All of JQuinton's Comments + Replies

When does heritable low fitness need to be explained?

Being a man greatly reduces reproductive fitness, compared to the reproductive success of women. E.g., at age 12, for example, the death rate for boys is 46 percent higher than the rate for girls. And there are probably other factors that add to less reproductive success among males besides death. Being both gay and male doesn't seem like that much of a difference.

If this were true, then the human species would acquire an unequal ratio of men to women (with more women), until the fitness of both was the same (because men would be in greater demand). There are species which work that way, like sea lions. This is known as Fisher's Principle.

8OrphanWilde7yMen and women have, on average, the same number of children. Gender doesn't affect reproductive fitness in and of itself.
Wild Moral Dilemmas

Most of the moral dilemmas I face in real life I've never read about in ethics or philosophy classes. Most of my real world experiences are more along the lines of decision theory/prisoner's dilemmas.

So for example, if someone has wronged me, what does moral philosophy say I should do? I'm not sure because I don't really know where to look or even if this question has been answered; to my knowledge it's never been addressed in any philosophy or ethics undergrad courses I took.

But from a prisoner's dilemma point of view, I have to juggle whether I should ... (read more)

Open Thread, May 4 - May 10, 2015

Here's my half-baked idea.

Since the world is becoming safer, we have less real threats to prevent general ennui and so petty status games start to take on more importance.

1Viliam7yAlternative hypothesis: it's about young adults from rich families, seeking status in the muggle world. In real life, if you are a spoiled rich kid, the best way to enjoy your wealth is to do things that most people don't do. Buy a private helicopter or a yacht, organize a huge party in your mansion, etc. You are invisible to the muggles, and the muggles are invisible to you; that contributes to social peace. However, this does not work on internet, because on internet the fun is where people are. Imagine that someone would create an alternative "Reddit Platinum" website where you would have to pay $1,000,000 every day to have an account. If you have more money than you can count, you could isolate yourself here from the muggles. The website would be wonderfully designed, and all bugs would be fixed immediately. The only problem is that there would be almost no interesting debates, because there would be not enough various people to bring new ideas. So even for a spoiled 1% kid, the muggle Reddit would be more fun then the "Reddit Platinum". On the other hand, the muggle Reddit would be frustrating for them, because they wouldn't receive the respect they get in the real life where everyone tries to kiss their assess. Instead, if they tried to pull the status card, people would make fun of them. The natural response would be to use their real-world resources to buy minions, and somehow use those minions as a support in online battles. And this is a problem that cannot be solved, because the parts of the online world where the rich kids can feel really good become boring as hell for everyone else, so most people move away, and the fun moves away, and the rich kids will try to conquer yet another part of the online world. It is a love-hate relationship towards the arrogant muggles: can't withstand their non-humble behavior, yet can't live online without them. EDIT: A weak-evidence datapoint: In Slovakia there was a website "", something like Facebook for r

Except that I would say this political hatred has taken off over the last five years, correlating far more with social media than with the world becoming safer. Has the world become safer over the last five years?

Open Thread, Apr. 20 - Apr. 26, 2015

Slightly off topic, but I both program and play guitar and for the longest time I was wondering why I was getting an overwhelming feeling of the two bleeding into each other. While playing guitar, it would "feel" like I was also coding. Eventually I figured out that the common thread is probably the general task of algorithm optimization.

There's no way for me to tell if programming made me a better guitar player or vice versa.

It might be a more valuable use of cognitive resources to recognize where bias in general comes from.

Rote memory tasks are good for trying to, say, guess the teacher's password. But it's a lot more efficient if you know what cognitive biases feel like and correct for that feeling ahead of time. In general, anytime something just feels right, you should trust but verify. Hindsight bias feels right when we look at things that already happened. Confirmation bias feels right when we see information that confirms what we already believe. Motivated skepticism fe... (read more)

Stupid Questions March 2015

I think the "everybody" is really an American-centric thing. As far as I can tell, all of the New Atheist types are non-European, or who focus most of their polemics on American audiences.

