All of NQbass7's Comments + Replies

Open Thread, August 2010

Alright, I've lost track of the bookmark and my google-fu is not strong enough with the few bits and pieces I remember. I remember seeing a link to a story in a lesswrong article. The story was about a group of scientists who figured out how to scan a brain, so they did it to one of them, and then he wakes up in a strange place and then has a series of experiences/dreams which recount history leading up to where he currently is, including a civilization of uploads, and he's currently living with the last humans around... something like that. Can anybody help me out? Online story, 20 something chapters I think... this is driving me nuts.

4Risto_Saarelma11yAfter Life [http://sifter.org/~simon/AfterLife/]
How to always have interesting conversations

I've heard of a similar strategy once discussed as part of pickup, I believe - I can only pull up a vague memory right now, but the thought was something along the lines of this. If a woman says she "just moved away from her family in San Francisco to have more freedom," each word of that can be a hook into an interesting conversation. What was moving like? What's her family like? Why did she want to move away from them? What's it like in San Francisco and how is it different here? What kind of freedom was she looking for? etc.

I've been working on using that type of conversation as well to avoid awkward pauses and keep interesting conversations going.

The Trolley Problem in popular culture: Torchwood Series 3

How many lives is your dignity worth? Would you be willing to actually kill people for your dignity, or are you only willing to make that transaction if someone else is holding the knife?

2jwdink13yI don't quite understand how your rhetorical question is analogous here. Can you flesh it out a bit? I don't think the notion of dignity is completely meaningless. After all, we don't just want the maximum number of people to be happy, we also want people to get what they deserve-- in other words, we want people to deserve their happiness. If only 10% of the world were decent people, and everyone else were immoral, which scenario would seem the more morally agreeable: the scenario in which the 10% good people were ensured perennial happiness at the expense of the other 90%'s misery, or the reversed scenario? I'm just seeing something parallel here: it's not brute number of people living that matters, so much as those people having worthwhile existences. After sacrificing their children on a gamble, do these people really deserve the peace they get? (Would you also assert that Ozymandias' decision in The Watchmen was morally good?)
The Trolley Problem in popular culture: Torchwood Series 3

Well I WAS planning on getting some work done today.. but now...

Return of the Survey

I took the survey, and am not all that interested in the Karma point... I just wanted to brag that I wasn't far off on the calibration. I gave a pretty low confidence level, however.

...though in thinking about it now, my confidence distribution is spread pretty far towards the earlier side of things. I would not have been surprised to find that my guess was half or an entire century later than it actually was, but I would have been extremely surprised if my guess was 30 years earlier than the actual date.

Maybe that's not too surprising, that I feel more confident estimating more recent historical events than those farther back.

Return of the Survey

I ticked the boxes as well. At the time, the first thought that occurred to me was "Easter Egg? Maybe if you check them you get something special at the end of the survey." Too many video games, I suppose.

The Sin of Underconfidence

Puevf Unyydhvfg wrote about how he would debate Jvyyvnz Ynar Penvt on his blog. I found it worthwhile.

Where are we?

I'm in Peoria, IL. In Chicago pretty often though.

Playing Video Games In Shuffle Mode

Right now I am erring on the side of caution; I'd rather write something obvious to everyone than skip an inferential distance somewhere.

That seems like the best policy to me, especially for a site like LW. Perhaps on OB that could be a concern, but here where it's so easy to avoid the posts you don't want to read or which aren't upvoted much, having redundant information doesn't seem like it would be too much of a problem.

Individual Rationality Is a Matter of Life and Death

There are other concerns as well, such as individual freedom. If you randomly chose half the population and stuck them in padded rooms, you'd also reduce the number of car accidents. There's value in allowing people to make stupid decisions. What the OP is advocating is how to prevent yourself from making stupid decisions in situations where you're allowed to.

Then again, maybe that's what this debate is about... whether we should help people individually be rational, or give incentives at a group level for being rational. But it seems to me that restricting the use of cars doesn't make people rational, it just takes away the freedom to make stupid choices.

Playing Video Games In Shuffle Mode

I would agree that heavy linking to background material is extremely helpful, but perhaps it would also be good to have a "Welcome to Rationality" page with a basic primer not just on what the site is for, but where you should start post-wise. Directing to the Most Frequently Useful Things and the Most Important Thing would be a good start, I would think.

Raising the Sanity Waterline

... shows that you don't have to be an atheist to make great discoveries.

I don't think anyone is making the argument that you do. Plenty of people get through life without basic rationality, and some even do interesting and amazing things. That's not an argument for being religious though - at best, it shows that in certain cases religion doesn't completely cripple your rationality. It's still a risk, however.

As for religious people being happier than atheists, ... In my experience, the average atheist is not at the basic level talked about in this p... (read more)

The Most Frequently Useful Thing

Having particular names which may not be in common usage makes it easier for me to identify the things that I've picked up from OB that are now a part of me. Cached Thoughts, Inferential Distance, Mind-Projection Fallacy - those are all terms I use now when referring to things that are a part of me, but not many other people use those terms often. It makes it somewhat easier to identify those things.

2badger13yI agree. I find it funny that you lead your list of examples with "cached thoughts", because that exactly what these are. Not that that's a bad thing. If that's the case though, maybe we need to be proactive in preventing them from becoming cached thoughts of the bad kind. Eliezer's posts serve as a good introduction, but I don't think they are the ideal reference. Maybe a rationalist dictionary would do the trick. I envision something like urban dictionary where multiple definition/explanations can be submitted and voted on.
7AnnaSalamon13yYes -- and easier to invoke the principles in social contexts. I suspect Eliezer's OB posts gain a significant fraction of their usefulness from the names and from the chunk-by-chunk useability of the named principles/methods.
The Most Frequently Useful Thing

For me it's between inferential distance and cached thoughts, at least for ones I explain to other people. For ones I use myself, Line of Retreat is probably the one I actively pursue most frequently.

Though I end up using Absence of Evidence pretty often as well.

Tell Your Rationalist Origin Story

I don't remember a time when I wasn't in some sense interested in rationality in some sense... but I can remember one time being at a bookstore and seeing Bertrand Russell's "Why I Am Not a Christian" (this being back when I was one) and thinking "Maybe I should read that and see what the other side says." I came home with it and my mom saw it and asked why I would want to read that when it might make me doubt. I clearly remember thinking about it and responding with something along the lines of "If you don't know both sides, how... (read more)