All of lessdazed's Comments + Replies

Many times on the internet I've seen people claim that something is more or less popular/known than it really is based on a poorly formulated Google search.

I've seen it too. Even Nate Silver did it in this New York Times blog post, where he estimates the number of fans for each team in the National Hockey League "by evaluating the number of people who searched for the term “N.H.L.”" Using his method, Montreal is the only Canadian market with a team for which it is estimated that fewer than half of the people are avid hockey fans (as he defined... (read more)

I honestly can't think of a single instance where I was convinced of an informal, philosophical argument through an academic paper. Books, magazines, blog posts - sure, but papers just don't seem to be a thing.

I have been convinced of the invalidity of other arguments by academic papers.

I have also been significantly persuaded by the failure of academic papers to make their case. That is, seeing that a poor argument is held in wide regard is evidence that the advocates of that position have no better arguments.

I too do not remember being convinced of many things by formal academic papers, just a very few things.

Probably most importantly, what do you view as the purpose of SIAI's publishing papers? Or, if there are multiple purposes, which do you see as the most important?

In order to think of some things I do that only have one important purpose, it was necessary to perform the ritual of closing my eyes and thinking about nothing else for a few minutes by the clock.

I plan on assuming things have multiple important purposes and asking for several, e.g. "what do you view as the purposes of X."

There was nothing wrong with what you said, but it is strange... (read more)

However lately I realized I need to interact with other rationalists in order to further my development.

1) What made you believe this?

2) At present, what do you think are the best reasons for believing this?

1.) Well I based this on observing that I learn a hell of a lot more from interacting with people smarter than me than I do reading or studying. 2.) None of us are perfectly rational. Other people often can spot fallacies that one of us could miss.

Teaching tree thinking through touch.

These experiments were done with video game trees showing evolutionary divergence, and this method of teaching outperformed traditional paper exercises. Perhaps a simple computer program would make teaching probability trees easier, or the principles behind the experiments could be applied in another way to teach how to use these trees.

since presumably you're "updating" a lot, just like regular humans

It's a psychological trick to induce more updating than is normal. Normal human updating tends to be insufficient).

I say to myself in my mind, "nice clothes, nice clothes," alluding to belief as attire, and imagine they're wearing what most caused their statement.

For example, if someone said "Jesus never existed!" I might imagine them wearing a jacket that says "Respect me! I am sophisticated," or a hat saying "accept me, I'm a leftist just like you," or a backpack that says "I am angry at my parents."

Presumably without the ribbons they'd have to be paid more. And the status perks seem tied to the same thing that causes people to call war dead "heroes."

What about infantry v. armor? Or helicopter pilots v. people piloting drones from a base in Nevada? "Military" isn't too homogeneous a category.

Section 5 deals with this

This makes me think that you are right.

There was a weakness in the method, though. In appendix table one they not only show how likely it actually is that a baby with a certain name is white/black, they show the results from an independent field survey that asked people to pick names as white or black. In table eight, they only measure the likelihood someone with a certain name is in a certain class (as approximated by mother's education). Unfortunately, they don't show what people in general, or employers in particular, actuall... (read more)

Apparent poorly grounded belief in SI's superior general rationality

I found this complaint insufficiently detailed and not well worded.

Average people think their rationality is moderately good. Average people are not very rational. SI affiliated people think they are adept or at least adequate at rationality. SI affiliated people are not complete disasters at rationality.

SI affiliated people are vastly superior to others in generally rationality. So the original complaint literally interpreted is false.

An interesting question might be on the level of: &... (read more)

However the reaction of some lesswrongers to the title I initially chose for the post was distinctly negative. The title was "Most rational programming language?"

Many people have chosen similar titles for their posts. Many. It is very unusual to respond to criticism by writing a good post like "Avoid Inflationary use of Terms."

How did you do it?

