All of Friendly-HI's Comments + Replies

Link: That Time a Guy Tried to Build a Utopia for Mice and it all Went to Hell

Possible explanation: After a certain point of population growth the mice cannot keep track of all the individuals in their group (i.e. in the enclosure) and in nature this would usually result in a non-violent split of the population into two groups that go their own way. But with nowhere to go the mice created smaller subgroups that couldn't go anywhere yet still tried to maintain their own territory, mates etc. which led to conflict.

This would be analogous to humans having the mental capacity to keep up relations with something like 150 to 300 peop... (read more)

P: 0 <= P <= 1

I'm tempted to agree with DragonGod on a weaker form (or phrasing) of the "I exist" proposition:

I would defend the proposition that my feeling of subjective experience (independent of whether or not I am mistaken about literally everything I think and believe) really does exist with a probability of 1. And even if my entire experience was just a dream or simulated on some computer inside a universe where 2+2=3 actually holds true, the existence of my subjective experience (as opposed to whatever "I" might mean) seems beyond any possible... (read more)

Doing a big survey on work, stress, and productivity. Feedback / anything you're curious about?

Background: My wife and I are both studying psychology, I'm doing my M.Sc. she does a very similar study on health risks at the workplace (an adaptive one, if general questions are answered "unfavorably" (i.e. indicator a health risk at the workplace is present), then a handful of more in-depth related questions to pinpoint the exact problem are given.

I didn't take the test yet, but just by reading ChristianKI's objections/suggestions (with which I agree) you need to really clarify the questions.

Here's a helpful piece of advice I've been given: ... (read more)

Is life worth living?

I don't actually think people want to die. I think people think they want to die.

When I have this discussion I often try to paint this scenario: It's easy for you to say you'd want to die now, but imagine for a moment that you live in a future where two of your three neighbors already got their life extension treatment and felt super young, vitalized and healthy again, while you're pushing 60 and you notice how you're slowly falling apart. Many celebrities do it routinely, and eventually even some of your closest family members become convinced and get the... (read more)

Is life worth living?

Agreed, there does seem to be no practical difference for the you-in-bed. But that feature seems to be the whole point of this scenario, so I think pointing that out is just a form of debasing the thought-experiment (which also ends with the sentence "if you were forced to pick", I might add).

Initially I thought I'd pick #2. My life was kind of fine enough, so I'd rather prefer to give a copy of me the privilege of experiencing my life than not.

However, assuming world#take2 is populated by "real people" (aka. complete simulations, not ... (read more)

This entire thing is super confused. A lot of complexity and assumptions are hidden inside your words, seemingly without you even realizing it.

The whole point of using a formal language is that IF your premises / axioms are correct, AND you only use logically allowed operations, THEN what comes out at the tail end should equal truth. However, you are really just talking with letters acting as placeholders for what could just as well be simply more words:

Committing on A's part, causes B to commit to defect (and vice versa). committing leads to outcomes ra

... (read more)
0DragonGod4yTo commit to a choice means to decide to adopt that choice irrespective of all other information. Committing means not taking into account any other information in deciding your choice. To not commit is to decide to base your strategy on your prediction of the choice the opponent adopts. You can either choose the same choice as what you predicted, or choose the opposite of what you predicted (any other choice is adopting an invariant strategy). Yes, I was merely outlining A's options when they reach the point in their decision making that they predict the opponent's strategy. It is obvious. Self-referential assignments do not compute. If the above assignment was implemented as a program it would not terminate. Trying to implement a self referential assignment leads to an infinite recursion. I am not, if you do not understand what I said, then you can ask for clarification rather than assuming poor epistemic hygiene on my part—that is not being charitable [http://slatestarcodex.com/2014/02/23/in-favor-of-niceness-community-and-civilization/] .
Emotional labour

With your cancer event - how could you be sure that the partner would not want to talk about it or be involved in the situation?

She was under a lot of stress due to an ungodly amount of near simultaneous university exams and under high pressure of failing her course if she didn't ace all of them (luckily she pulled through). She had also lost her father to cancer about a year before this event and was still suffering the effects. In fact, with the death of her father she had lost both her parents and next to her brother I'm her "only real family&qu... (read more)

Emotional labour

Two counter-examples involving my SO in cases where we both chose option 1 and both felt it was the correct decision.

Event + option 1: I became aware I was pregnant with your child right before you left in order to visit your parents over the Christmas and New Year holidays. I kept it from you during all of your vacation because I knew it would screw up your whole stay with your parents and friends. I predicted you'd prefer to deal with it later and in person.

Event + option 1: I (not known to be paranoid about personal health) found a very suspicious lump ... (read more)

0lmn4yI'm reminded of an incident in Richard Feynman's "What do you care what other people think?" involving his then girlfriend, later wife, Arline and her illness. Her family chose to go with (1) both Feynman and her where rather annoyed when they found out. I don't remember the exact details right now and don't have the book in front of me.
1Elo4yThese are really great examples - I tried to pick generic examples of events which is why they seem dry of emotion (vase). Being able to use option 1 depends on your ability to keep something secret without anything feeling off. I am impressed that you seem to report success doing so. But on top of that it also takes the risk that you can successfully model your partner and predict their next move in an unknown situation. (knowing that the risks of failure are catastrophic) With your cancer event - how could you be sure that the partner would not want to talk about it or be involved in the situation? I get a lot of closure by being in control of the situation. As much as it's not possible to control cancer - the information can deliver closure or a sense of knowing, or known unknowns.
Post ridiculous munchkin ideas!

