of genius and innate talent to explain away successful learning, I think we agree that anyone without some relevant disability who is in a stable environment with access to the right resources should be able to do the same, and will after we learn how to teach how to learn. By "unimpressive," I mean "what one would expect, given what the wide distribution of mental skill levels and effort made by people who complete 4-year university says about its actual difficulty and the probable leve... (read more)

0jimrandomh10yWhen I was watching Khan Academy's lectures, I got good results from VLC player's time dilation; it speeds up the video and adjusts the audio's pitch to compensate, so you can adjust the pacing. I experimentally determined 1.8x to be the right speed for me, though that will depend on you, and on whose lecture you're watching, and some of the time saved should probably go into pausing the video strategically to digest things.
1pedanterrific10yYes. After that.
MIT Challenge: blogger to attempt CS curriculum on own

A lot of people do four courses over 14 weeks, and that average of 24.5 days/course makes a speed reader's ~11 days/course without all the work and stress of assignments he understands before completing unimpressive. Sounds fun though.

7ScottHYoung10yThe pace I'm planning on sustaining is to do a class in 5 days (1 day for my work and 1 day off each week). What's impressive is all relative, I suppose, as I know plenty of people who could put my work to shame. I only hope to share in the process so people can learn from it.
[Poll] Who looks better in your eyes?

Why would person A being significantly smarter be a bad thing? Just from the danger of being hacked? I'm not thinking of anything else that would weigh against the extra utility from their intelligence.

0[anonymous]10yIf you have two agents who can read each others source code they could cooperate on a prisoners dilemma, since they would have assurance as to not defect. Of course we can't read each others source code, but if our intelligence or rather our ability to asses each others honesty is rather matched, the risk for the other side defecting is at its lowest possible point shy of that, (in the absence of more complex stations where we have to think about signalling to other people), wouldn't you agree? When one side is vastly more intelligent/capable, the cost of defection is clearly much much smaller for the more capable side. All else being equal, it seems an A would rather cooperate with a B than another A, because the cost to predict defection is lower. In other words Bs have a discount on needed cognitive resources, despite their inferior maps, and even As have a discount when working with Bs! What I wanted to say with the PS post was that under certain circumstances (say very expensive cognitive resources) opportunity costs associated with a bunch of As cooperating, especially As that have group norms to actively exclude Bs, can't be neglected.
People who want to save the world

"Save the world" is a subset of "improve the world" where saving is improving by a lot in a way that the world really needs it. "Improving the world" can mean settling for a smaller improvement, but probably doesn't mean "improving in every way so it will include saving the world". If people stop wanting to "save the world" because they weighted their desire to improve it in lesser ways anywhere near their desire to save it, to sound less egotistical, to avoid the applause light, or to dissociate from peopl... (read more)

People who want to save the world

For these eleven ... maybe. Much more likely than 10^-33 for eleven average or random people. My guess is yes, but they may just be good at presenting their credentials.

0CuSithBell10ySure, it's a higher chance, but I'd still say it's pretty improbable - my understanding is that IQ isn't that great.
Southern California Meetup May 21, Weekly Irvine Meetups on Wednesdays

Sweet: three meetups (Saturday and surrounding Wednesdays) at the time I'm couch-surfing (or urban camping) in the area.

What we're losing

In my vision for the future of the rationalist community, most members are interested in the core of meta-rationality and anti-akrasia and each is interested in a set of peripheral topics (various ways of putting practicing rationality, problems like Sleeping Beauty, trading tutoring, practicing skills, helping the community in practical ways, study groups, social meetings with rationalists, etc.). Some fringe members will be involved in the peripherals and rationality applications but not theory, but they probably won't last long. LW is the core, and will... (read more)

People who want to save the world

Your action, praise, do I.

  • Rationalist!Yoda
People who want to save the world

I want the world to not need to be saved, but will settle for it being saved. The reality of existential risk is such an inconvenience. I want to help, but probably won't have, recognize, and successfully act on the opportunity to do so.