I've never lived in Europe, but this was my experience growing up in the US:

  • "You don't believe in Jesus/God? I must not have raised you right"
  • "You've treated me better than all of my previous boyfriends/girlfriends, but you don't believe in Jesus so I'm breaking up with you"
  • "You're new to the area? Where did you move from? Oh, Nowher
... (read more)
3[anonymous]7yThe funny thing is that everything I read (mainly fiction) or watch (movie) about the "cowboy" culture of rural America does not seem to reflect it much. OK it is clear that religion tends to ebb and flow, have low and high tides and there was a sort of a high one after 1970 ("moral majority"), still. Random example: Axl Rose from Guns'n'Roses. He is such a typical rural guy, in fact, he kind of revolutionized rock fashion by doing away with leathers and chains and basically dressing on stage like like a rural US agricultural tractor driver. There is hardly any reference to either religiousness or atheism in the songs. Just seems to not care. The whole rock and roll culture does not seem to care much and apparently never did, no matter how much I go back in time, Easy Riders, or even further. That matters, because that is the most popular aspect of America over here :) Many an aging Euro guy imitates all this ride choppers, wear cowboy boots and hats, indian jewelry, booorn to be wiiild kind of thing and it is authentic so far that at the very least the American musicians whose songs get listened to really don't seem to care either way. (Although of course there is one confounding factor: all this kind of thing feels very American but is often surprisingly not so, Born to be Wild is actually a Canadian song and so on, these things have a prairie-cowboy-freedom feel, but not really sure to what extent do the reflect actual American experiences or aspirations. This may be a different topic, but I think it is relevant to understanding. There is an America-as-a-concept many an aging Euro guy loves and religion does not seem to play much a role in it. It is based on various things. Like westerns. Who makes the westerns? Surprisingly, Italians like Mario Girotti! Let's test this! I love this shop, and wear some things from here, and it is not out of place at all for an older Euro guy esp. a bit outside cities. How does it look like with American eyes - completely fake?
... And Everyone Loses Their Minds

Seems like the same sort of bias reference class as the status quo bias.

Rationality Quotes December 2014

Non-agents simply don't fit the definition of "god"

This is false. Not only does the LW wiki have a definition of "god" that is a non-agent, the study of theology points one to numerous gods that people believe in that are non-agents. There's a reason that many of the popular monotheisms refer to their god as a personal god; it stands in contrast to the heresy of a non-personal (i.e., non-agent) god.

Open thread, Dec. 15 - Dec. 21, 2014

Yes, when I was in high school, I would do about 20 push ups as soon as I got out of bed. After that, my heartrate is a bit too high to go back to bed. Of course, after a while the 20 push ups would get easy so I would increase the number until I was doing about 50-70.

Rationality Quotes December 2014

“They, instead, commit the fundamental attribution error, which is if something good happens, it’s because I’m a genius. If something bad happens, it’s because someone’s an idiot or I didn’t get the resources or the market moved. … What we’ve seen is that the people who are the most successful here, who we want to hire, will have a fierce position. They’ll argue like hell. They’ll be zealots about their point of view. But then you say, ‘here’s a new fact,’ and they’ll go, ‘Oh, well, that changes things; you’re right.’”

6Jiro7yWouldn't something good happening correctly result in a Bayseian update on the probability that you are a genius, and something bad a Bayseian update on the probability that someone is an idiot? (perhaps even you)
Stupid Questions December 2014

Looking for some people to refute this recently hair-brained idea I came up with.

The time period from the advent of the industrial revolution to the so-called digital revolution was about 150 - 200 years. Even though computers were being used around WWII, widespread computer use didn't start to shake things up until 1990 or so. I would imagine that AI would constitute a similar fundamental shift in how we live our lives. So would it be a reasonable extrapolation to think that widespread AI would be about 150 - 200 years after the beginning of the information age?

