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Ritual Report: NYC Less Wrong Solstice Celebration

The part where you read exerts from HP Lovecraft and the sequences makes my cult sensors go off like a foghorn. All of the rest of it seems perfectly beneign. It's just the readings that make me think "CULT!" in the back of my mind. It seems like they're being used as a replacement for a sacred text and being used to sermonize with. If it weren't for that, this would seem much less cultish and more like a university graduation or a memorial or other secular-but-accepted-and-important ritual.

Rationality Quotes December 2011

All this data says is that between 90% and 94% of people who are convinced not to jump did not go on to successfully commit suicide at a later date. It would be a big mistake to assume that whether or not you would come to regret your choice is 100% independent of whether or not you can be convinced not to jump and that therefore the fraction of people who came to regret commiting suicide is the same as the fraction who would have come to regret commiting suicide if they had failed their attempt.

2011 Less Wrong Census / Survey

Survey = taken.

For the newton question, I got the thousands, tens and ones place correct, but flubbed the hundreds place. 60% confidence. Not sure if I should feel bad about that.

2011 Less Wrong Census / Survey

Well, it could mean that you think the climate is going to get colder, or that the mean temperature will remain constant while specific regions will grow unusually hot/cold, or that the planet will undergo a period of human-caused warming followed by ice sheets melting and then cooling or any number of other theories. Most of them are fairly unlikely of course, but P(any climate change at all) > P(global warming).

Rationality Quotes November 2011

There's two components to it, really:

People perceive exposure to a bad medicine as being much harder to correct than exposure to a bad idea. It feels like you can always "just stop beleiving" if you decided something was false, even though this has been empericially been demonstrated to be much more difficult than it feels like it should be.

Further, there's an unspoken assumption (at least for ideas-in-general) that other people will automatically ignore the 99% of the ideaspace that contains uniformly awful or irrelevant suggestions, like recomending that you increase tire pressure in your car to make it more likely to rain and other obviously wrong ideas like that. Medicine doesn't get this benefit of the doubt, as humans don't naturally prune their search space when it comes to complex and technical fields like medicine. It's outside our ancestoral environment, so we're not equiped to be able to automatically discard "obviously" bad drug ideas just from reading the chemical makeup of the medicine in question. Only with extensive evidence will a laymen even begin to entertain the idea that ingesting an unfamiliar drug would be benefical to them.

Welcome to Less Wrong!

You make breaks in the comment box with two returns.

Just one will not make a line.

As to your actual question, you should probably check your state's laws about wills. I don't know if Louisiana allows minors to write a will for themselves, and you will definately want one saying that your body is to be turned over to the cryonics agency of your choice (usually either the Cryonics Institute or Alcor) upon your death. You'll also probably want to get a wrist bracelet or dog tags informing people to call your cryonicist in the event that you're dead or incapacitated.

Morality is not about willpower

It all depends on why you decide to torrent/not torrent:

Are you more likely to torrent if the album is very expensive, or if it is very cheap? If you expect it to be of high quality, or of low quality? If the store you could buy the album at is far away, or very close? If you like the band that made it, or if you don't like them? Longer albums or shorter? Would you torrent less if the punishment for doing so was increased? Would you torrent more if it was harder to get caught? What if you were much richer, or much poorer?

I'm confident that if you were to analyze when you torrent vs. when you buy, you'd notice trends that, with a bit of effort, could be translated into a fairly reasonable "Will I Torrent or Buy?" function that predicts whether you'll torrent or not with much better accuracy than random.

Open thread, October 2011

Yep, definitely needs some clarification there.

Humans don't distinguish between the utility for different microscopic states of the world. Nobody cares if air molecule 12445 is shifted 3 microns to the right, since that doesn't have any noticable effects on our experiences. As such, a state (at least for the purposes of that definition of utility) is a macroscopic state.

"~X" means, as in logic, "not X". Since we're interested in the negative utility of the floor being clear, in the above case X is "the airplane's floor being clear" and ~X is "the airplane's floor being opaque but otherwise identical to a human observer".

In reality, you probably aren't going to get a material that is exactly the same structurally as the clear floor, but that shouldn't stop you from applying the idea in principle. After all, you could probably get reasonably close by spray painting the floor.

To steal from Hofstadter, we're interested in the positive utility derived from whatever substrate level changes would result in an inversion of our mind's symbol level understanding of the property or object in question.

Open thread, October 2011

A thing has negative utility equal to the positive utility that would be gained from that thing's removal. Or, more formally, for any state X such that the utility of X is Y, the utility of the state ~X is -Y.

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