All of oliverbeatson's Comments + Replies

Well done! Awesome idea. Will be thinking of ways I can contribute as well as attend.

I watched 'Oz the Great and Powerful'. I really liked the pro-innovation / science-inventory / mind-over-might themes.

Looking back, so did I. When I saw the film I enjoyed it for being very pretty. And was pleasantly surprised (and surprised by my surprise) at how the plot led toward the original film.

This sounds pretty awesome. Sadly nothing LW seemed to be going on in NY when I visited earlier in the month (sadly no-one married me so I'm back in the UK), but I'm excited to hear about an active musical-participatory branch of Less Wrongers.

I'm a pianist/performer currently undergoing a painful transition to composer/lyricist. I'd like to write musicals to broadcast various rationalist, effective altruist, existential crisis and pro-open borders messages, probably delineated to some degree. I'd like to get in touch with people who do similar things!

Is this open mic night popular? What are people's experience of the intersection between music and rationality?

There is actually always something going on LW-wise in New York, but we don't publicize most of our events (there are weekly Tuesday meetups, and bi-weekly self-improvement meetups on Sundays). Most of the time we're pretty close to room capacity (around 10-15 people showing up in a smallish apartment), and for the past few months we didn't have many high quality presentations that seemed worth advertising. (There is a private mailing list where we announce most of our weekly discussions) Historically, the Open Mic tends to have around 15 attendees. We've actually been on hiatus for a few months, and this is our relaunch at a new location. I've been doing a lot of promotion this month at new venues and expect to pick up a few more people. Many of the people (about 2/3rds of the regular attendees) are not actually LW-folk. Part of my goal is to expand rationality into the sister-spheres of skepticism, humanism, etc. I manage the rational ritual mailing list [] where artistically and ritually inclined LW-folk (and some non-LW folk) collaborate, both on individual works and on larger events. You're welcome to join there, and I'd be up for skyping individually if you'd like.

Also, it helped to realize that my current state has seven billion years of universe behind it. I can change for the better, but whatever is wrong isn't some intrinsic personal defect, and it isn't all my mother's fault either.

File under "warm-fuzzy pseudo-platitudes that don't set off my thoroughly-trained self-dishonesty detector"; a near-empty category!

I can relate to this a lot, and I'd find it very useful to see how someone else monologues about it. Just to take another step meta here, a framework for doing the sort of thing ('re-calibration'?) you want to do in itself would be a useful akrasia-kick for people who for whatever reason haven't gotten to the stage of automating how to get out of the inefficiency slump.

Regina Spektor, I've been discovering her stuff over the last few months and I've reached the point where I know roughly all of it. As I think is expected in this thread, all I can really offer here is possibility that blog-reading choices vaguely correlate with musical preferences. Her lyrics are pretty non-inane, especially upon repeated listening. Her variance of musical style is pleasing to me, makes it fun to play and listen to. Nothing especially Less Wrong-y, but I might be forgetting something. Though I don't think I know any composer at all who's ... (read more)

I quite like Regina Spektor! I was first introduced to her as being "like the Dresden Dolls without the vitriol" - not a totally accurate description but not far off. The Dresden Dolls are good fun, and some of Amanda Palmer's solo work has some great moments.
You're not alone. I also find her music strangely compelling.

Just me, or is this like the most convincing article on this subject? Certainly it has the best verbal illustration of the theory. Very neat.

+1 for

In general, tautologies aren't cause for concern

This would have been a useful phrase during philosophy classes.

You're welcome :) yes, in that sense it does confer (by confer I mean involuntarily foist upon you) a handful of learning opportunities, especially as you grow up with a wider view of gender-stuff. I'm not certain I'd go back in time and choose the norm, for the variety having an extra order of weirdness.

Though fitting in with weirdness never seemed like it'd be a huge problem with Less Wrong.

I totally will, thank you.

