All of Peter_Twieg's Comments + Replies

Mini-camp on Rationality, Awesomeness, and Existential Risk (May 28 through June 4, 2011)

I put in an application. But I realize that I think I forgot to include my LW username (the site was having issues so I couldn't check.) So here it is. I'm pretty sure you won't have trouble attaching it to my real name. :P

(Also, feel free to delete this comment once it's been registered with the proper authorities.)

0wedrifid11yIn my experience there seems to be no particular problem with not including your lesswrong username - and my lesswrong username is both less translatable and more prolific than yours.
Ugh fields

I agree with your basic analysis of how the "ugh field" works, but I wouldn't be so quick to categorically label it as a problem - cultivating an "ugh field" could also be an effective anti-akrasia technique if honed properly. What if you manage to train your usual (wasteful) displacement activities to trigger the "ugh field", so that your new "displacement" activities become what you originally intended to do to begin with?

I'd like to think that I've encountered some success by basically doing this myself - I probab... (read more)

0Document12yPossibly related: from EY, The Sheer Folly of Callow Youth [http://lesswrong.com/lw/u2/the_sheer_folly_of_callow_youth/].

My experience is that ugh fields are invariably unfortunate in their effects. While it might indeed be useful to have a disgust reaction to candy or video games, the "ugh fields" seem not to be visceral disgust, but visceral, conditioned-pain-induced tendencies to cut off thought. Shadows you hide from in your own mind.

My experience is that the more ugh fields I can clear out, and the better I can get at not accumulating them, the more I can actually honestly think, can notice choices rather than just feeling stuck, and can find myself with ene... (read more)

Open Thread: April 2010

I recently got into some arguments with foodies I know on the merits (or lack thereof) of organic / local / free-range / etc. food, and this is a topic where I find it very difficult to find sources of information that I trust as reflective of some sort of expert consensus (insofar as one can be said to exist.) Does anyone have any recommendations for books or articles on nutrition/health that holds up under critical scrutiny? I trust a lot of you as filters on these issues.

7Scott Alexander12yThere are lots of studies on the issue, and as usual most of them are bad and disagree with each other. I tend to trust the one by the UK Food Standards Association [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8174482.stm] because it's big and government-funded. Mayo Clinic [http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/organic-food/NU00255/NSECTIONGROUP=2] agrees. I think there are a few studies [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organic_food#Nutritional_value_and_taste] that show organic foods do have lower pesticide levels than normal, but nothing showing that it actually leads to health benefits. Pesticides can cause some health problems in farmers, but they're receiving a bajillion times the dose of someone who just eats the occasional carrot. And some "organic pesticides" are just as bad as any synthetic ones. There's also a higher risk of getting bacterial infections from organic food. Tastewise, a lot of organics people cite some studies showing that organic apples [http://www.plantmanagementnetwork.org/pub/cm/symposium/organics/Reganold/] and other fruit taste better than conventional - I can't find the originals of these and there are equally questionable studies that say the opposite. Organic vegetables taste somewhere between the same and worse, even by organic peoples' admission. There's a pretty believable study showing conventional chicken tastes better than organic [http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1032649/Battery-farmed-chickens-beat-free-range-rivals-blind-taste-test-say-scientists.html] , and a more pop-sci study claiming the same thing about almost everything [http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/money/consumer_affairs/article6822026.ece]. I've seen some evidence that locally grown produce tastes better than imported, but that's a different issue than organic vs. non-organic and you have to make sure people aren't conflating them. They do produce less environmental damage per unit land, but they produce much less food per unit land and so require more land to be devoted to
0taw12yThe famous metaanalyses which has shown that vitamin supplementation is essentially useless, or possibly even harmful totally destroys the basic argument ("oh look, more vitamins!" - not that it's usually even true) that organic is good for your health. It might still be tastier. Or not.
0RobinZ12yIs the methodology of the Amanda Knox test [http://lesswrong.com/lw/1j7/the_amanda_knox_test_how_an_hour_on_the_internet/] useful in this case? (I didn't attempt the test or even read the posts, but it sounds like a similarly politicized problem.)
Are wireheads happy?

I realize that I'm late to the game on this post, but I have to say that as economist, I found the take home point about revealed preference to be quite interesting, and it makes me wonder about the extent to which further neuroscience research will find systematic disjunctions in everyday circumstances between what motivates us and what gives us pleasure. Undoubtedly this would be leveraged into new sorts of paternalistic arguments... I'm guessing we'll need another decade or two before we have the neuropaternalist's equivalent of Nudge, however.