Perhaps you initially had a defensive reaction to criticism just as others have had, and in addition have a way of responding to criticism well. Alternatively, perhaps your only advantage ov... (read more)

One data point is that lately I have been trying specifically to react positively to criticism lately. (A month or so ago as part of a slightly woo-like exercise called EFT that I sometimes do to put myself to sleep or cope with stress, I replaced the words from the setup phrase "completely and deeply love, accept, and forgive myself" with a longer phrase "completely and deeply accept all valid criticism, and honestly and earnestly attempt to learn from, change, and use this information for personal development and self improvement" -- something like that. Followed by imagining tapping the various woo points, er "energy points" on my body. No telling what impact this has or even if it's relevant, but thought I'd mention it.) Also I was able to change the title fairly quickly and thus de-escalate the situation and switch it to a slightly more academic context rather than taking a purely defensive posture because I happened to be logged into the IRC chatroom where Konkvistador was complaining about it. Since I didn't want to come across as a moron in front of my peers, I asked the channel politely for reasons to change it, then for suggestions as to what to change it to. I don't think anyone there actually said "inflationary use", that's a term I got from a comment by Eugen Leitl and is what my mind filled in the blanks with when searching for an explanation. Apart from the new title "What is the best programming language?" I'm not sure there was any actual information content apart from "some people agree with this", but interacting with the channel calmed me down a bit and put me in a better frame of mind for it. In any case, I would say the non-antagonistic responses definitely helped. I'm not sure whether they would work on just anybody, one of my mind's specific deviations from the norm is that I am more patient and willing to look for validity in criticisms to begin with. (I'm obsessed with the excluded middle ground, so while I may try very hard to spot a pr

I still believe in Global Warming. Do you?

-Ted Kaczynski, The Unabomber

-Heartland Institute billboard

From the press release:

1. Who appears on the billboards?

The billboard series features Ted Kaczynski, the infamous Unabomber; Charles Manson, a mass murderer; and Fidel Castro, a tyrant. Other global warming alarmists who may appear on future billboards include Osama bin Laden and James J. Lee (who took hostages inside the headquarters of the Discovery Channel in 2010).

These rogues and villains were chosen because they made public statements about ho

... (read more)
That quote from J. S. Mill would be perfect for a pasted-on "billboard improvement."

One problem is that I can't find the table of contents, so I am not exactly sure.

Google books has preview available for pages 1-4 and 11-22. I know pages 5-10 would be very helpful for me, probably the rest of chapter one, but maybe not. It is likely everything I need is in pages 5-10.

Thank you for your help.

Here's the table of contents. Let me know what else you want and I'll try to get it.

Please help me find: Fallacies and Judgments of Reasonableness: Empirical Research Concerning the Pragma-Dialectical Discussion Rules, by Frans H. van Eemeren, Garssen, Bart, Meuffels, Bert

Do you need a particular article/chapter out of this book? I am more easily able to get that then the whole book.

The main problem is that a test tests ability to take the test, independently of what its makers intended. The more similar tests are to each other, the more taking the first is training for the second, and the easier it is to teach directly to the test rather than to the skill that inspired the test. The less similar the before and after tests are, the less comparable they are.

Rationality training is particularly tricky because one is to learn formal models of both straight and twisted thinking, recognize when real-life situations resemble those patterns,... (read more)

the most...memetically dangerous groups

What are your criteria for this?

Well, that gets rather complicated. Think of it as the extent to which the religion appeals and encourages irrationality, and this causes its followers to be instrumentally irrational in verifiable ways. I'm not talking about self-identified moral or ethical systems here, but rather obviously crazy beliefs like "Our god will reward you with a heavenly garden and 42 virgins if you become a martyr" or "You need to purify yourself from the tiny spiritual beings which were brought to Earth by an all-powerful alien millions of years ago". Stuff like that will appeal to human utility/reward functions in fairly obvious ways, assuming that it is truly, fervently believed.

Consider giving an example of the sort of decision making procedure that is taught in camp, with the subject of the example whether one should attend the camp.


Write down all the reasons you think you are considering on a sheet of paper, in pro and con columns. Circle those that do not refer to consequences of going or not going to camp. Then shut your eyes to think for two minutes and think of at least five alternatives that you are likely to do instead of camp. Make pro and con lists for the most likely three of these. Then circle non-consequences. G... (read more)

I have friends and relatives who live in the area. How central to the camp is the communal living aspect? What would you charge to commute to it, if that is possible?

