All of MartinB's Comments + Replies

European Community Weekend 2015 Impressions Thread

No comments yet? Well. I find it difficult to put into words how awesome the weekend was. (Sometimes things really do live up to the hype.) 80+ extremely friendly, open and curious people got together to talk about almost everything. The amount of topics covered was super surprising as was the style. I didn't notice any status posing :-). Besides the interesting lectures (a big wave to all the effective altruists) and the impromptu talking we got to excercise social stuff and talk to/play with very nice plushies. I still need some time to process everything, but it was awesome and I look forward to the next (or any similar) event.

3arundelo7yWikipedia: "1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + ⋯". []
Lifestyle interventions to increase longevity

I've got it :-) Actually I read about it before, but delayed going to the doctors for a few years. Afterwards it took about 6month of preliminary testing till I got the appointment in the sleep lab - since it is not an emergency situation. But afterwards the CPAP helped me right away. Its ridiculously effective. (Around the same time I started using f.lux to dim the brigtness of the monitor which is a good idea anyway (redshift for linux), and later got an eye mask to keep lights out.) From the self help group I got some material for the practical question... (read more)

Lifestyle interventions to increase longevity

Did you go to a Sleeplap? They are supposed to fit it, have a pile of different masks to choose from. As far as I know cpap is the way to go with APNEA.

Less Wrong Product & Service Recommendations

if you're German check out Its much more awesome. For English speakers try Colemak. For all others check if there are optimized layouts for your language.

Hopefully someone does an adaption of the NEO principles into other languages at some point. Its not that difficult to get into it.

New Year's Prediction Thread (2012)

And now the scoring:


I'll log more than 1460 work hours in my logging tool for the year:70%

No, just 612,5 == 42% of the planned minimum.

I can accurately describe myself as a hard worker. 60%

Not quite there yet.

I weight below 100kg (220 pound) end of year: 30%


I'll get the big scale project one of my teams was applying for: 20%


I'll severely improve in the art that shall not be named: 60%


I finish university:60%


I still am involved in my goal club: 75%


I will have experienced credit card fraud: 5%


I will st

... (read more)
Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 18, chapter 87

Ok thats rofl worthy. I got the OTP with google, but didnt make the connection to the fanfiction usage of shipping. My guess was a reference to Vanderbuilt and similar guys at see.

7gwern9yI was guessing it was some sort of Scientology reference - oh-tee-three being OT3 or Operating Thetan level 3. Which made no sense to me, but I couldn't do any better.

It's not American slang; it's internet slang, I guess? (The following is an explanation for anyone who both reads MoR and these discussion threads but isn't familiar with fanfiction in general.)

"Ship" is a term of art in fan communities deriving from "relationship" that indicates you think two fictional characters in some fictional universe should be together, e.g. "I ship Harry and Hermione" means "I think Harry and Hermione should be together." A substantial amount of fanfiction is centered on shipping, e.g. you ... (read more)

8LauralH9yIt's just fanfic terms: "shipping wars" are people who argued over, say, Harry/Hermione vs. Ron/Hermione, and "OT3" in that case would have been Harry/Hermione/Ron. (The original acronym was OTP=One True Pairing.)
Meetup : Munich Meetup, October 28th

I only saw the anouncement today which is a bit to late. Generally I am interested in meetups and currently live in Nuremberg.

Parenting and Happiness

It doesnt follow that it has to go down. It could also stay stable. After all - all the bright people that do not reproduce have parents somewhere. So there are people produced by parents who are not in the mental cluster that prevents them from reproduction.

[Link] The real end of science

Thats mostly engineering, not science.

1ancientcampus9yFair point, though the line's pretty blurry in "biotechnology". (Typo: I meant "biotechnolgy" instead of "biochemistry"). What I mean is that people are complaining that the field is doing a lot of "quick-fix" solutions to problems, and I'm saying - "hey, some of those 'quick-fixes' look pretty promising."
What are useful skills to learn at university?