Could very well be true. But it leaves open the curious question what on earth I would be looking for in the ex-eastern block ;)

0[anonymous]6yCheap talent mainly.
Welcome to Less Wrong! (7th thread, December 2014)

Be honest, do you really actually fear cringing when you re-read your stuff months or years from now? Sounds to me like an invented reason to mask a much more plausible fear: Looking foolish in front of others by saying foolish things. Well in case you do make a fool of yourself you always have the option of admitting "back then I was foolish in saying that and I have changed my mind because of X". In this communuty being able to do that is usually accompanied with a slight status gain rather than severe status punishment and ridicule, so no need to worry about that.

Breaking the vicious cycle

I don't believe that competent mental health professionals actually exist

Ouch shots fired. How the success rate of CBT looks like depends heavily what exactly the mental health problem is. "Curing" or rather alleviating many kinds of phobias via cognitive behavior therapy has a really excellent success rate for example.

“And that’s okay": accepting and owning reality

Thanks for the response, that was an interesting read.

As for perfectionism - In retrospect I think it was a huge drag on my own well-being and social relationships but helpful in getting things done. I am much less of a perfectionist nowadays and that has improved my life in many ways at the cost of making me somewhat less effective when it comes to work. Perfectionism for me wasn't just about my work but also about myself and others - seeing the imperfections and trying to iron them out. A pattern of perception if you will that didn't see the good things... (read more)

1Swimmer9637yInteresting. I don't have that kind of perfectionist view about other people. At all. I guess I have high expectations for myself (including my work) but I'm also okay with being human and doing things to take care of myself.
August 2014 Media Thread

Someone with moderator/admin rights should be able to delete it entirely - if anyone with those rights passes by here then please do so. Sorry for the inconvenience.

August 2014 Media Thread

...is there a time limit before that happens? Because my button is gone now yet it wasn't replaced by another button, it just says "Retracted" where the button was beforehand and the word is not clickable either.

0ArisKatsaris7yI think you just need to reload the page for the 'delete' option to become available to your retracted comment, but that it's only possible if it hasn't yet been responded to. So the very fact you asked about how to delete it under your original post, meant that you no longer could.
0gwern7yNot sure. There may be an interaction with whether it's been replied to.
August 2014 Media Thread

Oh no I cocked that one up. I wanted to copy-paste this under "Meta", as audio-books aren't listed yet. I thought to retract this post meant to delete it entirely. Captain?

0ArisKatsaris7yBtw, that's what the "Other Media" thread is for, not the Meta thread. I've inherited the 'rules' from my predecessors, but I'll edit the post to try and make them a bit more clear, short and to the point, for this and all future monthly media threads...
2gwern7yWhen you retract a comment, then a deletion button appears in the retraction button's place. So deletion is a two-step process.
August 2014 Media Thread

I am (still) listening to an audio-book called "Command and Control" by Eric Schlosser. It's mainly dealing with a Titan II missile incident in the US. I know the Stanislav Petrov and Vasili Arkhipov incidents, but very little about just how badly America managed her own stockpile. I was prepared this would send a few shivers down my spine and I was not disappointed.

What I don't like about it is that first and foremost it's written in a way to tell a gripping story, so the juicy information is embedded in a narrative that spends too much time des... (read more)

[This comment is no longer endorsed by its author]Reply
0Friendly-HI7yOh no I cocked that one up. I wanted to copy-paste this under "Meta", as audio-books aren't listed yet. I thought to retract this post meant to delete it entirely. Captain?
Confused as to usefulness of 'consciousness' as a concept

Hmm, you're right I did a lousy or non-existant job of refuting that idea. Okay let's try a thought experiment then. Your brain got instantly-frozen close to absolute zero and could be thawed in such a way that you'd be alive after say 100 years of being completely frozen and perfectly preserved. I think it's fair to say here your brain "stopped working" altogether during that time, while the world outside changed. Would you really expect your subjective experience to end at the moment of freezing, while some kind of new or different subjective e... (read more)

Confused as to usefulness of 'consciousness' as a concept

If you accept reductionism, which you really should, then a copy of your brain is a copy of your mind. I submit you don't actually care about the interconnected causal process when you're conscious or asleep. You probably couldn't if you tried really hard, what does it even matter? You couldn't even tell if that causal connection "was broken" or not.

People get drunk and wake up in some place without recollection how they got there and their life doesn't seem particularly unworthy afterwards, though they should go easier on the liquor. The suppose... (read more)

0[anonymous]7yDid you even read my post? Getting drunk and not remembering things or being in a coma are not states where the brain stops working altogether.
“And that’s okay": accepting and owning reality

Maybe it was, looking at that 50000€/y number solipsist quotes. In Germany you earn barely half of that before tax.