Darn! If only I were a female androphile, rather than a male one... I eagerly await the day this post reads "large group of female rationalists now requires gay-best-friend figure for company, dialogue about hair and SAVING the WORLD".

This is a really neat idea, yay for propagating relationships that wouldn't otherwise have occurred.

Thanks for the acknowledgment :) I have quite a few friends of "its complicated" gender, I think it kind of gives you all superpowers in the sense that you are so much more aware of a very large and frequently used set of assumptions most people are making, and exceptions to them - you are forced to see more of the structure of the matrix just by virtue of being who you are. Please let me know if you ever make it to out to California.


So, yeah, I overestimated the extent to which I could override a certain lack of intrinsic desire to do things, in addition to having been a little depressed in the first week. I ended up completing 14 of the possible 30 tasks, while failing those that were on average grander undertakings, that would have been diving into hierarchical chunks instead of linear ones. Although I missed some easy ones too, 'go swimming', 'use new sewing machine'.

To improve this, I think I should in advance plan out what sub-tasks each individual task requires, to make t... (read more)

I haven't read a wide plethora of fiction so I might have lower standards, but I enjoyed/am enjoying them (currently half way through the 3rd, skipped the 1st due to having watched the film, may not return to it). I've read a significant amount of the sequences and didn't feel like the books interact negatively with rationality ideas; the heroine is fairly lucid and has fewer than average dogmas, so isn't annoying in that respect.

I had a good time and enjoyed the conversation. I appreciate the effort everyone took to come out and be interesting!

Does anyone have any plans to draw up the cognitive biases hierarchy that was suggested? (Maybe a collaborative Google Documents drawing would be useful for this.) Given I'd find use in such a diagram myself, I'm not in a position to start one. At a later stage I could throw together some html and javascript to present the diagram as a web page, possibly with interactivity to reveal more detail on examples, the experiments, counter-heuristics and citations, etc.

On the subject of Italy but sadly not of this meetup, I am in Florence and Milan for 5th to the 12th of June: the former for the first half of my trip, and the latter for the second. I hope something Italian takes off in the meantime!

Was thinking of applying, I already work 40 hours a week and am unsure how easily I could do a further 20. Seems like it would be useful sort of thing in the future if I'm freelancing or travelling. Shame about the current hour limit.

True, especially on the last point. It still feels like there's a large philosophical knowledge-set to convey before their Patronus fails reliably for the right reason. I see what you mean though. Maybe the habit (mental) necessarily built into the Patronus charm would be harder to override more than temporarily due to the strength in habit, or at least without genuinely shifting how that person conceptualises all the relevant stuff.

I thought that was odd: that they would actually have to understand, and not just be told that Dementors are death. Like in the same way that under-confidence in your ability to perform a physical action actually undermines your ability to do it, which should be relatable if you've ever tried to back-flip on a trampoline or forced yourself to perform an action in spite of an anticipation of pain or great displeasure -- but so long as you expect being able to do it, you can still do it. But if someone just said 'Dementors are death', you'd cast your animal patronus just fine so long as you didn't grok it. Which made me suspicious of Harry's possible tactic in the Wizengamot.

I think the problem is the lack of a Happy Thought to confront Death. Harry has one - his absolute rejection of Death as the natural order, and his belief that we shall overcome some day. As long as you still believe that death is inevitable, that everyone will die - there is nothing happy about that to comfort you. I believe that Harry internally discusses this point.
If you tell them the whole riddle ("what is most scary, unkillable etc"), then give the answer, I'd say there's a good chance that it would cast enough doubt for the animal patronuses to fail, at least temporarily. Also, Harry could improve his credibility by casting his human patronus.

Did anyone encounter a good response to this comment?

Only the comment that pointed out that the mirror is irrelevant. You can do the exact same calculations about a photon that travels directly from point A to point B.

