All of Mycroft65536's Comments + Replies


I think you're dramatically underestimating how your responses are being read by third parties. Your style of response to handoflixue specifically has made at least one person I've spoken to decide to avoid giving you well thought out criticism out of fear of you yelling at them and being very confrontational.

0Duncan_Sabien5yshrug If you stumble upon a schoolyard fight, and immediately assume that the person you see punching is fundamentally violent and has high odds of attacking you, I think you're skipping an important step of checking to see whether they're the bully or whether they're defending themselves. Most of us have had the experience (either direct or vicarious) of being absolutely infuriated by the people who try to pretend like there's a perfect symmetry between the punch thrown by the aggressor and the punch thrown by the defender—it's not hypocritical to both support "not starting fights" and "being willing to end them." I am aware of the risk of losing people around the edges, yeah. But I can't do anything except point to the scores and scores of other responses (it might be over a hundred by now) in which I've thanked people for critique, responded in depth, updated visibly in real time, etc. People get anxious, and maybe they disengage. But anyone who's not going to be openly and unjustifiably uncharitable has nothing to fear from me in particular. I'm not going to not stand up for myself against bullies and trolls, even if it costs me some quiet whispers that would've contained good content. Everything is tradeoffs. To put it another way: The person who's refusing to give me their well-thought-out criticism is either a) unable because of costs/time constraints to look further and see that my claim they have nothing to fear is credible, or b) themselves jumping to unfounded conclusions based on less data than they have available to them. If a), then fair play—this is nobody's first priority except mine, and I don't feel entitled to everyone's opinions; it's perfectly reasonable to have a policy of not spending a lot of time if your first impression is strongly negative. If b), and they have time to look but are choosing not to and running with a strawman without questioning their own conclusions, then ... well ... it probably wouldn't have gone well anyway. If
Something to Protect

Explore the world. Meet people, read books, find blogs like this one. Hopefully something will inspire you.

What Bayesianism taught me

No. We can't extrapolate a trend. That's what"You cannot expect that future evidence will sway you in a particular direction" means.

MetaMed: Evidence-Based Healthcare

Likely more than the list price of those procedures. People who have expensive potentially harmful procedures being done on them would get great benefits having MetaMed review those procedures.

MetaMed: Evidence-Based Healthcare

Jaan is also the CTO, I'm not sure if that's on the website.

Rationality Quotes January 2013

If you're commited to rationality, then you're putting your belief system at risk every day. Any day you might acquire more information and be forced to change you belief system, and it could be very unpleasant and be very disturbing.

--Michael Huemer

Social status hacks from The Improv Wiki

Are you of the opinion that people on this site, in their daily lives, are erring on the side of implementing too many high status moves? Or that the people you met in SF while at the mega-camp were doing this stuff too much (Michael Vassar and Eliezer aside)? I agree that the optimum isn't either extreme, I think the nudging should be towards high status behavior.

And does anything in the original post endorse the high status behaviors over the low status ones?

2wedrifid10yNo. On average no. Some possible exceptions. Yes. To precisely the extent that my reply to Will suggests that it does. (Um, no?)
The self-fooling problem.

Tell the person in both states that if he finds the coin an arbitrary dog is going to die and the subject will receive $100. Then just before the subject starts to hide the coin, show the a cute puppy to them. The subject will try to hide the coin very well, and then later, without the memory of the cute puppy, will try to find the coin. Incentives should work out, adjust the animal(child?) and dollar amount to suit the subject.

Should I play World of Warcraft?

When I would explain wanting vs liking vs approving Sex was my go to example for an activity that fits all three.

An Outside View on Less Wrong's Advice

I'm not sure about that. The world is big enough that you can live most of your life mostly in contact with other non-conformists in your particular cluster. I'm doing that right now.