I think I found quite a few groups where the group topic was barely talked about outside of formal events. To some degree thats normal and good. It just irritates me when the rate is extremely low.

What are useful skills to learn at university?

Self-organization, efficient working are not actually taught. Neither is planning. Often you have voluntary courses on university work. But you do get pressured into either doing it or fail. The scientific method might be taught, but you don't have to get it. to succeed.

Often one learns systematic working and math. Somewhat scientific working, quoting right.

I think university teaches some things indirectly that are hard to explain explicitly and hard to become aware that they actually matter.

What are useful skills to learn at university?

Not my experience. (Sadly). Most students I interacted with at university were less than interested to talk about subject matters at all.

0satt9yProbably true at a lot of universities, although it might still be true that you'll have a better hit rate at university than at most other places.
1[anonymous]9yIn my experience, that's why making friends with graduate students can be really valuable. At my university, at least, they tend to be smarter and more willing to talk about their field than other undergraduates.
How to get cryocrastinators to actually sign up for cryonics

Scaling effects. Both in social stigma, infrastructure in cases of emergency, actual costs, research and what not. With the current low amount of people who are signed every additional person actually improves the condition.

How to get cryocrastinators to actually sign up for cryonics

I like phones. (for me skype call is basically the same as a phone call). But i mostly use loud speaker. I could imagine a few more reasons why someone wouldnt like phones. It seems odd to make this an actual criterion, but good if companies can deal with it.

On the Care and Feeding of Young Rationalists -- Revisited[Draft] [Request for Feedback]

Sometimes children are bullied by children of the same age, so separating children by exact age does not help with this

I wonder which way the causation goes here. It might be that bullying occurs because they do not interact with each other that much, or because being seen with a different-aged person is considered uncool.

On the Care and Feeding of Young Rationalists -- Revisited[Draft] [Request for Feedback]

To be a bit more specific. In one job I had parents come in with their kids to make sure they fill out their forms correctly and basically doing the interview for them. Helicopter: takes many things from the kid, that it would do uncorrect, incomplete or wrong, thereby sheltering the kid from real life experience. Helicopter parents storm into the university office, when a problem arises - or when not. Phone the professors and basically prevent the kid from going out on its own.

Being involved sounds like asking lots of questions offering support when asked, or maybe stating opinions without being asked. Its about taking an interest in the kids life, not running it for them.

On the Care and Feeding of Young Rationalists -- Revisited[Draft] [Request for Feedback]

I am fairly sure that helicopter parenting is not the same as being involved. I correlate helicoptering with making decisions for the kid or running errands for them, while being involved often is more on the level of asking about things, and giving support when asked.

5Viliam_Bur10ySupport: Your child wants to play guitar. You buy them a guitar and a textbook for beginners. Helicopter parenting: Your child wants to play guitar. You read magazines and speak with important people, and upon their advice you decide that piano is better. You buy a piano and pay for piano lessons three times a week. You always drive your child to the piano lessons, wait outside, drive them back, and make them play on piano at home for the next two hours; three hours in days they don't have piano lessons. You make your child attend every piano competition; you speak about each competion weeks before it and after it. (You also make your child play tennis and learn Mandarin Chinese.)
2MartinB10yTo be a bit more specific. In one job I had parents come in with their kids to make sure they fill out their forms correctly and basically doing the interview for them. Helicopter: takes many things from the kid, that it would do uncorrect, incomplete or wrong, thereby sheltering the kid from real life experience. Helicopter parents storm into the university office, when a problem arises - or when not. Phone the professors and basically prevent the kid from going out on its own. Being involved sounds like asking lots of questions offering support when asked, or maybe stating opinions without being asked. Its about taking an interest in the kids life, not running it for them.
Meetup : First Berlin meetup

That is so mean. I just spent 2 weeks in Berlin, but will leave the city on 7pm and only saw the message now.

List of underrated risks?

