All of JulianMorrison's Comments + Replies

Thwarted+joy beats desolation+schadenfreude as a utility win even if they were dividing a teddy bear.

As a transhumanist, that does not follow.

Now learn the Portia trick, and don't be so sure that you can judge power in a mind that doesn't share our evolutionary history.

Also watch the Alien movies, because those aren't bad models of what a maximizer would be like if it was somewhere between animalistic and closely subhuman. Xenomorphs are basically xenomorph-maximizers. In the fourth movie, the scientists try to cut a deal. The xenomorph queen plays along - until she doesn't. She's always, always plotting. Not evil, just purposeful with purposes that are inimical to ours. (I know, generalizing fr... (read more)

The thing is, in evolutionary terms, humans were human-maximizers. To use a more direct example, a lot of empires throughout history have been empire-maximizers. Now, a true maximizer would probably turn on allies (or neutrals) faster than a human or a human tribe or human state would- although I think part of the constraints on that with human evolution are 1. it being difficult to constantly check if it's worth it to betray your allies, and 2. it being risky to try when you're just barely past the point where you think it's worth it. Also there's the other humans/other nations around, which might or might not apply in interstellar politics. ...although I've just reminded myself that this discussion is largely pointless anyway, since the chance of encountering aliens close enough to play politics with is really tiny, and so is the chance of inventing an AI we could play politics with. The closest things we have a significant chance of encountering are a first-strike-wins situation, or a MAD situation (which I define as "first strike would win but the other side can see it coming and retaliate"), both of which change the dynamics drastically. (I suppose it's valid in first-strike-wins, except in that situation the other side will never tell you their opinion on morality, and you're unlikely to know with certainty that the other side is an optimizer without them telling you)
Okay. What's scary is that it might be powerful. And how well does she do? How well would she have done had she cooperated from the beginning? I haven't watched the movies. I suppose it's possible that the humans would just never be willing to cooperate with Xenomorphs on a large scale, but I doubt that.

Not unless you like working with an utterly driven monomaniac perfect psychopath. It would always, always be "cannot overpower humans yet". One slip, and it would turn on you without missing a beat. No deal. Open fire.

I would consider almost powerful enough to overpower humanity "powerful". I meant something closer to human-level.

Suppose I destroy the timeline, and create an identical one. Have I committed a moral evil? No, because nothing has been lost.

Suppose I destroy the timeline, and restart from an earlier point. Have I committed a moral evil? Very much yes. What was lost? To give only one person's example from Flight of the Navigator out of a planet of billions, out of a whole universe, the younger brother who was left behind had spent years - of personal growth, of creating value and memories - helping his parents with their quixotic search. And then bonding with the new younger "older" brother, rejoicing with his parents, marvelling at the space ship. And then he was erased.

1. These experiences aren't undone. They are stopped. There is a difference. Something happy that happens, and then is over, still counts as a happy thing. 2. You destroy valuable lives. You also create valuable lives. If creating things has as much value as maintaining them does, then the act of creative destruction is morally neutral. Since the only reasons that I can think of why maintaining lives might matter are also reasons that the existence of life is a good thing, I think that maintenance and creation are morally equal.
Suppose I have the opportunity to end literally all suffering in the universe, and choose not to.
I don't disagree that things are lost. But on the other hand, there are things that the new timeline has that the old timeline didn't as well. In the new timeline, the younger brother also has experiences that his counterpart in the old timeline did not. By choosing not to destroy the timeline to create a new one, you deny the new-timeline younger brother his experiences, as well as everyone else in the new universe. Either way, something is lost. It seems that the only reason to treat the original universe as special is status-quo bias.

A time loop amounts to a pocket eternity. How will you power the computer? Drop a sun in there, pick out a brown dwarf. That gives you maybe ten billion years of compute time, which isn't much.

