All of Fluttershy's Comments + Replies

The Power to Judge Startup Ideas

What the hell? It's just a more specific version of the point in inadequate equilibria, and don't you want to know if you can do something better?

The Power to Judge Startup Ideas

Presumably the reason why people are roleplaying everything in the first place is because, you'll be seen badly if you stop roleplaying, and being seen badly hurts if you don't have enough emotional resilience. Here's my best attempt at how to break people out of this.

The Power to Judge Startup Ideas

Man, most people are roleplaying everything. It's not fixable by just telling them what concrete stuff they're doing wrong, because they're still running on the algorithm of roleplaying things. Which is why rationality, an attempted account of how to not do stuff wrong, ended in a social club, because it didn't directly address that people are roleplaying everything anyways.

2Liron2yThis isn't the right place to argue against the whole premise of LessWrong
6Fluttershy2yPresumably the reason why people are roleplaying everything in the first place is because, you'll be seen badly if you stop roleplaying, and being seen badly hurts if you don't have enough emotional resilience. Here's my best attempt [https://mentalengineering.info/] at how to break people out of this.
What is the state of the ego depletion field?

Nice, but the second paper is less on track, as the idea is more "people, society etc. coerce you to do things you don't want" than "long vs short term preferences".

4Matt Goldenberg2yMy model says that people coerce themselves to do long term tasks because they don't know how to naturally motivate themselves using tools like mental contrasting. So the coercion is still there, but it's internal.
What is the state of the ego depletion field?

Not something you'll see in papers, but the point of willpower is to limit the amount of time doing stuff you don't want to do. So, your community has some morality that isn't convenient for you? That's why it costs willpower to follow that morality. Your job is tiring? Maybe deep down you don't believe it's serving your interests.

If you have a false belief about what you want, e.g. "I actually want to keep this prestigious position because yay prestige, even though I get tired all the time at work", well, that'... (read more)

2Kaj_Sotala2yPapers that make a somewhat related argument: Why self-control seems (but may not be) limited [http://michaelinzlicht.com/s/why-self-control-seems-but-may-not-be-limited.pdf] (2014): Proximate and Ultimate Causes of Ego Depletion [http://sci-hub.tw/https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-801850-7.00018-4] (2016):
Can we really prevent all warming for less than 10B$ with the mostly side-effect free geoengineering technique of Marine Cloud Brightening?

If you want to spend time predictably spinning in circles in your analysis because you can't bring yourself to believe someone is lying, be my guest.

As for the specific authors: the individual reports written seem fine in themselves, and as for the geoengineering one, I know a guy who did a PhD under the author and said he's generally trustworthy (I recall Vaniver was in his PhD program too). Like what I'm saying is the specific reports, e.g. Bickel's report on geoengineering, seem fine, but Lomborg's synthesis of them is shit, and you're obscuring things with your niceness-and-good-faith approach.

7Self-Embedded Agent2yLess of this, please. From what Lanrian is citing Lomborg does not come close to outright lying. (there might be more in the link, I have not read anything but the comments.) Accusing somebody of literally lying is a very strong accusation and should only be done in the egregious cases for all the usual reasons [https://slatestarcodex.com/2019/07/16/against-lie-inflation/]. You are clearly well-informed about this matter. Your earlier comment was helpful and updated me in various directions. You could make me update me even more by applying the Principle of Charity.
Can we really prevent all warming for less than 10B$ with the mostly side-effect free geoengineering technique of Marine Cloud Brightening?

b/c of doing the analysis and then not ranking shit in order.

Further down the list, we find a very controversial project, that is geo-engineering to reduce the intensity of incoming solar radiation to counteract global warming. According to a background paper, such investments would give a return rate of about 1,000. In spite of this enormous return rate, this is given moderate priority, apparently because it is deemed rather uncertain if this will actually work as intended.
> The lowest ranking accepted project, project no. 16, is called "B
... (read more)

I prefer to reserve "literally lying" for when people intentionally say things that are demonstrably false. It's useful to have words for that kind of thing. As long as things are plausibly defensible, it seems better to say that he made "misleading statements", or something like that.

Actually, I'm not even sure that this was a particularly egregious error. Given that they never say they're going to rank things after the explicit cost-effectiveness estimates, not doing that seems quite reasonable to me. See for example g... (read more)

Subagents, neural Turing machines, thought selection, and blindspots

Responding to your Dehaene book review and IFS thoughts as well as this:

On Dehaene: I read the 2018 version of Dehaene's Consciousness and the Brain a while ago and would recommend it as a good intro to cognitive neurosci, your summary looks correct.

On meditation: it's been said before, but >90% of people reading this are going to be high on "having models of how their brain works", and low on "having actually sat down and processed their emotions through meditation or IFS or whatevs". Double especially true for all the dep... (read more)

How would a person go about starting a geoengineering startup?