The Bay Area is rather sprawling. It can take 1.5 hours to go from Berkeley to San Jose during rush hour. If they don't live near where the camp is held, I expect you would regret the commute and find the experience more taxing and less relaxing than the participants staying on site.

I guess we'd charge about 1/2 of the total (noting that you'd still be having meals with the rest of us)... but I suspect commuting is harder than you think, given how intensively scheduled it is. Err on the side of applying, and we can discuss.

Also, if anyone's unable to afford camp for whatever reason, apply anyhow and check the "needs scholarship" box and we can see what can be worked out.

The median is almost always around 7, for almost anything.

I tried to take that into account when reading.

treating the indexes as utilities

Please explain.


I tried to take that into account when reading.

I know, I did too, but that is really the sort of calculation that should be done by a large-scale study that documents a control distribution for 0-10 ratings that such ratings can be calibrated against.

treating the indexes as utilities

Please explain.

In my engineering school, we had some project planning classes where we would attempt to calculate what was the best design based on the strength of our preference for performance in a variety of criteria (aesthetics, wieght, strength, cost, etc). Looki... (read more)

"Is there evidence this will be worthwhile according to my values now, independently of how it might change my values?"

"Is there evidence that this is instrumentally useful for more than warm fuzzies?"

"Is there evidence that for the probable benefit of this event the costs are substantially optimized for it? I.e., if the benefit is substantially social, even if this would be worth flying around the world for, a program could actually be optimized for social benefits, and/or I could attend a closer/cheaper/shorter program with similar benefits to me."

"Regardless of anyone's intent, what is this program optimized for?"

"How's the food?"

It's easy to imagine a Christian brainwashing retreat run by someone similar to Luke that would also have that property.

Do you think a religious event would have the same effect on the same people? That is, these mostly atheist people who were all very interested in science and rationality? Or do you just think that there exist people on which a religious event would a similar effect? This is an important distinction for someone deciding whether to attend, because such a person knows whether she is religious or not.

7b) Is there any evidence I'll be glad I went that a Christian brainwashing retreat could not produce just as easily?

If you went to a Jehovah's Witness retreat, and were in an accident, and you were conscious enough to refuse a blood transfusion, you'd be glad for having learned what you did at the retreat, even if you knew the refusal would be fatal.

In general, anything that is compelling and affects your decisions will make you glad for it, and its being compelling is probably not inversely related to its being true. So I'm not too concerned that my tentative answer to this question is "no."

I'm concerned, however, that the camp can't produce evidence of the kind, "Before the minicamp, Mary Sue was in rehab for crack. A year later, she's clean and has a successful web consultancy." (Exaggerating the expected magnitude of change, of course.) Religious retreats don't produce this, and tend to produce results more like, "Immediately after the retreat I felt really good, and a year later I do awesome on unobservable metrics!"
Replace "glad I went" with a better criterion- that question deserves a good response.

you'll find that people are searching for "less wrong cult" and "singularity institute cult" with some frequency.

Maybe a substantial number of people are searching for the posts about cultishness.

Can someone provide the full text of this?

Slippery slope arguments (SSAs) have a bad philosophical reputation. They seem, however, to be widely used and frequently accepted in many legal, political, and ethical contexts. Hahn and Oaksford (2007) argued that distinguishing strong and weak SSAs may have a rational basis in Bayesian decision theory. In this paper three experiments investigated the mechanism of the slippery slope showing that they may have an objective basis in category boundary re-appraisal.

Also this:

...he argued that the very reasons t

... (read more)

depending on how those techniques are applied,

But as far as I know there's nothing in Cox's theorem or the axioms of probability theory or anything like those that says I had to use that particular prior

The way I interpret hypotheticals in which one person is said to be able to do something other than what they will do, such as "depending on how those techniques are applied," all of the person's priors are to be held constant in the hypothetical. This is the most charitable interpretation of the OP because the claim is that, under Bayesian ... (read more)