The scenarios I can imagine where a list like this would be useful are farfetched.

Phoenix Less Wrong Meetup- Saturday, 5-7-11, 5pm

Plans changed; I'll see you there. I'll be the one generously keeping some student's guest pass or M&G from going to waste.

0Danny_Hintze10yAwesome! See you tomorrow.
Ethics and rationality of suicide

I do have a couple grams of adderall... om nom nom.

MDMA is a legit treatment option I should probably try; I wouldn't want to influence public opinion against it.

2wedrifid10yIf considering illicit treatment options look into ketamine too. :)
Ethics and rationality of suicide

Dammit; all the good ways to die are slow and painful. Might as well live.

But nitrous oxide would be fun.

Signalling against suicide makes a lot of people want to kill themselves, but I'm not one of them. Bunch of whiners...

1wedrifid10yMDMA, acid and meth are probably all more fun. :)
Ethics and rationality of suicide

Is there a list of cryonicist-approved suicide methods? That could prove helpful.

3lsparrish10yFrom what I've read, hypothermia, hypoxia, starvation, and dehydration are commonly proposed as they would induce cardiorespiratory death criteria rather than neurological criteria. Starvation would probably be preferred as the reduction in fat makes it feasible to cool faster. Nonetheless, if your condition is not causing literal brain damage over time, I don't think it is rational to consider "suicide" for cryonics purposes. Science is constantly progressing, and if you wait longer you are more likely to make it to a point where your depression is curable and actuarial escape velocity is reached. Furthermore there will tend to be better cryonics later on (a process you can likely impact by promoting cryonics related discourse in the here and now). In the mean time, do everything you can to a) reduce suicide risk, and b) reduce feelings of depression. Get enough sleep, eat healthy, hang out with people with positive attitudes. Get professional help if you haven't already. Things will get better.
6anonynamja10yPlease don't let this influence your decision. Cryonics outcomes are still so uncertain that for them to enter your calculus right now is probably irrational. Live as long as you can before having to roll the dice. That said, you want something that is physically recoverable and also legally permissible (autopsy free, access to body etc). This is very tricky and you will need better advice that I can offer.

Unfortunately cryo organizations have to stay a million miles away from this sort of thing or bring on a PR disaster.

5wedrifid10yI recall a conversation somewhere which considered the options of a hypothetical terminally ill patient who wished to cryopreserve himself before his brain was further damaged. Finding a country that allows euthanasia and having a cryo team on site seems like the best option! Failing that I expect drowning in a partially frozen water source (with an observer nearby to secure the body) is probably a reasonably good option. Don't shoot yourself in the head or jump off a cliff. Oh, I just noticed you are the same user who was casually ambivalent about the suicide option in another comment somewhere about here. That changes the connotation from pure theory somewhat towards practical advice seeking. I probably should clam up now and play the signalling game!
Ethics and rationality of suicide

I regret not killing myself a few years ago, after losing the things that made me happy and getting further away from other things that could make me happy. This actual future self wouldn't mind being murdered. At the time I was rendered psychologically incapable of even trying to help myself, and was also incapable of applying my knowledge that it probably wasn't going to get better with my then-strong motivation to die.

I'd felt suicidal before I was happy, but wasn't certain it was a good idea. So I picked someone who would listen and understand, and tri... (read more)

1anonynamja10yI am interested in hearing about your reasoning here.

At least I have someone to text "opting out kthxbye" to, just in case.

A suicide note written in lolspeak. That's one way to show your contempt for reality!

Mitigating Social Awkwardness

I once had a job that required a lot of walking in hot weather, and everyone, coworkers and customers smelled bad. For some reason, an anonymous coworker complained to the boss about my smell in particular (I was already showering daily, wearing fresh clothes, and shaving body hair to reduce smell). So I bought some pocket-sized Axe deodorant spray and used it frequently. After that, everyone noticed the way I smelled. It was a little like the commercials, but much less extreme.

