All of ozymandias's Comments + Replies

Book Analysis: New Thrawn Trilogy

The old Thrawn trilogy concludes with a major (and wonderful!) out-of-context problem for Thrawn. The new Thrawn trilogy just has him win all the time in order to set him up as a scary villain for the Rebels TV series. (I understand he both loses a bunch in Rebels and is much less well-written.)

9gwern3moI wouldn't call it an 'out-of-context problem'. Thrawn understood exactly what happened as soon as the knife started going through his chest, because he always knew what a dangerous double-game he was playing with the Noghri, and the consequences of them discovering how they had been tricked; he just couldn't help himself, no matter how disastrous any slipup would be, because it was too clever a trick to not play. (Again, look up the meaning of the word 'thrawn'. Zahn didn't pick it by accident.)
In what ways are holidays good?

One thing that I typically get out of holidays is having experiences associated with my interests that I would otherwise not be able to have. For example: musicals on Broadway typically have more talented casts than musicals elsewhere in the United States; looking at artwork in person is generally more emotionally moving for me than looking at it online; I met some famous people, watched interesting panels, and went shopping at WorldCon; and Disneyland has rides and the opportunity to interact with costumed characters.

I assume if you had interests such th... (read more)

Advances in Baby Formula

You can do an encouragement design similar to what was done in Belarus by randomizing some hospitals to adopt breastfeeding-friendly policies and some to not adopt them. Unfortunately, since not all parents in a breastfeeding-friendly hospital will breastfeed and not all parents in a control hospital will use formula, and since you're randomizing at the hospital level, your sample size has to be huge to detect any effect. And because many of the outcome variables you're interested in are long-term (IQ age seven, for example), you have to follow p... (read more)

6Laura B3yOzy - sibling studies have a major problem - they don't take into account the reasons why a mother would breast-feed one child but not the other. If you ask moms about this, they always have an answer, and it is usually something like, 'Josh was very sleepy and just wouldn't suck. We had to give him a bottle to get him to eat at all.' My mother basically gives this exact story for why I was breast-fed and my brother was not. And my brother had developmental problems and I did not. I don't think this is because he was fed formula. Remember, weaker/sicker babies are more likely to get formula, and sicker/older/tireder/more depressed mothers are more likely to formula feed. In order to breastfeed, everything has to go right. One thing goes wrong, and it's on to formula.
[Hammertime Final Exam] Accommodate Yourself; Kindness Is An Epistemic Virtue; Privileging the Future

I really really enjoyed reading this blog post. Your thoughts about privileging the future were new to me, and I think that's a really insightful way of looking at it.

2tcheasdfjkl3y:D thanks!
Isolating Content can Create Affordances

In my experience, quarantine channels are a good choice if some participants want a particular kind of content, and it's agreed to be appropriate for the community, but not everyone wants to view it. For example, a writing discord I participate in has several NSFW channels. It's agreed upon that some people might want to write and talk about writing NSFW things, and that other people don't want to view NSFW content (because of age, religion, personal preference, etc.). I think it's a bad idea to create a quarantine channel for content that is actually inappropriate for the community: for example, I banned religion as a topic in my parenting discord, instead of creating a religion channel.

One night, without sleep

"I normally have little regard for trigger warnings, but on this occasion, imagine that my words are prefaced with every trigger warning ever" is a very unhelpful warning. Taken literally, it implies you are warning for diet talk, pictures of spiders, sudden loud noises, people's faces, flashing gifs, sex, curse words, and a detailed description of how to commit suicide; zero of these things are in your piece. In general, I think trigger warnings should have a brief and non-vivid description of the potentially triggering content, in order to... (read more)

Wirehead your Chickens

That's not a proxy for suffering; it is caring about more than just suffering. You might oppose making animals' brains smaller because it also reduces their ability to feel pleasure, and you value pleasure in addition to pain. You might oppose amputating non-essential body parts because that reduces the animal's capacity for pleasurable experiences of the sort the species tends to experience. You might oppose breeding animals that enjoy pain because of the predictable injuries and shorter lifespan that would result: physical health and fitne... (read more)

