All of OrphanWilde's Comments + Replies

People who lie about how much they eat are jerks

No it doesn't. You use up more calories when you weigh more. If you eat an apple a day you will reach an equilibrium where you have just enough extra weight to burn a number of calories per day equivalent to an apple. 95 calories in an apple will still get you to about 9.5 kilograms extra, which is a lot, but not near 50 pounds and it won't increase without limit.)

The information I have seen suggests a pound of fat requires 2-3 kilocalories per day to maintain itself, which implies a range of 30-47.5 pounds from a 95 kilocalorie deviation, which would b... (read more)

People who lie about how much they eat are jerks

It's not just "harder", it requires skills and knowledge, which most people don't actually have.

The point is that "exercise" isn't helpful advice to lose weight. First, it's not terribly effective at it over short durations, and people need to know that what they're doing is working. Second, if somebody isn't already exercising, they're going to hurt themselves, have a six week recovery time, try again, hurt themselves, and give up on losing weight. Third, you're communicating something different than what you think you are; "Go... (read more)

2Elo5ystill don't disagree. weight loss is hard. good habits help.
People who lie about how much they eat are jerks

I don't recommend having this argument. It's useless in almost every respect.

There are two fundamental issues. First, most people don't understand what a Calorie looks like, and think the difference between a healthy weight and an unhealthy weight is a large amount of food, rather than a small amount of food compounded over long periods of time. Want to lose weight in a sustained and sustainable fashion? Subtract a small amount of food over a long period of time. Instead, people crash-diet, then go back to normal eating habits.

An extra apple a day tra... (read more)

0Jiro5yNo it doesn't. You use up more calories when you weigh more. If you eat an apple a day you will reach an equilibrium where you have just enough extra weight to burn a number of calories per day equivalent to an apple. 95 calories in an apple will still get you to about 9.5 kilograms extra, which is a lot, but not near 50 pounds and it won't increase without limit.)
2Elo5yI don't think I disagree anywhere.
0NancyLebovitz5yThere are fat athletes. I can believe that starting from being very sedentary is harder if you're fat.
Market Failure: Sugar-free Tums

You think that an argument that ultimately boils down to "Look how capitalism is a failure at providing basic things" isn't going to provoke defensive reactions?

This doesn't even pretend very hard.

0Dagon6yThere's no ban on political topics. There's a ban (or at least a consensus against) topics that tend to generate tribal defensive reactions in a significant number of readers. Politics is rife with such topics, but that doesn't mean identity with the banned thing. Some politically-relevant topics are acceptable, and some non-political topics aren't.
Meme: Valuable Vulnerability

That does not mean never ever having a single negative emotion, just as I presume that he was not speaking of never having any emotions of any kind.

I was, indeed, speaking of not having any emotions of any kind. Or rather, not qualitatively experiencing them; I'd get angry, for example, but I'd notice I was angry because my hands would start clenching of their own accord, not because I'd experience anything resembling an "anger" qualia, or have my thoughts actually influenced by my emotions. To such an extent that, because I didn't experience either lust or love or any of the variations on those two themes as an internal emotive force, I assumed for many years I was asexual.

0entirelyuseless6yOk. Personally I wouldn't consider that to be preventing emotions, but ignoring them. I think it is an undesirable thing precisely because you don't notice the emotions, but have them anyway, and they have consequences. Since you aren't paying attention, you can't do anything about those consequences. I was talking about actually not having the emotions at all, as physical realities, which of course is not something that can be done 100% of the time.
Open thread, June 20 - June 26, 2016

Absolutely agreed. But it's about conflicts among preferred outcomes of a decision, not about preferences among disconnected world-states.

Less about two outcomes your preferences conflict on, and more about, say, your preferences and mine.

Insofar as your internal preferences conflict, I'm not certain ethics are the correct approach to resolve the issue.

If they're unaware because there's no reasonable way for them to be aware, it's hard for me to hold them to blame for not acting on that. Ought implies can. If they're unaware because they've made choic

... (read more)
0Dagon6yYou're still treating ethical values as external summable properties. You just can't compare the ethical value of people in radically different situations. You can compare the ethical value of two possible decisions of a single situation. If there's no suffering, that doesn't make people more or less ethical than if there is suffering - that comparison is meaningless. If an entity chooses to avoid knowledge of suffering, that choice is morally objectionable compared to the same entity seeking knowledge of such. You can get away to some extent by generalizing and treating agents in somewhat similar situations as somewhat comparable - to the degree that you think A and B are facing the same decision points, you can judge the choices they make as comparable. But this is always less than 100%. In fact, I think the same about utility - it's bizarre and incoherent to treat it as comparable or additive. It's ordinal only within a decision, and has no ordering across entities. This is my primary reason for being consequentialist but not utilitarian - those guys are crazy.
Open thread, June 20 - June 26, 2016

Ethics is solely and simply about decisions - which future state, conditional on current choice, is preferable.

