All of false_vacuum's Comments + Replies

Well, another possibility would have been the negation of (what's usually called around here) Tegmark's Level IV. (That's probably not the only other possibility.)

ETA: Not that your interpretation isn't the obviously correct one.

Thanks for answering. (Like the one-word one, this comment provides insight into nothing except my own state of mind, in which you are perfectly entitled to be uninterested.)

What cognitive bias list? ---Oh! Probably this one.

Generalising from one fictional example. (But a funny one.)

If you follow the link, you'll see that it's lots of fictional examples. ;)

Mmm. Sounds familiar. But what do you mean by '"physics all the way down"'?

Thou Art Physics [] or, as a philosophical position, reductionism [] or materialism [].

Huh. I agree with both of you, up to

we do that by tackling the mind killing, not by tackling the issues[.]

At least, if 'tackling the issues' means 'coming to any kind of conclusion|decision as to what to think or even what to do. Obviously a rational approach is a prerequisite for that, but doesn't replace it. I also agree in general with

the fact that this is our pet issue makes us far more vulnerable

but vulnerable to what in this case? Irrationally believing that SOPA would be a bad thing?

I can only speak for myself, of course. At one point, though dlthomas asked: I never got around to posting it, but I could have truthfully said that that I no longer consider myself to be tech-savvy. I was at one point, but what I once knew is now either forgotten or obsolete. However, on closer introspection, I'd have to admit that I still am a bit biased towards what may be a "tech-savvy" view of the world. I hadn't thought of it (and still don't think of it) as a major part of my identity, but it may be all the more insidious for being unseen. So I must correct for that. Now, I tentatively think that SOPA is probably bad public policy. This tentative opinion is supported by the fact (and it is a fact) that it is opposed by a great many learned people in many fields, particularly experts in American law, as well as internet technology. However, before I turn my tentative opinion into a firm opinion, I will have to do a little homework by learning just a bit more about the issues in general, noting particularly the arguments supporting the view I'm leaning against. I don't have all the time in the world, and I'm not planning to become an expert in copyright law, first amendment law, and the foundational technology supporting the internet any time soon. I don't even plan to read the full text of the proposed legislation. However, my ignorance is a reason to be cautious, not bold, in my opinions. (Parenthetically, as a U.S. citizen, I'd really like to think that my representatives in Congress would take as least as much trouble simply to understand the laws they enact.)

Why downvoted? Vacuousness? (Sometimes when I really like a comment, I don't feel satisfied by just upvoting it.)

Yes []. Please make substantive comments. (And please don't make me start another [] discussion about this.)

That's interesting. I initially parsed "copyright enforcement law simply is not a highly-charged partisan issue for the overwhelming majority of people in the United States" as meaning that it's almost universally agreed to be bad. That reading was reinforced by "A few individuals may strongly identify as[...] fans of copyright law" (if it had been "fans or opponents" maybe that would have straightened me out). I'm pretty sure that most people who have been directly affected by some kind of copyright enforcement mechanism o... (read more)

Interestingly, your link is to a political think-tank site. (Of course, argument screens off authority and all that---it looks like a pretty good article.)

Right, since Cato Unbound [] is run by The Cato Institute [] (a political think tank), it would be reasonable to assign a high prior probability to it being full of mind-kill [] (therefore, not worth your time). On the other hand, there are several facts that are likely to cause you to update this probability downwards. Firstly, the author, Patri Friedman [], is actually a fellow Less Wronger [] who diminished his participation in the the community for reasons of instrumental rationality []. Secondly, two of our most respected members, Elieser Yudkowsky [] and Robin Hanson [], have written multiple [] essays [] that have appeared in the very same publication. After updating on these facts, I think this particular article has a high enough probability of being worth our time to overcome the reasonable presumption against taking seriously essays from political think tanks in order to evaluate the actual arguments contained in the essay for ourselves.

Certainly one valid (type of) response to the OP would be to explain why the proposed legislation wouldn't harm the internet. (I've seen a few claims to that effect [elsewhere], but none that seemed well-informed or carefully reasoned.)

Or is 'harming the internet' too subjective|vague a notion to begin with? Perhaps that is worth discussing. Incidentally, it was part of my original thought that maybe somehow the net outcome of the SOPA regime could be positive, e.g. by spurring the development of a new censorship-proof distributed DNS infrastructure. Bu... (read more)

Well, it wasn't me doing the referring, but anyway I'm a bit relieved you agree.