4Paperclip Minimizer4yI'm surprised that you're mentioning only non-negative utilitarianism and deontology, rather than the capability utilitarianism you recently signal-boosted, which I think is a more psychologically realistic explanation of people's reactions to the idea of wireheading.
That's not a proxy for suffering; it is caring about more than just suffering

Yes, I agree with all that! I am not advocating that one approach is right and all the others are wrong. I have no prescriptive intentions about animals. I am advocating being honest with oneself about your preferences. If you proclaim to care about the reduction of animal suffering yet really care about many other metrics just as much, spend time reflecting on what your real values are, instead of doing motte-and-bailey when pressed. (This is a generic "you", not you personally.)

Wirehead your Chickens

I think you have failed to address the issue of why these solutions are acceptable for chickens and not for humans. The obvious explanation for why people disagree with you on this point is not that they don't care about animal suffering, any more than people who don't want to amputate the non-essential body parts that might give humans discomfort later in life don't care about human suffering. It is that they think those actions are unethical for animals, just like they are for humans.

This seems like an irrelevant objection, given that the OP is explicitly arguing about a conditional (IF mundane improvements in factory farming is a good intervention point for aggregate welfare reasons, THEN wireheading chickens is an even better intervention on those grounds), not unconditionally favoring the latter policy over the former.

For EA to make any sense at all as a way of organizing to do good, it needs to be able to clearly distinguish a rank-ordering of interventions on the basis of merit in a strictly utilitarian or other aggregative analys... (read more)

8shminux4yAnd this is precisely my point. We optimize a human proxy, not actual suffering.
Problem Solving with Mazes and Crayon

Excellent post! Your explanations were interesting and intuitive for me, even though I don't know much of anything about computer science.

4johnswentworth4yThanks! Glad it made sense, I wasn't sure it would.
Three types of "should"

I'm not sure that it makes sense, at our current level of knowledge of scrupulosity, to declare that anything is "the" cause of scrupulosity. I have no doubt that what you say is *a* cause of scrupulosity, but the term is deliberately quite broad. For example, clinical OCD can cause scrupulosity, but that's not related to internalized "shoulds", it's related to the mind's tendency to obsessively think about things it's trying not to think about.

Bay Summer Solstice

I realize there are constraints because of when the summer solstice actually is, but this overlaps with Pride, which lots of rationalists (including me) probably want to go to. SF Pride is consistently the last weekend in June, and I am going to be pretty annoyed if I have to choose between Pride and Summer Solstice every year.

2Raemon4yHmm. I think Summer Solstice usually ends up being third weekend. Is SF Pride all weekend, primarily Saturday or primarily Sunday?

Dropping the metaphor because it's tedious to write around--

It is difficult to square men being harmed by seeing scantily clad women with the popularity of strip clubs, softcore porn, cheerleaders, Game of Thrones, etc. It's one thing to argue that men aren't aware that they're being harmed, and quite another to argue that they are deliberately seeking out something that harms them.

I think a useful point of comparison is evangelical modesty culture, which does have a real "there is no way to win" problem.

I do think it's... (read more)

Some apple eaters enjoy apple brandishing and, in fact, some are willing to pay money and commit crimes for the privilege of viewing it.

Based on evidence from other societies and subcultures, it is very likely that if apple holders stopped the behavior currently considered to be apple brandishing, apple eaters would merely feel taunted by something else. In some cultures, in fact, even the shadow of a leaf is considered to be taunting, while in others green apples are carried openly and only red apples are concealed, and apple eaters consider it laughable... (read more)

