All of ialdabaoth's Comments + Replies

The liability hot potato itself is a Bullshit Mountain. Once the liability hot potato becomes a cause for multiple symptoms downstream of it, you're in Cloud of Doom territory. So the ultimate problem is contextual - are you operating at a level of control where you can directly confront the LHP? If so, pick your causes and start shoveling. Or are you at a level of control where the downstream effects of the LHP are themselves the landscape you have to navigate? If so, welcome to your Cloud of Doom.

Yeah, strong endorsement of treating this as eigenvectors rather than category-buckets.

One serious problem I see:

This whole setup presupposes something like a Standard Model spacetime as the 'seed substrate' upon which Boltzmann brains or Boltzmann simulations are generated.

It completely neglects the possibility that our entire universe, and all its rules, are themselves the result of a Boltzmann simulation spawned in some simpler and more inherently fecund chaos.

4Stuart_Armstrong4y
Ah yes, but if you start assuming that the standard model is wrong and start reasoning from the "what kind of reality might be simulating us", the whole issue gets much, much more complicated. And your priors tend to do all the work in that case.

1. I see you haven't been reading other articles very closely. Given that, I don't expect you to have read this one very closely. Or that you would read a long reply that I might give very closely. Therefore, why should I spend the effort on it, just so we can get into another arc of pedantry? I don't really have a stake in it, you see.

2. Basically the same answer as 1. If someone else wants to expand, I'm sure they can; I'd appreciate if they did, but not to feed you.

3. Looks like Daystar Eld already started here, I think it'd be neat if other people would provide more.

3Benquo4y
This sort of seems like an example of 2: https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/9/8/16257502/verrit-peter-daou-aweseome (and more generally, all attempts to collect credit for Creating/Maintaining a Canonical Information Source in an environment where there's an open infowar.

One aside:

I mention in 'Shovelers are Hufflepuff' that the credit for solving a Bullshit Mountain doesn't go to the Hufflepuffs who actually solve it.

What DOES happen is, it goes to the Gryffindors who rush in to slay the biggest Dragon that the shovelers uncover. Since the Dragon-slaying is the biggest salient change, all progress gets attributed to it, including the progress made by the shovelers clearing out Bullshit Mountain in the first place.

If you want to poach Hufflepuff virtue, the best way to do it is to be the kind of Gryffindor t... (read more)

1Noah Walton4y
"Scientists with notable discoveries" might be an example of Gryffindors.
  1. What if you have lots of debt (>$50k us) and no investments or assets?

  2. Is attempting to pay off a debt still the same as a "risk free" investment if you've had the experience of attempting to pay off a debt, only to have the owed party accept your money and then not lower the debt? I.e., if you have a known and verifiable risk that handing the owed party money won't lower your debt (say, due to perfectly legal bureaucratic shenanigans), is that the same as a high-risk anti-debt?

  3. If you have no assets and no liquidity, are your debts even real?

2Jacob Falkovich5y
1. Briefly, you'd want to establish some minimum amount to cover emergencies (maybe $10-$20k), because the opportunity cost of not having available cash to deal with an emergency is huge. After that, I'd recommend paying off the debt if you think you'll almost certainly pay it off eventually (rather than declaring bankruptcy). 2. I guess that would be like an investment that's risk-free, but sometimes the money you want to invest in it gets stolen. In any case, my model is about debt/investment trade-offs, not about dealing with scammers. Don't pay scammers, that's the only model I have. 3. I think it's quite useful to assess an actual probability of you declaring bankruptcy, perhaps by multiplying the chance of you not having enough income to cover living expenses over some time frame. I think income also matters a lot more for debt repayment than assets, let alone liquidity.
2Dagon5y
Can't tell if you're just being snarky/self-pitying, or if you're serious. I'll try to answer. 1) Do you include future earnings in your "no assets" description? If you're off the grid and not dealing with money, this post probably isn't for you. If you plan long-term not to make more than you spend, you're probably also not ready to optimize on these dimensions. If you expect to make more than you spend during some future time period, you will have an asset about which to make choices. 2) You need to include risk of fraud and mistakes in any decision you make. This advice isn't "make payments that might get swallowed", it's "pay down debt". If you're not actually reducing your debt, there are probably better investments. 3) Debts that you honestly expect to never pay are not real debts. It doesn't follow that if you have no monetary assets and no liquidity that you never will, though.