Why downvoted? Vacuousness? (Sometimes when I really like a comment, I don't feel satisfied by just upvoting it.)

Freenet servers can (and, AFAIK, routinely are) be blocked by IP.

This appears to be wrong. I haven't used Freenet myself (yet), but it doesn't seem to have servers at all, or admit IP blocking. In this it appears to be analogous to the hidden services (.onion sites) in Tor. And protocol analysis tools (packet sniffers) would appear to be irrelevant---I think---since Freenet traffic is encrypted. But this is not an area I know much about.

As executions? As far as I know, the U.S. has only ever had capital punishment for murder and treason. Defining 'use of technology that could be used to circumvent copyright protection' as 'treason' does not appear to be on the horizon yet. I think.

Oh, sorry, I didn't realize that you were referring to executions specifically; I thought you were referring to the entire process of erecting a sort of "Great Firewall of USA". I agree with you regarding executions, they are extremely unlikely.

That's sad. Here he was quoted as saying

"We can reincorporate as a Cayman Islands company and offer the same great service and reliability and not be a U.S. company anymore."

DynDNS has an article on their site, written by their CEO, Jeremy Hitchcock, called SOPA: What You Should Know & Why Dyn Opposes It. It's not at all ambivalent but doesn't make any promises.

“There are a number of people who have knowledge in this field that estimate humanity’s chance at making it through this century at about 50 percent,” Schwall says. “Even if that number is way off and it’s one in a billion, that’s too high for me.”

Presumably he meant something different.

Yeah, this is an important subject. I'll probably read your paper.

I've found a fairly simple and apparently workable solution

To what, exactly?

I fixed the second paragraph. I meant a "solution" to the challenge posed by the Hacking/White "inverse gambler's fallacy" argument, basically just an account of where exactly the argument goes wrong.

Here's a summary and discussion of the affair, with historical comparison to the Gödel results and their reception (as well as comments from several luminaries, and David Chalmers) on a philosophy of mathematics blog whose authors seem to take the position that the reasons for consensus in the mathematical community are mysterious. (It is admitted that "arguably, it cannot be fully explained as a merely socially imposed kind of consensus, due to homogeneous ‘indoctrination’ by means of mathematical education.") This is a subject that needs to be discussed more on LW, in my opinion.

So he's outraged by people basing their moral decisions on empathy? I'm... not sure how to empathise with that emotion.

I sometimes have a feeling where I see people being preferential towards people they like and insensitive towards those that they don't and having a mixed feeling of "aww that's nice" and "eurgh this scales badly into nasty things". Part of this feeling is the feeling that the people acting preferentially are acting in a way that feels nice and is all warm and fuzzy, while another part is that humans have lots of icky moral bugs that make bad things happen. Could you empathize with that?

Interesting. But one could have the awareness, understanding, and ability to describe, but also an attitude of not caring, with regard to one's own emotions. Or at least some of them, sometimes.

On the other hand, I'm not sure the word 'emotions' means the same thing to everyone. I'm not even sure that what I take it to mean hasn't changed substantially.

ETA: Here I seem to be defining 'empathy' in yet another way. It's odd how my intuition about what a word means can vary situationally. It seems to me right now that I would want to claim I usually thin... (read more)

There seems to be a general tendency here to conflate 'empathy' with 'the particular (biased, inconsistent) ways humans tend to (attempt to) practise empathy'. The latter is obviously far less capable of constituting a basis for morality than the former, on just about any reasonable construal of 'morality' (another term the ambiguous employment of which obviates the usefulness of many an argument on such topics...).

Thanks for the link; I didn't know about Project A119. Probably a good thing they didn't do it, though.

It seems to me that billswift is accurately identifying three different meanings the word 'empathy' is taken to have. I'd never heard of metalaw before, though.

But... the only way to view the 'data' is by copying it to my computer! That's how the Internet works!

I think that legally, the copy in your browser doesn't count somehow, the same way that the copy of a painting that you make by holding a mirror near it doesn't count. I'm guessing the criterion is whether the copy is ephemeral or persistent.

is rationality an effective means of achieving goals?

Yes, by definition. (Maybe you want an 'epistemic' in there.)

