All of Jem's Comments + Replies

Another treatment of Direct Instruction getting more into the technical details of the theory

But physics and DI are different in this important way: physics is a classification of knowledge, and DI is a technique for communicating knowledge. It's reasonable to ask for a functional description of a technique, even though it wouldn't be reasonable to ask for a functional description of a classification of knowledge. I don't think your analogy works.

You're claiming that DI is a way of teaching people things. You'd like to teach us what DI is (or, at least, we're giving you the benefit of the doubt in assuming that this is your goal). However, you've ... (read more)

I... if I had to list a million different things I expect I might one day be asked, I don't think "Are you from the church of scientology?" would ever occur to me. I have no idea what 'Narconon" is. Well, DI is a way of applying a classification of knowledge to creating effective communications of other knowledge, but that's not the point. The analogy wasn't meant to be expanded beyond that, because it's not an argument by analogy, just explaining what this difficulty feels like from my perspective. And the only obvious possible way I've been able to see around the difficulty so far, the only thing that could make it easier to convince you that DI is awesome than it would be to convince a Roman general (who thinks ballistas are the apex of possible military technology) that physics is awesome is that you already have generalized concepts of things like "science" and "rationality" that I can activate with verbal tags like "science" and "rationality". So I'm trying to leverage that. The only thing I'm trying to sell you is that you try to get a copy of Theory of Instruction yourself from a local university library and at least try to start reading the section/chapter summaries. And even if you can't get it at a library, the book is forty dollars at the ADI store [] , which is a damn cheap text book. The reason you should care if DI is effective is that showing you the results from the Project Follow-Through graphs and the quote from the meta-analysis is the only quick clear way I've been able to think of to convince you that doing so is worth your time. (And yeah, I solemnly swear that I'm not getting a cut of that $40 bucks in any way, shape, or form. I bloody well hope that if I ever tried to scam people I'd be able to come up with more effective ways than this...)
Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 8

I think you can add Buffy the Vampire Slayer to the list. "Acathla" was the name of the demon that the big bads were attempting to summon (or reawaken) at the end of Buffy season 2.

REQ: Latin translation for HPMOR

You're right about nihilitas, it seems to have shifted sense since classical times. I should have been double-checking my work with a medieval dictionary. I do like inanitas.

I agree that supernus is absolute rather than relative, but I read the English version as having the absolute meaning: "Only nothingness above [i.e., in the heavens, where you'd expect gods to be, but they aren't, so there's nothingness instead]" so it seems like it fits.

REQ: Latin translation for HPMOR

Thanks for the link, that's a very nice medieval resource. I agree now that insuper here is okay, there were a couple of uses very much like yours. Interestingly, it seems that in the majority of those medieval citations, insuper wasn't related to location or being used as an adverb at was being used more often as a preposition (with accusative) meaning "beyond" or "in addition to".

Yes, it works just like the prefix-less super: it can be either an adverb or a preposition, and in either role it can be meant physically ("over") or metaphorically ("moreover"). The difference between insuper and super is pretty subtle, but I *think* the former fits better for a more 'static' meaning. It sucks having to rely on online resources though, that glossary is great for mass references but it's very lacking in proper dictionary entries. My paper dictionary is 2000km away, but tomorrow I'll stop at the library to borrow another.
REQ: Latin translation for HPMOR

This is also very good. I like the choice of nullus. A couple of quibbles, the first of which I'm more sure about than the second:

  • neque can't be doesn't have the usual word order freedom, it needs to be before whatever it's negating and joining.

  • (less sure on this one) insuper is an adverb rather than an adjective, so it can't be used as a predicate for the noun nihilum. The public-domain dictionary I checked Lewis' An Elementary Latin Dictionary has it as a qualifier for the verb in all three of the citations it gives for the relevant sense.

* Neque: you're right about this one. I was sure I had seen 'neque nec' used contiguously, but I must have misremembered as I can't find an example of that. Fixed. * I know "insuper" is an adverb; it works here just like "above" (which is also an adverb) does in English, i.e. they predicate an implicit verb "est / to be". EDIT: Just to be safe, I quickly checked the medieval dictionary [] I linked before, and it has plenty of instances of 'insuper' with ellipses of the verb.
Prisoner's Dilemma as a Game Theory Laboratory

What a great idea! I've sent you my strategy.

REQ: Latin translation for HPMOR

Yes, that's grammatical (as would be "nihilum supernum"). Those are closer to English "nothing" than "nothingness", and maybe too short to fit with the preceding lines, but I don't know if that's an issue.

This [] is a monolingual dictionary of medieval Latin, and the uses of "nihilitas" it quotes have a distinct moral connotation of humility/self-abjection (kind of like the English "I am nothing before you"); I can't find other uses of the term either. So I would probably steer away from 'nihilitas'. Depending on how 'physical' that "nothingness" is supposed to be, I would go for either just "nihilum" (more abstract) or "inanitas"/"vacuitas" (more concrete), as in the translation of Genesis "et terra erat vacuitas et inanitas" ("and the Earth was waste and void"). Also, "neque nec" seem to usually be placed next to each other. Finally, I think "supernus" has more of an absolute than relative meaning, i.e. something that is up high in the heavens, rather than specifically above the subject of the paragraph. Wouldn't you just use "insuper" in the latter case?
7Eliezer Yudkowsky11y
Maybe I'm pushing my luck, but "Nihil supernum"?
REQ: Latin translation for HPMOR

Here are some possibilities:

nulla res curans superna -> nothing above [i.e., in the heavens] that cares
nihil nisi stellae supernum -> nothing above but stars
nihil nisi inanitas supernum -> nothing above but the void (or, nothing above but emptiness)
nihilitas inanis superna -> an empty nothingness above (maybe too redundant?)