Scalability depends on location, as well. And on having someone with the right spiritual/aesthetic sense to be able to independently generate the following intuitions, and other intuitions from the same place:

  • If you want to do Summer Solstice on the East coast, start at dawn rather than finishing at sunset.
  • If you're on neither coast, find the highest mountain you can, and figure out whether sunrise or sunset is correct based on which direction is more obviously liminal.
  • Know how to direct the flow of people at the correct moments, so that they can all
... (read more)

Yeah. Also, I've been actively kicked out of too many groups of close friends that I personally formed with my own agency and initiative.

"Once you're in, you're in for life" just doesn't work.

1[anonymous]5y
That's a horribly depraved thing to do. I'm not even accounting for environments that are that low-trust. Those just can't work. It's a non-starter. If this is really the kind of thing you're dealing with, and I am the exception as opposed to you, we should think about increasing trust in other ways. Or (excuse me) you should move out of the US [https://ourworldindata.org/trust].

Sure. But in the meantime, realize that the fact that Val's comment was downvoted into the negatives is a signal about something, and it's about something you and Ben and Ollie and Kaj are doing.

And then decide whether you're okay with all the consequences of that.

I anticipate that your tech solution will also help Eliezer come back - my intuition says that this is part of what he feels aversion to wasting energy on.

9Raemon5y
Oh yeah I have better than intuition, I have Eliezer literally* saying to us "dude I will try coming back when you take care of this shit." *okay okay almost literally

We have limited cognition and limited emotional investment, much of which has already just been spent on creating what is hopefully a high-quality post. ONE person doing it through status-seeking creates like 10 copy-cats, of which eight probably ARE doing it genuinely.

But giving them all the benefit of the doubt lets the status-seeking saboteur hide among the rest, and separating them all out takes effort that wears down the author.

It's not sustainable.

I think that kaj is talking about "don't read motivations into people as part of your criticism, or at least be more cautious about doing so" – criticize them for the action they're doing if the action is bad.

I think ialdabaoth is saying 'yeah, but right now basically nobody is criticizing or stopping the people doing the death-by-cuts-thing, and whenever anyone tries, the moderators yell at them instead."

(I think right now the death-by-papercutters are basically coming in juuust under a line that the moderators feel awkward... (read more)

Fictionalized examples, of course, give a convenient amount of wiggle room as to who's on which side of the example in the non-fictionalized real world.

2Raemon5y
If your goal is to make it clear who is on the side of a given thing, that's fine, just not for frontpage. The point of frontpage is to be relevant regardless of how embedded in the rationality community you are. Note: non-frontpage posts that deal with tribal/social stuff tend to get more traction than frontpage posts, so this doesn't strike as particularly censorous.

I disagree. How do we resolve who's right, within the current trust environment?

It hilights problematic assumptions that lead to problematic voting patterns.

Aaaaand now we really ARE meta.

2Said Achmiz5y
That has nothing to do with what I said.
2Said Achmiz5y
What difference does that make…?

1. It's not a change in topic. It's an explicit focus on the topic-in-question, and an attempt to explain - in a way that people's guts will *get* - WHY the current equilibrium is preferred to the one being proposed by the author.

2. At no point does it even connotationally say "yay abuse". It DOES connotationally call out humans-as-a-process for consistently performing actions that signal "yay abuse", however. Connotationally saying "yay abuse" would have been phrased very differently, and I think we all know that.

3. Controversiality has less to do with opt-in/opt-out, and more to do with... who we think the connotations are making look bad. I'd really like that to stop.