And that's the story of how I started wearing deodorant. You should too if you don't, and don't worry about people making fun of the smell or certain brands. Market research reflects people's preferences better than social memes.

2Cayenne10yI highly recommend deodorants but I think that scents should be much more subtle. I'm fairly sensitive to perfumes and fragrances, and getting a nose-full of Axe is like being hit with a club. If I can smell someone's perfume/deodorant/aftershave/cologne from more than a meter away then I'll usually try to avoid getting any closer than that. I have met others with the same sensitivity. This advice is totally personal opinion, not a rule of any kind. I think that it reflects people's exploitable biases more than preferences in a lot of cases. The marketer's job is to convince you that you need his produce more than you need your money, and when it's true it's good... but a lot of times it isn't.
0jhuffman10yThis sounds like it could be very insightful. Certainly there is going to be serious research where money is involved, and poor research will be eroded by selection pressures. I am not sure of the social meme that we may suppose to reflect people's preferences though - do you mean the mildly derogatory comments that people make in light of the heavy-handed advertising cliches?
Phoenix Less Wrong Meetup- Saturday, 5-7-11, 5pm

I get into the area a week late; please have extra fun for me. I'll try to recruit from the ASU students I know, but they may be planning to be celebrating the end of the semester in normal ways. Because they're lame.

1Danny_Hintze10yHopefully they can spare a few hours! (unless they really are lame. haha). I look forward to meeting you over the summer!
Random advice: Teenage U.S. LW-ers should probably be taking more AP exams

YES! If you're already going to graduate and look good enough to get into the college you want, this is probably more important than whatever else you're doing right now. Take a few tests, then get an extra year of your life out of school. Worth it.

Some college science classes have lectures, labs, and recitations, so they take up twice as much time as normal classes for only slightly more credit. I'd prioritize science AP tests.

Link: "Health Care Myth Busters: Is There a High Degree of Scientific Certainty in Modern Medicine?"

Hurray! A portion of what physicians do has solid research to support it! There are ways that work; we just have to do those more often and other things not at all.

What if the 15% of doctors who can at least follow the numbers started a medical sub-community dedicated to making decisions based on solid research and standardizing the practice of medicine, then commissioned an independent study of their success rate? That could take objective models for treatment, spread them to those who understand how they work, then spread them to everyone else who can se... (read more)

Rationality Boot Camp

Don't panic. There is no automatic confirmation. The email came a few days later, and said that if we know others who applied and did not get an email, that doesn't mean they won't get one later. Be exactly as nervous as you were immediately after submitting, minus the worry that your application didn't go through.

0Endovior10yAh, that's good. Having not received any such confirmation myself, I was just starting to wonder if I'd done something wrong... but no, refreshed the page, and saw this post.
Rationality Boot Camp

If you mouse over those sections on the application, messages should be appearing on the right saying "Don't be discouraged if you haven't read much of Less Wrong, we have other ways of gauging your knowledge during the interview" and "Again, don't be discouraged if these are unfamiliar". If I had put it on the application, it would be to gather information about the applicant's devotion to research on the subject of rationality, not their actual knowledge (reading does not imply understanding).

Still, the current best of those ideas tha... (read more)

Rationality Boot Camp

I'd consider resubmitting if not for the email. I only submitted once.

On the bright side, it will give us the opportunity to test the correlation between number of applications submitted (among those who applied) and selection.

2lincolnquirk10yWait, did you get an email? I submitted, and haven't received any form of confirmation, not even an automatic one.
Rationality Boot Camp

Quoth Wufoo support: "Yep, it looks like they set up the redirect like that, for after the form is submitted. Not sure why they would do that, but it sounds like you did submit the form successfully. (If you know the people who created the form, you might consider letting them know about it.)"

So they probably have our applications.

3wedrifid10yAnd another 2 from me. It feels really weird to be just clicking submit and walking away with no confirmation!
Rationality Boot Camp

Yes, advance the craft. This appeals to my sense that more is possible, and I am pleased.

