All of lionhearted (Sebastian Marshall)'s Comments + Replies

(1) Physics generally seems like a trustworthy discipline - the level of rigor, replicability, lack of incentive for making false claims, etc. So base rate of trust is high in that domain.

(2) There doesn't seem to be anyone claiming otherwise or any major anomalies around it, with the possible exception of how microscopic/quantum levels of things interact/aggregate/whatever with larger scale things.

(3) It would seem to need to be at least correct-ish for a lot of modern systems, like power plants, to work correctly.

(4) I've seen wood burn, put fuel into a ... (read more)

On the contrary - this is a strict materialist perspective which looks to disambiguate the word 'trauma' into more accurate nouns, and replace the vague word 'heal' with more actionable and concrete verbs.

A phrase like biochemical-based depression looks accurate and actionable on the surface but there are good reasons why there's no biochemical-based depression in the DSM. The DSM is created by the need for categories that are practically useful for psychiatrists. Biochemical-based depression isn't a category that's actionable for professionals.  Even if the trigger of a depression was biochemical-based, making an assumption that you just need to change biochemistry and not anything more "mental" to get back to the status quo after being for months in the mental habits of depression is wrong. In some instances, the person might handle the mental changes without outside help but that doesn't mean that changing mental habits is not needed.

I think there's often a language/terminology challenge around these areas. For instance, at different times I had a grade 3 ankle sprain after endurance training, and a grade 2 wrist sprain after a car crash - those are clearly acute trauma (in the medical meaning of the word) and they do require some mix of healing to the extent possible for recovery of physical function. 

But I've always found it tricky that the same word 'trauma' is used for physical injuries, past bad experiences, and as a broad description of maladaptive patterns of thought and be... (read more)

You assume that problems are very dualistic, that they are either a physical or a mental problem. Dualism is framework that has some appeal but there's no inherent reason why it has to be true. Many people who use the word trauma refer to somato-psychological issues. If we take the car crash, there's a good chance that it results in changes in fascia and those changes also relate to phobia. That's why many people believe that bodywork is useful for dealing with traumatic experiences. 

Partially agreed again.

I'd be hesitant to label as "Critical" pointing out that someone has an invalid argument, and having it implicitly contrasted against "Positive" — it implies they're opposites or antithetical in some way, y'know?

Also, respectfully disagree with this - 

"The specific issue with ‘Not what I meant’ is that the icon reads as ‘you missed’ and not ‘we missed’. Communication is a two-way street and the default react should be at least neutral and non-accusatory."

Sometimes a commentor, especially someone new, is just badly off the mark. That's not a two-way street problem, it's a Well-Kept Garden problem...

I think signalling to someone that they've missed my intended point is most valuable if they are the kind of person to take it constructively, and if they are, I have no wish to be pointing fingers any more accusatorially than the minimum amount to bring that into focus. I think a neutral reaction is still a plenty adequate signal in the case you mention and I value that it might do less social harm, whereas a harsher reaction is at least for me less universal as I will be disinclined to use it in prosocial interactions. Yes but the choice of word used to describe the category is not a crux. As I was imagining the interface in my head, the sections were not titled at all, and if they were titled I don't think I'd care about the choice.
Use case I was imagining is in a conversation, someone attempting to summarize the other.

I agree that drive-by unpleasant criticisms without substance ("Obtuse") don't seem productive, but I actually think some of the mild "tonally unpleasant" ones could be very valuable. It's a way for an author to inexpensively let a commenter know that they didn't appreciate the comment.

"Not what I meant" seems particularly valuable for when someone mis-summarizes or inferences wrongly what was written, and "Not worth getting into" seems useful when someone who unproductively deep on a fine-grained detail of something more macro oriented. 

