All of Fossegrimen's Comments + Replies

[LINK] Joseph Bottum on Politics as the Mindkiller

This genuinely threw me because I had no idea there was anything wrong with freedom of speech in Sweden. This because I get consistently less flak when I express controversial views among Swedish friends than when among Americans. My handful of Swedish friends appears not to be representative.

On the other hand, the same is true in Norway, Denmark and Finland and they have quite significantly less issues. Also, I realise 'everyone is happy' was poor wording. A better one would be 'everyone has agreed this is a workable compromise that it's not worth fighting over, for a value of everyone that is approx. 95% of the population'

Extreme Rationality: It's Not That Great

Most states don't allow that, but in Europe it's standard practice. I probably wouldn't bother with the bike if I couldn't.

[LINK] Joseph Bottum on Politics as the Mindkiller

This one is a rather good example of my original point tbh

All the Scandinavian countries did just this in the 60s and 70s when abortions had become a reasonably safe procedure and all of them ended up with some variant of:

No questions asked in first trimester Medical reasons in second and third trimester Induced birth and adoption if foetus is viable.

And since around 1980, there has been zero controversy on the subject, mostly because just about everyone is happy with things as they are.

-2VoiceOfRa7yGiven the Swedish attitude towards free speech, are you sure that's a case of "just about everyone is happy with things as they are" and not, nobody dares challenge the consensus for fear of the "anti-fascist" thought police?
0[anonymous]7yEverybody being happy may not be the only reason why isn't there a controversy. I think controversy also depends on a cultural factor where people really push their own opinion hard vs. just accept whatever the social compromise seems to be. America is very strongly in the former, passionately political since the New Deal, before that not so much aside from the north-south thing. The UK rather the opposite, this is why Thatcher made such a surprise, they weren't used to a politician with an actual vision, ideology and fire in the belly. Usually UK politicians easily support things that don't really match their ideology, like conservative Churchill supporting the creation of the NHS or Blair's Labour privatizing school playgrounds. I currently live in Austria, which is just about extremely boring, politically, everything is a compromise. Actually the head of the state literally said "I think being boring is a national characteristic here... but it is also OK, people can provide their own excitement, it is not the job of politics." I consider Germany and post-Gaulle France also fairly boring politically. France always has surprises though. Italy, now they are never boring, their politics is an incredible freak show :-) I don't know very much about Scandinavia, they seem to be in between, usually very compromise oriented, but also there always seems to be some kind of current issue to be fired up about. In Sweden it seems it is currently largely feminism, in Denmark it is the stupid car tax that tries to protect the environment by cutting down emissions and its actual effect is people having far older cars in the average than in similar countries, which of course increases emissions. I have discussed this with Danish people and asked them if a strongly anti-car politics means the capitol pushing its own interests on small towns that have very different interests, and they seemed to mainly agree, while driving me around Svenstrup.
Extreme Rationality: It's Not That Great


I did the same thing and came to the exact opposite conclusion and have been commuting by two-wheeler for 15 years now.

What swayed me was:

A huge proportion of the accidents involved really excessive speed.

A similarly huge proportion happened to untrained motorcyclists.

So: If I don't speed (much) and take the time to practice regularly on a track, preferably with an instructor, I have eliminated just about all the serious accidents. In actuality I have had zero accidents outside the track, and the "accidents" on the track has been to deliber... (read more)

2tjohnson3147yI'm from California, where it's legal to split lanes. Most places don't allow that. I could just decide not to, but the ability to skip traffic that way is probably the single largest benefit of having a motorcycle.
Don't teach people how to reach the top of a hill

I have spent quite a lot of my life writing specifications for software. If you actually want sensible results, you need to be able to get across what goal you are trying to accomplish and why, then let the programmers figure out the how. Trying to specify the actual result in detail would mean writing the software outright. The only complete and unambigous specification for a program is its source.

This seems similar somehow.