For the love of the spark, fucking don't. At least separate yourself from the social ladder of EA and learn the real version of rationality first.

Or: ignore that advice, but at least don't do the actual MCB implementation worldwide that costs a billion a year, talk with the scientists who worked on it and figure out the way that MCB could be done most efficiently. And then get things to the point of having a written plan, like, "hey government, here's exactly how you can do MCB if you want, now you can execute this plan as written if/... (read more)

Can we really prevent all warming for less than 10B$ with the mostly side-effect free geoengineering technique of Marine Cloud Brightening?

Thanks! This all sounds right. "CCC has interesting heresies"--was there stuff other than MCB and global poverty? It's an interesting parallel to EA--that they have interesting heresies, but are ultimately wrong about some key assumptions (that there's room for more funding/that MCB is sufficient to stop all climate change, respectively. And they both have a fetish for working within systems rather than trying to change them at all.)

Kinda a shame that leftists are mostly not coming to the "how can we change systems that will undo any progress we make" thing with an effectiveness mindset, though at least these people are.

Can we really prevent all warming for less than 10B$ with the mostly side-effect free geoengineering technique of Marine Cloud Brightening?

I'll give an answer that considers the details of the Copenhagen Consensus Center (CCC) and geoengineering, rather than being primarily a priori. I've spent a day and a half digging around and have zero prior knowledge. I spent too much time reading Lomborg and CCC in retrospect, so I mention him disproportionately relative to other sources.

Cross-posted to my blog.

Here's what I notice:

1. Lomborg and his CCC seem very cost-benefit focused in their analysis. A few others are too, but see point 4. Basically, it's easy to compare climate in... (read more)

6Lanrian2yWhat's the literal lie, here? The link seems to say that a group led by Lomborg made misleading statements about how they made their prioritisations, but I can't see any outright falsehoods.

Thank you for looking into this! <3

I do think you might have put too much energy into thinking about the CCC though, haha. Maybe I should apologise for having mentioned them, without mentioning that I knew they'd taken money from dirty energy and I never got good epistemic vibes from them.

When I saw that stuff, I just read that as one of the many things we'd expect to see if MCB was legit, like, there would be a think-tank funded by dirty energy singing its praises, and even if that thinktank were earnest, I would still expect anyone who actua... (read more)

Can we really prevent all warming for less than 10B$ with the mostly side-effect free geoengineering technique of Marine Cloud Brightening?

I'd say: stop wanting MCB to work out so much. Don't just hope that it's gonna get approved, mate. Convincing people of stuff if fricking impossible. I think you're seriously overestimating how likely this is.

Can we really prevent all warming for less than 10B$ with the mostly side-effect free geoengineering technique of Marine Cloud Brightening?
Instead we just have a bunch of moderate liberal democracies who are institutionally incapable of doing anything significant.

Awesome burn! :D

a group of nations can do it without needing very much political energy.

I mean, if your plan is "convince people or governments to do a thing" rather than "do this thing myself", you're gonna have a bad time. It's probably within the scope of an individual NGO or maybe a hella determined individual to pull this sort of thing off, no? I guess you'd have to try, and see if anyone decid... (read more)

3MakoYass2yMy preferred approach would be seeding political pressure. Focus on the conservatives, who will, with a little convincing, be eager to believe that there is a way to continue living as they have without anything changing. Then disarm the liberals. Then finally help Extinction Rebellion to see this thing they've been neglecting (you might think there must be some twisted reason they haven't been talking about it, I suspect their discourse is just fairly centrally controlled, I can find no evidence of it having ever been discussed in the larger exposed body of the egregore, it simply hasn't come up). Then the politicians will hear them all. The soil does seem receptive. One would think that if it were, the fruit would have already grown by now, this technology has been on the table for at least 25 years, but if the medium has not been conductive, maybe we are the part of the medium that's been failing to respond. I found most of my info by looking through news articles after hearing Bjorn Lomborg on econtalk. I think it was a critical post on an ideologue's blog that lead to the royal society. There's some really wild stuff down this hole. I've barely started. Stephen Salter is a key individual, worth reading his files http://www.homepages.ed.ac.uk/shs/Asilomar%20Climate%20Intervention/ [http://www.homepages.ed.ac.uk/shs/Asilomar%20Climate%20Intervention/] Found out about the salter sink yesterday and it's fucking bananas.
Can we really prevent all warming for less than 10B$ with the mostly side-effect free geoengineering technique of Marine Cloud Brightening?

Edit: I ended up spending a bit over a day looking into geoengineering and the Copenhagen Consensus Center after writing this, so go look at my answer for a more informed take that includes what I learned from doing that. My below 2 long-form comments are not exactly wrong, but more poorly informed than that answer.

---

Awesome! I'd wanted to know what the actually useful geoengineering stuff was.

