All of norswap's Comments + Replies

How to Sleep Better

I would highly suggest that anyone interested in sleep check the first few episodes of the Huberman Labs podcast, which are focused on this very issue:
(Confusingly, the playlist is in reverse order.)

The take-away are likely to be different for different people (a lot of mechanisms and techniques are covered), but for me they were:
1. cold showers in the morning - those really wake me up and flush away the grogginess that normally persists for a long time
2. s... (read more)

Changing my life in 2021, halfway through

Truly inspiring! Are you not afraid you risk falling out of the bandwagon implemeting so many changes in your life simulatenously? I'm not doubting your ability or plan, just going from personal experience that trying to change too many at once has been too ambitious for my time budget in the past.

1Borasko7moI completely agree with the problems of making big changes at once. But six months is a long time, I thought if I try to implement one new skill or life improvement a month, then by a year that's twelve new things that are better for me. A month is a long enough time for things to sink in without getting overwhelming, and then can be easily continued with a routine in the next month when adding another thing. I'll be totally honest and say I don't always know what to add or I am too lazy to do it even during an entire month, but it's best not to be hard on yourself. One of thing I think is super important is that personal slips in self improve routine happens. binging social media, missing a workout, having a lot of cake on a diet, etc. The most important thing is to be update-less about your failure. Stay up too late? Set an alarm for mostly regular time and live with the consequences. Do everything you ideally would do that day with you hadn't broken your own rules. Not allowing myself to death spiral over bad decisions and force myself to continue like nothing happened is what I think helped me cement good practices the most. tl;dr: Don't be too hard on yourself for failure, keep trying.
Maximizing Yield on US Dollar Pegged Coins

Might be, but you ought to provide an explanation for the mechanics of it instead of a blank admonition.

The BTC equilibriumating and the ETH one-eightening

The number of validators is irrelevant (well, you want it to be large enough so that a few players can't collude to control a majority of the validating power) - what's important is their scale, i.e. how much does one need to stake in order to acquire a majority of the validating power and take over the network.

Can Bitcoin transition from PoW to PoS?

It is technically possible. "Materially", Bitcoin is nothing if a record of transactions and the wallet balances it implies. Anybody can come and fork Bitcoin into a new chain which preserves the transactions but changes the implementation and/or the features (as happened with Bitcoin Cash).

The real question is what people believe to be valuable. In this case, what they perceive to be the "real Bitcoin" (currency is a social contract, yadda yadda).

A transition from PoW to PoS must thus find broad community consensus, in particular leadership consensus (but... (read more)

A whirlwind tour of Ethereum finance

I'm strongly endorsing this, having done the same thing you did (spent two evenings looking at this stuff) and having come up pretty much exactly with the same picture, and the same set of questions/uncertainties.

Something I found very interesting is the fact that Ethereum is poised to move from proof-of-work (miners who solve a cryptographically hard problem to verify transactions, minting new coins in the process) to proof-of-stake (where one "stakes" coins for a chance to verify transactions, earning interest in the process — I'm not entirely comfortabl... (read more)

Book Club: Software Design for Flexibility

I can't judge because I didn't follow the course, but I'd like to share my a priori reaction:

One should not have to modify a working program. One should be able to add to it to implement new functionality or to adjust old functions for new requirements. We call this additive programming.

That does sound like a terrible idea. It's often used to justify horrendous abstractions and over-architecturing, for instance. Now this can make sense when third-parties depend on the code. But if you can change the code, it's often better to do so.

The other school that I ... (read more)

The GameStop Situation: Simplified

This explanation misses one major piece of the whole affair: it was not only a short squeeze (mostly, it was at first), but also a gamma squeeze (or gamma trap). It has to do with the hedging of option sales.

Here is a short explanation I wrote for a colleague:

gamma trap: most options are sold by market makers (e.g. investment banks), and they hedge the options they sell by purchasing (or selling) stock in order to be "delta neutral"
so if they sell one call at the money (strike price = current price), the delta is 0.5 (if the stock price increases by 1$, th

... (read more)
2Annapurna1yYeah I didn't write about the gamma squeeze because I wanted to keep the length of the post short. But you bring up an excellent point.
How can I find trustworthy dietary advice?

