All of Muhd's Comments + Replies

Epistemic Effort

It could be argued that describing the evidence ought to be a significant focus of the body of a post, if you are trying to persuade someone who might not otherwise be persuaded. It's certainly a useful concept though, particularly when you just want to quickly share an idea that you expect will not require significant persuasive effort to be well received (to avoid people being overconfident in your idea).

Yeah - my intent was the epistemic effort was a short summary of how seriously you were trying to examine an idea. So you might say "ran a small informal experiment" or "did a serious literature review" in the Epistemic Effort section, and then later in the post you'd expound on what that actually meant.
The Least Convenient Possible World

On the other hand, if you think that a contingent fact will get you out of a hard choice, perhaps you will be more likely to find legitimate contingent facts.

Why Are Individual IQ Differences OK?

Conversely, I can't think of any applications for which tying IQ to race is useful.

If the results of the racial IQ studies are true, then that is very important because it disproves the doctrine of ethnic cognitive equality. Many people, especially in America, have this idea that all ethnic groups must have exactly equal average cognitive ability, and that if one or more ethnic groups perform below average on a test of aptitude, that is taken as strong evidence that the test is invalid and racially biased and thus cannot be used.

For this reason, many ... (read more)

Actually, the most useful application for individual businesses in this case would be (in the event that IQ tests are good at predicting who will be a good worker) to request IQ scores as part of a job application, not to discriminate based on race - this is not to say that it would be useful for society as a whole. I am not sure what it would do to society as a whole. On the one hand, if there's a correlation between race and IQ, more people of each race with a low IQ might find themselves worse off. However, if employers become more willing to hire black people after testing their IQs, it could be a great boon to blacks and actually serve as a way to encourage people to judge each person based on individual characteristics as opposed to rejecting them for being part of a group. Simply tossing away all of the people of whatever race because the others have a low IQ would probably, in practice, not work very well - this is because they're selecting from a pool of people who are qualified in the first place, and the process of becoming qualified acts as a filter. Most of the people they're interviewing who are qualified are probably also intelligent enough to do the job - so you'd have too man false negatives this way. I would say also that if aptitude tests are restricted because of racist connotations, it's because people tied IQ to race. Can you think of any applications for tying IQ to race that do not have the above issues?
Actually, the legal rationale for restricting the use of such tests in certain kinds of hiring is not that they're invalid. If you proved to the courts that they were "valid," meaning an accurate reflection of crystallized intelligence/abstract reasoning/g/whatever, this would not undermine the central legal argument against them, which is that they produce disparate impacts on protected classes.
Philosophical Landmines

I'm confused. Consequentialists do not have access to the actual outcomes when they are making their decisions, so using that as a guideline for making moral decisions is completely unhelpful.

It also seems that your statement that good intentions don't justify the means is false. Consider this counterexample:

I have 2 choices A and B. Option A produces 2 utilons with 50% probability and -1 utilon the rest of the time. Choice B is just 0 utilons with 100% probability.

My expected utility for option A is +0.5 utilons which is greater than the 0 utilons for... (read more)

Why Are Individual IQ Differences OK?

This is an interesting point, but let's try a thought experiment to see if it holds up. Consider the following statements you could make about yourself

  1. You are an X-level black belt in a martial art.
  2. Your top bowling score is X.
  3. You can benchpress X amount of weight.
  4. You have an IQ of X.

Where X is some value that is impressive and/or noteworthy. How strong of a negative reaction do you think each of these would get?

Here's what my intuition says:

  1. Probably no negative reaction.
  2. Probably no negative reaction.
  3. Possibly somewhat negative, sounds like brag
... (read more)
I don't think it's superiority. A counterpoint in thought experiment form: 1. "Hi, I'm the president of the United States" 2. "Hi, I run my own business." 3. "Hi, I'm a model." 4. "Hi, I'm Albert, the guy who came up with E equals MC squared." 5. "Hi, I'm a genius." I think the numbers do make statements sound bad (I couldn't figure out a way to word the above using a number without making it sound like bragging) but that's irrelevant to the question I'm trying to answer, so it's essentially one of those factors that should be removed from an experiment. I added an additional statement in the same format (an introduction using an identity of some type) about intelligence which does not include a number so that we've got a comparable intelligence-related option. Here's what my intuition says: 1. No negative reaction (more likely a positive reaction like excitement). 2. No negative reaction (admiration seems as likely as jealousy). 3. Potentially some amount of negative feelings from jealous females, and some amount of excitement from males or lesbians. 4. No negative reaction (more likely a positive reaction like excitement). 5. Strong negative reaction. What's interesting here is that 1 and 4 are not only some of the biggest claims of superiority that you can make, but have also referred to something verifiable, which should theoretically intensify the reaction. If making a claim of superiority was the problem, those should trigger much worse reactions. I think the difference between the genius claim and the others in my thought experiment is that all the others are claiming to be doing something constructive. This makes the superiority less threatening. Another possibility is that the claims to genius and high IQ are not verifiable with LinkedIn or other research, so they're not as believable. Here's a thought experiment on with some non-verifiable claims, where there are varying levels of superiority and threat: 1. Hi, I'm a secret governm
Lawful Uncertainty

I think the behavior we are seeing here may be more a case of loss aversion rather than anything else.