Because thermodynamics and Shannon entropy [] are equivalent, all computationally reversible [] processes are thermodynamically reversible as well, at least in principle. Thus, you only need to "consume" power when doing a destructive update (i.e., overwriting memory locations) - and the minimum amount of energy necessary to do this per-bit is known [], just like the maximum efficiency of a heat engine is known []. Of course, for a closed timelike loop, the entire process has to return to its start state, which means there is theoretically zero net energy loss (otherwise the loop wouldn't be stable).
I was assuming a wormhole-like device with a timelike separation between the entrance and exit. The computer takes a problem statement and an ordering over the solution space, then receives a proposed solution from the time machine. It checks the solution for validity, and if valid sends the same solution into the time machine. If not valid, it sends the lexically following solution back. The computer experiences no additional time in relation to the operator and the rest of the universe, and the only thing that goes through the time machine is a bit string equal to the answer (plus whatever photons or other physical representation is required to store that information). In other words, exactly the protocol Harry uses in HPMoR. Is there some reason this protocol is invalid? If so, I don't believe I've seen it discussed in the literature.
Can't you just receive a packet of data from the future, verify it, then send it back into the past? Wouldn't that avoid having an eternal computer?

Yes, I remember when as a teen I first read Diane Duane's "Door into..." series and found it a beautiful idea, but completely implausible, that a woman could have a wife. And yet it happened. And it isn't a tenth of the way to what a world would be like without patriarchy.

Let me put it this way - I think that the endpoint would be a culture that doesn't even socially mark sex as a category, treating it as (in any given pair of a mated group) "biologically compatible as-is" or "biologically compatible with medical help" (such a... (read more)

That viewpoint, in itself, is at least partially cultural. Yes, there are other means of oppression; people can be oppressed for having the wrong sort of noses, or living on the wrong side of the river, or coming from the wrong family. These I see as seperate, though related problems; resolving the issue of race will do nothing directly about the other problems (and may even throw them into sharper relief), but I don't think it's a good idea to refuse to solve one problem just because others might still exist.
That's one conclusion - but there's a whole debate about how best to move forward that your conclusion just ducked. Making descendents pay for the mistakes of the ancestors vs. wiping the slate clean of all cultural baggage. In practice, the distinction matters less because we haven't found any successful (or even partially successful) technique that wipes out all cultural baggage. But if I found a pill that could restart all cultural baggage for everyone but prevented all reparations, I'd be sorely tempted to use it.

And fuel requirements too, for similar reasons.

Why do the fuel requirements go up? Where did they come from in the first place?

As someone who cares about anti-sexism and anti-racism, I actually agree that few people can describe the end state of eliminating them. I have difficulty myself. The reason I have difficulty is that sexism and racism are both utterly stonking huge things that distort this culture like an elephant sitting on a soccer ball. What that means is that a world with no trace of patriarchy and no trace of white supremacy would be a "wierdtopia". Even for those who wanted it, it would be culture shock on the order of a 15th century samurai class retainer ... (read more)

I was thinking of something smaller-- I don't see people talking about a social group or organization which was both diverse and safe (or perhaps even just reliably safe for non-privileged people), even if it was just for a short but extraordinary period.

And as for weirdtopia, in some ways we're already there. It took me three or four years to stop thinking that having gay marriage as a serious political issue wasn't something out of 1950s satirical science fiction. I was never opposed to it, just surprised that it ever got on the agenda.

How do you tell whether someone has unshakable beliefs?

If a lie makes them back off, lying is good.

Be cautious. Be extremely cautious.

BTW, by "assuming girls are upset where they'd assume boys are angry" I am referring to unconscious fact judgements about infants too young to verbalize the problem. (Cite: "pink brain blue brain" by Lise Eliot). Macho emotions are attributed to babies in who appear male and gentle ones to babies who appear female. Since baby sex is almost unmarked, that means going by the colour of the clothes. (And google "baby Storm" for an example of adults panicking and pillorying the parents if the cues that allow them to gender the baby are intentionally witheld.)