9Vladimir_M10yThe critical issue here is whether your nonconformist group has a truly independent status hierarchy and mechanisms of social support, i.e. if it really allows you to sever ties with the mainstream society and institutions so that you don't have to care about your status and reputation with them without severe negative consequences. I can hardly think of any such nonconformist groups except for some very insular religious sects -- the modern trend is almost uniformly towards strong consolidation of a single and universal status hierarchy whose rules apply to everyone.
The Four-Hour Body by Timothy Ferriss - any LWers tried it?

My starting weight was 183lbs at 5' 10". I went up to 202lbs (quite a bit was fat), I'm now down to 194 (the loss was fat/water).

Consuming a lot of food is hard. I started eating a lot on the second Wednesday in June. On Thursday I was sick as a dog, but kept eating. On Friday I was happy, energetic and eating everything in sight.

I likely had atypical results, but drinking a lot of milk, eating 200+grams of protein a day, eating 4000 kcalories and a good workout regimen should lead to putting on weight.

The Four-Hour Body by Timothy Ferriss - any LWers tried it?

I've been trying the muscle building elements at the bootcamp, while eating lots of food, the required amounts of protein, and lots of milk. Over the course of a week (three workouts), I've gained 15-20 pounds and 0 inches on my waist (Body fat % have been sketchy).

0jsteinhardt10yWhat was your starting weight? This seems like it would be physically impossible for me to do (I would be barely able to consume enough food to gain 15 pounds in the first place, let alone convert it to muscle).
The cost of universal cryonics

I doubt there are any traditions yet. There just haven't been enough people cryopreserved.

3Paul Crowley11yI'm looking for what people have actually done in the absence of such traditions.
Less Wrong NYC: Case Study of a Successful Rationalist Chapter

It's actually surprising how quickly applying rationality can make one more attractive. Winning at nutrition, fashion, fitness take very little time if you're body is at all typical, especially if you're in a community where resources can be pooled. Posture and confidence are harder, but not much. The fact that there are virtuous cycles there also help.

I've seen real gains in attractiveness over the past several years, with noticeable progress on the scale of months. I've achieved gains of 3-4 points on a 10 point scale.

Less Wrong NYC: Case Study of a Successful Rationalist Chapter

If both participants are rational the second allows the worried party to get real data and execute an update, allowing a real emotional worry to go away. This allows people to have less anxiety about their relationships. This makes relationships with rationalists orders of magnitude better than relationships with people who are merely smart and reasonable.

I don't think I could go back to dating a nonrationalist.

Student meetups

I'm interested in sharing notes on discussion topics, recruitment efforts, and demographic balancing.

0Larks11yIf you message me your email I'll cc in Alex Flint, who was the main imputus behind us.
Rationality Quotes: April 2011

... if everything goes according to plan.

I think you're supposed to laugh evilly there.


Rationality Quotes: April 2011

Damn! I googled for spelling and everything =)

Q: What has Rationality Done for You?

Lets say the Singularity is likely to happen in 2045 like Kurzweil says, and you want to maximize the chances that it's positive. The idea that you should get to work making as much money to donate to SIAI, or that you should start researching fAGI (depending on your talents). What you do tomorrow doesn't matter. What matters is the average output over the next 35 years.

This is important because a strategy where you have a emotional breakdown in 2020 fails. If you get so miserable you kill yourself you've failed at your goal. You need to make sure that thi... (read more)

Rationality Quotes: April 2011

Luck is statistics taken personally.

Penn Jellete

3HonoreDB11yUpvoted. Also, Jillette.
The Good News of Situationist Psychology

Cool. We're have a fun weekend planned.

0Raemon11yI'm not going to be able to be there for as much as I want. Sad day.
Reflections on rationality a year out

It costs you almost nothing to post a meetup for a Waco group up here, and only an afternoon reading/on your laptop to wait at a failed meetup. Just because a course of action has a very high payout doesn't mean that trying it has a high cost. The universe isn't fair, and sometimes that's a good thing.

4SilasBarta11yTrue; I was referring to the full cost of getting a stable one going, which is not the same as making one attempt of that type.
Reflections on rationality a year out

Most people stumble in with their friends. Your friends are the people you happen to sit next to at the first day of class, people who work in the same office as you, people who belong to the same clubs as you, people who go to the same bars as you. This is usually local because as the search radius increases, the amount of new data you have to deal with (people to filter out) becomes excessive.