I do buy the claim that public support for any sort of emission control will evaporate the moment geoengineering is realised as a tolerable alternative... Ma
... (read more)
2ChristianKl2yI think we are talking about $10B/year. Which is according to Scoot roughly the total yearly private philanthropy budget [https://slatestarcodex.com/2019/07/29/against-against-billionaire-philanthropy/] . That feels outside of the reach of startup funding. Funding research and PR is likely the more promising route.
3MakoYass2yIf we could draw the borders differently, so that we had longtermist/conservationist nations and shorttermist nations, then maybe the longtermist faction could impose enough sanctions and threaten enough annexings of enough rainforest to do something. Instead we just have a bunch of moderate liberal democracies who are institutionally incapable of doing anything significant. Perhaps next year the US will have a government that would be willing to really threaten to take the amazon from Brazil, but they would have to wonder what that would would add up to, if anything, when the other guys take power again and call it off. My hope is that this is cheap enough that a group of nations can do it without needing very much political energy. I feel like it's only a matter of time before China decides a drought-related loss of crop productivity (we should anticipate that eventually, yeah?) is unacceptable and does MCB unilaterally, but I wish they cared enough to move now. They do seem capable of projects of this level of weirdness and scale [https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/world/fake-moon-using-huge-space-mirror-could-launched-over-china-2020] . Like, I can't imagine they had to wait for a grass-roots political movement to emerge and start pressuring politicians to Build a Space Mirror Over Chengdu Now, The People Demand It. If the Chinese govt needed the interest of a large group of distracted, unimaginative people to get a thing like that off the ground they wouldn't be doing it, surely. There are proposals for ocean acidification, but the ones I heard about don't seem cheap. For carbon sequestration, I'd be very curious about the prospects of genetically engineered plants or algae. Empress trees have recently received a lot of attention for having an efficiency of 103 tonnes of carbon per acre per year.
Writing children's picture books
because such discussion would make it harder to morally pressure people into reducing carbon emissions. I don’t know how to see this as anything other than an adversarial action against reasonable discourse

ffs, because incentives. You're playing tragedy of the commons, and your best move is to make there be more shared resources people can just take?

The AI Timelines Scam

Basically, don't let your thinking on what is useful affect your thinking on what's likely.

The AI Timelines Scam

It's a pretty clear way of endorsing something to call it "honest reporting".

Sure if you just call it "honest reporting". But that was not the full phrase used. The full phrase used was "honest reporting of unconsciously biased reasoning".

I would not call trimming that down to "honest reporting" a case of honest reporting! ;-)

If I claim, "Joe says X, and I think he honestly believes that, though his reasoning is likely unconsciously biased here", then that does not at all seem to me like an endorsement of X, and certainly not a clear endorsement.

The AI Timelines Scam
It also seems like there's an argument for weighting urgency in planning that could lead to 'distorted' timelines while being a rational response to uncertainty.

It's important to do the "what are all the possible outcomes and what are the probabilities of each" calculation before you start thinking about weightings of how bad/good various outcomes are.

3ESRogs2yCould you say more about what you mean here? I don't quite see the connection between your comment and the point that was quoted. I understand the quoted bit to be pointing out that if you don't know when a disaster is coming you _might_ want to prioritize preparing for it coming sooner rather than later (e.g. since there's a future you who will be available to prepare for the disaster if it comes in the future, but you're the only you available to prepare for it if it comes tomorrow). Of course you could make a counter-argument that perhaps you can't do much of anything in the case where disaster is coming soon, but in the long-run your actions can compound, so you should focus on long-term scenarios. But the quoted bit is only saying that there's "an argument", and doesn't seem to be making a strong claim about which way it comes out in the final analysis. Was your comment meaning to suggest the possibility of a counter-argument like this one, or something else? Did you interpret the bit you quoted the same way I did?
The AI Timelines Scam
I'm wary of using words like "lie" or "scam" to mean "honest reporting of unconsciously biased reasoning"

When someone is systematically trying to convince you of a thing, do not be like, "nice honest report", but be like, "let me think for myself whether that is correct".

but be like, "let me think for myself whether that is correct".

From my perspective, describing something as "honest reporting of unconsciously biased reasoning" seems much more like an invitation for me to think for myself whether it's correct than calling it a "lie" or a "scam".

Calling your opponent's message a lie and a scam actually gets my defenses up that you're the one trying to bamboozle me, since you're using such emotionally charged language.

Maybe others react to these words differently though.

The AI Timelines Scam

Yeah, 10/10 agreement on this. Like it'd be great if you could "just" donate to some AI risk org and get the promised altruistic benefits, but if you actually care about "stop all the fucking suffering I can", then you should want to believe AI risk research is a scam if it is a scam.

