All of protest_boy's Comments + Replies

Open thread, Jan. 26 - Feb. 1, 2015

Are there any updates on when the Sequences e-book versions are going to be released? I'm planning a reread of some of the core material and might wait if the release is imminent.

5Rob Bensinger7yWe don't have an official release date yet, but it will most likely come out in March, before Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality ends.
Open thread, Dec. 8 - Dec. 15, 2014

I think that's one issue with protests. Many people gather with ill defined goals that are tangentially related to what most would agree is the actual problem. The "actual problem" for Occupy relates to unequal distribution of wealth, and the "actual problem" for the recent police brutality protests relates to systemic bias in the criminal justice system. I'm not sure if there actually is this sort of systemic bias, nor am I sure of the implicit claim that "things have gotten worse."

So, what do protests actually achieve, and i... (read more)

3Lumifer7yA recent Yvain blog post [] might be helpful.
Lifehack Ideas December 2014

That's an interesting schedule. Do you find it easier to fast during the day, vs the commonly recommended "don't eat anything after 6pm until 1pm the next day"?

1DanielFilan7yI have only tried alternate-day fasting, so I can't really say with confidence. That being said, I think that I would have trouble keeping to the 1pm - 6pm eating window - I have tried going without breakfast on a fasting day, and did not enjoy it at all. Also, eating only between 1pm-6pm every day sounds much more unpleasant to me than not eating every second day, although this might just be an illusion on my part.
Open thread, Dec. 8 - Dec. 15, 2014

I have a question about a seemingly complex social issue, so I'm interested if anyone has any insights.

Do protests actually work? Are e.g. the Ferguson/police crime protests a good way of attacking the problem? They seem to me to have a high cost, to be deflecting from the actual problem, and not enough sustained effort by people who care to push through to actual social change in the U.S.

7Sarunas7yAccording to Stephen Pinker, protests can turn individual knowledge into mutual knowledge [] This suggests that protests may lead to something in a particular case when most people already have individual knowledge, but they do not have mutual knowledge yet. For example, suppose those people really care about some issue and have idea what to do, then if participating in protests is risky, that signals that all those protesters are willing to take risks in order to achieve their goal (curiously, in this particular case, if protesting is safe (as it is in most Western countries), the signal might be less clear). This way individual knowledge becomes mutual knowledge. So if it is the lack of mutual knowledge that prevents their goals from being achieved, then protests might help. Otherwise, if it is something else that prevents solution (e.g.lack of idea how to solve a problem, various game theoretic (or coordination) problems that are not solved by going from individual to mutual knowledge, etc.) from being achieved, they are probably much more likely to be useless.
3Ixiel7yIn my area, protests are largely social gatherings of like minded people. I asked protesters on three occasions last year and only two of a couple dozen protesters thought they were reaching an audience that does not already agree. I stress this was not a scientific study, but at least average for anecdote.
-4alienist7yWhat problem? That Blacks aren't free to steal from and intimidate Asian store owners and then charge at a police officer [] going for his gun []?
0wadavis7yHave a look at this [] post from Death is Bad Blog. It won't answer your questions, but it will help you shine more light on it.
3Lumifer7yYou need to define your goals. Do protests work to achieve what?
3Bugmaster7yI was wondering that too; personally, I have no idea how to even begin answering the question. It would seem that at least some protests do work, as evidenced by the civil rights movement during the Martin Luther King era; but I don't know if this is true in general.
Open thread, Dec. 8 - Dec. 15, 2014

Look at SNPs corresponding to methylation defects, and run a self experiment on any interventions that drop out of that.

0gwern7yI looked at the 'Genetic Genie' report but there didn't seem to be any major issues and apparently a number of relevant SNPs were dropped in the latest chip (from which my results come).
What is the difference between rationality and intelligence?

Some off the cuff thoughts:

Can you imagine an intelligent agent that is not rational? And vice versa, can you imagine a rational agent that is not intelligent?

AIXI is "rational" (believe that it's vNM-rational in the literature). Is "instrumental rationality" a superset of this definition?

In the case of human rationality and human intelligence, part of it seems a question of scale. E.g. IQ tests seem to measure low level pattern matching, while "rationality" in the sense of Stanovich refers to more of a larger scale self reflective corrective process. (I'd conjecture that there are a lot of low level self reflective corrective processes occurring in an IQ test as well).

MIRI course list study pairs

What's the current status of this? I'm looking to get started on the course list and would love a study partner.

Open thread, 14-20 July 2014

Thanks for your enticing comment!