I find some of the most relatable parts of the story to be the vague hero-against-the world / morality allegory, particularly in the dialogue quoted here. I think as much of the micro-morality of the story is Randian in a way that as much of the surface dialogue might paint Rand as a negative colour (if only by showing how ugly her beliefs on the surface, but revealing their purer roots). Harry is basically saying "Yes, everyone is incompetent; woe that they didn't have the luck to be not, and let's try and change that without getting too annoyed"... (read more)

Definitely. For me, EY hits some of the exact same buttons that Rand does, though maybe a little harder. In Rand's terms, the Sense of Life is the same. EY's money shots, Harry's internal dialogues, are practically interchangeable with the money shots in Anthem and We The Living, also internal dialogues of the main characters. It's a Nietzschean Yes! to life. I can't think of anyone more similar to either in that respect. The same sense of life, but they part ways on ideological conclusions. Quirrell as the Big Bad, is busy giving the No Duty to others, free to be an Egoist speech. I don't think we're intended to sympathize. Then EY makes a package deal of an egoistic love of life and it' opposite - Despite, the contempt for life because of it's "imperfections". Reminds me of It's a Wonderful Life, where a different kind of package deal is used to recommend the squashing of George's youthful egoism.

This month I'm implementing a self-incentive mechanism to achieve tasks (and vaguely profit if I don't).

Last month I wrote up a list of 30 tasks, one for each day in April. If I fail to use any given day to complete one of my tasks, I move 1/100th (1%) of my previous month's salary to my savings account. This way my future self will either be cleverer (/stronger/more socially talented - due to the nature of the tasks) or richer than would happen otherwise.

Don't forget to report back how it went!

I'm not sure Eastbourne (or more likely, the nearest city Brighton) has a lot of LW readers, due to each of their typical demographics. However, due to this post, I am rather tempted to try it out. Indeed, worst that happens is sitting in a café with a book (which sounds like something I should be doing more of anyway).

Main purpose of comment: any Brighton- or nearby LW folk, call out! I might otherwise procrastinate about this prospect by a month or more.

Same, made one in Graz, Austria.

To clarify why I liked it, I find comfort in the fact that someone else has thought about the same existentially terrifying things as me. (I read the beauty-terrible complaint as one of the nature of nature, rather than of something we can change.) So when I think about such things, I'm less likely to feel quite as alone if I recall this poetry. Somehow reading other people's prose on the subject doesn't strike the same effect as poetry.

It [the poem] might not relate to consequentialist thinking that easily, but I found it a good antidote to the negative e... (read more)

I think a book of poems like these would be enough to fend off a whole load of existential angst.

I really liked this, it was very thoughtfully posted (i.e. most vaguely reductionist/scientific poetry is unbearable), and would like to see other polite conversations between intellect and emotion such as this. It's nice to see them getting along for once.

Uhm, maybe I actually don't understand the poem. I'll read it over again. EDIT: I still get the same message from the repeated lines, that the complex systems behind the surface can't be beautiful, and are somehow innately terrible.

I see, that's interesting. That feels recognisable: I think when I hear my own voice/internal monologue, it brings to memory things I've already said or talked about, so I dwell on those things rather than think of fresh topics. So I think of the monologue itself as being the source of the stagnant thinking, and shut it down hoping insight will come to me wordlessly. Having said all that about having an internal monologue, I now think I do have a fair number of non-verbal thoughts, but these still use some form of mental labelling to organise concepts as I... (read more)

I'd say something like internal monologue, for thinking anyway (this may be internally sounded, I know that I think word-thoughts in my own voice, but I regularly think much faster than I could possibly speak, until I realise that fact, when the voice becomes slow and I start repeating myself, and then get annoyed at my brain for being so distracting).