But that's not at all the main reason why I ask to be perfectly honest. I remember Swimmer portraying herself as having some form of social anxieties so this job strikes me as a particularly counterintuitive choice.

“And that’s okay": accepting and owning reality

Yes but the question is why do they want to? :)

I've worked in elderly care myself a long time ago when I was around 15 years old, which I imagine is quite comparable to being a nurse but I've found the work to be very hard both physically and emotionally (a lot of suffering and occasionally death to deal with). In fact it inspired me to do better in school just to not have to do work this hard for what back then I envisioned being "the rest of my life".

In Germany you either finish school with after 9, 10 or 12 (back then 13) years and you could o... (read more)

2Swimmer9637yI like work that's hard. The difference between us might be as simple as that. I even like work that's physically hard. There's something really satisfying about getting home from work and how good it feels to sit down and rest your feet, and how you know that the tiredness means you were especially useful that day.
1therufs7yWell, why does anyone want to do anything? Your question implied that there one might want to "do better", which strikes me as underinformed. EDIT I just figured out something really interesting but am almost out of charge in the computer, will update in a bit
1solipsist7yHealthcare in the US is more expensive than in Germany, and the relative status may be different. The mean salary for US registered nurses is just over €50,000 [http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291141.htm].
“And that’s okay": accepting and owning reality

I get it. Makes sense, actually now that you point it out I think I've also seen this phrase employed as a "pseudo-compliment". Rest assured that it wasn't intended that way.

1Benquo7yI figured it wasn't.
“And that’s okay": accepting and owning reality

...I don't understand how that part is insulting. I don't use smart as a weak form of intelligent if that's what you mean, exactly the opposite in fact. I'm sorry maybe I'm losing some finer point of the English language as I'm not a native speaker, but I would really like you, or someone, to try to explain how that part could possibly be interpreted as insulting because I honestly don't see it.

Edit: I'm also not implying that it's work unworthy or anything at all, I'm honestly just genuinely curious why she chose that profession because where I'm from it'... (read more)

3BloodyShrimp7yIt sort of fits an (not very common) idiomatic pattern where the compliment is empty-to-sarcastic, but it seems pretty obvious that you didn't intend it that way, and I can't actually think of any examples I learned the idiom from.
“And that’s okay": accepting and owning reality

I feel almost ashamed for asking that question, partly because it's quite impolite and inappropriate to ask a question like that (at least outside of LW) and maybe also because it might betray some kind of deeply rooted egghead-elitism on my part that I still can't quite manage shake off, but I simply can't resist this attempt to satisfy my raging curiosity: What's the reason why someone as smart as you chooses to become a nurse?

Also: Do you think of your perfectionism as largely useful, largely a hindrance, or kind-of-a-mixed-bag?

8Swimmer9637yLots of reasons. The reasons why I originally chose it at age 15 aren't all the same reasons why I keep doing it now. At age 15: -I wanted to get better at social skills, and nursing seemed like good practice for that. -I wanted a steady guaranteed well-paying job after 4 years of university. Not many things promise that. Nursing does. (My hospital guaranteed me a job, in the unit that I wanted, a year before I even graduated.) -I read number of books by Tilda Shalof [http://www.nursetilda.com/books] about working as an ICU nurse, and my response to them was a powerful "yes, that, I want to do that." Now: -It's exciting and varied, and challenges and rewards many different parts of me. On a good day at work, I'm curious. I'm admitting a patient and we don't quite know what's going on yet and I stay after the end of my shift to look up their lab results because I fought to get that bloodwork (it's really hard to do blood draws on someone who's in severe shock) and I want to know. On a good day at work, I care. I have the same sweet old lady for a week and she's telling me her life story and keeping me laughing as I coax and cajole her to get up in the chair an extra time, walk an extra lap around the unit, eat one more bite of hospital chicken puree. On a good day, I'm a well-oiled part in a machine much bigger than myself, a necessary and essential member of a great team, and it feels awesome. On a good day, I'm proud: of the IV I put in, the infected central line site that I noticed first, of the antibiotics I reminded the doctor to change, of the help I gave the other nurses. There are some bad days, and lots of meh days, but the work that I'm doing is always important...and in a way that my System 1 can really grasp. No productivity hacks required; I don't need urging to work my butt off. -I'm 22 years old and I have $50K in savings. And job security forever. That's pretty rare. -I have skills that are unusual within the rationality community. Nursing, like
1therufs7yMaybe because someone wants to? It might fit one's preferences better than programming, and the pay isn't different by orders of magnitude [http://money.usnews.com/careers/best-jobs/registered-nurse/salary].
5Benquo7yIt seems like you're trying to ask this nicely, which is good, and I don't know how Swimmer963 feels about this so I'm not upset on her behalf, but in general I read this sort of comment as less insulting when it doesn't use a phrase like "someone as smart as you".
Confused as to usefulness of 'consciousness' as a concept

[Part 2]

If I drive a car (especially on known routes) my "auto-pilot" takes over sometimes. I stop at a red light but my mind is primarily focused on visually modeling the buttocks of my girlfriend in various undergarments or none at all. Am I actually "aware" of having stopped at the red light? Probably I was as much"aware" of the red light as a cheetah is aware of eating the carcass of a gazelle. Interestingly my mind seems capable of visually modeling buttocks in my mind's eye and reading real visual cues like red lights an... (read more)