4NobodyToday7yI'm a firstyear AI student, and we are currently in the middle of exploring AI 'history'. Ofcourse I don't know a lot about about AI yet, but the interesting part about learning of the history of AI is that in some sense the climax of AI-research is already behind us. People got very interested in AI after the Dartmouth conference ( [] ) and were so optimistic that they thought they could make an artificial intelligent system in 20 years. And here we are, still struggling with the seemingly simplest things such as computer vision etc. The problem is they came across some hard problems which they can't really ignore. One of them is the frame problem. []One of them is the common sense problem. Solutions to many of them (I believe) are either 1) huge brute-force power or 2) machine learning. And machine learning is a thing which we can't seem to get very far with. Programming a computer to program itself, I can understand why that must be quite difficult to accomplish. So since the 80s AI researchers have mainly focused on building expert systems: systems which can do a certain task much better than humans. But they lack in many things that are very easy for humans (which is apparently called the Moravec's paradox ). Anyway, the point Im trying to get across, and Im interested in hearing whether you agree or not, is that AI was/is very overrated. I doubt we can ever make a real artificial intelligent agent, unless we can solve the machine learning problem for real. And I doubt whether that is ever truly possible.

If you are doing reference class forecasting, you need at least a few members in your reference class and a few outside of it, together with the reasons why some are in and others out. If you are generalizing from one example, then, well...

By what principle would such an extrapolation be reasonable?

Rationality Quotes November 2014

I was at this entrepreneur dinner and I met Melissa, and she’s this brilliant, amazing entrepreneur. She was like, “Everyone I know wants me to write a book but I don’t have time and I’m not a good writer and publishing is this awful process … can you help me?” So, of course — I’d like to think that I’m not an elitist snob but of course I am — and I start lecturing her about hard work and writing and the writer’s life and all this shit and she rolls her fuckin’ eyes. And I’m like, “what?” and she’s like, “Are you an entrepreneur? I’m an entrepreneur, too,

... (read more)
Open thread, Nov. 17 - Nov. 23, 2014

I think I understand what you're talking about.

I didn't get internet access until I was almost in my 20s. So I grew up with certain talents where friends/family would consistently tell me that I was the best at what I did. Nowadays, you can go to online discussion boards where people who are the best of the best in field X congregate and see just how "average" you are in that bigger pond.

Though I was good enough to get into specialized high school/colleges for that, I chose not to go that route. I'm guessing that the same sort of seeing how average I was in that larger pond where everyone is at the top of their game would have happened anyway had I gone to those specialized schools.

Is this dark arts and if it, is it justified?

HPMOR is something that appeals to System 1 (an engaging story/narrative) to advertize for rationality. So I don't think appealing to System 1 per se implicates you as a dark arts practicioner.

2Gleb_Tsipursky7yGood point about HPMOR - we are also using things such as graphics and metaphors, but that's prolly not a big additional issue. Appreciate the support!
Open thread, Nov. 10 - Nov. 16, 2014

A friend of mine recently succumbed to using the base rate fallacy in a line of argumentation. I tried to explain that it was a base rate fallacy, but he just replied that the base rate is actually pretty high. The argument was him basically saying something equivalent to "If I had a disease that had a 1 in a million chance of survival and I survived it, it's not because I was the 1 in a million, it's because it was due to god's intervention". So I tried to point out that either his (subjective) base rate is wrong or his (subjective) conditional ... (read more)