Dying Outside

My sympathies.

I've given the occasional thought to what I'd do if I ever found myself in this kind of situation. And although I can't speak to my will to go through with it at the time, I'd honestly probably choose to die. Not because of concerns about my human dignity or some kind of depression that comes with a diminished quality of life, but just because my discounted present value will probably be heavily negative, meaning that I'm tying up resources that could be better-used than keeping me alive. I can't speak about whether this applies to your situa... (read more)

2rwallace12ySympathies, and best wishes for continuing happy and productive life. Keep us posted on how things go! I'm also in the camp that would not choose such measures for myself, partly for the reasons Peter discusses. However, the resource argument does not, I think, apply to cryonics. Cryonics has very strong economies of scale, the upshot of which is that if you pay $X for an attempt to save your own life that way, you're effectively also contributing nearly $X to trying to save future patients' lives, without having to pay anything extra.
Your Most Valuable Skill

Maybe this isn't my most valuable skill, but lately I've been much better at setting to a routine and sticking to it in the absence of external enforcement: "Do your readings for class over the weekend. Go into the lab to work on research several days per week. Go to the regular seminars. Keep up on RSS feeds and extra readings in the evenings." Naturally there are virtues to flexibility as well, but just floating through my day as an optimized routine and avoiding the problems associated with time-inconsistent preferences has really helped my productivity in the past few months.

Let Them Debate College Students

It's a photoshopped image of a Mortal Kombat tournament ladder. Once Behe defeats Dawkins he gets to debate Motaro.

[Edit]

Actually, he'd probably go straight to Shao Kahn... I just can't see a centaur being a good advocate for Darwinism.

0Kutta11yIt's PZ Myers rather than Dawkins.
Why I'm Staying On Bloggingheads.tv

I don't know enough about all the BhTV participants to argue that it is actually the case

I'm quite sure that there are political participants who would fare worse than Behe on any of the dimensions you'd offer. I guess one could lack the expertise to evaluate more than a subset of participants, however, in which case one could apply the principle consistently..

People find creationism more disturbing than ghost hunters because (among other reasons) creationism is making inroads in the educational system in USA, which could have very serious effects. I

... (read more)
1anonym12yExcept that it doesn't exclude viewpoints I have political objections to. It excludes people who are willfully ignorant and who refuse to engage with arguments and follow standard rules of intellectual discourse, regardless of what they happen to believe. It applies to atheists just as impartially to creationists, if they happen to engage in the same kinds of intellectual sleaziness. I never suggested that it would only damn creationists, just that it would be especially damning to creationists. And for what it's worth, I've had this personal test for distinguishing between people worthy of debate/discussion and people who are a waste of my time for much, much longer than I've had a distaste for creationism.
6anonym12yAnd the young-earth creationist? Since you are quite sure about it, which people hold which specific political beliefs that are as utterly refuted by the scientific evidence as the idea that Genesis is pretty much right and that the Earth is on the order of thousands or tens of thousands of years old?
3Torben12yWell, do you have any evidence or convincing arguments to that effect, then?
Why I'm Staying On Bloggingheads.tv

It sounds like those are reasons to avoid engaging Creationists, not BhTV in general. If this is going to expand into a point about lowering BhTV's intellectual standards like you mentioned above... then I find it odd to argue that one podcast could have such a powerful marginal effect on the enjoyment one derives from the site, unless you're using some weird criteria where your overall evaluation of BhTV is based on the least intellectual podcast it hosts at any given time.

And I would be surprised if the worst podcast on BhTV by the criteria you described... (read more)

2anonym12yYou asked for non-arbitrary standards for believing creationism to be the most boycott-worthy of the views represented on BhTV. I gave you a plausible answer. I don't know enough about all the BhTV participants to argue that it is actually the case, but you seemed to have difficulty in even coming up with any such potential explanation, which is why I made the suggestion. You were implying that believing creationism is the most boycott-worthy was prima facie an arbitrary, totally subjective choice. And for the record, I think Eliezer made the right decision based on what is known so far. I think that BhTV does deserve a second chance. At the same time, I am very disappointed in the intentional vagueness of the editorial policy that was posted, for the reasons I've talked about above. People find creationism more disturbing than ghost hunters because (among other reasons) creationism is making inroads in the educational system in USA, which could have very serious effects. I'm not sure why I even have to mention this. Do you really not see that creationism is different than ghost hunters in some pretty fundamental ways and that the repercussions of each being taken seriously and widely debated are very different?
Why I'm Staying On Bloggingheads.tv

because those sorts of dialogues affect the general reputation of the site and thus the reputation of those who speak there.