4Swimmer963 (Miranda Dixon-Luinenburg) 11y
Ohh. Oops. Not how I interpreted it. Your original meaning is much less likely to be a true-ish stereotype than my interpretation.

The Star Wars series is about the tragic destruction of one planet and two death stars, and the childish bickering that caused it.

Flight of the Navigator ends the timeline. It destroys every planet, every star, every wandering spaceship billions of light years into the dark, total universal omnicide. And a reboot into a new timeline from a previously existing history.

Why would the old timeline deserve to exist more than the new one?
And it does it on a routine basis. After all, most of the critters are returned to the moment they were taken.
Upvoted for "omnicide".

Re [1] I totally noticed that "Flight of the Navigator" is a story about a kidnapped, returned boy who forges a new relationship with his older parents and ex younger, now older brother, and a cute nurse at the government facility, and then kills them all.

To say understanding this spoiled the story for me is an understatement. That movie has more dead people than Star Wars. It's a fricken' tragedy.

Its okay. In the new timeline, the nurse went on to be a sex columnist.
Um. Doesn't Star Wars (I take it we're talking about the movie otherwise known as "Episode IV" rather than the whole series) more or less begin with the destruction of an entire planet? And ... is it actually clear that the only way to implement time travel is the one Eliezer describes, and that it's best described as killing everyone involved? It doesn't look that way to me. But I haven't seen Flight of the Navigator so maybe there are details that nail things down more.

Once your cause has embraced the dark arts how can you be sure what you're doing is actually saving people from hurting? Are you sure the evidence for this belief, or the evidence that convinced you to join that cause in the first place wasn't just another 'pious lie'?

The interesting question is what measures will pay off best in the long run.

Actually lying about the science might blow up later. On the other hand, saying that we don't know what causes gender dysmorphia, but it begins very young, is not a matter of choice, and gets relieved by living as the gender that feels right to the dysmorphic person-- and living in that way is not harmful-- is harder to say forcefully than to say "born that way".

We're willing to do any damn thing to find a sense of closure, of vindication. We don't actually care to reduce evil, since we're subconsciously quite aware that it would require us to take unacceptable measures.
To enforce a ruthless order and violate the sanctity of the individual, to disarm the weak and make them submit to their fate. Many here have been hinting darkly at this for a long time.
The reactionaries are completely correct in their bleak worldview. There is no deliverance. Good intentions are a self-righteous delusion, in a sense. Suffering can... (read more)

A not-loaded gun is still a weapon, it's just one that isn't useful to somebody lacking in upper-body strength. And they might have loaded guns, and then you're in a western standoff (cue whistling, tumbleweed) and you've brought an awkward metal club to a gunfight. Lets not do that either.

Not arguing with you there. Funny and safe are entirely different things.

The counterpoint to that is "If you’re interested in being on the right side of disputes, you will refute your opponents' arguments. But if you're interested in producing truth, you will fix your opponents' arguments for them. To win, you must fight not only the creature you encounter; you [also] must fight the most horrible thing that can be constructed from its corpse."

The trouble with "Increase expected associated risk" is that catcalling is normalized in this culture as a thing men are allowed to do to women against their will - a response that treats it as an assault (pepper spray to the eyes, for example) would be considered an over-reaction.

I strongly recommend against deploying a weapon as an empty threat. Don't pull a gun unless you expect to have both the intent and the willingness to kill. Otherwise you just gave them a weapon and an excuse.

As if the fulfillment of this condition makes it good advice to respond to verbal aggressiveness with gun threats. Worse still, someone who is actually capable of shooting people over lewd remarks would probably be considered too much of a psycho to have been allowed a gun in the first place. (Not disagreeing with you there, just pointing out that there are stronger objections to be raised against that recommendation -- from the point of view of legal consequences, not just of immediate safety.)
I never said the gun should be loaded ... In all seriousness, though, you're right. Pulling a gun would be a terrible idea, no matter how much the idea amuses me.