At which point you go oh fuck, I don't have a good plan to save the world anymore. But not having a better plan shouldn't change your beliefs on whether AI risk research is effective.

1Flaglandbase4dQuite a few folks "believe" in a rapid AI timeline because it's their only hope to escape a horrible fate. They may have some disease that's turning their brain into mush from the inside out, and know there is exactly zero chance the doctors will figure something out within the next century. Only superhuman intelligence could save them. My impression is that technological progress is MUCH slower than most people realize.

Putting communication through a filter imposes a cost, which will inevitably tend to discourage communication in the long term.

As does allowing people to be unduly abrasive. But on top of that, communities where conversations are abrasive attract a lower caliber of person than one where they aren't. Look at what happened to LW.

Moreover, the cost is not the same for everyone

It's fairly common for this cost to go down with practice. Moreover, it seems like there's an incentive gradient at work here; the only way to gauge how costly it is for someone t... (read more)

6Zack_M_Davis4yI agree that the incentives you describe exist, but the analysis cuts both ways: the more someone claims to have been harmed [https://devinhelton.com/2015/03/23/standing-up-to-offense-bullying/] by allegedly-nasty speech, the more the balance of discussion will reward them by letting them restrict speech while reaping the rewards of getting to achieve their political and interpersonal goals with those speech restrictions. Interpersonal utility aggregation might not be the right way to think of these kinds of situations. If Alice says a thing even though Bob has told her that the thing is nasty and that Alice is causing immense harm by saying it, Alice's true rejection [http://lesswrong.com/lw/wj/is_that_your_true_rejection/] of Bob's complaint probably isn't, "Yes, I'm inflicting _c_ units of objective emotional harm on others, but modifying my speech at all would entail _c_+1 units of objective emotional harm to me, therefore the global utilitarian calculus favors my speech." It's probably: "I'm not a utilitarian and I reject your standard of decency."

communities where conversations are abrasive attract a lower caliber of person than one where they aren't. Look at what happened to LW.

To whatever extent this is accurate and not just a correlation-causation conversion, this very dynamic is the kind of thing that LW exists (existed) to correct. To yield to it is essentially to give up the entire game.

What it looks like to me is that LW and its associated "institutions" and subcultures are in the process of dissolving and being absorbed into various parts of general society. You are basically ... (read more)

I appreciate your offer to talk things out together! To the extent that I'm feeling bad and would feel better after talking things out, I'm inclined to say that my current feelings are serving a purpose, i.e. to encourage me to keep pressing on this issue whenever doing so is impactful. So I prefer to not be consoled until the root issue has been addressed, though that wouldn't have been at all true of the old version of myself. This algorithm is a bit new to me, and I'm not sure if it'll stick.

Overall, I'm not aware that I've caused the balance of the dis... (read more)

6Zack_M_Davis4yIs this really a winning move for you? I'm not budging. It doesn't look like you have a coalition that can deny me anything I care about. From my perspective, any activity spreading the message "Zack M. Davis should be shunned because of his writing at http://unremediatedgender.space/ [http://unremediatedgender.space/]" is just free marketing.

Your comment was perfectly fine, and you don't need to apologize; see my response to komponisto above for my reasons for saying that. Apologies on my part as there's a strong chance I'll be without internet for several days and likely won't be able to further engage with this topic.

Duncan's original wording here was fine. The phrase "telling the humans I know that they're dumb or wrong or sick or confused" is meant in the sense of "socially punishing them by making claims in a certain way, when those claims could easily be made without having that effect".

To put it another way, my view is that Duncan is trying to refrain from adopting behavior that lumps in values (boo trans people) with claims (trans people disproportionately have certain traits). I think that's a good thing to do for a number of reasons, and hav... (read more)

Your principal mistake lies here:

"socially punishing them by making claims in a certain way, when those claims could easily be made without having that effect

Putting communication through a filter imposes a cost, which will inevitably tend to discourage communication in the long term. Moreover, the cost is not the same for everyone: for some people "diplomatic" communication comes much more naturally than for others; as I indicate in another comment, this often has to do with their status, which, the higher it is, the less necessary dire... (read more)

assess why the community has not yet shunned them

Hi! I believe I'm the only person to try shunning them, which happened on Facebook a month ago (since Zack named himself in the comments, see here, and here). The effort more or less blew up in my face and got a few people to publicly say they were going to excluded me, or try to get others to exclude me from future community events, and was also a large (but not the only) factor in getting me to step down from a leadership position in a project I'm spending about half of my time on. To be fair, there are... (read more)