So is it necessitated for consistency's sake that those who would boycott BhTV over this incident must also boycott all other forums with lower intellectual standards... which would basically include all mainstream organizations? Somehow I don't believe that it's this simple.

The question I'm curious about is why a Creationist video on BhTV apparently creates reputational pollution in a way that a Creationist video on Youtube does not.... (read more)

2anonym12yYoutube is a free-for-all with no intellectual standards whatsoever. I understood BhTV to be something different. In terms of consistency, I imagine that most scientists would boycott any forum that presents itself as having intellectual standards and aiming at an audience skewed towards the educated, knowledgeable, informed subset of the population, IF THAT SITE also commonly supports discussion about topics such as creationism, ghost hunters, alien abduction, psychics, astrology, channelers of dead Atlanteans, etc.
Why I'm Staying On Bloggingheads.tv

A "thematic forum"? Could you elaborate on this?

Why I'm Staying On Bloggingheads.tv

Wow, I haven't seen Phil Plait's post until now. Bloggingheads "called Creationism science"? I can only guess what tortured reasoning gave rise to this claim.

But I think, Eliezer, that you're being too charitable to those who are jumping ship. Sean and Carl aren't doing so because they're anti-accomodationist, they just can't stand the thought of being within 300 internet meters of Creationists if they don't think they can leverage the situation against them. Whether this particularized form of distaste is justifiable is an interesting issue and ... (read more)

3anonym12yPerhaps the "called Creationism science" bit is because the young earth creationist was part of the "Science Saturday" series of diavlogs. I agree that it is misleading and very poorly phrased. How about the standard of the extent to which you engage with critics using commonly accepted norms of intellectual discourse, the extent to which you update your position when unable to counter critics' counter-arguments and refutations, and the extent to which your public behavior (including the preceding 2 points and otherwise) suggests you are an intellectually honest person.
8SforSingularity12ythis is not their stated position
Open Thread: September 2009

I haven't seen BhTV endorse Creationism as science in any official capacity.

Open Thread: September 2009

You're shifting the goalposts some. I'm not defending the original decision to invite Behe. I'm questioning the notion that inviting Behe is such an egregious offense against BHTV's "respectability" that it should be boycotted. I wouldn't boycott BHTV if 90% of the diavlogs were replaced by midget porn, if it meant that I would get the occasional episode of Free Will.

I think Behe's critics should just admit that what's really motivating the reaction is the notion that Creationists not only should not be given forums to speak, but those who do gra... (read more)

2eirenicon12yWhat critic will not admit that? It's hardly a fringe opinion in the scientific community that Creationists should not be given forums to speak on the thoroughly unscientific topic of Creationism, and that those who do so and call it science are being absurdly and unnecessarily tolerant. Creationism has never been more or less than an attack on science. It's extremely toxic, and while I would never try to "silence" anyone, I don't think it deserves more publicity. I grew up being taught that dreck in a fundamentalist Christian school and I'm more familiar with Behe than I'd care to be. Frankly, he's an idiot, and his life purpose seems to be toward making more idiots. He doesn't need anyone's help. As for McArdle, I don't really care. Politics is not a hard science, and while she's something of a crackpot, she's not that way because somebody proved her map doesn't follow the territory. It's the difference between someone who thinks the earth is flat and someone who thinks it's run by the Illuminati. The former is just wrong, the latter is just crazy. I don't mind crazy, because crazy isn't nearly as dangerous as wrong.
Open Thread: September 2009

So BHTV can't both enjoy the participation of respectable academics and also host the occasional crackpot? There exists no such universe where the two could possibly coincide? Is there some implicit assumption here that there's a fixed amount of BHTV episodes, each of which will feature either crackpots or respectable academics? Even if this were so, wouldn't the reasonable response be to skip over the crackpots rather than avoiding the entire medium? The only justifiable rationale I can see for skipping over BHTV because of this is if you just watched dia... (read more)

2eirenicon12yShould BHTV invite Perez Hilton to debate the fearsome Man Bat? Michael Behe is as credible an author as Pamela Anderson, although not quite as illuminating. I used to think that the worst kind of ignorance was when you knew you were wrong and refused to accept it. Now I think the worst kind is when you know you're capable of knowing when you're wrong but refuse to let yourself. Michael Behe wants to be ignorant of his own ignorance. Let him do so in the peace and quiet of his own sad little world.
Open Thread: September 2009

What harm is done by bringing on an astrologer? At worst it fail to amuse.

