All of ErikM's Comments + Replies

Welcome to Less Wrong! (7th thread, December 2014)

I think locking out anyone who might be a criminal, when you have the power to potentially stop them being a criminal and their home country doesn't, is morally negligent. (I'm your standard no-frills utilitarian; the worth of an action is decided purely by whether you satisfied people's preferences and made them happy. Forget "state's duty to the citizens", the only talk of 'duty' I really entertain is each of our duty to our fellow humans. "The White Man's Burden" is a really stupid idea because it's every human's responsibility to h

... (read more)
Welcome to Less Wrong! (7th thread, December 2014)

No, I'm fairly confident the neoreactionaries, for whatever reason you brought them up, would happily join in the plan to strip out the objectionable bits of Pakistani culture and replace it with something better. Also, demanding more integration and acculturation from immigrants. What they probably wouldn't listen to is the apparent contradiction of saying we don't need to get rid of multiculturalism, but we do need to push a certain cultural message until it becomes universal.

1[anonymous]6yYou guys are arguing over the definition of "culture".
Welcome to Less Wrong! (7th thread, December 2014)

My intuitions say that specialism increases output, so we should have an all-controlling central state with specialist optimal-career-distributors and specialist psychologist day-planners who hand out schedules and to-do lists to every citizen every day which must be followed to the letter on pain of death and in which the citizens have zero say.

To me, this seems like a happy wonderful place that I would very much like to live in. Unfortunately, everyone else seems to strongly disagree.

I think there's an implicit premise or two that you may have mentall... (read more)

Welcome to Less Wrong! (7th thread, December 2014)

I think you missed what I see as the main point in "What they might have considered, however, was that there was no valve in their pipe. Aiming to purify the American state, they succeeded only in corrupting the American mind." Not surprising, because Moldbug (the guy quoted about the Mugwumps) is terribly long-winded and given to rhetorical flourishes. So let me try to rephrase what I see as the central objection in a format more amenable to LW:

The scientific community is not a massive repository of power, nor is it packed to the gills with mast... (read more)

4Acty6yThankyou - this statement of the idea was much, much clearer to me. :) It seems like the solution - well, a possible part of one possible solution - is to make the social science research institute that everyone listens to have some funding source which is completely independent from the political party in power. That would hopefully make the scientific community more independent. We now need to make it more powerful, which is... more difficult. I think a good starting point would be to try and raise the prestige associated with a social science career (and thus the prestige given to individual social scientists and the amount of social capital they feel they have to spend on being controversial) and possibly give some rhetoric classes to the social science research institute's spokesperson. Assuming the scientists are rational scientists, this gives them politician-power with which to persuade people of their correct conclusions. (Of course, if they have incorrect conclusions influenced by their ideologies, this is... problematic. How do we fix this? I dunno yet. But this is the very beginning of a solution, but I've not been thinking about the problem very long and I am just one kid with a relatively high IQ. If multiple people work together on a solution, I'm sure much more and much better stuff will be come up with.)
Post ridiculous munchkin ideas!

I know it's at least possible to have variant names; I am legally registered in different countries by parallell names analogous to "Venice" and "Venezia".

"NRx" vs. "Prog" Assumptions: Locating the Sources of Disagreement Between Neoreactionaries and Progressives (Part 1)

And "Patriarchy/Rape culture", according to SJWs, is those high-status industries and positions which shape public opinion and public policy - roughly, the respectable press, Hollywood, the Silicon Valley, the video games industry, the Ivy League, and so on.

This is not something I have ever seen asserted, and it sounds to me as though you are drawing a false parallellism here, so I'd be curious to see which SJWs that is according to. Moldbug points to a set of organizations when he says "Cathedral", and you could taboo the word into ... (read more)

"NRx" vs. "Prog" Assumptions: Locating the Sources of Disagreement Between Neoreactionaries and Progressives (Part 1)

"The Cathedral", according to Moldbug, is those high-status industries and positions which shape public opinion and public policy - roughly, the respectable press (i.e. not the National Enquirer), Hollywood, the Ivy League, Southern Poverty Law Center, etc. It's not a way of explaining away anything; it's an attribution of blame for how present public opinion has turned out, combined with an assertion that these information organs form a natural group (left). Somewhere between Moldbug's rants about how the big universities should be torn down and... (read more)