2KnaveOfAllTrades7yWow, thanks for your comments! I agree that this seems like a way forward in trying to see if the idea of consciousness is worth salvaging (the way being to look for useful features). I'm starting to think that the concept of consciousness lives or dies by the validity of the concepts of 'qualia' or 'sense of self', of both of which I already have some suspicion. It looks possible to me that 'sense of self' is pretty much a confused way of referring to a thing being good at leveraging its control over itself to effect changes, plus some epiphenomenal leftovers (possibly qualia). It looks like maybe this is similar to what you're getting at about self-modelling.
Confused as to usefulness of 'consciousness' as a concept

[Part 1]

I like this post, I also doubt there is much coherence let alone usefulness to be found in most of the currently prevailing concepts of what consciousness is.

I prefer to think of words and the definitions of those words as micro-models of reality that can be evaluated in terms of their usefulness, especially in building more complex models capable of predictions. As in your excellent example of gender, words and definitions basically just carve complex features of reality into manageable chunks at the cost of losing information - there is a trade-o... (read more)

7Friendly-HI7y[Part 2] If I drive a car (especially on known routes) my "auto-pilot" takes over sometimes. I stop at a red light but my mind is primarily focused on visually modeling the buttocks of my girlfriend in various undergarments or none at all. Am I actually "aware" of having stopped at the red light? Probably I was as much"aware" of the red light as a cheetah is aware of eating the carcass of a gazelle. Interestingly my mind seems capable of visually modeling buttocks in my mind's eye and reading real visual cues like red lights and habitually react to them - all at the same time. It seems I was more aware of my internal visual modeling than of the external visual cue however. In a sense I was aware of both, yet I'm not sure I was "self-aware" at any point, because whatever that means I feel like being self-aware in that situation would actually result in me going "Jesus I should pay more attention to driving, I can still enjoy that buttocks in real life once I actually managed to arrive home unharmed". So what's self-awareness then? I suppose I use that term to mean something roughly like: "thoughts that include a model of myself while modeling a part of reality on-the-fly based on current sensual input". If my mind is predominantly preoccupied with "daydreaming" aka. creating and playing with a visual or sensual model that is based on manipulating memories rather than real sensual inputs, I don't feel like the term "self-awareness" should apply here even if that daydreaming encompasses a mental model of myself slapping a booty or whatever. That's surely still quite ill-defined and far from maximum usefulness but whenever I'm tempted to use the word self-aware I seem to roughly think of something like that definition. So if we were to use "consciousness" as a synonym for self-awareness (which I'm not a fan of, but quite some people seem to be), maybe my attempt at a definition is a start to get toward something more useful and includes at least some of the "mental f
On Terminal Goals and Virtue Ethics

The problem with the signaling hypothesis is that in everyday life there is essentially no observation you could possibly make that could disprove it. What is that? This guy is not actually signaling right now? No way, he's really just signaling that he is so über-cool that he doesn't even need to signal to anyone. Wait there's not even anyone else in the room? Well through this behavior he is signaling to himself how cool he is to make him believe it even more.

Guess the only way to find out is if we can actually identify "the signaling circuit" ... (read more)

On Terminal Goals and Virtue Ethics

Interesting thought but surely the answer is no. If I take the word "knowledge" in this context to mean having a model that reasonably depicts reality in its contextually relevant features, then the same model of what the word "insane" in this specific instance depicts two very different albeit related brain patterns.

Simply put the brain pattern (wiring + process) that makes the person think they are Nero is a different though surely related physical object than the brain pattern that depicts what that person thinks "Nero being in... (read more)

1Jiro7yI don't think that explanation works. One of the standard examples of the Gettier problem is, as eli described, a case where you believe A, A is false, B is true, and the question is "do you have knowledge of (A OR B)". The "caused by the truth of the proposition" definition is an attempt to get around this. So your answer fails because it doesn't actually matter that the word "insane" can mean two different things--A is "is insane like Nero", B is "is insane in the sense of having a bad model", and "A OR B" is just "is insane in either sense". You can still ask if he knows he's insane in either sense (that is, whether he knows "(A OR B)", and in that case his belief in (A OR B) is caused by the truth of the proposition.
Torture vs. Dust Specks

Well too bad he didn't wait a year longer then ;). I think preferring torture is the wrong answer for the same reason that I think universal health-care is a good idea. The financial cost of serious illness and injury is distributed over the taxpaying population so no single individual has to deal with a spike in medical costs ruining their life. And I think it's still the correct moral choice regardless of whether universal health-care happens to be more expensive or not.

Analogous I think the exact same applies to dust vs torture. I don't think the corre... (read more)

0Jiro7yIf you're going to say that, you'll need some threshhold, and pain over the threshhold makes the whole society count as worse than pain under the threshhold. This will mean that any number of people with pain X is better than one person with pain X + epsilon, where epsilon is very small but happens to push it over the threshhold. Alternately, you could say that the disutility of pain gradually changes, but that has other problems. I suggest you read up on the repugnant conclusion ( http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/repugnant-conclusion/ [http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/repugnant-conclusion/] )--depending on exactly what you mean, what you suggest is similar to the proposed solutions, which don't really work.
Reasons for being rational

Hi again.