As written by CronoDAS. If most people get a debilitating disease by age X it would be widely accepted as unavoidable. Used to be the case with losing teeth in old age, still is with dementia and aging. Basically a comparison of the own experience to the common experience of your peers.

List of underrated risks?

Oh, also usually ignored are things that happen to almost everyone. EY's weekly baseballbat bashing. Lifestyle interventions do reduce health risks to some degree but are commonly ignored.

0CronoDAS10yChanging lifestyle is hard.
List of underrated risks?

Both also targeted different groups. The flu got old, very young, poor people while the war involved more men of working age. Its weird though that the flu was left out of my history teaching.

3NancyLebovitz10yNitpick: The old had some resistance to the disease. []
List of underrated risks?

Maybe look at religious groups that strongly believe that sin causes disease?

In developed countries they just get treatment secretly.

0JoshuaZ10yProbably that's true for some of them, but it is likely not the case for many others. Part of the evidence otherwise is that there have been a variety of laws and court cases in the US about whether parents can refuse necessary medical care for their children. See for example here [].
List of underrated risks?

Murder rates are usually overestimated, while diseases and accidents are underrated. Due to availability bias thing that happen regularly are concerns, things that are superrare, but might kill many people if are ignored.

2JoshuaZ10yAlso intentionality matters- actions which have intent behind them are more salient. This helps make murder seem more likely. I wonder if cultures that believe that diseases are caused by demons or spirits are more likely to overestimate the risk of disease? This might be hard to test because those cultures are going to be ones generally without modern medicine and have higher disease rates. Maybe look at religious groups that strongly believe that sin causes disease?
Share Your Checklists!

Traveling: I sometimes have multiple trips lined up, so I put all relevant items for each trip in a seperate plastic folder. Items that are not free yet get replaced by a small piece of paper like "train discount card". That makes sure I do not forget travel specific items.

In general I use a packing list that I regularly update before and after each trip. I also unpack after the trip and check back on the checklist to see if I packed something needed that is not on the list yet. Afterwards I evaluate the items and write that in a seperate column... (read more)

Why do people ____?

1) doing something you do (claim to) not enjoy 2) Participating in a tribal ritual that seems to make everyone worse off by having to do an activity they dont enjoy. (A group that is locked into doing something few members actually want to do.)

5prase10y1) Even if the group would be better off if nobody did the activity, it doesn't follow that the individuals are stupid if they are participating. (I don't think the adjective "stupid" is applicable to group decisions which are a Nash equilibrium.) 2) I seriously dispute the assumption that everybody is doing an activity they don't enjoy. Most sports fans enjoy their fandom. Now I watch sports much less than in my high-school years where I had much more opportunities to discuss football or ice hockey with my friends - therefore I know how important part social reinforcement plays. But never I watched a game with a sense of obligation or feeling that I am doing an unpleasant work. (Edit: most of the complaints about how the last night game was horrible are simple signals of sophistication - a true connoisseur can't enjoy every game. The presence of such signalling doesn't necessarily imply lack of enjoyment.) By the way, a better example of a Nash equilibrium where everybody would be better off if nobody had participated in the activity is advertising. Even here, I wouldn't talk about stupidity.
Why do people ____?

In Germany the sport of choice is soccer. From time to time I notice how people (a) put in serious effort to watch the game on TV, and (b) complain about how bad it was afterwards. Some regularly complain about how bad the sport has become, but still eagerly watch it again next time. For me it looks like a weird tribal ritual, thats just stupid.

2prase10yThat some people steadily complain about some activity they regularly voluntarily participate at is an existing phenomenon, but not something specific to spectator sports. Also, even if the very act of watching the match is unpleasant, it may be offset by subsequent pleasant discussions about the game, to which having seen it is a natural prerequisite. And even if the discussions weren't pleasant, they may be an easy way to strengthen tribal membership. What exactly is stupid here?
6drethelin10yIt's fun to have something to complain about with your friends.
Why do people ____?

