Wiki Contributions


I have done something similar using for arguments regarding a complex feature. Each point often had multiple counterpoints, which themselves sometimes split into other points. I think this is only necessary for certain discussions and should probably not be the default though.

I'm a software developer and father interested in:

  • General Rationality: eg. WHY does Occam's Razor work? Does it work in every universe?
  • How rationality can be applied to thinking critically about CW/politics in a political-party agnostic way
  • Concrete understanding of how weird arguments: Pascals Wager, The Simulation Hypothesis, Roko's B, etc. do or don't work
  • AI SOTA, eg. what could/should/will OpenAI release next?
  • AI Long Term arguments from "nothing burger" all the way to Yudkowsky
  • Physics, specifically including Quantum Physics and Cosmology
  • Lesswrong community expansion/outreach

Time zone is central US. I also regularly read Scott Alexander.

I am concerned for your monetary strategy (unless you're rich). Let's say you're absolutely right that LW is overconfident, and that there is actually a 10% chance of aliens rather than 0.5. So this is a good deal! 20x!

But only on the margin.

Depending on your current wealth it may only be rational to take a few hundred dollars worth of these bets for this particular bet. If you go making lots of these types of bets (low probability, high payoff, great EXpected returns) for a small fraction of your wealth each, you should expect to make money, but if you make only 3 or 4 of these types of bets, you are more likely to lose money because your are loading all your gains into a small fraction of possibilities in exchange for huge payouts, and most outcomes end up with you losing money.

See for example the St. Petersburg paradox which has infinite expected return, but very finite actual value given limited assets for the banker and or the player.

Smaller sums are more likely to convey probabilities of each party accurately. For example, if Elon Musk offers me $5000 to split between two possible outcomes, I will allocate them close to my beliefs, but if he offers me 5mil, I'll allocate about 2.5mil each because either one is a transformative amount of money.

People are more likely to be rational with their marginal dollar because of pricing in the value of staying solvent. The first 100k in my bank account IS worth more than the second, and so the saying, a non-marginal bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

Good to know! I'll look more into it.

I agree that's all it is, but you can make all the same general statements about any algorithm.

The problem is that some people hear you say "constructed" and "nothing special", and then conclude they can reconstruct it any way they wish. It may be constructed and not special in a cosmic sense, but it's not arbitrary. All heuristics are not made equal for any given goal.

I'm not saying "the experts can be wrong" I'm saying these aren't even experts.

Pick any major ideology/religion you think is false. One way or another (they can't all be right!), the "experts" in these areas aren't experts, they are basically insane: babbling on at length about things that aren't at all real, which is what I think most philosophy experts are doing. Making sure you aren't one of them is the work of epistemology which The Sequences are great at covering. In other words, the philosopher experts you are citing I view as largely [Phlogiston]( experts.


I think more downvoting being the solution depends on the goals. If our goal is only to maintain the current quality, that seems like a solution. If the goal is to grow in users and quality, I think diverting people to a real-time discussion location like Discord could be more effective. 

Eg. a new user coming to this site might not have any idea a particular article exists that they should read before writing and posting their 3 page thesis on why AI will/wont be great, only to have their work downvoted (it is insulting and off-putting to be downvoted) and in the end we may miss out on persuading/gaining people. In a chat a quick back and forth could steer them in the right direction right off the bat.

I don't think you or Scott is dumb, but arguments people make don't inherit their intellect. 

And who gets to decide the cutoff for "very dumb"? Currently the community does. Your proposal for downvote poorly argued or argue for a position that is very stupid is already the policy. People aren't trying to silence you. I recommend going to the Discord where I'm sure people will be happy to chat with you at length about the post topic and these comment sub-topics. I can't promise I'll be responding more here.

Trivial was an overstatement on my part, but certainly not hard. 

There are a lot of very popular philosophers that would agree with you, but don't mistake popularity for truthfulness. Don't mistake popularity for expertise. Philosophy, like religion, makes tons of unfalsifiable statements, so the "experts" can sit around making claims that sound good but are useless or false. This is a really important point. Consider all the religious experts of the world. Would you take anything they have to say seriously? The very basic principles from which they have based all their subsequent reasoning is wrong. I trust scientists because they can manufacture a vaccine that works (sort of) and I couldn't. The philosopher experts can sell millions of copies of books, so I trust them in that ability, but not much more.

Engineers don't get to build massive structures out of nonsense, because they have to build actual physical structures, and you'd notice if they tried. Our theories actually have to be implemented, and when you try to build a rocket using theories involving [phlogiston](, you will quickly become not-an-engineer one way or another. 

This website is primarily populated by various engineer types who are trying to tell the world that their theories about "inherent goodness of the universe" or "moral truth" or whatever the theory is, is going to result in disaster because it doesn't work from an engineering perspective. It doesn't matter if 7 billion people, experts and all, believe it. 

The only analogy I can think to make is that 1200s Christians are about to build a 10 gigaton nuke (continent destroying) and have the trigger mechanism be "every 10 seconds it will flip a coin and go off if it's heads; God will perform miracle to ensure it only goes off when He wants it to".  Are you going to object to this? How are you going to deal with the priests who are "experts" in the Lord?

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