But even if we assume the OP means that data and priors are held constant but not likelihoods, it still seems to me obviously wrong. Moreover, likelihoods are just as fundamental to an application of Bayes's theorem as priors, so I'm not sure why I would have/ought to have read the OP as implicitly assuming priors were held constant but not likelihoods (or likelihood-generating models). I didn't have one, but here's a quick & dirty ESP example I just made up. Suppose that out of the blue, I get a gut feeling that my friend Joe is about to phone me, and a few minutes later Joe does. After we finish talking and I hang up, I realize I can use what just happened as evidence to update my prior probability for my having ESP. I write down: * my evidence: "I correctly predicted Joe would call" (call this E for short) * the hypothesis H0 — that I don't have ESP — and its prior probability, 95% * the opposing hypothesis H1 — that I have ESP — and its prior probability, 5% Now let's think about two hypothetical mes. The first me guesses at some likelihoods, deciding that both P(E | H0) and P(E | H1) were both 10%. Turning the crank, it gets a posterior for H1, P(H1 | E), that's proportional to P(H1) P(E | H1) = 5% × 10% = 0.5%, and a posterior for H0, P(H0 | E), that's proportional to P(H0) P(E | H0) = 95% × 10% = 9.5%. Of course its posteriors have to add to 100%, not 10%, so it multiplies both by 10 to normalize them. Unsurprisingly, as the likelihoods were equal, its posteriors come out at 95% for H0 and 5% for H1; the priors are unchanged. When the second me is about to guess at some likelihoods, its brain is suddenly zapped by a stray gamma ray. The second me therefore decides that P(E | H0) was 2% but that P(E | H1) was 50%. Applying Bayes's theorem in precisely the same way as the first me, it gets a P(H1 | E) proportional to 5% × 50% = 2.5%, and a P(H0 | E) proportional to 95% × 2% = 1.9%. Normalizing (but this time multiplying by 100/(2.5+1.9)) gives posterior

Cigarette smoking: an underused tool in high-performance endurance training

In summary, existing literature supports the use of cigarettes to enhance endurance performance through weight loss and increased serum hemoglobin levels and lung volumes.

musical contrast and chronological rejuvenation

...people were nearly a year-and-a-half younger after listening to “When I’m Sixty-Four” (adjusted M = 20.1 years) rather than to “Kalimba” (adjusted M = 21.5 years), F(1, 17) = 4.92, p = .040.

Effects of remote, retroactive intercessory prayer on outcomes i... (read more)

The music link doesn't work. I will tentatively suggest that the difference reported is about people hearing music which was popular when they were younger than about the details of the music.

depending on how those techniques are applied, can lead to different results when analyzing the same data

But two Bayesian inferences from the same data can also give different results. How could this be a non-issue for Bayesian inference while being indicative of a central problem for NHST?

If the OP is read to hold constant everything not mentioned as a difference, that includes the prior beliefs of the person doing the analysis, as against the hypothetical analysis that wasn't performed by that person.

Does "two Bayesian inferences" imply i... (read more)

I think my reply to gwern's comment (sibling of yours) all but answers your two questions already. But to be explicit: Not necessarily, no. It could be two people who have identical prior beliefs but just construct likelihoods differently. It could be the same person calculating two inferences that rely on the same prior but use different likelihoods. I think so. If I do a Bayesian analysis with some prior and likelihood-generating model, I might get one posterior distribution. But as far as I know there's nothing in Cox's theorem or the axioms of probability theory or anything like those that says I had to use that particular prior and that particular likelihood-generating model. I could just as easily have used a different prior and/or a different likelihood model, and gotten a totally different posterior that's nonetheless legitimate.

Is the sunk cost fallacy a fallacy?

I ask myself about many statements: would this have the same meaning if the word "really" were inserted? As far as my imagination can project, any sentence that can have "really" inserted into it without changing the sentence's meaning is at least somewhat a wrong question, one based on an unnatural category or an argument by definition.

If a tree falls in the forest, does it make a sound? --> If a tree falls in the forest, does it really make a sound?

Is Terry Schiavo alive? --> Is Terry Schiav... (read more)

Did you really mean “that can have” rather than “that can't have”?
Do you really ask yourself that about many statements? Would this really have the same meaning if the word "really" were inserted? Is any sentence that can have "really" inserted into it without changing the sentence's meaning really at least somewhat a wrong question, one based on an unnatural category or an argument by definition?
As far as I can tell you can do that with any sentence.

When you surround an army, leave an outlet free. Do not press a desperate foe too hard.