0dusty4yThanks for your reply, all your points are good ones. Re your first point: I do think a weak part of my argument is the assumption that the average apple eater feels anything like me on this. I may be falling for a like-mind fallacy here. Given the touchiness of the subject, it's rather hard to talk about it and find out (which is why I'm posting here!). However I'll note that before experiencing a culture of the old way, I didn't feel any awareness of discomfort from apple brandishers, so many apple eaters may not be aware of how apple brandishing affects them. It's only after comparing my culture (US) to another that I noticed how much more relaxed I felt in the latter. Given this, it's totally possible that (Re your second point) someone born into an old way culture just has much more subtle triggers than I, and so has no comparative relief. The conservative middle eastern countries are probably good evidence of this, since they can get angry over, as you say, the shadow of a leaf. And for the record, that level of modesty is way beyond any I'd support. Re your third point: I'd absolutely make an exception for feeding infants. That clearly outweighs my concerns. (Though it could be difficult to get a social norm that accepts that while frowning on other apple brandishing.) Re your fourth point: I avoided going there to keep my essay short, but you make a good point. I hadn't heard that orange theft might be as common as apple theft, do you have the source on that? However to address this I'd just say orange brandishing also strikes me as wrong. (And I'd say that just as easily if you handed me proof that apple holders suffer from orange brandishing to the same degree that orange holders suffer from apple brandishing. I'm not trying to play favorites here.)
Societal Growth Requires Rehabilitation

FWIW, as a suicidal person, I found an emphasis on personal growth to be tremendously important in my recovery from suicidality. It was important to have the idea that my suicidality *could* change, and that it wasn't going to change if I sat on my butt and waited for someone else to magically fix it for me. I have no doubt that there is variation in how useful memes around personal growth are for different people, but I really don't think status and amount of suffering are the axes on which it differs.

1squidious4yHuh, this is very different from the experience of myself and those who I have spoken to about this when writing this post. Is this something you or anyone else has written about?
Expressive Vocabulary

Politeness is often useful instrumentally in order to communicate efficiently.

I attempted to describe the central examples of a similarity cluster; not everything in a similarity cluster will have all the traits associated with that cluster. ("Ten fingers" is part of the human similarity cluster, but some humans have nine fingers.)

It might be silly to have a "I don't eat yellow food" diet, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't have the concept of yellow. Indeed, I would argue that there are far more concepts that do not provide good diet advice than concepts which do.

Expressive Vocabulary

One polite way to respond to people using words you prefer they not use is "[Word] upsets me for [Reason], can you use [Replacement Word] instead?" If they can't (because they're not a native English speaker, or they have a linguistic disability, or they are chronically sleep deprived, to name just three of the reasons that word replacement can be impossible), then you have to judge how important not being around people who use Word is for you.

You could also consider asking what they mean if you don't know what they mean. My rough ... (read more)

Expressive Vocabulary

I feel like the example for "loading definitions" does, in fact, strike a word from my vocabulary without suitable replacement. I would like a word for "the aspects of masculinity that are bad"; in order to prevent the conversation turning into a bunch of complaints about my use of a particular term, I instead have to just say "masculinity." I do not want to use "masculinity" to mean "the aspects of masculinity that are bad." I would like to distinguish between those two things.

(While I have no moderation power, I would personally really prefer that this conversation not turn into a conversation about the merits of that particular term.)

7Alicorn4yYeah, I don't fully endorse the linked Tumblr post; in particular there's certainly ways to resolve these conflicts that aren't "abdicate the terminology yourself". But some of it is highly relevant and well said.

A piece of writing advice: even if Too Like The Lightning gave you the idea, The questions the readers have are "what does this idea mean?", "what are some examples?", and "how can I use it?", not "where did the author come up with this idea?" Too Like the Lightning is not illuminating about any of the former questions (i.e. you don't use it as a source of vivid examples), but it takes up nearly half your post.

1musicmage41144yI'm curious where you draw your writing knowledge from that seems to consider "source of inspiration" to be, at best, superfluous information? I can't say I've encountered such a guideline before. I suppose I could see an argument that such information doesn't belong in a particular type of writing (like formal writing or technical writing), but that would then require this piece to be the specified type of writing, which I anticipate it likely is not. Personally, I enjoy hearing about people's sources of inspiration, because such a source might also be capable of providing inspiration to me. Thus, "Where did the author come up with this idea?" is certainly a question I could be said to have. Given that, perhaps you are describing the questions you personally have, rather than those of all readers?
8abramdemski4yIt's also a very short post. I think it is important to: * Cite the source, * Make clear that the source calls it an "anti-proof", * Make clear that I think "co-proof" is better and why. Beyond that, there's: * Hat tip to Jacobian for recommending it, * Half of the second sentence praising the book more generally as a source of interesting ideas, * The second paragraph warning of the way in which this might be a spoiler if you draw a broad enough line around spoilers (which some people do), * The first sentence of the third paragraph, giving a bit of the context in which the term is used in the book. Of these, the first three seem worth including to me, and including the small spoiler warning forces the book-related stuff to be before the main point of the post.
Duncan Sabien: "In Defense of Punch Bug"

I would point to (the ethical parts of) the BDSM community as an example of useful norms about this.

