Psychosmurf

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[FINAL CHAPTER] Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 122

Great job on the fic EY. If you were to promise to write Ch 123, I would let you out of the box.

Non-standard politics

I believe that society should be organized so that people work collectively in a society focused on its own survival and power. My views are extremely collectivist, in that, the relationship between the society and its people would be a lot like the relationship between a body and its cells.

Is there a way to stop liking sugar?

For me, I stopped craving sugar after I stopped eating so much of it. Why did I stop eating it? Well, that's because I think I changed my identity from "Someone who eats whatever they want when they're hungry" to "someone who only eats what he has decided is optimal" (and sugary foods are often not in that category).

Political ideas meant to provoke thought

Actually, I like your idea. I am just not sure how big change could we make "merely" by studying the system and applying the advantages. More than zero, certainly, but we could still be kinda disappointed with the result, because we expected more. (Also, it may require us to sacrifice some other values.)

Well more than zero is still more than zero, right? I think if you expect to be disappointed by the results of an endeavor, then you may as well revise your expectations downward from the start, so I don't see that as much of an obstacle. (I also don't believe in the existence of values, so no problem there either).

This reminds me: many years ago, one of my friends expressed a strong political opinion that in capitalism you don't need any skills or work to get rich; you just have to start with some money and then it automatically makes more money. Thus people born in rich families get more rich, and others don't have a chance. I said that to make your money make more money, you still need some plan, and you need to execute it, which not literally eveyone can do. My friend objected that you just pay other people to do the work and the thinking for you, and that's all.

I actually agree with your friend that you don't need any special skills to get rich(er) (neither in capitalism nor in any other socioeconomic system), you just have to do the bare minimum required not to sink your business, (and yes you can pay other people to do the work and the thinking for you), but I would disagree with the notion that this will lead to automatic success.

Since there are many more poor people than rich people, it follows that not only is it difficult for poor people to become rich but also that it is easy for rich people to become poor. Some rich people get richer, but most get poorer. (Nonetheless, I do believe that the richer you are the harder it is to fall to a given level of wealth) Hence, it is my belief that the most successful businessmen are outliers and their success is mostly due to variables that are out of their control.

Ultimately, I think your friend's reluctance toward your plan was justified (though maybe not for the same reasons he had).

Political ideas meant to provoke thought

What we do think we know is that politics is a great way to bring out the irrationality in people.

Yes, and the irrationality comes in before the discussion even has a chance. In these kinds of discussions, almost without fail, people take their circumstances as a given, and then ask what set of policies would be optimal. The (mistaken) assumption being that their circumstances are immutable while policy is entirely malleable and controllable. The opposite is true. That is, we have the most control over our own situation, and the least control over public policy (effectively none).

Inevitably, people in different circumstances will have different preferences over policy outcomes, and so the discussion degenerates into people bickering about which set of policies is "best", i.e. everyone tells everyone else that their preferences are wrong (and then they try to rationalize their preferences in order to "prove" that they are the correct ones, and then arguments become soldiers and so on and so forth).

Virtually every single "debate" in politics is dissolved once one questions the assumption above. If we have almost no control over public policy, then is it even worth considering our preferences over them? To illustrate, a question like "should the government raise taxes?" is about as relevant as "should Jupiter be painted blue?" if I can do nothing to effect either case.

I propose that we turn politics on its side. Instead of asking "Given my circumstances, what policies are best?" we should ask "Given the current policies, what circumstances are best?". That is we should be engaging in is sociopolitical Munchkinism. We ought to be studying the sociopolitical system and taking advantage of its patterns and loopholes. The best political ideas are those that most improve the circumstances of a given person. There are many objective measures one could use to evaluate them. That would be the only way to have a rational discussion of politics.

Timeless Physics

I don't think this is anything really new. The principle of general covariance in GR says that the laws of physics should remain invariant under a diffeomorphism. Since coordinate transformations are diffeomorphisms, and since time is relative, the equations of GR do not depend on time. Indeed, I think the search for a background independent theory of quantum gravity is exactly the approach taken by Loop Quantum Gravity.

Discovering Your Secretly Secret Sensory Experiences

I doubt it. For me, 1, 3, 8, and 9, are all male, whereas 0, 2, 4, 5, 6, and 7 are all female.

Game Theory As A Dark Art

But the other person could anticipate this reasoning and then simply bid $3 knowing that his opponent has committed himself to not bidding beyond $2.

Pluralistic Moral Reductionism

The Yudkowskian response is to point out that when cognitivists use the term 'good', their intuitive notion of 'good' is captured by a massive logical function that can't be expressed in simple statements

This is the weakest part of the argument. Why should anybody believe that there is a super complicated function that determines what is 'good'? What are the alternative hypotheses?

I can think of a much simpler hypothesis that explains all of the relevant facts. Our brains come equipped with a simple function that maps "is" statements to "ought" statements. Thus, we can reason about "ought" statements just like we do with "is" statements.

The special thing about this function is that there is nothing special about it at all. It is absolutely trivial. Any "ought" statement can potentially be inferred from any "is" statement. Therefore, "ought" statements can never be conditioned by evidence. This explains not only why there is lots of disagreement among people about what is "good" and that our beliefs about what constitutes "good" will be very complicated, but also that there will be no way to resolve these disagreements.

How I Lost 100 Pounds Using TDT

Look, dude. I'm not a doctor, and I can't really tell you what exactly happens to your body if you have an extreme calorie deficit. Nonetheless, every medical professional will tell you that you shouldn't do it.

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