Tim Maudlin's The Metaphysics Within Physics

Thank you for this. I had completely missed it somehow. It will be interesting to see how much of my own work-in-progress is redundant with Maudlin's.

a (rare) physics-savvy philosopher

Well, of course there are quite a few of them (us?), although they have a low frequency in the population.

This is a mistake. There is actually a two-electron state in the OP. (And there is no assumption 'that they are independently and individually real.' The claim is merely that the two-electron state is real.)

I am with pudge on this. The current deepest level of understanding of physics is quantum field theory, and according to that theory there are no such things as particles, fundamentally. The only thing that exists are quantum fields. (Except gravity, but I will ignore that huge problem for now, because I don't think it is important for this discussion.) The two particle state belongs to the Fock space [] formulation, that you get when tailor expanding quantum fields. This is not to say that the two particle space is not a real possibility. To my mest understanding of the math involved, there is a quantum field configuration that is exactly the two electron state. But the two electrons here are NOT two separate objects. The philosophers mistake is not about whether two objects can be proven to be exactly identical. The philosophers mistake is in thinking that two electrons are different objects. From now on I will steel man the philosopher a bit and assume that what he ment was "fundamental objects" and not "electrons". He was just not up to date with the latest ontology and though though that "electron" was an example of "fundamental object", but has now updated his statement to be about actual things, and not mare emergent phenomena such as individual particles. All the quantum fields in the standard model clearly have different properties. Different charges, different mas, etc. But it is not inconceivable, with in this model, to have two identical, but separate objects. There are probably quantum fields that has not yet been detected, because of week charge and/or high mas. It is possible that in the future we will find two new quantum fields, that, to the limit of our technology, are identical. Maybe later when we discover that all the quantum fields are just aspects of some deeper level, then we might be able to prove that those two quantum fields are identical. But in the same stroke we will also find that these field

I encourage you to throw away that particular template

But why? Dialogues have been a mainstay of philosophical exposition for as long as there has been philosophy. They make an argument concluding 'P is not the case, rather Q is' easier to follow. They don't need to be imputing P to anyone in particular in order to function. The point is to show the relationships among ideas. (Although of course if P doesn't seem compelling, or even coherent, to anyone, then the exercise is pointless.)

My suggestion would be "lower my opinion of X."

Yeah, but then I wouldn't be invoking the concept of 'status'. I was responding to the idea that spelling mistakes don't lower someone's status, so that's why I ended up using the term. But of course X's ('actual') status supervenes on the set of individual judgments that constitute various others' 'opinion of X'. So it's only in that 'weak' sense that I meant my remark that X 'doesn't actually have a status'; viz. that (in my way of using the term) X has a status in the eyes of each of the var... (read more)

It occurred to me recently, while I was reading some article in the SEP, that academic philosophers (of the analytic variety) may be conceiving their project as one of charting the logical space of 'tenable' philosophical positions, rather than trying to eliminate as much of that space as possible. Of course the SEP may tend especially to give that impression, since it is meant to consist of review articles that summarise all the positions and arguments on a given topic which are taken seriously. But philosophers do often say that they are concerned with... (read more)

Unfortunately for you in most places that will backfire against all but targets that already have low status.

I guess it's a good thing you said this, because it shows me that I'm using the word 'status' differently from you. I'm not that much of an asshole! What I mean by 'take status away from X' is 'consider X to have lower status'. In other words, I understood 'status' to be a sort of tag I associate with particular persons in my own mind. One might, then, talk about 'status' as if it were actually an invariant (i.e. observer-independent) propert... (read more)

My suggestion would be "lower my opinion of X." I also suggest that you stay aware of this in conversations about social status, in general. Disagreements about whether people in groups actually have a status in the first place cause a lot of confusion, especially because (as in this case) it's not always clear at first that a disagreement even exists, and many other things hinge on this. Incidentally, would you also say the same things about words like "popularity" or "privilege"? That is, would you say that talking about person X as more popular than person Y is an imprecise shorthand, and that it's wrong to talk about my estimate of X's popularity, because X doesn't actually have popularity?

I don't think anyone would perceive this as wrong, though. I might also note that there are many english words which are exact homophones in some dialects but not others (although all the ones I can think of at the moment are spelled differently). And I'd have to say I feel as though my mind has the two homonyms 'rose' and 'rose' stored separately even though they happen to have the same spelling and pronunciation.