I am saying that a trans person can only be diagnosed by saying "I experience myself as [fill in the blank]" because that unspoken, personal experience is what trans is. Not the brain stuff. That may be what trans is caused by. It's like having a sore toe, that can be caused by a dropped hammer or kicking the door, but the essence of sore toeness can't be determined by testing for hammers and a negative test for a dropped hammer would not disprove it, the essence of sore toeness is the ouch.

"I experience myself as a beetle in a box."
I'm pretty sure that the ouch is merely evidence that someone is experiencing pain. We're perilously close to arguing definitions here, though. If someone developed such a scan and there were a lot of trans people coming up as cis that would be warning sign, but it is not impossible (merely unlikely) that there are "trans" people who have more in common with cis people than "real" trans people. EDIT: it may help to consider autism here. FURTHER EDIT: dammit, stupid karma toll cutting off my discussions.

You don't have experience, and you turn away vicarious experience - the inferential distance is too large.

I have the experience of being a male and having other males make unsolicited greetings, which makes me uncomfortable and generally resembles what Nancy reported. Since I doubt the same phenomenon is responsible for the greetings I receive and the "catcalling"many women report, I suggested that Nancy's experiences had a different cause to regular, sexual catcalling. I may have made some sort of error, but if so I would prefer you point it out rather than baldly accuse me of a failure of empathy.

Then you are perpetuating cissexism.

And no it doesn't, there are brain areas that are statistically different in the small population of trans brains donated to science, but there is no brain scan for trans and it would be useless anyway, because if you experience yourself as trans and the scan says "nope" it's the scan that's wrong. The individual is the sole authority and the diagnosis is by telling a shrink what you experience.

... how so? The fact that we cannot currently diagnose gender dysphoria [EDIT: in a living subject] with a brain scan does not change the fact that it is caused by a neurological disorder, and as such is biological, not a choice. Are you saying that cisgendered people should be eligible for gender reassignment surgery and so on, or that any brain-scan based test will be imperfect?

Don't ask for a source of something that clearly is an interpretation of observation not a study. That's pretty clearly acting dismissively.

And you know what I mean about claiming ownership too. Those comments are said by men to women in a particular way that is more intrusive and different from the way they are said to you. You are being dismissive here too.

I find "source please" only somewhat dismissive, but I would find it similarly so if the claim was a more direct, less empirical one. I read "source please" as a statement that your interpretive claim is too strong to be supported by the quantity of interpretation you have provided. There is no reason your source could not be an essay instead of a pile of data and statistics. Hopefully such an essay would make use of at least some quantity of data. Non-obvious interpretations need justification for all the same reasons that non-obvious direct empirical claims do, and I don't think it's more or less dismissive in one case than the other to call for a source. Specifically, what I find dismissive is not the request for a source, but the failure to engage the claim otherwise. That said, I'm not sure I find it inappropriate here.
I would like to know what evidence you have for your claims. Without evidence, yes, I'm going to dismiss them, because they fit a profile of stereotyping that, in my experience, is tied to factually wrong statements about my gender. I have my suspicions, but that doesn't address my point. I was suggesting that sexual comments and greetings may have different causes. Since I receive greetings that sound similar to the ones described from people who are almost certainly not viewing me as a potential partner, it seems likely that they are received regardless of gender, unlike catcalls.

whereas it is still so for men.

So break it.

Are you saying gender identity is not determined by biology? Because I have some transsexuals who would like to talk to you.

The etiology of trans is unknown. There are suggestions that hormones in the womb may play a part, with the brain and body controlled by hormone flushes at different times, resulting in something like "intersex of the brain". But what I meant was more simply, that social categorization of bodies as "male or female" doesn't determine their gender identity. Bear in mi... (read more)

BTW: trans being inborn and immutable is a political thing. It is easier to get rights if your discriminated-against attribute is "not your fault" so you can't be "blamed" for it.

Ok, so you admit your movement is willing to lie, BS and corrupt social science for "the greater good". Given that, why should I believe any of the empirical claims your movement makes?