4Said Achmiz5y
Though it’s likely that what you said is true in some cases, if you think that the model you propose is of comparable explanatory importance to what gwern said, then you’re simply mistaken—so framing your point as “I’m just explaining it in a way people will get” is not appropriate.

The promotion is already happening in revealed preference, to lethal consequence. I'm just keeping score.

I don't see how we can fight entropic systems without understanding them.

I don't think your original comment actually contributes to understanding them – I've talked to you enough to have some idea what you meant, but it's buried beneath layers of different frames and inferential distance, which adds up to:

a) the comment mostly just getting parsed 'yay abuse' rather than anything nuanced or important.

b) sort of a drive-by change-in-topic/frame/hammering-on-pet-issue. (i.e. sort of like if we periodically have discussion of videogames, and someone keeps jumping in to say 'have you considered that vi... (read more)

Just to clarify: am I being downvoted for being factually wrong, or for being uncomfortable?

8tcheasdfjkl5y
From things you've written before I suspect the point you were intending to make is "in practice, people will act in this shitty way because it's advantageous to them". But the actual words you wrote - and the place you put the comment - clearly denote "we should act in this shitty way out of self-interest". I more or less agree with the first thing and disagree strenuously with the latter. (And I really hate the thing you do where you conflate is and ought on things like this.)
2ESRogs5y
Didn't downvote, but I am confused about what point you were trying to make. Did you mean that we don't gain anything from a short-term, selfish perspective? In which case, of course -- who's advocating believing victims for personal gain? Or did you mean that in the aggregate, overall, as a society, we're not better off believing and defending true claims of abuse? In which case, that seems questionable at best. If I take "gain anything" literally, then it seems clearly wrong. At the very least we gain knowledge by believing true claims. And if I take "gain anything" to mean, "are better off overall", then I'm still a bit skeptical. For example, in the short run it only hurts me to learn that farm animals suffer. But in the long run, that's something I want to know about and hope that we could ultimately fix. The situation seems similar with abuse of humans. What am I missing -- do you disagree with any of the above? Are we just using words differently?

It's worse than "being uncomfortable." The denotation of your comment isn't incorrect, but it degrades the always fragile common knowledge that we will coordinate to resist abusers. If it's already the case that "we" gain advantages by openly letting abusers run unchecked, then those of "us" who can should consider abandoning being part of this "we" and attempting to join healthier social groups.

5Elo5y
Guess: Antisocial opinion. Potentially promoting/endorsing causing suffering to the "victim".
I understand the impulse to go "really, you can't be serious", especially given the tendency of LWers to nitpick, but I think one should be cautious about invoking it as long as there are charitable alternative interpretations.

That's not sustainable. There really are a certain subset of articles that have been suffering 'death by papercuts'. Yes, they get upvotes; yes, they get good comments - but the entire tone of their debates has been pretty thoroughly shredded by whataboutisms.

That actually *needs* a strong pushback. It creates a kind of emotional fatigue on the authors that legitimately drags down the quality of future articles.

8Wei_Dai5y
Can you link to some posts that have suffered from this?

That's a reasonable point.

On the other hand, if one wishes to solve this problem, one also needs to have a clear idea of what exactly is causing it. If people's behavior is driven by status-seeking, then that probably warrants different methods for dealing with it than if their behavior was driven by something else.

I have no doubt that some of the thing you described, is driven mostly by status-seeking. But I still maintain that, when evaluating the behavior of any given commenter, one should be cautious about jumping to that conclusion. Because:... (read more)

Likewise, just because an accusation of abuse is true, doesn't mean we will gain anything by believing it / defending it. Sometimes it's actually to our advantage to let someone be abused, if the abuser can more consistently reward us than the abused.

3ialdabaoth5y
Just to clarify: am I being downvoted for being factually wrong, or for being uncomfortable?

I mean that when I try to present the idea that you should do this for everyone, I get a LOT of pushback. I put in "you shouldn't do this for everyone" specifically so people wouldn't think that anyone should do it for ME, and therefore fight me on the premise.

5[anonymous]5y
Uh, well I don’t know you, but it seems unlikely that anyone would deny an argument just because it’s conclusion (vaguely) implies that you should be regarded with respect.