But it's obvious you're not talking about the diavlog's impact on you... you're concerned with the poor, unwashed masses who might actually be left to form their own opinions from the available information. Well, that's very nice of you, but I don't think it's unreasonable to believe that it's safe to expose people to views which might be labeled as "crackpottery" by some.

5Vladimir_Nesov12yHigh-status serious people want to associate with high-status others. Allowing crackpots on the same venue dramatically decreases its attractiveness for quality participants. You can't really give an elaborate justification for why in this particular case it's OK, because signals are shallow [http://www.overcomingbias.com/2009/06/why-signals-are-shallow.html].
3XFrequentist12yWe been known to shoot us some subjectivists 'round these here parts, y'hear? Sean Carrol concurs [http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/2009/08/31/bye-to-bloggingheads/]
5Furcas12yThe "unwashed masses", as you call them, are already getting plenty of exposition to crackpottery, much more than they get to real science, so that a few crackpots on BHTV are barely a drop in the ocean. That's not what concerns me, no. What concerns me is that BHTV has a reputation as a respectable website thanks to the participation of respectable academics and experts. It's reasonable to assume that such a respectable website wouldn't invite crackpots to promote their brand of crackpottery; in fact, that's an assumption I made myself until I read Sean's and Carl's posts. Inviting crackpots therefore gives the impression that these people should be taken seriously, even if we think they're wrong. In any event, your own motives are suspect, to say the least. Characterizing creationist nuts as "people whom [Sean and Carl] don't like", as if creationism was merely a distasteful political opinion, or something, makes you sound like a crackpot yourself, or worse, a postmodernist.
Open Thread: September 2009

Thanks for the link. I saw the original Behe podcast and was surprised when it suddenly disappeared with a brief note from an admin. I haven't been able to follow up on this matter much since it hasn't generated much buzz, but I'll look forward to reading these links - if people are boycotting Bloggingheads for giving platforms to people whom they don't like.... well, that's an interesting precedent to set which should be scrutinized carefully.

Missing the Trees for the Forest

One person's "overarching narrative" is another person's set of Bayesian priors.

Take, for example, your pollution discussion. An economics textbook will tell you that there is an ideal level of taxation, yes. However, it won't tell you about regulatory capture, mission creep, the Hayekian knowledge problem, etc. There is always a correct set of contextual data to be used to interpret and resolve problems in isolation, yes - but determining what this set is and how we should interpret the probabilities of various events occurring is pretty much al... (read more)

Sayeth the Girl

Isn't social acceptance of saying rude but not false things exactly what you're arguing in favor of?

I don't think so, unless you're implying that the armchair theorizing in this community is always rude. I'd prefer to presume that not to be the case unless there's evidence otherwise... and I conceded in my top-level reply to this thread that there sometimes is (in my view.)

2SoullessAutomaton12yWell, all else equal, speculations about other people based on their intrinsic demographics seems fairly rude to me; your mileage may vary. I am, as I said, willing to accept rudeness when stating facts, though tact is always appreciated.
Sayeth the Girl

Why is it necessarily more rational to disregard "social consequences"?

I think it's not irrational per se, just that it probably wouldn't fly in this community as a substantive consideration in whether an argument should or should be presented here. Usually it's considered eminently rude (but not strictly false) to say that the members of your own ingroup are too dumb/biased to discuss a given topic fairly.

I suppose I could also try to bootstrap this into an argument for a strong presumption against restricting speech due to its expected "social consequences" in general, but I think my original points suffice.

