Wiki Contributions


As there were some podcasts on the List of Blogs page, I've removed them from that page.

It goes without saying that if you disagree with my decision to make this page, or what I wrote in it, you can make your own edits.

I desperately want something like this, so long as it is anywhere other than the bay area. god help me, I will avoid living there if it means being as socially isolated as I currently am forever

I agree that it makes sense there.

The reason I put it where it is, is: belief-edifice-memeplex-paradigm-framework-system-movement-whatevers have members who say different things. Some members say things that are more like a motte and others say things that are more like a bailey. Even if the individual members consistently claim one or the other, this looks suspiciously like a group responding to incentives by committing the fallacy.

I was there.

"but most of our time was spent thinking about probability distributions on consistent theories" seems incorrect to me, unless I'm a lot more confused than I thought I was. What I saw was that we spent an equal amount of time on essentially three topics:

  1. Trying to manufacture a truth-predicate weaker than provability but still able to do work, for getting around Löb's theorem;
  2. Binary logical versions/formulations of Solomonoff Induction (Abram's prior);
  3. What to do if you have an inconsistent set of probabilities over sentences / how to turn inconsistent probabilities into a prior (probability distributions on consistent theories).

(The hosts then talked about #3 for seven more hours after the official end of the mini-workshop. Scott apparently spent n hours after that writing down what he had talked and thought about. And then it was a dead end. Таких математике!)

Despite my lack of math knowledge, I enjoyed attending. I am even told that I did not distract everyone with my stupid questions and uninteresting ideas, so I will go to future ones as well.

The other participants were madmen. They didn't take any breaks at all, only furiously bashed brains against unsolvable problems, demanding solutions from the aether and holding their ideas hostage until some otherworldly god, some invisible champion of mathematics relented to give them what they want. They did not succeed, nor did they fail, for they have not given up. To tell the truth, it was a little bit frightening.

I got all excited about math because of this, which may or may not be a positive effect, and hopefully next time I'll have read some of the relevant papers, and understood more than a modicum.

Capital idea, old sport. I was considering making a thread about our group, but now there's no need. Supposing then that I, Grognor, should kick things off with a State of the Union address for the West Los Angeles LW meetups, eh, wot?

Our relocation last week went well. It was my goal to make it as difficult as possible not to know we had Officially Moved Somewhere Else; to that end I mentioned it in every single paragraph in the meetup post and the post to the mailing list, and individually messaged everyone I could contact who had ever attended who was not there when we agreed to move, two weeks ago. To the extent that this means anything, it means fast food places with good acoustics (no matter how loud we are in the back, you can't hear us at the front! which is cool) are better than dark, noisy, out-of-the-way bars where closed-to-the-public events frequently happen.

Abram recently proposed (because we are ostensibly a Less Wrong meetup group) that each week we openly report on rational or irrational things we've noticed ourselves doing since the last date of attendance, or whenever, really. I think it's a good idea, as it may provide useful feedback, motivation for the speakers, and inspiration to the audience, but it's been difficult to put into practice, because people naturally tend to talk of sundrier things, and because it's just really difficult to keep track of one's rationality. "The" checklist is unwieldy and there are still few objective day-to-day rationality metrics. I'm going to keep trying, though.

Over the last year, there has been a transition from/to, and a tension between, more practical meetup topics, and more theoretical, mathematical ones. I think this distinction is unprincipled and lacking in nuance; nevertheless it exists, and to the extent I do not say "mu" to the very framework, I lean toward the theoretical and the mathematical. This even though the meetups I've hosted have been more on the former side, with two exceptions. This is entirely because I don't know enough math, which I now consider a character flaw. One which I am remedying, 'ho!.

A couple of times, we've played a game called Contact, which is surprisingly fun for something that requires no equipment. It has nothing to do with rationality. We have played The Resistance a few times, which has received mixed reactions. Anton has introduced us to Quantum Go-Fish (also called Quantum Fingers, although Anton's name is better), which everyone likes the idea of but is really hard to play. There are basically two versions: one where we have cards and paperclips and everyone tries to play, and the version where we try to keep track of everything in our heads and on our fingers and all the fun is from everybody getting confused about the actual state of the game. The latter might be called "Drunken Quantum Go-Fish", since there's no reason to play it while sober. We have not tried the former. We haven't tried very many activities together, nor projects, even though I've tried to inspire people to make something more out of the group.

It seems most others just want a group to hang out with on Wednesday nights, and I'm the only one that wants to do some useful stuff with the group. This is okay; people shouldn't engineer some project just because I want them to. However, some of us have a Secret Awesome Thing in the works; stay tuned, but don't be surprised if it produces nothing.

This comment is already pretty long, so I might as well soapbox a bit: The "How to Run a Successful Less Wrong Meetup Group" PDF is terrible. It's full of gross salesman prose and useless pictures that require more scrolling, and because it's two columns, half the scrolling you must do is upways. If no one else wants to be a hero, I might just (with the blessing of (Luke? Kaj? whoever owns this thing)) condense it into a proper LW post or wiki article like it should have been all along, if I have another burst of mania like the one that caused this comment. and free access to a CFAR workshop.

For lack of a better name, The West LA LW Meetup Group is a fun and growing crowd. By the ever-reliable metric of "intuition", I think we are a successful group, in part thanks to me. We seem to be unique in that, rather than having zero hosts or one person who hosts every time, whoever feels like hosting the next meetup just goes ahead and does so. We meet every week, but when no one feels like hosting, the meetup is unannounced, on both this site and the mailing list, and attendance is smaller when that happens. I prefer these meetups, because they are more intimate and less stressful, although this is an uncommon sentiment. I might prefer if "someone" took over and hosted every meetup, to reduce the total number of decisions we collectively have to make about who hosts.

I really appreciate this crowd. They have directly improved my life, not only with their presence but also with acts of kindness and of prudence, and I have improved theirs with my stage presence and the items I give to every newcomer. The West LA LW Meetup Group is approximately my entire meatspace social life, and thus I say hooray.

A friend lent me this exact book recently, and while I followed the first chapter, I quickly gave up upon encountering the exercises, because I could not even do the first one. At all.

I don't think I am stupid, so I hope you're just underestimating the required mathematical thinking experience (if not actual background knowledge, none of which is assumed) required to get through this book. Mathematicians do so as a rule.

The "Add new meetup" button automatically creates a discussion post, in addition to posting to /meetups (which already exists).

When I used to actually read this site, this annoyed me too, so I'd be fine with removing that "feature".

This does not work for meetup groups that have a different topic every time, like ours does. I'm going to ask the group whether they think this is a good idea, but membership is getting a bit poorer and it might still impact that.

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