Yeah, that's gonna be a hard sell.

1[anonymous]5y
What do you mean?

I'm curious why this is downvoted - if someone can legitimately dominate you, and you can't rally other resources to protect you from domination, how is learning to submit NOT the correct response?

I'd agree with this. In which case, you calibrate against actual, real-world measurements of trust and value, and see if the heuristic outputs the same results as an uncached, laborous computation.

4Elo5y
Sometimes it's cheaper to fake status than to pay the costly signals of status like becoming a professional natural therapist instead of doing a medical degree to become a doctor. Because of that the people trying to measure trust/value have to develop better ways at measuring the difference between true costly signals and fake signals.

In my experience, "people" are a force in aggregate, far more than individuals. So even if YOU, in particular, "haven't had time for social-web stuff to kick in", they're carrying with them all their aliefs and assumptions from other people, which you yourself pick up on and mirror because preselection is totally a thing.

2Raemon5y
Fair. Although it also seems like "my" corner of the social web *also* have force (on me) beyond the force I'd expect it to have on them-that-I-pick-up-on. (i.e. if someone shows up and acts needy who I never met before, I'd expect to have a less strong cringe reaction than someone I've had time to build up a model/relationship/web of)

I think so, yeah.

Answer me this: in a rational, unbiased world, what is status *FOR*?

1Said Achmiz5y
I don’t know what a “rational, unbiased world” looks like (or even if the concept is coherent), so I couldn’t begin to answer that question! But I assume you have an answer in mind, so, I’ll bite: what? (Really all I wanted was to understand what you were saying in the post, which seemed interesting but in need of clarification. Of course, if that is indeed what you’re providing in this conversation, then carry on.)
3Elo5y
Just answering this question. Need to read above but status is a heuristic for trust and value. Doctors have high status because they should know more about health. Same applies to other professions.

Generally, by asking yourself how you'd feel if you heard about some generic third party that had accomplished something similar, and noticing the difference in valence. This can be a hard skill to cultivate; the urge to narrativize is strong.

1Said Achmiz5y
I’m not sure I follow—accomplished something similar to what…? You don’t talk about accomplishments in your post; am I missing some context here?

I think that fidelity of control and double-binds are BOTH underlying gears of this model. At this stage I'm just trying to capture the phenomenon.

I'd really like to see that done with MULTIPLE men and women, and unprimed audiences. My intuition says that which PARTICULAR man and woman are used matters, a lot.

Who would benefit from addressing this divide, rather than accelerating it? What power do those people have, compared to the people who benefit from accelerating the divide?

1Vox5y
Also, this is my first post so I’m entirely unfamiliar w/ the format. If I’ve done something wrong, or am out of line (wrt votes), please let me know as I’m just generally excited to have found this community and don’t want to detract :)
-5Vox5y

Unless they've already demonstrated a sufficient power differential that it's common knowledge that they get to do what they want and you can't object.

In which case, learn to submit.

4ialdabaoth5y
I'm curious why this is downvoted - if someone can legitimately dominate you, and you can't rally other resources to protect you from domination, how is learning to submit NOT the correct response?

More plausibly, any topic that talks about "getting girls" in a nerdy way painfully reminds guys that they don't know how to get girls, so they downvote you; OR awkwardly demonstrates that you are less attractive/cool/etc. than the reader, so they downvote you, OR provides the capacity for the reader to believe that you only see girls as a prize to be one, so they downvote you. There's really no winning this game.

Shouldn't this:

A good friend of mine ran into this exact problem with the same requirement, couldn’t get the waiver, has no other remaining requirements, and will probably never graduate.

count as strong, direct counterevidence for this:

The final test is real, so if you built up real human capital, and learned how to learn things and remembered your lessons and persevere when the going gets tough, and all that, you win out. If you didn’t do that stuff, you fail at the end when you can’t hide it any longer. Or, for ability bias, only at the end do we
... (read more)
2Raemon5y
My own take was that there are a couple separate issues: 1) Is 7/8ths of schooling as proportionately strong signal as 8/8ths? 2) Is language requirements a signal anyone should care about? My guess is Zvi thinks the answer to #2 is "no" (given that Zvi has a lot of bad things to say about school in the first place), but that the existence of the language requirement is a proof-of-concept that #1 is unlikely to be true. In the case of language, an employer shouldn't care about that aspect of schooling one way or another, but in the case of biology class if you're hiring a biologist, you should.