0ChristianKl7yThere no reason why God in principle should be unable to choose which of the people of the mass of one million survives. If you don't have a model of how the one in a million gets cured you don't know that it wasn't the God of the gaps. In medicine you do find some people having theories according to which nobody should recover from cancer. The fact that there are cases in which the human immune system manages to kick out cancer does suggest that the orthodox view according to which cancer develops when a single cell mutates and the immune system has no way to kill mutated cells is wrong. Today we have sessions with a psychologists as the standard of care for cancer patients and we pushed back breast cancer detection screening because a lot of the "cancers" that the screening found just disappear on their own and it doesn't make sense to operate them away.
2MrMind7yThis. Since P(S) = P(S|A)P(A) + P(S|-A)P(-A), and P(S|A)P(A) is already .99, then P(S) cannot be .000001. Those two assertions are contradicting each other: you cannot coherently believe a composite event (suriving an illness) less than you believe each factor (surviving the illness with the aid of magic). If you believe that God will cure everyone who gets the disease (P(S|A) = 1) and God is already a certainty (P(A) = .99), then why so few people survive the illness? One possibility is that it's P(S|-A) that is one in a million (surviving without God is extremely rare). In this case: P(A|S) = P(S|A) P(A) / P(S) --> P(A|S) = P(S|A) P(A) / (P(S|A) P(A) + P(S|-A) P(-A)) --> P(A|S) =1 .99 / (1 .99 + .000001 * .01) --> P(A|S) = .99 / (.99 + .00000001) --> P(A|S) = .99 / .99000001 --> P(A|S) = .9999999... If you already believe that curing aliens are a certainty, then for sure surviving an illness that has only a millionth possibility otherwise, will bring up your belief up to almost a certainty. Another possible interpretation, that keeps P(S) = .000001, is that P(S|A) is not the certainty. Possibly God will not cure everyone who gets the disease, but only those who deserves it, and this explains why so few survive. In this case: P(S) = x .99 + y .01 = .000001 --> P(A|S) = x * .99 / .000001 a number that depends on how many people God considers worthy of surviving.
2Osho7yI think your denominator in your original equation is missing a second term. That is why you get a non-probability for your answer. See here: []
2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey

Took it.

This is my second year taking the survey. I wish I remembered what my answers were last year so I could see how I've changed.

In the grim darkness of the far future there is only war continued by other means

I don't think PvE is necessarily scientific knowledge. It's more like experience (to expound on the analogy further). While we're currently in one environment -- Earth -- it might be possible for us to explore other environments in the future. But, like the analogy proposes, it would take an enormous amount of manhours/manpower to actually reach this new content.

Rationality Quotes October 2014

This is a quote from memory from one of my professors in grad school:

Last quarble, the shanklefaxes ulugled the flurxurs. The flurxurs needed ulugled because they were mofoxiliating, which caused amaliaxas in the hurble-flurble. The shakletfaxes domonoxed a wokuflok who ulugles flurxurs, because wokuflok nuxioses less than iliox nuxioses.

  1. When did the shaklefaxes ulugle the flurxurs?
  2. Why did the shaklefaxes ulugle the flurxurs?
  3. Who did they get to ulugle the flurxurs?
  4. If you were the shaklefaxes, would you have your ulugled flurxurs? Why or why not?
  5. Wou
... (read more)
2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey - Call For Critiques/Questions

Do you think the survey should also take into account BMI + bodyfat % if it includes fitness questions?

1Emily7yCould be a good addition! I don't really know what the purpose of these questions is other than vague general interest... is there some hypothesis like "people who think there will be a Singularity soon are more active/healthier than people who think it will be less soon / never"??
2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey - Call For Critiques/Questions

What does it mean "studied it at university"? Do you mean something like "Took econ 101 and 102 as part of gen ed requirements" or "majored in economics"?

5Emile7yThe goal is to give reference points for the jumerical scale so the numbers can be more meaningfully compared, not necessarily to have a detailed reference that will annoy some people (too much to read) and confuse others (don't fit in). I was thinking of something intermediate, like "took specialized classes, not 101", but I'm afraid being too specific about education means people will not take into account other things like how much they forgot or how much they learnt in the meantime. Someone who took econ 101 but works in a bank and argues about economic policy on the internet everyday and read a few good books is probably more knowledgeale than someone who majored in economics and then said "screw it all" and became an actor.
2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey - Call For Critiques/Questions

A random comment.

This is the first time I've seen "anti-agathics". Based on what I know of biblical Greek, I read this as something that would be like "anti-good". If I had been in charge of making up an anti-aging drug, I would have called it something like anti-presbycs (maybe that wasn't chosen because it looks too much like "presbyterian"? Presbyterian does derive from the world meaning "elder"...).

This isn't a request to change the wording if that's what people who will be taking the survey are familiar with BTW... (read more)

Questions on Theism

Miracle claims are on shaky epistemic grounds. How do you confirm it was a miracle and not someone being mistaken about some phenomenon? Or more likely, that they don't have enough knowledge of the physical or cognitive sciences to know whether some phenomenon is possible or miraculous?