From my perspective, we have a word for that, and it isn't ethics. It's preference. Ethics are the rules governing how preference conflicts are mediated.

I'm not trying to compare a current world with poverty against a counterfactual current world without - that's completely irrelevant and unhelpful.

Then imagine somebody living an upper-class life who is unaware of suffering. Are they ethically inferior because they haven't made decisions... (read more)

0Dagon6yAbsolutely agreed. But it's about conflicts among preferred outcomes of a decision, not about preferences among disconnected world-states. If they're unaware because there's no reasonable way for them to be aware, it's hard for me to hold them to blame for not acting on that. Ought implies can. If they're unaware because they've made choices to avoid the truth, then they're ethically inferior to the version of themselves which do learn and act.
Meme: Valuable Vulnerability

Well, I followed a policy of strict emotional regulation, and it made me anhedonic for more than a decade. I'm actively working on feeling things, whereas previously, I would have described my emotional state almost entirely in terms of equanimity, although, since I didn't know the word, I used an artful description of same. (In an emotional state, I would describe myself as balancing on top of a very narrow tower, where emotions were winds attempting to knock me down.)

Which is to say - in my experience, you don't get to pick and choose which emotions yo... (read more)

0entirelyuseless6yYour experience is not universal. There are some people who get quite good at refusing negative emotions but still experiencing very strong positive emotions anyway. One advantage of religion, in fact, is that it can give people a set of beliefs (even if they are objectively false) which more easily allow them to do this.
Open thread, June 20 - June 26, 2016

There are two problems.

In the first scenario, in which ethics is an obligation (i/e, your ethical standing decreases for not fulfilling ethical obligations), you're ethically a worse person in a world with poverty, because there are ethical obligations you cannot meet. The idea of ethical standing being independent of your personal activities is, to me, contrary to the nature of ethics.

In the second scenario, in which ethics are additive (you're not a worse person for not doing good, but instead, the good you do adds to some sort of ethical "score&qu... (read more)

0Dagon6yI suspect I'm more confused than even this implies. I don't think there's any numerical ethical standing measurement, and I think that cross-universe comparisons are incoherent. Ethics is solely and simply about decisions - which future state, conditional on current choice, is preferable. I'm not trying to compare a current world with poverty against a counterfactual current world without - that's completely irrelevant and unhelpful. In a world with experienced pain (including some forms of poverty), an agent is ethically superior if it makes decisions that alleviate such pain, and ethically inferior if it fails to do so.
Two kinds of Expectations, *one* of which is helpful for rational thinking

The response on LW continues to be aversively critical

Yeeeeup.

It's not the upvotes/downvotes, either. It's the comments.

Open thread, June 20 - June 26, 2016

Okay. Imagine two versions of you: In one, you were born into a society in which, owing to nuclear war, the country you live in is the only one remaining. It is just as wealthy as our own current society owing to the point this hypothesis is leading to.

The other version of you exists in a society much more like the one we live in, where poor people are starving to death.

I'll observe that, strictly in terms of ethical obligations, the person in the scenario in which the poor people didn't exist is ethically superior, because fewer ethical obligations are ... (read more)

0Dagon6yHmm. You're getting close to Repugnant Conclusion [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mere_addition_paradox] territory here, which I tend to resolve by rejecting the redistribution argument rather than the addition argument. In my view, In terms of world-preference, the smaller world with no poverty is inferior, as there are fewer net-positive lives. If you're claiming that near-starving impoverished people are leading lives that are negative value, I understand but do not agree with your position.
Open thread, June 20 - June 26, 2016

I'd classify it loosely as Both; nothing requires an ethical system to distinguish between the two cases, but I think it's a substantial divide in the way people tend to think about ethics.

I'm starting to think "ethics" is an incoherent concept. I'm a strict-negative ethicist - yet I do have an internal concept of a preference hierarchy, in terms of what I want the world to look like, which probably looks a lot like what most people would think of as part of their ethics system. It's just... not part of my ethics. Yes, I'd prefer it if poor pe... (read more)

0Dagon6yPeople in other countries (note: I'm anti-nationalist, and prefer to just say "people", or if I need to distinguish, "people distant from me") starving is not under my control, but I can have a slight influence that makes it a small amount better for a lot of them. To me, this absolutely puts it in bounds for ethical consideration Put in decision-making terms as opposed to ethical framing, "my utility function includes terms for the lives of distant strangers". For me, ethics is about analyzing and debating (with myself, mostly) the coefficients of those terms.
Open thread, June 20 - June 26, 2016

Incidentally, do we have anybody about who can answer a very specific question about meditation practice? (And if you don't know exactly why I'm asking this question, instead of asking the question I want to ask, you shouldn't volunteer to try to answer.)