One challenge... (read more)

Most of my comments on tone were meant to suggest better phrasings or, in the case of ‘Not what I meant’, iconography, not to suggest they were not valuable. The specific issue with ‘Not what I meant’ is that the icon reads as ‘you missed’ and not ‘we missed’. Communication is a two-way street and the default react should be at least neutral and non-accusatory. The section titles were meant very broadly and eg. you'd probably want to put both ‘Locally Valid’ and ‘Locally Invalid’ in that section next to each other even though the former is also Positive. To do some word association if it helps, * Positive — encouragement, endorsement, good vibes, congratulations * Critical — technical commentary, analysis, moderation, validity * Informational — personal actions, takes, directions, neutral but also to be clear, I'm not wedded to this, and there are no doubt many ways to split it. Partial agreement seems like a valuable icon to me!
Perhaps helping with the mixed stuff, we might prototype "inline reacts" where you select text and your react only applies to that.

Not sure how many posts you've made here or elsewhere, but as someone who has done a lot of public writing this seems like a godsend. It will reflect poorly on someone who deploys those a lot in a passive aggressive way, but we've all seen threads that are exhausting to the original poster.

This seems particularly useful for when someone makes a thoughtful but controversial point that spurs a lot of discussion. The ability to acknowledge you read someone's comment without deeply engaging with it is particularly useful in those cases.

I turned this on for a recent post and I'm incredibly impressed. 

This is the coolest feature I've seen for discussion software in many years.

Highly recommended to try it out if you make a post.


I'm a Westerner, but did business in China, have quite a few Chinese friends and acquaintances, and have studied a fair amount of classical and modern Chinese culture, governance, law, etc.

Most of what you're saying makes sense with my experience, and a lot of Western ideas are generally regarded as either "sounds nice but is hypocritical and not what Westerns actually do" (a common viewpoint until ~10 years ago) with a later idea of "actually no, many young Westerners are sincere about their ideas - they're actually just crazy in an ideological way about ... (read more)

8Lao Mein7mo
I fully endorse this post.

Hmm. Looks like I was (inadvertently) one of the actors in this whole thing. Not intended and unforeseen. Three thoughts.

(1) At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I just wanna say thanks again to the moderation team and everyone who participates here. I think oftentimes the "behind the scenes coordination work" doesn't get noticed during all the good times and not enough credit is noticed. I just like to notice it and say it outright. For instance, I went to the Seattle ACX meetup yesterday which I saw on here (LW), since I check ACX less frequentl... (read more)

5Jasnah Kholin7mo
(3) i didn't watch the movie, nor i plan to watch it, but i read the plot summary in Wikipedia. and I see it as caution against escalation. the people there consistently believe that you should revenge on 1 point offense at 4 points punishment. and this create escalation cycle. while i think most of Duncan's writing is good, the thing when i think he consistently create bad situations, is in unproportional escalations of conflict, and inability to just let things be.  once upon a time if i saw someone did something 1 point bad and someone reacting in 3 point bad thing, i would think the first one is 90% of the problem. with time, i find robustness more and more important, and now i see the second one more problematic. as such. i disagree with your description of the movie. the plot is one people doing something bad, other refuse to punish him, and a lot of people that escalate things, and so, by my standards, doing bad things. LOT of bad things. to call it a chin reaction is to not assign the people that doing bad unproportional escalating things agency over their bad choices. it's strange for me, as i see this agency very clearly. 

A bit late in commenting and I understand the "mongo" example was pointing at a more general concept, but I decided to check in on the current state of prediction. Not perfect, n=1, could certainly be set out better, but thought I'd give this a whirl:

Hello, I'd like to test your predictive ability on something interesting and novel. May we?

Hello! Of course, I'd be happy to help you with your prediction. What would you like me to predict?

First, some context — I'm an American tech CEO. I like and have read a lot of classical philoso... (read more)

I've read it. There was some back-and-forth between him and Tegmark on the topic.

Aaronson calculates, Tegmark speculates.

Hey, first just wanted to say thanks and love and respect. The moderation team did such an amazing job bringing LW back from nearly defunct into the thriving place it is now. I'm not so active in posting now, but check the site logged out probably 3-5 times a week and my life is much better for it.