I understand your first point, but my math knowledge is not up to par to really understand point #2, and point #3 just makes me want to learn category theory. BTW, I also posted this question on the philosophy stackexchange:

Do you have any recommendations of what to study to understand category theory and more about the foundations of math? (Logic, type theory, computability & logic, mode... (read more)

1MrMind7yYou're welcome! Foundation(s) of math is a huge and fascinating topic by itself, but if you're more interested in the intricacy of abstraction hierarchies you should look no further than category theory, the Yoneda lemma, up up to doctrine theory. I love as a good introduction Category Theory by Awodey. As for the foundation of math, very good for dipping your toes are the first chapters of Marker's introduction to model theory and the recently reprinted Set theory by Kunen (set theory models are a vast subject by themselves...)
Open thread, 14-20 July 2014

So there's a MIRIxMountain View, but is it redundant to have a MIRIxEastBay/SF? It seems like the label MIRIx is content to be bestowed upon even low key research efforts, and considering the hacker culture/rationality communities there may be interest in this.

Open thread, 7-14 July 2014

So there's a MIRIxMountain View, but is it redundant to have a MIRIxEastBay/SF? It seems like the label MIRIx is content to be bestowed upon even low key research efforts, and considering the hacker culture/rationality communities there may be interest in this.

[This comment is no longer endorsed by its author]Reply
Open thread, 14-20 July 2014

I have a question about the nature of generalization and abstraction. Human reasoning is commonly split up into two categories: deductive and inductive reasoning. Are all instances of generalization examples of inductive reasoning? If so, does this mean that if you have a deep enough understanding of inductive reasoning, you broadly create "better" abstractions?

For example, generalizing the integers to the rationals satisfies a couple of things: the theoretical need to remove previous restrictions on the operations of subtraction and division, a... (read more)

1MrMind8yA couple of starting points to improve your investigation. First, rigorous inductive reasoning, i.e. bayesian probability, includes as a special case deductive reasoning, at least in the case where deductive reasoning is conflated with "classical logic". AFAIK there have been only sparse and timid research into widening probability to fit other kinds of logic. Second, the example you use to illustrate generalization is a case of what in logic is known as elementary embedding, and it's a pure application of deductive reasoning. Although the process that led the first mathematician to the invention of rational numbers might have very well been one of inductive reasoning. Third, do not be tempted to think that abstraction is generally linear. It may very well be the case that the model C is generalized by model B, which is generalized by model A which is found to be a special example of C. This kind of "strange loops" (I credit Hofstadter for the invention of this term) happens all the time in category theory. The very same four different foundations for mathematics (set theory, type theory, category theory, univalence theory) are all instances of one another (see for example the paper "From Sets to Types to Categories to Sets" by Awodey, which however was compiled before univalence was formalized).
Open thread, 7-14 July 2014

Is there a way to tag a user in a comment such that the user will receive a notification that s/he's been tagged?

0satt8yI don't think there is, but you can crudely fake it by writing the comment as usual, then sending a private message to the relevant user with a link to the comment.
How to Measure Anything

Before I embark on this seemingly Sisyphean endeavor, has anyone attempted to measure "philosophical progress"? It seems that no philosophical problem I know of is apparently fully solved, and no general methods are known which reliably give true answers to philosophical problems. Despite this we definitely have made progress: e.g. we can chart human progress on the problem of Induction, of which an extremely rough sketch looks like Epicurus --> Occam --> Hume --> Bayes --> Solomonoff, or something. I don't really know, but there see... (read more)

1Andrew Jacob Sauer2ySeems to me that before a philosophical problem is solved, it becomes a problem in some other field of study. Atomism used to be a philosophical theory. Now that we know how to objectively confirm it, it (or rather, something similar but more accurate) is a scientific theory. It seems that philosophy (at least, the parts of philosophy that are actively trying to progress) is about trying to take concepts that we have intuitive notions of, and figure out what if anything those concepts actually refer to, until we succeed at this well enough that to study then in more precise ways than, well, philosophy. So, how many examples can we find where some vague but important-seeming idea has been philosophically studied until we learn what the idea refers to in concrete reality, and how to observe and measure it to some degree?
The Level Above Mine

Do you have anything quick to add about what you mean by "Eliezer-level philosophical ability"?

Brainstorming for post topics

I would love to see these as posts. (I really enjoyed your posts on the CFAR list about human ethics).

What does "The instrumental lens" hint at?

0komponisto8yHow does one get on this list?
4Qiaochu_Yuan8yAt the time I had that idea I got the impression that some of the people around me were leaning too heavily on what I was calling the "epistemic lens," where your perspective on people is primarily based on their beliefs. I think this is mostly unhelpful, e.g. it can cause people to be snooty about religion for what I see to be no good reason. I think an "instrumental lens," where your perspective on people is primarily based on their actions, is much more helpful. In general I'm a fan of instrumental rationality, rather than epistemic rationality, being the more foundational thing.
LessWrong as social catalyst

Everyone's posting evidence for this, which is great and LW is awesome, but I'm also interested in any rebuttals of the sort like "I expected it to hugely change my social life but it didn't really"

In particular, for me:

  • I found out about CFAR from LW and attended a CFAR workshop
  • I've attended a couple of meetups in the bay area
  • I found out about 80000 hours, GiveWell, MIRI, and effective altruism in general, which has been a large force in my life
  • I've met many interesting people working on many interesting things in spheres that I care about
... (read more)
0Evan_Gaensbauer7yI'm actually reading the backlog of comments on this thread to write a post on people successfully asking personally important questions, and getting good responses [], on the suggestions of users Gunnar Zarnacke [], and [Peter Hurford}( []). I'm mining this thread for more examples to use to improve the eventual post in Discussion. However, afterward, for due diligence, I intend to write the reverse-post, one in which I ask for people to report failure modes of taking advice and/or changing their lifestyle based on information they received through Less Wrong. Send me a private message if you would like to help write this post with me.
0eggman8yI'm curious if there is any other variables that might account for you not achieving what you hoped you might by connecting through Less Wrong. For example, many regular attendees of the Vancouver meetup have wanted to get great jobs, move into a house with their rationalist friends, or move to the Bay Area to be part of the central party. However, they haven't done much of this yet, despite having wanted to with other local rationalists for a couple of years. The fact that most of us are university students, or have only recently launched our careers, throws a wrench into ambitious plans to utterly change our own lives because the effort my friends might have directed towards that is already taken up by their need to adapt to regular responsibilities of fully-fledged adulthood. On our part, I figure the planning fallacy, and overconfidence, caused us to significantly overestimate what we would really achieve as members of a burgeoning social subculture, or whatever.
5ChristianKl8yThat interesting. Do you find it normally easy or hard to connect with people? Are you a computer programmer or something similar? At the community camp in Berlin I got the feeling that maybe the idea that introverts get drained by social interaction is wrong. They get drained by interacting with people who are not like them. Many people at the event reported that they normally feel drained through social interaction but didn't at the event. I'm personally normally not drained in energy by social interaction but felt the weekend incredibly draining.
2JoshuaFox8yI created this post, and the previous one about business networking, with an open mind as to whether LW does or can create person-to-person connections. The surveys are certainly not scientific, and as you point out, few people are going to say "I didn't meet anyone through LW and don't intend to." Still, my sense after all this is that few person-to-person connections, business or otherwise, happen because of this community. By "few," I suppose I am comparing to what happens in the high-density Bay Area rationalist community, or what happens in certain religious or ethnic groups or in certain school or university settings.
Arthur Chu: Jeopardy! champion through exemplary rationality

I'm not sure that he doesn't have "natural" skill or talent. I find the link now but I remember reading that he's extremely high IQ. (or something something eidetic memory something something?)

Motifs in his standup comedy routines are about how much smarter he is than everyone else, etc etc (anecdata)

0syllogism8yIt doesn't seem to me that he has that any more than ther Jeopardy! contenders.
Self-Study Questions Thread

I highly recommend the book Concepts, Techniques, and Models of Computer Programming ( which is the closest I've seen to distilling programming to its essence. It's language agnostic in the sense that you start with a small "kernel language" and build it up incorporating different concepts as needed.

2Dr_Manhattan8yThe book's author is running a MOOC on EdX []
Open thread for December 24-31, 2013

The squats and lunges will exercise back and core. I also add supermans for mid back

Open Thread for January 8 - 16 2014

Alum here... glad to hear! You should do that :)

Open thread for December 24-31, 2013

I've been doing the "7 min scientific workout" every morning for the past month and I've seen great results.

0[anonymous]8yAm I doing them wrong or do none of those exercises exercise muscles in the back?
Open thread for December 24-31, 2013

Does anyone have any recommended "didactic fiction"? Here are a couple of examples:

1) Lauren Ipsum ( 2) HPMoR

0jswan8yRebecca Newberger Goldstein [] writes philosophical fiction. She is my favorite contemporary literary fiction author. Her biographies of Gödel and Spinoza are also brilliant.
1FiftyTwo8yI remember enjoying the "Uncle Albert" [] series of children's books on physics.
0NancyLebovitz8yThe Lost Kafoozalum []-- sf which has some utopian education that is a surprisingly good introduction to rationality. Stop and think, consider consequences, utilitarianism, there's no guarantee of success....
Open thread for December 17-23, 2013

Does anyone have any recommended "didactic fiction"? Here are a couple of examples:

1) Lauren Ipsum ( 2) HPMoR

CFAR has a matched-donations fundraiser going on [LINK]

I donated some money on Dec. 13, and I'm not sure if the matching was active at that time. Anyone know?

4Benquo8yBetter give again just to be safe ;)
4Benya8yYep: CFAR advertised their fundraiser in their latest newsletter, which I received on Dec. 5.
Help us Optimize the Contents of the Sequences eBook

Are there any updates on when this will be released?

4protest_boy8yFound a proof of this article at: []
October 2013 Media Thread

Here's the first track from the new release Psychic by Darkside:

The entire album feels like lost memories, highly recommended.

LessWrong help desk - free paper downloads and more

Narratives and goals: Narrative structure increases goal priming. Laham, Simon M.; Kashima, Yoshihisa

4VincentYu8yHere [].