3ChristianKl6yI do meditate for a long time and I'm learning it from qualified people. I think I can answer a wide range of question but there might be questions arrising from techniques that I don't know where I can't give good answers.
Open thread, June 20 - June 26, 2016

A thought occurred to me on a divide in ethical views that goes frequently unremarked, so I thought I'd ask about it: How many of you think ethics/morality is strictly Negative (prohibits action, but never requires action), a combination of Both (can both prohibit or require action), or something else entirely?

ETA: First poll I've used here, and I was hoping to view it, then edit the behavior. Please don't mind the "Option" issue in the format.

[pollid:1159]

0Dagon6yI answered a slightly different question. I don't think all ethics or moral systems do either or both of these things. My preferred ruleset (consequentialist personal regret-minimization) both prohibits and requires action, and in fact doesn't distinguish between the two.
Review and Thoughts on Current Version of CFAR Workshop

If somebody downvotes an entire chain of content you've posted, you're probably expressing an idea they disagree with, rather than making a mistake. (Not always true, but usually.)

Who are your favorite "hidden rationalists"?

Highly recommend kazerad, for Scott-level insights about human behavior. Here's his analysis of 4chan's anonymous culture. Here's another insightful essay of his. And a post on memetics. And these aren't necessarily the best posts I've read by him, just the three I happened to find first.

I gave him/her a shot.

After five or six pages of angry ranting about Gamergate, which was four or five pages too many, I quit. I have no dog in that fight, and I find the notion of arguing about specific people's specific lives as if they were culturally or socially significant to be a really misguided enterprise. It's tribal superstimulus, and it is both addictive and socially self-destructive.

Morality of Doing Simulations Is Not Coherent [SOLVED, INVALID]

You've encrypted a brain, and maybe salted it a bit to boot. You're still running the brain's "consciousness" program, it's just encrypted, and the brain is still experiencing exactly the same things, on account of it is running exactly the same program it would otherwise. The fact that the brain is cryptographically entangled with other data doesn't make the brain not exist.

1moridinamael6yI think this is probably the correct answer. If a simulation obtains the correct result, it is simulating the mind in some form, even while shuffling computations between obfuscatory boxes. The notion that adding physical states somehow changes this is a red herring. If I translate you 10 m to the left, you don't stop being a mind.
Open Thread May 30 - June 5, 2016

Something I and my local group of conversational partners noticed (I don't have a better word for it) over the weekend: Greek philosophy was a matter of law; Theseus' Ship had tax consequences, and shifting conventions in philosophy had legal ramifications. Greek philosophy was argued in court; Sophists were lawyers who were paid to argue your case, and would argue any side whatsoever, as that was what they were paid to do. Socrates had to die, not because he was annoying important people (which he was), but because he insisted on a "pure" phi... (read more)

When considering incentives, consider the incentives of all parties

Given your own charge that other people are mindkilled it's interesting that you see that charge as an insult and not as a factual description.

It is a claim of irrationality; yes, it should be taken as insulting.

I didn't intent to insult, but to state a hypothesis. A hypothesis that I stated with the word "maybe" to mark uncertainty. Don't generalize from one example.

I hypothesize you may be an idiot. (Do you see the issue?)

The opposite of fighting the hypothetical is to avoid critical thinking and not challenge it's assumptions.

Rever... (read more)

When considering incentives, consider the incentives of all parties

Real-world hypotheticals are often made with hidden purposes in mind. It may end up being a good idea to fight the hypothetical, when faced with the tactic of stating claims about real things as "hypotheticals" in order to get the audience to avoid questioning them.

Simply: I disagree.

When considering incentives, consider the incentives of all parties

It seems to me that the article could have done just fine with about half the quantity of incidental details. I am guessing that in fact you agree, given your description of it as "overextended".

Quite, yes. I don't think it's a perfect article - indeed, my primary issue with the criticisms of it are that they are criticizing the wrong things.

What about it do you believe I failed to understand?

I have no idea. But you've indicated, if not in those exact words, you found it difficult to read.