I think a productive way to look at it is to look for absence of evidence, which is evidence of absence.

Much has been said about "the western diet" that is killing tons of people, but in reality, what we really know is that being obese is bad for you, as is having severe nutrient deficiencies. Otherwise not a whole lot much is sure.

Let's take an example. Studies on meat consumption barely find a significant effect on all-cause mortality. But most often they fail to control for things as basic as pre-existing obesity or caloric intake. And if you step back ... (read more)

Efficiency Wages: A Double-Edged Sword

I agree, but I think the converse point is also true: employers will attempt to pay you less (under industry standards) if the job incurs any kind of side-effect that you might be proud about, or is in a glamorous industry.

I think this is a more important point.

The "it's not just about the money, but also about X, Y, Z" (freedom, cool working conditions, social impact, ...) is almost a platitude. I've had multiple employers using on me, and it really it wasn't warranted at all (the jobs were in niche sectors, but weren't glamorous, impactful to society, no... (read more)

Is Rationalist Self-Improvement Real?

Nominating because the idea that rationalists should win (which we can loosely defined as "be better at achieving their goals than non-rationalists") has been under fire in the community (see for instance Scott's comment on this post).

I think this discusses the concern nicely, and shows what rational self-improvement may look like in practice, re-framing expectations.

While far from the only one, this was one important influence in my own self-improvement journey. It's certainly something that comes to mind whenever I think of my own self-improvement philosophy, and when it comes to trying to convince other to do similarly.

4Jacob Falkovich1yEDIT: The Treacherous Path was published in 2020 so never mind. Thank you (and to alkjash) for the nomination! I guess I'm not supposed to nominate things I wrote myself, but this post, if published, should really be read along with The Treacherous Path to Rationality [] . I hope someone nominates that too. This post is an open invitation to everyone (such as the non-LWers who may read the books to join us). The obvious question is whether this actually works for everyone, and the latter post makes the case for the opposite-mood. I think that in conjunction they offer a much more balanced take on who and what applied rationality is good for.
Pain is the unit of Effort

It worked! Also now that my interpretation has been confirmed, I can bask in the warm afterglow of rightness. What a day.

Pain is the unit of Effort

I assumed this was some kind of pastiche of the judgy-overarchiever trope, and I was quite entertained under that reading. But now I've come to the comments and everyone seems to interpret the post earnestly. I'm confused.

2lsusr1yIt was written earnestly, but if you're entertained that's fine too!
[Link] "Where are all the successful rationalists?"

The question pops up regularly. Jacob (Jacobian on here) wrote an answer here:

One issue I see is the narrow definition of winning used here. I think that people reflective enough to embrace rationality would also be more likely to reconsider the winning criteria not to just be "become filthy rich and/or famous". Consider that maybe the prize is not worth the price. I'd be more interested into people that have become wealthy/established/successful in their fields (without becoming a rock star ... (read more)

What should experienced rationalists know?

This pays lip services to the sequences, but I don't really see a condensed version of what it teaches in the proposed materials. Not that I have a proposal for that either, but maybe someone has?

The US Already Has A Wealth Tax

He is not overstating.

To summarize the two main points, which other people already made:

  • Any wealth tax is on top of inflation. One cannot ban inflation without disastrous economic consequences (or so I'm lead to believe).
  • Invested capital tends to appreciate along with inflation, which makes sense if you think about it, otherwise it means it's losing value. Non-inflation adjusted returns on the stock market are much higher when the inflation is high. Also there is no reason not to stash all your money in the safest possible asset to avoid inflation.
My Dating Plan ala Geoffrey Miller

It very much is a non-quantitative argument - since it's a matter of principle. The principle being not to let outside perceptions dictate the topic of conversations.

I can think of situations were the principles could be broken, or unproductive. If upholding it would make it impossible to have these discussions in the first place (because engaging would mean you get stoned, or something) and hiding is not an option (or still too risky), then it would make sense to move conversations towards the overton window.