It takes a strong sense of purpose to travel and hour and a half by train to meetup with strangers at an apartment in order to find a community, all based on the f... (read more)

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 7

Something occurred to me lately about the story. It seems likely that there's another character in the shadows (if not more then one).

What exactly has been going on with Nicholas Flamel?

He exists within the story, Dumbledore has consulted with him. The philosopher's stone is still being hidden at Hogwarts, and presumably Voldemort still wants it.

This seems like a decent hypothesis on who/what Quirrell is if he isn't Voldemort.

0Desrtopa11yQuirrell is canonically Voldemort, that's not a secret.
Rationalist Movies (Spoilers for the film Limitless)

In relative terms (eg being in the top 1%) obviously yes.

In absolute terms (eg being able to experience more places, creative works, ideas, etc than people 1000 years ago could have dreamed about) obviously no.

One is more important than the other.

Rationalist Movies (Spoilers for the film Limitless)

There is a moment where he gets "the idea". This is the thing that takes him from his hedonic whirlwind to a purposeful existence. He's trying to change the world.

My hope is that he'd use the powers of the pill to set up labs to study the process it works on, mass produce it, use his political clout as president to push it though as a legal nootropic, and use the bully pulpit to promote it. Make everyone smart.

0glunkthunker11yWhat I'm gathering from the other replies to my comment is that people are not so much in need of intelligence as they are in need to realize their full value.
Verifying Rationality via

I've used "have fun" for the past several years. "Choose well" occurred to me within the last week or so, I've been signing my emails with it. Both are two syllables, "choose well" works for rationalists and sounds like what you're looking for.

0Vaniver11yOooh, I like that. I'll give it a try.
Verifying Rationality via

Also, most of the time you're doing the same calculation over and over. People who can't do math are fine most of the time (but not all, and that matters) because they have the odds memorized.

1Kevin11yThat's true. When I first started playing, I ran a live screen scraping odds calculator on top of my poker tables, and five years later I don't use a calculator and I have the odds precomputed. (I should actually check and make sure my precomputed odds are still right... I suspect they are off in certain cases)
Verifying Rationality via

I've always been fond of the Penn Jillette line, "Luck is statistics taken personally"

5cousin_it11yI remember a line from the book "Blindspots" by Sorensen that goes something like, "random selection is biased in favor of lucky people".
Rationality Boot Camp

If you solve the equation, but don't get your results published in a top paper, do you win?

If you debug the software, but sell it for half it's worth, do you win?

If you fail to get the recognition for your work and your boss takes all the credit, do you win?

Humans are social animals, we live in a social society. In almost any task, you accomplish more, acquire more rewards, are better set up for the next task with a series of interpersonal skills. Life is not discrete little pieces. Most people (maybe even everyone) who considers applying to this program a... (read more)

-2righteousreason11y"Walking on the moon is power! Being a great wizard is power! There are kinds of power that don't require me to spend the rest of my life pandering to morons!"
Rationality Boot Camp

You could apply and decide if you can go later.

4SilasBarta11yYes, it's looking like I'd have to do that ... a ten week block is a lot. Is the ten weeks thing designed to select for college students?
Less Wrong Rationality and Mainstream Philosophy

Expanding on this, which section of my local Barnes And Noble is your (Eliezer) book going to be in? Philosophy seems like the best fit (aside from the best selling non-fiction) to get new interested readership.

7endoself11yAmazon's "Books > Nonfiction > Social Sciences" contains things like Malcolm Gladwell and Predictably Irrational, which I think is the audience that Eliezer is targeting.
Less Wrong NYC: Case Study of a Successful Rationalist Chapter

There are people who show up once or a few times and fail to continue coming. They rarely give explanations for why they stop showing up. I imagine some move, some find other ways to spend a Tuesday, and some don't like what we do. Good data on this is unavailable to me.