Something that always baffled me - all of this was regularly cited for why otherwise productive employees were fired. And everything was also done by unproductive employees, who never got caught for it.

I could never quite figure out the rules for who gets punished for slacking off vs. who gets rewarded for it.

This thread was pulled from the frontpage, in part, because I took it non-meta. Let this be a lesson.

Okay. In that case, whenever I notice ANY lapse in this rule's enforcement, I will let you know. If you're going to enforce this *at all*, you do not get even the chance of the appearance of partiality.

3Ben Pace5y
Thank you, genuinely. I really would appreciate posts in Meta letting us know when we've made an integrity mistake. I will let you know that with the mass-import of legacy posts, we did not re-read each one (on the order of 10,000) to determine this, and at some point that problem needs to be solved, to maintain integrity of the categories. I believe Oliver used an algorithm that put posts above a certain karma threshold in frontpage, and I think it will be required that he/Ray/I fix this if the categories become easier to search (but that at present the key place for enforcing this norm is new discussion). Probably the solution is to put all posts in personal and give mods a norm of moving frontpage-appropriate legacy content back to frontpage as-and-when they read it (which should happen significantly more as the site gets built up). Actually that just seems good to me right now. If it's not too much time cost I'll ask Oli/Ray to do it now, and otherwise when they get around to improving search-by-category.

Could you use some help, so you aren't so stretched thin?

I think Berkeley can afford to have up to 3 Dunbar worth of Rationalists without spiraling out of control.

Ideally, there would be three separate social "domains" that people could compete within, with some crossover spaces to facilitate cross-pollination.

And right now we have that. If we actually directly split the community into X-Risk, EA, and Community / Self Improvement, I think most people wouldn't feel too much of a shakeup in their tribal configurations.

2Raemon5y
From within the Bay's vantage point (and I think also for basically every city that's stuck at the "small meetup stage"), a related thing I'm worried about is what to do about the smaller group structure. i.e. meetup-esque things tend to scale to around 12-20 people before they get awkward. I have more thoughts on this, still mulling it over. Some of it is relevant to the REACH post and I may write the rest of the thoughts there.
3[anonymous]5y
Maybe that’s the Berkeley optimum, but is it the optimum from an international perspective? My intuition is that 3 dunbar size communities in different cities is still better

And we're particularly vicious with each other about this. The hypothesis "Brent could have been a tribal leader" does not often feel endorsed by my community, when I actually try to be one.

8namespace5y
As a note, when you make a discussion in the abstract about yourself that exposes your identity [http://www.paulgraham.com/identity.html] to more of the fallout from it. It also forces other people to consider you personally in their response, which also sets you up as being a proxy target for the idea itself. Unless you're a particularly charismatic, high-status person this ends up mostly just being a way to consistently clobber yourself from a strategy perspective.

I'm claiming 1) and 2) together, in point of fact. I've been claiming this for awhile.

This isn't just about the site or the communities around it. This is about *how we orient towards accomplishment*. Please move the post back.