I thought It's about time I replied to this topic. I've seen the response(s) earlier but didn't feel like responding at the time and unfortunately forgot all about it afterwards - up until now.

It seems to me there is a major point I should make.

According to this definition of "stereotype" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stereotype) I would claim they are unavoidable and useful cognitive tools for categorizing and streamlining our internal map of the world, including other people. They are not to be confused with "prejudices", whi... (read more)

...so did we now get cold fusion to work or what?

I have made a terrible mistake judgement-wise by posting this topic in the fashion I did.

The situation was like this:

I've been at the librabry, studying for an exam when I took a not unusual 10-minute procrastination break to surf whe web. I went onto planetrationalist.com (a website that collects the newest articles from a wide variety of "rationalist" websites of varying quality including LW), where an article about the mentioned paper was one of the most recent ones.

At that point I made at least three faulty assumptions/ mistakes that were to ... (read more)

...so did we now get cold fusion to work or what?

Thanks for the link, I recalled something about an Italian guy trying to pull something a few years back so I became suspicious by two of the four authors being Italian from the get-go, but other than that I just don't have any clue about whether or not cold fusion is actually doable.

I'll look into that tread right away, thanks for the heads up.

Post ridiculous munchkin ideas!

Islam, Catholocism and others approve, though they're vague about what happens once you run out of space or can no longer feed them. Sharp tongues may claim that has already happened.

Post ridiculous munchkin ideas!

...many people argue for (their) god by pointing out that they are often "feeling his presence" and since many claim to speak with him as well, maybe that's really just one form of tupla without the insight that it is actually a hallucination.

Surely that's not how most people experience belief, but I never really considered that some of them might actually carry around a vivid invisible (or visible for all I know) hallucination quite like that. Could explain why some of the really batshit crazy ones going on about how god constantly speaks to the... (read more)

Post ridiculous munchkin ideas!

I wouldn't know about magic cards, sorry.

Stamps would be my choice because they have many advantages over other types of collectibles. Magic cards may share many of the benefits stamps have over other collectibles considering the similar format, but stamps surely have special perks magic cards don't.

Stamps have the advantage, that they are the number 1 collectible in Germany and many other parts of Europe and they have been forever. Coins and other things don't come close in terms of how widely they are collected and the bigger the demand, the easier it is... (read more)

0sumguysr6yWhat I have taken from this is any time I travel abroad I should get in touch with my stamp investing friend and form a strategy for finding good local deals that have a likely long term value, possibly in other markets, and also I should try to make more friends expert in such collectibles investing for the same reason. I have not concluded I should expect to beat the market without a similar effort.
Post ridiculous munchkin ideas!

No I meant it like you interpreted it, "Timmy" and "Benny" are names that you would clearly associate with children rather than adults. And my impression is that Kevin is also in that category, though perhaps it's not as extreme a case as those two names. I never understood why parents would call their son Benny, why not officially call him Ben and use Benny in the family as long as he's a kid and doesn't mind?

No one ever heard of Benny the mighty conquerer or Benny the badass CEO. Benny is a cute name, not a serious name for a grown ma... (read more)

0Desrtopa8yOn the other hand, there is Benny the Jet [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benny_the_jet].
Post ridiculous munchkin ideas!

I'm from Germany, here they tax gains in stock trade with a higher rate and the government tried to extend this higher rate on trade with stamps and other "art" formats multiple times, but realized its unfeasible and for now gave up. Currently you pay a whopping 25% in taxes on capital gains over ~1000$ and have other substantial losses. A few years back it could even climb as high as 50% if you were unlucky. Also you don't pay any special taxes here if you simply sell your private collection.

I think the current US tax rate on capital gains is at... (read more)

4Jiro8yI wasn't aware you're not in the US. If your country has high capital gains taxes compared to income taxes, the balance might be different in the US. However, stamps and other collectibles have many problems: -- Stamps can get stolen, lost, or burned in a fire. It's hard for this to happen to stocks (unless you're behind the times and have them as a pile of paper certificates) -- If you buy a type of collectibles that you're actually interested in, your desire to keep a co llection of something you're interested in may lead to poor decision-making on a financial level -- When buying stamps and other collectibles, you generally have to pay retail prices, and when you sell them, you only get wholesale prices. And you can sell a stock any time; selling a collectible is a big deal and takes effort. Also, I find it very doubtful that stamps aren't subject to inheritance or estate taxes.
Post ridiculous munchkin ideas!

If you have a reasonable ammount of money that you would like to save long-term and (potentially) remonetize 10+ years later on (for example for your retirement or whatever) then decide against playing the stock market (duh) or putting it in low interest bank accounts and buy the right stamps instead.