Once again, I support the right to wear underpants on your head but I wouldn't teach my kids it's socially acceptable. It shows up on brainscans.

There's an element of "claiming ownership" in cat calling and in "how are you doing" and "smile baby" too. It means "I have the right to your time, I have the right to your attention, I have the right to have you be pretty for me by smiling" Replying politely only confirms that, they think they have you trapped in a conversation now. And witness how this "right" is backed by indignation "bitch, think you're all that" and gendered tear-down-confidence insults "slut" and "fat ugly cow" as soon as the man is refused. Which is why women learn counter strategies that don't throw back his claim in his face (as he rightly deserves).

I've heard that argument (in a thread on a feminist blog about a particular xkcd issue), but it triggers my "not the true rejection" warning light. If Alice was asked for directions by another woman, I wouldn't anticipate Alice to resent that.
Source please. So ... male passersby are "claiming ownership" of me? Great, now I'll be even more uncomfortable. (I'm male & het, if that wasn't clear.)

The reactions are driven by social instinct reacting with defensive in-group cohesion to out-group threat, so they have effects without feeling like attempts to achieve effects. They feel like righteous indignation, or wanting someone who looks like us, or fear, or moral disapproval, or dismissal as uninteresting, etc.

Ah, OK. I was confused by the anthropomorphism there.

When somebody's born, they don't identify as a gender. By the time they reach talking infancy, they do and will tell you. They will probably want to adopt gendered clothing and behaviours. Those might, or might not match their anatomy. If they pick cross-gendered ones, that might last, or it might go away, or it might turn into gay/lesbian identity. If you aren't being pushy about any of this, they will find their own level. I am not proposing "never permit them a gender", I am proposing "never assign them a gender, coercively".

Unfortun... (read more)

Once, yes, and it was once possible for women to dress "as men" and be assumed to be "effeminate" men. (Google "sweet polly oliver".) However, for various reasons this is no longer the case, whereas it is still so for men. Are you saying gender identity is not determined by biology? Because I have some transsexuals who would like to talk to you. (Obviously much of the trappings we assign to gender can and should be ignored.) EDIT: I think you misspelled "transsexual" there,

That refers to "I still think your previous comment was too simplistic".

The thought behind it was not too simplistic, but I think its presentation in that comment was, largely due to leaving out this background information; I think this is why it was downvoted, and is also what left it open to strawmanning (sigh sexist language).

People don't see their attitudes as anything but "normal" because being a sexist or a racist doesn't feel like villainy, doesn't even feel like a moral choice, it just feels like facts.

Oh, yes. Always. I'm just not sure how many people both hold sexist beliefs and allow them to impact the curriculum. Again, I'm Irish, so i may be worse wherever you are.

"Until the child tells you their gender identity", I said - you wait in a state of openness to all alternatives, and they tell you. A child is not cis until proven trans. It's "no data". They will say.

Yes, ultimately, this is not enforcing stereotypes. But that phrase primes you for vastly underestimating the scope of what you need to do. Like, it primes you to think in terms of "offer Jane a dinosaur as well as a Barbie" rather than "do not assume that Cody would prefer jeans rather than a skirt".

Children raised to ... (read more)

  1. I asked how it helps. When I meet someone who appears male, I assume they identify as male, and if they don't then they tell me so. If I treated everyone I met as of indeterminate gender ... I would be ignoring people's established gender far more than accommodating people's insecurities. Besides, I'm going to have to name the kid at some point.

  2. Giving your boy a skirt is implicitly teaching him that wearing one does not signal gender. I may personally be fine with them wearing underpants on their head, but I don't teach them to go to school like that.

  3. I'm still unclear as to why ignoring the biological gender of your child will help them be more tolerant in later life.

I'm claiming he chooses women who have attributes that shift blame onto the victim. There is correlation, but the causation goes the other way from what you're thinking.

But when you choose your clothing, do you really care why he will choose you if you wear that particular item?