3V_V7yAnd "Patriarchy/Rape culture", according to SJWs, is those high-status industries and positions which shape public opinion and public policy - roughly, the respectable press, Hollywood, the Silicon Valley, the video games industry, the Ivy League, and so on. Do they? Anyway, there is no question that conservative (can we say that Fox News is neoreactionary?) and leftist media outlets exist, and at some point some one side may be more popular than the other. The point is that both SJWs and NRs perceive their "enemy" not limited to some specific people or organizations, but as a diffused cultural element, which is thought to somehow "brainwash" the uninitiated into not seeing the obvious Truth of the One True Ideology. This is similar to the religious fundamentalists preoccupation with the Devil's influence, or the militant communists preoccupation with bourgeois propaganda. In fact, it could be argued that the defining trait of radical movements is a black-and-white morality that paints themselves as the morally righteous brave knights who fight a world of corruption.
"NRx" vs. "Prog" Assumptions: Locating the Sources of Disagreement Between Neoreactionaries and Progressives (Part 1)

Horseshoe theory seems to me like declaring North on a compass rose to be "middle", and saying as you go further "east" or "west" around the compass, the extreme east and extreme west gradually become more similar to each other. This is a mismapping resulting from the confusion of "east" with "counterclockwise starting from north" and west likewise - to restore the analogy to its origin, I think the political axis has here gotten mixed up with some other attribute or set of attributes.

To look at it another ... (read more)

1V_V7yWhich is in fact true. Perhaps a more apt analogy is that, as you go north, east and west become less distinguished, up to the North Pole, where going east and going west reduce to spinning around yourself counterclockwise or clockwise while standing at the same spot. In this analogy, the North Pole would be ideal totalitarianism, where the government micromanages its subjects' lives in great detail, it is always right and doesn't even have to explain itself since it is its own source of legitimacy, and nobody can question its ways. Real-life North Korea sits close to the North Pole. Classical liberalism/"Progressivism" would be perhaps the South Pole or maybe the Equator.
"NRx" vs. "Prog" Assumptions: Locating the Sources of Disagreement Between Neoreactionaries and Progressives (Part 1)

That's like arguing that because the line between "dog" and "wolf" is socially constructed, there's no need to worry if one's chihuahua is replaced by a timber wolf, or saying that because the Greeks thought of water as a basic substance, "hydrogen" is actually a social grouping.

It's true in the trivial sense that every grouping humans refer to is in some sense a social grouping, but that doesn't alter the underlying biology. Think of it as lumpers and splitters in action - disagreements over where to draw the boundary of a group don't change the characteristics of group members.

-3Matthew_Opitz7yWolf brains produce way more adrenaline than dog brains on a regular basis. That is one reason why wolves are likely to be far less predictably docile, even if you raise one from a pup onward. That is why you still have to be careful around a tame wolf. Domestication is different than taming. Taming involves conditioning an animal's behavior; domestication involves breeding actual genetic/physiological changes. Do we have evidence that whites and non-whites have different average levels of certain neurotransmitters? Are there actual gross physiological differences in white and non-write brains? If so, then there is more than just social-construction at work. If not, then social-construction is all there is. I don't think all of this is just a semantic game.
2David_Gerard7yBecause the "biological grouping" isn't one. It's been a social grouping all along. You realise that groups have joined and left "white" at different times over the past few centuries, right? The historical definitions of races are amazing stuff. The Wikipedia article [] is a good start (and I link that in particular because you can be sure it's been closely inspected by all interested sides).
Every Paul needs a Jesus

Maybe Napoleon could be viewed as the Paul of the French Revolution, molding the French state into a highly successful military power while still keeping some of the principles like the overthrow of king and church? Rousseau and Robespierre seem to me like they were both charismatic radicals with impractical ideas.

Rationality Quotes February 2014

Tinfoil hats and air vents to blow away the pheromones, as I recall. But there's certainly some incompetence involved when the demons use highly outdated military intelligence in their choice of targets, resulting in a devastating attack on the Arsenal of Democracy.