After that, a few ideas:

(1) While I don't 100% agree with every point he made, I think Duncan Sabien did an incredible job with "Basics of Rationalist Discourse" - - perhaps a boi... (read more)

Agreed w.r.t. "basic questions" we could ask new users. The subreddit /r/ControlProblem now makes people take a quiz before they can post, to filter for people who e.g. know and care about the orthogonality thesis. (The quiz is pretty easy to pass if you're familiar with the basic ideas of AI safety/alignment/DontKillEveryoneism.)

I did the have the idea of there being regions with varying standards and barriers, in particular places where new users cannot comment easily and place where they can, as an idea.

I do agree Duncan's post is pretty good, and while I don't think it's perfect I don't really have an alternative I think is better for new users getting a handle on the culture here.

I had a personal experience that strongly suggests that this is at least partially true.

I had a mountaineering trip in a remote location that went off the rails pretty badly — it was turning into a classical "how someone dies in the woods" story. There was a road closure some miles ahead of where I was supposed to drive, I hiked an extra 8 miles in, missed the correct trail, tried to take a shortcut, etc etc - it got ugly.

I felt an almost complete lack of distress or self-pity the entire time. I was just very focused methodically on orienting around my map... (read more)

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 ... (read more)

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 — whic... (read more)

9[DEACTIVATED] Duncan Sabien2y
Thanks. =)

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 sa... (read more)

The safety information I had came from here. There seems to be a disagreement in the literature about the facts. This one had randomized controlled trials. Maybe the sample size was too small though? In that case, are the "suggestions" of a safety problem enough to be a concern? How strong were these suggestions? Obesity also increases risk of death. Perhaps ECA still wins on net cost-benefit. Maybe the risks are very small. Death is a very serious side effect, to be taken very seriously, unfortunately, many over-the-counter medications we use routinely carry this risk. Degrees of risks matter. Maybe the ephedrine was correlated but wasn't the cause. We'd need the numbers, and maybe more statistical know-how than I've got.

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 y... (read more)

Thanks! And there's theoretical reasons my prior would be on steady work (including some HN or SO or book comment I saw (maybe related to personal slack?) claiming that 40% was the optimal capacity to work ourselves at in general, due to task throughput concerns)

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,... (read more)

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 a

... (read more)

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.

Hey - to preface - obviously I'm a great admirer of yours Kaj and I've been grateful to learn a lot from you, particularly in some of the exceptional research papers you've shared with me.

With that said, of course your emotions are your own but in terms of group ethics and standards, I'm very much in disagreement.

The upset feels similar to what I've previously experienced when something that's obviously a purely symbolic gesture is treated as a Big Important Thing That's Actually Making A Difference.

On the one hand, you're totally right. On the other hand,... (read more)

Thanks for engaging :) My upset part feels much calmer now that it has been spoken for, so I'm actually pretty chill about this right now. You've had a lot of stuff that I've gotten value from, too.

Canonical reply is this one:

But note also that that post contains a lengthy excerpt about how the "Dark Side" descends into cultishness and insanity in situations where the word of leaders is accepted without question. That was clearly also depicted as the opposite failure mode.

I agree that rationa... (read more)

Ah, I see, I read the original version partially wrong, my mistake. We're in agreement. Regards.

Hmm. Appreciate your reply. I think there's a subtle difference here, let me think about it some.



Thrashing it out a bit more, I do think a lot of semi-artificial situations are predictive of future behavior. 

Actually, to use an obviously extreme example that doesn't universally apply, that's more-or-less the theory behind the various Special Forces selection procedures —

As opposed to someone artificially creating a conflict to see how the ot... (read more)

Great comment. Insightful phrasing, examples, and takeaways. Thank you.