3Eliezer Yudkowsky11y
"Nihilitas superna"?
REQ: Latin translation for HPMOR

Yes, soter is a good word for savior. Google has the grammar wrong (it doesn't seem like it's even trying to decline, all the nouns were left as nominative). If you want to keep the parallelism you had in the English ("No X hath the X") it would need to be

Non est soteri soter


Non habet sotera soter

If you use the second, I guarantee you will get mail from well-meaning fans saying "You did that wrong! You need an accusative there, and Sotera isn't accusative!". Oddly, it is, though I would never have guessed without looking it up...appa... (read more)

I would be tempted to go with just "Nullus soter soteri", a more poetic construction that in English would be closer to "no saviour for the saviour", leaving verb 'est / there is' as implicit. This would also line up nicely with the following lines. edit: also "salvator" seems a better match to the "rescuer" meaning of "saviour" than "soter".
REQ: Latin translation for HPMOR

I went with nec because I liked the sound better with one syllable. Neque would work as well (as I understand it, the only difference is that neque slightly stresses that it is a conjuction).

As for modo/sola, I had sola but then changed it...both translations share the same issue, which is that the original English "only nothingness" doesn't quite work for me. "Only", to me, suggests that there's at least something. What do you think of the following sentences?

  • I listened at the window, but heard only nothing outside.
  • There were only z
... (read more)
Consider "I looked around me, and saw only empty space"; "I shouted and listened for an echo, but heard only silence"; "through one door I saw the familiar outside world; through the other, only the emptiness of space". "Nothingness" isn't quite the same as "nothing"; it means something more like "the appearance of nothing where you might have expected there to be something". (Perhaps that's why I thought inanitas (literally "emptiness") rather than nihilitas, but another reason is that I simply didn't think of nihilitas :-).) If nec and neque are semantically equivalent, then I agree with you in preferring nec defensori and neque victori on metrical grounds. If soter is acceptable Latin for saviour/rescuer, and if its (dubious) ablative is something like soteri -- neither of which I'd be too sure of! -- then "non est soteri soter. nec defensori dominus" is an improvement rhythmically. I think. I was never any good with Latin poetry.
5Eliezer Yudkowsky11y
Modifying the English isn't unthinkable. What sounds right in Latin?
REQ: Latin translation for HPMOR

Hmm..."victor" probably isn't a good choice here, though. I didn't recognize the ambiguity in the English at first, until I read Dallas' translation. "Champion" in English can mean "winner" or "defender/fighter for a cause", and I went with "winner", but I think Dallas is correct in thinking that Eliezer wanted the "defender" meaning. In that case, make the second line

"nec defensori Dominus"

(propugnatori, as Dallas has it, also has roughly the same meaning (shades up the "fighting" connotation), but ugh, five syllables with a glottal stop; I'd keep it to prose)

nec or neque? Doesn't modo usually indicate a quantitative restriction? ("You're only allowed 10 of those", "he was only just alive", etc.) Note: I'm basing this on looking it up in Lewis&Short, not on genuine expertise of my own. Where's the glottal stop in propugnatori? (Regardless, I like defensor.)
REQ: Latin translation for HPMOR

Okay, I'll stop lurking and register, if it will help get a new HPMOR out. Here is my translation:

non est salvatori salvator

neque victori Dominus

nec pater nec mater

modo nihilitas supera

I do have confidence in my translation, which I suppose is a tiny amount of evidence in its favor. The sense is very well preserved, and it has a rhythm that flows well (admittedly subjective). I did not fit it to a classical Latin poetic form such as a hexameter or elegaic couplet; I could do this as well but I doubt I could do it while leaving the sense strictly unchanged.... (read more)

Would nemo also work in the first line instead of non?
5Eliezer Yudkowsky11y
Thanks! Here for comparison is Google's translation: Non habet soter salvator. Vindex est dominus no, nec mater nec pater, modo nihil est. If "Soter" or "Sotehr" means "savior", as I seem to recall from Aristoi, that might suit the meaning well; and if the first line makes sense grammatically, of which no clue hath I, it has a good ring. "Defensori" does sound closer to the intended meaning than "victori" or "vindex". And whether "modo nihil est" means at all the same thing as "modo nihilitas supera", I've likewise no clue but it sounds like the "above" part was left out. If it actually does convey the same meaning, it is more compact. If this version works, it would have a powerful ring to it: Non habet soter salvator. Neque defensori dominus, nec pater, nec mater, modo nihil est. But one suspects that what's actually needed is: Non est salvatori salvator. Neque defensori dominus, nec pater, nec mater, modo nihilitas supera.

Hmm..."victor" probably isn't a good choice here, though. I didn't recognize the ambiguity in the English at first, until I read Dallas' translation. "Champion" in English can mean "winner" or "defender/fighter for a cause", and I went with "winner", but I think Dallas is correct in thinking that Eliezer wanted the "defender" meaning. In that case, make the second line

"nec defensori Dominus"

(propugnatori, as Dallas has it, also has roughly the same meaning (shades up the "fighting" connotation), but ugh, five syllables with a glottal stop; I'd keep it to prose)