As I recall, the justification for this in the story is that the demons are really long-lived, and human civilization has historically been very slow to change, so by demon standards decades-old intelligence on humans is recent and it's reasonable to expect that Detroit would still be a very imp... (read more)

Open Thread for February 18-24 2014

I think this could be generalized into a model with predictions: If we suppose that it's easier to get people to nominally than actually abandon one of Haidt's moral axes (from Wikipedia, to save people some lookups: Care/harm, Fairness/cheating, Liberty/oppression, Loyalty/betrayal, Authority/subversion, and Sanctity/degradation), we should expect that people who disclaim one of the axes will find ways to relabel violations of that axis to make it sound like it's violating a professed axis.

To be specific, if you have a group that officially disclaims the ... (read more)

3Viliam_Bur7yRelated: Fake Morality []
Rationality Quotes February 2014

Ehh, The Salvation War has some interesting moments about facing down existential threats and not giving up and building a bright future for humanity across the corpses of eldritch horrors, but you have to be willing to slog through a lot of drek. I read the first book of The Salvation War and it can't seem to make up its mind just to what extent it's supposed to be following any particular cosmology, mythology, or theology. I get the impression that it wants to be a chronicle of the moment when humanity cast down the Hordes of Hell, but it's executed more... (read more)

1DanielLC7yThey do have seduction. They just never managed to use it successfully. Mostly because people quickly started wearing tinfoil hats. That doesn't stop it completely, but if everyone can see that you're a demon, all the pheromones will do is make them stop being uncomfortable with you. They can read the hearts of men to know their dark secrets and embarrassing desires, but they've never used it for more than sorting souls into the nine circles of hell, for no adequately explained reason.
6Nornagest7yI got the impression that The Salvation War might have happened when the author read a synopsis of the Old Testament and noticed that, with a few obvious exceptions like that creation narrative thing, we can now do just about everything that God's cited as doing. Which is a nifty observation and would make for a good short story, but I don't think it can quite carry something the length of a long novel. Particularly in the MilSF genre, which devolves rapidly if it ever becomes obvious that the central conflict's heavily weighted towards the protagonists.
[LINK] Why I'm not on the Rationalist Masterlist

I'm not sure what your point here is. Please clarify?

I'm arguing that segregation is forbidden in America and similar countries; it seems to me that calling segregation "strictly voluntary" clouds the issue. It's almost a fully general argument to say that X is strictly voluntary because you can do it if none of several million people stop you doing it.

Should people require a mandatory license for parenting?

This sounds like to me as though it's essentially a giant recapitulation of the trolley problem - you have one side claiming that the opposition doesn't understand 5 > 1 and isn't trying to maximize utility and should be pushing the fat man onto the tracks, and you have the other side not wanting to violate obvious moral norms such as "Don't push people onto train tracks where they will die" for the sake of hypotheticals that are not merely unlikely but unrealistic. (How is that man so fat that he'll block a trolley going fast enough to crush ... (read more)

[LINK] Why I'm not on the Rationalist Masterlist

By analogy: Private property also includes (must include, in my opinion) the freedom to "impose" it on those who don't want it - If Alice has a bicycle which she considers to be her private property and Bob tries to take the bicycle because Bob doesn't believe in private property and doesn't respect the notion of "Alice's bicycle" in the first place, I'm damn well going to side with Alice in telling Bob to go away, and if necessary, threatening violence against Bob.

If you try to form a concept of "strictly voluntary private propert... (read more)

2[anonymous]7yWould you say I'm not free to agree with my friend to met at the pub because if he doesn't show up the police won't do anything about it? Would you say my girlfriend and I aren't free to have a monogamous relationship because if I cheated on her the police wouldn't stop me and vice versa? Hell, would you say I'm not free to be on a diet because the police won't stop me if I overeat?
[LINK] Why I'm not on the Rationalist Masterlist

Well, you can adopt an ideology that members of the other race find more or less universally detestable and put up posters for it all across the neighborhood, but this has the consequence of filling your neighborhood with an ideology that lots and lots of people find detestable.

[Link] Social Psychology & Priming: Art Wears Off

Something similar goes for phrenology (the prediction of mental attributes from head shape): Science can discover where phrenology works and which traits it can predict and where it stops working. The sheer number of possible traits and populations one can correlate makes me confident you'd find something scientific if you looked. But if science discovers that elongated heads predict high extraversion among Swedes, and is otherwise largely wrong or unpredictive, would you say that phrenology is science?