The group has rejected one person. This person had been drinking too much, and disruptive over several weeks. The process took several hours of discussion before the person was asked to come on the condition that they stayed sober at the meetups. The person decided not to come back.

How I Lost 100 Pounds Using TDT

I have had significant weight loss without reducing fried things and still having bi-weekly cheesecake. I had MORE weight loss after getting rid of the cheesecake, but I did go from 220 to about 190 with the cheesecake in my diet. (5'10", male)

The traditional American diet is so bad that most people can likely have significant weight loss with trivial loss of pleasure. This is especially true when combined with a human's natural scope insensitivity.

3Alicorn11yMy diet isn't a lot like a traditional American one. I'm a pescetarian, I cook nearly everything I make from scratch or close to it, and while I sometimes eat junky snackfood, I don't do it that often. I also don't consume soda or alcohol. There might be some obvious trivial-loss-of-pleasure alteration to make (and if you think of one, please tell me) but it's not jumping out at me.
Optimal Employment

I've always been interested in why personal identity was tied up in a career. If you self identified as a mathematician, why couldn't you earn more money being a bartender in Australia while spending your free time doing math and participating in the mathematical community?

I know "scientists", "artists", and "teachers" who identify as such and make their money doing other things. At the extreme end, if you identify as a teacher why not spend 15 hours a week making a very high income doing XYZ and maybe 35 hours a week volunteering/working for low wages at a tutoring center? You're undeniably a teacher, and you likely have more disposable income.

I suspect most people don't have the self-discipline for it; being "forced" to do something almost every day is a good way for most people to ensure they work on something that has high barriers to productivity (most difficult pursuits), even if they really enjoy it.

Possibly even more importantly, individuals almost never have access to the infrastructure and support systems they need to do really interesting things[1]. How should one go about advancing genetics without a lab? Even a small university didn't really have the resources I felt I need... (read more)


The straightforward answer: you can do a lot more with an interest, and use social reinforcement to your advantage, if you're plugged into an institution. Trying to go it alone is a serious challenge: you're isolated, you'll have motivation problems, you'll have a higher probability of getting yourself into eccentric dead ends if you don't have guidance.

Also, a lot of people really care what others think of them. We seem to disapprove of that on LessWrong, but I don't see why it's any more selfish or venal to want approval than to want money.

4benelliott11yThis is a really interesting point that I had completely failed to consider. I'm not in a position to be looking for full time employment yet but I will keep this in mind. Thank-you.
2TobyBartels11yI identify as a teacher and a mathematician, but I only get paid as a teacher. I'm sure that I do less research than if I were paid as a researcher (for reasons of akrasia if nothing else), but I do enough to sustain my personal sense of identity. (I do it here [], if anybody cares. If I were a little more organised and active, I'd do it here [] too. Mathematics journals are no longer used to disseminate information, but only to advance careers, so I have no need of them, although some yet further effort in that direction could get me published too if it mattered to my sense of prestige.) On the other hand, I'd like to shift more out of teaching in classrooms into tutoring individuals, which is even more fulfilling. (It's arguably less efficient, although given how the normal college curriculum is designed, at least here in the U.S., I don't really believe that. People in classrooms are mostly studying what they do not want to learn and what will be of no use to them except in the next class, and I'm starting to feel a little dirty working in this industry. Tutoring does not entirely solve that problem, but at least the students are interested at the moment that I interact with them.) But tutoring doesn't pay nearly as well as classroom teaching, and my budget is thin as it is. So although (for personal reasons) I'm very unlikely to move to Australia (eta: plus I'm over 30), I read all of this discussion with interest.

If you self identified as a mathematician, why couldn't you earn more money being a bartender in Australia while spending your free time doing math and participating in the mathematical community?

I do self-identify as a mathematician. I've worked abroad as well, and the amount of math I was able to do while working full-time abroad was a very small fraction of what I've been able to do while employed as a graduate student. Maybe I didn't have enough discipline, but I was usually exhausted at the end of a day and needed the weekends to recharge.