Said otherwise, the quantity I care about ... (read more)

My Dating Plan ala Geoffrey Miller
I assume you are not trying to date homeless women. I also assume that women who try to find a date usually don't go to homeless shelters.

I'm not entirely certain about that assumption, to be honest.

My Dating Plan ala Geoffrey Miller

I have an extremely negative emotional reaction to this.

More seriously. While LW can be construed as "trying to promote something" (i.e. rational thinking), in my opinion it is mostly a place to have rational discussions, using much stronger discursive standards than elsewhere on the internet.

If people decide to judge us on cherry pickings, that is sad, but it is much better than having them control what topics are or are not allowed. I am with Ben on this one.

About your friend in particular, if they have to be turned off of the community because... (read more)

4Rafael Harth1yThis post triggers a big "NON-QUANTITATIVE ARGUMENT" alarm in my head. I'm not super confident in my ability to assess what the quantities are, but I'm extremely confident that they matter. It seems to me like your post could be written in exactly the same way if the "wokeness" phenomenon was "half as large" (fewer people care about, or they don't care as strongly). Or, if it was twice as large. But this can't be good – any sensible opinion on this issue has to depend on the scope of the problem, unless you think it's in principle inconceivable for the wokeness phenomenon to be prevalent enough to matter. I've explained the two categories I'm worried about here [] , and while there have been some updates since (biggest one: it may be good talk about politics now if we assume AI safety is going to be politicized anyway), I still think about it in roughly those terms. Is this a framing that makes sense to you?
What should I teach to my future daughter?

Totally. But it's cool to want to teach things, and kids actually like to learn when it's fun. So offer to teach, don't impose your teaching. Be ready to jettison your plans and go with whatever your daughter finds interesting. This is what seems to work best in practice (from remembered anecdotal evidence).

Stop saying wrong things

I want to discuss the specific example you picked: Etsy & A/B (or generally, data-driven) testing.

I'll start by agreeing to your premise in the abstract: Etsy could probably have done better by using a better A/B testing methodology and doing so sooner.

But: while superior tools used effectively are superior, they also tend to be harder to use and to cause more damage when misused. I've seen a bunch of math-based data-driven analysis that wasn't worth a damn because they were misused. The more sophisticated these tools become, the easier ... (read more)

Some quick notes on hand hygiene

It doesn't have to be optimal, the question is whether it is better. Is it better to wash all the time (as described in the post), like most people (let's say before eating and after using the bathroom), once-twice a day, or not at all (hands only washed during showers)? I'm not quite sure that "all the time" is better (it could be, but I'm not sure).

There is clearly a phenomenon of adapting to pathogens. I've heard it firsthand from at least two people who worked in less sanitary areas (South-American slums and Center-Af... (read more)

Some quick notes on hand hygiene

I came to the comment section expecting to see someone pointing out that not washing out your hands so much could improve your immune system by exposing you to more germs, pathogens, etc.

Well, since nobody did. I'm pointing it out. The argument seems sound to me. Is there something to be said against this perspective? Or something more in favor of it?

2willbradshaw2yThis argument has always seemed suspicious to me from a rationality perspective. Do you take other steps to deliberately expose yourself to pathogens (e.g. playing in the mud, or deliberately dropping your food on the floor before eating it, or licking unsanitary surfaces, or seeking out coughing/sneezing people to be close to)? If not, why not? Do you have some reason to believe the current level of exposure you get from not washing your hands is optimal (or at least close-to-optimal) from the perspective of improving your immune system through exposure? The above paragraph probably sounds uncharitable. I can think of ways the "improve your immune system" argument might be true. There is an argument that early-life exposure to germs might strengthen the immune system and decrease allergies (the "hygiene hypothesis"). But it does seem to prove too much, especially given the vast and obvious gains in public health through hygiene and sanitation over the past 150 years. And it should seem especially suspicious when you're (a) going against a very strong expert consensus, in favour of (b) being lazy about something everyone kinda wishes they could just be lazy about.
Is cardio enough for longevity benefits of exercise?