On Pi day, we eat pie; On Tau day, we eat Taoists?

Tau looks like r, which is used for radius length, which is relevant to some equations that use the circle constant. Of all possible letters, why use tau? Are they trying to mess with students and teachers whose handwriting makes it ambiguous whether a symbol is tau or r? Maybe it was just because it's half the pi symbol.

I'm pretty sure people only care about Pi Day because it sounds like pie. Tau Day will never be as celebrated, unless you call it 2Pi Day, which defeats the point, but is still a good excuse to eat pie.

4Relsqui10yCorrection: it's a good excuse to eat TWICE as much pie.
What other causes are relevant to LessWrong?

And Alec Baldwin, who might know, said the lawsuit might have real grounds.

Also, he's branding himself with easily repeatable memes, making a distinction between winning warlocks with tigerblood and loser trolls who can't process his brain, making a lot appearances on various programs, gathering an online following, and selling merchandise with his slogans. That really looks like political campaigning, but he would have to explain the craziness as a tactic in order to get past it. I think it's more likely he's recruiting a fan base for a future project whe... (read more)

Organ donation versus cryonics

There are also synthetic organs which may be used anyway, in the scenario where you're revived from cryopreservation, cured of all damage, and go on living normally. If the process of preserving someone isn't harmed by organ harvesting, I don't see a reason not to donate.

As long as you can get around how harvesting takes extra time, allowing further decay and more opportunities for neurostructural damage, that seems right. Maybe partial preservation for the brain that doesn't damage the organs, then harvesting, then full preservation? Unless organs can be ... (read more)

6CarlShulman10yAs a result of legal-bureaucratic issues, they are mutually incompatible.
Organ donation versus cryonics

You'd have to ask an attorney who knows the relevant laws in your area. Since there are opt-in and opt-out organ donation norms, you may have to opt-out but give someone trustworthy the power to opt you in, in a will, in time for your organs to be viable, if allowed by law. Cryogenics companies won't mind not storing you if you work that out contractually and in advance; otherwise it would look bad that they didn't fulfill their obligation.

Social Necessity of Drinking

I'm about the same age and like and dislike the same things about alcohol. I never had a top hat, but did have tails and a cane. Yay.

Don't forget this, whatever you do.

1) Try saying you haven't found a drink you like yet and you aren't in the mood to experiment. That implies you're one of them, don't judge them for drinking, is an adequate and lasting refusal, and gives you a chance to redirect conversation if they pry about your "mood". "I'm just thinking about..." works fine. You may have to tell them what you don't like is the taste,... (read more)

Note on Terminology: "Rationality", not "Rationalism"

Ernst Mayr's What Evolution Is uses "evolutionism" for "belief in evolution" and isn't even slightly worse because of it. I'm not sure we should let people who are wrong whenever they use a certain word prevent us from using that word. I feel the connotation, but I know where it's coming from.

As for "rationalism", I don't see a good reason someone would prefer it over "rationality" and it isn't understood with the same separate meaning for everyone. So until a need to universalize it comes along, I'll stick with "rationality", and would recommend the same, for those less-ambiguity points. Clear communication matters, and such.

I want to learn economics

I'm learning and learning to learn economics too. If they're not a primary source for learning, I still find textbooks useful as references. A detailed table of contents and explanations of each concept can be useful when concepts or explanations are omitted from another source. And, if you don't mind reading textbooks cover-to-cover, they tend to be complete.

Here are some free online economics texts. Other commenters are suggesting micro before macro, so go with that. They should all be useful for optimizing the world in specific ways. Reading the introdu... (read more)

Rationality Quotes: December 2010

your perceptions are fine, it's your opinions that are worthless and misleading.

I'm quoting this frequently for the next five years.

"Nahh, that wouldn't work"

I recommend threats, but not of violence. And not in anger. Those seem ineffective if you don't participate in organized crime or disorganized crime, respectively. Am I wrong? Because the part of me that cares doesn't want them to work, but I usually keep that part tied up in the basement.