6gjm6yI've indicated that I found it harder to read than it should have been because of the barrage of incidental details and the constant feeling that it's really about something else besides its surface meaning. I was (as you will readily see if you read my original comment) perfectly well able to extract what in your view was the entire point of the article. I just felt like I had to do more work to do so than was warranted. [EDITED to add:] It seems that you actually had the same experience [http://lesswrong.com/lw/nnq/when_considering_incentives_consider_the/db3u]. So apparently we are agreed that casebash's article was stuffed with unnecessary incidental details, that it gave the impression of having some kind of hidden meaning, and that these made it harder to read; the difference is ... what? That you have decided, I know not on what basis, that I was "mindkilled" whereas you "treated it as practice in dealing with mindkilling". Except that you haven't offered any actual evidence that I was mindkilled (I'm pretty sure I wasn't, for what it's worth) or that I was any less successful than you were in understanding the article. You do make one specific complaint about a line of criticism that, e.g., buybuydandavis and I have made. We say that it's not clear where the article is heading and it could have used more signposts up front; you say no, there's a thesis statement right in the title and that's all anyone needs. (And you suggest that this indicates a failure to make sense of the article, which you blame on mind-killed-ness.) But you are missing the point. The title, considered as thesis statement, is manifestly insufficient to explain what's going on in the article, because most of the article consists of (what you yourself describe as) overextended elaboration of details of the argument between the As and the Bs. This is what readers could use some help in navigating. With only the title to go on, the best we can do is to pay careful attention to each par
June 2016 Media Thread

The ending is kind of unsatisfactory, though, as a result of relatively poor plot pacing; it feels like the author got bored.

When considering incentives, consider the incentives of all parties

My post on the other hand addresses what you are writing and asks for the evidence that you have for your beliefs. That's a standard rhetorical move. Engaging in it is no signal for being mindkilled.

No, but suggesting I am "influenced by tribal motivations" while asking for evidence is. You're mixing an insult with a request for information; you've already decided I am wrong.

As for evidence, it is provided by the exceptionally poor quality of the criticisms. Fighting the hypothetical, fighting the hypothetical, fighting the hypothetical, sus... (read more)

0Jiro6yReal-world hypotheticals are often made with hidden purposes in mind. It may end up being a good idea to fight the hypothetical, when faced with the tactic of stating claims about real things as "hypotheticals" in order to get the audience to avoid questioning them.
0ChristianKl6yGiven your own charge that other people are mindkilled it's interesting that you see that charge as an insult and not as a factual description. I didn't intent to insult, but to state a hypothesis. A hypothesis that I stated with the word "maybe" to mark uncertainty. Don't generalize from one example. Stating a hypothesis does not mean I decided that believe a certain outcome. It just put forward a point about which I intent to communicate. The opposite of fighting the hypothetical is to avoid critical thinking and not challenge it's assumptions. The problem with the hypothetical is that it ignores how beliefs in a society actually form. That's a process that's vital to the topic at hand. At a core it assumes that a society has beliefs about a war hold 50 years ago that have nothing to do with propaganda. It's a point that I might made irrespectable of whether the story I'm reading favors a group that I support politically. What does "conspicuous" mean here? That you should treat people as being an enemy tribe? That's tribal thinking. It's not thinking though the actual concent of the post.
When considering incentives, consider the incentives of all parties

So, there are two possibilities. One is that casebash has simply written a tedious and overextended article out of mere incompetence. That's certainly possible. Another is that the article is tedious and overextended because it is in fact trying to do something else besides arguing for the very obvious thesis contained in its title.

Personally, I suspect casebash might be Russian, and that's why it is written this way.

What other thing might it be doing? Well, the conflict it describes seems like it pattern-matches tolerably well to various hot-button i

... (read more)
0Jiro6yMore to the point, it can be pattern-matched to claims about real-world political situations that may not necessarily describe the actual real-world political situation very well, where the parable is being used to sneak those claims through as "hypotheticals" so that people don't dispute them.
When considering incentives, consider the incentives of all parties

Except that most of the article makes rather little contact with the idea stated in the title, and instead concerns incidental details of the squabble between the As and the Bs.

The incidental details are the point of the article, however; they're an in-depth example of how the incentives of the two groups interact and intersect.

The article reads very much like other articles I have read before that have a hidden purpose. So I think there may be one. Why is that unreasonable?

Instrumentally, it detracted from your understanding of the article.

4gjm6yIt seems to me that the article could have done just fine with about half the quantity of incidental details. I am guessing that in fact you agree, given your description of it as "overextended". What about it do you believe I failed to understand?
When considering incentives, consider the incentives of all parties

I'll merely point at the title, which says exactly what the article is about and what it is conveying.

When considering incentives, consider the incentives of all parties

It takes about one paragraph to figure out whether or not a piece is worth finishing, with or without a thesis statement.

1Lumifer6yOften, yes. Not always.
When considering incentives, consider the incentives of all parties

I'm not sure what you mean by that, but if you mean that you think the original article killed my mind... then I invite you to show me some evidence for that.