For calculating or anything vaguely mathematical I use abstractly spatial/visual sorts of thoughts -- abstract meaning I don't have sufficient awareness of the architecture of my brain to tell you accurately ... (read more)

I requested that data because for some reason, in my own experience, I've noticed the tendency you mentioned in your previous post as being strongest when I'm trying to avoid the internal monologue way of thinking. If I try to avoid using words in my thought process, I often find myself walking around empty-headed for some reason. It's as if it's a lot harder to start a non-verbal thought, or something. I don't know. When walking around with a lot of thinking time on my hands, I've found a lot of success keeping myself occupied by simply saying words to myself and then seeing where it takes me. For example, I may vocalize in my head "epistemology", or "dark arts", or something like that, and then see where it takes me (making sure to start verbalizing my thought process if I stall at any point). Maybe I'm on a different topic though. Are you simply asking what you should spend your time thinking about, and I'm going into the topic of how to start a thought process (whatever it is)? This seems like an unlikely interpretation though because you said the problem is not having a pen and paper, which suggests to me that you know what to think about, but end up not doing anything if all you can't write or draw. Sorry if this is pretty messy. I wanted to respond to this, but didn't have much time.

I'm often walking to somewhere and I notice that I have a good amount of thinking time, but that I find my head empty. Has anyone any good ideas on useful things to occupy my mind during such time? Visualisation exercises, mental arithmetic, thinking about philosophy?

It depresses me a little, how much easier it is to make use of nothing but a pen and paper, than it is to make use of when that is removed and one has only one's own mind.

How often do you think in words, and how often in visuals, sounds, and so on? Do you normally think by picturing things, or engaging in an internal monologue, or what? Or is the distribution sort of even?

For some reason I would feel much better imposing a standard cost on commenting (e.g. -2 karma) that can be easily balanced by being marginally useful. This would better disincentivise both spamming and comments that people didn't expect to be worth very much insight, and still allow people to upvote good-but-not-promotion-worthy comments without artificially inflating that user's karma. This however would skew commenters towards fewer, longer, more premeditated replies. I don't know if we want this.

I find short, pithy replies tend to get better responses karma-wise.

That looks like it could prove really useful / interesting; thanks for linking.

I guess the entry requirements for beta are strict because they're trying to keep to a small set of variables for the people to check? It would have been really interesting to spy in on though. Regarding the China study, it sounds either like there was no effort to control for other obvious/statistically-true correlates or that there is no possible overlap at all to abstract a controlled comparison from. A fraction of that data might be useful (all data is useful! ...yum!). I th... (read more)

At least with user submitted noisy data you have individual data points, and potential to track individuals over time... unlike the China Study where entire communities were just averaged into a single point. There's some usable information in the China Study, but not as much as people think... it's being touted as "proof" that all animal-based foods cause cancer (in a popular diet book by the primary investigator Dr. Campbell) because the two were well correlated in the data, when it's nothing of the sort.

I've often wondered if a large-userbase data collecting website could help solve problems like this by looking for very weak statistical correlations among coinciding events over large datafields. I.e. see how often people self-report eating X, see how often people self-report feeling Y, see how often one precedes the other and when they happen independently. The function to users would be letting them track their own actions (e.g. diet, health, etc) according to preset (or high-karma member-submitted) input:data -sets. I should think with members in the t... (read more)

Yes, it exists: [] They're actively running experiments and collecting data but are in "beta testing" and are very exclusive on whom they allow to join. I'm disappointed they didn't choose me when I filled out their request for a beta invite. A huge problem with collecting data like this in the US population, is that everyone has a similar diet. There's so few people totally excluding gluten, you can't expect to measure it's effects with epidemiological diet surveys: you need to actually do a controlled trial where you tell people to avoid it. In China where only about half of people eat foods with gluten the biggest epidemiological study ever performed (the China Study) did find that wheat intake was independently correlated with overall mortality ( []). They never published this finding themselves, but the correlation is clearly there in the data. There's a lot of question about their methodology- they didn't keep or report data on individuals, but lumped whole communities together as single data points. There's likely a lot of highly correlated regional habits that weren't on the questionnaire, and I tend to find the whole study pretty questionable. For the most part, it's just comparing the health of rural farmers with wealthier urban Chinese- the two groups have radically different health, lifestyle, and diets and we can only control for the few questions they actually asked. Perhaps now that gluten avoidance seems to be becoming a "fad diet" in western countries, suddenly it will be possible to actually collect good data on this.