Unless yo... (read more)

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 3

Also 25% of the people there were, iirc, children of cronicysts. That number goes up when you count parents. And we're talking about an age group and demographic that isn't having a lot of kids anyway.

6Eliezer Yudkowsky11yEh? No, there were just a few kids, like 2 or 3.
Burning Man Meetup: Bayes Camp

But could Heinlein "die gallantly"? I think most people tend to leave that one off of their to do lists. I mean if the opportunity arrises, you walk past a burning orphanage for example, why not? But very few people set out to do this one.

3randallsquared11yBeing able to die gallantly doesn't imply that you should or will die gallantly, only that, should the necessity arise... Unfortunately, Heinlein reportedly refused cryonics (offered without cost to him, if I recall correctly) because he believed it might interfere with reincarnation. From reading the just-out first volume of his biography, it seems quite likely that he was serious.
H+ Summit Meetup Harvard 6/12

I'll be going and I'll be selling the Summit in the lobby. Stop by and say hi.

Rationality Quotes: February 2010

I've always thought you can have more fun in New York than splashing around in the water. But I'm not a dolphin.

Rationality Quotes: February 2010

Doesn't catpenny cost less than a penny (in terms of dollars spent)? You can recover most, if not all, of the pennies.

Rationality Quotes: February 2010

Or at least of maintaining friendships with people who have cats.

Open Thread: February 2010

That doesn't just make rationality irrelevant, it makes everything irrelevant. Love doesn't matter because you don't meet that special someone in every world, and will meet them in at least one world. Education doesn't matter because guessing will get you right somewhere.

I want to be happy and right in as many worlds as possible. Rationality matters.

You Be the Jury: Survey on a Current Event

Do you have a reason to believe that your opinion is more likely to be correct than other commenters on this site?

Do you believe them to be guilty and linked to an impassioned site full of logical fallacies over a more informative one? (I don't mean to impune your post, just guessing that this is the solution to your rationalist puzzle)

I think this experiment is going to be of limited success at best due to the fact that people on the road to rationality are far less likely to acquire new beliefs with both strong emotional component and poor grounding in facts. That's kind of the point of being a rationalist, true beliefs.

2mattnewport12yimpugn []?
0komponisto12yThe experiment will be a success if there is significant participation. I certainly don't expect people here to "acquire new beliefs with both strong emotional component and poor grounding in facts." It's because LWers make an effort to avoid this that I'm interested in hearing what they have to say. Which site are you talking about? This isn't a "puzzle". To some extent, it's a sanity check I'm performing on myself.
How to test your mental performance at the moment?

I play a quick game of minesweeper on my phone. If I get a decent hard map solved in under 1 min I'm sharp. An easy map under 15 seconds. If i lose, I try and figure out if it was random or poor judgment. It's not as good as some other tests mentioned, but it's fast and mobile.

Doing your good deed for the day

Mike Caro, a poker player, writes about this sort of behavior. The idea here is that people psychologically want to do a little above the median each day. They work late to get up to normal money, and quit early when they do well. Whereas optimal behavior is the opposite.

Anticipation vs. Faith: At What Cost Rationality?

Faith is easy to dismiss because it can fairly be defined as "belief without evidence".

What exactly is meant by "anticipation"?

Your Most Valuable Skill

We're strong enough to fill our evolutionary niche, barely.

Our heuristics are good enough to get us through life with an adequate chance of success.

We can do better.

Privileging the Hypothesis

It's most definitely a fallacy. It puts forth a conclusion without sufficient evidence to justify the conclusion. Just like an argument from authority or a gambler's fallacy.

1brianm12yIt's not actually putting it forth as a conclusion though - it's just a flaw in our wetware that makes us interpret it as such. We could imagine a perfectly rational being who could accurately work out the probability of a particular person having done it, then randomly sample the population (or even work through each one in turn) looking for the killer. Our problem as humans is that once the idea is planted, we overreact to confirming evidence.
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