2thomblake12yTo add to SoullessAutomaton's response, the accusation is that the topic is already not being discussed fairly. And I think one could follow the spirit of this post without actually leaving out any ideas, but merely employing some considerate phrasing.
4SoullessAutomaton12yIsn't social acceptance of saying rude but not false things exactly what you're arguing in favor of? In general I do carry a strong presumption against restricting speech. But I have a lot of prior experience that, for "gender difference observations not backed by data", the value of the speech approaches nil in the average case, and is only marginally better on LW, so counterarguments carry a lot more relative weight.
Sayeth the Girl

To prohibit generalizations about gender without overwhelming hard data is usually to in effect silence the topic.

I think the concern is that a lot of these generalizations aren't being made through a good-faith attempt to unbiasedly order one's observations about the world. A lot of people see these arguments and have an (arguably often justified) prior that the individuals who make them are biased and/or bigoted. I realize that it can be frustrating to be told that you're being criticized because your arguments resemble those made by morally-reprehensibl... (read more)

3SoullessAutomaton12yWhy is it necessarily more rational to disregard "social consequences"? There's plenty of objective evidence that calling attention to such issues can in fact be self-fulfilling prophecies, cf. cognitive priming, stereotype threat [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stereotype_threat], &c. It is of course valuable to be able to discuss ideas freely, but my patience wears thin very quickly when the evidence for such theories is far weaker than the evidence that the theories are harmful.
Sayeth the Girl

I have to concur with the overall sentiment of this post. It bothers me more than a bit that sweeping generalizations about gender behaviors are made using armchair "just-so" evopsych stories. I even consider myself a relatively ardent supporter of evopsych in general, but a lot of the discussions of gender relationships seem to be motivated by an undercurrent of bitterness rather than an objective desire to understand the reality of gender differences. I realize that this is a vague ad hominem critique, and I could probably attempt to back this ... (read more)

5bloch12y"I often wonder what would happen if a Jezebel blogger stumbled upon this place." What would happen and why should we care?
Do Fandoms Need Awfulness?

Well, there are complaints about "Apple premiums" on pricing, but if those actually exist they're most likely largely the result of the fact that the company can "exploit" its devoted fanbase...

I think Apple is a good choice, though. I'd also point to Prius or hybrid vehicles in general or other items of objectively-good quality which turn into status signals of various sorts... and then you see criticisms aimed at the signalers and not the underlying goods or their functionality. Or the criticisms are aimed at the fact that the fans overstate the value of their choice objects, which doesn't exactly impinge the actual value.

Well-Kept Gardens Die By Pacifism

Most of the rules are mostly there for the sake of legal cover - the only things that are strongly enforced are:

a) Child pornography bans. b) Bans on organizing illegal activities, namely "raids" on other websites that can result in serious damage. c) Mass spam, especially spam that is meant to propagate scripts that are used for further spamming. d) Topicality rules. This only applies to some of the boards.

Moderation is most reliable for (a). 4chan is hardly a well-tended garden, let alone a "thoughtfully organized" one. Moderation is ... (read more)

Also, it's important to note the difference between 4chan as a whole, which is indeed an erratically-tended garden of sorts, and the "random" sub-board, which is a seething cesspit of trolling and memes, with occasional flashes of socially-uninhibited lucidity, and indeed has anarchy levels that are (as they say) over 9000.

Well-Kept Gardens Die By Pacifism

No one's done a definite estimate of the impacts, but "Project Chanology" did attract thousands of protestors and a lot of mainstream media attention. I didn't mean to argue that 4chan has never accomplished anything positive, or even that there isn't a lot of creative activity there - I just don't see any of it as having advanced the frontiers of human understanding in any meaningful sense.

Well-Kept Gardens Die By Pacifism

I can't think of a specific example that a broad audience might know about, but it's relatively easy to see how this could arise. Take a community of "idiots", by whatever criteria we'd use to apply the term to the lone troll. Many of them exist which espouse all sorts of nonsense. Throw in someone who actually understands the topics which these people purport to discuss. Unless that person is incredibly subtle and eloquent, they will be denounced as an idiot in any number of ways.

I can speak here from my own experience as an economist who's trie... (read more)

6Paul Crowley13yOK, yes, that's a counterexample. However, in all those instances, the community itself is screwed in a fundamental way, and the fix is not for people to welcome the "idiots": the fix is to leave the community and go somewhere more sensible. Is there an example of a community good enough that you would recommend anyone to join, but which would have been improved by taking the criticism of unpopular members more seriously? It doesn't have to be a well-known example, and you don't have to link to it; even anecdotal evidence would be enlightening here.
Well-Kept Gardens Die By Pacifism

Lots of memes come out of 4chan. I'm not sure I'd call any of them "good" in any way beyond their being amusing. (Of note: "4chan was never good" is a meme in and of itself.)