My dad is a passionate collector, but I have hardly any interst in collecting useless historical artefacts because I'm more interested in the future of humanity than its past. However even without any historical interest in the particular subject, stamps are a... (read more)

1diegocaleiro8yI wonder if Magic Cards (Specifically the Power Nine cards and Beta Dual Lands) are not a good investment? They have multiplied by about 10 in price over the last ten years. I've known people who had 300 Serra Angels, a terrible investment whose price decreased from 8 dollars to about 1 or less over the years. Magic is both a collectible and a game, I don't know how that factors in expected value return. Usually the top 0,3% (in future relative scarcity in Type1 and Legacy) increase steadily in price no matter what, top 1% unless they are reprinted (in which case both up and down can happen) and most of the rest goes down. But only with years and years of experience can a player tell whether a card will belong to the select few. Svi may have informed opinions on that. Just to spend some time calibrating future-me confidence in Magic price calibration, I'll say some outrageous hypothesis: Up: Time Vault, Mana Drain, P9 except timetwister, FOW, Karakas, Fetch, Duals, mutavault, moxen. Down: All non-tribal creatures pre-2008, jace, all dual trual lands except above, baneslayer, wrath of god. There you go future 2017 me, stop trusting yourself that much and never invest in what you mind thinks it is superexpert at without much evidence.
8elharo8yI strongly advise against following this plan. Collectibles are not a good longterm investment, stamps included. That is, they tend to underperform stocks, real estate, and other investments, substantially so once transaction and carrying costs are factored in. The Wall Street Journal recently polled a number of experts about this [http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324662404578330651775508058.html] . Their opinions were essentially unanimous, differing primarily in how bluntly each was willing to say, "Don't do this."

The downsides are that you have to put some significant time into this topic to know what a good deal is, learn how the market and auction houses operate and to build a diverse or highly specialized and sought-after collection that is very likely to rise in value compared to other possible collections you could compile (which overall will almost certainly rise in value too, but maybe not as much as a collection you put some thought into).

Those don't seem like substantial downsides, and ones that would be incurred already by a lot of smart philatelists.

T... (read more)

6Jiro8yDid you consult a tax attorney on this? I have no idea what you're referring to when you claim you don't pay "extra" taxes on selling your stamps. Selling your possessions is certainly income and would at least be subject to income tax (and the rate would be higher than a capital gains tax rate on stocks).
Post ridiculous munchkin ideas!

Not sure if I can recommend this suggestion, because for me exactly the opposite worked out fine.

I never used fitness crap lying around my home regularly but once I started paying for a gym membership there was no way I would just stay at home and pay for nothing.

In other words I used the sunken cost fallacy for my benefit.

Once I was more advanced it wasn't the money I spent on my membership that kept me going but knowing that I'll actually get weaker if I started to only go 2 times a week instead of keeping up my 3 times a week routine. So every time I di... (read more)

Post ridiculous munchkin ideas!

I'm German and would agree. Kevin not only sounds low Status but is also a name for kids, so it's even handicapped in more than one respect.

I've thought about adopting "Aaron Alexander Grey", the middle name being my father's first name and Grey being an adaptation of my current last name that probably no one except Germans could really hope to pronounce correctly. Also I don't want to stay in Germany so Aaron Alexander Grey is more of an attempt at a name that I imagine may be overall an internationally well recieved name. Thoughts?

By the way if... (read more)

2Dahlen6ySame in my country. And my reason is pretty similar -- I've had people from my own country who constantly mispronounce my name, and I don't even want to think how badly foreign people would distort it, as I plan to emigrate. (Also I don't find it in the least bit euphonic, but that's not a reason I would ever admit to on a state form.) But I gather from your comment that compatibility with foreign languages / pronunciations is not considered an acceptable reason in countries that have stricter laws concerning name change? Also, that if you have dual citizenship and one of your countries allows you a name change, the other country is obliged to recognize the name change? Is that right?
3[anonymous]6yIf you go to the ex-Eastern Block, you find German usually has the signal "awesome rich industrial powerhouse, want to imitate, the kind of capitalist overlord I would want to be become, bossing over everybody" and Swedish has the signal "pretty people with funny ideas like non-gendered kindergartens, lacking courage or else they would beat the shit out of immigrant rapists". Basically in Eastern Europe German is the second most powerful signal after American, and since people tend to worship power it works...
6Desrtopa8yWhat do people named Kevin get called when they grow up then?
Grigori Perelman refused prize because he knows "how to control the universe"

I'd expect it's much more likely that developing intelligence requires an evolutionary trade-off with other useful things

Sure, we can take that for granted seeing how we're not floating superbrains (yet) :D

it's more efficient to have some intelligent people, and that these factors drown out such a putative correlation in the evolutionary calculation.

Efficient to have some intelligent people? Efficient for whom?

Either this is a missunderstanding on my part, or alternatively I would recomment (re?)reading "The Selfish Gene". Because if the a... (read more)

0TheOtherDave8yIn this vein, I often observe that our entire technological civilization was a side-effect of the human urge to gossip.
Post ridiculous munchkin ideas!

:'D

Also, what he said:

The trick to resolve the apparent paradox, I think, is to keep a firm distinction between describing people and emotionally evaluating people and then understand that the idea is only about cutting out the latter.

Post ridiculous munchkin ideas!