1) You do not hit people who do not want you to hit them.

1a) Outside of the context of a relationship in which it can be assumed your partner generally wants you to hit them, you ask someone before hitting them.

2) You do not engage in consensual violence around nonconsenting individuals. (A light tap is not violence; punching someone is.)

2a) Bystander consent may be assumed if the bystanders are at a party or social event arranged for the specific purpose o... (read more)

9Benquo4yThis seems like about the best one can do for shared spaces that don't require nonconsensual hitting to function. If people like Duncan want to delineate spaces for modes of coordination that do require this, then it's not obvious that we should do much more than try to make sure people have a viable way to exit those spaces if they want to - as long as the space is clearly delineated, it's not threatening to outsiders the way forming a military barracks might be. In practice it seems difficult to guarantee adherence to BDSM norms for some groups such as small children, since many of them seem to have a strong drive to hit each other nonconsensually from time to time.
Personal relationships with goodness

I am not permitted to engage in morality for exactly the same reason an alcoholic is not permitted to have a drink-- I can never stop at just one.

By coincidence, when I try as solemnly as possible to figure out what I genuinely want to do, one of the things I want to do is to be St. Basil the Great. Of course, I want to do very many unrealistic and mutually contradictory things: in addition to being St. Basil the Great, I also want to go to Disneyland about once a month, cook three delicious meals for myself every day from scratch, read my son every board ... (read more)

A tentative solution to a certain mythological beast of a problem

I think, in general, one should not write posts about the basilisk, particularly not as a first post. You shouldn't try to model future superintelligences in enough detail that they can blackmail you, and the entire topic makes both rationalists and AI risk look ridiculous. (You asked for brutal, I'm giving brutal.)

-5Edward Knox4y
Eight political demands that I hope we can agree on

I don't think the rationality community should become a political movement; there are ways to achieve things outside the government. I think putting controversial items like euthanasia and ending the war on drugs on the list risks alienating more conservative rationalists.

2Paperclip Minimizer4yI agree, but what ways to achieve things outside the government do you support for the rationality movement ?
Survey: Help Us Research Coordination Problems In The Rationalist/EA Community

Potentially confusing aspect of the survey: "animal rights" and "animal welfare" refer to different things within the animal activism space. In general, animal rights activism seeks to end all human exploitation of animals, while animal welfare activism seeks to make sure all animals have a high quality of life. Since PETA is a very prominent animal rights organization and not particularly associated with effective animal activism, it's unclear to me whether you intended to specify animal rights activism in particular or whether y... (read more)

3namespace4yOh weird, Google Forms clearly glitched on me. I fixed both the Cato Institute and PETA issues on earlier versions of the survey. I will go through and fix them again, thanks for pointing them out. EDIT: I think I see what happened, I fixed it on one part of the survey but not the other. Thanks again for the bug report. As for your last point, that's entirely fair and I'll have to think of a way to handle it.

Human babies require at least two and preferably more adults to take care of them. While we can expect some males to have a sexual strategy in which they don't provide caregiving and instead rely on e.g. the baby's grandparents, the mother's friends, or the mother's husband who has been deceived into thinking the baby is his, it is probably going to be way more common for human males to provide the caregiving themselves.

1Martin Bernstorff4yDeleted
Naming the Nameless
Ask a libertarian "Why don't we have any good songs about our values?"

This is a tangent, but Sons of Liberty by Frank Turner.

I mean, I suspect I *am* one of the Chicken Littles, and here you are, engaging with me. :)

I would make a bet at fairly generous odds that no rattumb person who offered a negative opinion of Dragon Army will face social consequences they consider significant from having a negative opinion of Dragon Army.