[LINK] Joseph Bottum on Politics as the Mindkiller

This may be off topic, but I have never been entirely able to accept that politics is the mind-killer. I suspect that two party politics may be killing the mind while multi-party systems are merely mind-numbing.

Where I live, we currently have 8 parties in parliament, let's call them the infra-reds, reds, oranges, yellows, greens, blues, indigos and violets. Currently, the blues and violets are in charge, but they need support from either the oranges or the greens and indigos in order to actually pass any laws or regulations. Last year, we had the reds, ... (read more)

2Nornagest8yPolitics in the sense of the title isn't limited to identifying with one faction within a party system; it has more to do with entangling your identity with us-vs.-them factionalism more generally. Now, in a two-party system, the battle lines are drawn a lot more clearly than in a multi-party, which provides the conditions for identifying strongly with a literal political party; a Democratic voter in the US probably thinks of their elections in more partisan terms than a Lib Dem voter in the UK, and both are probably more partisan than a UMP voter in France. But politics isn't just party politics, and it's entirely possible -- common, even -- to mind-kill yourself by identifying with ideologies, concepts, or people that don't align closely with the party system in your country. These can be as large as nations: read the YouTube comments on anything vaguely touching on international politics for an unfortunate object lesson. Or they can be more-or-less conventionally political movements, just not ones that have clear party representation: libertarianism, say, or social justice. Sometimes they're single issues, like immigration limits or environmentalism. Ethnic or linguistic groups; sex and gender; bodily features; religions; you get the picture. Basically anything where you can draw a line with people like us on one side and people not like us (you know, the bad guys) on the other.
Open Thread: March 4 - 10

Why were you trying to gain weight and is it still a goal?

I deliberately adjust my weight up or down by ~ 10kg fairly regularly and depending on your situation, I might be able to offer some ideas.

0ChristianKl8yYes I still have that goal. I'm 181 cm tall and at 56 kg with +-2 kg for the last 3 years. Probably also the last ten but only in the last 3 I had regular measurements.
-1ChristianKl8yI don't want to read government propaganda but would rather read something deeper. I couldn't listen to the German state television on the issue without busting out laughing.
Open Thread for February 18-24 2014

In my experience, the beneficial effects of nicotine are weak and short-lived. They appeared not to stack with caffeine and I prefer coffee to gum. I didn't experience any dependency effects, but neither have I from other drugs, so that may not be a reliable indicator. My friends look at me strange when I talk about nootropics, so none to compare with

Open Thread for February 18-24 2014

I think you might need both variants because if I were to answer such questions, the response would not necessarily be symmetrical;

  • Is it OK to turn down an explicit request by your partner if you're capable of fulfilling it but you don't want to? - Not at all
  • Is it OK for your partner to turn down your explicit request if they're capable of fulfilling it but don't want to? - Of course

(assuming reasonable requests)

2[anonymous]8yPostel [] Culture FTW! ;-)
2TheOtherDave8y(nods) That's why I mentioned them; I think that kind of assymetry is common for a lot of people, especially those who were raised in a high-context (aka "Guess") culture but then migrated to a low-context (aka "Ask") culture.
Methods for treating depression

Also, pets trigger oxytocin release.

A dog usually also "forces" you to exercise moderately by walking it and exercising while depressed is notoriously difficult to follow through on.

I vaguely remember reading a study that found talking to your dog gave the same result as talking to a therapist, (indicating that talking is more important than having someone listen) but I can't find the link at the moment, maybe I misremember.

Owning a dog is not the only option either, I have fairly regularly lent out some of mine to friends and family going throug... (read more)

3RomeoStevens8yDog library needs to be a thing. Looking around on google it seems this program exists in some places.
Open Thread for February 3 - 10

Anyone care to elaborate on Why a Bayesian is not allowed to look at the residuals?

I got hunches, but don't feel qualified to explain in detail.