I think it's not. Basically, I think what I called "racists and sexists" are people of whom only a minority foams on /r/mensrights and A Voice For Men, or listens to right wing talk radio, or believes in "male headship under God", or attends the local Klan. The majority are people who think they are normal, whose biased ideas don't even show unless provoked by a situation where their privileges are under threat (AKA "political correctness gone mad"). Feminism that isn't about shopping provokes them. Anti-racism that is neither... (read more)

I can't figure out which part this is refering to. Also: I'm pretty sure I agree with what you've been saying in these posts, including this one. (Has that come across clearly? I'm curious.) I also may have been strawmanning you (thanks MugaSofer for pointing this out), which is an interesting combination.
I agreed with everything you said but this line. Could you clarify it please?
  1. They might be full blown trans, whether the kind that's so intense it forces people to transition despite all the grief they get, or the kinds that are less intense or more messy (and probably loads more common, like bisexual is more common than gay).

  2. They might want to pick and mix their gender presentation or have a non-traditional way of expressing their identity. Like being a "tomboy" or a boy who likes dresses.

  3. They will learn to behave in a non-assuming, non-policing way themselves.

1. How does treating a child as genderless help if they prove to be transexual? 2. Surely this is covered by "not enforcing stereotypes"? 3. I don't follow.

Except in the real world it's not a "risk factor" because if anything the causation works the other way around. People treat it like "asking for it" -> therefore nobody looks further than her to assign blame -> therefore she won't even bother to report it because the police would laugh at her -> therefore I will get away with it, again and again and again.

Once again, the fact that clothing can influence whether a rapist will choose you is not the same as the claim that this somehow shifts the blame to you if he does choose you. As it were.

You hear "sexists" and think terrible people, I think ordinary people. Giving a higher salary offer to Mike Smith and judging his work better than Mary Smith. Picking "someone like us" for promotion the board, so you end up with single digit female representation at CEO level. Having to do orchestra auditions behind a screen, or you won't hire any women. Catcalling or saying "smile luv" on the street, and then calling her a bitch when she won't respond. Taking "no" as "keep asking". Bothering her in Starbuc... (read more)

Just because something is ordinary doesn't mean it's not terrible. :-)
True. Sexism is frickin pervasive, and that is the underlying problem. Though it's only pointless quibbling at this point, I still think your previous comment was too simplistic - if nothing else, it doesn't have any of the depth of this, and, though it is perfectly consistent with the view "most people, even good people, have sexist tendencies due to our culture", it appears to be coming from a less well-developed view, which is why it has been downvoted. This again may be a question of inferential distance, which thus demonstrates itself to be a very useful concept.

Until the child tells you their gender identity, don't assume it matches their body, and even after then don't police it. Any sentence that begins with a paraphrase of "girls do" (talk politely, their homework,...) or "girls don't" (wear spiderman suits, climb trees,...) is nearly certainly sexist, wrong, and harmful. Learn the standard ways that parents treat children differently by gender (assuming girls are upset where they'd assume boys are angry, for example) and proactively refuse to do, or permit them done by other adults.

I generally try to use probability when interacting with people. I know they are not as likely to jump of a bridge as to cross it. Amazingly it seems to help me have good relations with them. Incredible I know. I hear statistical reasoning about humans is evil though so maybe I shouldn't be sharing this advice. I never did get why that is though.
What added benefit comes from not assuming it matches their body, if you're not enforcing stereotypes?
I dislike this emphasis on gender identity. I haven't seen enough non-anecdotal evidence of this to be >0.8 confident, but my model predicts that this strategy wouldn't achieve all that much, and has much more risk of being damaging (due to biases and two-steps-removed complications) than a strategy of behaving as non-sexist as possible (and 'teaching' this to the child, but that is most effective by example during childhood AFAIK).

Until the child tells you their gender identity, don't assume it matches their body

I'll disagree with that one - it seems such an assumption is more than 99.9% likely to be true; and we assume less likely things all the time. Being aware of transsexuality and of the problems transfolk deal with should be enough until you have particular reasons to believe your child may identify with a different gender.