I threaten with a smile whenever possible. It's not my fault they've backed me into a corner and selected my actions for me. I'm even nice enough to explain the situation and offer my help getting out of it, or some easy suggestions if they want to do it on their own.

Then there's the "You're...not very nice" I use when it's true. Somehow the people I don't think are nice always take it as a threat and act all scared.

8Perplexed11yI think it would be a good idea to taboo the word "threat" here. I'm picking up strong vibes that not everyone is using the same meaning on this thread.
Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 5

A degree of realism is selected for by the process of wizarding wars against dark lords. He's not awesome on purpose, as far as we know.

I didn't want to have to do this but...

Return it for the refund.

If you feel like playing Dragon Ball Z: Burst Limit, it's probably because you're overestimating the value of the short term enjoyment of the shiny screen and colorful characters compared to the value of using your time in a good way, like reading the sequences, practicing kung fu, or getting crunk.

6NihilCredo11yYou have gained 1 Vocabulary point!
0Carinthium11yI'm autistic, so I'm not the partying type anyway. Reading the sequences can help rationality but not necessarily enjoyment, and I don't have enough hours a day to spare for kung fu.
Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 5

It seems to be anything that would change the actions of the ones who hear it can't be passed back. I'm thinking it's a simulation that's processing 6 hours at once, with the earliest arbitrarily small unit of time being finalized at the same rate new time starts processing. So Harry just needs to upgrade the universe's hardware and he'll be good to go further back, but he should be able to get around the maximum daily uses per Time-Turner before then.

In other words:

All Cube Truth denied. 4-corner days, 24 hours divided by 4 corners is 6 hours per corner. ... (read more)

9WrongBot11yThis is the best timecube reference I've ever seen. I think its very clear that the wizarding establishment is afraid of confronting your revolutionary claims.
Buy Insurance -- Bet Against Yourself

Yes! I told people to do this after the immigration bill in Arizona made them much more indignant than usual.

Choosing so that all paths lead to victory...is recommended.

Why abortion looks more okay to us than killing babies

Most things are artifacts of limited technology in the sense that they wouldn't exist if strictly preferred technology that made them obsolete existed. Word.

Removal and growing externally would have to be as cheap and safe for the host as abortion, not just possible. And there would have to be no overpopulation concerns from the policy of turning abortions into extra people. Or other net negative effects from it. But there could also be a positive side, like keeping the not-aborted one in its life-support chamber as it matures for experimentation or organ harvesting. Live fetusectomy could replace the usual sort outright.

Why abortion looks more okay to us than killing babies

Before birth, destruction is the only way to get rid of your babies. After birth, you can give them away. What's the word? Donate your babies? Or sell them if you're lucky. That way you don't produce a little bundle of biohazards and, for those who don't like killing people, you have the added advantage of never even coming close to killing it after it gets personhood.

"On the way to victory, if you get to choose between destroying and not destroying without negative repercussions from not destroying, don't destroy" seems like a reasonable moral precept. If victory is having fewer babies, and it is, birth is an objectively special moment.

3[anonymous]11yIf we developed a procedure to remove a fetus from the uterus without killing it, I would see no reason for anyone to choose abortion instead of safe removal. In that sense, abortion is really an artifact of limited technology.
Do you visualize Omega?

Once you realize what a joke everything is, being the Comedian is the only thing that makes sense. Ozymandius is the smartest man on the pile of paper clips.

Do you visualize Omega?

I didn't personify Omega until now.

Now Omega is Dr. Manhattan. This cannot be undone.

0Risto_Saarelma11yExcept Dr. Manhattan timelessly decides whether to ignore you or make your head explode, not whether to give you a small or a large amount of cash.
0Perplexed11yOh dear. But then who is The Comedian? Who is Ozymandius?
Advice for a Budding Rationalist

Be attractive and popular. We need rationalists who will understand the need for x-risk avoidance and be able to get the humans to do whatever they need to do to save themselves. It will also help you get money, which can be used to buy happiness.

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