You read a perfectly clear and frankly rather tediously overexplained article and apparently find it murky and ambiguous. More, you think there's a hidden political agenda in a piece about fictional politics in which the author went to some length to state that both sides are guilty of motivated reasoning, which would make it a failure as a political hit piece if it named any names.

Read it again. ... (read more)

0Jiro6yOften a claim that two sides are on par with each other is 1) false, and 2) a tactic used by partisans. http://dailyanarchist.com/2011/04/15/allopathy-versus-homeopathy/ [http://dailyanarchist.com/2011/04/15/allopathy-versus-homeopathy/] : "Most people are unaware of the silent warfare that has been waged between two distinctly different philosophies in the field of medicine.... The anarchist community would be served well to learn the differences between these two medical approaches to health care... The debate between allopathy and homeopathy seems worthy in a marketplace of ideas... "
6gjm6ySo, there are two possibilities. One is that casebash has simply written a tedious and overextended article out of mere incompetence. That's certainly possible. Another is that the article is tedious and overextended because it is in fact trying to do something else besides arguing for the very obvious thesis contained in its title. What other thing might it be doing? Well, the conflict it describes seems like it pattern-matches tolerably well to various hot-button issues of exactly the sort that people sometimes try to approach obliquely in the hope of not pushing people's buttons too hard. Hence the conjecture, made by more than one reader, that there was some somewhat-hidden purpose.
When considering incentives, consider the incentives of all parties

Aside from that -- does anyone actually "think formulaic writing is good writing"?

Yes.

What I do see is some people saying "this article was hard to read and would have been improved by more indication of where it's going, the sort of thing that writing-by-formula tends to encourage". I hope you can see the difference between "formulaic writing is good" and "this specific element of one kind of formulaic writing is actually often a good idea".

The title tells you exactly what the article is about and where it wa... (read more)

7gjm6yExcept that most of the article makes rather little contact with the idea stated in the title, and instead concerns incidental details of the squabble between the As and the Bs. Or, to put it differently: This is exactly why ... The article reads very much like other articles I have read before that have a hidden purpose. So I think there may be one. Why is that unreasonable?
When considering incentives, consider the incentives of all parties

You find it helpful for the following cases: 1.) You're not going to agree no matter what evidence is presented, so it's not worth reading their evidence. 2.) They might have interesting things to say. 3.) They might be right, and you might be wrong.

The issue, of course, is that you can't actually distinguish between these three cases from the thesis statement; a properly-constructed thesis statement offers no information to actually tell you which attitude you should come into reading the work with, it only states what conclusion the body of evidence reaches.

1gjm6yAgain, I am not concerned solely with thesis statements as such, but with the practice of beginning an article with an indication of where it's headed. Something that merely says what the conclusion is going to be, indeed, is unlikely to help much with distinguishing 1,2,3; but something that does a better job of indicating what's ahead may do much better. Suppose, for instance, I am interested in some question about the morality of abortion in certain circumstances, and suppose my current opinion is that it's unproblematic. Article One begins "I shall argue that abortion is in all cases unbiblical and contrary to the traditions of the church". That might be a very useful article for Christians, but it's unlikely to offer me any useful guidance in thinking about abortion if I am not among their number; I reject some of their key premises and this article is unlikely to be justifying them. Article Two begins "The purpose of this article is to argue against abortion in circumstances X, not on the usual grounds that Y but because of the often-neglected Z". I've thought a bit about Z before and decided that it doesn't actually affect my opinions about abortion which are dominated by other considerations P,Q,R; but it hadn't previously occurred to me that Z is the case in circumstances X, so it might be interesting to read the article. Article Three begins "Abortion is widely held to be permissible in circumstances X because P, Q, and R; I shall argue that this is a mistake because P and Q don't actually hold and R is irrelevant because S." This speaks directly to my reasons for holding the position I do; if there are other indications that the author is intelligent and sensible, they may have compelling arguments and persuade me to rethink.
When considering incentives, consider the incentives of all parties

People said as much? And your own impulse to treat my praise as tribal impulse, rather than its facial reasoning. You're motivated.

I did notice the effect when I was reading it. The difference is that I treated it as practice in dealing with mindkilling.