The reason this doesn't happen is the same one that keeps anti-racism off the curriculum

I'd say that anti-racism was very much part of the curriculum at my schools. It wasn't until college that it got past "racism is bad, read these books about growing up discriminated against," and reached the point of "these are some of the ongoing issues regarding race relations today on which there is actual public disagreement, here are some sources to inform your position on them," but I did have one class which covered racial issues in this wa... (read more)

YMMV, in my experience anti-racism is, in fact, on the curriculum (I'm Irish) and most people don't see themselves as belonging to the group "sexists" which must be defended (am I strawmanning you here?)
That's too simplistic IMO... I think it's more a desire to avoid "politicizing education", and people not making sufficiently convincing arguments in favour of its inclusion, rather than just terrible people having power.

There are probably pure-win half steps, like the kind of farming where you plant in the seasonal area you always come back to at a certain time of the year, as you follow the herds, or the kind where game is so plentiful you can afford to settle, hunt, and dabble in farming vegetables beside your settlement (such as in the American Pacific north west). Farming seems to be tied to settlement. Farms stabilize settlements; settlements nurture farms. And farms domesticate crops, making farming easier and supporting a larger population.

In the Mesopotamia region... (read more)

The trouble with epigenetic IQ drop as a theory is that hunter gatherers were (IIRC, anthropologists please confirm) better fed, taller and healthier than early farmers. This being due to a combination of better diet (not a monoculture of one or two staples) and also due to the beginnings of the peasant/ruler classes and taxation of surplus. You would expect the farmers to be the ones with epigenetic lower IQ.

I don't think 'epigenetic' means what you think it means. But anyway: yes, there is anthropological evidence of that sort (covered in Pinker's Better Angels and in something of Diamond's, IIRC), and height and mortality are generally believed to correlate with health and presumably then to IQ. The problem with that is that that is a problem for all theories of civilization formation: if early farming was so much worse than hunter-gathering that we can tell just from the fossils, then why did civilization ever get started? There must have been something compelling or self-sustaining or network effects or something about it. So, suppose it takes less IQ to maintain a basic civilization than to start one from scratch (as I already suggested in my Africa example), and suppose civilization has some sort of self-reinforcing property where it will force itself to remain in existence even when superior alternatives exist (as it seems it must, factually, given the poorer health of early farmers/civilizationers compared to hunter-gatherers sans civilization). Then what happened was: over a very long period of time hunter-gatherers slowly accumulated knowledge or tools and IQs rose from better food or perhaps sexual selection or whatever, until finally relatively simultaneously multiple civilizations arose in multiple regions, whereupon the farmer effect reduced their IQ but not enough to overcome the self-sustaining-civilization effect. And then history began.

On "dust specks", I think there are trivial dis-utilities whose infinite sum has an asymptote that is finite and small, and thus I disagree with the LW consensus on this.

If you think you disagree with the LW consensus (and thus presumably have updated as such) you should probably post this in the irrationality Game.
How do you know what the LW consensus is? We don't have the survey results yet. Are you going off of last year's numbers?

Cooperate. I am not playing against just this one guy, but any future PD opponents. Hope the maximizer lives in a universe where it has to worry about this same calculus. It will defect if it is already the biggest bad in its universe.

Well your task spec is broken, so no wonder your brain won't be whipped into doing it.

"inspirational stuff" is a trigger for thinking in terms of things like advertising or religious revivals that are emotional grabs which are intended to disengage (or even flimflam) the reasoning faculties. Any rationalist would flinch away.

Re-frame: visualize your audience. You are looking to simply and clearly convey whatever part of their far mode utility function is advanced by the thing you are pushing.

I find it poignant that you had to expend >1000 words to tell people "obtain my consent before using my gift receiving for your pleasure".

Sometimes I hate this society.

But I want to do math work. My inability to think in math is a serious weakness.

