Associate yourself with people whom you can confidently and cheerfully outperform the Nash Equilibrium with.

Wiki Contributions


This isn't necessarily "Come for the instrumentality, stay for the epistemology" — but, maybe.

broke peace first.

Have you read "Metaphors We Live By" by Lakoff?

The first 20 pages or so are almost a must-read in my opinion.

Highly recommended, for you in particular.

A Google search with filetype:pdf will find you a copy. You can skim it fast — not needed to close read it — and you'll get the gems.

Edit for exhortation: I think you'll get a whole lot out of it such that I'd stake some "Sebastian has good judgment" points on it that you can subtract from my good judgment rep if I'm wrong. Seriously please check it out. It's fast and worth it.

Huh. Interesting.

I had literally the exact same experience before I read your comment dxu.

I imagine it's likely that Duncan could sort of burn out on being able to do this [1] since it's pretty thankless difficult cognitive work. [2]

But it's really insightful to watch. I do think he could potentially tune up [3] the diplomatic savvy a bit [4] since I think while his arguments are quite sound [5] I think he probably is sometimes making people feel a little bit stupid via his tone. [6]

Nevertheless, it's really fascinating to read and observe. I feel vaguely like I'm getting smarter.


Rigor for the hell of it [7]:

[1] Hedged hypothesis.

[2] Two-premise assertion with a slightly subjective basis, but I think a true one.

[3] Elaborated on a slightly different but related point further in my comment below to him with an example.

[4] Vague but I think acceptably so. To elaborate, I mean making one's ideas even when in disagreement with a person palatable to the person one is disagreeing with. Note: I'm aware it doesn't acknowledge the cost of doing so and running that filter. Note also: I think, with skill and practice, this can be done without sacrificing the content of the message. It is almost always more time-consuming though, in my experience.

[5] There's some subjective judgments and utility function stuff going on, which is subjective naturally, but his core factual arguments, premises, and analyses basically all look correct to me.

[6] Hedged hypothesis. Note: doesn't make a judgment either way as to whether it's worth it or not. 

[7] Added after writing to double-check I'm playing by the rules and clear up ambiguity. "For the hell of it" is just random stylishness and can be safely mentally deleted. 

(Or perhaps, if I introspect closely, a way to not be committed to this level of rigor all the time. As stated below though, minor stylistic details aside, I'm always grateful whenever a member of a community attempts to encourage raising and preserving high standards.)

First, I think promoting and encouraging higher standards is, if you'll pardon the idiom, doing God's work. 

Thank you. 

I'm so appreciative any time any member of a community looks to promote and encourage higher standards. It takes a lot of work and gets a lot of pushback and I'm always super appreciative when I see someone work at it.

Second, and on a much smaller note, if I might offer some......... stylistic feedback?

I'm only speaking here about my personal experience and heuristics. I'm not speaking for anyone else. One of my heuristics — which I darn well know isn't perfectly accurate, but it's nevertheless a heuristic I implicitly use all the time and which I know others use — is looking at language choices made when doing a quick skim of a piece as a first-pass filter of the writer's credibility.

It's often inaccurate. I know it. Still, I do it.

Your writing sometimes, when you care about an issue, seems to veer very slightly into resembling the writing of someone who is heated up about a topic in a way that leads to less productive and coherent thought.

This leads my default reaction to discounting the credibility of the message slightly.

I have to forcibly remind myself not to do that in your case, since you're actually taking pretty cohesive and intelligent positions. 

As a small example:

These are all terrible ideas.

These are all



I'm going to say it a third time, because LessWrong is not yet a place where I can rely on my reputation for saying what I actually mean and then expect to be treated as if I meant the thing that I actually said: I recognize that these are terrible ideas.

I just — umm, in my personal... umm.... filters... it doesn't look good on a skim pass. I'm not saying emulate soul-less garbage at the expense of clarity. Certainly not. I like your ideas a lot. I loved Concentration of Force. 

I'm just saying that, on the margin, if you edited down some of the first-person language and strong expressions of affect a little bit in areas where you might be concerned about it being "not yet a place where I can rely on my reputation for saying what I actually mean"... it might help credibility.

I've written quite literally millions of words in my life, so I can say from firsthand experience that lines like that do successfully pre-empt stupid responses so you get less dumb comments.

That's true.

But I think it's likely you take anywhere from a 10% to 50% penalty to credibility to many casual skimmers of threads who do not ever bother to comment (which, incidentally, is both the majority of readers and me personally in 2021).

I see things like the excerpted part, and I have to consciously remind myself not to apply a credibility discount to what you're saying, because (in my experience and perhaps unfairly) I pattern match that style to less credible people and less credible writing.

Again, this is just a friendly stylistic note. I consider myself a fan. If I'm mistaken or it'd be expensive to implement an editing filter for toning that down, don't bother — it's not a huge deal in the grand scheme of things, and I'm really happy someone is working on this.

I suppose I'm just trying to improve the good guys' effectiveness for concentration of force reasons, you could say.

Salut and thanks again.

There's a very thorough paper published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, "Use of a prescribed ephedrine/caffeine combination and the risk of serious cardiovascular events: a registry-based case-crossover study", DOI: 10.1093/aje/kwn191

Apparently, and this really surprised me,

"Use of prescribed ephedrine in Denmark — Letigen was a pharmaceutical product containing 20 mg of synthetic ephedrine and 200 mg of caffeine, available only by prescription. Its recommended dose was 1–3 tablets per day, depending on the user’s tolerance. It was approved for sale in Denmark in 1990. During the peak of its use in 1999, some 110,000 persons, corresponding to 2% of the Danish population, were treated. In 2002, the marketing license was suspended, after a number of reports had suggested a safety problem."

So there's a pretty big sample there. 