I would make a bet at fairly generous odds that no rattumb person who offered a negative opinion of Dragon Army will face social consequences they consider significant from having a negative opinion of Dragon Army.

My model of social consequences is that most of them are silent; someone who could have helped you doesn't, someone asked for a recommendation about you gives a negative one, you aren't informed of events because you don't get invited to them. This makes it difficult to adjudicate such bets; as you'd have to have people coming forward with silent disapprovals, which would have to be revealed to the person in question to determine their significance.

I think a problem with this strategy is that the Chicken Littles don't particularly like you or care about your opinion, and so the fact that you disapprove of their behavior has little to no deterrent effect.


It also risks a backfire effect. If one is in essence a troll happy to sneer at what rationalists do regardless of merit (e.g. "LOL, look at those losers trying to LARP enders game!"), seeing things like Duncan's snarky parenthetical remarks would just spur me on, as it implies I'm successfully 'getting a rise' out of the target of my abuse.

It seems responses to criticism that is unpleasant or uncharitable are best addressed specifically to the offending remarks (if they're on LW2, this seems like pointing out the fall... (read more)

3gwillen4yThe "common knowledge" aspect implies e.g. other people not engaging with them, though. (And other people not looking down on Duncan for not engaging with them, although this is hard to measure, but still makes sense as a goal.)
Appropriateness of Discussing Rationalist Discourse of a Political Nature on LW?

That seems like an unfair criticism of Current Affairs. All magazines with a long history started out with a short history at some point, and presumably they do not generally change their names when the history is long enough. Also, how seriously you should take a magazine is not particularly well correlated with age: Cosmopolitan magazine is more than a hundred years old and played a key role in the passing of the Seventeenth Amendment, but that does not mean we should care deeply about the deep psychological insight of the Manthropology section.

6steven04614yBut these magazines mostly took names typical of their own time instead of names typical of times before their own time, so when they were young magazines, readers weren't misled into thinking they were old magazines. (In other words, the argument isn't that magazines should be named so as to suggest the right age, but that they should be named so as to suggest the right date of birth.)
The Jordan Peterson Mask
its unusual antipathy to other religions -- I haven't seen anyone deploy the murder-Gandhi argument to explain why people shouldn't do drugs or make tulpas

The murder-Gandhi argument against drugs is so common it has a name, "addiction." Rationalists appear to me to have a perfectly rational level of concern about addiction (which means being less concerned about certain drugs, such as MDMA, and more concerned about other drugs, such as alcohol).

I am puzzled about how making tulpas could interfere with one's ability to decide not to make any more tulpas.

0vedrfolnir4yThe only explanation I caught wind of for the parking lot incident was that it had something to do with tulpamancy gone wrong. And I recall SSC attributing irreversible mental effects to hallucinogens and noting that a lot of the early proponents of hallucinogens ended up somewhat wacky. But maybe it really does all work out such that the sorts of things that are popular in upper-middle-class urban twenty-something circles just aren't anything to worry about, and the sorts of things that are unpopular in them (or worse, popular elsewhere) just are. What a coincidence!
Misery Pits

I want to be clear that my comment was not intended to be a criticism of Alicorn or of this post.

3Vanessa Kosoy4yI deleted the mention of your comment to avoid unintentionally ascribing meanings to your words that was not there. I also want to note that, I'm sure that Alicorn is speaking in good faith and did not mean to imply otherwise or attack eir character, in case it somehow came across that way.
Misery Pits

I'd like to add the caution that not all depressed, romantically unsuccessful, or crisis-prone people are misery pits, particularly since many such people are likely to assume they themselves are. If you have friendships that extend for longer than a year or two, you are almost certainly not a misery pit.

From the perspective of a person who might be a misery pit: one key is to avoid overburdening any single person. Cycling between three or four support people can be helpful. For validation-seeking, I've found social media works well, since likin... (read more)

The Jordan Peterson Mask
What is your subjective probability that the most prolific mathematician of all time did half of his most productive work after going blind in both eyes?