0ChristianKl6yNo, they didn't. User time manages to point out the inconsistency of the scenario. This isn't something that happens in a timespan of 50 years without there being an cause that's the OP left out. A person who actually focuses on the scenario as presented instead of focusing on the transfer to other scenario's like blacks or women sees that problem with the scenario. The fact that he sees it suggest him not being mindkilled. Dagon argued against thinking in political tribal terms in the first place. Saying that you oppose categorizing people into two distinct nonoverlapping groups is no sign of being mindkilled but a reasonable argument. It's no sign that he's motivated by feeling aligned with either of the groups. I wouldn't expect gjm who has general liberal political views to criticize a scenario that advocates liberal political ideas because he's mindkilled. He manages to critizise it despite it being a scenario for "his tribe". buybuydandavis points out that the essay isn't good writing because it doesn't start out by stating it's thesis. That might be motivated by political impulses but can also simply be motivated by a preference for clear writing. Slider also made a point about writing style. The fact that you don't address an argument about writing on it's merits but judge it as mindkilled could be explained by tribal impulsives. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- My post on the other hand addresses what you are writing and asks for the evidence that you have for your beliefs. That's a standard rhetorical move. Engaging in it is no signal for being mindkilled.
-3Dagon6yNo. Policy may be about incentives. Politics is mostly about misdirection of attention and taking advantage of tribal instincts to gloss over individual incentives.
2buybuydandavis6yDoes anyone feel that they were made deeply uncomfortable?
4ChristianKl6yDo you have any good argument why you think that's why anyone here opposed the article? Maybe it's just your own tribal impulsives speaking?
When considering incentives, consider the incentives of all parties

I'm puzzled as to why people think formulaic writing is good writing.

Thesis statements tell the reader whether they agree with the work or not in advance. I disagree firmly with their use, as they encourage a lazy style of reading in which you decide before you begin reading whether or not you're going to discard the evidence before you, or consider it.

0buybuydandavis6yFormula's are quite helpful in achieving an end. If someone has already achieved an end in a certain way, you can use that way too, you don't have to reinvent the wheel. Given the general limits of pedagogues, what is taught is the formula, and not the ends. That was how I was taught when young. Do this. That's the right way. In grad school, my advisor gave both the end to be achieved, and a formula for doing so. The end was getting people to read and understand the article. The formula was a means to do so. If you want people to read your articles, you need to motivate them to do so. They need to anticipate a payoff of value to them, which will we weighed against the anticipated cost. If you want people to understand, you should help them to do so. I want to use my time efficiently getting value for me, and appreciate it when writers help make that happen. Help me assess the value of their article to me up front. Help me to extract the value from their article. I prefer the ultimate lazy style of reading - to not read at all if I don't see value. I don't think I'm alone in that.
7gjm6yThey enable a lazy style of reading. They also enable the reverse: a style of reading where the reader knows ahead of time that certain of their buttons are about to be pushed, and takes measures in advance to minimize the effect. For my part, I find both helpful. Sometimes it's clear that something is unlikely to be worth my time to read because it's entirely based on premises I don't accept. Sometimes it's clear that while the author's position is very different from mine, they have interesting things to say that I might find helpful. Sometimes their position is very different from mine and I read on in the hope that if I'm wrong I can be corrected. All of these require different attitudes while reading. (Of course one can do without. But the more mental effort the author kindly saves me from expending in figuring out whether their piece is worth reading, whether I need to be reading it with an eye to revising my most deeply held beliefs, etc., etc., the more I can give to the actual content of what they've written.)
8gjm6yWhat people are you talking about? Schoolteachers teach formulaic writing because (1) it's easy to teach formulas and hard to teach actual clear thinking and good writing style, (2) it's easy to assess writing against a formula and hard to assess actual clear thinking and good writing style, (3) writing to a formula is relatively easy to do, compared with writing well without one, and (4) most schoolchildren's baseline writing skills are so terrible that giving them a formula and saying "do it like this" makes for a considerable improvement. Schoolteachers suffering from déformation professionelle [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D%C3%A9formation_professionnelle] may think formulaic writing is good writing. Their pupils may think the same, having been taught that way; hopefully those who end up doing much writing will learn better in due course. Aside from that -- does anyone actually "think formulaic writing is good writing"? I don't see anyone here saying it is. What I do see is some people saying "this article was hard to read and would have been improved by more indication of where it's going, the sort of thing that writing-by-formula tends to encourage". I hope you can see the difference between "formulaic writing is good" and "this specific element of one kind of formulaic writing is actually often a good idea". Fair enough. But note that buybuydandavis's complaint isn't really "there isn't a thesis statement" but "after a couple of paragraphs, I have no idea where this is going": a thesis statement would be one way to address that, but not the only one. (And your own articles on LW, thesis statements or no, seem to me to have the key property BBDD is complaining casebash's lacks: it is made clear from early on where the article's going, and there are sufficient signposts to keep the reader on track. Possible exception: "The Winding Path", which you say was an aesthetic experiment.)
5Lumifer6yLaziness is a virtue [http://threevirtues.com/] :-P There are a great many things available for me to read and I would prefer to figure out whether I want to read a particular piece before finishing it. There are way too many idiots who managed to figure out how a keyboard works.
When considering incentives, consider the incentives of all parties

So you noticed your defensive reflexes rising up, and spent effort trying to decide what you should be defensive about, instead of taking the opportunity to try to analyze and relax your defensive reflexes?