I've been working on a personal organisation web-app. Partly because it's fun, partly because hopefully it'll get to stage of being useful. Currently all data is basically private to each user (I have the only user account, though now that it's online it is open to new users). Features right now are calendars and diaries, with users being able create multiple iterations of each for whatever differing purposes.

One planned feature is the ability to have dialogues with oneself, (Alicorn's Luminosity Elspeth-style) between 1-8ish other named personalities / se... (read more)

It strikes me that searching the internet for this phrase, and meaningfully equivalent variants, would be a really interesting experience.

I knew there was an elegant solution to be had, my own reply became pointless. Thank you.

If you don't open your eyes and guess, you have a 0.5 chance of being right. The policy of ignoring the wall-color in front of you makes 50% of 'identical-you's wrong about the coin toss.

Opening your eyes allows 99% of atomically 'identical-you's to guess the coin toss correctly, and gives the other 1% information that will lead them astray. The policy of taking the wall-colour as evidence makes 99% of 'identical-you's correct about the coin toss.

This is as far as I am able to take the problem, to a point that I understand what's going on. What aren't I getting, if from here it doesn't seem special?

I've been looking for this sort of software for forever, and this is a great post too. Thanks a lot!

I was impressed at how easily I understood everything you said, despite having experienced neither any non-fleeting mania, nor the depth into the academic fields that you have acquired. So your writing rules at that.

Definitely would like to read more, particularly as someone whose view of the world is consistently mundane.

My mum, among others, doesn't like wasting food. I frame it thus, in the hope that it will nudge her wanting in the more useful direction: if you're not going to enjoy eating it, or if eating it is going to have effects you don't want, then eating it is more wasteful than throwing it away.

Alas the benefits of being open about a very slight sexual curiosity are probably not often great enough to make complete honesty seem worthwhile. Also such curiosity tends to signal a lack of self-knowledge and thus to an extent lack of trustworthiness, probably hence the vague stigma that many people have against dating bisexuals.

The Bizarre World of the Bisexual [] - it's all 100% true! [1] [1] Statement of 100% truth may not be 100% true.

Hmm, I'll experiment with a variety, and report back if I make findings.

I wonder how much this would work for a homosexual male.

I've actually been trying this essential thing, although with less persistence as it requires a certain amount of effort to attend to something that just seems so immediately boring to myself. Perhaps living in a hetero-normative culture ensures that when a man decides that he's gay, he is more likely to have discovered a roughly immutable biological fact?

Despite subcultural normativity being strongly biased against bisexuality, really quite a lot of gay-identifying men have experimented with heterosexual behaviour, but are - ha! - closeted about it.

Two related thoughts come to mind.

One is that male anatomy is more familiar, and therefore presumably less intimidating, to straight men than female anatomy is to gay men.

Another is that in a heteronormative culture, men who aren't strictly monosexual are more likely to identify as straight than as gay. If what this technique actually does is make men who aren't monosexual more aware of their non-monosexuality, then I'd expect it to get more noticeable results on men who identify as straight. (I'd also expect there to be a wide range of effectiveness among straight-identified men.)

If you're finding it boring, you may be trying to go too straight too quickly, or you may not be using your preferred form of erotica--I used hentai as as example, but I could've used textual fiction, videos, etc. Or you could just be immutably gay; I am generalizing from just a few examples.

That is the price of such an intense desire to signal one's apathy toward karma! :P My loss, I suppose!

P.S. Luminosity + Radiance rules!