The proper use of humility is to take into account that we are human beings and we make mistakes and we have insufficient information, so we should try to anticipate our mistakes or lack of info and correct for them in advance. Meaning that one should have the prior for &qu... (read more)

Rationality Quotes October 2014

When I was 16, I wanted to follow in my grandfathers footsteps. I wanted to be a tradesman. I wanted to build things, and fix things, and make things with my own two hands. This was my passion, and I followed it for years. I took all the shop classes at school, and did all I could to absorb the knowledge and skill that came so easily to my granddad. Unfortunately, the handy gene skipped over me, and I became frustrated. But I remained determined to do whatever it took to become a tradesman.

One day, I brought home a sconce from woodshop that looked like a

... (read more)
0Lumifer7yYeah, see this [] :-)
Open thread, September 22-28, 2014

Modus ponens can be demonstrated to be a valid assumption by drawing up a truth table. How do you demonstrate that "people are more likely to believe true things"?

0DanielLC7yUsing truth tables seems more complicated than modus ponens. I would expict it would be better to use modus ponens to justify truth tables as opposed to the other way around. Regardless, you need to start with something. You can't justify modus ponens to a rock. If you don't think people are more likely to believe true things, then how do you justify any of that stuff you just said being true?
Open thread, September 22-28, 2014

People are more likely to believe true things

How do you know this?

0DanielLC7yIt's an implicit assumption that you have to make before you can get anywhere, like modus ponens. From there, you can refine your beliefs more.
Open thread, September 22-28, 2014

People tend not to believe things because they're true, but for some other reason.

Pr(People Believe | True) < Pr(People Believe | Some other explanation)? I would hazard to guess that the number of untrue things people have believed all throughout human history overshadows the number of things they (we) have believed that were actually true.

It's a bit of an ad hominem, but logical fallacies can be viewed as weak Bayesian evidence.

Overcoming Decision Anxiety

In the military, we had sort of ready-made memes for dealing with decision anxiety. In leadership schools it is taught with more seriousness, but in the field (so to say) we would just refer to it as "making a (fucking!) command decision". Since being in the military you have to be prepared for making a decision in a life or death situation, time is critically important. So it was drilled into us to make any decision if we have significant and/or crippling anxiety about the choices to be made. If a bad decision is made, so what? Suck it up and pr... (read more)

0[anonymous]6yYou could call those military uniforms 'decision fatigue(s)' ha ha ha
Anthropics doesn't explain why the Cold War stayed Cold

...and that's why anthropics doesn't explain why the Cold War stayed cold.

1Vulture7yExactly. That is the point I was trying to make.
Open thread, 25-31 August 2014

The motivating practical problem came from this question,

"guess the rule governing the following sequence" 11, 31, 41, 61, 71, 101, 131, ...

I cried, "Ah the sequence is increasing!" With pride I looked into the back of the book and found the answer "primes ending in 1".

I'm trying to zone in on what I did wrong.

If I had said instead, the sequence is a list of numbers - that would be stupider, but well inline with my previous logic.

My first attempt at explaining my mistake, was by arguing "it's an increasing sequence"

... (read more)
Open thread, 25-31 August 2014

I'm guessing that the rule P(A & B) < P(A) is for independent variables (though it's actually more accurate to say P(A & B) <= P(A) ). If you have dependent variables, then you use Bayes Theorem to update. P(A & B) is different from P(A | B). P(A & B) <= P(A) is always true, but not so for P(A | B) viz. P(A).

This is probably an incomplete or inadequate explanation, though. I think there was a thread about this a long time ago, but I can't find it. My Google-fu is not that strong.

Anthropics doesn't explain why the Cold War stayed Cold

You can make an anthropic reasoning argument using any almost-wiped out ethnicity.

For example, Native Americans. Someone born to a Native American tribe is more likely to live in a world where Europe didn't successfully colonize the Americas than the current timeline. It's the same anthropic reasoning, but the problem is that it's fallacious to rest an entire argument on that one piece of evidence.

Unless I'm missing something, this version of anthropic reasoning seems to be making this argument: Pr(E | H) = Pr(H | E).

