All of newcom's Comments + Replies

This comes really close to the 'This statement is false'-discussion in Gödel-Escher-Bach. On itself, this statement is circular (if it were true, it would become false and vice versa), but when combined with another true/false statement, the full statement is not always circular:

If in "This sentence is false, or I am single", the "I am single" part is false, then the truth-value of the full statement reduces to that of 'This sentence is false' and becomes circular. If 'I am single' is true, the whole statement is true independent of the first part, and so ... (read more)

Additionally, it is a common story-telling device of having separate side-plots that intersect with main plot in interesting or surprising ways. These side-plots can be complete stories in their own right (I guess Game of Thrones is the biggest example of this in popular media), or tiny side elements like the creepy old guy from Home Alone. 

I'd say OP's seconds story has an even more minimalist version of this device, which improves the on first story by adding some mystery for the reader ('What does this description of a meteor have to do with anything?') and giving this side-story a satisfying conclusion. It also somewhat reduces the bullshit factor of the deus ex machina as explained above.

The key challenge here is to come up with a set of intuitive arguments which uniquely specify a particular definition/metric, exactly like a set of equations can uniquely specify a solution. If our arguments have “many solutions”, then there’s little reason to expect that the ad-hoc “solution” we chose actually corresponds to our intuitive concept.


Maybe I'm missing something in the post, but why is this the case? Isn't it arbitrary to suppose that only one possible metric exists that fully 'solves' the problem?

Good question, I was hoping someone would ask this. There's some subtleties here that I didn't want to unpack in the post. Sometimes, I use a formula to specify things other than points. Like, I could use a formula to specify a line (e.g. y = 3x+2) or a sphere (x^2 + y^2 + z^2 = 1). These equations have "more than one solution" in the sense that there are many points which satisfy them. However, I'm not actually trying to specify one particular point; I'm trying to specify the whole set of points which satisfies the equation (i.e. the line or the sphere). And the equations do fully specify those sets of points. In general, any set of equations fully specifies some set of solutions (possibly the empty set). The interesting question is whether the set-of-solutions-specified actually matches our intuitive concept. If not, then we have no reason to expect that the set-of-solutions will generalize in the ways we expect our intuitive concept to generalize. Now let's go back to the idea of ad-hoc-ness. Suppose I give some intuitive argument that my concept should satisfy the formula x^2 + y^2 + z^2 = 1. But I also think that the concept-I-want-to-specify is a circle, not a sphere; so this formula alone is not sufficient to nail it down. If I were to arbitrarily choose the circle given by the equations (x^2 + y^2 + z^2 = 1, z = 4x - y), then that would be an ad-hoc specification; I have no reason to expect that particular circle to match my intuitive concept. Then there's the question of why I should expect my intuitions to nail down one particular circle. That's something which would have to have an intuitive argument in its own right. But even if it's not picking one particular circle, there is still some set of answers which match my intuition (e.g. a set of circles). If we want our formula to generalize in the cases where we intuitively expect generalization (and fail to generalize in the cases where we intuitively expect failure of generalization), then we do need

I kinda feel the same way. There is a lot to be said about schools as concept and the way they are being run currently, and this piece brings up quite a few good points. But the style feels so sensationalized and propagandized, it sets off all kind of alarm bells in my brain and just makes me want to push back against the message:

  • Setting the thing you're arguing against up as 'the enemy', fully with repulsive physical features, which is gleefully evil without any positive aspects or intentions will never feel as a fair characterization of anything.
  • There is
... (read more)
Dear Newcom, An innocent prisoner has the right to say "Set me free!". He does not need to analyze the effects of freedom on other prisoners. There is no excuse in your saying "I felt good as prisoner". Imprisonment violates that rights of that particular person, and here it is all that matters!

I remember encountering this same idea in Orwell's '1984':

‘How does one man assert his power over another, Winston?’
Winston thought. ‘By making him suffer,’ he said.
‘Exactly. By making him suffer. Obedience is not enough.
Unless he is suffering, how can you be sure that he is obeying your will and not his own?'

My attempt

Threw all the data in a small neural network, and let it optimize (pretty mediocre: only resulted in an accuracy of 70%). I used this network to test quite a few different combinations of possible stats (base stats + spending all 10 points), resulting in [7, 16, 13, 13, 12, 11] as best and [6, 14, 18, 13, 16, 5] as worst chance of succeeding. A lot of things could still be optimized in this approach, but it seems like dexterity and wisdom should be left alone, and charisma and constitution could use a boost.

I find such a social app idea really interesting. A map that tracks which public intellectuals value each others contributions (possibly even divided on subject) would be a valuable tool. I guess some initial work on this could even be done without participation of said persons, as most already identify their primary influences in their work.

I also feel like this is pretty much the whole answer. Certain 'non-productive' hobbies are traditionally associated with higher status (music, art, etc. Especially the traditional varieties), probably because they (used to) signal that the person has sufficient free time and money to maintain the hobby, and is in touch with the high status culture surrounding it.

I can see how that story could be interpreted like that, but the whole concept of 'reality doesn't grade on a curve' is explored in some of the sequences.

I guess the point of not mentioning the bazooka until it is used to blow up the third house, is that reality also doesn't care wether you know its rules or not. The third pig had no idea or indication that the wolf had any capabilities above the huffing-and-puffing, but he got eaten all the same.

Maybe a fourth pig with a missile-proof house could've survived, or maybe the wolf has... (read more)

It seems to me that some reasons may be: a lot of interesting comments have been made, which may intimidate; the posts are often very concise; and since the posts are so old, one may expect the page to be dead. Personally I don't think I have read any "new" articles so far^^

Reality doesn't grade on a curve: either you pass its inflexible criteria or you don't (and risk getting eaten).

So, reality doesn't care wether you are doing better than your peers or even if you are doing your very best. Each subsequent pig built a better house than the previous one, but none could withstand reality (a wolf with a serious lung-capacity and a bazooka in this case) and they all died regardless of their effort.

Oh, ok. I thought that was supposed to represent nihilism (no matter what you do, the wolf will always have a better weapon) but it was actually just "the wolf was keeping a bazooka in hammerspace".