8Zack_M_Davis4y(Just noticed this.) I wasn't aware of this, but it seems unfortunate. If successfully ostracizing me isn't going to happen anyway, "both of you step down from something that you previously wanted to do" seems like a worse outcome than "neither of you step down." (For my own part, while I wouldn't invite you to any parties I host at my house, I have no interest in trying to get other people to exclude you from their events. I consider my goal in this whole affair as simply to make it clear that I don't intend to let social pressure influence my writing—a goal at which I think I've succeeded.) I hadn't bothered addressing this earlier, because I wanted to emphasize that my true rejection [http://lesswrong.com/lw/wj/is_that_your_true_rejection/] was "I don't negotiate with emotional blackmailers; I'm happy to listen and update on substantive criticism of my writing, but appeal to consequences [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appeal_to_consequences] is not a substantive criticism", but since it is relevant, I really think you've misunderstood the point of that post [http://unremediatedgender.space/2017/Mar/smart/]: try reading the second and third paragraphs again. What I'm trying to do there is highlight my disapproval of the phenomenon [https://www.edge.org/response-detail/27181] where the perceived emotional valence of language overshadows its literal content. I understand very well that the phrase "delusional pervert" constitutes fighting words in a way that "paraphilic with mistaken views" doesn't, but I'm interested in developing the skill of being able to simultaneously contemplate framings with different ideological/emotional charges, especially including framings that make me and my friends look bad (precisely because those are the ones it's most emotionally tempting to overlook). People who aren't interested in this skill probably shouldn't read my blog, as the trigger warning page [http://unremediatedgender.space/trigger-warning/] explains. (Seriously, w
3Elo4yit sounds like something happened and there was some miscommunication and things are not fully healed. Would you like help with that?
Bad intent is a disposition, not a feeling

This all sounds right, but the reasoning behind using the wording of "bad faith" is explained in the second bullet point of this comment.

Tl;dr the module your brain has for detecting things that feel like "bad faith" is good at detecting when someone is acting in ways that cause bad consequences in expectation but don't feel like "bad faith" to the other person on the inside. If people could learn to correct a subset of these actions by learning, say, common social skills, treating those actions like they're taken in "bad... (read more)

Bad intent is a disposition, not a feeling

nod. This does seem like it should be a continuous thing, rather than System 1 solely figuring things out in some cases and System 2 figuring it out alone in others.

Bad intent is a disposition, not a feeling

Good observation.

Amusingly, one possible explanation is that the people who gave Gleb pushback on here were operating on bad-faith-detecting intuitions--this is supported by the quick reaction time. I'd say that those intuitions were good ones, if they lead to those folks giving Gleb pushback on a quick timescale, and I'd also say that those intuitions shaped healthy norms to the extent that they nudged us towards establishing a quick reality-grounded social feedback loop.

But the people who did give Gleb pushback more frequently framed things in terms othe... (read more)

2Dagon4yI sent a few private notes to him early on about the way I reacted to his posts. This wasn't a "bad faith" detector ( I don't actually buy the premise - such a thing is VERY uncommon compared to honest incorrect values and beliefs), this was a pattern match to an overzealous overconfident newbie, possibly with under-developed social skills. You know, just like all of us a few years (or in my case decades) ago.
6Lumifer4yI don't know if you can separate it this cleanly. Sometimes you get a smells-funny feeling and then your System 2 goes to investigate. But sometimes -- and I think this was the case with Gleb -- both System 1 and System 2 look at each other and chorus "Really, dude?" :-)
Bad intent is a disposition, not a feeling

I'm very glad that you asked this! I think we can come up with some decent heuristics:

  • If you start out with some sort of inbuilt bad faith detector, try to see when, in retrospect, it's given you accurate readings, false positives, and false negatives. I catch myself doing this without having planned to on a System 1 level from time to time. It may be possible, if harder, to do this sort of intuition reshaping in response to evidence with System 2. Note that it sometimes takes a long time, and that sometimes you never figure out, whether or not your bad-
... (read more)
Bad intent is a disposition, not a feeling

I think the burden of evidence is on the side disagreeing with the intuitions behind this extremely common defensive response

Note also that most groups treat their intuitions about whether or not someone is acting in bad faith as evidence worth taking seriously, and that we're remarkable in how rarely we tend to allow our bad-faith-detecting intuitions to lead us to reach the positive conclusion that someone is acting in bad faith. Note also that we have a serious problem with not being able to effectively deal with Gleb-like people, sexual predators, e... (read more)

0bogus4yOf course our intuitions of someone acting in bad faith are evidence that they are; that much is obvious. The relevant question is how strong the correlation is between the intuition vs. actual bad faith. Since you admit quite openly that people vary widely in how sensitive their intuitive 'bad-faith detectors' are (this, after all, it what it means to have a 'strong sense' of such!), shouldn't this be of concern for those who would claim that this correlation is very high - quite high enough to be useful on its own? It's also important to realize that both Type I (false hit) and Type II (miss) errors are harmful here, hence, as usual in any binary detection setting, specificity is as relevant as sensitivity - and there's no reason why additional evidence should be discounted; particularly if such evidence is of a factual sort - and as such is likely to be otherwise broadly independent from the output of our intuitive detectors!
6Lumifer4yHere on LW Gleb got laughed at almost immediately as he started posting. Did he actually manage to make any inroads into EA/Bay Area communities? I know EA ended up writing a basically "You are not one of us, please go away" post/letter, but it took a while.
2CronoDAS4yAgree in theory, but, lacking an effective bad faith detector myself, how do I know whose intuitions to trust? :(
Bad intent is a disposition, not a feeling

For more explanation on how incentive gradients interact with and allow the creation of mental modules that can systematically mislead people without intent to mislead, see False Faces.

