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Are wireheads happy?

This is a really good point. On the other hand, it is a more convincing argument for stronger interventionist policy than it is against charity.

Is it immoral to have children?

I am not average person, you don't look to be one either.

Fair enough, but I still don't think I am very good at predicting whether I'll be happier with children. I also doubt that other people who do think they will be happier are very accurate. Humans are notoriously bad at determining what will make them happy/unhappy. I'm thinking in particular about the study about lottery winners vs. amputee victim from Dan Gilbert's TED talk: http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_gilbert_asks_why_are_we_happy.html.

if your idea of meaningful life is improving the world, I don't see how you can have a sense of meaning and at the same time be aware that you're not "doing reasonably well".

Society as a whole regards having children as profoundly selfless, rather than selfish, so I think I am fair in concluding that some of the sense of meaning that people get from having children is related to improving the world for future generations. That particular self-satisfaction might not be disturbed by Rachaels' argument if one does not take moral arguments seriously.

Is it immoral to have children?

There is variance in happiness, yes, but studies have shown that having children does not on average result in higher hedonic happiness, although it does increase a sense of living a meaningful life. If you doubt this, I can dig up the reference; I think it was actually referred to in the Rachaels paper. I said "certainly not", but that wasn't meant to be taken literally; of course it's not certain that you'll be equally or less happy with children.

I think I didn't word the second sentence correctly. I was trying to make the point that having a sense of meaning is not the same as doing reasonably well at improving the world in the ways you care about.

If you wanted to maximize your sense of meaning, you wouldn't object to being wireheaded in a blissful and maximally meaningful cyber-world. I think it's reasonable to say that most people object to such wireheading because they care about their actual impact on the world. At least, they want to appear as if they do.

Is it immoral to have children?

Certainly not if you're trying to maximize your hedonic happiness. But children do not increase hedonic happiness; they increase your sense of living a meaningful life. To maximize the actual meaning of your life, you must use estimates of the impact of your decisions; whether or not this affects your perceived sense of meaning depends on how seriously you take moral arguments.

Spaced Repetition Database for A Human's Guide to Words

I have the Anki iphone app. Considering the utility and convenience it provides, the price is negligible. For comparison, at a private college, tuition/# of classes ~= $200 / class, so as I use anki for schoolwork, it easily pays for itself.

If you do any sort of utility calculation for products you use, a lot of times convenience will trump price by orders of magnitude. This is one of those cases.

Spaced Repetition Database for A Human's Guide to Words

Thank you! I was planning on setting up a system for piano and guitar and I wasn't really sure what would work. This sounds great =]

Spaced Repetition Database for A Human's Guide to Words
  • Normal flashcards should be all equally difficult: as easy as possible. The idea is to break everything down into atomic facts; this makes it so you can't short-circuit a difficult card by just memorizing the answer; by memorizing all the parts, you still have the whole.

  • If you really want to drill one sub-deck, you can choose "cram mode" , and select the tag of the cards you want to review.

  • I don't use anki for languages, but to learn conjugations of verbs, I would have many example sentences with a "... " where the verb should go. You could ask on #anki or the google group. Here's a good article on how to make effective flashcards from the inventor of the spaced repetition algorithm, Piotr Wozniak.

  • Unconventional decks like having anki cards for a whole piano piece or problem in a textbook might work, but I haven't tried them... yet. I'll be experimenting with those this coming semester.

Spaced Repetition Database for A Human's Guide to Words

Thank you so much for posting this! I use anki a lot, and your Mysterious Questions deck has been a great help =]

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