Now note, I'm not a doctor and this just my opinion — it seems that some people should never take ephedrine under any circumstances (certain heart problems or family history of certain heart problems, etc) and anyone else ought to be really quite careful taking it if it's legal and approved in one's jurisdiction.

Ephedrine increases metabolic activity and thermogenesis — heat production — and it's more dangerous when it's hot outside, when you're doing any aerobic activity, or if you've had any other stressors on one's heart or get into other contraindication with stressors.

Speculatively, it seems possible that safety rates in Denmark might be higher than elsewhere since it doesn't get very hot there. If you compared someone using ephedrine/caffeine in Siberia in the winter to Dubai in the summer, the increased thermogenesis and physically radiating more heat might seem like a beneficial side effect in an arctic blizzard whereas both uncomfortable and dangerous under a desert sun.

I'm going off the top of my head here since I don't have a copy in front of me, but I remember some very persuasive arguments and citations in the (terribly titled but otherwise quite good) book Extreme Productivity by Bob Pozen.

Basically, Pozen's cited studies found the steady approach pays off on basically every dimension you'd care about (including quality and quantity of the work, efficiency, and decreased various badness). I found it pretty persuasive and switched from working in intense bursts to a more methodical way when writing, for the next few years, and it worked well for me. I got the time it took me to write a 6000 word essay down from ~40 hours to the 12-18 hour range, quality was better, and it was less stressful.

Doesn't necessarily generalize, and I'd speculate it maybe generalizes least for things that benefit from being at some critical mass threshold for a short period of time (say, like, an auction). That part is just speculation thought.

Re: the Repugnant Conclusion, it’s not necessarily my opinion, but there’s a coherent set of moral principles that values A+ over A but also A+ over B-.

It might come from something like rejecting diminishing marginal utility as relates to certain very big questions — thinking that yes, Mozart + five otherwise uncreated good lives of new musicians is better than Mozart alone, but a world of six musicians substantially worse than Mozart is worse than either just Mozart+0 or Mozart+5.

Hmm. At the time of my starting this comment, this is on the frontpage and at +31 after my strong vote up — but it had no comments on it.

This is somewhat unusual — this is normally a group of people that at least one person will quickly comment with a flash first pass impression, introduce a question, talk about something in the domain, link a research paper or share a related quote...

And no one has yet done so.

So, here is my (somewhat meta) take — I read this in bits and pieces, somewhat slowly, over the afternoon and evening between calls and activities, periodically coming back to it in my browser. At first, I was like, ok, I get where this is going; I’m familiar with the general background and theories and I’ve had some of the personal experience of thinking through genes and their implications and how I relate to them, etc. Your personal experience of reasoning about it wasn’t exactly the same as mine, but close enough to be recognizable and it made sense.

Then you build up to your conclusion and there was this significant shift my thinking — I think It happened for me roughly around where you discuss how learning the underlying genetic theories seemed to “hollow out” the lion, but updating your understanding of the genetics didn’t “re-fill” the lion — and I had this experience of, “Oh wait, I think there might be a significant and large hole in my thinking on the topic.”

This combined with the general stylishness of the piece — for lack of a better word — Shakespeare, the image choices, the language choices, etc... left me in an interesting and unusual place I don’t wind up in after reading nonfiction:

The first was a strong intrinsic desire to think this through more clearly before formulating any other opinions on the topic. The second was — again for lack of a better word — a mild form of something like “awe.”

This was a really delightful and interesting read, and I’m grateful for having read it. I can understand why there aren’t any other comments yet, though — it seems like something of sufficient importance that it would not be fitting to make a snap judgment or contribute a tiny detail, since I should spend some time around what not seems to be a large gap in my thinking on this topic that I hadn’t adequately perceived or reasoned through.

So, anyways, that was my experience reading this. Thanks for writing it. “Thought provoking” gets thrown around rather casually these days, but this was very much the strong version of that for me.

First, I love this question.

Second, this might seem way out of left field, but I think this might help you answer it —

One of the BGB's [editor: the German Civil Law Code] fundamental components is the doctrine of abstract alienation of property (German: Abstraktionsprinzip), and its corollary, the separation doctrine (Trennungsprinzip). Derived from the works of the pandectist scholar Friedrich Carl von Savigny, the Code draws a sharp distinction between obligationary agreements (BGB, Book 2), which create enforceable obligations, and "real" or alienation agreements (BGB, Book 3), which transfer property rights. In short, the two doctrines state: the owner having an obligation to transfer ownership does not make you the owner, but merely gives you the right to demand the transfer of ownership.

I have an idea of what might be going on here with your question.

It might be the case that there's two fairly-tightly-bound — yet slightly distinct — components in your conception of "theoretical evidence." 

I'm having a hard time finding the precise words, but something around evidence, which behaves more-or-less similarly to how we typically use the phrase, and something around... implication, perhaps... inference, perhaps... something to do with causality or prediction... I'm having a hard time finding the right words here, but something like that.

I think it might be the case that these components are quite tightly bound together, but can be profitably broken up into two related concepts — and thus, being able to separate them BGB-style might be a sort of solution.

Maybe I'm mistaken here — my confidence isn't super high, but when I thought through this question the German Civil Law concept came to mind quickly. 

It's profitable reading, anyways — BGB I think can be informative around abstract thinking, logic, and order-of-operations. Maybe intellectually fruitful towards your question or maybe not, but interesting and recommended either way.

Good points.

I'll review and think more carefully later — out at dinner with a friend now — but my quick thought is that the proper venue, time, and place for expressing discontent with a cooperative community project is probably afterwards, possibly beforehand, and certainly not during... I don't believe in immunity from criticism, obviously, but I am against defection when one doesn't agree with a choice of norms.

That's the quick take, will review more closely later.

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