Clearing a fully-general counter-argument: Everything is based on some amount of trust - radical doubt just doesn't scale - you couldn't trust most of what your science textbook tells you without running a lot of experiments, which people don't tend to do.

With that out of the way, you can decide who to trust based on other information. So in this case, you can look at the collection of people reporting sports-related improvement, and see how it overlaps with people saying that <dubious thing> made them feel better.

As far as I know, the... (read more)

Is cardio enough for longevity benefits of exercise?

People report they feel better after they take up exercise / get in shape though. This is not strictly health, but I'd be very surprised if someone tried to argue it's not correlated. I'd also be surprised that everyone is self-deceiving — especially since that would make me one of them ;)

As for cognitive benefits... I'm more skeptical of that. I haven't experienced something profound on that front. But you do better work when you feel better day round. I think that ability to focus for longer periods of time improved slightly.

2Self-Embedded Agent2yPeople report feeling better because of all kinds of reasons. This line of reasoning seems unlikely to convince a skeptic. Let me throw out an alternate hypothesis, which is a little extreme but ought to be considered: doing sports is a form of health signalling. People signal their health and conscientiousness by sports. Let's call it the Health Causes Sports theory, as opposed to the Sports Causes Health theory. Notice that this neatly explains people feeling good after sports: they succesfully send a difficult-to-fake signal. A problem with the Sport Causes Health theory is the weak evolutionary story. Why would expending energy and risking bodily harm for no concrete payoff be good for one's health? Many sports carry moderate health risks. Wouldn't it make more sense to not have health tied to activity? The strongest argument is the Greasing the Gears - theory: by streneous activity people grease their bodily machinery. Too much is bad, but so is too little, and modern humans do too little of it. If this theory is right, it certainly doesn't seem to be any specific muscle [ as the precise sport doesn't seem to matter] but a generalized cardiovascular capacity. It seems true that modern peoples are much more sedentary than in the past. On the other hand, the amount of activity that people display likely varies wildly over societies& time & place. The 'optimal level of activity' likely also varies with genetic background. If there really was a need to grease physical machinery one would think that the body would try to automatically modulate this, in the same way it has a thermostat for many important physical quantities. The best argument for the Sport Causes Health theory is probably rats: exercising rats seems to increase their lifespan. There is a plausible story that this has something to do with mitochrondial capacity [I recommend de Grey's book Ending Aging and Nick Lane's 'Mitochrondia' for some possible theories]. Yet lots of things increase lifes
Why are people so bad at dating?

I don't think we necessarily disagree. Photo feeler does not strike me as requiring a large effort. But taking new pictures did. (In my case the new pictures did work better, so that was a required step.)

I think what you're saying here is that taking pictures wasn't a big effort for you (since just a friend could do it?). But for me too it was just my brother who lives with me and using my mobile phone.

And objectively, I expect for some people this is cake-walk, but for me it felt very tedious (but at least I ended up doing it! though it required quite a bit of willpower, explaining why other people who are like me would end up never implementing this strategy).

4ChristianKl2yWhat you said sounded like you assume putting effort into a photo shoot is important for quality and the belief that things are necessary makes it more effortful. Simply taking pictures at a high rate where many will be rubbish and picking the best ones to test on PhotoFeeler takes less effort.
Why are people so bad at dating?

Regarding pictures, I think you underestimate the effort required.

You need to get a phone or camera capable of taking good-looking picture, you need someone that is semi-competent at shooting, you need nice looking clothes and a good-enough looking background. These are all things that need to be planned/accounted for. It also takes time.

I don't especially enjoy doing these things, and it took quite a bit of willpower to grab a few nice clothes (I already owned!) and my brother (whom I trust) to go and shoot a few pictures (in my garden).

There is also... (read more)

4ChristianKl2yThis is wrong. This summer I got some pictures taken from a professional photographer with professional equipment. I put them on Tinder and then got less matches. A while later I put my new photo's on PhotoFeeler and it turns out they indeed score less then my old picture that was taken by having someone simply holding my mobile phone with a setting where it made 1 picture per second and then mining the resulting photo pool for the best photo's with PhotoFeeler. This response is quite interesting as the exchange is basically: OP: Why aren't people doing strategy A for area O to persue goal X. You: Because doing strategy B for area O is very effortful.
Sets and Functions

Here is what confuses me: from before, I thought morphisms were "just" arrows between objects, with a specific identity.