0witzvo8yAs a counterargument to my previous post, if anyone wants an exposition of the likelihood principle, here is reasonably neutral presentation by Birnbaum 1962 [] . For coherence and Bayesianism see Lindley 1990 []. Edited to add: As Lindley points out (section 2.6), the consideration of the adequacy of a small model can be tested in a Bayesian way through consideration of a larger model, which includes the smaller. Fair enough. But is the process of starting with a small model, thinking, and then considering, possibly, a succession of larger models, some of which reject the smaller one and some of which do not, actually a process that is true to the likelihood principle? I don't think so.
1witzvo8yTo be a Bayesian in the purest sense is very demanding. One need not only articulate a basic model for the structure of the data and the distribution of the errors around that data (as in a regression model), but all your further uncertainty about each of those parts. If you have some sliver of doubt that maybe the errors have a slight serial correlation, that has to be expressed as a part of your prior before you look at any data. If you think that maybe the model for the structure might not be a line, but might be better expressed as an ordinary differential equation with a somewhat exotic expression for dy/dx then that had better be built in with appropriate prior mass too. And you'd better not do this just for the 3 or 4 leading possible modifications, but for every one that you assign prior mass to, and don't forget uncertainty about that uncertainty, up the hierarchy. Only then can the posterior computation, which is now rather computationally demanding, compute your true posterior. Since this is so difficult, practitioners often fall short somewhere. Maybe they compute the posterior from the simple form of their prior, then build in one complication and compute a posterior for that and compare and, if these two look similar enough, conclude that building in more complications is unnecessary. Or maybe... gasp... they look at residuals. Such behavior is often going to be a violation of the (full) likelihood principle b/c the principle demands that the probability densities all be laid out explicitly and that we only obtain information from ratios of those. So pragmatic Bayesians will still look at the residuals Box 1980 [] .
Open Thread for February 3 - 10

A political question:

Our recently elected minister for finance just did something unexpected. She basically went:

“Last autumn during the election campaign, I said we should do X. After four months of looking at the actual numbers, it turns out that X is a terribad idea, so we are going to do NOT X”

(She used more obfuscating terms, she’s a politician after all.)

The evidence points to her actually changing her mind rather than lying during the election.

The question:

Would you prefer a politician sane enough to change her mind when presented with convincing evidence or one that you (mostly) agree with?

2tut8yBoth. But they should change their mind before an election, not after. If they made the speech you quoted what I would hear is "X is the right thing to do, so I promised you X, but now that I have my mitts on some real power, not X is better for me, so I will do not X"
2Luke_A_Somers8yIf I can trust them to actually be changing their mind when presented with evidence, and not just lying, and listening for any further arguments from the side they started on (presumably mine for purposes of this question), the former.
6David_Gerard8yMy preference is for politicians who I broadly ideologically agree with, who are capable of doing what you described. I expect that if one I did not broadly ideologically agree with did what you describe, I would think of them as a weasel, or first consider the hypothesis they were preparing to fuck over all that was good and right in some manner I had not yet figured out. (I realise this is defective thinking in a number of ways, but that would in fact be my first reaction.)
Why I haven't signed up for cryonics

Your first point is of course valid. My algorithm for determining value of a life is probably a bit different from yours because I end up with a very different result. I determine the value of a life in the following manner:

Value = Current contribution to making this ball of rock a better place + (Quality of life + Unrealised potential) * Number of remaining years.

If we consider extended life spans, the first element of that equation is dwarfed by the rest so we can consider that to be zero for the purpose of this discussion.