Two thoughts —

(1) Some sort of polling or surveying might be useful. In the Public Goods Game, researchers rigorously check whether participants understand the game and its consequences before including them in datasets. It's quite possible that there's incredibly divergent understandings of Petrov Day among the user population. Some sort of surveying would be useful to understand that, as well as things like people's sentiments towards unilateralist action, trust, etc no? It'd be self-reported data but it'd be better than nothing.

(2) I wonder how Petrov Day setup and engagement would change if the site went down for a month as a consequence.

Interesting thought yeah.

My first guess is there's some overlap but it's slightly orthogonal — btw, it might not have come across in original post, but Butler is a really well-loved teammate who is happy to defer to other guys on his team, set them up for success, etc. He doesn't need to be "the guy" any given night — he just wants his team to win with a rather extreme fervor about it.

3Matt Goldenberg3y
Yeah, when Thiel is talking about cooperation vs. competition, he's also not talking about being a team player vs needing to be the star- he's talking about the relation to either ignoring competition and just focusing on creating a good product, or specifically worrying about your competitors and figuring out how you can beat them.

I honestly don't get it - do you have a link to the previous discussion that justified why anyone's taking it all that seriously?

Here was my analysis last year —

In fairness, my values diverge pretty substantially from a lot of the community here, particularly around "life is serious" vs "life isn't very serious" and the value of abstract bonds/ties/loyalties/camaraderie. 

Thanks.  I am not convinced, but I have a better idea of where our perspectives differ.  I have to admit this feels a bit like a relationship shit-test, where an artificial situation is created, and far too much weight is put on the result. I'd be interested to hear various participants' and observers' takes on the actual impact of this event, in terms of what they believe about people's willingness to support the site or improve the world in non-artificial conditions.

You're being very kind in far-mode consequentialism here, but come on now.

Making your friend look foolish in front of thousands of people is bad etiquette in most social circles.

I'd kinda assumed that one wouldn't do this unless they were confident their friend would be ok with it, as indeed seems to be the case.

Why would there be?

Different social norms, I suppose. 

I'm trying to think if  we ever prank each other or socially engineer each other in my social circle, and the answer is yes but it's always by doing something really cool — like, an ambiguous package shows up but there's a thoughtful gift inside. 

(Not necessarily expensive — a friend found a textbook on Soviet accounting for me, I got him a hardcover copy of Junichi Saga's Memories of Silk and Straw. Getting each other nice tea, coffee, soap, sometimes putting it in a funny box so it does... (read more)

I think this case is fairly different to what you describe. The community organised for this to potentially happen and Chris publicised this fact to his friends. The community decided that it was worth the risk so the damage could be assumed not to be large and having the frontpage going down for 24 hours really isn't a huge deal.  The actual damage is realisitically the fact that the experiment (and associated metaphor) didn't work but I feel like the lessons learnt should more than make up for that.

Umm. Grudgingly upvoted. 

(For real though, respect for taking the time to write an after-action report of your thinking.)

I was tricked by one of my friends:

Serious question - will there be any consequences for your friendship, you think?

Why would there be? I'm sure they saw it as just a game too and it would be extremely hypocritical for me to be annoyed at anyone for that.

It'd take a few paragraphs to tell the whole story if you don't already follow basketball, but this —

Long story really short, the 76ers have a player who is an incredible athlete but doesn't feel comfortable taking jump shots far away from the basketball hoop.

Thus, defenses can ignore him when he's out on the perimeter.

His coach told him publicly to take one 3-point shot per game. Coach said he doesn't even care if he hits it or ... (read more)

5Ben Pace3y
Thx for the explanation!

So, I think it's important that LessWrong admins do not get to unilaterally decide that You Are Now Playing a Game With Your Reputation. 

Dude, we're all always playing games with our reputations. That's, like, what reputation is.

And good for Habyka for saying he feels disappointment at the lack of thoughtfulness and reflection, it's very much not just permitted but almost mandated by the founder of this place — (read more)

I feel confused about how you interpreted my comment, and edited it lightly. For the record, Habryka's comment seems basically right to me; just wanted to add some nuance. 