But in the case of functions, we have to smuggle in the set of ordered pairs that define them. Do you simply equate the identity of a function with this set definition?

That might be fine, but it means there needs to be some kind of ... semantics? that gives us the "meaning" (~ implementation) of composition based on the "meaning" (the set of ordered pairs) of the composed morphisms.

Am I right here?

1countedblessings2yYou raise a good point. Think of category theory as a language for expressing, in this case, the logic of sets and functions. You still need to know what that logic is. Then you can use category theory to work efficiently with that logic owing to its general-abstract nature.
1Slider2yThat would the ambush part?
What's your favorite notetaking system?

I'll add the biggest minus in my book:

Potential alternatives:

Candy for Nets

This was a really heartwarming story that brought a smile to my face!

I'd like to give a special shout-out to

As we go I'm going to continue to try very hard not to pressure or manipulate her, while still giving advice and helping her explore her motivations here.

That's very important indeed.

How good is the case for retraining yourself to sleep on your back?

I watched one or two videos of this channel a while back and was impressed by the seemingly solid - but non-conventional - argument (it was on salt intake). I subscribed and was *dismayed* by further videos. I wouldn't put much stock into the either the research being quoted (if you didn't review it yourself) nor the treatment of the research made by this channel.

That being said, I haven't watched this particular video. What it says might all be true.

5ChristianKl2yIt seems like this particular video basically says: * "Snoring is really bad and side-sleepers snore less." It seems that actually monitoring whether one snores via an app and them optimizing based on the answer is * Hunter gatherers sleep mostly on the side. Other great apes also sleep more on the side. * An argument about the waste clearing the body working better on the side (I don't know how strong his case is on that point) In total it says there's no strong evidence but the evidence they reviewed point to side sleeping being better
4adamzerner2yThanks for this! Beliefs updated :)
Compilers/PLs book recommendation?

Not a very pointed answer, but a collection of leads:

Most books I can find on compilers/PLs tend to spend most of their time on the text representation (and algorithms for translating programs out of text, i.e. parsing) and the machine-code representation (and algorithms for translating programs into machine code).

There are good reasons for the time spent on them — they are more difficult than the parts that go in the middle, which is "merely" software engineering, although of an unusual kind.

There is also a dearth on resources on the topic... (read more)

Old Man Jevons Can’t Save You Now (Part 2/2)

I'd be more interested in the in-between: what about cases where we don't have general AI, but we have automation that drastically cuts jobs in a field, without causing counter-balancing wage increases or job creation in another field?

For instance, imagine the new technology is something really simple to manufacture (or worse, a new purpose for something we already manufacture en masse) — it's so easy to produce these things, we don't need really need to hire more workers, just push a couple levers and all the demand is met just like th... (read more)

When is rationality useful?

I think rationality ought to encompass more than explicit decision making (and I think there are plenty of writing on this website that show it does even within the community).

If you think of instrumental rationality of the science of how to win, then necessarily it entails considering things like how to setup your environment, unthinking habits, how to "hack" into your psyche/emotions.

Put otherwise, it seems you share your definition of Rationality with David Chapman (of ) — and I'm thinking of that + what he calls ... (read more)

2Richard_Ngo3ySometimes science isn't helpful or useful. The science of how music works may be totally irrelevant to actual musicians. It's an empirical question when and whether these things are very useful; my post gives cases in which they are, and in which they aren't.
Counterfactuals about Social Media

Seems to me you're on about treating (or more to the point, dreaming about treating) the cure rather than the symptoms that make people vulnerable to the social network sink in the first place. The same fundamental weakness probably has a lot of other failure modes.

Why does category theory exist?

Category theory, of which I'm acquainted with at a basic level, seems to formalize a lot of regularities I already knew about as a programmer and a student of <those mathematics topics that were taught to me as part of my CS master's degree>.