Spelling errors impede understanding very rarely,

They always impede my understanding; not because I have trouble figuring out what was me... (read more)

I seem to have them stored separately too. It took me rather a while to even work out what the second version was having already resolved a first. Unfortunately for you in most places that will backfire against all but targets that already have low status.

Although I note that the OP does not mention the 'procedural' restriction.

Yes, this seems plausible, and it gives a fascinating insight, for me, into how other people process language. I've been noticing lately how frequent wrong homophones are in writing; in fact I just encountered one--are for our--in a textbook I'm currently working through (Lawvere & Schanuel's Conceptual Mathematics). This is a type of mistake I can't imagine myself making. But if, for many people, the textual encoding is not maintained, in parallel with the audial, when spoken competence increases past some threshold, the phenomenon is explained.

What can be done to help correct this bug?

I don't think it's a very pressing concern. Spelling errors impede understanding very rarely, and they don't lower your status as long as they plausibly look accidental. Here's another related example I found fascinating. It was only recently that I realized that "rose" in its two different meanings (the flower and the past tense of "rise") is in fact pronounced the same by native speakers. Yet I somehow managed to register these pronunciations as totally different. When I introspected about it, I realized that my mind had them stored separately with a phonemic tonal contrast of a sort that doesn't exist in English at all but is common in my native language; I was even pronouncing them in this tonal way. God knows how many such things are still coloring my accent when speaking English.

I categorically have quite a lot of respect for those whose English grammar ability breaks down at the weakest point in the grammar.

That interpretation would probably never have occurred to me. You must be using 'respect' to mean something like 'tolerance'. If so, I will try to tolerate your tolerance.

Just to be clear, are you saying you now have less respect for me, categorically, than for people who use it's incorrectly? That would be most unfortunate; I certainly hope I am misunderstanding somehow. I do not believe, incidentally, that I was expressing contempt for anyone; I apologise for my incomprehension, but it is genuine.

And as I mentioned above, its belongs to the same family as the other pronominal adjectives her, my, our, ... None of them have apostrophes (and one besides its has an s).

ETA: And whose. That's another one people seem to get wrong a lot.

I categorically have quite a lot of respect for those whose English grammar ability breaks down at the weakest point in the grammar. That I punctuate correctly while they do not is an indication not that they have learned poorly but instead that I have more completely immersed myself into the peculiarities of the syntax. I loved the cartoon link on apostrophes that one of the cousin comments provided!

using an apostrophe to indicate possession is the common case.

For nouns, but not pronouns. Compare his, her, my, their, ...

As for comics, perhas I should not admit to liking this one.

The objection that it's not a procedural knowledge gap is probably valid. But I was not just ranting; I asked a number of questions in the answers to which I am genuinely interested. And whether I feel superior to people who use apostrophes incorrectly does not strike me as relevant--although I try not to, and understanding why they do it might help.

Although I note that the OP does not mention the 'procedural' restriction.

Again, fascinating. And I do very little real-life socialising. But on the whole I think I do a good deal more talking than typing. ETA: On second thought, I'm not sure why I thought that. Something made me overestimate how much talking I do. Probably the fact that I used to do a lot more, and certainly have done immensely more talking than writing over the course of my life so far.

as your spoken English gets better with practice, you're likely to start making more of such errors, not less.

This is fascinating. It's not at all clear to me why such a thing would happen. I can't think of anything in my own experience that seems analogous.

When you learn English mainly from written sources with little speaking practice (and I was an extreme example of that), you end up composing written English sentences in your head and reading them aloud when speaking (or just writing them down directly when typing). This makes your pronunciation awful and your speaking stilted and unnatural, but on the other hand, your mind categorizes differently spelled homophones as completely different entities, so there is almost zero chance of mixing them up.

In contrast, if you're a native speaker or otherwise a tr... (read more)

to read PDFs with

and DJVUs. So there isn't anything like this yet. Thanks for saving me some research time.

Me too. (This is turning into a confessional thread.)

Didn't mean to imply that Wikipedia's blocking policies constitute a problem. Just that all we need here is the standard 'accounts that post spam will be blocked'. Which seems utterly uncontroversial, and doesn't even need to be made explicit.

Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

Corporations (and governments) are not usually regarded as sharing human values by those who consider the question. This brief blog post is a good example. I would certainly argue that the 'U' is appropriate; but then I tend to regard 'UFAI' as meaning 'the complement of FAI in mind space'.