Why do people watch far removed teams playing sports?

4NancyLebovitz10yI have a notion that people stay attached to losing teams in part because they anticipate how good it will feel if the team starts winning.
  1. Sports is fun to watch for the same reason watching any other form of skilled competition can be fun.

  2. Identifying with a far removed team is a way to join a tribe, and get all the fun results thereof. It doesn't matter that much that you're identifying with a bunch of players who are hired by an organization that is nominally affiliated with a location far away from you. People subscribe to really tenuous group membership all the time: they feel affiliated with faraway centers of government, ideologies that have no geographic location, etc. What does matter is being able to find people, preferably nearby and in person, you can signal your group affiliation to.

Experiment: a good researcher is hard to find

As far as I am aware the hiring process is severely broken. It would be good to get some more public information and a fix.

A Kick in the Rationals: What hurts you in your LessWrong Parts?

Are you aware that they might be other people by the same name?

8RobertLumley10yYes. But it was nevertheless clear which person in the reference set of "People with the name Summer Glau" I was referring to.
Stupid Questions Open Thread Round 2

Incompetence is at least as bad as dishonesty. Not sure if it can be distinguished.

9lsparrish10yNo! The distinction not only exists but is incredibly important to this context. Incompetence is a problem of an unqualified person doing the job. It can be fixed by many things, e.g. better on-the-job training, better education, or experience. Replacing them with a more qualified candidate is also an option, assuming you can find one. With a dishonest person, you have a problem of values; they are likely to defect rather than behave superrationally in game-theoretic situations. The only way to deal with that is to keep them out of positions that require trust. Dishonesty can be used to cover one's tracks when one is incompetent. (Bob Nelson was doing this.) I'm not arguing that incompetence isn't Bayesean evidence for dishonesty -- it is. However, there are plenty of other explanations for incompetence as well: cognitive bias (e.g. near/far bias), lack of relevant experience, personality not suited to the job, extreme difficulty of the job, lack of information and feedback to learn from mistakes, lack of time spent learning the job... Of all these, why did your mental pattern-matching algorithms choose to privilege dishonesty as likely to be prevalent? Doesn't the fact that there is all this public information about their failings strike you as evidence that they are generally more interested in learning from their mistakes rather than covering their tracks? I've even seen Max More (Alcor's current CEO) saying positive things about Chronosphere, despite having been personally named and criticized in several of Darwin's articles. The culture surrounding cryonics during the few years I've been observing it actually seems to be one of skeptical reserve and indeed hunger for criticism. Moreover, the distinction cuts both ways: Multiple cryobiologists who are highly competent in their field have repeatedly made demonstrably false statements about cryonics, and have demonstrated willingness to use political force to silence the opposition. There is no inherent con
Stupid Questions Open Thread Round 2

No, since his articles make the case against current cryonics organisations, despite coming from a strong supporter of the idea.

Stupid Questions Open Thread Round 2

Cryonicists have the same incentive to lie. Reading the current article series of Mike Darwin on makes a good case on how cryonics currently is broken.

2lsparrish10yDo you have a specific example of a pro-cryonics lie? Because as far as I can tell, Mike is arguing for incompetence and not dishonesty or ideological bias as the culprit.
4gwern10yI hope you appreciate the irony of bringing up Darwin's articles on the quality of cryopreservation in the context of someone demanding articles on quality by someone not associated with cryonics institutes.
"Drinking Alcohol May Significantly Enhance Problem Solving Skills"

Yes if you substitute it with 'comment something reasonable'. This just being a placeholder pointing it out.

School essay: outsourcing some brain work

I don't think I have to answer that to point out the flaw. If all nursing theories considered are wrong than one of those can easily still be the one that produces the best results despite no correlation with what nursing actually is about. A flaw I would expect to see more often is a nursing theory that has new age elements that are not linked to reality, makes the user feel helpful and good and leads possibly to a good care of patients. But that sounds like rating the more effective bedtime story or the more effective motivational mission statement. The term "nursing theory" implies that it is a theory about how nursing should be done, not what thoughts the nurse should have while doing it.