Quality of life involves a ... (read more)

2TheOtherDave8ySure. And it not seeming that way is a reason to lower our confidence that the hypothetical I described actually characterizes our values in the real world. Which is no surprise, really.
0TheOtherDave8yYou're welcome. You might also find that actually thinking through your arguments in the absence of pushback is a good habit to train. For example, how did you arrive at your formula for the value of life? If someone were to push back on it for you, how would you support it? If you were going to challenge it, what would be its weakest spots?
Why I haven't signed up for cryonics

You're right. Those numbers weren't just slightly coloured by hindsight bias but thoroughly coated in several layers of metallic paint and polished. They need to be adjusted drastically down. The reasons I originally considered them to be reasonable are:

  • The field of cancer research seem to be a lot like software in the 80s in that our technical ability to produce new treatments is increasing faster than the actual number of treatments produced. This means that any money thrown at small groups of people with a garage and a good idea is almost certain

... (read more)
Why I haven't signed up for cryonics

Actually, that last bit was an entirely new thought to me, thanks

The Third Alternative

The only lies to children should be Lies to Children. Any other lies, including Santa, creationism or any other fiction presented as facts should be considered child abuse.

(My ex tried to bring up our children as YECs after being 'born again' and our courts ruled this to be child abuse which is why I'm a single dad. I may be a bit more than the average fanatical about this particular point.)

1weft3yYes, but from my current understanding if you were both Young Earth Creationists when you HAD your children and THEN one of you became atheist (or whatnot), then the court would rule to keep the kids with the Young Earth Creationist parent, and not let the atheist do any atheisting at the kids.
Why I haven't signed up for cryonics

I have a view on this that I didn't find by quickly skimming the replies here. Apologies if it's been hashed to death elsewhere.

I simply can't get the numbers to add up when it comes to cryonics.

Let's assume a probability of 1 of cryonics working and the resulting expected lifespan to be until the sun goes out. That would equal a net gain of around 4 billion years or so. Now, investing the same amount of money in life extension research and getting, say a 25% chance of gaining a modest increase in lifespan of 10 years for everyone would equal 70bn/4 = 17... (read more)

How do you invest $50,000 to get a 25% chance of increasing everyone's lifespan by 10 years? John Schloendorn himself couldn't do that on $50K.

Reviewing the numbers you made up for sanity is an important part of making decisions after making up numbers.

6TheOtherDave8yThis math only works if I value a year of someone else's life approximately the same as a year of my life. If instead I value a year of someone else's life (on average), say, a tenth as much as I value a year of my own life, then if I use your numbers to compare the EV of cryonics at 4 GDY (giga-Dave-years) to the EV of life-extension research at 1.75 GDY, I conclude that cryonics is a better deal. Approached the other way... if I don't value any given life significantly more than any other, there's no particular reason for me to sign up for cryonics or research life extension. Sure, currently living people will die, but other people will be alive, so the total number of life-years is more or less the same either way... which is what, in this hypothetical, I actually care about. The important thing in that hypothetical is increasing the carrying capacity of the environment, so the population can be maximized. It turns out to matter what we value.
How to avoid dying in a car crash

At roughly double the time investment. I prefer to commute by bicycle whenever possible (I live in a city where about 20% of people bike to work during summer and about 5% during the winter, so I suspect risk is lowered by bikes being more common on the road). The commute by bike takes about 80 minutes (including return), sitting in rush-hour traffic takes about the same, as would "non-dangerous" exercise. Discounting the negative effects of commuting by car, I would still be losing about 400 hours per year by "exercising safely".

So ... (read more)

1Jiro8yThat doesn't correct for urbanization, which could affect the statistics in any number of ways (both positive and negative), so is worthless.
Tell Your Rationalist Origin Story

I never had a watershed moment when I ‘discovered' rationalism. For those of you who grew up with religion and take faith as a more or less given part of society, I must have had a rather peculiar childhood; When I was little, I spent quite a lot of time with my grandfather who was an uneducated farmer and had never heard of Bayes’ Theorem. (But loved it when I recently explained the basics to him.) I remember starting sentences with "I believe…" and I never got any further before being interrupted with "If you want to believe, you can go... (read more)

Tell Culture

I find it interesting to observe that my youngest who is moderately autistic operates exclusively in 'Tell' mode. Either he models everyone else as autistic, or he doesn't model other people at all, it is hard to tell from the outside, but in either case 'Guess' and 'Ask' modes are essentially unavailable to him.