That's surprising but not that surprising: Milton wrote much of his best poetry while blind, and Beethoven was famously deaf. Conversely, I cannot think of a single unambiguous example of a mythological motif encoding a non-obvious scientific truth (such as that nothing can go faster than light, or that all species evolved from a single-celled organism, or that the stars are trillions and trillions of miles away), so I think this is very very unlikely.

The Jordan Peterson Mask

Death of the Author, but iirc Scott mentioned the point of the Kabbalah in Unsong is the exact opposite-- you can connect anything to anything if you try hard enough, so the fact that you can is meaningless.

Of course, this shows the exact problem with using fiction as evidence.

3alkjash4ySorry, I didn't mean to imply that Scott believed the thing. What I think is that he has particularly strong subtle-pattern-noticing ability and this explains both the contents of UNSONG and the fact that he's such a great and lucid writer. This is a sort of Fallacy of Gray []. Some connections are much stronger than others, and connections that jump out between core mythological structures that have lasted across thousands of years deserve attention.
2vedrfolnir4yOh, crypto-Discordianism []. I haven't read Unsong, but does the Law of Fives [] show up anywhere?
3habryka4yYeah, that was also my interpretation.
The Hamming Problem of Group Rationality

You might as well say that when you don't criticize people for saying the truth in an unproductive way, then you shift the Overton window of required politeness over toward the "maximally confrontational" side. Next time, you give a pass to someone who sprinkles their comments with irrelevant insults. You keep going until you're 4Chan.

Given that spaces other than 4Chan that have disagreements exist, I think it's possible to put a fence on the slippery slope.

1Said Achmiz4yYou might indeed say exactly that, which is why it’s important to differentiate between (a) criticizing people, (b) downvoting people, and (c) banning people. (Not that ‘mere’ criticism is problem-free—not at all! But very different dynamics result from these approaches.) Or, to put it another way: given that spaces other than 4chan that have disagreements exist, we can conclude that people do, indeed, criticize people for saying the truth in an unproductive way. In short: one person’s modus tollens is another’s modus ponens. Edit: Or, to put it another way: of course it’s possible to put a fence on the slippery slope. And the way you build that fence is by doing exactly the thing that you’re implying we don’t need to do! (That being “don’t ban commenters who say the truth but in an incovenient way”, in one direction; and “do criticize people for being unnecessarily uncivil”, in the other direction.)
The Hamming Problem of Group Rationality

PDV, I like you and often agree with you and am on your side about the circling thing, so I hope you will take this in the sense it is meant, but I agree with gworley. In particular, I think you often tend to escalate arguments you're part of, sometimes to the point of transforming them into demon threads even though they didn't have to be. That's a good trait to have sometimes: it's what lets you point out that the emperor has no clothes. But I get the feeling that you're not deploying it particularly tactically, and you'd probably do better at advancing your goals if you also deescalated sometimes.

Meta-tations on Moderation: Towards Public Archipelago

They might be worth the attention of some subset of people. For example, I write rationalist-influenced posts about transness. These are no doubt very uninteresting to the vast majority of the cisgender population, but people who have specifically chosen to subscribe to my blog are probably going to be interested in the subject.

Mythic Mode

Not if all rationalists start taking up woo.

3Valentine4yI seriously doubt that'll ever happen. The closest I would expect is if the community schisms on an axis like "Is mythic mode okay to use?" and the mantle of "rationalist" is seen as moving with the "yes" camp. And I think that whole schism would be dumb and would make both groups dumber regardless of what happens to which labels.
Mythic Mode

This is a tangent, but I feel like this comment is making the mistake of collapsing predictions into a "predicted Trump"/"predicted Clinton" binary. I predicted about a 20% chance of Trump (my strategy was to agree with Nate Silver, Nate Silver is always right when speaking ex cathedra), and I do not consider myself to have made an error. Things with a 20% chance of happening happen one time out of five. Trump lost the popular vote after an October surprise; that definitely looks like the sort of outcome you get in a world where he was genuinely less likely than Clinton to win.


I feel like "don't circle at people without their consent" is meaningfully different from "do not express your feelings or let other people know what would make communication easier for you." Very few people have ever circled, but nearly everyone can express feelings and preferences.