"Politics is the mindkiller" is a problem, not an excuse.

8gjm6yNope. I noticed my defensive reflexes doing their thing. Then I (1) continued to read the article while dealing appropriately with those defensive reflexes, and (2) mentioned the uprising of those reflexes as evidence that the author had not successfully made a non-political-mindkilling article out of whatever potentially-mindkilling issue s/he had in mind. I'm not sure what you mean by that, but if you mean that you think the original article killed my mind (and that rather than trying to avoid that I just said "politics is the mindkiller so I couldn't help myself" or something) then I invite you to show me some evidence for that.
Iterated Gambles and Expected Utility Theory

Imagine a machine that created $100 every time you (and only you, you can't hire somebody to do it for you, or give it to somebody else) push a button; more, this is a magical $100 imbued with anti-munchkin charms (such that any investments purchased never gain value, any raw materials transformed or skills purchased remain at most the same value (so research is out), and any capital machines purchased with it provoke the same effect on any raw materials they themselves process, and so on and so forth; and no, burning the money or anything else for fuel do... (read more)

Newcomb versus dust specks

What kind of causality is this, given that you assert that the correct thing to do in smoking lesions is refrain from smoking, and smoking lesions is one of the standard things where CDT says to smoke?

Recursive causality.

"A causes B, therefore B causes A" is a fallacy no matter what arguments you put forward.

Perfect mutual correlation means both that A->B and that B->A.

CDT asserts the opposite, and so if you claim this then you disagree with CDT.

No it doesn't.

You don't understand what counterfactuals are.

A counterfactual is a... (read more)

Newcomb versus dust specks

You said "you shouldn't smoke", which is a decision-theoretical claim, not a specification. It's consistent with EDT, but not CDT.

No it isn't, it's a statement about the universe: If you smoke, you'll get lesions. It's written into the specification of the universe; what decision theory you use doesn't change the characteristics of the universe.

In other words, you're denying the exact thing that CDT asserts.

No. You don't get to specify a universe without the kind of causality that the kind of CDT we use in our universe depends on, and th... (read more)

0ike6yWhat kind of causality is this, given that you assert that the correct thing to do in smoking lesions is refrain from smoking, and smoking lesions is one of the standard things where CDT says to smoke? "A causes B, therefore B causes A" is a fallacy no matter what arguments you put forward. CDT asserts the opposite, and so if you claim this then you disagree with CDT. You don't understand what counterfactuals are.
Newcomb versus dust specks

This implicitly assumes EDT.

No it doesn't. It assumes a "perfect predictor" is what it is. I don't give a damn about evidence - we're specifying properties of a universe here.

But that's not what CDT counterfactuals do.

CDT assumes causality makes sense in the universe. Your hypotheticals don't take place in a universe with the kind of causality causal decision theory depends upon.

You cut off previous nodes. As the choice to smoke doesn't causally affect the gene, smoking doesn't counterfactually contradict the prediction.

In the case ... (read more)

0ike6yYou said "you shouldn't smoke", which is a decision-theoretical claim, not a specification. It's consistent with EDT, but not CDT. In other words, you're denying the exact thing that CDT asserts. Which is what a counterfactual is. Whatever your theory is, it is denying core claims that CDT makes, so you're denying CDT (and implicitly assuming EDT as the method for making decisions, your arguments literally map directly onto EDT arguments).
Newcomb versus dust specks

Trial problem:

Omega appears before you, and gives you a pencil. He tells you that, in universes in which you break this pencil in half in the next twenty seconds, the universe ends immediately. Not as a result of your breaking the pencil - it's pure coincidence that all universes in which you break the pencil, the universe ends, and in all universes in which you don't, it doesn't.

Do you break the pencil in half? It's not like you're changing anything by doing so, after all; some set of universes will end, some set won't, and you aren't going to change that.

You're just deciding which set of universes you happen to occupy. Which implies something.

0entirelyuseless6yI don't break the pencil. But I already pointed out in Newcomb and in the Smoking Lesion that I don't care if I can change anything or not. So I don't care here either.
Newcomb versus dust specks

I may be misunderstanding something, but isn't the standard LW position on smoking to smoke even if the gene's correlation to smoking and cancer is 1?

If the mutual correlation to both is 1, you will smoke if and only if you have the gene, and you will have the gene if and only if you smoke, and in which case you shouldn't smoke. At the point at which the gene is a perfect predictor, if you have a genetic test and you don't have the gene, and then smoke - then the genetic test produced a false negative. Perfect predictors necessarily make a mess of causality.