0Vulture7yBut in our timeline, the anthropic evidence is outweighed by much stronger regular-old evidence that Europe did, in fact, successfully colonize the Americas
What is the difference between rationality and intelligence?

Using a car analogy, I would say that intelligence is how strong your engine is. Whereas rationality is driving in a way where you get to your destination efficiently and alive. Someone can have a car with a really powerful engine, but they might drive recklessly or only have the huge engine for signalling purposes while not actually using their car to get to a particular destination.

0ESRogs7yI think I agree with this and would frame it as: intelligence is for solving problems, and rationality is for making decisions.
32ZctE7yI don't know if this analogy has been used before but how about: "Intelligence is firepower, rationality is aim." (And the information you have to draw from is ammunition maybe?) You can draw parallels in terms of precision and consistency, systematically over/undershooting, and it works well with the expression "blowing your foot off"
1RomeoStevens7yI like the mechanical analogy, here's a slightly different version. IQ is like the horsepower/torque of an engine. You might have a really fast engine but it has to be hooked up to something or it will just sit there spinning really fast making lots of noise. Rationality is learning about all the things an engine can be used to do. There are all sorts of useful modules that you didn't know existed. An engine can run anything from a car, to a textile factory, you just have to have the right modules hooked up. Now bring it back from the analogy. Literally every single thing in human civilization is run off the same engine, the human brain. They just have different modules hooked up to them. Some modules are complex and take years to learn. Some are so complex no one is really sure how they work. Rationality training is acknowledging that exploring the space of possible modules and figuring out how to hook them up in general is probably powerful, if there is sufficient overlap between domains.
1Lumifer7yIn other words, it's not how big it is, it's how you use it that matters? X-D
Open thread, July 21-27, 2014

Question about Bayesian updates.

Say Jane goes to get a cancer screening. 5% prior of having cancer, the machine has a success rate of 80% and a false positive rate of 9%. Jane gets a positive on the test and so she now has a ~30% chance of having cancer.

Jane goes to get a second opinion across the country. A second cancer screening (same success/false positive rates) says she doesn't have cancer. What is her probability for having cancer now?

2ChristianKl7yWhat does "success rate" mean?
4Unnamed7y(Assuming that two tests are independent, which is a rather unrealistic assumption in this case) If you know how to calculate the ~30% answer to the first part of the question, then this problem is pretty straightforward to solve. Just use Bayes' rule again, treating the posterior from your first calculation (~30%) as your prior for the next calculation. If Kim came from a population that had a ~30% prior of having cancer and took one test which came out negative, then her probability after that one test would be the same as Jane's probability after both tests.
3Manfred7yDoing this with probabilities is a bit more complicated than what Coscott did, but to illustrate it anyhow... where A is cancer and and C are the two test results, P(A|BC)=P(A) P(BC|A) / P(BC). P(A) is our prior of 5%. Because B and C are independent, P(BC|A) is just 0.8 * 0.2. P(BC) is where using probabilities is more complicated than using odds, because it's not the probability of false positives, it's the total prior probability of seeing B and then C. Using the product rule, P(BC) = P(B)*P(C|B). Then splitting the possibilities up into cancer and not-cancer, this becomes (P(AB)+P(¬A B))*(P(AC|B)+P(¬A C|B)). Because B and C are independent, the second part becomes (product rule) P(A|B)*P(C|A)+P(¬A|B)*P(C|¬A) - note that even when we added both pieces of evidence at once, we still have to calculate the intermediate probability P(A|B)! Stupid non-time-saving grumble grumble. Anyhow, if you plug in the numbers, it's ~0.094.
8polymathwannabe7yAccording to your percentages, out of every 10,000 women, 5% = 500 have cancer and 95% = 9,500 do not. Of those 500 women with cancer, 80% = 400 will get a positive test and 20% = 100 will get a negative one. Out of those 9,500 women without cancer, 9% = 855 will get a positive test and 91% = 8,645 will get a negative one. After taking the first test, Jane belongs to the group of 1,255 women out of every 10,000 who have a positive test. Of those 1,255 women, 400 have cancer. Jane's likelihood of having cancer is 400/1,255 = 31.87%. If we take those 1,255 women to a second test, 80% = 320 of the 400 women with cancer will get a positive test and 20% = 80 will get a negative test. Of those same 1,255 women with a first positive test, 9% = 77 of the 855 women without cancer will get a positive test and 91% = 778 will get a negative test. After taking the second test, Jane belongs to the group of 858 women out of every 10,000 with one positive and one negative test. Of those 858 women, 80 have cancer. Now Jane's likelihood of having cancer is 80/858 = 9.32%.
7Scott Garrabrant7yAre we assuming the two tests are independent? If so, the original cancer rate was 5:95. Multiply that by 80:9 for the likelihood ratio of getting a positive to get 400:855, which is ~30% as you said. Then, you multiply by the likelihood ratio of getting the second negative 20:91, to get 8000:77805, which as a probability is 8000/(8000+77805)~9.3%.
Bragging Thread, July 2014