That rule might exclude people who only have one script for expressing feelings and preferences, however, which is a particular concern in a community where so many people rely on scripts to communicate.

2ChristianKl4yCircling isn't just about expressing feelings or preference but it's about being explicit about relating. It's not just saying "I'm sad" but saying "When you said X that made me sad". Circling is also less about scripts than NVC.
5Kaj_Sotala4yI agree that they are different; I was thinking in the context of Val's worry that trying to enforce a rule of "no circling / NVC on LW without express consent" will in practice become interpreted as
Rationalist Lent

Leah Libresco gave up jaywalking for Lent and found it was very valuable.

A LessWrong Crypto Autopsy

I didn't invest in Bitcoin because I don't invest in things that I don't understand well enough to be confident that the Efficient Market Hypothesis doesn't apply. I continue to believe this is a rational choice-- okay, sure, this one time I might have made a lot of money, but most of the time I would waste a bunch of money/time/other resources. And no one writes blog posts about how they could have lost a lot of money but didn't, so the availability heuristic is going to overweight successes.

5PeterBorah4yThis seems like a good heuristic, but is it actually true that Bitcoin was an undifferentiated member of an extremely large class? I agree that the availability heuristic is very important here, but I'm struggling to think of a single thing in the same reference class (maybe cryonics? MIRI? Nootropics?). If anyone can give me examples of "stuff lots of people on LessWrong liked that could have huge payouts", that would be much appreciated.
4gwillen4yAs someone who made a profit investing in Bitcoin I endorse and encourage your decision. I definitely want to avoid this somehow turning into "rationalists should win by trying to jump on every crazy make-money-fast scheme because one of them could be the next Bitcoin." If it's the case that rationalists should have been able to predict Bitcoin's success, we should focus on specific factors that indicated there was something there to be gotten. I can talk now about all the smart people I know who believe in Bitcoin as a reason to want to keep it, but I didn't know any of those people yet when I first bought it -- I met them along the way. It's hard for me to remember what it was that attracted me to it at the time. I think it had a lot to do with the way the technology played into my own specific vision for the future of tech, which is very personal and not necessarily portable to an arbitrary person in the rationalosphere (in terms of reasons to have believed in Bitcoin at the time.)
introducing: target stress

I agree with Raemon. I want to read about lex's idea of target stress, not about lex's use of capital letters, and I have no idea how to obtain this goal except, perhaps, writing a defense of not using capital letters and hoping the derailment works backwards.

[downvotes self]

Demon Threads

If the demon thread has two to three participants who know each other, I wonder about the effectiveness of making repair attempts. If one participant says something like "I'm sorry, let me try to say that better," or "I agree with part of what you're saying," or (I don't know) links to a cat picture or something, does it tend to deescalate the situation? I'm not actually sure but I think it's worth trying.

I've found that certain topics predictably degenerate into demon threads (I had an example, but then r... (read more)

3ultimape4yFor me, fighting this feeling is really hard without a lot of mindfulness about it. Its interesting to think that one person's Demon Thread is another person's playground? It also suggests there may be a secondary "infferential distance" effect going on, but at an emotional response level vs the cognative model. I'd be curious how you'd describe the enjoyment feeling. I know for me it almost feels like an adrenaline rush when I'm in a heated argument, and it combines with a certain kind of single-minded lucidity that also crops up when I'm in the middle of being in a "flow state". It's not really an anger feeling, but a kind of thrill like doing really well in a sport, or excelling in a compettive video game? An example in the article: Is actually what I experience in these states, but I dont feel anger or rage. Its more like Frisson [] (and I think my eyes dialate too) Thinking about it, this result may due to being more attuned to my frustraition reflex. I have noticed that if I'm in that frission state and feel frustraited that it expresses itself as anger. But growing up I didn't pay attention to that transition as much. It wasn't until I started practicing a form of mindfulness to help with anxiety that I was able to differentiate them. (as a result, the frustration/anger is the point where I'd tune out of the conversation).

If people enjoy demon threads, it may not be strictly true that the 'Someone is wrong on the internet' feeling (noticeably) feels bad.