Those people are considering a different question, which is, "Do corporations treat humans the way humans treat humans?" Completely different question. If corporations develop values that resemble those of humans by convergent evolution (which is what I was suggesting), we would expect them to treat humans the way humans treat, say, cattle.

English speakers ought to know that its is the possessive adjective and it's is the contraction for 'it is'. It drives me crazy when people use it's to mean its, and I do not understand why they do it. Do people not learn how to write by reading? (I certainly did, and I don't see how else you could do it, but I realise I'm somewhat abnormal.) Or is the incorrect use of it's so ubiquitous now that even if people learn to write by reading, unless they read mostly stuff more than ten years old they aren't being exposed to a data set from which they can in... (read more)

The error that bothers me the most is using "loose" to mean "lose".
I agree that grammar presents a minor group rationality problem. I disagree about what the problem is. The distinction between its and it's does nothing to improve writing, either in terms of clarity or in terms of expressiveness. Reserving "their" for the plural possessive complicates writing and adds nothing. A broad class of grammatical rules fall into one of these classes. Wasting education time on these rules (I would estimate that I've spent at least 10 hours on clearly useless grammar in school) and using them as a status indicator seems like destructive behavior that should be corrected. People who make the error may have simply spent less time in their lives thinking about the distinction, which as far as I can is probably better for everybody. If you don't understand how the error can even happen, as opposed to why people don't learn to correct it, then I think the issue is the variety of human brains (or else a failure of introspection). Personally, I get information from my thoughts to my hands by reciting; the natural failure mode is to switch between homophones freely. The difference between its and it's is an even easier substitution than most (although I believe I generally write the correct one).
Because it is one of the most grating flaws in the language. Whether I say its or Clippy's when trying to indicate ownership depends on whether I wish to use its name or be generic. The ad hoc rules of grammar that we use are a kludgy hack and this is the most annoying kludge. I personally choose to use the prescribed grammar. Defection would be pointless. Yet while I am usually rather particular when it comes to spelling and grammar this is one instance in which I have more respect for those who use "it's" in error than those who indicate contempt for and incomprehension of those who do not understand the mistake.
I do it (and then correct it, but only when I notice that I've done so) because using an apostrophe to indicate possession is the common case. Relevant apostrophe comic 1 []. You might find this snippet of OKCupid's blog [] interesting - a correlation between being religious and being unbothered by poor spelling and grammar. It's a graphic because the blog post is long and has no way to link just to that point. Full link []. Still, downvoted because this is not a procedural knowledge gap you think should be filled, it's just ranting and possibly being in the pattern of having a subgroup of people over whom to feel superior.
It's (heh) usually a matter of accidental error, not ignorance, at least in my experience. When writing fast, it's easy to substitute a differently spelled homophone by accident. The funny thing when you're a non-native English speaker who learned the language mostly from reading is that as your spoken English gets better with practice, you're likely to start making more of such errors, not less.

Do we even need to explicitly adopt such a standard at this point?

Wikipedia has its problems. I wouldn't be too eager to ape it in any detail.

Apparently we do given the existence of this Discussion post. Wikipedia's problems do not stem from its blocking policies but from subtler issues.

What do people think of the designs? My favorites are the SI-as-galaxy icons by Marah (especially #125) and the gravitational-singularity-as-wings ones by strelac (especially #124) --and my lettering and SI-sigil, of course. I'm not sure the semiotics of using a gravitational singularity in the logo are entirely advisable, though. I also like #109, but only because it's kind of pretty.

Those are my favorites.

This is fascinating! I've been told I memorised the alphabet before I was a year old... But it wasn't until I was in college that I finally memorised which hand is called 'left' and which one is 'right'. (Never had an analogous problem with compass directions.)

A possibly related deficit is that I typically think of the wrong word first when I want to name a colour; i.e. for example I want to refer to purple and I have to choke off the impulse to say 'yellow'. And yet I have letter/colour synaesthesia!

Brains are weird.

pinkish in the middle should be fine.

For beef, not chicken.

However, I find it much easier to slice meat for stir-frying which is still partially frozen. (This also speeds the thawing process.) Probably if you use a cleaver or other heavy, extremely sharp type of instrument, no prior thawing would be necessary; but I don't trust myself with those.

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