The thousand 13-year old Bayesian LW would never "build up" anything approximating rationality, I'd conjecture. It would select for rational arguments to some extent, but it would also select for creative new obscenities, threads about how to get laid, and rationalist imagefloods (whatever that would consist of) being spammed over and over. 4chan has almos... (read more)

1JamesAndrix13yAhem: http://sexdrugsandappliedscience.blogspot.com/2009/04/bayesian-inference-for-boys.html [http://sexdrugsandappliedscience.blogspot.com/2009/04/bayesian-inference-for-boys.html]
0[anonymous]13yWhat about Project Channology? Helps contribute by fighting a flagrant face of irrationality, at least.
2JamesAndrix13yWell what do you think a positive 1000 13 year old LW would look like? Competing with 4chan for the attention of 13 year olds is the scope of the problem we face. I'm saying that 1000 young bayesians is a goal, and that if that community comes to exist, it just won't look at all like LW, or have it's mores. The LW atmosphere probably won't grab that audience. (And many of the new posts would be perceived as low quality here, even if they were above average for 13 year olds.) Also, the only memes you will see 'coming out of 4chan' are the most viral ones. If it also contained a rationalist subculture, it might not be obvious, unless you were one of the 13 year olds whose thinking was changed.
6Eliezer Yudkowsky13yThat may well be one of the most scathing accusations I've ever heard leveled, but I'm not sure if it's quite entirely true. Surely there've been a succinct atheistic demotivator or two to come out?
Well-Kept Gardens Die By Pacifism

"Don't believe in yourself! Believe that I believe in you!"

If you're trying to quote Gurren-Lagann here, I believe you botched the quote. "Believe in me who believes in you!" But maybe it was dubbed differently. In any case, I do find some amusement in your approvingly quoting a show which was more or less premised on a rejection of rationality. "Throw away your logic and kick reason to the curb!" I'll have to remember that for the next anti-rationalism quotes thread.

But anyways, I did like this post, although as you impli... (read more)

9William13yOn the other hand, "lonely voices of reason" are unlikely to overrun a community of idiots the way idiots can overrun a more intelligent community.
2Paul Crowley13yCould you give an example where you've seen this? In 20 years online I've seen it once, maybe.
3gwern13yI don't think Gurren Lagann is meant to be taken seriously; it struck me, when I was watching it, as a reductio of the old-style mecha genre (a loving one, one done by fans of it, but still a reductio). It's a funny quip because it's so contradictory to the usual believe-in-yourself spiel, is all.
Well-Kept Gardens Die By Pacifism

I'd worry that:

a) It would be incredibly difficult to initially accumulate karma to begin with if it turned out that most posts that weren't "Introduce yourself!" had a decent karma requirement.

b) You'd end up excluding non-regulars who might have very substantial contributions to specific discussions from participating in those discussions. For example, I'm an economist, and most of my posts have been and probably will be in topics that touch on economic concepts. But I don't have much karma as a consequence, and I'd think it'd be to the community's detriment if I was excluded for that reason.

The Trouble With "Good"

So if the slave were allowed to choose his own level of effort, he would no longer be a slave?

I think you have a point with what you're saying (and I'm predisposed against believing that the taxation/slavery analogy has meaning), but I don't think being a slave is incompatible with some autonomy.

5CronoDAS13yI think we'd better kill this discussion before it turns into an "is it a blegg or rube" debate. [http://www.overcomingbias.com/2008/03/wrong-words.html] - the original anarchist's argument falls into at least one of the fallacies on that page, and I suspect my nitpick might do so as well.
The Trouble With "Good"

Utilitarianism doesn't describe how you should feel, it simply describes "the good". It's very possible that if accepting utilitarianism's implications is so abhorrent to you that the world would be a worse place because you do it (because you're unhappy, or because embracing utilitarianism might actually make you worse at promoting utility), then by all means... don't endorse it, at least not at some given level you find repugnant. This is what Derek Parfit labels a "self-effacing" philosophy, I believe.