Y'know, there was a post I thought about writing up, but then I was going to not bother to write it up, but I saw your comment here H and "high level of disappointment reading this response"... and so I wrote it up.

Here you go:

That's an extreme-ish example, but I think the general principle holds to some extent in many places.

Yeah, I have first-pass intuitions but I genuinely don't know.

In a era with both more trustworthy scholarship (replication crisis, etc) and less polarization, I think this would actually be an amazing topic for a variety of longitudinal studies. 

Alas, probably not possible right now.

Respectfully — and I do mean this respectfully — I think you're talking completely past Jacob and missed his point.

You comment starts:

How much your life is determined by your actions, and how much by forces beyond your control, that is an empirical question. You seem to believe it's mostly your actions.

But Jacob didn't say that.

You're inferring something he didn't say — actually, you're inferring something that he explicitly disclaimed against.

Here's the opening of his piece right after the preface; it's more-or-less his thesis:

What’s bad about victim ment

... (read more)
I think as a meta level the relocated comment is still important. People who are systematically oppressed, might have a different perspective than Jacob, who has been transiently hurt. For example, I have seen several different black people with an audience support contextual victim-hood, but the stance from white men is almost all in agreement with Jacob. As someone with neither history, I won't further speculate.

Yep, I was just nitpicking about literally two lines from the entire article. Guess they triggered me somehow.

Humbled by your niceness when pointing this out, I moved the comment away. Thank you!

Going through these now. I started with #3. It's astoundingly interesting. Thank you.

Hmm. I'm having a hard time writing this clearly, but I wonder if you could get interesting results by:

  • Training on a wide range of notably excellent papers from "narrow-scoped" domains,
  • Training on a wide range of papers that explore "we found this worked in X field, and we're now seeing if it also works in Y field" syntheses,
  • Then giving GPT-N prompts to synthesize narrow-scoped domains in which that hasn't been done yet.

You'd get some nonsense, I imagine, but it would probably at least spit out plausible hypotheses for actual testing, eh?

The practical problem with that is probably that you need to manually decide which papers go in which category. GPT needs such an enormous amount of data that any curating done needs to be automated. So metadata like authors, subject, date, website of provenance are quite easy to obtain for each example, but really high level stuff like "paper is about applying the methods of field X in field Y" is really hard.

By the way, wanted to say this caught my attention and I did this successfully recently on this question —

Combined probabilities were over 110%, so I went "No" on all candidates. Even with PredictIt's 10% fee on winning, I was guaranteed to make a tiny bit on any outcome. If a candidate not on the list was chosen, I'd have made more.

My market investment came out to ($0.43) — that's negative 43 cents; ie, no capital required to stay in it — on 65 no sh... (read more)

This is an interesting post — you're covering a lot of ground in a wide-ranging fashion. I think it's a virtual certainty that you'll come with some interesting and very useful points, but a quick word of caution — I think this is an area where "mostly correct" theory can be a little dangerous.


>If you earn 4% per year, then you need the aforementioned $2.25 million for the $90,000 half-happiness income. If you earn 10% per year, you only need $900,000. If you earn 15% per year, you only need $600,000. At 18% you need $500,000; at 24% you ne... (read more)

Part 3, How to Lose a Fair Game, is up now, which addresses some of these concerns.
I like this comment. This is the kind of discussion I was hoping for. Yes, I'm oversimplifying, but we have to start somewhere and it takes too long to say everything at once. Some of the things you're bringing up are planned for later posts in the sequence [EDIT: see part 3]. Anything left over means I will have learned something, which I consider a win.

Hi all,

I'm going to withdraw my talk for today — after doing some prep yesterday with Jacob and clarifying everyone's skill level and background, I put a few hours in and couldn't get to the point where I thought my talk would be great.

The quality level has been so uniformly high, I'd rather just leave more time for people to discuss and socialize than to lower the bar.

Apologies for any inconvenience, gratitude, and godspeed.

