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another emerging issue is that degrees can have a negative utility these days. if your degree can't land you a "real" job, and employers who would otherwise take you now see you as 'overqualified', your options are more limited than if you never went to college in the first place.

Many of the refutations offered didn't actually contradict what I had in mind at all. For instance, I could come up with a (wrong) theory vaguely similar to general relativity, and showing how that's wrong =/= showing general relativity is wrong, similarly, the link about La Sage's theory is not some iron-clad refutation of this one.

However, I wasn't exactly confident that it was right; it actually bothered me that I couldn't come up with why I was wrong. I was mostly expecting to find out why my idea was wrong by running it by others who might already know more than me on the subject. I did wind up getting that (gravitational lensing clearly tears it apart). You guys certainly saved me the effort, either way, which freed me up to focus on actual useful efforts. This sort of effect is actually why I posted here before putting in all that work on something I strongly suspected would be a waste of time.

The main reason I'm commenting here again, is because of the total lack of civility of some of the replies. The negative karma score is probably what the post deserves, and I probably shouldn't expect anything else posting so far from my own specializations. However, there is a certain sting that comes with being wrong, and it's not that difficult to avoid adding to it when pointing out someone's errors. Sadly, the best example of being as rude as possible about it is actually the post that included what I was looking for.

Compare the difference between:

Have you considered gravitational lensing, or gravitational time dilation? Your theory seems to be incompatible with these observable and well-documented phenomena.


Good start. I know how tempting it is to talk about crackpot physical theories, believe you me I do, but you've gotta contain yourself. Seriously, you're embarrassing me, and I'm not even you.

Since you failed #37, among others, I'll help you out. Your theory predicts that what we call gravity depends not on mass but on something like solid angle, which is a measure of how big one object appears from another. If we're talkin bout heaven here objects are spherical, so solid angle (and thus your theoretical force) depends only on the size of the object (radius) and distance. Guess what? It turns out that gravity actually depends on something called mass and energy. Newtonian gravity is linear in mass, but your theory is not (you can work out the relationship between proton count and surface area of a nucleus or something along those lines, tee hee). This linearity has been experimentally verified.

Anyway, does your theory have anything to say about this or this? Nope! It turns out gravity isn't as simple as pushing and pulling. Time and energy and fahoosalah are involved too. You might know about these things if you take physics courses.

LessWrong is partly about learning how to be wrong. You're wrong. LessWrong teaches to acknowledge when you don't understand something, to listen to the knowledge of those who do, and to not post silly crackpot theories that don't even. 0/10 will not think about again.

Yes. Why would scaling it down more than I did make it disappear?

The only predictive difference I can think of is that with this model there would be regions in the universe where greater dark energy flow would result in a greater gravitational constant.

I would want to be more confident that it was meaningful before taking on a whole other branch of science at a professional level. And if I was already approaching it on that level, I would take it to a physics journal and not a blog.

Or inversely, they could be less likely to correct you in a larger group because they assume someone else will do it.

Sorry about the very lengthy delay in response.

In my experiences there has always been (at minimum) a surface layer of magical nonsense, but it has always seemed that the real point was just bonding with other individuals; sharing the aggrandized experience with them for the sake of feeling like you're part of the same thing.

That sort of thing was (I imagine) a relatively ubiquitous feature of ancestral tribes, and I suspect that that led to our neural pathways evolving in such a way that sharing in ritualized experiences is a vital part of how we come to feel like we are truly a part of the group/tribe/etc.

And magical nonsense can be made in such a way that it parallels the situation of anything from one person to the whole group in order to... gently trick a person into thinking about something you think they really ought to think about without overtly putting them on the spot. Also, if you're the one making up the magical nonsense, and you're completely misguided about what another person's situation is, more abstract ways of communicating essentially leave infinite degrees of freedom in terms of reasonable-seeming-interpretations. This way, you could think you're giving one specific message to the whole group, when really everyone walks away with a completely different significant-feeling message in their head, and yours was actually far less relevant than you thought it was.

And then everyone feels refreshed and closer to the others involved after sharing in the experience.

Of course, people really, really, REALLY, should be intelligent rationalists on their own if they're going to get into that sort of behavior, since it is arguably a recipe for a cult.

It always seems to me that any little disclaimer about my degree of certainty seems to disproportionately skew the way others interpret my statements.

For instance, if I'm 90% sure of something, and carefully state it in a way that illustrates my level of confidence (as distinct from 100%), people seem to react as if I'm substantially less than 90% confident. In other words, any acknowledgement of less-than-100%-confidence seems to be interpreted as not-very-confident-at-all.


I sometimes go digging for quartz. This includes camping out with friends the night before, then getting dirty, digging in the mud, and finding neat little things all day. All in all, I really enjoy the experience. But then I bring home pounds and pounds of the stuff and really only enjoy having a few of the pieces that really jump out to me as being exceptional.

Most people have never gone to dig for quartz, and don't have nearly the amount of it that I do. On top of that, many of my friends attribute all sorts of magical nonsense to the stones. So, the way I enjoy the rest of it is giving it away. Any of the pieces I bothered to bring home seem really beautiful and amazing to people who don't have endless pounds of the stuff cluttering up their room. I'm often told months/years after giving one out that the recipient still has it and cherishes it and keeps it in some special place where they always see it, which provides another little burst of me enjoying the thing.

Similarly, when someone comes into my room for the first time and is amazed by the collection as a whole, I get a little bit of joy out of their amazement. Every time I think I've run out of ones that are worthy of gifting, someone notices one in particular that they really love, and I say "you can have it" and they jump for joy and tell me I'm the greatest person ever.

I feel like this is a good example of "correctly having" something. Considering that in my whole life I've probably spent less than $50 dollars getting all of those crystals, and that I consider the experience of digging them up to have been easily worth that, it has proven to be one of the most effective ways I have ever used money (in terms of making myself happier). And all without actually believing that they have magic powers or anything like that.

I suspect that making it about rationality might be kind of a mixing utilitons with warm fuzzies situation, where you end up doing both poorly. However the person(s) leading the thing damn well better be rationalists. Probably everyone else involved as well.

I exist within a subculture where rituals are kind of normal, and other things I would expect to make this audience cringe. I violently rejected it all while reading the sequences because the value I had perceived in it was insane. Around the time I finished them I began to understand the actual value of it, and I really think the sequences provide more than enough to safely engage in this sort of thing.

My first few attempts at commenting on this turned into giant walls of text and I think I might have some things to contribute to the discussions in that mailing list.