0ike6yThis implicitly assumes EDT. But that's not what CDT counterfactuals do. You cut off previous nodes. As the choice to smoke doesn't causally affect the gene, smoking doesn't counterfactually contradict the prediction. If you would actually smoke, then yes, but counterfactuals don't imply there's any chance of it happening in reality.
0entirelyuseless6y"If you have a genetic test and you don't have the gene, and then smoke - then the genetic test produced a false negative." If Omega makes the mistake of telling someone else that he predicted that you will one-box, and that person tells you, so you then take both boxes, knowing that the million is already there, then Omega's prediction was wrong. Omega can be a perfect predictor, but he cannot tell you his prediction, at least not if you work the way normal humans do. Likewise, a gene could be a perfect predictor, but not if you know about it, at least not if you work the way normal humans do.
Newcomb versus dust specks

Either you misunderstand the smoking lesions scenario and the importance between the difference between a correlation and a perfect predictor, or you're just trolling the board by throwing every decision theory edge case you can think of into a single convoluted mess.

1ike6yI may be misunderstanding something, but isn't the standard LW position on smoking to smoke even if the gene's correlation to smoking and cancer is 1? As long as the predictor doesn't cause anything but merely informs, they're equivalent to the gene. The reason why one-boxing is correct is because your choice causes the money, while the reason smoking is correct is because your choice doesn't cause cancer.
Newcomb versus dust specks

For the case that dust specks aren't additive, assuming we treat copies of me as distinct entities with distinct moral weight, 3^^^3 copies of me is either a net negative - as a result of 3^^^3 lives not worth living - or a net positive - as a result of an additional 3^^^3 lives worth living. The point of the dust speck is that it has only a negligible effect; the weight of the dust speck moral issue is completely subsumed by the weight of the duplicate people issue.

If we don't treat them as distinct moral entities, well, the duplication and the dust spec... (read more)

-1ike6yIf you smoke in the smoking lesions scenario, then you shouldn't choose your action here based on how many people would exist, because they would exist anyway. (At least in the first of three cases.)
Newcomb versus dust specks

3^^^3 dust specks in everybody's eye?

So basically we're talking about turning all sentient life into black holes, or torturing everybody?

I mean, it depends on how good the torture we're talking about is, and how long it will last. If it's permanent and unchanging, eventually people will get used to it/evolve past it and move on. If it's short-term, eventually people will get past it. So in either of those cases, torture is the obvious choice.

If, on the other hand, it's permanent and adaptive such that all life is completely and totally miserable for perpetuity, and there is nothing remotely good about living, oblivion seems the obvious choice.

Open Thread May 9 - May 15 2016

But, here is my question. Does MWI limit itself to alternate universes with the same universal constants, or does it predict also the existence of universes with different universal constants?

As far as I know, we don't know why we have the physics constants we have now. There are hints that the constants may be a product of the structure of the universe (and that the constants have changed over time as the structure of the universe has developed), in which case MWI would predict universes with different constants. But there are a lot of unknown unknow... (read more)

Improving long-run civilisational robustness

Mars has the potential to carry the sort of civilization we have now; it's another planet, we make it like Earth, we get another Earth, we colonize it and live like we do on Earth.

Space stations have the capacity to carry an entirely new sort of civilization. The resources are out there, too - more scattered, yes, but your processing plant and drilling equipment are far more mobile in space. More, once you have industry running, gravity wells are a substantively smaller problem.

3ChristianKl6yMars will never by just like earth. Different gravity matters. Culturally the process of building up Mars likely won't produce a culture that matches earth. Earth's patent law likely won't be enforcable on Mars. Genetic engineering might be legal on a much wider scale than earth.
Improving long-run civilisational robustness

Why would we colonize another gravity well? This one is already 90% of our problem with colonizing space.

3ChristianKl6yBecause you can use resources from Mars once you are there. Mars has the potential to carry a human civilisation. It has the potential to be terraformed.
Improving long-run civilisational robustness

How widely held, and how well supported, is the theory that the Roman empire failed because of overregulation and overtaxation? It's not a claim I've heard before, but I am about as far from being an expert in late Roman history as it is possible to be. In particular, how widely accepted is this theory outside circles in which everything is blamed on overregulation and overtaxation?

Overtaxation is a standard reason given for the fall of the Roman Empire, and I'm surprised you haven't heard of that before. I've never heard of overregulation being a reason; I've never looked into the Roman regulatory state, and have no idea how burdensome it was, or even if it substantively existed.

Open Thread May 2 - May 8, 2016

Granted. I guess I'm puzzled as to why its use or non-use ultimately matters?

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