I recall reading that one of the best predictors of reported happiness is how much a person tends to compare herself to others. (I'm fairly sure I got that from the book "The How of Happiness" by Sonja Lyubomirsky)

You can probably get a quick but decent estimate of where you are on that "comparison-tendency" scale by recalling if you ever feel a sting of jealousy or if it otherwise negatively impacts your mood, or initiates a mental comparison when you see that someone else is up to something really amazingly cool on facebook. How do y... (read more)

0JoshuaFox8yI try to compare my personal finances, and the quality of my job, to the human median. It helps.
5diegocaleiro8yI'd like to confirm that indeed Sonja's book is your source. Less comparison correlates with higher happiness.

You can probably get a quick but decent estimate of where you are on that "comparison-tendency" scale...

I am enjoying this sentence fragment immensely.

Defecting by Accident - A Flaw Common to Analytical People

Random Tip:

If you intend to criticize an idea, then I agree that it is socially productive to first point out something you liked about that idea, and if you didn't like its contents at all, then go with "I like that you brought up this topic/point, because I too find it important, however / yet I think..."

The magic words in the sentence above are "however" and "yet", the latter being superior. Notice how the same sentence would sound if I replaced "yet" with "but" to link the praise/concession with my crit... (read more)

3wedrifid8yI remember reading 'and' too (English translation).
4Luke_A_Somers8ySometimes you can even get away with 'and' or without using a conjunction. Like, "This can be a very effective method. One concern will be looking out for X." Or, "That's a good argument. It brings us as far as the question of Y."
Fermi Estimates

Fermi estimates can help you become more efficient in your day-to-day life, and give you increased confidence in the decisions you face. If you want to become proficient in making Fermi estimates, I recommend practicing them 30 minutes per day for three months. In that time, you should be able to make about (2 Fermis per day)×(90 days) = 180 Fermi estimates.

I'm not sure about this claim about day-to-day life. Maybe there are some lines of work where this skill could be useful, but in general it's quite rare in day-to-day life where you have to come up w... (read more)

The Importance of Self-Doubt

As of yet Eliezer's importance is just a stochastic variable yet to be realized, for all I know he could be killed in a car accident tomorrow or simply fail at his task of "saving the world" in numerous ways.

Up until now Vasili Arkhipov, Stanislav Petrov and a few other people I do not know the names of (including our earliest ancestors who managed to avoid being killed during their emigration out of Africa) trump Eliezer by a tiny margin of actually saving humanity -or at least civilization.

All that being said Eliezer is still pretty awesome by my standards. And he writes good fanfiction, too.

Assessing Kurzweil: the results

@ Everyone:

What are the most interesting and useful conclusions we can reasonably draw from this?

I'm not being facetious, it's just that after I've read this and most of the top rated comments I'm not sure what to draw from all of this. We have a rough estimate of how K. is doing in absolute terms, but not in relative terms because we're left without a baseline to compare him to. Chance or the "average predictions of the average human" can't be a meaningful baseline (for me) because I'm not going to use them as potential sources for my personal p... (read more)

1EricHerboso9yAs one of the people who contributed to this project by assessing his predictions, I do want to point out that several of the predictions marked as "True" seemed very obvious to me. Of course, this might be the result of hindsight bias, and in fact it is actually very impressive for him to have predicted something like the following examples: Note also that some of the statements marked "True" are only vacuously true. For example, one of his wrong predictions was that "intelligent roads are in use...for long-distance travel". But he follows this up with the following prediction which got marked as "True": As you can see, I do not think that looking just at the percentage of true predictive statements he made is enough. Some of those predictions seem almost trivial. And yet we can't just dismiss them out of hand, because the reason I think they are trivial might just be because I'm looking at it from after the fact. Counterfactually, if intelligent roads had come about, but local roads were still conventional, would I still call the prediction trivial? What if local roads weren't conventional? Would I then still call it a trivial prediction? We had no choice but to just mark such statements as true and count them in the percentage he got correct, because there's just no way I know of to disregard such "trivial" predictions. And this means we shouldn't really be looking at the percentage marked as true except to compare it with Kurzweil's own self-assessment of accuracy. Using the percentage marked as true for other reasons, like "should I trust Kurzweil's predictive power more than others'", seems like a misuse of this data.
2012 Less Wrong Census/Survey

"The point I was making is that, when IQ is calculated by age group, that's evidence that there are raw score differentials between age groups."

Exactly, that is the point. Of course there is a certain age-related deterioration of intelligence, especially fluid intelligence. So even if he did the exact same test he already did decades ago, his raw score will surely be lower now than it was back then. Confusingly enough, he could still be said to be as "intelligent" as he was back then if his relative position within the IQ distribution h... (read more)