Steven Kaas quipped something I find applicable: "... (read more)

0Luke_A_Somers8ySame as response above - the context was a best case scenario in which the effect is real.
0gwern8yWhy would you not? Does the word 'phrenology' really scare you that much? Fortunately, names can be changed, as SIAI has recently demonstrated.
Open Thread, January 16-31, 2013

You're still in the 2012 thread.

Edit: No, wait, this is apparently posted in 2013 but labeled 2012. Bah.

[This comment is no longer endorsed by its author]Reply
Open Thread, January 16-31, 2013

Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

3[anonymous]8yYou impressed me in several virtual LW meetup and IRC conversations, I'm quite excited to hear you wish to join. Welcome aboard!
2012 Less Wrong Census/Survey

Deeply amused by the section "Alternative Alternative Politics: Okay fine, knock yourself out identifying with as tiny and finely-grained a subcategory as you want" still missing my desired response. :-) (I put Other:Authoritarian as distinct from Totalitarian. My view of these is that the former concerns the power of the ruling body to hypothetically put its fingers in any given pie, while the latter concerns the propensity of the ruling body to have its fingers in a great many pies.)

Please don't vote because democracy is a local optimum

And as a less tone-related complaint, sam0345 grossly overgeneralizes. (And if he's the J that I think he is, I suspect he's not much interested in being more nuanced, for much the same reason he's not interested in consensus.)

Rationality Quotes November 2012

I think this is the source you want.

See the section Consequences of Artificial Methods, subheading 17.

2[anonymous]9yI was just going to edit it in after you mentioned it on IRC. Thank you!
Any existential risk angles to the US presidential election?

The problem with non-compulsory voting is it means that only the people who care strongly enough about the elections to get off the internet and drive to a polling booth are the ones who have their voices heard. This means that you lose a lot of moderate, sane, rational voters but keep all of the rabid nutjobs.

OTOH, you lose a lot of ignorant, clueless, or just lazy voters who have no basis for forming an opinion, and the ones who have the voices heard are the ones who cared enough to study the issues, even if their study was one-sided.

Push the problem a step back, and my thought here is compulsory political study rather than compulsory voting.

0[anonymous]9ySee my comment re: the Tea Party to Drethelin below - I think extremism is a far stronger motivator to vote than intelligence. Note that Konkvistador doesn't appear to be voting, and for him to be on this board in the first place is a strong endorsement of his intelligence. I definitely agree about compulsory political study though. Also compulsory epistemology, ethics and statistics, etc.
The noncentral fallacy - the worst argument in the world?

This has traditionally been a very divisive point within radical feminism, and it typically divides the discussion into transphobic social-constructionist radical feminists (like the source of my original infographic) and neo-essentialist post-feminists.

Tell Your Rationalist Origin Story

Here's one: less jockeying for power. Monarchs don't need to pander to interest groups to get elected.

Monarchs don't need to pander to interest groups to get elected.

Merely to keep their heads attached.

3Peterdjones9yI'll. say. They don't need to take anyone else's interests into account. It would take a rather special kind of mind to treat self-interest as admirable detachment.
Eliezer Yudkowsky Facts

That appears to be a malware site. Is it the same as ?

6Eliezer Yudkowsky9yYep.
How to deal with someone in a LessWrong meeting being creepy

Hard problem.

"Change your behavior if a significant fraction complains" fails to protect isolated victims, who are likely to be the most common targets of bad behavior and also the ones in most need of support. "Change your behavior if one person complains" is grossly abusable, and the first-order fix to complain about frivolous complaints spirals off into meta. Appealing to common sense, good judgment etc. seems to me like passing the buck back to the situation that created a need for this discussion in the first place.

As a secondary c... (read more)

-3TimS9yThis rule is always safe to follow, but is suboptimal in that it rules out some contact that both parties would enjoy. This is mostly an anti-innuendo rule. Just as threats of violence are morally equivalent to acts of violence, entitlement to entering personal space is equivalent to entering personal space.
Failed Utopia #4-2

I suppose he will be thinking along the same lines as a wirehead.

7Deskchair9yIs that a bad thing?
Is friendly AI "trivial" if the AI cannot rewire human values?

"Finally, we will also assume that the AI does not possess the ability to manually rewire the human brain to change what a human values. In other words, the ability for the AI to manipulate another person's values is limited by what we as humans are capable of today."