It's mostly that, as I mentioned in my first response, what praises I get are empty. I can't broker them into job offers/recommendations, or unalloyed recommendations to potential investors or sponsors, or potential dating partners, or the like. Everyone seems to say "Brent is cool, but..." - and after awhile, I've developed enough mistrust and bitterness and neurosis that the 'but' would be justified, if not for other people with similar levels of bitterness or neurosis or what-have-you that seem to be able to broker the... (read more)

3ChristianKl5y
There are two hypothesis here: 1) The amount of social capital that's allocated in this community is too little. 2) Social capital is allocated for the wrong reasons. I'm not sure what case you are making. When it comes to 1) there are communities where job offers are given based on the social capital that the person earned in the past. There are other communities where the job offers are rather given based on the skills as they are assessed in an interview. I would expect our community to put less weight on social capital acquired in the past when given job offers then most other communities. It's debatable whether that's good or bad. When it comes to 2) it might be that social capital is allocated based on a variable like personal charisma instead being allocated for past accomplishments. If that's the case that would be more problematic. Are you arguing 1) or 2) or do you see something else?
3[anonymous]5y
Ah yes. So here we might have the connection to the first model I mentioned: status as the amount of resources you can expect to leverage if you need it. This is still different from relative influence in an important way, because it's about absolute influence, which is positive-sum, and plausibly the actual thing we want. I have experienced something similar a few years ago in my freshman year of uni. It was a time when I felt very worthy, but then when I had a burnout nonetheless, none of that status amounted to any help. It made me a lot more suspicious and a lot more needy. I haven't recovered since. So this whole thing seems to connect to the idea of Hufflepuff virtue, right? I hadn't realized these people were ahead of me.

Let me see if I can say things that I know I can back up, if I have to:

  • When a community member went crazy and ended up in jail, I was the first responder. I rallied and contacted other appropriate community members, gave them tasks (contact a lawyer, contact the family, contact the police, etc.), got the ball rolling, then organized the community to start a colloquium on managing mental health crises. My impression is that that colloquium has since stalled, and also that I was no longer welcome in it once "big name players" started to show intere
... (read more)
4Elo5y
yep. As I guessed. I had no idea about any of them. You expect praise (you would like praise), it needs to be clear that you did things. News did not travel to my ears. By my fault or by yours. I did not know about these things. Maybe that speaks to a need for a new way to advertise such things. Experimental use of the Open Thread [https://www.lesserwrong.com/posts/3YJiWFDMkpYBLRFqv/open-thread-may-2018] is encouraged.
8[anonymous]5y
Lol, seriously? That's ridiculous :p I was expecting some boring stuff, but you're a madman. Why do people tell you to stop asking for recognition? This pattern-matches to "person who somehow doesn't recognize praise when it's given, or discounts it", but correct me if I'm wrong. If I'm right, I won't draw the conclusion you're doing it wrong. I would put most credence on that others are doing it wrong, because I've seen this happen before.

It's worth noting that in other cultures, tact explicitly signals a difference in status. It seems obvious from how nerds are treated in school, that this is true in American English as well, but is implicit rather than explicit.

Most people, even (especially?) people who grow up in "normal" culture, know that you apply less tact in a conversation when you want third-party listeners to know that you're above the person you're talking to. Nerds never enter the reward-feedback mechanism that trains this; they're at the very botto... (read more)

I'm shaking as I try to figure out how to describe what I've done that's praiseworthy. Every thing I can think of, I am afraid of someone coming in and telling a story about how it actually was someone else who did the work, or how it had a downside or an externality that was actually worse than the value and I should be ashamed of having done it, or that it wasn't that impressive and I should be ashamed of thinking that it was praiseworthy.

I recognize that this is all psychological, but it currently seems insurmountable.

I'm sorry.... (read more)

5TurnTrout5y
I appreciate your making yourself vulnerable here. I feel that too often, people (myself included) omit relevant parts of their experience for social web / status maintenance reasons. If important parts of someone's experience are left out because it's too revealing to discuss, then they neglect a core aspect of their rationality training and miss an opportunity to grow from the ensuing discussion. That is, if one only shares past accomplishments (and never discusses present difficulties), people aren't able to leverage the community at all and have to figure out everything on their own / via their existing social framework.
2[anonymous]5y
Nah, it's fine. Both because you're a good case study, and because helping you is valuable in itself. Thank you for your honesty. There's a thing you did that is beyond expectation. I didn't know it got so bad, and knowing this validates my suspicion that it's important. Gives me a slight sense of appreciation :)
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