2Vaniver9yRight. Unfortunately, whenever someone wants to talk about absolute intelligence, "IQ" is the closest word/concept to that. When you look at adult IQ tests, the raw score is decent measure of 'absolute intelligence' for most modern humans. Current tests have known problems with exceptional individuals (on either end) and some tests are more interested in determining the shape of someone's intelligence (like, say, the subtests on the Woodcock Johnson) than others (like the Raven's test, which only tests one thing). Comparing raw scores tells you useful things- about the effects of age, about the Flynn effect, about theoretical populations [http://lesswrong.com/lw/qk/that_alien_message/], and even about the distribution now. IQ scores are defined to follow a bell curve, but if the raw scores don't follow a bell curve, that's important to know! The concept of IQ as a quotient seems rooted in the history of testing children- "this 12 year old has a 16 year old's development"- which isn't very useful for adults. If we give a test for adults to Alice and Betty, and Alice has an IQ of 140 and Betty has an IQ of 100, that doesn't mean Alice is 40% smarter than Betty; it means that Betty is 50th percentile and Alice is 99.6th percentile. But, in practice, we might want to know that it takes Betty 90 seconds to get a problem right 80% of the time, and it takes Alice 5 seconds to get it right 100% of the time, which is data we collected in order to get the official outputs of 140 and 100. The Sentience Quotient [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sentience_quotient] is the closest thing I can think of, and it's mostly good for describing why humans and trees have few productive conversations (though the upper bound is also interesting).
2012 Less Wrong Census/Survey

As age progresses, we also see a natural shift of intelligence from "fluid" to "crystallized" intelligence. The first kind is fast, adaptable and more creative, good for problem-solving, learning new things and pattern-recognition. The second kind is concerned with facts and knowledge, but also implicit knowledge/skills like how to drive a car.

IQ tests really measure fluid intelligence, less so the crystallized kind. Some IQ tests have a few questions that probe your crystallized intelligence as well, like "What was the name of the... (read more)

0Abd9yInteresting, Friendly-HI. I was pointing to something distinct from both. In the Wikipedia article, "crystallized intelligence" is not about "knowledge," per se, but is something integrated. What has shifted for me is "fast," when it comes to a series of new analyses of my sensory input. I'm not that kind of fast any more. However, "depth" appears to have increased. To me, it's important that I distinguish my accumulated experience from "truth." It's just my accumulated experience, my past. The present and future remain open, as long as I'm alive.
2012 Less Wrong Census/Survey

Ideally your achieved IQ score is really a measure of your position within a normal distribution of IQ scores of your age group, where the mean (or peak) is standardized as 100 and one standard deviation equals 15 points. So an IQ of 130 is two Standard deviations above the mean and only ~ 2% of the people in your age group would be considered smarter than you.

I'm not sure age related decline factors into the decline of his IQ scores at all. That Hypothesis would only be true if the IQ-test he took was actually quite accurate and well-constructed, which wo... (read more)

2012 Less Wrong Census/Survey

I would be careful with the interpretation of your results.

It is very uncommon to loose 46 points even over a whole lifetime, given the assumption that nothing bad happened to your brain. Intelligence is one of, if not even the most stable personality trait known to psychology. That is why losing more than two standard deviations without any apparent reason apart from ageing should be treated as a less likely explanation than either of the following ones:

You were compared to the wrong age group. An IQ of 100 is defined as the mean score for your age group... (read more)

0Vaniver9yYou mean, nothing bad besides aging? If comparing Abd2012 to the correct age group would easily explain the numerical difference with regards to Abd1962's score, then that's solid evidence that this is regular age-related deterioration (of ability to solve Raven's Progressive Matrices).
4johnlawrenceaspden9yFriendly-HI, are you trying to explain Abd's low score using the Flynn effect? Claiming that a modern IQ of 110 is equivalent to an IQ of 156 in the 1950s seems a bit like claiming that a modern skilled labourer is as clever as the people at Cal Tech in the 1950s. I suppose that's possible, but I would be somewhat surprised. I mean, I haven't noticed many people complaining that chess is too easy. I'd imagine that it's some combination of age-related decline and a badly calibrated test which has a large random-number generator component. (And a tiny bit of the Flynn effect) Remember that this is the same scheme that puts a Richard Feynman in every 20 people while Marylin Vos Savant is an impossible genius who should not have occurred in the lifetime of the species.
5Abd9yWell, what I wrote was banter. There are many kinds of intelligence. The test measures a particular kind, one that could probably be simulated (AI) with relative ease (I'm not saying it's easy, but that what is involved is a series of tests, trials, of possible transforms, and then a checking of transforms that work for simplicity. It's looking for an aha! pattern. I know that I'm not as good at this now as I was when younger. A related example: I'm looking for my black waist pack, in my office, a room full of stuff. I walk through and don't see it. We are in a hurry to leave, so I ask my 9-year-old daughter to check. She sees it immediately. It's in plain sight. I have "tunnel vision." Not literally. I still have peripheral vision. But I don't interpret the full field, as I used to, only a narrower field, more central. I have to actually look at the bag to recognize it. I trust the test as a reasonable one, that would measure a certain kind of intelligence that is highly useful. Damn! I'm used to thinking of myself as really smart, for almost sixty years. Time to move on. Yes, I'm still smart in some ways, but I already knew that there are many ways in which I'm not, maybe never was. What I've been told by doctors is that the cognitive impairments I've noticed are normal. People learn to compensate for them.
2DaFranker9yWhoa. I knew there was some weird stuff happening with high-IQ scores, but never realized it was this much. Then again, most institutions I've seen that administer IQ tests seem to treat the formulas and scoring systems as corporate secrets or something. I should not be this surprised at the extent of the weirdness.
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