Coursera's mathematical thinking [] class is more than half over. But I'm really enjoying it, so you might keep an eye out for repeats.
Agreed, I would like that too. Advice and resources would be nice.

This slammed into my "math is hard" block. I will return and read it, but it's going to be work.

But on pondering that, I think I realized why math is hard, compared to prose text that just presents itself as a fait accompli to my attention. (And why it is not hard, for some people who are savants.)

We are not executing mathematical computations. We are emulating a crude mathematical computer which takes the kind of explicit algorithms that are fed to students. No attempt is made to cultivate and tune a "feel" for the result (which is wha... (read more)

I just focus on understanding ideas when I'm not willing to do math work. The rough and nontechnical explanation of this post that I've gotten is: You can't tell what causes what when you've just got two things that come together. But when you've got three things, then you can make pairs out of them, and the relationship between the pairs can tell you when something isn't causing something else. (Unless there are complicating factors like Friedman's Thermostat, see the comments below.)

FWIW, the Moby Dick example is less stupid than you paint it, given the recurrence of whiteness as an attribute of things special or good in western culture - an idea that pre-dates the invention of race. I think a case could be made out that (1) the causality runs from whiteness as a special or magical attribute, to its selection as a pertinent physical feature when racism was being invented (considering that there were a number of parallel candidates, like phrenology, that didn't do so well memetically), and (2) in a world that now has racism, the ongoin... (read more)


FWIW, the Moby Dick example is less stupid than you paint it, given the recurrence of whiteness as an attribute of things special or good in western culture - an idea that pre-dates the invention of race.

I can't resist. I think you should read Moby Dick. Whiteness in that novel is not used as any kind of symbol for good:

This elusive quality it is, which causes the thought of whiteness, when divorced from more kindly associations, and coupled with any object terrible in itself, to heighten that terror to the furthest bounds. Witness the white bear of

... (read more)

Expanding a little on this, it's not a counter argument, but a caveat to "Trust not those who claim there is no truth". When people say things like "western imperialist science", sometimes they are talking jibber-jabber, but sometimes they are pointing out that the victors write the ontologies and in an anthropocene world, their ideas are literally made concrete.

Two beliefs, one world is an oversimplification and misses an important middle step.

Two beliefs, two sets of evidence that may but need not overlap, and one world, is closer.

This becomes an issue when for example, one observer is differently socially situated than the other* and so one will say "pshaw, I have no evidence of such a thing" when the other says "it is my everyday life". They disagree, and they are both making good use of the evidence reality presents to each of them differently.

(* Examples of such social situational differences omitted to minimize politics, but can be provided on request.)

Expanding a little on this, it's not a counter argument, but a caveat to "Trust not those who claim there is no truth" []. When people say things like "western imperialist science", sometimes they are talking jibber-jabber, but sometimes they are pointing out that the victors write the ontologies and in an anthropocene world, their ideas are literally made concrete.

If we couldn't, even in principle, find any evidence that would make the theory more likely or less, then yeah I think that theory would be correctly labeled meaningless.

But, I can immediately think of some evidence that would move my posterior probability. If all definable universes exist, we should expect (by Occam) to be in a simple one, and (by anthropic reasoning) in a survivable one, but we should not expect it to be elegant. The laws should be quirky, because the number of possible universes (that are simple and survivable) is larger than the subset thereof that are elegant.

Why? That assumes the universes are weighted by complexity, which isn't true in all Tegmark level IV theories.

You'd have to define "exist", because mathematical structures in themselves are just generalized relations that hold under specified constraints. And once you defined "exist", it might be easier to look for Bayesian evidence - either for them existing, or for a law that would require them to exist.

As a general thing, my definition does consider under-defined assertions meaningless, but that seems correct.

Yeah, I'm not really sure how to interpret "exist" in that statement. Someone that knows more about Tegmark level IV than I do should weigh in, but my intuition is that if parallel mathematical structures exist that we can't, in principle, even interact with, it's impossible to obtain Bayesian evidence about whether they exist.
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