Lower confidence was to account for the fact that some people would read it and decline from voting either way; therefore P>50% of upvote would not imply P<50% of downvote. In hindsight it's a confusing scheme to parse into bets. Everyone who read (e.g.) the first prediction and didn't vote would count in the 80% who didn't downvote it for being self-conscious. The first five percentages were, in my mind, predictions concerning the distribution of the actions of those who read the comment, where 'didn't vote' also counts toward the union. But regarding betting, there's no way to get the data of how many actually read it.


Yes, I do agree that getting karma for pleasing but unproductive comments lessens the utility of karma; should be more of a costly signal for a individual's utility to the community, where the criterion of upvote-selection is important (i.e. 'propagates rationality' is presumably most desirable). Upvotes for cheap jokes dampens the signal.

I care about antagonising people and wasting their time, so naturally I pay attention to karma as it's a reliable signal ;) But of itself it's pretty useless; given the chance, I wouldn't choose to press a button that bestowed 1000 magical karma points on my account.

You'd pass up the chance to study ontologically fundamental mental entities?!

Any sufficiently advanced karma-whoring is indistinguishable from a useful comment. I personally don't care for karma, but I maintain that I regret the post for wasting people's time.

I don't believe there are any real karma-whores on Less Wrong. I'm detailing my beliefs here in an attempt to accurately signal my ability to think about things; I presume it follows that anyone who can think for more than four seconds shouldn't actually continue to gain pleasure from getting karma for stupid comments. I attempt to signal this because I would not myself wish t... (read more)

Upvoted for indistinguishable insight. Downvoted for the overused and inaccurate "don't care about karma" signal. Downvoted 7 other comments by you at random because you don't care and I'm in an arbitrary mood. :) I also downvoted Normal's comment because the "karma-whoring" comment was glaringly inaccurate.
It was an interesting idea. I approve of this kind of meta-comment in general; I just don't want it to become a bigger part of the comment pool and/or a way of accumulating karma. I do care about the karma system because I think it's useful to know what intelligent people think of me (and I get a fuzzy feeling from positive reinforcement). You assume correctly. I hope there aren't any real karma whores either. I don't really think of you as one, just of that sort of comment as the sort of thing a karma whore would do. I did enjoy reading it, to a limited extent. That and the insightful, useful nature of the parent make this interaction a net gain for me. In conclusion, I upvoted the parent.

I ended up posting it out of sincere curiosity regarding whether it would go up or down. But I suppose it did amount to spam; I accept my downvotes with no unhappiness.

I find it somewhat troubling that my flip reply to your comment has netted me more karma than any of my other recent contributions.
I upvoted because I hope it settles at 0 points, making your whole comment look merely silly. I think the chances of that happening are ~11.293%
Downvoted because this kind of self-reference humor is old-hat here. (actually I didn't downvote because -14 is enough, but I agree with the downvoters)
Massively underconfident. I downvoted for self-consciousness, then I reconsidered and upvoted for the irony. But then I downvoted because I felt you were attempting to get upvotes, then I revised and upvoted for being explicit in that attempt. Then, later, I downvoted for being explicit about your explicitness. Basically, you should have expected high 90s for all of those events. As it stands, your percentages would require you to offer even-money bets for any of those events except regretting, all of which you'd lose.
Downvoted to disincentivize this type of thing; it strikes me as karma-whoring.

Downvoted because I don't think I want to see more comments like it.

I chose and my world was shaken, so what? The choice may have been mistaken; the choosing was not.

Sunday in the Park with George, by Stephen Sondheim

This happened to me just last week.

In response to the downvote: Hmm, I wonder what fraction of people on railway tracks are there because they are reckless and what fraction are victims who are not generally at fault? I assumed my 'ceteris paribus' covered this sufficiently but perhaps villainous train-plots are more the norm than I thought. Given this, subsidising the risk of recklessly hanging around train tracks by having a policy of sacrificing innocent bystanders to stop trains will only prevent the emergence of a mechanism whereby people don't end up... (read more)

Load More