2Ben Pace3y
Aww alas. Another time :)
I've been thinking myself "oh dear, how on Earth will I not drop the standard compared to Eli and Lionhearted??" <sweat bead emoji> No pressure, but I expect for each of us our talks would be well-received.

Thanks for letting us know lionhearted. You're welcome back another week if you have a talk you feel better about! :)

To all attendees -- the event will go ahead as planned with a replacement speaker (me!). 

Incredibly thought-provoking.

Thank you.

Reading this made me think about my own communication styles.


After some quick reflection, among people I know well I think actually oscillate between two — on the one hand, something very close to Ray Dalio's Bridgewater norms (think "radical honesty but with more technocracy, ++logos/--pathos").

On the other hand, a near-polar opposite in Ishin-denshin — a word that's so difficult to translate from Japanese that one of the standard "close enough" definitions for it is..... "telepathy."

No joke.

Almost impossible to ... (read more)

Mmm, appreciating your comment and very curious to hear what reflections emerge as you digest it more :)

> Very good post, highly educational, exactly what I love to see on LessWrong.

Likewise — I don't have anything substantial to add except that I'm grateful to the author. Very insightful.

The quality I'm describing isn't quite "readability" — it overlaps, but that's not quite it. 

Feynman has it —

It's hard to nail down; it'd probably be a very long essay to even try.

And it's not a perfect predictor, alas — just evidence.

But I believe there's a certain way to spot "good reasoning" and "having thoroughly worked out the problem" from one's writing. It's not the smoothness of the words, nor the simplicity.

I's hard to describe, but it seems somewhat consistently recognizable. Yudkowsky has it, incidentally. 

I like to start by trying to find one author who has excellent thinking and see what they cite — this works for both papers and books with bibliographies, but increasingly other forms of media. 

For instance, Dan Carlin of the (exceptional and highly recommended) Hardcore History podcast cites all the sources he uses when he does a deep investigation of a historical era, which is a good jumping-off point if you want to go deep.

The hard part is finding that first excellent thinker, especially in a domain where you can't differentiate quality in a field

... (read more)
My experience is that readability doesn't translate much to quality and might even be negatively correlated, because reality is messy and simplifications are easier to read. I do think works that make themselves easy to double check are probably higher quality on average, but haven't rigorously tested this.
It seems like your approach would work well in fields like programming. It's a practical skill with a lot of people working in it and huge amounts of money at stake to figure out best practices. Plus, the issue he's addressing doesn't seem to be controversial. Outside that safe zone, prose quality isn't a proxy for the truth. And I think it's these issues that Elizabeth's worried about. For example, how many windows are there in your house? If you wanted to answer that question without getting out of your chair, you'd probably form a mental image of the house, then "walk around" and count up the windows. At least, that's what the picture theorists think. Others think there's some other process underlying this cognition, perhaps linguistic in nature. Reading their diametrically opposed papers on the same topic, I'm sure I couldn't tell who's right based on their prose. It's formal academic writing, and the issue is nuanced.

Hi Agnes, I just wanted to say — much respect and regards for logging on to discuss and debate your views.

Regardless if we agree or not (personally, I'm in partial agreement with you) — regardless, if more people would create accounts and engage thoughtfully in different spaces after sharing a viewpoint, the world would be a much better place.

Salutations and welcome.

I think you'd probably like the work of John Boyd:

He's really interesting in that he worked on a mix of problems and areas with many different levels of complexity and rigor.

Notably, while he's usually talked about in terms of military strategy, he did some excellent work in physics that's fundamentally sound and still used in civilian and military aviation today:

He was a skilled fighter pilot, so he was able to both learn theory

... (read more)
I've read some of his stuff on strategy. It seemed like there were a lot of interesting insights in there, but it was all presented in the sort of way that sounds sciency to non-science-people but didn't really communicate a proper model. If someone knows of or could write a good explanation of the models underlying his ideas, I'd be very interested to read that.
Load More