Assuming that red cards must come at some point (true if we are flipping over a limited set of cards with a blue-red ratio of 7 to 3; not sure if that is the setup), the subjects adopt a strategy that gives them the highest likelihood of avoiding failure completely. Predicting blue cards every time requires accepting a certain degree failure right from the outset and is thus unpalatable to the human mind which is loss-averse.

Even if the experiment is desi... (read more)

Why I'm Skeptical About Unproven Causes (And You Should Be Too)

These were my thoughts when I read this.

A better analogy might be buying stock in a technology startup which is making a product completely unlike anything on the market now. It is certainly more risky than the sure thing, with lots of potential for losing your investment, but also has a much much higher potential payoff. This is generally the case in any sort of investing, whether it be investing in a charity or in a business -- the higher the risk, the higher the potential gain. The sure stuff generally has plenty of funding already -- the low hanging... (read more)

I think this is also a dangerous example because most of the salient and readily-available examples of doing this are the highly-publicized successes (this might be less true for people who are actually actively involved in technology investment - I say this from the perspective of an outsider).
Social status & testosterone

That link does not talk the effects of estrogen...

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Estradiol is one of the estrogens.
Meditation, insight, and rationality. (Part 2 of 3)

I see nothing there that contradicts what I said, but it does seem most of the links are dead.

On the object level, your belief-as-stated is not conclusively known. Everett sub 1986 believed that there were words for "one", "two" and "many"; this belief was updated in 2008 when one speaker in an n=4 study used the word for "one" when there were six things presented to them. On the meta-level, none of Everett's results (as far as I know) have been replicated by an independent anthropologist, which means that your belief-as-stated has one point of failure. Given the surprising nature of his results, we should demand strong evidence that his results are true and not due to, e.g., cultural/linguistic misunderstandings. In fact, the linguistics community has indeed questioned the data closely.
Meditation, insight, and rationality. (Part 2 of 3)

Aren't numbers a human universal?

No. The Pirahã, for example, have no concept of exact numbers, only of smaller and larger amounts.

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The last time I looked this up, all results on the Piraha language are due to a single anthropologist, Daniel Everett. There's been some debate in the literature about whether or not he was actually correct about their innumeracy; see the "Further Reading" section on the wikipedia page for some examples.
Prisoner's Dilemma (with visible source code) Tournament

Do you have any evidence of this? It seems highly unlikely that the proportion of users of any given programming language that could write a parser would differ by an amount that there are more Scheme users who can write a parser than Java/Python users, given the vastly larger number of users of Java and Python.

For what its worth, python includes its own parser in the standard library, so it would probably be better than scheme in that regard, though I might have to agree with you regarding parsing with Java, though there may very well be a module out there for parsing Java as well.

From experience, I can tell you that it is easier to lean Scheme and write a Scheme interpreter than it is to just understand how Python works on the inside. If you know how Python worked well enough to do static analysis on it, you can learn Scheme in an hour.
Prisoner's Dilemma (with visible source code) Tournament

At best we'd get a lot more people who are excited to participate but loose interest once they realize they have no idea how to write a program to parse the opposing bot.

At worst that is what would happen.

Java and Python are many orders of magnitude more popular than Scheme and if only 10% of the people who get excited about participating actually know how to parse than we would still have much greater numbers.

Java and Python are much harder to parse than scheme, and the percentage of Java or Python programers who could write a parser for those languages is less than 10%. Furthermore, the ones who could write a parser likely also know Scheme or at least some other lisp dialect.
Prisoner's Dilemma (with visible source code) Tournament

Same here.

If it were in Java or Python, we could get a whole lot more participants. And more readers who understand the source of the submissions.

I very much doubt this. At best we'd get a lot more people who are excited to participate but loose interest once they realize they have no idea how to write a program to parse the opposing bot.
Discussion for Eliezer Yudkowsky's paper: Timeless Decision Theory

I think inherent in the problem is the condition that you fully understand what is going on and you know you aren't part of some weird trick.

It's not realistic, but being realistic isn't the point of the problem.