The Art of War

From the blog post:

No event organizer or ticket seller has solved scalping completely.

It seems pretty easy to solve: auction off all the tickets.

Latest news: Burning Man blames game theory for their failure to understand basic supply and demand, hugely underprices tickets, 2/3 of buyers left in cold, Market Economics Fairy cries.

Not that it's bad, for that would be confusing levels, even if "shit" were being used in its usual figurative sense. For example, I would consider some true things said that are self-harmful violations of social norms "shit."

Like others I read it from a link on LW, I think...thanks for posting.

Shit and Bullshit Rationalists Don't Say:

"I've read more papers by Scott Aaronson than just the one." "Which one?" (Both of these.)

Quantity of experience: brain-duplication and degrees of consciousness Nick Bostrom

Wow, that is one nice Bostrom paper. Has its critique of Chalmers's argument been discussed before on LW?
Do you mean to say that Aaronson's paper is bad, or that everyone's already read it?

Decision Tree: Roots of Knowledge.

Decision Tree: Applied Wisdom.

Decision Tree: Our mascot is a thinly veiled rip-off of an Ent! Sweet!

While nicely sounding, it probably does not convey the relevant information to an "outsider". Particularly, this is something a straw Vulcan would do, make a perfectly logical decision based on lousy priors. It emphasizes process over goals, and so is susceptible to lost purposes. I wonder if this suggestion can be modified to clarify the ultimate goal: to make the best decision possible, including digging up the best possible priors and testing the conclusions along the way. Unfortunately, my metaphor chest came up cringe-worthy: Decision Tree... Garden?, Cultivating Decision Tree?.

a future, more evolved version of myself.

I'm offended!

Just kidding.

The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back.

--John Maynard Keynes

Reading such quotes, I don't understand how Moldbug and others can decry their "progressivist" opponents as a sinister and secretive world-spanning stand-alone complex. It's just a few middle-aged men (they're neither old nor young when they deploy their key works), and, lately, women, gently guiding history insofar as it can be guided, speaking quite clearly about their capabilities and intentions. Is this power structure necessarily so awful?

Nemeth … divided two hundred and sixty-five female undergraduates into teams of five. … The first set of teams got the standard brainstorming spiel, including the no-criticism rules. Other teams were told … “Most studies suggest that you should debate and criticize each other’s ideas.” The rest received no further instructions. …The brainstorming groups slightly outperformed the groups given no instructions, but teams given the debate condition were the most creative by far. On average, they generated twenty per cent more ideas. And after the teams disban

... (read more)

That's advice for the skimming/reading/intensive study of 1,000 papers to get their knowledge, balancing completeness, depth, breadth, and the like.

I want advice on summarizing 100 individual articles, each one fairly completely read, so that many other people can do that and share the results with each other. The thing you do best, rather than the thing lukeprog does best.

Hm. I dunno then. I read, excerpt the interesting bits, and paste them into a file. Is there anything else to explain?

deciding who to trust

This can be unpacked/dissolved.

First, I think of people/situation pairs rather than people. Specific situations influence things so much that one loses a lot by trying to think of people more abstractly; there is the danger of the fundamental attribution error.

Some people/situations are wrong more often than others are. Some people/situations lie more to others than others do. Some people/situations lie more to themselves than others do.

Some are more concerned with false positives, others with false negatives.

I also tend to think of... (read more)

I think it's time for a meta-post in which gwern discusses summarizing articles and gives advice.

eminent scientists tend to be

Base rate?

0gwern12y is pretty good, IMO.

"Advanced Sanity" matches a strong comparative qualifier to a basic trait. While "sanity" has problems, as mentioned below, I think the phrase derives much of its power from its underlying pattern, which can be used in other suggestions.

Super Sapiens! ...I mean sapience. Adroit Acumen Elevated Erudition Superb Sagacity Crack Contemplation
First ones that come to mind with this structure: Intelligent Winning Calculated Success Acting for Success Intelligent Change Rational Success Purposeful Rationality Purposeful Wisdom Purposeful Thought Purposeful Strategy & whatever institute, foundation, center etc. bits people want to add on.
The Bayesian Conspiracy!
Load More