I found it mathematically neat, but I have never derived any useful insights from it. Said otherwise, nothing would have changed if I had never been introduced to it. This seems quite wrong to me, so I was quite interested in reading the answers here. Unfortunately, there is not much in ways of insight.

IRL 5/8: Maximum Causal Entropy IRL

What is this? The links seem to require some login and registration is limited to students of some specific universities.

2habryka3yI am pretty sure that you don't need a university account, though it does require registration. Is there anything in particular that made you think it's only for some universities?
Renaming "Frontpage"

Is it even possible to avoid for a curated selection to be deemed better? Maybe only if it fails horribly at what it set out to do, but otherwise?

I strongly second Michaël's recommendation — of any place, the front page of Less Wrong is where things should be clear.

When does introspection avoid the pitfalls of rumination?

For me, what separates mindfulness from rumination is that in mindfulness you observe things and accept them, whereas in rumination you're trying to fight or hold onto something.

Constantly reminiscing a slight is a good way to make it loom large. It's an unwillingness to either resolve the matter and letting it be.

Similarly, fighting some negative emotions (pain, loss, anger) makes them worse when they inevitably breaks through.

Great post! More of an exploration than a presentation, but a thoroughly enjoyable one.

Last year, I sat down with some hard thoughts about my own life philosophy, and came out with essentially the same conclusion: that enjoying life is about the process of getting somewhere rather than about actually getting there.

There are some intriguing new elements here, including the link with entropy (though I do tend to think that the ending is perhaps a tad too abstract and speculative).

I too, was inspired by reading and quotes, here are a few that guided me in thi... (read more)

In what way has the generation after us "gone too far"?

You should probably specify which generation you're in =)

I'm 28. I don't know that the next generation has "gone too far", but the big difference I see between them and my generation is that we were the last generation to grow up without pervasive internet / smartphones / social networks. Facebook boomed (at least in Europe) right as I entered college.

What it entails is a lack of focus. I won't say my generation is very focused, but the next one is certainly worse. As a TA, I can witness this firsthand.

What are the open problems in Human Rationality?

For applied rationality, my 10% improvement problem:

Basically, how do you notice small (10% or less) improvements in areas that are hard to quantify. This is important, because after reaping the low-hanging fruits, stacking those small improvements is how you get ahead.

2Thomas Kwa2yI've put a lot of thought into this since I bumped into the limits of standard Quantified Self (e.g. recording daily mood, productive time, sleep). Doing statistics on myself has limited power already, and this is even worse when what I'm trying to improve is only a moderately strong correlate of what I can measure, or when I want to control for things you can't measure. It throws away all of my human ability to pattern-match. The best I can do right now is fairly ordinary journaling/mindfulness practices, plus a philosophy of noticing all of the low-hanging fruit. My life has always has more obvious bugs with simple fixes than I notice, and I suspect this is true of most people.
I want it my way!

I thought the piece was interesting.

If I can offer some feedback on form, I also thought it was too long for what it did say, and conversely did not say some things I would have wanted it to.

For me, the gist of the article really is this:

What I really wanted out of the system, in each case, wasn't the most valuable thing to get, or what it had to teach me. What I wanted was me, and my own beliefs, and for everything to stay the same, so that my prime directive would be met.

This is somewhat relatable. It's intriguing! But

  • is it true? I'm havin
... (read more)
Akrasia is confusion about what you want

Would the tl;dr "integrate the evidence presented by revealed preferences" be accurate?

2G Gordon Worley III3yI think that's one action you could take that could help you see what I think is the real thing that will get you out of akrasia, which is "don't identify with your desires".
Why Don't Creators Switch to their Own Platforms?

Putting technical limitations aside (which are a huge deal, at the very least for video), the problem is that the audiences were built using the platform, and don't carry over easily.