I made a heavy metal cover of the final boss' theme from the arcade version of Strider

I've submitted it to the OCRemix webpage so hopefully it will get accepted sometime this... year?

I was also noodling around with Java and made a Bayes Theorem ex jar with neat little slidy-bars.

I've also started a Master's program in Compsci.

How do you notice when you are ignorant of necessary alternative hypotheses?

You should probably be skeptical when presented with binary hypotheses (either by someone else or by default). Say in this example that H1 is "emergence". The alternative for H1 isn't "mind-stuff" but simply ~H1. This includes the possibility of "mind-stuff" but also any alternatives to both emergence and mindstuff. Maybe a good rule to follow would be to assume and account for your ignorance from the beginning instead of trying to notice it.

One way to make this explicit might be to always have at least three hypotheses: One i... (read more)

Questioning and Respect

Yes, "Tell me more" is certainly more effective than saying something like "I don't think that's true". Even if you don't think it's true, following a Socractic dialog will probably be more useful at uncovering untruth without being overtly offensive.

4pianoforte6118yBeware, Socratic dialogs can also piss people off. But yes, "tell me more" or "why do you say that?" are better than "nope".
[meta] Policy for dealing with users suspected/guilty of mass-downvote harassment?

I suggested in another thread that successive downvotes on (1) one person's account (2) over a certain number of downvotes (3) within a set period of time should prompt the system to tell the user that they have to sacrifice personal karma until (x) days later in order to use up/downvotes.

Something like this is already in place, where a person has to sacrifice karma in order to comment on a post that itself is below a certain karma threshold.

AI is Software is AI

We don't judge dogs only by how human they are

No, but we do judge dogs by how intelligent they are. And there are certain dogs that are more intelligent than others. Intelligence != human intelligence. Furthermore, most software only interacts with other software/hardware/firmware. To the extent that it interacts with meatspace that interaction is mediated by a person. AI would be software that interacts efficiently with meatspace directly without human intervention.

If AI is software is AI, then human intelligence is DNA is human intelligence. An obvious non-sequitur.

-4AndyWood8yTake google maps. On one end, it interacts through road sensors. On the other end, it serves us by telling about traffic.
[LINK] Utilitarian self-driving cars?

I wonder if they're actually using a utility function as in [probability * utility] or just going with [aim for safe car > unsafe car] unilaterally regardless of the likelihood of crashing into either. E.g., treating a 1% chance of crashing into the safe car and a 80% chance of crashing into the unsafe car as equal to 99% chance of crashing into the safe car and a .05% chance of crashing into the unsafe car; choosing in both cases to crash into the safe car.

2V_V8yThe article is speculation about moral (and legal) issues of plausibly near-future technology, current self-driving cars are experimental vehicles not designed to safely operate autonomously under emergency situations.
Rationality Quotes May 2014

I would think that believing Jesus didn't exist would be just as absurd as thinking that all or almost all of the events in the Gospels literally happened. Yet the latter make up a significant number of practicing Biblical scholars. And for the majority of Biblical scholars who don't think the Gospels are almost literally true, still have a form of Jesus-worship going on as they are practicing Christians. It would be hard to think that Jesus both came back from the dead and also didn't exist; meaning that it would be very hard to remain a Christian while a... (read more)

Rationality Quotes May 2014

Yes, either X happens or X doesn't happen. P(X) + P(~X) = 1, so therefore P(X | A) + P(~X | A) = 1. Both formulations are stating the probability of X. But one is adjusting for the probability of X given A; so either X given A happens or X given A doesn't happen (which is P(~X | A) not P(X | ~A)).