Effective altruism is self-recommending

Well, that's embarrassing for me. You're entirely right; it does become visible again when I log out, and I hadn't even considered that as a possibility. I guess I'll amend the paragraph of my above comment that incorrectly stated that the thread had been hidden on the EA Forum; at least I didn't accuse anyone of anything in that part of my reply. I do still stand by my criticisms, though knowing what I do now, I would say that it wasn't necessary of me to post this here if my original comment and the original post on the EA Forum are still publicly visible.

Effective altruism is self-recommending

Some troubling relevant updates on EA Funds from the past few hours:

  • On April 20th, Kerry Vaughan from CEA published an update on EA Funds on the EA Forum. His post quotes the previous post in which he introduced the launch of EA Funds, which said:

We only want to focus on the Effective Altruism Funds if the community believes it will improve the effectiveness of their donations and that it will provide substantial value to the EA community. Accordingly, we plan to run the project for the next 3 months and then reassess whether the project should contin

... (read more)
9jsteinhardt4yWhen you downvote something on the EA forum, it becomes hidden. Have you tried viewing it while not logged in to your account? It's still visible to me.
Effective altruism is self-recommending

GiveWell reanalyzed the data it based its recommendations on, but hasn’t published an after-the-fact retrospective of long-run results. I asked GiveWell about this by email. The response was that such an assessment was not prioritized because GiveWell had found implementation problems in VillageReach's scale-up work as well as reasons to doubt its original conclusion about the impact of the pilot program.

This seems particularly horrifying; if everyone already knows that you're incentivized to play up the effectiveness of the charities you're recommendin... (read more)

It seems to me that Givewell has already acknowledged perfectly well that VillageReach is not a top effective charity. It also seems to me that there's lots of reasons one might take GiveWell's recommendations seriously, and that getting "particularly horrified" about their decision not to research exactly how much impact their wrong choice didn't have is a rather poor way to conduct any sort of inquiry on the accuracy of organizations' decisions.

Open Thread, Feb. 20 - Feb 26, 2017

Ok, thank you, this helps a lot and I feel better after reading this, and if I do start crying in a minute it'll be because you're being very nice and not because I'm sad. So, um, thanks. :)

Open Thread, Feb. 20 - Feb 26, 2017

Second edit: Dagon is very kind and I feel ok; for posterity, my original comment was basically a link to the last paragraph of this comment, which talked about helping depressed EAs as some sort of silly hypothetical cause area.

Edit: since someone wants to emphasize how much they would "enjoy watching [my] evaluation contortions" of EA ideas, I elect to delete what I've written here.

I'm not crying.

6Dagon4yeep! I deeply apologize that my remarks have caused you pain. I am skeptical of EA, and especially the more ... tenuous causal and ethical calculations that are sometimes used to justify non-obvious charities. But I deeply respect and appreciate everyone who is thinking and acting with the intent to make the world better rather than worse, and my disbelief in the granularity of calculation is tiny and unimportant compared to my belief that individuals who want to make a difference can do so. Also, I cry at the drop of a hat, so if you start I'm definitely joining you out of both shame and sympathy.
2lifelonglearner4yI'm pretty unsure about statistics for this. Depression seems to be about six [http://www.dbsalliance.org/site/PageServer?pagename=education_statistics_depression] to ten [http://www.healthline.com/health/depression/statistics-infographic] percent of the population. So, are there strong arguments that disproportionately high amounts of promising EAs have depression / disabilities? I can steelman a sort of consequentialist argument for redirecting existing efforts to help disabled people towards the most promising, high-value people, but I'm more curious if anyone has info about mental health and the EA community.
4Dagon4yI'd enjoy watching the evaluation contortions that an EA would have to go through to decide that their best contribution is to help a specific not-very-effective (due to mental health problems or disability) contributor rather than more direct contributions. Uncertainty is multiplied, not just added, with each step in a causal chain. If you're trying to do math on consequentialism (let alone utilitarianism, which has further problems with valuation), you're pretty much doomed for anything more complicated than mosquito nets. Edit - leaving original for the historical record. OMG this came out so much meaner than I intended. Honestly, even small improvements in depression across many sufferers seems like it could easily multiply out to huge improvements in human welfare - it's a horrible thing and causes massive amounts of pain. I meant only to question the picking of individuals based on their EA intentions and helping them specifically rather than scalable options for all.
"The unrecognised simplicities of effective action #2: 'Systems engineering’ and 'systems management' - ideas from the Apollo programme for a 'systems politics'", Cummings 2017