The creators were able to build their audiences because, notably

  • The platforms have idle eyeballs actively looking for good content *on the platform*. No one google for content these days, only for answers.
  • The recommendation algorithms sometimes work, or at least you can make them work for you. Even if you have to figure out the peculiarities in the algorithm, this is vast
... (read more)
1Sinity3yI agree; it's a coordination problem. But it doesn't apply just to creators. Even if most of the audience is hating the platform, no one will switch to another - because there's no content there. I think something like generalized Kickstarter could solve that, if it itself got popular & understood. We would need to spread awareness of it & the problem they're trying to solve across the population. Once significant portion of population is on such platform, one could start a campaign to, for example, switch from YouTube to DTube. All users agree to switch to DTube if/when X amount of people joined the campaign. All content creators being part of it would reupload their content there, and preferably temporarily unlist their videos on YouTube. Or creators could coordinate among themselves in similar way. If there were enough of them, and they all unlisted their videos with info that they moved to platform X, audience should follow. Also, assuming something like DTube can actually reliably work at massive scale, one could make decentralized app which is a wrapper for YouTube. It'd include both videos which are on the decentralized network, and videos hosted on YouTube, seamlessly. Then interested audience could switch one user at a time - it'd be like YouTube, but with extra content. And then people could slowly rip videos off YouTube onto the platform, and when there's more users of the new platform - gradually suppress YouTube content. If general audience or creators really care about censorship, then it should be doable.
Experiences of Self-deception

Brings two things to mind:

  • The Dark Arts of Rationality series and its compartmentalization and inconsistency techniques. I'm toying with that a bit, but I don't have a good account to give yet.
  • The fact (apparently) that placebo work even if you know they are placebo.

So I'd say that clearly many people are getting self-reported benefits from self-deception.

Key in understanding the phenomenon is the system 1 / system 2 (fast / slow) distinction. Typically you know in system 2 that you are deceiving yourself but you act out the deception in system 1.

Gwern about centaurs: there is no chance that any useful man+machine combination will work together for more than 10 years, as humans soon will be only a liability

I don't think one can generalize so easily from bounded-options full-information games like those to the whole range of human endeavours.

Rationality Is Not Systematized Winning

I'm reading this, and it seems very reasonable, and then:

Changing our perspective might have significant benefits. Systematized winning is not an actionable definition. Most domains already have field specific knowledge on how to win, and in aggregate these organized practices are called society. The most powerful engine of systematized winning developed thus far is civilization.

So, assume civilization is a set of guidelines that dictate a course of actions. Just like rationality in fact. How can this beat rationality? If it dictates the correct c... (read more)

Rationality of demonstrating & voting

Why bother voting? Your vote will only change the result if it would otherwise be an exact tie; and the chance of that is negligible – one in millions.
But a chance of one in millions is worth taking if the jackpot is billions or trillions. That is, the opportunity for you to select a better rather than worse government, thereby making the country – though not yourself – billions or trillions of dollars better off. So as long as you care at least slightly about the rest of the country, voting is rational; civic duty really is a reason to vote.

That&#... (read more)

0bfinn3yA little bit of altruism still seems to make it rational even if you care almost entirely about yourself - see the example calculations. I used to think that making voting mandatory was a good solution, but nowadays I think it's a draconian measure. Because what if you disapprove for example of the particular voting system (First Past the Post in the UK/US)? Then forcing you to comply with it, perhaps only symbolically (as you can discomply in other ways like spoiling your ballot paper - unless that will be criminalized too) is a waste of everyone's time. Similarly if you don't want to vote because you are indifferent between the candidates, or think you don't know enough about the issues to choose a candidate, etc. Something somewhat similar to, but less draconian than, compulsory voting would be to pay people to vote, e.g. £5 / $5 in cash or vouchers as you exit the polling station. Which would also somewhat correct the current skew in turnout - poorer people are currently less likely to vote.
Criticism Scheduling and Privacy

Bravo! This essay is very well put together, and it make my mind go "bling" a couple times.

I have experienced guilt for not taking well to criticism, and I feel this piece helps to explain why: the criticism didn't address my own unsatisfaction with the work, nor highlight what I thought was an important shortcoming. Looking forward, it required things of me without actually helping me making something better. But as you mentioned, feedback (just an alias for criticism) is almost sacred is certain circles nowadays.

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