There are a variety of approache... (read more)

Awful Austrians

I'd point out a couple problems here:

Firstly, "controlled experiments" is simply an ideal which is no more achieved in the physical sciences than in the social ones. The various experimental methods employed by scientists differ only in the degree to which they're uncontrolled. Popperian falsifiability has been criticized in all scientific contexts for these reasons. I believe that Quine's discussions of this issue are the best-known... suffice to say, the Austrians need to come up with a better reason for dismissing the scientific method as appl... (read more)

Awful Austrians

Unfortunately, Austrians more than any other group typify that classic Paul Samuelson quote: "Economists have correctly predicted nine out of the last five recessions." It's easy to make arguments about how trying to circumvent the market process will lead to calamity, and eventually you'll be correct. But if you want to find an Austrian economist to respect, find one who will actually make concrete economic predictions that are falsifiable. It's my impression that many of them simply will not, often on philosophical grounds.

4nazgulnarsil13yyou're talking about quantitative predictions instead of qualitative predictions. qualitative predictions can always be defended on "no true scotsman" grounds. This is a common defensive characteristic of various ideologies. making falsifiable claims makes an ideology less adapted to human hosts.
Awful Austrians

What in particular do you not understand? I think there are plenty of problems with Austrian arguments (and the OP does a good job of explaining some of them), but I can't say I've run into many cases where I felt that I just didn't understand what was going on. Do you mean that different Austrian economists make fundamentally incompatible arguments, or that the arguments that they do make just... don't say anything meaningful?

9RobinHanson13yI mean I have some text in front of me, and I make up several possible interpretations of it. Some are trivial, some are crazy, and so I dump those and keep the rest and then go on to another text and do the same. Then I try to find an intersection of the reasonable interpretations across different texts, in the hope of finding "what they mean." I might find specific claims on which several authors happen to agree, but not claims that are plausibly the more basics claim that could be the cause of them saying there is this thing called "Austrian econ" with some important basic differences from regular econ.
Sunk Cost Fallacy

Actually, without some ability to do that in the future, long-term planning would be impossible. Whether one has the ability in the present to uphold obligations to the past is only relevant to future time-consistency insofar as we think this directly lends itself to having this ability in the future, and... I think it's far from clear whether that relationship will reliably occur, and even whether it should occur.

Awful Austrians

Oh, hey Tim. :D Not particularly surprised to see other classmates in these parts, but it's still a neat occurrence.

And of course I recognize the dogmatic tendencies of the Mises Institute crowd, but I guess my broader worry is that their particular style becomes conflated with Austrian economics in general. It's my impression that these failings aren't recognized in GMU's self-identified Austrian faculty, but I could be wrong.

0Matt_Simpson13yPersonally, I'm not too familiar with that group of Austrians other than that they typically claim to get everything from Mises, and this may also be wrong. So, yes, what I said may only apply to the Mises Institute crowd.
Awful Austrians

Small quibble: I think it's unfair to many Austrians to imply that their school inherently eschews the type of mathematical formalisms that many prominent Austrians did, in fact, reject. Or at least, insofar as they do so, it's based on more than simply saying that the map doesn't reflect the territory, and therefore we must throw it out - they make elaborate arguments about how the map's systematic inaccuracies make it a poor representation of the territory. (Apologies if I'm using the map/territory metaphor poorly.)

Admittedly, this opinion goes against w... (read more)

0Matt_Simpson13yI know that some Austrians don't reject the formalism. When I was at the Mises Institute, Block called Lachmann a "calculus Austrian." I should have been a bit more clear, I tend to use the term Austrian to refer to those who are Austrians in the methodological sense. The line is, of course, fuzzy, but there are some clear cases of Austrian and non-Austrian on this definition. My understanding of the Austrians is that using a map at all is intellectually sinful. They want to study the territory, not some representation of it. However, this intrigues me. Do you know of any relevant citations or links?
2Swimmy13yIt may be unfair to lump the specific fallacy presented above as the essence of Austrian economics, or as something its true believers follow. But there undoubtedly is a strain of dedicated Mises/Rothbard followers who insist on it, and these are the Austrians I'm criticizing. I'll refer to this link [http://blog.mises.org/archives/005306.asp] again. Many major Austrians are ready to pounce all over Hayek at a moment's notice. P.S. Hey, gonna go ahead and guess you're the same Peter Twieg from my class. This is Tim McGowan.