I argue that we as humans are capable of a lot of that, and the AI may be able to think faster and draw upon a larger store of knowledge of human interaction.

Furthermore, what justifies this assumption? If we assume a limit that the AI won't manipulate me any more than Bob across the... (read more)

0Alerus9yCan you give examples of what you think humans capability to rewire another's values are? As for what justifies the assumption? Nothing. I'm not asking it specifically because I don't think AIs will have it, I'm asking it so we can identify where the real problem lies. That is, I'm curious whether the real problem in terms of AI behavior being bad is entirely specific to advances in biological technology to which eventual AIs will have access, but we don't today. If we can conclude this is the case, it might help us in understanding how to tackle the problem. Another way to think of the question I'm asking is take such an AI robot and drop it into todays society. Will it start behaving badly immediately, or will it have to develop technology we don't have today before it can behave badly?
I've had it with those dark rumours about our culture rigorously suppressing opinions

Dear people who post things like "Incest is neat" and "Whites are smarter than blacks": those things are currently controversial. Therefore, they don't come close to being unthinkable or impossible to talk about.

ADBOC and that's somewhat beside the point, because it seems to me that things are necessarily somewhat controversial to be taboo. As Paul Graham said:

No one gets in trouble for saying that 2 + 2 is 5, or that people in Pittsburgh are ten feet tall. Such obviously false statements might be treated as jokes, or at worst as e

... (read more)

Whether I like it or not, people tend to overfit the curves associated with past trauma to available data.
If I want to avoid being pattern-matched to someone's trauma, I have to take extreme measures.
Hedge phrases pretty reliably don't cut it... they're like making incremental improvements to my bird-feeder to keep squirrels away: I just end up training the squirrels.

3MixedNuts9yYeah, but why bother Less Wrong for suggestions where YouTube comments would serve?
I've had it with those dark rumours about our culture rigorously suppressing opinions

I am surprised and confused. I would have thought that the analogy to evolution would be the one objected to first, as I think of social institutions first as things instituted by someone and second as things subject to vaguely evolution-like processes. (They are modified over time, imperfectly replicated across countries, and a lot more fail than survive.)

5TheOtherDave9yInteresting. I haven't given this a lot of thought, but my intuition is the opposite of yours... I think of most social constructs as evolved over time rather than intentionally constructed for a purpose.
I've had it with those dark rumours about our culture rigorously suppressing opinions

Colonialism was a good system with significant beneficial impact for colonized countries, which are now failing mostly due to native incompetence rather than colonial trauma. It would be a win-win position to reinstitute it competently.

6Armok_GoB9yImportant disclaimer: "competently" means NOT the bull** the USA is doing.
2Anubhav9yI find it amusing that this was posted on India's Republic Day [\]).

110% agreed. Hell, I often argue that in real life; there's no stigma attached to colonialism in Russia these days, probably in part because any serious attack on it sounds too much like a tired Soviet cliche.

Tell Your Rationalist Origin Story

The distant: I am diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome (an autism spectrum disorder). I was unpopular at school, I understood poorly how to fit in, but I understood well how to get smarter. I took high school completion mathematics exams in primary school, university exams in high school, and while I never bit a teacher like in HPMoR, I did punch a student one time and demand that the teachers back me up.

As I remember it, said student was talking about a "tirus" which was supposedly like a next-generation virus which would eat up your computer unless... (read more)

I've had it with those dark rumours about our culture rigorously suppressing opinions

Smart people often think social institutions are basically arbitrary and that they can engineer better ways using their mighty brains. [...]

While I agree, I disapprove because my impression is that this is not an opinion suppressed much in the outside culture. I can well imagine it being an unpopular one here at Less Wrong, but in the world at large I see widespread support for similar opinions, such as among "conservatives" (in a loose sense) complaining about how "intellectuals" (ditto) were and are overly supportive of Communism, ... (read more)

Using Chesterton's Fence here is a little misleading.

The whole rationale behind Chesterton's Fence is that clearly someone put the fence there, and it seems pretty likely that whoever that was was just as capable as I am of concluding (given what I know) that putting a fence here is absurd, and it seems pretty likely that they know everything I know, and therefore I can conclude with reasonable confidence that they knew relevant things I don't know that made them conclude that putting a fence here is worth doing, and therefore I should significantly redu... (read more)