There's actually a noteworthy passage on how prediction markets could fail in one of Dominic's other recent blog posts I've been wanting to get a second opinion on for a while:

NB. Something to ponder: a) hedge funds were betting heavily on the basis of private polling [for Brexit] and b) I know at least two ‘quant’ funds had accurate data (they had said throughout the last fortnight their data showed it between 50-50 and 52-48 for Leave and their last polls were just a point off), and therefore c) they, and others in a similar position, had a strong ince

... (read more)
6Vaniver4yHanson's answer is that if you know someone is doing this, there's free money to pick up, and so the incentives push against this. (You don't have to specifically know that X is out to spike the market, you just have to look at the market and say "whoa, that price is off, I should trade.") There's still the problem of linking markets of different sizes--if the prediction market is less liquid and much smaller than the stock market, but the stock market is taking signals from the prediction market, then it makes sense to lose a million on the prediction market to gain a billion on the stock market. (The solution there is to make the prediction market more liquid and bigger, which currently doesn't happen for regulatory reasons.)
"The unrecognised simplicities of effective action #2: 'Systems engineering’ and 'systems management' - ideas from the Apollo programme for a 'systems politics'", Cummings 2017

The idea that there's much to be gained by crafting institutions, organizations, and teams which can train and direct people better seems like it could flower into an EA cause, if someone wanted it to. From reading the first post in the series, I think that that's a core part of what Dominic is getting at:

We could significantly improve the decisions of the most powerful 100 people in the UK or the world for less than a million dollars (~£10^6) and a decade-long project on a scale of just ~£10^7 could have dramatic effects.

Metrics to evaluate a Presidency

Regarding tone specifically, you have two strong options: one would be to send strong "I am playing" signals, such as by dropping the points which men's rights people might make, and, say, parodying feminist points. Another would be to keep the tone as serious as it currently is, but qualify things more; in some other contexts, qualifying your arguments sounds low-status, but in discussions of contentious topics on a public forum, it can nudge participants towards cooperative truth-seeking mode.

Amusingly, I emphasized the points of your comment t... (read more)

2James_Miller4yThanks.
Metrics to evaluate a Presidency

Fair enough! I am readily willing to believe your statement that that was your intent. It wasn't possible to tell from the comment itself, since the metric regarding sexual harassment report handling is much more serious than the other metrics.

2James_Miller4yYes, I probably should have omitted that one. My information bubble keeps discussing cases in which men are treated horribly in college sexual harassment disputes, but I should have recognized that other peoples' bubbles don't and so my including it would send an unintended signal.
Metrics to evaluate a Presidency

(This used to be a gentle comment which tried to very indirectly defend feminism while treating James_Miller kindly, but I've taken it down for my own health)

4James_Miller4yI was trying to humorously point out a common false assumption: that improving gender equality would necessarily benefit women relative to men. I'm not good at tone (and this does get me in trouble) so could you please explain why what I wrote might be considered offensive?
Polling Thread January 2017

Let's find out how contentious a few claims about status are.

  1. Lowering your status can be simultaneously cooperative and self-beneficial. [pollid:1186]

  2. Conditional on status games being zero-sum in terms of status, it’s possible/common for the people participating in or affected by a status game to end up much happier or much worse off, on average, than they were before the status game. [pollid:1187]

  3. Instinctive trust of high status people regularly obstructs epistemic cleanliness outside of the EA and rationalist communities. [pollid:1188]

  4. Instinctive

... (read more)
Rationality Considered Harmful (In Politics)

Most of my friends can immediately smell when a writer using a truth-oriented approach to politics has a strong hidden agenda, and will respond much differently than they would to truth-oriented writers with weaker agendas. Some of them would even say that, conditional on you having an agenda, it's dishonest to note that you believe that you're using a truth-oriented approach; in this case, claiming that you're using a truth-oriented approach reads as an attempt to hide the fact that you have an agenda. This holds regardless of whether your argument is cor... (read more)

2The_Jaded_One4ywell then you have awesome friends and I'm jealous!
Open thread, Jan. 02 - Jan. 08, 2017

It helps that you shared the dialogue. I predict that Jane doesn't System-2-believe that Trump is trying to legalize rape; she's just offering the other conversation participants a chance to connect over how much they don't like Trump. This may sound dishonest to rationalists, but normal people don't frown upon this behavior as often, so I can't tell if it would be epistemically rational of Jane to expect to be rebuffed in the social environment you were in. Still, making claims like this about Trump may be an instrumentally rational thing for Jane to do i... (read more)