What do rationalists think about the afterlife?

And finally, since we have no data, what can we say about the likelihood of our consciousness returning/remaining after we die? I would say the chances are 50/50. For something you have no data on, any outcome is equally likely

I don't think that's true. It's not that we have no data; we still have prior probability. And with that, all of our background knowledge that goes into that prior which function as data. Theories aren't argued in isolation!

Think about how many things need to be true in order for consciousness to "return" after we die, a... (read more)

Meetup : Montreal - How to be charismatic

I did a lot of research into this for my youtube channel

Where is your YouTube channel? I'd be interested in looking at the charisma stuff you've posted.

0EGarrett8yOh, I haven't posted anything on it yet, but I was researching it in order to work on my own narration. The channel is at and is devoted largely to books and movies and my own theories I developed working as a Story Analyst, sort-of like Freakonomics for Entertainment. If you like the videos, subscribe, I have tons of stuff planned. :)
Open Thread, May 12 - 18, 2014

If you ask her a direct question, I would take into account that this would more than likely engage her press secretary and might not get the logical answer you are looking for.

0MrMind8yYeah, I explained myself poorly. By 'logical' I meant the 'rationalized' explanation. It should at least tell me if she's aware of the behaviour or not.
Open Thread, May 12 - 18, 2014

If it were me, I would just assume she was lightheartedly teasing. If that's the case, the course of action would be to tease back, but also in a lighthearted way. Either that, or reply with an extremely exaggerated form of self-deprecation; agree with her teasing but in a way that exaggerates the original intent. Even if that's not the case, and she's being vindictive, I think responding as though she were teasing would be ideal anyway.


"I tripped and almost fell on you. Oh but you would be happy if I accidentally fell on you, right?" (t... (read more)

0MrMind8yI'll implement the 'tease back' strategy, plus I will also mention that I've noticed that she's treating me worse than usual lately. This way I'll gather intel both from her emotional and logical reactions, and will try to make up a single model of the situation.
Questions to ask theist philosophers? I will soon be speaking with several

You can probably ask them a variant of the Monday/Tuesday game, but for different religious traditions.

How do you approach the problem of social discovery?

I would like to go to a meetup, but I'm usually out of town on the weekends. One of these days, I'll make it out :)

I usually go to the dances in Baltimore on either Monday or Friday night, and head to DC to dance blues on Wednesday or Thursday. Every now and then I've gone to the swing dance in DC on Tuesday nights (I think that's the one on U. St. called Jam Cellar). There's actually a really big swing dance event this weekend in DC so I'll be around for that.

How do you approach the problem of social discovery?

Probably not. I used up a lot of my vacation time due to all of the snow earlier this year and I'm going to Brazil next week. I'm attempting to save up some vacation days in time for an exchange in Germany in the fall.

How do you approach the problem of social discovery?

I'm part of the swing and blues dance scene in the Baltimore/DC area. There are a lot of nerdy/intellectual types in this scene so there's really no shortage of finding intelligent people to talk to. And the people I know who fit that type isn't limited to Baltimore/DC; I travel around a lot for dancing (Las Vegas, Montreal, London, etc.) and a lot of the same type of people are in the scene internationally.

I've been doing this for about 10 years so I'm also somewhat well connected. There's almost always some dance party to go to on the weekend in some city that I can drive to.

3maia8yLot of DC area people in this thread, it seems. Are you near enough that a plug for the DC LessWrong meetup would make sense? If so: consider attending your local DC LessWrong meetup, because we are cool and you are probably cool. Also, which swing dances do you tend to go to? I have gotten part of our group together to go to the one on U St. a few times.
0sixes_and_sevens8yWill you be at London Lindy Exchange this year?
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