2Swimmer96310yThere are actually some nursing theories–specifically those under the model of Transformation, which is apparently 1975-onwards–which are completely New Agey and waaay more useless than Roy's theory. Roger's theory of "Unitary Human Beings" defines humans as "indivisible energy fields defined by their patterns" and health as "a manifestation of constant and mutual exchange processes between the energy fields of the person and the environment." Not only is that vague, it's not even comprehensible to me.
School essay: outsourcing some brain work

This still does not make it a correct theory.

1Swimmer96310yThere is actually an article I had to summarize for one of our first assignments, that discusses why theories in nursing are not "correct" or "incorrect", but have to be evaluated according to their "social congruence" (does the theory live up to society's expectations of nurses), "social significance" (would society change if nurses stopped existing), and "social utility" (do nurses themselves find the theory useful). (Yes, I just had to reopen my assignment in a Word document so I can check which of those concepts was which, because they're named in a way that makes it impossible to remember.)
0Mark_Eichenlaub10yCan you describe how else one would test a nursing theory for correctness? As I understand it, a nursing theory says, "If the nurse follows procedure A, the reaction in the patient will be X. If the nurse doesn't follow procedure A, the reaction in the patient will be Y." If the theory is accurate in those predictions, it's a correct theory, even if it sounds crazy. To tell whether it's a correct theory, we have to test it. That's what I was driving at.
Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 14, chapter 82

Something like this was done in the book ''Hair carpet" by German author Andreas Eschbach. Readworthy. I think it is generally wise to found the opposition by oneself. The government in 1984 did it as well.

Social status hacks from The Improv Wiki

I just put out much more up votes than usual while reading the comments. I usually get confused whenever someone with high status ignores the well founded opinions of a low status person. I saw charismatic high status people break things due to sheer ignorance. It hurts.

What might be missing is an emphasis that status is not a black/white distinction. There is an apropriate level to each situation which can and should be trained.

I really hate it when competence and appearance of competence run on oposing signals. Bad enough that they are often unrelated. B... (read more)

Social status hacks from The Improv Wiki

How and with what results (short term, long term) do you punish?

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 13, chapter 81

Yes, that is what I was aiming at. If it is the rational choice to end a pregnancy, than it is good for us that not everyone in the past did so. I am aware that the OP wrote about the financial incentive, not about the most rational choice.

0Alsadius10yI'm speaking of a peculiar situation, not of a generic pregnancy. Still, I suppose that as "financial reasons to have an abortion" go, the fact that not having one obliges you to raise a kid does seem like it ought to weigh highly...
0TheOtherDave10yI do not know what that phrase means.
Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 13, chapter 81

Well. But he is not supposed to give in. He has to get the next level of interrogators who can deal with this. Imagine a real police person in a similar situation.

2loserthree10yImagine a real police officer dealing with someone who cannot be disarmed. Perhaps the magical world has a "cannot put Superman in jail" threshold. Under it, they tread lightly. Over it, they pull out all the stops and doing whatever they're doing to Grindelwald.
0[anonymous]10yThat was more than twenty-four hours ago, you know.
4Benquo10yAnd Quirrelmort seems to have wandlessly and effortlessly blocked his spell. That's pretty scary.
Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 13, chapter 81

I found it weird that he only tried once, and basically ignored Qs counter to the test.

2Benquo10yHe is afraid to escalate.
Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 13, chapter 81

Regarding polyjuice. Keep in mind that Quirrell had to spend a while in the hospital wing in bed. He probably would not have had access to his juice. In HP4 you see how often someone polyjuiced has to refill - it is basically all the time.

2[anonymous]10yRight. We, the readers, know that Quirrell is not polyjuiced. But Scrimgeour doesn't.
Load More