2Viliam4yGenerally speaking, when a person says "X", they rarely mean X. They usually mean one of the things they associate with X, usually because it is what their social group associates with X. For example, when someone says "make trains run on time", they mean Hitler. (Even if the quote actually comes from Mussolini. No one cares about Mussolini, but everyone knows Hitler, so for all practical purposes, Mussolini is Hitler, and fascists are nazis. If you don't trust me, just ask a random person whether Hitler's followers were fascists.) Why don't they simply use the word "Hitler" when they want to talk about Hitler? Because "Hitler" actually means: a bad person. So when you want to talk about Hitler specifically, as opposed to talking about a generic bad person, you must say "make trains run on time". This is how normies talk all the time. If you take how normies talk, and add a lot of penises, you get Freudian psychoanalysis. If instead of penises you use holy texts, you get kabbalah. This explains why both of them are so popular among normies who want to know the deep truths about the universe.
2Val4yThis comment was very insightful, and made me think that the young-earth creationist I talked about had a similar motivation. Despite this outrageous argument, she is a (relatively speaking) smart and educated person. Not academic-level, but neither grown up on the streets level.
A quick note on weirdness points and Solstices [And also random other Solstice discussion]

I think that Merlin and Alicorn should be praised for Merlin's good behavior. :)

I was happy with the Berkeley event overall.

Next year, I suspect that it would be easier for someone to talk to the guardian of a misbehaving child if there was a person specifically tasked to do so. This could be one of the main event organizers, or perhaps someone directly designated by them. Diffusion of responsibility is a strong force.

4ozymandias4yI don't actually think that parents have a huge amount of influence over the behavior of a person who is two months old. (I mean, it's unclear whether parents have much influence over the behavior of a child of any age, but the case of two-month-olds seems particularly clearcut.) It seems unfair to praise them for the coincidence of Merlin happening to be sleepy at the time.
"Flinching away from truth” is often about *protecting* the epistemology

I've noticed that sometimes, my System 2 starts falsely believing there are fewer buckets when I'm being socially confronted about a crony belief I hold, and that my System 2 will snap back to believing that there are more buckets once the confrontation is over. I'd normally expect my System 1 to make this flavor of error, but whenever my brain has done this sort of thing during the past few years, it's actually been my gut that has told me that I'm engaging in motivated reasoning.

Epistemic Effort

"Epistemic status" metadata plays two roles: first, it can be used to suggest to a reader how seriously they should consider a set of ideas. Second, though, it can have an effect on signalling games, as you suggest. Those who lack social confidence can find it harder to contribute to discussions, and having the ability to qualify statements with tags like "epistemic status: not confident" makes it easier for them to contribute without feeling like they're trying to be the center of attention.

"Epistemic effort" metadata fulfill... (read more)

On the importance of Less Wrong, or another single conversational locus

It was good of you to write this post out of a sense of civic virtue, Anna. I'd like to share a few thoughts on the incentives of potential content creators.

Most humans, and most of us, appreciate being associated with prestigious groups, and receiving praise. However, when people speak about LessWrong being dead, or LessWrong having been taken over by new folks, or about LessWrong simply not being fun, this socially implies that the people saying these things hold LessWrong posters in low esteem. You could reasonably expect that replacing these sorts of r... (read more)

Voting is like donating hundreds of thousands to charity

Gleb, given the recent criticisms of your work on the EA forum, it would be better for your mental health, and less wasteful of our time, if you stopped posting this sort of thing here. Please do take care of yourself, but don't expect the average rationalist to be more sympathetic to you than the average EA.

2Houshalter5yI don't see anything in that link that is relevant to this post.
4Lumifer5yOh, boy, Gleb seems to have really pissed off some very polite people X-)
5Brillyant5yHa. Great article Gleb! You are the best writer of a rationalism and I will buy all your best selling book to be better at life! I will tell my friends of you on all the social medias! Many of thnaks to you and InIn for the saving of my life! There's a lot of cringe-y stuff in the link. But Gleb seems like a nice guy to me. Probably overly ambitious about trying to complete whatever mission he sees himself as trying to complete (and probably a bit too anxious to grow his status), and therefore willing to stoop to do some exaggerating and weird quasi-unethical stuff online to get it done... but he seems pretty harmless for the amount of ire he always draws on here. Writing is hard and he writes some nice entry-level rationality stuff that would be novel to some huge chunk of the population that will never give a damn about lesswrong or any other rationality blog. Maybe I'm overestimating how mean people around here have been to Gleb. I know there have been some positive things said about him as well. If his treatment's been fair and I'm way off, cool. My bad. But I imagine a universe where he'd been embraced by LW and, for instance, asked to help work a project creating an ELI5 version of the sequences for mass consumption...and I think that is a better universe than this one.
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