When reading the OP, I thought, "I recognise that feeling, but my main (noticed) 'someone is wrong on the internet'-response is a positive, inspired motivational one."

Perhaps these feelings do get jumbled, and distinguishing how much is 'inspired' vs 'this is wrong' is part of the skill of avoiding demon threads.

I still sense that there's two different feelings here:

Type... (read more)

3Raemon4yI think you can, but difficulty scales with how involved/explosive the thread currently is. (also, thanks for the repair article)
3Raemon4yYeah - proactive explicit moderation is a pretty useful tool. Worth noting that I enjoy participating in demon threads, but I try to be deliberate about when and where I'm doing it, and to try to do it for things that don't actually matter that much when I want to blow off steam on the internet. (I also try to do them in spaces that are already Basically Hell, so additional demon threads aren't making things worse) (Facebook and tumblr occupy a space where they contain people with varying degrees of "bothering at this present moment to have a serious conversation", so you can sometimes have real conversation and sometimes have Suddenly Demons Everywhere. I don't know tumblr that well, but on FB there's usually some subtle clues about whether the particular space you're in is a "let's have a cathartic demon thread" place, or a "guys we're trying to have a real conversation" place.)
Bay Solstice 2017: Thoughts

I strongly agree and have messaged the organizers about personally arranging this.

Examples of Mitigating Assumption Risk

Don't deceive yourself even if it seems like a really really good idea.

Don't falsify data, frame people for bad things they didn't do, or hide bad things your allies are doing even if it seems like a really really good idea.

Prepare ahead of time for disasters. Learn first aid. Know what to do in the event of nuclear war. Keep essential first aid and disaster preparedness supplies on hand.

Assume every new sex partner is fertile and has HIV, and decide your safer-sex risk tolerance based on that.

Build slack. Have fuck-you money. Build extra... (read more)

Security Mindset and the Logistic Success Curve

As someone with time that is relatively valueless compared to Elizer's and Oliver's, I'd like to second this comment. As much as I'd love to respond to every person who has a criticism of me, it would take up a lot of mental energy that I'd rather use for writing. That doesn't mean that I don't read criticisms and take them to heart.

List of civilisational inadequacy

I personally very much enjoyed Expecting Better, Debunking the Bump, the Informed Parent, and the Science of Mom.

A Day in Utopia

There are certainly various sorts of sports and games, which I didn't talk about because I don't like sports. I'd imagine both a Baseline Human and a Transhuman league, depending on your preferences. There are also the normal human status games about trying to be the best scientist or artist or writer or whatever; it's just that if you choose to opt out, you can still do what you love without starving.

A Day in Utopia

I think that American society makes it very difficult to have friends (television, absence of third places, giant houses with individual yards so you have to drive to see people, stigmatization of men having intimate nonromantic friendships, etc). The vast majority of the change is not doing that. I'd also imagine programs intended to help friendless people meet other friendless people (perhaps a community center with book groups, sports teams, knitting circles, and so on): in many countries there are already such programs aimed at elderly men that ar... (read more)

List of civilisational inadequacy

Advice for pregnant people is really bad. The advice is so risk-averse that it generally doesn't clearly distinguish between "this is moderately risky," "this is a very small risk," and "we have not conclusively proven that a risk does not exist," which means that there are far more pieces of advice than anyone can remember and people quite often end up doing moderately risky things. The FDA continues to recommend limiting fish consumption in spite of the epidemiological evidence that eating fish increases IQ. Cleaning li... (read more)

3Benquo4yThis is not quite right. Food fortification tends to be somewhat limited in intensity by the fact that many people getting the extra folate aren't pregnant and an excess amount might be bad for them. But normal levels of folate may not be enough to minimize neural tube defects. The actual wrong thing about this advice is that the supplements are only really useful in preventing birth defects around the time of conception - so by the time you know you're pregnant, it's not likely to make much of a difference.
2Paul Crowley4y"Even though gaining too much in pregnancy" is missing the word "weight" I think.
6Chris_Leong4yDo you know of any good sources for pregnancy advice?
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